The Parkside Montessori School
53 Norwood Avenue
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043


JANUARY - 2019


The excitement of the holidays is over, and the children seem happy to be back to the routine of school, enjoying each other and working with the new materials we placed on the shelves over the break.  January is the month of the dinosaurs at Parkside, truly one of our most popular thematic units.  Our students are incredibly fascinated by and drawn to these mysterious creatures, and it is a great subject to explore with young children.  Related materials include baskets in each room of many different kinds of dinosaurs which are life-like and detailed.  We will learn the names as well as the interesting characteristics of each dinosaur.  We will also talk about the difference between carnivores, herbivores and omnivores.   There will be dinosaur counting, dinosaur matching both pictures and small objects, as well as many dinosaur books, both fiction and non-fiction, on our new library shelves.  Art projects include dino pinching and pulling, rubbing, sponging, and stenciling.  We will make dino footprints, and in language there will be dino punching.  We will also focus on fossils, and in practical life we will be digging for dinosaur bones, and we may even add dinosaur “washing” this year.   An important part of our dinosaur study focuses on why these creatures disappeared, and there are several interesting theories which we share with with our students.  No matter how many circle discussions we have or how many dinosaur-related materials are on the shelves, the children never seem to tire of the prehistoric animals.

In Practical Life this month several new and fun exercises will be introduced, including shaving cream (a real favorite), mirror polishing, whisking, celery cutting, straining, and work with an eye-dropper (in preparation for next month’s color mixing).  As with all of the exercises of Practical Life, these activities promote growth in coordination, precision,  process, and focus, all of which are crucial to success in other areas.

In Sensorial we continue our work with shapes. The geometric cabinet has been brought in.  It is a large piece of equipment which contains 6 drawers with 6 shapes in each drawer and accompanying cards with solid, thick and thin lines to match.  The triangle box is also on the shelf, and it contains isosceles, equilateral, and scalene triangles to be formed into larger triangles.  The hexagon boxes, large and small will be coming in as well.

The children are learning to care for themselves and their environment (washing their hands, putting on their coats,  taking out and also returning their work to the shelves).  They are also learning how to interact with each other in a positive and peaceful way, and in January this is greatly facilitated by the introduction of “Snack for Two”.   A child may invite another to have snack with him or her at a special snack table near a special snack shelf.  The host (the one who invites) sets the table and prepares the snack for serving (water and a cracker),  and both children sit together and enjoy the one on one with each other.  Their conversations are often so sweet and interesting.  After they have finished, both clean up the table and put away the snack materials.  These interactions can often encourage new friendships, foster conversation, and promote courtesy.

Our Peace curriculum continues this month with the introduction of the “Peace Flower”.  The purpose of bringing the Peace Flower to our Peace corner is to help the children begin to understand how to settle any conflicts that may arise during the normal course of the day.  Thankfully, these conflicts are usually minor and sometimes relate to a youngster not understanding why another may not want to hold his or her hand,  share an activity, or sit near them on circle or at a table.  If a child becomes upset with another or perhaps with one of us,  we gently guide them to the Peace Flower where they can take turns holding the flower and using their words to express how they feel to the other child.  Hopefully, by going to a quiet place away from the hustle and bustle of the classroom,  the children with our help will be able to express their feelings freely, and really listen to what the other has to say.  Listening is an important skill for all to learn. 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.  Of course conflict resolution takes time, especially with very young children, but as the year progresses, the teachers are usually able to step back and let the children work through whatever problem they have.  However when we first start to use the Peace Flower, our guidance is needed and often sought.  At the end of the interaction between two children using the Peace Flower, we always suggest that each child raise his or her hand and touch the other child’s hand with the word “Friends”.  They inevitably leave smiling. 

Again, it is great to be back at school and to be starting a new year with our students and their families.  We have lots of new materials on our shelves, and all of us are continuing to enjoy so much our renovated space.  We look forward to a happy and productive 2019.

“Be at war with your vices, at peace
with your neighbors, and let every new year
find you a better person.”

                                                                           Benjamin Franklin

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