Friday Newsletter / September 15, 2017

Sign up for After School Programs!

Monday 9/18/17
Cooking (Full) 3:30-4:45
MS Soccer 3:30-4:30

Tuesday 9/19/17
Spanish with Marco 3:30-4:30
UE/MS Soccer 3:30-4:30

Wednesday 9/20/17
Chess 3:30-4:30
MS Soccer 3:30-4:30
Mt Biking 3:30-4:30

Thursday 9/21/17
UE/MS Soccer 3:30-4:30

Friday 9/22/17
Peace Day Celebration at Hilltop
LE Soccer 3:30-4:30
Pizza Lunch

Coming up...

Tuesday 9/26/17
School Picture Day
Free Play
by Amelia Fontein, Lower Elementary Assistant

Let the children be free; encourage them; let them run outside when it is raining; let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water; and, when the grass of the meadows is damp with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet; let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath it's shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning as it wakes every living creature that divides its day between waking and sleeping” ~ Maria Montessori

If you travel to Hilltop Montessori School around noon on a weekday, you might be surprised to hear chatter and laughter coming from the forest adjacent to the parking lot. Walk the short dirt path into the woods, and you’ll encounter children darting among the trees, building forts from bark and fallen branches, collecting fistfuls of acorns and pinecones, and creating a magical world of their own making. This environment offers lessons that are just as valuable as those taught inside our classrooms. Just as our morning classroom work cycle gives students the freedom to choose the “work” that they are developmentally ready for, our Elementary recess and after school time lets children choose any activities from fantasy play in the woods to developing their skateboarding skills.

In the increasingly structured and technological world in which we live, it is of utmost importance to provide children with unstructured play time in the natural world. At Hilltop, Elementary Recess and After Care are both designed to offer this time for children to engage in imaginative, free play within a safe, supervised environment - often in “Haytown”. The name “Haytown” has been around for years! Originally children collected cut grass from the freshly mowed fields and used that as their currency...

(to be continued in the Before/Aftercare section)
Upcoming Events...

September 26th: School Picture Day
September 28th: First All School Gathering
October 3rd: LE Workshare 3-4pm
October 6th: Grandparents/Special Friends Day -
Noon Dismissal for All


Parents! Soccer cleats may only be worn after school for sports. Sneakers must be worn during gym class. Please remind your student of this.
And, please remember to pack a water bottle!

Parent Information Night
Thank you for joining us last night for an hour of community and learning about each program's curriculum, expectations, and how parents can partner with us!
Toddler Program
Thank you for coming out for Parent Education Night!
Practicing Rhythm with Instruments and Clapping
Jay plays  The Lion Sleeps Tonight  while all the little cubs rest
Birch Room
Odin walks around the "sun" while keeping a careful eye on the flame.
Yogurt scooped into mini cupcake wrappers, frozen, and topped with fruit for a healthy birthday treat.
This week brought a number of celebrations as Odin, Eleanor, and Eko all had birthdays. Birthday celebrations hold a special place in Montessori classrooms. During the celebration, a child holds a globe and walks around a lit candle representing the sun. The child makes one rotation for each year of his or her life, while the teacher talks about something special he or she experienced that year. When the child reaches the current age, the teacher asks what he or she hopes to experience and learn this year. Finally, the child receives birthday wishes and hugs from the class. It's such a lovely way to celebrate the child and the journey of life! Let us know when your child's birthday is near, so we can plan together for it.

Also, a reminder : don't forget to sign your child in each morning and out again at the end of the day. The clipboard is right by the gate. 

Thanks to everyone who came to parent night! It was great to spend time talking about the classroom and your children!

Have a great weekend!

-Cheryl, Serina, and Mariam

Paisleigh reviews the numbers 1-9 while Asha tackles the teens board.
Willow Room
As the school year gets underway, we have been putting a lot of thought into the importance of how we connect with each other. We’ve reflected on this within ourselves as teachers and how we connect with children as well as noticing how children connect with each other. We came across this article that focuses on mindful connections between parent and child. It resonated with us as teachers and we hope it does for you too. Enjoy!
Athena reads our Peace Rose book at the Peace Table.
Cooper works on matching ocean objects and pictures. Scanning left to right is a pre-reading skill too!
Uri builds big numbers with the bank fetching game.
Harper is using our whale object matching work.
Lower Elementary
Tuesdays and Thursdays are reading group days in Lower El. Our guided reading groups are an opportunity for each student to engage with a book or story at their ability level, in a small group setting.  

Our youngest students start off their school year by being read to by a teacher. Noticing, as a group, how we open a book from the right, and then read from left to right, is a part of their earliest experience with reading group. They are encouraged to "interact with the text," as we like to say, by making predictions and connections to their own lives or other books, and discuss basic story elements, such as character and setting. 

More experienced readers will build upon this work, and practice the difficult comprehension skill of making inferences. In group discussions and in written work, they are asked to not only make a statement about something ("I think Mami misses Puerto Rico."), but to "prove it" with evidence from the text and pictures ("I think this because it says she talks about Puerto Rico all the time, and here in this picture, she looks sad.") The nuts-and-bolts work of writing clear, complete sentences, with proper capitals and punctuation, is also emphasized. So, too, is speaking in clear and complete sentences; it is not enough to say "I think the same thing as so-and-so." Everyone is encouraged, and taught how, to stretch their answer and to add their own voice to the discussion. 

Our parting words on this subject are from one of our own Lower El students. Last week, many children received reading group questionnaires to reflect on their experience. One of the questions was "What do you need from the group in order to have a successful reading group?" 
Student's answer: "A book." 
Claire and Layla practice rhyming words.
Dylan completes word puzzles.
Patrick shows off some seaweed samples!
Iris and Ciana work on multiplication using the bead board.
Housekeeping notes:

Footwear for recess and P.E.:  Please inform your child that cleats should be worn for soccer practices and games only, not at recess or in P.E., where most children are not wearing soccer footwear and shin guards, and so run the risk of being injured by cleat-wearing players. It has already happened a few times!

Mugs and Extra Clothes:  Please send a mug in with your child if you have not already done so; our counter space is limited, and water bottles are for P.E. and recess. Also,  extra clothes are a must,  (that means you, too, Olders!), as we go out in all but the very coldest weather. We want everyone to be prepared for recess's unexpected offerings, or even a lunchtime yogurt explosion.

Finally, thank you to everyone who attended our Parent Orientation Night. It was great to have such a large crowd! We have copies of our daily schedule and important Lower El events, for those of you who were not able to make it. 

Our first Lower El Workshare is Tuesday, October 3rd from 3-4pm.

Have a wonderful weekend!
Kerstin, Patrick, and Amelia
Upper Elementary
Group work was a focus during our first full week in the classroom for UE. In small groups, students thought of an analogy for the parts of a cell, which they will be developing into a model or graphic presentation. Small groups are also researching different types of early humans: Neanderthal, Homo Habilis, and Australopithecene to name a few. Research includes how they met their fundamental needs, and what characteristics made them unique in the evolution of humans. Meanwhile, the sixth graders are researching differences in the colonies and settlements of colonial America. This represents the beginning of our ongoing work - problem solving both the topics at hand, and the way a group functions as a team. Cooperating, listening, learning to give and take, when to step forward and when to support from behind, how to advocate for yourself and give responsible feedback with kindness, are all important skills that we will also be exploring in this year's Peace Curriculum.

Our work in cell studies took us into looking at different cell types this week. Students were especially industrious in making several types of microscopes work as they compared cell slides at two different magnifications and recorded their work in diagrams. Some of the questions and debates heard throughout the week showed their high level of engagement. For example, they were heard debating which works better, the electric-powered light microscope or the ones powered by natural light via a reflecting mirror. A few students discovered that with too much light you couldn't see the stain color on the slides, but, with the window shade drawn, the beautiful purple delineating the cell walls emerged into view.

In geometry work, some students looked at what makes a polygon regular or irregular, and the diagonals in various types of polygons. Students who had looked recently at the three altitudes in a triangle, this week attacked the tricky work of finding altitudes in an obtuse-angled triangle. Other students are exploring area of triangles by demonstrating the transformation of different types of triangles into a rectangle.

We also started electives, the every-popular Thursday afternoon component of UE life. The current round of electives includes: vocal improvisation, strength and conditioning, pastel painting, knitting, woodworking, making wooden ramp-walkers, and the design and sewing of Halloween costumes, a very busy week in the classroom for upper el!

Reminders: All students need  indoor shoes and a  water bottle living here at the school, and  sneakers for outside play.

Have a terrific weekend.
Jen leads a lesson in geometry. 

A group working on a cell type layout. 
Electives have begun! Will sees how many pull ups he can do to establish his baseline on the first week of 'Strength and Conditioning', as Mace keeps track. 
Abby and Shoshona take turns reading their lit book to each other. It is more fun to work together.
Lit group includes gaining confidence in sharing your insights, or learning to hold back and let someone else speak.
Pastel Painting Elective!
Middle School
Since we returned from our wonderful odyssey in Upland last week, we have expanded our “Walk in the Woods” study. Students refined their plot related essential question, wrote a lab procedure, and our currently collecting data. Local geologist, Roger Haydock, came to the classroom with a lively presentation on the geological formation of our area and then accompanied us to Upland. The science/art focused “Classification Project” began with students choosing topics, collecting specimens, making identifications, and doing initial renderings. Along the way math and health classes began, students were introduced to Henry David Thoreau by reading excerpts from his Ktaadn, the first seminar with Watership Down was conducted , and students enjoyed the warmer weather by dipping into the pond.
Geologist, Roger Haydock, describes how certain kinds of trees indicate different kinds of bedrock.
Health started this week - everyone made their own journal to track their discoveries. 
We discuss soil pH on Nomi's plot.
Deep in thought in Language Arts.
continued from Free Play...

For our elementary students, social-emotional learning is a component of free play that we support during Recess and After Care. Children are constantly driven to resolve conflict with peers, collaborate on long-term projects, negotiate around shared resources, and make decisions to reach their own goals. We repeatedly see children devising compromises to divvy up bricks, logs, acorns, etc., working in a group for weeks at a time on elaborate forest dwellings, and learning to navigate the socially tricky ins and outs of running a Haytown business. Outside of Haytown, we often observe groups of students working together to develop rules and guidelines for games like Four Square, Capture the Flag, and Monkey Bar Tag.

Another enormous benefit of unstructured play is physical fitness and dexterity. Practicing pull ups on the monkey bars, lugging logs through Haytown to build a fort, learning how to ride a unicycle, balancing on a fallen log in the woods; these activities allow children to build their strength and coordination through play.

Finally, playing in the natural world allows children to expand their sense of wonder, creativity, and imagination. The economy within Haytown is living testament. Children open restaurants, antique shops, insurance agencies, newspaper publishers, general stores, arcades, and drive throughs. Customers looking to buy goods or services can use quartz stones, known as “crystals”, to make their purchases. Children are continuously dreaming up original business schemes, finding new uses for old materials, and using their imaginations to create a true culture and community within Haytown. This is a genuine joy to observe.

So, next time you pick up your child take a moment to observe some of the amazing structures that have been built and the learning that’s occurring during that unstructured time. As Maria Montessori reminds us: “Play is the work of the child.”
Hilltop Helpers
Thanks Lucia for rescuing the bush from the bittersweet. If anyone knows what kind of bush it is, let us know, so we can assist with it's recovery!

Hilltop Helpers - HELP Hurricane Victims!
As many of you know, our school is closely affiliated with the American Montessori Society (AMS). AMS has set up a special fund just to help schools which have been affected by the hurricanes. Check out this link for the announcement:  click here . Nienhuis/Heutink (a world renowned maker of Montessori materials) has agreed to match up to $10,000 of donations. While the damages to schools can be significant, we are hoping this will help. 

We also have sought information on how to reach other communities who might be in particular need of assistance. Here is a link to a source for finding other agencies who are specifically helping communities of color.  click here

We will have a collection jar in the front lobby to collect donations from families that we will be forwarding to a couple of orgainzations.
Community News
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