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
As we finish the first full week of March, our study of birds will be coming to an end, but we do continue to look upward as we begin our unit on the solar system.  We will talk about the sun, a huge burning star, as the center of our solar system.  We will explore the interesting and unique characteristics of each planet such as Saturn’s icy rings, Venus’ beautiful clouds, the red dust on Mars,  the very hot surface of Mercury, and the never-ending storm which is Jupiter’s dark spot.  We will also discuss comets, meteors and asteroids as well as the climates, geographies and distances from the sun of each of the planets.  In each classroom Mrs .Valentine has hung on the ceiling inflatable replicas of the sun and of each planet in roughly the same configuration as our actual solar system. So as the children look up they can identify not only each planet, but also how close or far it is from the sun.  We also have baskets of accurate reproductions of each planet. We have songs and moving games to accompany the theme. Solar system books, puzzles, art projects and language and math exercises will be added to the shelves.
Our Robin is continuing his long journey north, and he has passed over the Carolinas and will soon be nearing Washington, DC.  We will be showing the children statues which are replicas of the beautiful white monuments in Washington, and as the Robin nears Philadelphia later in the month,  we will bring out our statues of the Liberty Bell and Constitution Hall and talk a little bit about both cities. We look forward to the Robin’s arrival in New Jersey as well as the completion of our books.  Actually some robins have already arrived.  They apparently flew a bit faster than some of their friends in order to speed up their role as announcers of spring!
In Practical Life, celery cutting and shoe polishing continue, and we will add silver polishing which is a little more involved than the mirror polishing which we began in January.  As we continue our work with color mixing, we will start to use an eyedropper to mix the primary colors on cards instead of in water.  The children are prepared to use the small bottles as they have done basting with larger and then smaller basters over the last few weeks. Using the small dropper bottles encourages even more small motor refinement as they squeeze colored water onto small round colored spots on a card and then mix the colors with a toothpick. Magically creating green, orange and purple using a dropper bottle with cards seems to engender just as much enthusiasm as mixing colors with the larger whisk in a bowl of water. 
Language this month features a favorite activity for all classes, picture/label matching.  Sue Valentine have taken individual photos of every student, and they have made them into 2 x 3 inch laminated cards.  Annie then made mini labels of their names exactly like those waiting for them on the banner each day.  The children take out the pictures and lay them on a mat on the floor.  Then they match the mini name labels to the pictures and have a lot of fun identifying themselves and their classmates. The teachers are usually involved in this exercise, especially in the beginning, and it is an enjoyable small group activity fostering organization, cooperation and sight reading, as the children can see how letters fit together to form their names and those of their classmates.
To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day we will make and serve Irish soda bread on circle.  We will also punch shamrocks and Irish flags in the Language area and create them at the art table.
This month, as spring actually arrives, we will be looking for the bulbs which we planted last spring to become flowers, particularly the earliest one, the tiny and delicate crocus.  Our bulbs are actually beginning to sprout now, and the children are excited to see the green shoots emerging from our playground flower beds. Actually they were the first to point them out to us. Perhaps all of this is because we experienced a relatively mild winter.  We should also see, before March’s end, other early spring blooms such as the pussy willow and the forsythia.  The children will have the opportunity, once they have seen the actual bush or flower, to recreate them at the art table.
Things continue to be very busy at school as our students choose and enjoy each new exercise which has been placed on the shelves.  Also, as we spend time outdoors, they happily watch for all the signs of spring that are becoming apparent,  including the warmer temperatures, greener grass, budding trees and the happy singing of the birds.
                                   “Spring work is going on with joyful enthusiasm.”
                                                                                       John Muir        
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