Diary of a First Year Montessori Kindergarten Teacher - Week 8

Photo by Jerry Wang on Unsplash

Hello Montessori Kindergarten Families,

Fall is here! It’s the end of the month and so your students will come in tomorrow with a transformed room full of activities that reflect the season. We will begin to move more into our study of other cultures and continents with a discussion this week on how Autumn looks around the world.

We continued to study length and standard and nonstandard measurement and we had a week long discussion on temperature and practiced reading a thermometer — I hope your student enjoyed marking the temperature each day on the sheet I sent home. We learned about Celsius and Fahrenheit, degrees, warmer, colder and continued using what we learned about antonyms and synonyms in these discussions as well.

We talked about the part of the speech “article” and said it was a good indicator that “announces, “A NOUN IS COMING!” and tied that back to our discussions about nouns.
You are now seeing not only sounds in the secret message books sent home but also sight words — we will be moving more into engaging these words in the next semester. I am so excited to see how engaged each of your children are with the beauty of learning to read, write and communicate their thoughts on paper. With our newest project, many of them asked, “Can we write words too?” — YES YOU CAN!!!

Just a quick note to please make sure to send readers back the next day so that we have them for other students.

We continued with our Handwriting without Tears curriculum which has come to the forefront as one of the most favorite times in class — everyone loves working on the chalkboards together and talking about the beautiful and simplistic ways that uppercase letters are created.

Sequencing work: How to make a snowman
Emotion: grumpy
Lesson: How to read a thermometer
Geometry: Discussion on the BASE of Geometric Solids
Student led reading time
Letters: H,K

Antonyms, Synonyms
Emotion: happy
Language lesson: fahrenheit, celsius, degrees, hotter, colder, marking the temperature on a thermometer
Math: Single Addition WORD problems
Letters: L,U

Science/Practical Life/Math: Making Strawberry Sorbet
Art: paper weaving lesson
Emotion: Jealous
Math: skip counting by 3s (squared/cubed)

Emotion: Irritated
Letters: V, W
Science discussion: tornados
Continued discussion on temperature
Math: Memory game — 1 through 20
Introduction to the Moveable Alphabet
Art: Continue working on Kindness Quilt

Emotion: Quiet
Letters: X, Y
Language: CVC ending sounds
Finish temperature work
Finish kindness quilt
Grace and Courtesy Lesson: the words we say to each other affects our emotions/what kinds of games are ‘good’ games — what is a good game?

Enjoy the rest of your weekend families.

Warm regards,
Mrs. Norgren

Diary of a First Year Montessori Kindergarten Teacher - Week 7

Hello Kindergarten Montessori Families,

I hope your weekend is full of fun adventures! We have a lot going on over the next two weeks as far as half days and conferences so please make sure to mark your calendars appropriately. This Wednesday we have a shortened day as well as NEXT Wednesday, Thursday and Friday which will be our first parent teacher conference today -YES! I am incredibly excited to share what I have been experiencing with each of your children in the classroom and to hear your feedback on your Montessori journey thus far. For SPECIFIC times of dismissals please check out your newsletter from Mrs. E.  We worked on a couple of major projects this week: peace banners for International Day of Peace which was Friday and a science experiment on Frost and Condensation which turned out so cool! 🙂

We had our first Farmer Sean visit and our special guests were Charlotte the pig and a piglet that was so new the members of the farm had not named her yet. We also began to work with a program called Handwriting without Tears. I attended a workshop on Saturday and I was really excited to roll the handwriting curriculum out in the classroom. I work with the students in 2 groups — 1/2 day and full day — and we go back to the basics of how letters are formed. We had a lesson on 3 options for how to hold a pencil, we practice together on chalkboards (thank you to L’s family for the chalkboards!) and then they work on the letters separately on a sheet of paper using the techniques we have practiced on the chalkboards. We use the terms ” long line, short line, large (or big) curve, small (or little) curve. The emphasis is on uppercase letters at first but we are still working on lowercase letters. We started creating our peace banners by choosing fabric and designing mandalas and thinking about our wish for the world.
30 Days of Emotions: offended
Weather discussion: What is a flood?
Math: Relationship of materials — number cards with units, ten bars, 100 square (1–100)

Introduction to Geometric Solids: Cube, Sphere, Cylinder, what other shapes remind you of these shapes, how do they move
Continue on peace banners
Language: Antonyms and Synonyms
30 Days of Emotions: Kind
Math: solving word problems using number rods
Grace and Courtesy Lesson: care for our school
Our first glass dish was broken 🙁

Complete Peace Banners and hang them in the hallway
30 days of Emotions: Timid
Reading Poetry at group time — weather themes “The Muddy Puddle” and “Fog”
We have new tables in the classroom where only one student can sit at each table
Geometric Solids: rectangular prism, cone
Math: teen numbers — what is more than…. what is less than…
Learning a new song: Shoo Li Lou: 
Practical Life Lesson: “What Do you Do with it? (hairbrush, toothbrush, guitar, etc.)
Science Experiment: Frost and Condensation
Draw/Write a story explaining how to recreate this experiment: practice informative text writing
30 days of emotions: resentful
Geometric solids: pyramid, triangular prism
Music and movement: “You Get to Dance”
Language lesson: compound words
Poetry: “Spring rains” and “Rainbows”
Friday: International Day of Peace
Video: The Peace Crane Project — 

Share 1 minute of silence with the Montessori students all over the world
work plans go home
30 days of Emotions: proud
Geometric Solids: Ovoid, Ellipsoid
Sensorial Lesson: Baric Tablets
A little note about the work plans: you may see that sometimes a student is working on the same topic/math type all week. I want to point out a few things that you need to know about the way the classroom works. Because most of the work in the classroom is choice based, a child at this age tends to work on something for about 5–10 minutes and they she/he is ‘finished’ or when talking about the single addition math work, the student works on 3–5 math problems. So what’s key to remember is this age group is working on concentration and repetition is a valuable part of this process. Also, please know that I try my best to pay attention to a student who may be picking something that does NOT invite the child to grow in knowledge.
Extending the learning:
1. On Monday, we are going to discuss types of thermometers and I will give a lesson on temperature. A worksheet will go home on Monday and each day your child is invited to find out what the temperature is for the day and mark it on the log I am sending home. I leave it to you to decide how you would like to have them discover that information. Please send the log back on the following Monday.
2. Now that we are in full swing of the handwriting process, those of you who have students that are wanting to practice writing at home, have them practice making lists of things like items you need at the store or chores for the day. They do not necessarily have to spell word correctly — phonetically is fine. The invitation is for them to discover organizational skills, how time works and the amount of time tasks take to be completed and the way words work as they attempt to figure out the sounds. I leave these choices to you as you notice your child’s developmental stage.
3. (I know! Last week I did not share any learning extensions — here is my week to make that up to you) Also I want to keep in mind that you have a half day this week and a few next week so I want to make sure you have some ideas handy. I found a great tutorial on how to make a barometer which would be a bit too cumbersome for me to do with 20 students. Here is the link and if anyone tries it, feel free to have your child bring it to class:

Thanks dear ones for your continued support.

Warm regards,
Mrs. Norgren

Diary of a First Year Montessori Kindergarten Teacher - Week 6

Photo by Jerry Wang on Unsplash

HI Montessori Kindergarten Families,

I hope you are having a good weekend. I saw the documentary about Mr. Rogers a few weeks ago and it was a reminder for me just in time for our classroom discussion on 9/11 that the world’s problems can seem so overwhelming AND YET we each have a part to play in shining light in the world. This week we talked about 9/11. I used something that Mr. Rogers has mentioned his mother saying to him in ‘his day’ when bad things happened. She said to ‘look for the helpers.’ This aligns so beautifully with what we are talking about in class about community helpers and how each one can help one another. It also aligns with this week’s conversations about emotions and how we can still feel our emotions and yet find a way to still be kind.

We talked about the 20 World Peace Bells that have been created in the world to remind us to strive for peace. The students got to watch a video of the bell located in Kentucky ringing and then they created their own peace bells. The peace bells WERE NOT easy to make and that was intentional because the reality is peace is not easy. But when we work together each day at it in our choices and in our interactions, the results are beautiful.

Math: Number rods and cards: teen numbers
Math: Introduction to the Decimal System
Art/Fine motor: Complex cutting work — collage art
30 days of kindness: Tell a teacher one thing you learned from her OR help with clean up
Begin Bell project

What happened on 9/11
Community helpers: bad things happen sometimes, look for the helpers
30 days of kindness: Say hello to someone you don’t know OR make a card
Math: discussion about the bead cabinet, what is multiplication
Math: 100 chain, count to 100, skip counting by 10
Continue peace bell project
Language lesson: What is a statement/What is a question

Start new Grace and Courtesy Conversations: 30 days of emotions
Day 1: mischievous
Science: Weather write the room — there are real life pictures of different weather systems on the walls of the room. Students take a clipboard and a checklist and set out to find AND WRITE the names of the weather systems.
Finishing peace bells
Weather conversation: lightning
Lunch lesson: setting the table with place mats
Pattern making
Design a house using 2D shapes
30 Days of Emotions: excited
Watch video on the World Peace Bell

Introduction to writing informative l texts: 6 steps for how to fly a kite
30 days of emotions: lonely
Game: what’s wrong with this picture (afternoon only — will present again on Monday with whole group) Looking at real life pictures with one silly thing one with them. DO NOT SAY what is wrong until the whole group has seen the picture (this is SOOOO hard to do!).

Thanks again everyone for coming through with the dishwasher pods and the disinfecting wipes. It is the little things that help us to be inspired to bring our best to the classroom every day for your children.

Mrs. Norgren

Twyla Tharp interview (2000)

Conversations with Norma Kamali - Twyla Tharp - Choreographer, Author & ...

Diary of a First Year Montessori Kindergarten Teacher - Week 5

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Hello Montessori Kindergarten Families,

This week the students began to really take ownership of the school supplies your families provided for the classroom. They are now responsible for getting their own handwriting sheets, going to their individual compartment bin and choosing from 1 of their 3 pencils,completing the work, date stamping it and putting their items back in the bins. I am noticing already the increased sense of pride and ownership of the things they are responsible for and the work they are accomplishing.

This week, though it was a shortened week due to Labor Day, was still packed with opportunities to learn, explore and build on the work we began as early as the first few days of school. We are delving into the science of weather and have incorporated some art from the lovely Ms. Georgia O’Keefe that is displayed in the hallways of the school along with our Rain Clouds in a Jar Experiment.

We have successfully completed our goals outlined for August so we will continue to review these concepts and move into the goals set forth for September. We are going into our final weeks of “30 Days of Kindness” and will soon begin to talk about over 25 different types of emotions we are capable of having as humans and the ways in which we can be kind while recognizing that there are times when we just don’t ‘feel like it.’ I smile when I type this because I will never forget noticing a prior student in the midst of a situation where she was not displaying ‘her best self’ and she said to me, “I like being rude!” 🙂
I hope everyone is having a lovely Grandparents Day. If your kiddos forgot the name of the flowers they painted for the Grandparents, they are Forget Me Nots.

Kindness focus — pick up trash OR help to set the table
This week’s letters: D,d,E,e,F,f
EVERY MONTH the practical life area changes in the classroom — new lessons are given on those works at group time all week
Finish book “I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness” by Susan Verde, Illustrations by Peter Reynolds
Practice counting backwards from 20
Handwriting: Write city, state that you live in

Nouns Game #1
Hearing/Vision Tests Today
Extreme Weather conversations/vocabulary: fog, hurricane, drought, precipitation
Review of colors/0–10
Kindness: tell your dad one thing you love about him OR say ‘good job’ to someone
Review of types of clouds
Grace and Courtesy Lesson: Bodies and Boundaries -is it okay to hug a friend without asking? What do you do if someone if trying to hug you or touch you and you don’t want him/her to?

Lesson: How to use a ruler/ measurement/ inches and centimeters/horizon line/ above and below
More discussion on drought, precipitation, hurricane, fog
Kindness: Smile at someone
Nouns Game #2
Lesson: what is an antonym?
skip counting by 2’s to 20

Grandparents Day project: painting forget me nots/working with a ruler/measurement/vertical lines/parallel lines
Beginning sounds: 3 letter phonetic blending
Noun Game #3
Noun sorts: person/place/animal/thing
Grace and Courtesy Lesson: Appropriate vs. Inappropriate Conversation — What words can we use to describe a friend or to give a friend a compliment?

Extending the learning:
I remember when Josey was in kindergarten and one day she came home to tell me she got married. Uh really? At the time I was not a teacher. We were stationed in Colorado and I ran an at home business. So the thoughts I had then are way different now that I am a teacher in a classroom. I asked, “tell me about your wedding.” She and her friends and had planned it because she liked a boy and a boy liked her and she said they kissed. Yep this really happened. I said to her, “Josey, you are only 5 years old, you are not old enough to get married and kiss a boy.” Her response? “What? Nobody told me that!!!”
Perhaps many of you are way ahead of the game and are already talking about this with your kiddos and to you I say BRAVO! But maybe you are like me (and I am talking 7 years ago!) and you think this is not a conversation that your child needs to have yet. I trust your judgement in these situations.

This week we has a situation when a student told another student that the student was ‘hot’ and then later told the student that the student ‘had to always be next to her/him because he/she ‘thought she/he was hot.” I try my best to make sure that we are mindful of conversations going on in the classroom. And I am thankful that I did hear this conversation so that I could address it at group time. But the reality is, I do not hear every conversation. And I am not outside all the time on duty to witness conversations with other students in other classrooms. I just want to keep it on your radar that our children our hearing things ALL THE TIME that may not be what we consider ‘age appropriate’ and I take it seriously that I have the privilege to partner with you to raise healthy and not only physically but emotionally strong and competent people.
Thanks for all you do to raise the future generation who each have light to shine in the world.

Warm regards,
Mrs. Norgren