The Parkside Montessori School
53 Norwood Avenue
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043
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While December is a relatively short month, it is certainly a busy one, and it seems to go very quickly.  Of course the materials which go on to the shelves early in the month relate to the holidays. We will be painting, decorating, sponging and even punching our menorahs, Christmas trees, dreidls, wreaths, reindeer and Santas.  As always, classroom songs, books and puzzles, large and small, reflect holiday themes.
Traditionally the December Practical Life activities have been particularly enjoyable for the children, even as they become more challenging.  We will be doing more bead work…bracelets and candy canes in holiday colors.  We will make twisty candy cane and other structures with pipe cleaners.  Last month we practiced our cutting skills by doing lots of fringing on paper first and then again when we made our placemats for our Thanksgiving feast.  The next scissor challenge will be to cut beaded holiday necklaces into individual beads which we will then place into our creative art containers for future use at the art table.  Funneling is still on the shelf,  and we will bring in basting with a large baster.  All of these exercises are designed to strengthen fine motor skills and increase concentration, but the children are simply having lots of creative fun.  In Sensorial we continue our work with both one and multi-dimensional shapes.  The children are learning about spheres, cones, pyramids, rectangular and triangular prisms, ovoids and ellipsoids, and how to look for these Montessori geometric solids in the materials in the classrooms and also in their everyday surroundings.   In Language and Math new holiday matching, sequencing and counting will be added. 
As we continue our Peace curriculum, this month we will focus on conflict resolution.  We have placed our “peace flower” on our classroom peace tables.  We want to help the children begin to understand how to settle any conflicts that may arise in the normal course of their day.  These conflicts are usually minor and sometimes relate to a youngster not understanding why another may not want to hold his or her hand or sit near him or her at a table or on circle.  Also sometimes a problem may relate to sharing of materials and activities.  We read a short but beautifully illustrated book on called “My Peace Flower” on circle.  And again, we play act different scenarios that may cause a problem between children.  In reality, if a child becomes upset with another or even with one of us, we gently guide them to the peace corner where they may take turns holding the flower and using their words to express to another child how they may be feeling.  Hopefully by going to a separate place a bit removed from the hustle and bustle of the classroom, the children, with our help, will be able to express their feelings freely and then hear what the other child has to say.  Of course conflict resolution takes time, and listening is just as important a skill as any that we teach in our classrooms.  One of the best ways to become a thoughtful listener, for children and adults alike, is to be able to enjoy the gift of being heard, and these interactions with the peace flower will hopefully promote this. 
We spent some time last month talking about the importance of gratitude.  We as teachers are always grateful to be able to work with your children.  Their enthusiasm, affection, resilience, innocence and joy keep us focused and hopeful.  Our hope is for all of us to find some quiet time to spend with those we love during the upcoming break. 
We wish you all a happy, healthy and peaceful holiday season.
“The holiday season is a perfect time
to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways
to make life better for those around us.”
                                                     Terri Marshall