V olume 3, Issue 3 | November 2016
Message from Matt Simberg, M.Ed.
 
Dear Parents,

As I sit here thinking about what to write for this month of November, the amount that I have to share is overwhelming and difficult to synthesize and impart to you. However, I will do my best and break it down into sections. I want to share about my experience in California. Specifically, about my meeting with Todd Camp, connections made, and strategic leadership. There is a small update with regards to the property we are looking at. Plus, I want to share my appreciation and gratitude to you as a whole and especially to those parents who were graciously willing to fill in the gaps when the need recently and abruptly arose.

The second night that I was in California I had a dinner meeting with Todd Camp, Chief Negotiation Officer at the Camp Negotiation Institute. You can visit his website here http://www.campnegotiationinstitute.com/. He collaborated with the late Jim Camp as a contributor to his book, "No, The Only System of Negotiation You Need For Work and Home." Todd gave me Jim's audio book, "Start With No," for free, which I very much appreciated. After speaking with him and Judith Cunningham, the CEO of the Montessori Model United Nations, my goal is to now get through the book as quickly as possible. Then I will integrate the information to make it applicable for upper elementary aged children and adolescents. The purpose of this is to develop a program that teaches our children about the art of negotiation, how to utilize this powerful strategy and that "no" is not always the end of the conversation, but actually the beginning. Todd might also be able and willing to come and do a workshop tailored to our upper elementary students as well. Either way, it is a very exciting opportunity and experience that I hope to be able to bring to the children.

With regards to connections made, I had some very good experiences at the administrator's conference. Several people from different countries approached me to express appreciation for my blog, http://montessoriseeds.blogspot.com. It was very touching and humbling to know that other Heads of Schools and Directors distribute my blog posts to their employees for inspiration and reference. I never would have thought three years ago that something like this would happen. This confirms to me and hopefully to you as well, that the essence of MSOE and what I am working towards is seen and appreciated by others around the world. It continues to be validated that we are on the right track, which is a good feeling. It was very insightful to be around many heads of schools who have been doing what I am presently doing for decades. I heard some really good personal stories that were encouraging. Also, I spoke with someone who has successfully started up public and charter Montessori schools. She shared with me some of her victories and challenges. Additionally, I connected with someone who has experience starting and working with Montessori High Schools. He works at one now in California.

The theme of the conference that I attended was Strategic Leadership. There is a lot more to it than what I will share, but I started looking at what I was learning about in a different way as well. There is an aspect to asking questions, the right questions, and evaluation versus coaching. I would like to use this information to optimize conversations, more specifically with the upper elementary children. For example, how much are my actions congruent with our mission, vision and overall strategic direction of the school and how are my actions inconsistent? I can communicate something like this with the children in a way that will cause them to examine their month or school year and take ownership of how they want their year to go. Is it congruent with how they want to see themselves and how they want others to see them? How do we create a strategic direction with achievements to accomplish throughout the year including projects that build up our time and stress management skills? I'm looking forward to being able to apply the experiences and techniques I learned both with the school and my students.

The latest update on the present property i s that our architect is going to work on a rough conceptual drawing, hopefully within two weeks. Our goal is to work with one of the two townships, since the property sits over a township line. If that works out, I will have an informal meeting with the board of that township, sooner rather than later, and focus our development on the property pertaining to that township. That being said, I want to mention one more thing.

We never would have gotten to where we are now without the families that helped this to all come to fruition in 2014. It was a parent who found the location we are in now. Where we are looking now might very well work out. However, we all know there is a chance that things will fall through and this is not an easy or inexpensive process. So, I want to ask you, in the interim of seeing what will happen. Please keep your eyes and ears open and send me real estate possibilities. Ideally we would like to have around 25 acres. If we want to have a high school on the same property, we would prefer more like 60 acres. The concept of having the MSOE Montessori High School in Philadelphia is still also on the table. However, I am considering how much sense it might make and how logistically it would be easier to have the whole school on one site or at least have the high school closer to our main site.  Either way, I really believe in the following statement, "No ONE is as strong as WE are." This is not going to be an "I did this" experience, because it is not about me. It is about all of us, our children and our future. That could sound grandiose, but it is really applicable to our local microcosmic level.

I know all of you want to see us grow and flourish and on a lovely property! Your participation, communication and collaboration demonstrates this! Thank you for your contributions and support. I look forward to continuing on this journey with you to bring  about mindful, collaborative, and authentic Montessori experiences for each other and future families.

Sincerely,


Matthew Simberg, M.Ed.
Head of School
 
MMUN Bounce U Fundraiser

Many of you are already familiar with Mr. Matt's history and dedication to the Montessori Model United Nations Program for the Upper Elementary and Adolescent students. It is a costly conference, but well worth the price for the tools, skills and experiences that the children are exposed to. 

With that said, you are all invited to a special MSOE fundraiser at  Bounce  U in Cherry Hill from  6-8pm on  Tuesday, December 6th. The cost is only $10 for everyone under 18 years old. Admission is free for everyone 18 and older. There will also be pizza and unlimited drinks for $3. Please invite your family, friends, neighbors and even perfect strangers for a fun time. All proceeds will go towards the Montessori Model United Nations Conference (MMUN) to benefit our current and former MSOE students.  

The children love MMUN so much that Zan, in Florida, is excited to join again this year from his new school, and Sarah, who graduated last year, requested for us to ask the CEO of the MMUN for permission to attend this year's conference. She is excited to join the middle school MMUN program in March. 
 
Please come  Bounce with us and help our students as they prepare for their MMUN conference as delegates of Iraq, Uganda and Turkey. We thank you in advance for your help, support and participation in this fundraiser. 

Toddler Update

This year is going by so fast; November just flew by!  We have been practicing putting on mittens and added new water works in our Practical Life Area.  We made feather turkeys in Art, learned about the significance of the cornucopia and discussed what we are thankful for this Thanksgiving in Language Enrichment. A sensorial activity included pomegranate seed tasting during circle, which was a new experience for some of the toddlers and was liked by all!  We are learning our colors in Spanish!  The toddlers had a great time going for a nature walk where they collected many different kinds of leaves, acorns, and pinecones!
 
We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!  Thank you for your donations for our Thanksgiving Feast!  Everything was delicious and a special thank you to the parents who came in to help us celebrate!
 
Just a reminder to dress your child warmly. Please make sure they wear a warm winter coat, hat and mittens, as we will be going for our daily walk through the winter months. Please also make sure you label all of your child's clothes and belongings with their name.

In the month of December we will be learning about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas. We will be exploring how children celebrate throughout the world during this time and we will be making holiday ornaments!

We look forward to our experiences during that time. 

-Ms. Chris

Primary Update

November has flown by so quickly. The class really enjoyed the historical presentations by Ms. Mary discussing Thanksgiving. Thank you to all who sent in ingredients and came in to help with our Thanksgiving Feast. A good time was had by all. 

December will bring a month of holiday customs from around the world. We will travel the globe to discover the many traditions of the season and where they came from. During this journey we will take advantage of our continent map to locate each country as well as learn about that country's flag. If you have any traditions about your native country to share please let us know. 

Our students preparing for the elementary have been exploring the continent of South America and will continue to explore each continent as well as work on their handwriting and math skills. These students are also developing a sense of group work and getting their work finished in a timely manner. 

Practical life has added polishing work. The many steps involved in this activity require the students to concentrate as well as exercise their fine motor skills. We have also added a hand washing setup which the children enjoy and needs care of movement to complete. 

Painting and drawing at the easel are an important part of the classroom. We try to include directed painting as well as free expression to allow the children to develop their own creativity. Art projects are changed frequently and involve following step by step instructions in order to create a finished product. 

We are busy preparing for our Winter Concert and hope to see you all there on December 15th.

-Ms. Anne and Ms. Mary
Lower Elementary Update

Finally cold weather has arrived! It officially feels like November. A lot has happened in the past month in our busy classroom! Some of us have explored the dimension of height in our introduction to volume lessons where we use unit cubes to build solid figures. Some students learned about the history of writing and have been exploring antonyms and synonyms. We also explored the history of written numbers and how our numerical symbols evolved over time. The children have learned about the meaning behind the names of the months of the year, the types of polygons, types of lines and some of us have even learned about the squares of numbers! A few of them have just started early work on addition and subtraction of fractions and others have explored the parts of a woody stem! The children have really enjoyed exploring the encyclopedias that I brought into the classroom and there have been many exciting research projects taking place! The classroom is abuzz with activity, discussion and learning! They have also really enjoyed learning how to make bar graphs and interviewing their fellow classmates to collect data for their bar graphs. It has been a very fruitful month and the children are excited to get back to work after a nice Thanksgiving break. I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving!

-Mrs. Shannon


Upper Elementary Update

The month of November was filled with a variety of activities and work with the upper elementary children. There was the visit to the Camden Shipyard and Maritime Museum. The Patel Family and Shane gave a presentation and had activities to do to celebrate Diwali. Maddox, Lily, and Milo's dad came in and taught about sculptures and had them make two sculptures. They visited the Camden Water Treatment Plant. Laura Gudaitus, Andrew and Maddie's mom, came in and taught different techniques for crocheting. Plus, they visited the "Forced From Home" exhibition in Philadelphia. Before the short break we had a Thanksgiving Feast! If that were not enough, they also worked on many different lessons and activities.

Children have been working on learning about different Native American facts and war reports. In "Story of the World," we have been covering the history of Ancient China. This has been especially fun for me because of my time in China. Most recently we finished learning about The Great Wall. I'm really looking forward to sharing my pictures from my experience at The Great Wall. I already showed the children what the Yellow River looks like because I brought some of it home in a bottle. Additionally, with regards to history, we learned about Daylight Savings time and its history. We also touched upon the age of Exploration and Discovery relating to Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands, and England. Some reports or projects should be coming out of that lesson as well and we will get into the colonies.

A few children started learning a bit about Chinese Characters on their own. There is an ongoing Natural Disaster Timeline. One upper elementary student started a Feline Timeline with a lower elementary student. We are working on the equivalence of shapes with the metal insets, the relationship between a circle and a line and the relationship between two circles. The children are learning about different quadrilaterals, polygons, their names and parts, as well as diagonals and how they stabilize or make shapes stronger. 

For instance, just look at bridges. In fact, two students made a model of a suspension bridge out of cardboard which has inspired a Going Out to the Roebling Museum. I've also been teaching Sentence Analysis where we have looked at subjects, predicates, direct and indirect objects. Furthermore, I have been reinforcing good writing skills, the importance of communication and getting the children to think about how to communicate on paper what they are trying to convey to the reader in a more synthesized and personal way. With all of this going on I have also been working on things like character building, peace and conflict resolution, MMUN background work, team building, being good role models, and having fun versus being silly. We have also been reviewing work and strengthening foundational academics too. Other than that we really have not been doing much! I'm looking forward to our experiences in December!


-Mr. Matt



Adventures in STEM Scouts @ MSOE


The STEM Scouts are having fun inventing, exploring, and learning within their labs.

Our lower elementary STEM program has gotten off to a great start! We have studied urban ecology with experiments on water filtration and a lab involving oil eating bacteria! 

The Elementary School Scouts have kicked off a new module that brings to life Hydroponics (growing plants without soil) and Vertical Farming. The Scouts started the lab eager to build their own hydroponic planters with all the critical components needed. Their interest was evident in the discussion of alternative types of farming and the benefits these have to the environment and communities.

We looked at the green spaces in our community and learned how to monitor and protect them using meta data. We are currently exploring the benefits and possibilities of vertical farming by planting a water garden. It has been a lot of fun for me, and I think the scouts are having a good time too. Check out what we are up to at stemsouts.org

Nearing conclusion of the Robotics Challenge Module, the Middle School Scouts have built robots with a variety of complex parts, developed a computer program to operate the robot, and are striving to program the robots to run autonomously by leveraging a set of sensors and code. Middle School Scouts are looking forward to soon applying engineering principles in the next module, Structural Design.

As part of each lab, the STEM Scouts gain technical and analytical knowledge. They are also developing critical skills that can be used today and are critical to potential STEM future endeavors. Among the most valuable skills that are honed through STEM are critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, and teamwork. These are the foundation of STEM related careers and fields of study. STEM Scouts are continuing to practice and grow confidence in applying these skills and solving STEM challenges.

- Walt Aristone - Elementary STEM Lab Manager 
- Melanie Curtis - Middle School STEM Lab Manager


Thanksgiving Feast Video

Thank you to all our parents for contributing to and helping with the Thanksgiving Feast. Please   click here  to view a short video. Enjoy!
Yoga

Often in a yoga class geared for children, some of the students find difficulty in keeping their bodies still and in allowing the space for others to speak. Another big challenge for many children is to accept that in a yoga practice, there is truly no "good" or "bad". This is typical for children,  as it is definitely difficult (especially  on Friday afternoons ) to be still and quiet. It is often inherent within us to be competitive on some level. 

I try to communicate to the children the ways in which a yoga practice on the mat can teach us many important  lessons for life. The goal is to learn to breathe through the distractions and through the urge to judge ourselves and others. Through a yoga practice, we train ourselves to breathe, to be still, and to accept the challenges that face us. Some days,  a balance pose may be more difficult than others. Some days we can stretch a little further than other days. For some, tree pose often comes easily and spider pose is a challenge.  But for others, the opposite is true. It's all just part of this journey of life, there is no "good", "bad", or "better". It is my honor to be able to explore  these concepts with our sometimes very wiggly children. 

In addition to these very big concepts, we've also had quite a bit of fun. Last week we spent some time appreciating our very important and often ignored toes. We followed up with a game of toe-ga, in which the children picked up colorful pom poms with their toes. If they haven't already explained the game to you, be sure to ask them about it. They all really seemed to have enjoyed it and many were discussing playing with siblings or parents at home.


-Ms. Tiff

Mrs. Jamie on Nutrition

Hello! I hope everyone is enjoying the cool crisp weather that is the change of seasons. I also hope that everyone is having a lovely time preparing for the upcoming holiday season. 

The holidays are full of laughter, friends, family and yes, food, lots and lots of food!  While the holidays are meant to be rich and indulgent, there are a few things that you can do to keep yourself healthy and feeling great all season long. 

Firstly, be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Adults should aim to drink at least 64 fluid oz. a day and about half as many ounces for children five years old and up. Drinking water can increase your metabolism and help you feel full longer. Secondly, try eating a healthy snack before heading out to a holiday event or dinner party. This is a great way to prevent yourself from overeating.  

Another holiday health tip for this season is to attempt to make healthy food swaps as much as possible. This is a fun and very effective way to eat what you love without all the guilt. Food swapping is simply taking one dish and replacing its ingredients with similar yet healthier alternative ingredients. In addition to swapping a traditional stuffing recipe with my lentil based stuffing, I love swapping nutrition-less, sugar-loaded canned cranberry sauce with homemade cranberry sauce. This swap alone, will add fiber to your holiday meals as well as tons of vitamin C which will keep your immune system flying high during the cold and flu season. 

Please enjoy this allergy friendly cranberry sauce recipe. Remember that foods that children help prepare are foods that children are more likely to try and enjoy.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Ingredients
  • One 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup raw honey
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest          

Instructions 

  1. Rinse cranberries well and drain off excess water. Pick through the cranberries and discard any soft or discolored ones.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the cranberries, honey, water and orange juice. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have softened and the mixture has thickened to your liking. This takes approximately 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the pot from heat and stir in the orange zest and cinnamon. Taste and add more orange juice or honey to taste.
              
Things Children Can Do To Help With Recipe
-Wash the cranberries                         -Stir
-Zest orange                                       -Taste!
-Add ingredients to saucepan           


Community Event: Inside/Outside

You are invited to visit the art exhibit at the Burlington County Library, 5 Pioneer Blvd, Westampton, NJ from December 3rd to December 30th to see the paintings by Alice Domineske.

Alice Domineske, Ms. Anne's mom, attended children's art classes at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum. While she was raising her family, she attended Drexel University where she received her Master's Degree in Library/Information Science. After working several years as a librarian at Shawnee High School in Medford, NJ. She resumed her interest in art by attending classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. She also has attended many local and national art workshops led by many well-known artists such as Daniel Greene, Maggie Price and Elizabeth Osborne. Alice usually works in watercolor or pastel and most of her work is representational. 

Her paintings have been accepted and received awards at numerous juried exhibitions and have been purchased by Smithville Historical Association, Rutgers University in Camden, Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Chairville School, Hopkins House, Burlington County Library and other institutions. 

She will be doing a reception December 3rd from 2pm-4pm.
Calendar Highlights

Here are some upcoming important dates. 
  • December 6 - Elementary Holiday Choir Field Trip
  • December 15 @ 6pm - Winter Concert/Cookie Exchange at MSOE
  • December 23 - 12 noon dismissal (NO aftercare)
  • December 26-January 3 - School closed for winter break

Click Here for our Google Calendar.
 Montessori Seeds of Education | (609) 832-2546 | info@montessoriseeds.com | www.montessoriseeds.com
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