Montessori Pathways' News

October, 2012

Notes from Miss Alena

Montessori Elementary School in Crystal Lake, Lake in the Hills


       October began with the delivery of the school library books, which had been ordered with the Mums Sale Fundraiser money. Both of our Primary Classrooms (ages 3-6) received several sets of Primary Phonics Books, to help develop reading skills. Montessori Elementary School in Crystal Lake, Lake in the Hills


        The Elementary class received the highest level of the Primary Phonics books, as well as several sets of fiction books for group reading and many non-fiction books.


        I wanted to share my observation of the Elementary classroom. The children have a non-fiction reading area, as well as a fiction reading area. However, the non-fiction area appears far more popular among the kids! The students spend a lot of time there, and if any debate or disagreement arises, they head straight for this area to learn more information and reach a conclusion.


Montessori Elementary School in Crystal Lake, Lake in the Hills         In the middle of October we held our first Parent Evening, “Developing Problem Solvers through Critical Thinking Activities.” Thank you to everyone who attended! One of our parents later said that “the meeting was very inspirational.”


        Our next meeting will be Wednesday, November 7th, at 6:30: “This is My Classroom.” We invite all of the parents and their children. During this evening, the children will have a chance to share their favorite area and materials at the moment. We hope to see you there!


        I would like to close with an anecdote from the Elementary class. While driving some of the Elementary students to a field trip, I listened to their conversations with each other. Compared to last year, their conversations are much more mature and informed. They have started utilizing evidence, drawing conclusion and analyzing.


        For example, one of the kids was sharing the story of how her tooth had fallen out. While eagerly waiting for the tooth fairy at night, she kept peeking every time that the door opened, but it was only her mom. Then, when she had woken up the next morning and discovered a surprise under her pillow, she decided that it was her mom and not the tooth fairy who had left it because “I fell asleep when my door was open but I woke up to find it closed. The tooth fairy is so small and fragile; she couldn’t have closed the door on her own! It must have been my mom.”


Montessori Preschool School in Cary, Lake in the Hills         Another time, on the way back from the farm, the children were very excited. One of the boys was very excited a bit louder in the car, so a girl was asking him to stop, to calm down, to lower his voice, etc. And then, she began spelling it: “S-T-O-P. S-T-O-P I-T.” The boy responded likewise: “N-O. Two syllables.” The girl corrected him, stating that the word is two letters, but one syllable, which lead the children to an experiment of syllable clapping, as they had done in Kindergarten with Ms. Jocelyn. A discussion of respecting each other’s feelings continued, which lead the boy to state that he will just tie his shoes instead. The girl responded with “yes, tie it and please, be quiet.” They were excited to discover the spontaneous creation of a rhyme, which lead to a whole different discussion of rhymes!


        We had a wonderful morning on Halloween! Everyone’s costumes were so cute, kind, and creative. A popular costume of a drying machine was actually hand-made by one of the moms!


Montessori Preschool School in Cary, Lake in the Hills         The preschoolers visited each other’s classrooms, sang songs to each other, and finished by singing a song together. It was amazing to see how friendly and organized the children were throughout the morning. The preschoolers also visited the Elementary classroom to show their costumes. They heard a performance by the Elementary kids and received special treats from them. It is wonderful to see the Elementary children taking care of their younger friends.


        The teachers and I are so happy to have an Elementary class this year as it not only gives the children a chance to continue their education, but also provides the entire school with leaders. There is a strong sense of care for the younger children in the school and it makes for a wonderful atmosphere throughout the day.


        Thank you very much to all our teachers, who prepared and organized this wonderful celebration, and Ms. Mary Perrone, Mr. Bob Pan, Ms. Rochelle Smyk, Ms. Linda Mugdur for their help during this event.


        Miss Alena




Working with Montessori materials:

 The Silence Area in the classroom




Montessori Preschool School in Cary, Lake in the Hills        Some call it the peace area, the silence corner, the peace table or the peace shelf. All these names and places in the Montessori classroom serve a similar purpose. It is an area where the children are able to go and calm their minds and bodies. This area in the classroom is for one child to visit at a time when they feel the need. While in this area, it is the expectation that the child is quiet and the other children are expected to not disturb the person visiting the peace area.


       The peace area in the elementary classroom is located at a table. On the table we have a book titled “Our Peaceful Classroom” which is written by children from Montessori schools around the world. Other items at the table include a stress ball, a large and small sand timer, a plant and a nature picture. The children also came up with a list of guidelines to follow while visiting the peace table.


        On this table we also have our peace stone placed in a basket. The stone is used when there is a conflict between two students. One brings over the peace stone to the student whom they are having a conflict with. While holding it, they state what happened and why they are upset to the other student. The stone is then passed. The child who was listening repeats back what the first child said. This is a skill that takes some work because it requires active listening during a conflict (something that is difficult for adults at times too). The child who repeated the problem to the fist student then gets a turn to either apologize or explain their point of view and it continues until the conflict is resolved. This takes practice, but the children appreciate the process and utilize it when a conflict arises. Montessori Preschool School in Cary, Lake in the Hills


        In the South room there is also a peace table that has a basket with a little sign that says "Silence", a Book of Peace (peace symbols and words from around the world) and a liquid timer (which is quite mesmerizing). The Peace Table faces the outdoors. There is also a special basket used for practicing group silence that has a variety of quiet instruments (earth bell, chime eggs, rain forest frog croaking) to play to signal end of silence.


        Group silence is an activity practiced in both the early childhood classes and the elementary classroom usually once per day. It is a time of quiet reflection and a chance to build self-control. During the next few weeks the South room will be adding a peace rose for conflict resolution and a quiet rug. The peace rose is used in a similar way as the peace stone in elementary. One child speaks by telling what they want and why ("please don't shout, it hurts my ears") then passes the rose. The other child apologizes and passes the rose back then the first child says "thank you". The peace rose will help to establish whose turn it is to talk and be able to engage both children to listen and speak in the process.


Montessori Preschool School in Cary, Lake in the Hills         The East room has a similar process used for conflict resolution. They also utilize a quiet area, which contains books for the students to quietly read and look through, and a relaxing tabletop fountain.


        Peace education is an extremely important part of the Montessori education. We strive to give the children tools and opportunities to experience peace and learn about peaceful living in many ways. Consider making a peace area in your home for all the family to use. I am sure we could all benefit from some quiet time every now and then!



Miss Katy