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 October begins, our children are still not quite ready to put away the sea animals. We are continuing to talk about the different types of whales and sharks and learn about the habits of the dolphin, manatee, squid and sea lion, manta ray, octopus, etc.  Since fall has begun, the themes we will be thinking and learning about next are related to autumn.  Our areas of study this month will include apples, pumpkins and trees and the leaves they produce. And of course at the end of the month is Halloween. 
In addition to our fall thematic work, some interesting Montessori exercises will be put on our shelves in all curriculum areas.  We have done sponge squeezing in preparation for table scrubbing and baby washing which are  also on our Practical Life shelves.  Now pumpkin scrubbing will be brought in.  With regard to all the washing and scrubbing, these exercises, although seemingly simple, do encourage the children to work on multi-step tasks with concentration and organization, and when the work is completed, they show a real sense of satisfaction.  We haven’t even been back to school for a month, but there is surprisingly less water on the floor in Practical Life than there was two weeks ago or than there usually is this time of year!  We have often referred to the Practical Life area in the early weeks of school as a “water park”!  Not so much this year.  Since we demonstrate the water activities quietly on circle, the children try to emulate what they see using very “careful hands” for pouring and for scrubbing, and they are doing a great job completing the task and then cleaning up and putting away their work, sometimes with help.   Also in Practical Life there will be more difficult tweezing and spooning work using apples and pumpkins, and we will be making Halloween bracelets with orange and/or black beads.  This is a great exercise to improve fine motor skills, and the children love doing it.  We will also place our napkin folding work on the shelf.
In the Language area we will be identifying leaves such as oak, maple, sassafras, gingko, sycamore tulip, etc.  We bring in the actual leaves for the children to handle and sort.  Hopefully by the end of the month, we will be able to identify some of the many tress around school.  As the leaves start to change this month, the children are usually excited to witness the recurring cycles of nature.  We will also be bringing in the different kinds of apples including Macintosh, Red and Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Honeycrisp.  There will be apple and leaf matching and sequencing exercises available, and, as always, both fiction and non fiction books related to autumn themes in each class library.  Math will feature some new counting work with mini apples, pumpkins and leaves.
In Sensorial there is lots of creative building happening using the  boxes of knobless cylinders as well as the knobbed cylinder blocks and the red rods.  Also in Sensorial,  we will be tasting apples and asking the children which they like best.  In the past many have liked the Macintosh the best as it’s a little sweeter.  The Honeycrisp has also been quite popular.  On the Sensorial shelves are many new puzzles using fall scenes, pumpkins, apples and leaves.
At the art table, the children will be creating tissue and glitter apples and pumpkins,  doing some leaf rubbing and making falling leaf collages and pumpkin patches.  We have leaf, pumpkin and apple stencils available at the easel. 
Another Parkside fun fall activity is bulb planting which will take place later in the month.  We will be planting crocuses, daffodils, tulips and hyacinths around the playground and near our entrance.  On circle we demonstrate how to prepare the garden bed using a large shallow container of dirt.   We  then plant the actual bulbs in the box using the necessary tools which include the claw, bulb planter and spade.  Each bulb has its own distinct look.  Crocuses are tiny, hyacinths have a purple skin or outer layer, daffodils are large, brown and jagged looking, and tulips are smooth and rounder.  After the indoor demonstrations, we are ready to move the process outside where each child will have the opportunity to plant a bulb or two.  They will see for themselves that the bulbs will rest in their “cozy beds” deep under the ground through the fall and winter and will eventually emerge as beautiful colored flowers next spring.  The lesson does help children look for and recognize the natural changes each season brings in temperature, on the ground, in the trees and in the sky.  
Of course the highlight of October for many of the children is Halloween.  We have a large repertoire of Halloween songs and moving games, and the art table will feature quite a few pumpkin/jack-o’lantern projects.  We will be carving jack-o-lanterns on circle as well. 
This year Halloween falls on a Tuesday, and the children should not wear their costumes to school.  It makes what is already a very exciting day/evening a little too long for children so young.  We will be celebrating with treats, games and songs, but no costumes.
We have introduced our year-long theme of Peace.  We first tell the children that Peace means many things… being kind, caring, gentle and respectful  towards others, sharing with friends, helping teachers and classmates,  staying busy and just feeling happy.  We have a designated area in each classroom called the Peace Corner in which there is a table which holds books about peace, a Peace Flower and a Peace Bowl with pretty Peace stones.  We have some wonderful and colorful books and also some beautiful pictures of children who are showing peace towards others thereby illustrating  the meaning of Peace.  Early on we show the children the importance of kindness (peace) in the classroom.  When a little one does something kind for a friend or teacher, he or she is invited to place a  stone in the Peace Bowl.  A stone could represent helping a classmate clean up his or her work, comforting a friend who is sad or upset, giving up a seat next to the teacher or a place in line to someone who seems to really need that seat or that place, helping a classmate button or zip a coat, or assisting a teacher with snack or art area set-up.  Of course, in the beginning of these discussions, the children love to literally toss stones in the bowl, enjoying the noise they make as they hit the bottom.  However, they do come to understand with our encouragement  and suggestions, that each stone represents an act of kindness and good will towards someone else, and these acts are important and valuable in the creation of  a happy and peaceful environment.  We and many Montessorians before us have found that such an environment is conducive not only to learning, but also to positive social interaction, and often we are amazed by the natural empathy shown by even the youngest of students.  Over the next few months we will continue our Peace curriculum by talking about feelings…happy, sad, angry, scared, etc., and also we will have some exercises in conflict resolution, again, in our Peace Corner.  More on that to follow next month.
   “Peace education is not only to be taught;  it is most effective as an
ongoing experience in the classroom community.  Such a community 
values each member as a unique individual; it encompasses
the habits of respect and fairness;  it encourages the peaceful
resolution of conflicts; and it gives each person
a sense of belonging to a group whose combined efforts
can be greater than that of any one member.”
                                                                                                 Aline Wolf
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