School Picture Day is Tuesday, there are forms at the front desk if you need one!

Celebrating Peace Day
September 23th, 2016


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Next Week at Hilltop
Hilltop Soccer Games
Peace Day
Traffic Circle
Cooking Class
Grandparents/Special Friends Day
Winter Sports Chaperones
Winter Sports Chaperones
Toddler Program (TP)
Birch Room
Willow Room
Hilltop Helpers
Save the Dates
Community News
Next Week at Hilltop
Monday 9/26/16
MS Soccer

Tuesday 9/27/16
Picture Day
UE Soccer

Wednesday 9/28/16
Bagel Lunch 
MS Soccer
Spanish with Marco

Thursday 9/29/16
All School Gathering (ASG)
LE Soccer

Friday 9/30/16
UE Soccer
Pizza Lunch
Kids Night Out! 

Check out the 2016-2017 School Calendar 

Coming Up...

Monday 10/3/16
MS Soccer Game at the Grammar School 4pm

Tuesday 10/4/16
UE Soccer Game at Grammar School 4pm

Friday 10/7/16
Grandparents/Special Friends Day-noon dismissal for all

Friday 9/30/16
Kids Night Out

Thursday 10/13/16
Alumni Night

Hilltop Soccer Games

Middle School and Upper Elementary Soccer games start the week after next:

First MS game is Monday, October 3rd at 4pm at the Grammar School.

First UE game is on  Friday, September 30th, at 4pm here at Hilltop.

We will be using our new Hilltop Van for away sports!

For all Middle School and Upper Elementary soccer games, we will use the van and a couple of parent/staff cars to get the players to the games. Then, we will ask that parents be responsible for picking up their student, or arranging for a carpool from the game.

For a full schedule of the games, please see the website calendar or the information sheet that Coach Chris gave out practice this week.

Hilltop Does Peace Day!

I nternational Day of Peace is observed on September 21st and this year we celebrated on the actual day in full Hilltop style!

Peace Day is acknowledged in schools around the world and Montessori schools often make it very special, as we do at Hilltop Montessori School. For us, Peace Day is when students are first paired with their "Peace Buddy" who will be their partner for All School Gatherings and other school-wide events throughout the year. Middle School students are paired with Lower Elementary students and toddlers ready for buddies, while Upper Elementary students are paired with Children's House students. Students can become very attached to their different aged buddy and the relationships are very sweet.

The Peace Buddies start off doing a project together. This year they made kites!

Then we gather by the pond to recite a Peace Pledge with Jonathan and "sing songs with Jay". He always has a lovely peace themed song ready to go! More than 100,000 children in Montessori schools around the world were singing  on Wednesday morning!

The whole school then goes on a silent, peaceful walk following our Peace Dove. This year the dove was complete with an olive branch and sun glasses! All the different height pairs walking together really is beautiful. We the gather in a circle on the soccer field, sing another peace song with Jay and then PLAY with our new Peace Buddy. It is the start to a relationship that will grow thought the year. Peace!

Traffic Notes from Amelia

Tamara asked me to write a friendly reminder to our community about traffic flow here at Hilltop for drop-off and pick-up. She thought of me because I am neck deep in the Vermont DMV universe working towards getting my school bus endorsement SO that I may drive students in our new van. (It's a process). Anyway, I passed my first written test with flying colors and feel like I now have some cred to write this toungue-in-cheek reminder. Here goes:

Excerpts from: 
The Hilltop Montessori School Department of 
Vehicular Transport Division Manual 

Section VI Paragraph XI concerning M orning Drop-off  states:

"If dropping students off at the circle, the operator of a passenger vehicle shall pull said vehicle  completely around the circle,  either behind another vehicle or to the end of the circle to discharge passengers.  Do  not pass vehicles on the inside lane of the circle.  This is an important safety procedure and will be on your exam. Sub-paragraph XIa. also states that this procedure includes Middle School Students. Never, ever, ever, stop in front of the Middle School to discharge students. Just cuz. It's not a great place to stop."

Section VI paragraph XII states that "idling for more than 3 minutes is a big no-no and operators are  never, ever to leave vehicles unattended in the circle.  If the operator needs to leave the vehicle for any reason, they need to park in the lot behind the school. You may be susceptible to 50 lashes with a wet noodle if you don't follow this rule."

Section X Paragraph 2a. concerning the   Artful Pick-Up Procedure  states:

" Toddler pick-up is between 2:30 and 2:45 and operators picking up at this time will proceed to the parking lot.
Children's House pick-up is between 2:45 and 3pm operators picking up proceed to the parking lot.
Elementary/Middle School dismissal is 3-3:10 pm
CARPOOLS must park in the parking lot to load passengers."

Chapter 7 - 
THE CIRCLE protocol (so important it has its own chapter)

Paragraph 1A clearly states: "When picking up in the circle vehicles must pull up as far as possible nearest the next vehicle in the line. (Get ready, here's the tough part) 
Drivers must wait in a single line to move through the circle and then merge, carefully onto the main drivewayDo not do cut-sees and move into the inner circle.  When you do this, you are giving agita to traffic regulators just waiting for an accident to happen! It's a bummer, we know, and we know you are in a hurry to get on with your day, but as the saying goes, safety first."

Paragraph 1B states that " the  role of the classroom officials is to get passengers to the respective embarking locations on time."

Whew! Be thankful you have been spared the trip to Springfield Vermont's Department of Motor Vehicle office. Now, let's get out there and motor on - safely, of course.

Cooking Class to Begin In October!

Cooking classes for 5-8 year olds will begin on Tuesday, October 4th! Come by the front desk to fill out a form. Space is limited!

Grandparents/Special Friends Day

Grandparents & Special Friends  Day  invitations have just been sent out for Friday, October 7th 2016.  See full schedule for the day below.  

This is a very popular event that we host twice a year, fall and spring. Having two opportunities for Grandparents or Special Friends to visit our campus allows those traveling long distances to choose the time of year that works best for them. 

We love visitors! But sometimes too many grown-ups in the classroom can be hard to manage for children and visitors alike. This year, we welcome all guests but ask that no more than 2 guests per child visit in the classroom at one time. We're hoping this alleviates some of the stress that little ones, especially, can experience on this very special day.

Along with a classroom visit we are pleased to have new parent and professional photographer, Rachael Waring on hand to take photos of students with their visitors. Be sure to take advantage of Rachael's presence to capture the day!

Grandparent and Special Friend Day Schedule:

8:45-9:00 am - Coffee, Tea and Snack in the Arts Barn
9:00-9:30 am - Introduction by Tamara Mount, Head of School
9:30-10:00 am - Student Panel Discussion
10:00 -10:45 am - Classroom visits & Child Photo Session with their Guests
10:45 - 11:45 am - All School Sing in the Arts Barn

Noon Dismissal for All!

CH and LE Workshare

Parent Work Share Dates for Children's House and Lower Elementary

While Grandparent and Special Friend Day can get crowded, we do offer other times for parents to visit the classrooms. Below is information about Work Shares. We also welcome parents at any time to tour/visit with Tamara, our Head of School, to see the beauty of the classroom environments during a real Montessori morning work cycle without extra adults. Please contact Tamara to arrange a time for a visit.

Children's House parents are invited on Monday, October 17th from 8:30-9:00 in the morning to show parents what they're working on and learning. 

Lower Elementary parents are invited on Tuesday, October 4th from 3:00-3:45 in the afternoon for children to show you their work and a parent presentation on language. 

Winter Sports Chaperones

We are trying something new this year- we'd like Winter Sports Drivers/Chaperones to sign up using Volunteeerspot. Winter Sports will be every Thursday from January 5th through February 9th. Now that we have the school van, we are hoping to supplement with parent drivers to Mt. Snow and save on the cost of renting the big school bus. This will both reduce the cost of Mt. Snow Winter Sport option and will require more commitment from parent drivers. Parent involvement with Winter Sports is necessary in order for these programs to run, please sign up now so that we can plan accordingly!

Click here to sign up!

Toddler Program

Peace education is the cornerstone of Montessori philosophy. (In fact, Dr. Montessori was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times!)  Dr. Montessori believed that peace begins with children. They should be exposed to other cultures and develop an appreciation of them when they are very young. As the children grow up, differences can be embraced instead of becoming the cause of conflict.  

On September 21 we celebrate International Peace Day at Hilltop. One of the highlights of the day is meeting your Peace Buddy. The second year toddlers are matched up with a student from Middle School. This week upon meeting each other, the Peace Buddy pairs made kites together. The morning is rounded out with a silent parade behind the Peace Dove and a circle of singing.

Peace Buddies meet every week for All School Gathering and at all-school functions, such as Stone Soup and Field Day, throughout the year.   

Wishing you a peaceful weekend.
Ellie, Amanda & Marco

Birch Room
"Follow the child." - Freedom and Choice in Montessori.  

In a Montessori Children's House classroom, you see very few teacher directed group lessons and projects. Instead, children pick their own works to explore and learn from.  A child may receive a lesson from a teacher on how to use a particular material, but it is the children's interest that drives their work. It may seem, at first glance, that the teacher is not guiding the children's choices to ensure depth and breadth of learning, but the opposite is true. The teachers are constantly observing the children and bringing out specific materials to help scaffold learning. In Montessori, this is called creating a "prepared environment". Examples include bringing out a 2 person block work to help children build a social connection, or finding a biosphere map for a child who has already mastered all the maps of the world's countries.

This is not to say that children are not invited for teacher given lessons to help target certain skills. These kinds of one-on-one interactions do happen throughout the day, but they are quick, and the child chooses how to follow up. Even at Older Time, where the Kindergarten children receive more group lessons, this pattern remains. For example, at an Older Time this week, the children listened to a story about a butterfly's metamorphosis, and were introduced to a sequencing project about the stages of a butterfly's life. After completing the project, two children chose to work on a large floor puzzle featuring insects. Their discussion about insects as they work helped consolidate the lesson they had just been given! Look below to see some examples of where the children led us this week! 

Have a great weekend!

-Cheryl, Serina, and Mariam

Willow Room

Asher washes our mirror

Amir paints

Claire and Hazel

Harper and Cooper


Lower Elementary (LE) 

For our chemistry study we continued our exploration of solutions. We dissolved salt in water one teaspoon at a time until the water could hold no more- "saturation". We then heated up the water to see how much more salt we could add before it could hold no more- "super saturation". You could try this activity at home with sugar and water. Next week we will learn about compounds.

At the beginning of the week we identified the different types of seaweed we observed closely last week. At the end of the week, we learned about giant kelp forests and some of the animals that live there. 

Our first work share will be on Tuesday, October 4th, from 3:00 to 3:45pm. For the first twenty-five minutes, students can share works with their parents. From 3:30-3:45, the teachers will discuss the different ways we teach literacy in the classroom and how families can help at home.

Upper Elementary (UE) 

During our second full week of school this week, Upper El students continued lessons  Egyptian culture, and the simple machines used by Egyptians to build pyramids (inclined plane) and to move water up just a few feet (Archemedian screw) in order to irrigate their fields.  Work with the political geography of Africa ties this work to modern day names and boundaries of countries.  

We are also studying botany this year, which begins now during this fall season, and will be revisited in the spring. We were introduced to using a dichotomous key via basic classifying work with an unrelated but fascinating topic (nails, screws and bolts!), and our older students made their own dichotomous keys on topics of their choosing.  This is in preparation for the class using dichotomous keys in their botany work.  Students also made and decorated books for their botany drawings, then drew and identified leaf types found on our campus. 

In grammar, older students reviewed parts of speech (and brushed up on percentage work) by making pie charts of the percent each part of speech was used in excerpts from class readings.  After reviewing basic sentence analysis, our veteran students worked on transitive verbs this week. They where given sentences contained a transitive verb, and the students playing the part of the verbs declared their love for the direct objects that completed them!  Those newer to class are classifying nouns into abstract, collective, common and proper nouns.

Students are in the process of choosing their first independent research topic of the year, and applying our lessons on note-taking.  Other writing lessons since the start of the year have focused on mechanics:  reviewing the possessive apostrophe for singular nouns, use of the apostrophe in contractions, and the "its" conundrum. 

The class is well into our first lit and seminar groups.  For seminar, the 6ths are reading "Seedfolk," an account of a spontaneous community garden told in the voices of its very diverse participants.  To accompany this work, students are interviewing a peacemaker in our own community, and writing a chapter in the style of the book.  Other students are reading either "Holes" or "The Golden Goblet," as they work on strategies for reading comprehension.

Of note:  Solomon and Julian are speeding through some weighty math sequence work on square roots, hoping to be the first students to finish this more self-paced portion of our curriculum this year.  While cube roots of polynomials is still the final segment of this work, we have also added negative integers to the sequence this year.  Stay tuned ...

The family directories went home this week.  If you haven't seen yours, ask you child. 

Gentle reminders:  All students need a water bottle at school.  The also need an ample breakfast so that the packed lunch isn't entire lunch consumed by the end of morning snack.

Have a great weekend!

Middle School (MS)

The water wheel project has begun in earnest. This exciting project is an example of the middle school's integrated curriculum. As we explore the forces that continue to define us today including issues of race, labor, technology, and women's rights, we are immersing in the American Industrial Revolution through reading and discussing primary source materials and by literally getting our feet wet learning how to harness the power of water. There is a drainage ditch running along the driveway above the pond.  We are currently pumping water from the pond through a two inch hose to create a river.  Groups of students were assigned a stretch of the river, they measured the amount of drop in their stretch, built a dam to harness the inherent power, designed a water wheel, and are currently constructing their water wheels. Once those wheels are spinning, the next step is to design and construct a machine powered by their water wheel. Eventually they will perform experiments using these tools. The challenges the students are facing are very reminiscent of the same issues early manufacturers of the 18th and 19th centuries faced:how to get the maximal power from the environment present, how to collaborate and engage each others skills, how to build and practice skills and concepts previously unknown, how to choose the best materials and designs, and how to work with the precision and care necessary to be successful.

Water powered mills were present in almost every New England town.You can find evidence of their existence everywhere along rivers and brooks.  As the technology grew, so did the size of the mills and need for labor. In that time period many of our students, especially the girls, could well have joined thousands of other girls who left their families and gone to a place like Lowell, MA to work in the textile mills. This exposure to increased independence, corporate exploitation, and resistance is the beginning of the long movement towards women's suffrage and the continued struggle for parity. Many of these same mills depended on the cotton and the slavery that grew the cotton for their financial success. Issues of slavery, class distinction, and immigration are all wrapped around the mills of New England. Exploring all these intersecting strands is our quest this year.

Hilltop Invites you to Our High School/Alumni Night October 13th, 7-8:30pm
Hilltop Montessori Middle School graduates who are currently in their sophomore, junior and senior years will be here to share their experiences. How HMS prepared them for high school, the transition to new schedules and environments, to name a few. Public and private schools will be represented. 

Whether you are thinking about high school or Hilltop's Middle School, this is a wonderful evening to hear directly from our graduates about the Hilltop Montessori School experience. 

Hilltop Helpers

Hilltop Montessori School has a wonderful group of helpful families supporting each other in many ways: carpools, meals in time of need, hand-me-down snow pants, etc. We would like to provide this space in the newsletter as a place that people can share needs and "gifts" with the rest of the Hilltop  community

Meal Trains:
We now have two meal trains in effect. One for Kerstin Kjellberg and the other for Wendy Lynde. Both are recovering from surgery. If you would like to contribute to either or both of these trains, please click on their name to sign up!

Garden Helpers at Work:
Many thanks from Kegan and everyone to our enthusiastic garden volunteers for the weeding, watering, and transplanting! The plants in the gardens and greenhouse are feeling good with more room to stretch out and ample water. The new slide has Mint, Lemon Thyme and Sweet William nestled between the borders, thanks to industrious aftercare students planting them, and Lilac Ridge Farm donating starts. With so many students and parents helping, 2016/17 will be a beautiful school year.
I want to tip my hat to two middle school students, Van and Daniel, for helping me troubleshoot a window in the Middle School, AND clearing out more space in the garage, making room for student woodworking electives and Middle School building projects.

Available: One share or yearly playing right at Brattleboro Raquet Club on Cedar Street.
Brattleboro RacquetSports is located at  204 Cedar St.  next to the ski jump. Members will have use full use of the club's two squash courts, two racquetball courts, sauna and aerobic exercise equipment, including a recumbent bicycle, a Concept II rowing machine, a treadmill, an elliptical trainer, and a BowFlex weight machine. Men's and women's locker rooms with showers are also provided. This is a wonderful facility right here in town!  We are slackers who are no longer using it and would practically give it away, so please contact us with any interest at all (

You Come Get It: A wooden Bunk Bed pictured below! Full on the bottom, twin on top. In good shape, mattresses included. Ladder included. We can lend you our truck to take it. But you gotta come get it in West Chesterfield, and it's big and heavy (does easily come apart with a screwdriver though). Also have an additional wooden twin bed with rails available.

Save the Dates

Friday, September 30th, 5:30-9:30pm
Kids' Night Out
Would you like a grown-up night out? Would you want your kids to have just as much fun as you do while you're out? We've got the answer! Drop your child off here at Hilltop for the Middle School's "Kids' Night Out"! There will be fun, games, crafts, and tons more! We will provide snacks, but please pack a nutritious dinner or have your child(ren) come fed. Cost is $6 per hour and $4 an hour for each additional child. All proceeds to to the HMS Odyssey Fund. To reserve a spot email Leila.

Thursday, October 13th, 7-8:30pm
Hilltop Invites you to Our High School/Alumni Night
Hilltop Montessori Middle School graduates who are currently in their sophomore, junior and senior years will be here to share their experiences. How HMS prepared them for high school, the transition to new schedules and environments, to name a few. Public and private schools will be represented. 

Whether you are thinking about high school or Hilltop's Middle School, this is a wonderful evening to hear directly from our graduates about the Hilltop Montessori School experience. 

Saturday, October 15th, 6:30 pm
Hilltop is so pleased to present poet and Upper El Grandparent, Kate Farrell for a reading from her new book, "Visiting Night at the Academy of Longing" at the 2016 Brattleboro Literary Festival! The reading will be held at the Catherine Dianich Gallery, 139 Main Street, Brattleboro. 

Let's show Kate and the Brattleboro Literary Festival our support by attending this and other great offerings that weekend.

Community News

Let's Hike for the Homeless!
Saturday, October 1st.
Please come "Hike for the Homeless", a benefit for Groundworks Collective, our local homeless shelter and drop-in center. Contact Amelia if you'd like more info. The hike is family friendly up Mount  Wantastiquet, in Hinsdale. Let's show our support with a gaggle of Hilltop Friends! Registration opens at 9:30am.

Insight Photography Offering Classes

Ninth Annual LEGO Contest & Exhibit
November 18th-20th
This event is generously sponsored by  Brattleboro Ford SubaruG.S. Precision, Inc.People's United Bank, and Don Robinson Builder.
Build your very own LEGO creation and display it at BMAC!
Design and build an original LEGO structure according to contest guidelines available below, or just drop by and check out the fantastic submissions on display November 18-20, 2016.
Prizes for Creativity and Craftsmanship will be awarded in seven age groups: preschool, grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, adult, and adult/child collaborations. There will also be overall prizes for Best in Show, Best Architectural Design, Best Use of Moving Parts, Best Title, Best Diorama, and Best Space-Themed Creation. All prizes will be announced at an Awards Ceremony on Friday, November 18 at 5 p.m.
For more information, click here!

If you have a need, or a service or item to offer, let the  FRONT DESK  k now and we'll get it in the newsletter!

Hilltop Montessori School