MCH April Newsletter

Happy Spring!


APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

(photo of resident MCH Mourning Dove)

Jim's Ramblings

I often get asked by prospective parents and by parents of children aging out of MCH about how children transition to a more traditional school environment. Of course, this is a challenging question to answer, as I am not aware of any scientific data to suggest a trend and because every situation is different. The implied question is how do they transition from a child directed, autonomous, respectful, learning environment to an adult directed environment in which decisions are made for the child throughout the day. I find the question itself an unfortunate one, as I wish our society supported a public Montessori program or at least something more like Montessori. Regardless of how I feel, there are many factors that go into an appropriate answer but the bottom line is that the children will do okay when they have parents that love and respect them. When you first came to MCH, we probably encouraged you to visit beforehand and have foreshadowing conversations with your child. We also hopefully encouraged you to have a predictable drop off routine so that the transition went smoother. So when it comes time to move on, I encourage you to do the same thing for the new school. Discuss with your child what things will be different and what things will be the same. Try to learn as much as you can about the new school and teacher and when that first day comes, drop off with confidence. Remember, nobody likes transitions (not just Montessori kids) but once you are through them, things get better. Perhaps the bigger question is not how do they transition but why do they have to transition?



Spring Fundraiser

Thank you to all families that participated in our Spring Fundraiser! We raised over $750 for purchasing classroom materials!

Classroom Updates

Upstairs Preschool Classroom

Happy Spring from Upstairs Preschool! Elena brought in two flowers from her garden - scilla and snowdrops. At school, we have seen crocus and daffodils pop up. We encourage your child to bring in a stem or two for show and tell, if you have spring flowers in your garden.

In the science area, we are focusing on sea animals. At group, we are learning a finger play called "Five Little Fishes" (see below) and are learning Raffi's "Baby Beluga".

Five little fishes, swimming in a pool. (wiggle five fingers)
First one said, "The pool is cool". (wrap arms around body)

Second on said, "The pool is deep". (say it in a deep voice)

The third one said, "Let's go to sleep". (hands resting on the side of head)
Fourth one said, "Let's take a dip". (swimming motion)
Fifth one said, "I spy a ship". (peer out from behind hand )
Fishing boat comes, "Fingers from V and move away from body)
Line goes ker-splash (pantominme throwing fishing line)
Away the fish little fishies dash.(wiggle five fingers away)

We are reviewing the peace rose process - our main way to resolve conflicts. The children use the peace rose (an artificial flower) to take turns talking to share their feelings and solve the problem. A great book about the process is The Peace Rose - by Alicia Olson.

We look forward to conferences! Let us know if you have any questions.

See below: Chilling in the Canoe :)

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Downstairs Preschool West Classroom

Happy Spring! We have been busy in our classroom preparing for the warmer weather by planting vegetable and flower seeds. We inspected a variety of seeds before beginning this project - the children were interested in seeing and feeling the diversity in seed shapes and sizes. We are growing the vegetables for our school garden, but the children will be able to take home their flower after they finish growing.

We've also been continuing our classroom discussion on peace. Our classroom discussion has tried to narrow down what exactly peace feels like - do you HAVE to be quiet to be peaceful? (NO!) How do you know when you are at peace? What can you do to find peace? - and how to take action to create peace - how can you work for peace when you are angry, or when you witness an injustice? These big ideas are often hard for adults to come to terms with, but the simplicity with which the children address these topics is often enlightening. We often begin group time by singing Peace is the World Smiling, or I Feel Peaceful and Calm - you can listen to these songs on YouTube by clinking on the song titles

Caitlin has continued to update the class on the growth and development of her baby. Each week, she gives an update on the size of the baby, and area of growth. The children were very surprised to learn that the baby can already hear! Many conversations are now directed towards Caitlin's belly. :) We've also discussed the purpose of the umbilical cord, placenta, and amniotic fluid.

We look forward to sharing your children's work with you at Parent-Teacher Conferences next week!

Downstairs Preschool East Classroom

Hello from Derek and Luz's class,

This past winter was amazing. The children have been steadily and happily working in the all areas of our classroom. The children have really come into their own in the classroom. One goal of a Montessori teacher is to try to establish a classroom where the teacher is hardly needed, or even noticed. What that's getting at, is that the children have become more self-sufficient and self- motivated and have achieved some independence from needing an adults' help. Our classroom has become a very peaceful place where the children have enjoyed working and learning with one another.

As always, the children have surprised me in how motivated they are to work on reading related works. Not a day goes by without multiple children asking me to do reading activities with them! After all these years teaching it shouldn't surprise me, but it still does.

Spring is here, so our classroom is going to transform into everything Spring here in Madison. Flowers, insects, birds and a whole bunch of gardening. We have already started turning the soil and taking out some early weeds. We will continue learn about what we need to do to prepare the soil for gardening and also start planting seeds and more bulbs.

Don't forget to sign up for conferences if you haven't yet.

Toddler Classroom

We’ve been continuing with our weekly cooking projects and recently have made Albanian Scones, roasted vegetables and apple crisp. Our toddlers continue to be very enthusiastic about all aspects of these projects--while they are refining motor skills, exploring with their senses and working together. We would encourage you to have your child participate with cooking/food prep at home.

Other easy ways for your child to participate in home life, include: plant watering, choosing clothes for the day, helping to feed pets, dusting, folding laundry, sweeping, setting the table, putting away his/her coat & shoes, helping to pack his/her lunch. Your child probably won't be able to do these things independently, but setting up systems or breaking these tasks into small steps--where your child can do a portion of these tasks can work. Although it is usually easier for adults to do these tasks themselves, having children participate in "care of the environment" and "care of self" at home will make for happier and more independent children. Other ways to help your child feel more involved at home include: reminding children of upcoming transitions, offering choices when possible, meaning what you say/following through with what you say, creating a weekly/daily schedule with words or pictures to help make things more predictable for your child and remembering to alert your child to changes in the schedule, for example, "we need to eat dinner early tonight because you have swim lessons." There are many good online blogs about ideas for Montessori in the home, one particularly good one is How We Montessori.

We've been enjoying having Kaha, our Madison College Practicum Student, in our classroom. She has her "lead teaching" day next Thursday 4/14 and will finish her practicum with us in early May. She's working on an Early Childhood degree from Madison College and in addition to coursework has to complete four practicum experiences in a variety of settings. We always appreciate the opportunity to work with and share Montessori experiences/philosophy with early childhood students.

A toddler room clothing note: please check your child’s extra supply to make sure that it's stocked with seasonably appropriate changes of clothing. Layers of clothing are great for this time of year--use a t-shirt as a first layer with a long-sleeve shirt or sweatshirt over that. This allows for options if our toddler room is warm (which it sometimes is due to the morning sun). Also, the children wash hands often, and participate in water works--short-sleeves are great for both of these activities and there's less chance for a wet shirt. Although we encourage toddlers to push up their sleeves to keep them dry, they are sometimes resistant to that. It's likely that pushing sleeves up bothers their sense of order--long sleeves are meant to be long. Many children are working on toilet learning/training. To help in this process, elastic waist (easy up & down) pants are best. Try to avoid onesies, overalls, belts, and tights. If you have Croc-type shoes, they can be easily rinsed and dried in the event of wet shoes from a toilet accident. We are working on the "up and over" method of putting on a coat.... Click here for further illustration!

Coming up soon in the toddler room...several birthdays, seed planting and more outdoor time. Don't forget to check the whiteboard near our classroom door for daily happenings.

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Extended Day Classroom

Dear Extended Day Parents,

We have been exploring the Solar System, distinguishing the rock planets from the gas giants, learning what makes day and night, and recently have moved on to constellations. The children have been introduced to several constellations and will be making up their own by drawing on black paper and punching holes where they want the stars to be. We would also like to make constellation boxes with them, so save those shoe boxes or boxes of similar size and bring them in any time. We have plenty of milk jugs now so thanks for that. Other upcoming events include sharing a telescope with the children that the Wochos donated last year, and acting out an astronaut's adventure in space to music.

Sung to the tune of "The Ants Go Marching"
Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, Hurrah, Hurrah
Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, Hurrah, Hurrah
Jupiter and Saturn are next in line
Uranus, Neptune and Pluto used to make nine

(Pluto is no longer considered a planet so we had to change the song.)

Our field trip to the planetarium at Memorial High School is coming up on Monday, April 25, from 1:30 to 2:30. We will be taking a bus over to the high school. We will send out a permission form the week before.

It has been great to have parents come for lunch and sometimes stay for reading time. Thanks for participating. We love having you.

Afternoon Program Updates

On our last trip "Around the World," we learned a lot about New Zealand! Ginger's family shared about their time living in New Zealand, Maori culture and art, the legend of Mount Taranaki, and read The Anzac Biscuit Man. Thank you to Ginger's family for donating a Maori doll in traditional clothing that we can use for future "trips!" We prepared and tasted Anzac Biscuits, sweet potatoes (called Kumara in New Zealand) and beets and colored flags. Next week, Bowen's mom Camille and his grandfather will be sharing pictures from their time in New Zealand, Maori traditional carvings and masks to color. She will also bring in cheese and crackers from New Zealand for us to try!

On our next trip, we will be traveling to India! We already had the pleasure of watching Ananya, Krish, and Isha dance traditional Indian and Bollywood dances. We are excited to have Samarth and Siyona's family coming in to share more about Indian cuisine and culture over the next few weeks!

A big thank you to all of the families who have shared about their families, travels, and culture and enriched our Afternoon Program this semester! As always, all parents are welcome to join us in the Afternoon Program to participate in our Around the World activities. Contact Havva at
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Family Connections Committee Updates

Family Connections Committee

The Family Connections committee is MCH's parent group focused on school social events and fundraising, as well as enhancing parent and community communication. If you want to get involved, just let Jim or Laura know.

Upcoming Events

  • There is another Parent Discussion Group coming up on Tue 4/26. Watch for an Evite with all the details. This parent-led group provides a great chance for parents to get to know each other better while exploring parenting topics of interest. Thank you to Sarah Bannen, Jacinda Kopp, and Valerie Hicks for organizing this new group this year!
  • Mark your calendars for the MCH Spring Work Day on Sat 5/14 from 9am – 12pm. This is a fun day to come together as a community to spruce up the MCH grounds and do some inside spring cleaning. It is also one of the ways to satisfy some of your required parent volunteer hours if you still need to do so.
  • An early heads-up that MCH will be holding its annual rummage sale on Sat 6/4. Set aside children's clothing and toys for donations as you do your spring cleaning. We will need many volunteers for rummage sale pricing on Friday 6/3 in the evening and to work sale shifts on Saturday 6/4.
  • The next parent coffee will be on Wed 5/4.
  • The next Family Connections meeting will be Wed 5/4 7:30pm @ Barriques on Monroe St.
  • End of the Year Picnic at Westmorland Park, Tuesday 6/7 6 pm (rain date Weds 6/8 at MCH)

    Extended Day Graduation Thursday 6/9 at 1:30 pm

All events are also listed on the calendar on the MCH website.

Parent Education Night

At the Parent Education night held a few weeks ago (3/16), Caitlin and Elena discussed a core idea of Montessori philosophy; the integral connection between child, teacher, and environment.

The Environment

Practical Life ✦ Sensorial ✦ Language ✦ Math ✦ Geography ✦ Science ✦ Art

Montessori says…

"It is imperative that a school allow a child's activities to freely develop. For this is the essential change to be made if a scientific form of education is to come into being."

“A child in his earliest years, when he is only two or a little more, is capable of tremendous achievements simply through his unconscious power of absorption, though he is himself still immobile. After the age of three he is able to acquire a great number of concepts through his own efforts in exploring his surroundings. In this period he lays hold of things through his own activity and assimilates them into his mind.”

The Teacher

Montessori says…

"What is the greatest sign of success for a teacher thus transformed? It is to able to say, "The children are now working as if I did not exist."

"I would therefore initiate teachers into the observation of the most simple forms of living things, which all those aids which science gives; I would make them microscopists; I would give them a knowledge of the cultivation of plants and train them to observe their physiology; I would direct their observation to insects, and would make them study the general laws of biology. And I would not have them concerned with theory alone, but would encourage them to work independently in laboratories and in the bosom of free Nature."

The Child

Montessori says…

“A child in his earliest years, when he is only two or a little more, is capable of tremendous achievements simply through his unconscious power of absorption, though he is himself still immobile. After the age of three he is able to acquire a great number of concepts through his own efforts in exploring his surroundings. In this period he lays hold of things through his own activity and assimilates them into his mind.”

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