As May begins we find it hard to believe that we are entering our final weeks of school. Spring has arrived despite the cooler temperatures, and the children are happy to be spending more time on the playground. One highlight of outdoor time has been the excitement they feel as they watched our flower beds bloom. The bulbs we planted last fall have now all popped up. First we saw the tiny crocuses, and then the forsythia bushes, daffodils and hyacinths. Our cherry blossoms (from a tree in the side yard) have also bloomed. Also recently our tall and beautiful tulips added great color to the beds behind our playground. During the month of May we will be observing and then adding “shy violets”, lilacs, bearded irises, geraniums and rhododendrons to our art table projects.
We began May by retelling the story of the Maypole with its European origins. Traditionally May 1 was a day to celebrate the real beginning of spring with its greener grasses, budding trees and beautiful flowers. In a number of European countries young children participated in the celebration by going outdoors and dancing around a Maypole in the fields and forests near their homes. We have our own Maypole, expertly constructed by Annie’s husband many years ago which we have used both indoors and outdoors.
The themes over the last several months have included our study of dinosaurs, birds and the solar system followed by our focus on our special planet earth with its continents and oceans. Now we will look inward as we begin our next thematic unit of the Body. We will talk about our bodies as very special machines in which all the different parts (systems) work together to allow us to move (bones and muscles), to eat (digestion), to breathe(circulation) to think (brain), and to understand the world through our five senses. Early in our discussions, our old friend Clifford Skeleton (a real life size skeleton) will reappear so that we can show how our 206 bones, large and small, all fit together to form our skeleton. What will naturally follow later in the month is our study of nutrition. It emphasizes the importance of strong and healthy bodies and how to take care of them through good nutrition, regular exercise and the proper amount of sleep. Over the years the Food Pyramid/Plate that we use in class has changed a bit, but we have prepared concrete materials including baskets of toy foods and a large and colorful sectioned mat which illustrates the food groups. A fun activity for one or two students or even a small group is to take the foods from the baskets and sort them onto the proper section or food group as shown on the mat. They will then be able to see the importance of certain food groups for proper growth and overall health. They will also learn how certain foods should be limited, those mainly in the “fats, oils and sweets” section. There will be accompanying art projects, puzzles, and books in our libraries on the body and nutrition, both fiction and non-fiction.
In Practical Life we will be continuing coffee grinding and silver polishing which the children are really enjoying. In Sensorial we will be adding more sound cylinders to match, a task which goes along nicely with our study of the senses. Late last month we also added to our Sensorial shelves the small hexagon box. Despite its relatively small size, it includes many triangles that can be formed into more unusual shapes such as the rhombus, trapezoid and simple parallelogram. The rectangle box, with even more pieces will also be added. In Language we will bring in the Montessori three part cards which will match both pictures and words of the important body parts. There will also be a beautiful wooden set of food lotto featuring all the different food groups. Small food objects for counting will be added to the Math shelves.
Another special activity in May is the introduction of our classroom caterpillars. During the middle two weeks in May we will be watching them turn into beautiful Painted Lady butterflies. With great fanfare we will set them free on the playground towards the end of the month. As always, there will be concrete materials including plastic caterpillars, tiny eggs, chrysalises, and butterflies to demonstrate the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into a butterfly, as well as books, puzzles and matching and counting exercises.
As we move through the final weeks of this school year and reflect upon the last nine months, we are gratified by the cognitive, social and emotional growth we have seen in our students. They have become more confident in their abilities as they worked on their own, with their teachers and with their classmates. Maria Montessori believed that children learning from other children is a key element for a productive and successful classroom. We have enjoyed watching this happen, and we are grateful to have been able to participate in some of your child’s most important developmental phases. We thank you for all of your cooperation and support this year, especially through some challenging times. For those who are staying with us for another year, we look forward to welcoming you back in September which will begin our 36th year and our 26th in this location! For those who are moving on, we hope you will visit in the future, and we wish you all the best in your new schools. Have a restful and enjoyable summer.
“Every child is a different kind of flower.
All together they make this world
a beautiful garden.”