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Favorite Winter Reads Loree Birkenback

Don’t you just love curling up with a

org) gives some terrific examples of

great book with your child? Does your

hands-on activities to do just that. After

child have an absolute favorite book that

reading “The Snowy Day” and “Snow is

you must read numerous times a day? I

Falling” for a few days with your child,

believe that this special reading time fills

you can talk to your child about the

so many needs…plus it is just so much

stories. “What did Peter wear to help him

fun! I have attached three of my favorite

keep warm?” Snow and ice feel cold, but

winter toddler books and four of my

did you know they can also help you feel

favorite winter books geared for primary

warm? In “Snow is Falling” you’ll learn

children. Ezra Jack Keats’s “The Snowy

some creatures stay above the ground

Day” and “Snow is Falling” are actually

while others burrow under to stay warm

applicable for both age ranges!

and hibernate. They have a big fall feast

One way to increase your child’s ability

in order to store up enough energy to get

to practice the sequence of the story

through the winter.

and the ability to re-tell the story is by physically connecting with the literature. Reading Rockets (www.readingrockets.

Ask your child which burrowing animal she would like to be. What should she do to prepare for winter? Eat a snack, dress warmly in your most comfortable sweater and pants “winter coat of fur”, and prepare your special burrow…perhaps a table with a white blanket (snow) over it. More blankets and pillows inside the burrow could keep out the cold! Older children may like to also leave tracks of the type of animal they’ve become so mom and dad can find them. A great website for all types of animal tracks is After your child “wakes” from their winter sleep, it might be fun to make some home-made ice cream! This recipe takes less than 10 minutes and requires no machine! Favorite winter books for toddlers :

For primary aged children:




Supplies 1 quart size plastic zipper - topped bag 1 gallon size plastic zipper-topped bag Ice cubes 1/4 ice cream salt or rock salt 1/2 cup of milk

1/4 tsp vanilla flavoring ( or other flavoring) 1 Tbsp of sugar 1/4 ice cream salf or rock salt

Directions: 1. Fill the large bag half full of ice cubes and add the salt. 2. Put milk, vanilla and sugar into the small bag and zip it closed. 3. Place the small bag inside the large one and zip it closed. 4. Shake until the mixture turns into soft ice cream, about 7 minutes. 5. Open and Enjoy!


Roman is painting with a paper towel roll that we made into a heart. He loved this work

Braysen is working on a valentines day work. He is gluing hearts onto the brown bag

We hope everyone has had a wonderful new year so far! The children sure have! They all came back so ready to work. We have been having so much success with potty training since we have been back. We have over half of our mothers day out children potty trained! We are SOOO proud of all of the children. We will be putting our auction basket out very soon right outside our classroom. Our amazing room moms have chosen family night out. We will be sending out handouts with ideas for the basket. Our valentines parties will be Feb 11th and 12th from 1011. And Feb 14th is a noon dismissal for mothers day out! There is no after care offered on this day. -MDO

Alex is watering the plants while Holden watches closely



This month has been a whirl wind of new works in the classroom. Stepping it up a notch with works that have more steps in the work cycle; washing clothes, color matching cards and tiles, number drop 1-10 and bear counting/sorting 1-5 to just name a few. We are still trying to remember our days of the week and adding the 2013 has been a challenge for even myself. In art we are still making our snowflakes and reading stories of snow so the snow day here at school was a huge hit on the playground. Some of the older toddlers decided they wanted to build a snowman and made a very small but very cute tiny snowman. All the children loved the snow and for some the first experience of even seeing snow. What a fun and exciting time by all. In cooking, the children have really enjoyed our "Grape and broccoli pasta salad", even asking for seconds, and the prepping of the salad has introduced several new ingredients that the children say are "yummy". Mrs. Anna and Ms. Bea

Sensorial Work in the Toddler Community Ask any adult who went to a Montessori preschool as a child about their fondest school memories and the chances are high that they will involve the pink tower, red rods or brown stair. Perhaps it is the beautiful painted or stained finish, the pleasing linear design or even the fact that these are very special lessons only received when the teacher observes that you are ready. The fact remains that the unique apparatus designed by Maria Montessori to teach refinement of the senses has withstood the test of time and is still one of the most relevant elements of foundational Montessori instruction one hundred years later. These early primary works have a special place in the toddler’s environment and often do not make as appearance until early spring when many of the late two year olds and early three year olds have matured into composed, focused leaders, eager for each new lesson and dedicated to perfecting each element. The introductory lessons begin with color box 1 which introduces children to the names of the primary colors using a tried and true method of teaching called the three-period lesson. The children follow this with a matching game. Next may be introduction to the fabrics. Children learn to differentiate textures, patterns and names of various types of fabric like velvet and burlap. Once the children gain mastery of the names and patterns, they may use the fabrics to play a matching and memory game.

Probably the most sought after lesson in the sensorial learning area is the pink tower. Children learn a lot of language in the first lesson, identifying the color, learning about largest cube and the smallest cube and discussing the vertical nature of towers. Some children may observe that there are ten cubes which is an intentional indirect introduction to the decimal system. Finally the children sit watching attentively as their teacher slowly, meticulously, builds the tower, largest to smallest. After deconstructing it piece by piece the child, always eager, may begin work. The children love this work and are drawn to it over and over again, perfecting their sense for discriminating dimensions. The children are also introduced to the cylinder block around this time. It also introduces language, the decimal system, left to right for logical continuation with future reading, discrimination of dimension and volume, and great attention to fine motor strength by using the requisite pincer grasp. A few children who gain mastery of these works will move on to work with the brown stair and the red rods. Not only do these works allow us to keep the children excited and challenged, but it also provides a link into the primary class. Many children find it comforting to find familiar work on the shelf of their big new primary classrooms. Introducing sensorial work in the Toddler Community to those who are ready provides a wonderful learning experience for all in the classroom. Ms. Hixon

color box matching

Fabric matching memory game

Eloise with the brown stair

Cameron receives a lesson on the cylinder block


udrey completes the pink tower with great focus

Ms. Coral’s class has been buzzing with friends counting objects, building unique structures with different tools, and practicing rich language activities. Some of the objects we have been counting are: pegs, teddy bears, stones, and the days of the week. The first year students have been busy practicing their fine motor skills and experimenting with water works, while the second year students have been engrossed in language activities while they practice their blossoming social skills! This week some of the children were confused on what a fruit was. This resulted in the older children carrying the heavy snack bag to the big rug.

The children carefully took out each item and began to lay in on the rug; we then began to speak about characteristics of fruit, vegetables, dairy, and carbs. Ms. Coral had all of the children take a turn and talk about which item they had and what food group it belonged with. The children were thrilled with the knowledge and were amazed that some fruits can also look like vegetables! We categorized! As we watch children grow, we become aware of the transformation they go through as individuals. Following the child by observing is the best way you can help your child do the best work they can!

Here, Korah builds her own variation of the Broad Stair.

Aidan using her fine motor skills to slice a banana and have a yummy snack!

Here, Christian builds his skills pouring dry objects. This is the first step to pouring water in the toddler classroom

Jackson practicing his language and matching skills with rock matching

Jax using his fine motor skills to open play dough lid; then to roll and cut the play dough!

The Fruit Basket the three year olds were so proud to put together!

Winter Nights At Home The short days of January invite us to “hunker down” and enjoy a cozy evening at home. The calendar seems less hectic after the holidays, and perhaps the children don’t have as many after-school activities. This is a good time to schedule a special evening with the whole family. I have fond memories of those winter nights when we would gather around to hear my dad read aloud the latest chapter of one of the Little House on the Prairie books. It might come with some groans of resistance when your children realize this means no electronics, but it’s well worth the effort. In order to get in the spirit, you could pretend that the power is out— and that you have turned back the clock to the early pioneer days when there were no cell phones, television, or electronic games. Before you settle in for your “long winter’s nap,” gather with your family members—maybe even by candlelight. First, have a quick, simple dinner. You might all prepare it together, or just have

everyone pitch in to serve and eat. It’s fun to have a picnic on the floor in the living room—that makes clean up quick and easy, too. Then it’s time for fun together! Ideas for Indoor Fun Include all the children, and be sure the activities are enjoyable for all ages. Just an hour or two is more than enough time to have a memorable evening. Here are a few ideas: •

Play some games. Active games such as Twister, Ring Toss, or Cha-

rades for Kids are fun for all ages. Board games and card games help children learn rules, take turns, count, etc. Young children often do better playing cooperative rather than competitive games; Seeds for the Birds and Orchard Game are both good choices. Young children who are familiar with the song Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes will love the game by the same name. We all have our favorite card games such as Go Fish, Old Maid, or guessing games like 20 Questions or I Spy. • Create something together. Some families have a special recipe they prepare together. There might be a family play or, for the musical family, a new performance piece to practice. You could assemble gift bags for hospitalized children or the homeless shelter. Most important, be sure the project is easy enough to be accomplished in one sitting.

• Have a theme, such as “backwards” night where everyone walks backwards, wears their clothes backwards, and begins dinner with dessert. Or come as your favorite sports star or actor. Create more options that go along with the theme of the evening. • If your family wants a quieter time together, you might choose a classic book to read aloud, such as Winnie the Pooh or The Wizard of Oz. Perhaps you’ll get your PJs on first, then gather round the fireplace for the story. Ideas for Outdoor Fun Because it’s tempting to stay inside and warm during the winter, we often miss the adventure of being outside together in the dark. Try one of these activities to familiarize your children with the delights of the night: • Go outside to look at the night sky and identify the constellations. Dress warmly and take a heavy blanket to lie down on, along with binoculars, star maps, etc. If there is not an open space within walking distance of home, drive to a suitable park or field. You needn’t be an astronomer—just enjoy the view. Some helpful resources are: Seeing Stars or The Star Finder. • Go on a scavenger hunt. Make a simple list of everyday items, some found in nature, others that neighbors will be willing to part with such as a blue button or an empty soup can. Have a time limit and go in pairs or teams.

• Listen for the sounds of the night, identifying the difference between natural and man-made sounds. (The wind blowing the trees sounds different than the swoosh of a car’s tires.) See how quietly you can walk—on the sidewalk and on the grass. How many different night sounds can you recognize? Ending the Evening The evening will come to a natural conclusion as the game or activity is complete, hopefully leaving all eager to plan another time together in the future. Finally, if you wish, after the children are tucked into bed, you might turn on the computer or smart phone. However, I’m guessing you might stay unplugged until tomorrow. “When kids play a board game..., they’re watching the other players. They’re learning social skills and strategies that can’t be learned by computer games.” —David Elkind, Professor of Child Development, Tufts University — by Jane M. Jacobs, M.A., Montessori Educational Consultant at Montessori Services. She is a trained primary Montessori directress and also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has taught children aged 2 to 7 years in Montessori schools, Headstart, and also in a preschool for children with developmental challenges. In her counseling practice, she helps individuals, couples, and families.


LANGUAGE In language the students have been working on the sounds of the alphabet. After a student has learned the sounds of the alphabet, they start "reading" to the reading helpers. This allows them to continue practicing the sounds they have learned. With continued work in the classroom on the MOVEABLE ALPHABET and other exercises from the language shelf the student continues to build a knowledge of letter sounds and putting those sounds together to make a word. The older students continue to do more advanced words from the language shelf as well as working more on handwriting and the control of the pencil. The MOVEABLE ALPHABET is a large flat box that has individual lower case letters in separate compartments. There are several cutouts of each letter; the vowels and the consonants contrast in color. The moveable letters allow the child to "write down" words as he or she determines each component sound. This series of exercises increases in difficulty from writing three letter words to writing stories. The students can start with the Moveable Alphabet as soon as they learn the phonetic alphabet. Mrs. Barrineau and Ms. Ana

This past weekend, Ms. Julia and I attended a North American Montessori Teachers’ Association Conference being held here in Dallas. One of our parents heard from her four year old that I was at a “concert”. The concert was “Practical Life: Community, the Intelligence, and the Hand”. Jenny Hoglund, from Sweden, showed beautiful slides of their school which has 100 students from Toddlers through Adolescents.She told us: “Practical Life is the means for the child to become, to participate in life as a fully functioning member of the community. She went on to say, “If we force academics on children, sad things can happen. That all work is noble, that through doing Practical Life, all work is noble. Work is self- construction, to become, to belong, to contribute. There is only one of me- each is important.” Dr. Steven Hughes, a research neuroscientist, told us that Maria Montessori was spot on 100 years ago when she prepared the special environment for the young child. He validated for us that an excellent Montessori environment that provides opportunities for the child to lengthen his periods of concentration at the same time builds the “executive functions” of the brain: cognitive flexibility, inhibition (self-control, self-regulation) and working memory. Kathleen Lloyd ended by saying the “feeling of belonging is the foundation of peace. Putting a flower in a vase may be the young child’s first service to community”. - Ms. Bailey and Ms. Holbrook

Harper has exploded into Reading!

Villy is using two hands to pull together two different red triangles to make a trapezoid. This is Box I of the Constructive Triangles. Box I includes the 5 different triangles which can be put together to make a square, a rectangle, four different parallelograms and a trapezoid.

Hayes is Polishing a Plant. Observe her mouth. Hayes is totally concentrating on her work.

Notice how Dawson is concentrating, pushing his needle from the back of his sewing to the front. He is stitching two sides together to make a pillow

Sophia is pasting a thin magenta paper rectangle on her collage.

Montessori Compass just launched and we are glad to share the wonderful lessons that your child has been learning. In light of all the new information about the classroom that Montessori Compass provides, we want to discuss the larger aims of these Montessori lessons and how they fit into the big picture of your child’s education. Two key words that summarize the aims of Montessori works are normalization and concentration. These terms can seem lofty and vague, but they are central to the Montessori method and they are our goals for your child. Montessori teachers think of the classroom as a “prepared environment” for your child to grow, cultivate friendships, and become selfregulated. We work to guide your child through the academic milestones of reading, writing, and arithmetic but we believe that normalization comes first. Normalization is best described as an internal transformation that occurs when a child has found meaningful work that fulfils his or her inner drives. Adults observe the normalization of children in stages: It is seen “through any single act of concentration on a purposeful activity that fills the child’s need for development. [This] gives a visible change in the child’s movement, in their stature, in the way they interact with other children. Those children, who repeat that process over and over and over again, then go home with those same characteristics. It isn’t just short lived. It becomes a part of their personality. cont..

And then as several children in the classroom begin to live in this way together, [with] mutual respect and with sympathy and love and caring, you have a society.” Normalization is the goal of the Montessori classroom, and is manifested when the children are self-regulated in their work and in their relationships. Normalization is achieved through the cultivation of the child’s concentration. It is important to make a distinction between activities that keep children busy and those that engage the child in concentration. Activities that produce concentration are freely chosen based on personal interest and provide a certain degree of challenge. When interest and challenge are both present, the child will intuitively repeat the activity many times until he or she has mastered it. The practical life and sensorial curriculum of the Montessori classroom are designed to cultivate this type of concentration in your child. Younger primary students spend most of their time in this part of the classroom but the older children continue these lessons as well. Each child is guided by sensitive periods for learning that steer the child toward certain lessons at certain times. These lessons (such as hand washing, water pouring, and the broad stair) provide the interest, the challenge and the opportunity for repetition that develop concentration. “The child’s personality is transformed (normalization) when interaction with the environment produces concentration.” Concentration provides the foundation for later math, language, and cultural learning and give the child joy in his work. All quotes from: Lloyd, Kathleen M. “An Analysis of Maria Montessori’s Theory of Normalization In Light of Emerging Research in Self-Regulation.” Oregon State University. 2008.

Audrey concentrates on the lock and key work.


Happy New Year! The children have returned from the holiday break refreshed and ready to get back to work! The spring semester is always exciting because the children have completely normalized within the classroom which allows for more lessons on our most challenging materials. The Kindergarten students have been given their own creative writing tablets to practice writing sentences and short stories. When they fill up an entire page, they are free to draw illustrations to go with their writings. The children have been very busy writing and illustrating about Christmas vacations, their families, pets, friends, and favorite hobbies. Many of the second level students have exploded into reading and beginning writing. They are having fun spelling words phonetically using the moveable alphabet and beginning to read the

Bob Book series in class and with our reading parent volunteers. It is also very common for children in the Montessori environment to begin to write before they read. Once the children know their phonetic sounds, they can begin writing simple words. First level students have been observing their older peers and are requesting more challenging and bigger lessons! They are working on making maps of the world, tracing and writing their names using the light box, and creating extensions to lessons they had in the fall. The weather has been beautiful this week, and the children have really enjoyed working in the back garden area of St. James. They helped plant new flowers and then watered them. We also read “I Love our Earth� in class had a great discussion about our favorite plants and animals!


oon we will be preparing for the Christmas season. The stu-

In the Garden with Ms. Loree

Winter Birds in The Children’s Garden. Winter is the perfect time to observe the birds visiting our yards and gardens with our children. The three birds we’ve identified in the Children’s Garden are the Mourning doves, the Song Sparrow and our state bird…the Mockingbird. I’ve included pictures of a couple more I know we’ll see this winter. One of my favorites is the Cedar Waxwing because the males are a beautiful shade of green. We teach the children names of things by using the three period lesson. We would lay the pictures of three to four birds on the mat. We would point to each bird as we said its name, asking the child to repeat after us. We would then ask the child to touch the picture of each bird as we say its name. We may need to practice a few times! Then we will point to each bird asking “What is this one’s name?” We spend a lot of winter gardening time feeding the birds. We know they need extra energy to get through cold days. We talk about the types of beaks they have and what diets different birds have. The children especially love to try to use binoculars to get closer looks at the birds!

The toddler and primary aged children are also in the sensitive period for learning the parts of things. We name the basic parts of the bird for the toddler, we then go into greater detail with the primary aged child. The toddler and primary aged children are also in the sensitive period for learning the parts of things. We name the basic parts of the bird for the toddler, we then go into greater detail with the primary aged child.

Toddler Example

Primary Example

Song Sparrow

Male and Female Cardinals

Mourning Dove

Black Capped Chickadee


n Art, we got inspired by the wonderful snow that Texas experienced this winter and drew our

very own snowman drawings! The children were able to color with oil pastels and then glaze their pictures with glitter paint to give the extra sparkle on those snowflakes! Each snowman had their own personal touch whether it was a colorful hat or scarf! Pictured are examples of the wonderful artists at work, Mason, Eddie, and Max, are working hard on their snowflakes. Also Elizabeth’s finished snowman is just beautifully colored!

Art with Ms. Judi

Technology with Ms. Judi


very week in Technology, the children get to have more practice with the mouse through

the websites, play with the lego robotics, or work on their alphabet books on the Coral Paint program. This month we were able to come back and finish up our alphabet books! They have really learned to control the mouse and are able to draw with the cursor. I can’t wait to have them printed so the children can see the great work they did! Also I was able to introduce them the USB drives that they will be taking with them at the end of the year. Some examples are from Lukas, Nico, and Harper with their letters R for Rainbow, X for X-ray, and W for Watermelon.


e are so happy to be back at school and in Chapel lessons! When we got back from Christmas break we were able to talk to children about the Epiphany season! This is the time of year that we celebrate the Magi’s realization that Jesus was the son of God. They had an Epiphany! I pray that we all continue to have Epiphany’s throughout the year as we learn more and more about who God is.

recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Chapel. A parallel story of Rosa Parks was given to the children. We talked about a lady who was very short and was not allowed to sit at the front of the bus because she was “different” and much shorter then all of the other passengers. The children all agreed that this was not fair and that she should be allowed to sit anywhere because in God’s eyes we are all His children. No matter what our differences are, it’s important to reJanuary has also been a time for us to spect everyone and offer God’s love share with the children what friendto all. ship and caring for our neighbors looks like. In the story of Ruth and God bless you this Epiphany season Naomi, loyalty and faithful friendas He continues to reveal Himself ship is shown. We teach the children more and more to us! to not only have good and helpful friendships, but to also know that Blessings, God is a true and faithful friend to us Ashley Woodruff always. This month we also got to Christian Education Directer

Many Blessings, Ashley Woodruff Christian Education Director

The After School Staff is happy to be back and spending time with your children in the afternoons. We have had a few changes in staff. Delaney Cotten is going to concentrate on the remainder of her senior year and join the track team at Lake Highlands. Two of our existing staff members will now be helping with the toddlers in ASC. Ana Apodaca will work with the toddlers Monday – Friday and Linda Gomes will help Tuesday – Thursday. Ana and Linda have been a nice addition to our staff. Lilly Petrini and Hannah Sparks will continue to work with the toddlers. We are happy that so many of our toddlers are mastering potty training. If your child is potty training, please remember to drop off extra clothes to my office for ASC. If they are still using diapers, I will let you know when Tip!

we need a new supply for their box in ASC. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call me. Lisa Wilson Tip!

Upcoming Events February February 5th PTO Meeting

Oct 31

February 14th Halloween Parties Valentines Parties Noon Dismissal February 19th and 20th Montessori Education

SJES Jan 2013 News  

SJES, Jan 2013 Newsletter

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