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


MAY NOTES - 2018

As we enter our last full month of school, we switch gears.  We now turn our attention inward.  For the last few months we have focused on studies of animals, dinosaurs, birds, the solar system and our earth, and now we will begin the study of the remarkable machine that is our body.  We will talk about our body systems - the bones, muscles, digestion, circulation, the brain and senses and how they all work together.  As a natural follow up to learning about how our bodies work, inside and out, we will talk about the importance of keeping our bodies healthy and strong through regular exercise, good sleep patterns, and proper nutrition.  We will look closely at the food groups that make up the Food Pyramid/ Plate, and learn about the foods that are the most important to consume as well as those to be taken in moderation.  We focus on the importance of the “rainbow of foods” which include healthy colorful fruits and vegetables.  The children seem to really enjoy learning about what foods are good for us, and those that are less healthy.   As always, the materials all around the classroom reflect our theme of the body.  There are of course books and some really large and interesting body puzzles as well as matching and counting exercises and songs and art projects. 

A most popular activity which can be enjoyed by two or three children at once is the sorting of foods onto a large cloth Food Pyramid.   The children take from the shelf large baskets of toy foods representing each of the food groups and place the foods in the appropriate section of the pyramid.

In Practical Life this month we will continue bread slicing,  coffee grinding and apple cutting, and we will add cheese slicing.  The children have become very proficient in slicing or cutting bread, apples, etc.  What is fun to watch is upon completion of the task, they clean up and then politely (for the most part!) pass pieces of the prepared foods to their friends.  In Sensorial, as a follow up to the smelling exercise, we will bring in a tasting exercise, and we will also add sound cylinders to the sensorial shelf.  These exercises become particularly relevant this month since we are studying the brain and senses along with the other body systems.

We continue to recreate whatever flowers/bushes are blooming each week, and in May that includes the shy violet, lilac, bearded iris, geranium and rhododendron.  Also at the art table we will make Maypoles to celebrate the beginning of May, and we actually have a real Maypole, made many years ago by Mr. McMahon, which the children can dance, run, and skip around on the playground, just as the European children have done for centuries.

For the final two to three weeks in May, the children have the opportunity to observe first hand the transformation of caterpillars into beautiful Painted Butterflies.  When we receive the caterpillars they are tiny worm-like creatures.  Eventually they make their way to the top of the netted butterfly house in each classroom, and form the chrysalis.  Then we wait for a couple of weeks to see them  emerge, sticky wings and all, as beautiful butterflies.  Once their wings have dried and they are flitting about their netted house, we feed them with oranges and sugar water.   Then, after two or three days, we take them out to the playground and release them.  It is a very exciting process to watch which culminates in lots of cheering and clapping as each butterfly flies away to start their new life and complete the life cycle.

One final special activity in May is our “Day at the Museum”.  We have the art work of many different artists hanging all over the school, and in the younger class Mrs. Rose has also done some lessons highlighting the work of several different artists, such as Paul Klee, Grandma Moses, Georgia O’Keefe and Vincent Van Gogh. For our “trip” to the museum,  we transform one of the classrooms into a museum.  We move furniture and set up spaces to showcase our posters and pictures.   The children are given their “tickets” before they enter the museum, and, as they would in a real art museum, quietly walk around the room studying each picture.  We then ask them what particular pieces they like.  Their responses are always diverse, interesting and often very creative.  This is followed by going to our “museum cafe”, complete with tablecloths, candles (flameless), soft music, and a special snack.

As we near the end of the school year, it is a good time to reflect upon our year with its successes and also its challenges.  We as teachers are always striving to try new things, to keep what works and change what doesn’t, and to always, in all we do, respect your children as the fascinating, creative, unique little people that they are.  We thank you for your support this year, and we wish you all a fun and also restful summer.

{As teachers} “We must create a favorable environment that will
encourage the flowering of a child’s natural gifts….
The first thing to be done, therefore, is to discover the true nature
of the child and then assist him in his normal development. ”

                                     Maria Montessori,  The Secret of Childhood

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