The Parkside Montessori School
53 Norwood Avenue
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043
As we move into the second week of March, we look forward to seeing some signs of spring.  The weather is still cold,  but we have great hopes that winter will not last too much longer.  Our Robin’s long journey is continuing and he/she is moving closer and closer to New Jersey, passing through both Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia.  We learned about these two east coast cities with their monuments and special attractions.   We continued to use our very large US map and some concrete objects to show the children the specifics of the Robin’s travels, including peaches ` cotton for Georgia, palmetto trees for the Carolinas, and small replicas of the monuments in both Washington and Philadelphia.  We should complete our books chronicling the Robin’s trip by the end of the month.  Some have already seen robins in our area, but our Parkside Robin is still on the way!
This month in Practical Life shoe polishing and color mixing will continue as well as dishwashing which has turned out to be hugely popular.  Some nice new friendships have been forged as two children who are not necessarily best friends find themselves sharing the washing and drying duties which are part of the exercise.  It is heartwarming to watch two little people work together to complete the task which is a multi-step one, again, a “practical life” exercise in process and organization.  Silver polishing will also be added this month.  We welcome any pieces of tarnished silver if you want to send them in.  We will make sure that we return them.
In Sensorial, color shading remains popular, and becomes a little more difficult as we bring in the 4th color box to follow last month’s 3rd color box.  This exercise requires first matching different shades of one color and then shading the matched color slides from darkest to lightest.
A favorite March activity in Language is the picture/label matching exercise.
We have taken pictures of each student and made each into a 2 x 3 laminated card.  We have also made mini labels of their first names just like the larger name cards on the banners.  The object of the game is to match the student picture with the student name.  The teacher is usually involved in this exercise, often with several children.  The children really love it…seeing their pictures and trying to find their names to place under the picture card on the mat.  They have fun identifying themselves and their friends, and it is also a form of sight reading as tags show how the letters fit together to form their names as will as the names of their classmates.  We will continue Picture Story where the child chooses from a basket on the Language shelf a picture to paste upon the top part of a piece of paper.  The child then tells us a story about the picture as he or she imagines it.    We write down their thoughts on the lower part of the paper. Another very important activity in the Language area is the metal inset work.  It has been on the shelf almost since the beginning of school.   As the year goes on and skills are really developing,  we periodically reintroduce this exercise on circle to show the different ways it can be used.  We show them how to choose a shape or shapes to trace.  They place colored pencils, paper and the inset shape onto a small tray and carry it to a table where they trace around the shapes, one shape at a time.  Not only is this work good for developing the correct pencil grip, but it also, once it has been used often, allows creativity to bloom as they decorate their basic shape with straight, curly or diagonal lines, using different colors to do so.
As spring approaches, we are looking forward to seeing the first green sprouts from our bulbs which we planted last fall.  The crocus is always the first to emerge in March,  and it is very exciting when we first see the tiny and colorful crocuses pop up by our playground. Other blooming plants in March include the pussy willow and possibly the forsythia which sometimes blooms in late March and other times in April.  Many years ago one of our long time teachers (now retired)  planted two small forsythia bushes behind the playground at each end of the fence.  They have grown tremendously and provide some nice early spring color.  We will be creating all these early spring plants at the art table later this month and quite a few more in April.
Also in March we will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by making Irish Soda bread with the children and decorating Irish flags and shamrocks.
Our February thematic unit on birds is coming to an end, and the children have really enjoyed learning abut the characteristics and calls of so many birds.  In March we continue to look upward as we begin our study of the solar system.  Hopefully the children will begin to understand the vastness of the solar system and our own place in it.  As with all of our learning themes, we will be looking at the interesting facts about each planet, those that are large and those that are smaller, those made of rock and those made of gas.  We will learn about the climates and surfaces of each, and we will focus on the sun as the center of the solar system.  It is that giant star, a fiery ball of gas around which our planets revolve.  We have hung replicas of the sun and planets from the ceiling in each classroom.  By simply looking up, the children will be able to see the configuration of the solar system.  We also have baskets of planets on the shelf for our circle demonstrations and for use on the mats.  Additionally we will have rotating and lighted models of the solar system.  As always there will be planet books, art projects and matching and counting exercises.  We have some fun singing and moving games (some created by teachers) which hopefully will contribute to our students’ understanding of the “Family of the Sun”.
“Follow your own path.
Give yourself some space.
What goes around comes around.
Have a stellar attitude.
Stay centered.”
                                          Ilan Sharmin
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