The Parkside Montessori School
53 Norwood Avenue
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043
“The instructions of the teacher consist then merely in a hint, a touch - enough to give a start to the child. The rest develops of itself.”
Dr. Montessori’s
Own Handbook
With spring fully in bloom, we began May by talking about the Maypole,  its European origins, and how children welcomed spring by dancing around the Maypole in the fields and forests near their homes.  Our own Maypole was used so that we were able to do the same both on the playground and in the classrooms.  It was expertly made by Annie’s husband many years ago.  The children have made their own Maypoles at the art table.  Also at the art table we continue to follow the progression of the spring flowers and bushes as they bloom.  We have already reproduced pussy willows, crocuses, forsythia, daffodils, hyacinths, tulips,  cherry blossoms and violets.  Still to come this month are  geraniums, rhododendrons and irises. 
Even as late as May,  there are still many activities and projects to be introduced and enjoyed.  This month in Practical Life, for example,  we have brought or will bring in bread slicing and cheese slicing.  Coffee grinding is also new, and we will continue color mixing on paper towel squares and also on paper coffee filters.   In Sensorial,  we have added more complicated large and small puzzles, many of which feature the animals that are found on the various continents that we studied last month.   
A special May project is our study of the life cycle of the Painted Butterfly.  The children will have the opportunity observe real caterpillars as they grow, form into chrysalises, stay dormant for a couple of weeks, and eventually emerge as beautiful butterflies.  They are fascinated by the entire process of metamorphosis, and they enjoy watching each phase as it happens in real time.  We have several concrete exercises on our Language shelves illustrating the various stages of the development of the butterfly.   In Math we will be counting and sorting caterpillars and butterflies.  And of course there will be caterpillar and butterfly art projects and puzzles.   On a sunny day in May we will end our study when we release our butterflies on the playground and watch as they fly away amidst the cheers and clapping of our students.
Every month since last September our classroom themes for that month have focused on both natural and earth science, including the study of sea life, trees, flowers, dinosaurs, birds, the solar system and the continents that make up our world.  During the last few weeks of school we will be turning our attention inward to study our own bodies.  We will be talking about the body as a very special and remarkable “machine” whose different parts (systems) work together to allow us to move (the bones and the muscles),  to breathe (circulation), to receive nourishment (digestion), and to think, understand and respond to the world through our brain and our senses.  Clifford Skeleton will be back to visit, since he shows clearly how our 206 bones fit together to form our skeleton.  We have other concrete learning aids which enhance our explanations of the other systems of the body including some very challenging new puzzles.
A natural follow-up to this study of the body is our study of nutrition and its importance in maintaining strong and healthy bodies.  We will bring out our Food Pyramid/Plate which has changed somewhat in recent years.  It is a large hand-sewn (by Sue Valentine) piece of fabric with colored sections, each one representing a food group.  The larger sections illustrate the foods we should consume in higher quantities and the smaller sections show foods that should be taken in moderation like fats, oils and sweets.  In each classroom we have baskets of toy foods for the children to take out and sort and place on the correct sections of the pyramid which include breads and grains, fruits, vegetables, foods of protein including meat, fish and eggs, dairy foods and foods containing fats, oils and sweets.   They will be able to clearly see as they fill each section what foods are the most beneficial in helping develop healthy and strong bodies, and which are less beneficial.   This exercise can be particularly fun when one or two friends join the activity.  As with all of our other monthly themes, the books, puzzles, art projects and language and math activities will all reflect our May theme of the body and nutrition.  On the last two days of school, Monday, June 2 and Tuesday, June 3,  we will be having our “Food Pyramid Parties”, and we will ask you to contribute food from one of the major food groups.  There will be a sign-up sheet in the hall the week before.  
This is the time of year when we happily observe and celebrate the significant cognitive, social and emotional strides made by the children.  They are completely comfortable working with the many Montessori materials continuing to be placed on the shelves, and their independence, confidence and competence have grown so much, as have their abilities to interact peacefully and positively with each other.  As our year draws to a close, we thank you for supporting them and us.  We wish all of our departing children well as they move on to their next educational experience, and of course we look forward to welcoming our returning students in the fall. 
   “Every day is filled with Montessori moments.
My list of Montessori moments includes: the excitement in
a child’s eyes when they discover something, watching the
compassion when one child supports another, observing 
children's determination and stick-to-it-ness and 
sharing in the smiles on parents’ faces.”
                                         Marlene Barron
                                                    Famed American Montessori Educator,    
                                         Writer and Lecturer
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