Montrose Messenger

Montrose News, November - December 2019

November in Review

WOW! December is here! I hope this newsletter finds you safe, warm and basking in the glow of gratitude.

In November, we had our first visit from Ms. Amalia, the Maplewood Public Library Children's Librarian. She read, sang and whispered some of her favorite books. The children had a delightful time during her classroom visits! Please venture out to MPL to say hello to our friend Ms. Amalia! She'd be thrilled to see you!

Thank you for donating to the November Food Drive with the Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills. Our goal was to gather and donate 300 items to our neighbors in the Orange School District. It was a great effort, and we collected about 250 items. These donations made a difference for so many families! On behalf of JLOSH, the Mayor of Orange, the Superintendent of the Orange Public Schools and all their collective teams, THANK YOU!

Finally, a big thanks to you - the Montrose PTA! We appreciate the two new basketball hoops, the sturdy hula hoops and the student bathroom privacy curtains. These items will continue to help us create a healthy and nurturing environment for all students.

In December, we will discuss science concepts which include recycling and being smart consumers of energy. Children may remind you to help the environment by reducing waste and turning off lights when leaving a room empty.

Looking forward to a wonderful month!

Mrs. Samuels

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Welcome Ms. Nikki, School Secretary

My name is Nicole Burns but my family calls me Nikki, so please call me the same!

I have been married for 20 years to a wonderful man, Christopher and we have 3 beautiful children. Christian is a student at Ohio State University (go Buckeyes!). Riley and Miss Alex are high school students. We also have a 7 year old Weimaraner, Graycie! I had the PLEASURE of being a stay-at-home-mom with them and fully believe they were the best years of my life! Raising them has been the most rewarding experience I have encountered to date! As parents of young children, you know how many hats we wear and I wear them all with pride!

I love the beach and everything summer! I also love to ski and the winter months! Breckenridge, CO is one of my favorite places in both seasons and look forward to many trips there! I like to read and to exercise and stay fit. I spend lots of time with my family (or as much as I can with their busy schedules!)

Being involved in community and working in a school environment matter to me. Having the opportunity to work at MECC allows me to fulfill a greater sense of accomplishment that marries with the joy I get from managing my own family. I look forward to working at Montrose and getting to know you and your families!

I can be reached at

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Curriculum Spotlight: Story Lab - Making Connections

Students gain a deeper understanding (comprehension) of a text when they make authentic connections. Students are thinking when they are connecting, which allows them to be more engaged in the reading experience.

Connections is a Story Lab activity designed to teach children to intentionally make connections and learn to think about the kind of connections they are making. The "Connections card" is used to help children categorize their connections after they make them.

When discussing connections, children can make:

  • text to text connections, making a connection between the book we’re reading and another book we’ve read;
  • text to me (self) connections, making a connection between a book and something we’ve experienced, and
  • text to world connection, making a connection between a book and something we learned about in the world

When you are reading with your child, encourage them to make connections by asking some of the following questions. Choose the ones which are most appropriate for your child's developmental level.

  • Focusing on text-to-self connections:
    • What does this story remind you of?
    • Can you relate to the characters in the story?
    • Does anything in this story remind you of anything in your life?
  • Focusing on text-to-text connections:
    • What does this remind you of in another book we have read?
    • How is this similar to other things we have read?
    • How is this different from other things we have read?
  • Focusing on text-to-world connections:
    • What does this remind you of in the real world?
    • How are events in this story similar to things that happen in the real world?
    • How are events in this story different from things that happen in the real world?

This article provides helpful tips on making connections during your reading time.
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Reusable Bag Ordinance

South Orange recently passed an ordinance encouraging the use of reusable shopping bags and prohibiting plastic single use bags in retail stores. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2020 and as part of the campaign to make S.O. shoppers aware, the Village will distribute free reusable bags to each student in the District. Please check out for more information.
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The Flu Vaccine is required for all children age 6 months through 59 months who attend Pre-School.

It is mandatory that the vaccine be given between September 1st and December 31st of each year.

We MUST receive your documentation of Influenza Vaccination before we leave for Holiday recess on December 20, 2019 or your child will not be able to return to school on January 2, 2020.

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Little People, Big Dreams

Nurse Steffi has graciously donated an amazing series of books called "Little People, Big Dreams". Each book is a celebration of uniqueness. From designers and artists to scientists and athletes, across ethnicity, identity and socioeconomic status, each subject was a child with a dream.

Here is a short video on the biographies, and here is a Q&A with the author of most of the books, Isabel Sanchez Vegara as well as a peek at what she's working on next.

These nonfiction books will enhance children's ability to see themselves as dreamers who can become "doers". They will also increase our knowledge of many historical influencers and continue to expand practices through a lens of equity.

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Gross Motor Development

One of the biggest areas of focus in gross motor development at the preschool level is “Body Awareness”. Body awareness is literally being aware of our bodies and all its different parts. We use body awareness to understand where our bodies are in space and how our bodies move.

Body awareness is important because it helps us develop our fine and gross motor skills, but it also helps us do simple tasks without thinking about how our bodies are going to move. Think about the last time you sat on a chair. How much did you have to think about that movement? Chances are, you probably didn’t think at all. Your body just did the task.

This concept can be difficult for children, because they are still learning about their bodies and how they fit in space. They rely on their vision to help them know where they are in space as they move throughout their day. As they grow and practice, completing tasks over and over again, gaining a greater sense of their bodies, they gain a better sense of body awareness. This is why children seem to always be on the go; they are obtaining body awareness by figuring out how they are moving. When children don’t gain this bodily awareness as they should, they lack development of their proprioceptive system.

The “proprioceptive sense” refers to the sensory input and feedback that tells us about body position, movement and the sense of where you are in relationship to the space around you. The receptors are located in the muscles, joints, ligaments, and other connective tissue, and bring information back to your brain. Without this important system, we would not know where different parts of our body where when not looking at each part.

Tasks such as sitting at their table or sitting cross-legged on the story time rug can be extremely difficult for children struggling with body awareness development. Their full attention will be on their bodies, not on whatever is being taught. Poor body awareness can also lead to difficulties in handwriting, pencil pressure, and poor pencil grip later in school.

A child’s proprioceptive system is not typically fully developed until the age of seven or even eight. So we expect a wide range of proprioceptive experimentation and exploration during the preschool and early elementary school years.

5 Ways You Can Help Improve Body Awareness at Home:

  1. Increase the understanding of directional terms (up/ down, beside, over/ under). Have the child set up an obstacle course to complete. Discuss the actions/ movements that the child is completing. Have the child describe the movement verbally and complete the movements!

  2. Play fun games like Twister, “Simon Says”, or even movement imitation games like the Hokey Pokey! You can decrease the difficulty of the task with providing basic movements for your child to imitate. Left/ right discrimination will also be important for such activities.

  3. Play games that involve children identifying specific body parts. Start with the basics, and then add more detailed features. For example, have your child close their eyes and touch their head, arms, body, legs, hands, toes, etc. You can also increase/ decrease the difficulty of the task with adding various components. For example, touch right hand to your right foot, or touch your left hand to the floor, or touch your left elbow to your right knee. Also engage in drawing a picture of themselves and identifying the various body parts.

  4. Perform proprioceptive or “heavy work” tasks. Some suggestions for heavy work in the home include: pushing a heavy laundry basket, carrying the groceries, changing the loads of laundry, marching, animal crawls, and jumping/ crashing on the bed. In the school environment kids may move chairs/ desks, carry books, pushing/ pulling gym equipment, jumping, opening heavy doors, and wall push-ups or wheelbarrow walks.

  5. For increased body awareness to hands, you can provide play dough and modeling clay, have your child cut thick paper, explore various textures, allow some digging, and play tug of war.

If you have questions about your child's gross motor development, please contact their classroom teacher.

Nicole Gulino, PT, DPT

Daily 30-minute Gross Motor Time, as weather permits, will be outdoors. This allows children to get maximum movement and helps our program meet standards. We will follow the same guidelines as outdoor recess. Please be sure to dress your child for the weather. Layers are best.

Per ECERS-3 standards, preschool gross motor time may include:

  • pushing/pulling
  • jumping
  • hopping
  • using a jump rope or hula hoop
  • tossing things into containers
  • catching
  • throwing
  • kicking

You can support your child's gross motor development by taking a look at these 8 Gross Motor Skills Activities for Kids

5 Tips to Help Children Develop Body Awareness
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Getting Through the Holiday Season with a Preschooler

Holidays can bring laughter, joy and family traditions. However, for families who have preschoolers and/or children with special needs, the holiday may bring additional challenges when dealing with shopping, cooking, preparation, and decorating. Here are a few tips to help families prepare and make family gathering and shopping time less stressful.

Family Gatherings

  1. Utilize a relaxation technique such as deep breathing. Practice ahead of time so your child feels comfortable using the technique.
  2. Use social stories to help with anxiety. If possible, use actual pictures and start reading your story prior to the event.
  3. Create a “cozy corner” with a bean bag, a heavy blanket, calming music, noise cancellation headphones, and/or a favorite toy where your child can go whenever they show you they are feel overwhelmed.
  4. Send a letter, email, or a text message to the family members prior to family gathering to explain your child’s progress and suggestions for conversation topics. For example: “Eleanor’s grown so much! She’s learned how to button her jacket, draw lines and circles and clean up her toys. She really likes Elsa from “Frozen”. Here’s a link to the Frozen website if you’d like more information. Please know that even though she is not looking directly into your eyes, she IS listening to you and loves you!”
  5. At mealtime, make sure to serve a preferred food. It may not be the best time to try encouraging your child to taste new food.
  6. You can take family members’ pictures, match with their names and make a book or keep them on your phone. Rehearse family names and faces with your child prior to the event.


Stores can be very stressful and sensory places during the holiday season, even for adults. Scents, bright colors, loud music and crowds can be extremely overwhelming to anyone, and this can be significantly magnified when a child has sensory processing difficulties.

  1. If possible, allow children who may be overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of shopping to stay home while you’re shopping.
  2. If you are purchasing gifts, set up a store at home. Your child can choose a gift for family from your selection and then help you wrap and decorate it with markers or stickers.
  3. If a child must attend a shopping trip, schedule downtime or breaks for children to de-sensitize. This can be in the car with some crunchy snacks, a weighted blanket and some calming music.
  4. Plan your trip and ask children to help you create a visual schedule and/ or shopping lists. Allow the child to mark off completed tasks and errands so that they have some control of the situation.

With some preparation , rehearsal, and a positive attitude, a successful holiday season is possible. Remember that memories are long-lasting and even short periods of success are welcomed by everyone.

Resource used:

Rita Romayev, Occupational Therapist

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We're Talking about Dental Health

We will soon begin lessons on teaching good dental hygiene. Each class will have a visit from Nurse Steffi, who will discuss healthy dental habits. We believe that these lessons will help children begin to understand the importance of good health and hygiene.

Dental Hygiene

Dental hygiene refers to the practice of keeping the mouth, teeth, and gums clean and healthy to prevent disease. Dental hygiene is an essential part of our everyday lives.

Tooth Decay

For children, untreated cavities can cause pain, absence from school and difficulty concentrating on learning.

Here are some things you can do to ensure good oral health for your child:

  • Encourage your children to eat regular nutritious meals and avoid frequent between-meal snacking

  • Protect your child’s teeth with fluoride, if recommended by your dentist

  • Talk to your child’s dentist about dental sealants

  • Regularly floss teeth

Proper tooth brushing is critically important to good dental hygiene. You can help your children practice proper tooth brushing by starting to clean teeth early, using the right amount of fluoride toothpaste, supervising tooth brushing, and talking to a pediatrician or dentist about your child’s specific fluoride needs.

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Dates to Remember

December 4 - Half Day - Parent/Teacher Conferences

December 5 - Half Day - Parent/Teacher Conferences

December 6 - Half Day - Parent/Teacher Conferences

December 10 - Half Day - Professional Development

December 20 - School Spirit Day: Pajama Day

December 23 - January 1 - Holiday Recess

January 20 - MLK Day: District Closed

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SOMSD Preschool Schedule, Delayed Opening and Early Dismissal Information

The regular school day schedule is as follows:

Montrose 8:30AM - 2:30PM Marshall preschool 8:50AM - 2:50PM

If the District announces a delayed opening, preschool starts 2 hours later than the normal start time. This means that classes at Montrose start at 10:30AM and at Marshall, preschool class begin at 10:50AM.

In the case of a District announcement of early dismissal, Montrose's dismissal time is 11:30AM and Marshall's dismissal time is 11:50AM.