In This Issue
Blog MSOE Gives Back
Montessori Compass
Volume 1, Issue 4                                  April 2015

MSOE Newsletter
Message from Matt Simberg, M.Ed


It is surreal to think that the school year is almost over. Looking back, there have been a lot of great experiences, countless fun times, additional students and families have joined our community, more will be joining us in the fall, and most importantly, a lot has been learned by all! During these last thirty days of school there will be "going-outs," a field trip, a camping trip, an art gallery of the students work, an abridged personal performance of "The Secret Garden," possible science fair and field day, surprise celebrations, and end of the year festivities coupled with the celebration of our sixth year students. During this last stretch of the school year I would like to share some food for thought.

A common misconception of Montessori's pedagogy is that idea of freedom. As the guide in the classroom is constantly observing to know what to create and offer the child, the idea of freedom coming from a different light is seen in this quote:  

"To let the child do as he likes when he has not yet developed any powers of control is to betray the idea of freedom." ~ Maria Montessori

This is true in the classroom with regards to choosing work from a given lesson or wanting to do work from an idea inspired by a lesson. How do we communicate, "no you can't do this," in a positive manner? We give them tools to be able to do it. Or, we show or give reasons why it is not time for that work.

Additionally, sometimes we have to let the child go through the process so they can learn by experience. It is a lot less of a waste of time to do this, than to cause a loop of internal or external conflict by trying to control the child.

How can this be applied to activities at home? Depending on the age of the child, are we being too controlling? Do we not have enough boundaries? Are we not setting our children up for success at home? The Montessori classroom has the advantage of a prepared environment. There are no preconceived notions as teachers of how things should be. Natural engagement, concentration, and the expression of happiness are the signs that our children's activities are aligning with their innate characteristics and tendencies.


Camping Trip Update

We have updated the dates of the camping trip to be May 27th-May 29th. This week, Ms. Brin and Ms. Wendy will be visiting the campsite at French Creek State Park to get the lay of the land, check out the cooking facilities, and tour some of the sites for different activities. By the end of next week, we will have an itinerary, packing list, and food list for all families.
Primary Update
by Brin Burnham

In the Primary class, we are always looking for ways to acknowledge and appreciate our natural environment. For example, each day before the children eat their snack or lunch, they sing a little song of thanks to the earth for providing each of us with all we need: food, shelter, and fun . This theme is often echoed in many of our lessons and classroom activities. The students learn beauty and respect for the earth through the care of the environment. This past month, they continued to tend to the seedlings that they planted over the winter, preparing them to be transplanted to our new community garden. For Earth Day, the children built a composter by first thoroughly reading the instructions, and then following each step carefully. Using the composter, we will combine leaves and food scraps to create humus. This will be used to nourish our garden and give back to 
Clearing our new garden
the earth as a thank you. The
 cycle of life continues. 


As we planted our organic gardens at the Merchantville Community Park, a primary student joyfully told me, "If we get hungry at the playground, we can pick the snow peas, carrots and lettuce for our snack." Everyone clapped and cheered.


Another favorite topic for Earth Day was honey bees. We have read books about the important role honey bees play in our food and plant health. The bees pollinate the plants that help the plants to produce food and improve the air quality too! Click HERE to read about how bees are helping make raspberries in Kenya.


The children were thrilled to unpack a box of mystery wooden pieces. They organized the inventory and figured out how to assemble the frames of a wooden bee hive. They did not know what it was until the comb was added with the tell tale hexagonal cells. They squealed with joy when they figured out that they had built frames for a bee hive! They learned that beekeepers need to be very calm and mindful to go into a bee hive. We meditated, and when each child was peaceful, they tried on a beekeepers suit! 


Unpacking the
bee hive boxes

Writing down the plan for assembly
Building the bee hive









Encouraging Elementary Insights
by Matt Simberg, M.Ed.  

Mathematics, science, language arts, geometry, history, geography, practice testing and more has been happening as it always does in the elementary classroom. However, more than that happens in the elementary classroom... something even more important. Getting in touch with our feelings, connecting to our own heart and each other's heart leads to greater engagement in the classroom. We have done basic meditation, talked through conflict and listened to classical music.

Meditation helps us to be aware of our feelings and teaches us to be present. So much is going on in the world and at such a fast pace between technology, the volcano in Chile and the earthquake in Nepal to name a few things. The children have that tool now and they just need to practice using it. Things happen between friends and classmates. I use these experiences as an opportunity to model how to work through it, how to learn from it, and how to take away something positive. It is rewarding to then see them talk through mini conflicts on their own. This is an important process of their education, which is unfortunately often overlooked in traditional education. Or, there is no time for that.

I have been doing an interesting activity in the classroom. Some mornings I am playing classical music from various composers.  The children sit or lay down with their eyes closed and try to experience the music. So far I have played music by Beethoven, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky. The goals here are to expose your children to music other than pop, see how music evokes certain feelings, and to be able to identify the different composers by simply listening.

So far, an interesting experience has happened. One student, whom would not normally sing or hum in class began humming one of the pieces during class. This led to our researching which composer it was. Children were guessing and trying to figure it out.  

I am so grateful for being able to be a part of your children's education. We get to experience a wide variety of things that are not limited to traditional academics. But, these other things can ultimately help to enhance the personal experiences of their education. The Montessori pedagogy lends itself to explore the whole child. That is exactly what we are doing in the elementary classroom, which leads to a holistic education. 

A Secret Garden

We are thrilled to announce that the Drama Club will present the play "A Secret Garden" on Thursday, May 21st at 5:30pm in the third floor great room of MSOE. Parents, grandparents and friends are welcome to attend this unique performance, about orphan  Mary Lennox. When Mary is sent to live with her uncle at his mansion, she discovers many secrets, including a crippled cousin she never knew she had and a neglected garden she is determined to bring back to life.

Under the supervision of our own Mr. Moore, the students have worked hard to make the play their own, including script, costumes and sets. We hope to see you there!
The Seedling Celebration
Friday, June 5, 2015 @ 5:30 pm
10 East Chestnut Street, Merchantville, NJ

As we look toward closing out our inaugural year, we wanted to create an evening of celebration and collaboration by the students, staff and families that will hopefully be a tradition for many years to come. First, we will celebrate the 6th year graduates, who have accomplished great things during their Montessori years. Second, the children have been collaborating with Mr. Moore in preparing a wonderful performance of songs for all to enjoy. The collaboration continues with a beautiful art show of the students' work from throughout the school year. And last this joyful evening will take place at the new Eiland Arts Center, located 1 block from our school in Merchantville. MSOE will be providing coffee and refreshments. Dessert contributions are greatly appreciated! 
MSOE on Great Schools

Over the course of this year, we have received a lot of positive feedback from our current families regarding their authentic Montessori experience at MSOE. Our testimonial page is included in our Introduction Packet, which gives prospective parents a well-rounded overview of MSOE. However, many parents look to independent websites for objective reviews when considering a new school.  One such website is

MSOE needs 4 more reviews to increase our SEO rating for area searches of Montessori schools. We would greatly appreciate it if you could take a moment to write a positive review.  It will only take a few moments, and you can access the website by clicking HERE

Thank you so much for your support!!!
In Our Next Issue
  • End of Year Wrap-up
  • Enrollment Update
  • Gardening Update



Matthew Simberg, M.Ed.
Montessori Seeds of Education