Welcome to Megan's Class
Welcome! Children are often asked to adjust to our adult world. In the hope that every child has a place where they can "just be", our environment has been especially designed to include every aspect of life for your children. I invite you to read our classroom highlights to get a glimpse of your child’s world at school.
Please know I feel honored to observe and support your child’s development this year. Thank you for sharing them with me!
"If education is always to be conceived along the same antiquated lines of a mere transmission of knowledge, there is little to be hoped from it in the bettering of man's future".
Megan Andrews, Primary Guide
B.S. Boston University, Early Childhood Education
M.A. Saint Catherine University, Education
AMI Montessori Primary Certification, Montessori Center of Minnesota, St. Paul
The Children's House experience (2015- present):
Summer Primary Classroom Guide
May 25, 2017
We have spent the last few weeks preparing for Grandparent’s Day! Children painted pots for gifts, practiced songs to perform, and cleaned up the shared areas of our school. The children have also spent time thinking about what work they would be most proud to show their family members. Thank you for being a part of this special day!
Last week, children attended the Elementary Research Fair in the afternoon. They walked around the gym admiring everyone’s work and asking questions about their favorite topics. Many children returned to our room inspired to begin their own research! Research in a primary room looks different for every child, but is always an opportunity to satisfy the young child’s insatiable desire to know more!
As we approach the Dance of the Cosmos, we are beginning to talk about the solar system and its many parts. Some children have chosen to create a diagram of the planets and their position in relation to the sun while others have chosen to research information about a particular object that interests them. As you know, we celebrate each child’s birthday by talking about the earth’s trips around the sun. It seems fitting to end our year thinking about how it all fits together.
May 11, 2017
As the produce on our tower garden continues to grow, we are adding more food preparation work to our shelves. Children have been shown how to pick basil and other herbs to make pesto before enjoying it with their snack. Food preparation is an important part of the Practical Life exercises because they sustain and improve independence, coordination of movement, and concentration. A child making pesto, for example, strengthens his wrist muscles as he uses the mortar and pestle, focuses on repeatedly grinding the herbs until a paste is made, and independently meets his needs by preparing food when he is hungry.
As we approach the last month of school, I have taken time to reflect on how much we have all grown. When I observed our transition to lunch last week, children set up the entire room on their own. They paid careful attention to each child’s place setting, chose chairs that would make the adults feel most comfortable, and selected beautiful flower arrangements to accompany each table. They worked together to fill pitchers of water and move furniture without disturbing children that were still working. I did not direct them in these choices because their inner desire to care for our community was guiding them. This intrinsic desire to care for others leaves me hopeful for the future.
April 27, 2017
We have lots of exciting events to enjoy this spring! Last week, children gathered for a Poetry Jam organized by the Jr. High and now we are preparing for May Day. Children are beginning to make their May Day hats and are learning the special song. On Thursday, Rose Hollander will also help us celebrate No Ruz or Persian New Year. We will gather to perform a ritual that ensures good health for the upcoming year.
Last Friday, we had a visit from a bag piper duo. Children were surprised to find out how loud the instruments were! In preparation for their visit, we read a Scottish book and talked about some of the different words they use in Scotland. The class is having fun substituting the word “rubbish” for “trash” now!
Many of these events not only give children an opportunity to think about other perspectives and cultures, but also to come together as a school. These common experiences help children make sense of their role in our larger community. The younger children look forward to participating as extended day and our current extended day children look forward to seeing their elementary friends! It is touching to watch children’s admiration for each other.
April, 13, 2017
We are so excited to see the beginnings of spring this week! Our environment will begin to extend beyond our walls and into the patio and garden. Children will prepare our garden beds for planting and have the option of doing work in the sun. While we wait for warmer days, we are enjoying the produce from our indoor tower garden by using herbs to garnish our snacks!
We have also started to talk about Jackson Pollock and his “drop paint” technique. Children have read about his life, admired his paintings, and tried this method of painting outside! Talking about art with children always reminds me of the different perspectives and opinions we can bring to the same piece of art.
Last Friday afternoon we had a special visitor at our school. My brother and founder of the Lets Talk project talked about his trip across the United States by foot. He showed children his gear and shared some of his stories. The Lets Talk project aims to raise awareness for face to face conversation in our digital age. This was a great way to jump into TCH Screen Free Week! Don’t forget to fill out a pledge card and join us for a celebration on Friday!
March 23, 2017
Last week we did an experiment as a group to determine the needs of plants. We planted lettuce seeds in four different pots. One of the pots got warmth, light, and water while the other pots only got two of the variables. Children made hypothesis about which seeds would grow and have been checking them each day! Our results and conclusions will help us care for the plants in our room.
The extended day children have been learning about bluegrass during music with Amanda. Last Friday, we all had the chance to watch a live bluegrass performance. Children saw and heard a mandolin, bass, and guitar. The musicians explained how they “take turns” with their instruments and encouraged us to watch how they rotated through solos.
Our tower garden is flourishing! We finally got to harvest a few plants and had a lettuce taste test on Monday. Children tried red lettuce, bibb lettuce, and bronze lettuce before voting for their favorite type. After tasting, we joined as a group to count the votes. Most children preferred bibb lettuce!
Whether you’re staying home or traveling, have a wonderful spring break!
March 9, 2017
March is here! Our class has a lot of celebrating to do this month. We will have a total of twelve birthday celebrations in February and March. Our celebrations are special times to honor each child's life and meet his or her family. At the end of the ceremony, children have an opportunity to place a pebble in the child's bag and give them a birthday wish. The bag of pebbles goes home as a symbol of our appreciation and love for the birthday child. This tradition gives children an opportunity to think about the needs and feelings of others.
Wings of Wonder visited our school last Friday! We got to meet three different types of raptors: a turkey vulture, red-tailed hawk, and an American kestrel. Children learned about the raptor’s wings, mute, and diet. The presentation ended with an opportunity to feel different wings, feathers, and talons. Ask your child about their favorite part!
We were so fortunate to have narrative consultant and storyteller, Jenifer Strauss, visit our school this week. Jen used storytelling to help extended day children with the process of writing and to show younger children the power of stories. Jen reminded us that if you can imagine a story, you can tell a story, and if you can tell a story, you can write a story. All of us are storytellers and can use this skill to share events, explain feelings, and connect with others.
February 23, 2017
I am feeling grateful and excited to introduce a tower garden to our environment this week. The aeroponic growing system will allow us to grow up to twenty different vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers during any season. Children will learn how to maintain the tower garden as well as harvest our produce to use for food preparation work. Children will also learn the language associated with the plants we grow!
In the afternoon, the older children and I read a chapter book. This is our time to rest, quiet our minds and bodies, and become lost in a wonderful story. Chapter books rarely have illustrations, so they exercise our imaginations. They also give children an opportunity to strengthen their listening skills, participate in a collaborative discussion about challenging texts, and hear fluent reading. When we get to the end of a chapter, children practice making predictions about what might happen next. We started reading Ribsy by Beverly Cleary last week. Ask your child about it!
We are talking about President’s Day this week. We will read about George Washington and how our country celebrates his birthday each year. On Thursday, we will attend the President’s Day Assembly!
February 9, 2017
Extended Day children took part in the annual TCH tradition of The Lion Dance last Thursday. The younger children watched and helped scare aware the dragon. Many of them talked about how excited they are to participate when they are extended day children!
As we approach spring, children have taken ownership of our environment and routines. They take pride in knowing the expectations and are ready to take on larger leadership roles. Some children have started leading group gatherings by choosing songs to sing. Other children have learned how to bring a stool to a child’s table and give a careful presentation of work they have mastered. Mixed age environments provide endless opportunities for leadership!
We will celebrate Valentine’s Day next week with a special celebration. Children will share valentines and surprise a secret friend. Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to talk about kindness, friendship, and the people we love in our community. We have also been learning this Valentine’s Day song:
Oh valentine, oh valentine
I think you'll like my valentine
It's big and pink and lacey too
Three special words say I love you
Oh valentine, oh valentine
I think you'll like my valentine.
(Sung To: 'Oh Christmas Tree')
January 26, 2017
As you know, my research on conflict resolution has begun! The topic grew from a question related to adult intervention: do children depend on adults to solve problems because they don’t have opportunities to solve problems on their own? In other words, is adult intervention during conflict actually detrimental to children’s problem solving skills? Over the next six weeks, I will be collecting data to answer some of these questions. Please return the Assent Form if you do not want your child’s data to be included.
Unrelated to my research, here are some examples of Montessori in action from our environment this week:
A three year old child carefully carried a bucket of water to the sink. On her way, water sloshed out from the sides and created a large puddle. This gave her automatic feedback about her movements without an adult having to step in, so she slowed down. Meanwhile, another three year child concentrated on scrubbing an area of the floor that he had surrounded with orange cones. He continuously added soap and then more water to remove the soap, creating a never-ending cycle and another large puddle of water. Their work perfectly represented the three year old mind. It was about the process of scrubbing and not the product of a clean floor. I did my best to observe as half of our classroom turned into a small pond, hoping an extended day child would come to the rescue. Sure enough, several children grabbed towels and began to dry the floor. Unlike the three year old children, the five year old minds were responding to a need in our community and were very much interested in the product. This moment reminded me of the beauty of a mixed age classroom and the importance of withholding our adult urge to help.
On Wednesday, our class attended a violin performance by Kaylee Erlewein. Ask your children to tell you about it!
January 12, 2017
Thank you for joining us at the Seasonal Sing! Your children enjoy every opportunity to show you what they’ve been working on. I hope you had a wonderful, healthy holiday with family and friends. The first week back was buzzing with exciting stories and souvenirs!
Believe it or not, we are beginning to talk about another upcoming holiday! Chinese New Year is on January 28th, so we will discuss some of the traditions and myths surrounding the festival. Extended Day children will spend time learning about the holiday each Thursday at Great Books, leading up to The Lion Dance in February!
We are also beginning to talk about the Spanish artist Francisco Goya in small groups. Children will read about his life, learn about his artistic style, and discuss many of his paintings. This is an opportunity for children to develop consciousness of various art forms, periods, and artists. Art presentations at the primary age stimulate conversation and support children to generate ideas in preparation for creative writing.
December 15, 2016
Last Thursday, we started the holiday season with a performance by the Cherry Capital Men’s Chorus. Children sang along to holiday songs and practiced being respectful audience members. These monthly concerts inspire our young musicians and give them opportunities to meet members of the community.
Children spent time creating a gift for their family this week. They have been eagerly waiting to take them home! To help children navigate the social expectations around the holidays, we have practiced how to give and receive a gift. Role playing social situations in neutral moments can alleviate anxiety for children.
This time of year reminds me of the important people in my life. Your children have become many of these important people! Thank you for sharing them with me this year. I look forward to 2017 together!
December 1, 2016
We had a wonderful Harvest Feast last week! Thank you for your delicious contributions. Children spent the day preparing the turkey, making fruit salad, chopping vegetables, and setting tables. We started our celebration by sharing something we are grateful for while placing a corn kernel in a bowl. The bowl of kernels represents the family, friends, food, and memories we cherish.
Our room is buzzing with Spanish! We are learning types of clothing in Spanish and playing Spanish Bingo on some Fridays. These lessons are given entirely in Spanish. I am more impressed by their accents each day. Dr. Montessori described the primary child’s absorbent mind as a, “unique kind of mentality that allows the child to absorb knowledge quickly and effortlessly”. Children’s work with a second language reminds me of this incredible power.
We also welcomed our first snow last week. Children have been eager to shovel our patio and build snowmen. We will begin to celebrate winter by practicing songs for the Seasonal Sing. We are working on Jingle Bells and Build a Little Snowman. The lyrics are posted below to practice with your child!
Build a Little Snowman:
Build a little snowman round and fat
Find a carrot nose and an old straw hat
Now my little snowman won’t you stay
Out comes the sun and you melt away!
November 10, 2016
We started last week with a wonderful Pumpkin Fun Day! Children painted pumpkins, sculpted pumpkin spice play dough, sewed pumpkin pouches, baked pumpkin cookies, and roasted pumpkin seeds. We also carved a jack-o-lantern as a group and had our faces painted! We ended the day by enjoying a group snack and singing Halloween songs with the other primary classes.
Psaira has started introducing percussion instruments to the children after lunch. While Psaira plays a song on the ukulele, the children follow her rhythm with castanets, tambourines, maracas, and rainsticks. Dr. Montessori saw music as an important part of language. Similar to writing or speaking, music allows us to express ourselves.
The children have started planning our annual Harvest Feast! They carefully chose each menu item and are excited to share these choices with you. Our planning will continue as we choose decorations and the table setup. Planning a group event gives children an authentic opportunity to compromise and collaborate to achieve a common goal.
October 27, 2016
Thank you for joining us on Parent Visiting Day last week! We enjoyed showing you a piece of our day at school. After the exciting morning, many children shared funny moments when they had to remind their families about some of our classroom expectations. This made us feel proud of all the work we have done to create a micro-society.
Last week, we started talking about poetry and reading poems. Poems are pieces of writing that can have feelings, ideas, or stories and often have rhyming words or rhythms. We’ve enjoyed reading long, short, funny, serious, and song-like poems, including "Who Has Seen the Wind?" by Cristina Rossetti. We’ve also decided that anyone can be a poet, even a primary child!
The Fire Department gave us a fire prevention demonstration on Tuesday. We got to feel their gear and take a look at the fire truck! On Friday, the TC West High school drum line will be visiting The Children’s House. Ask your child about it!
October 13, 2016
Last week, the children decided our fish should have names. Some children helped decide the names and others helped record them on a piece of paper. The list of names has been finalized and is now hanging on our fish tank. Take a look next time you visit!
We have also had many discussions about safety in preparation for fire and wind drills. It is our school’s job to keep us safe during emergencies and drills help us practice these procedures. We have our first wind drill this week and will practice taking shelter in the bathroom.
Small groups of children have started to learn the names of animals in Spanish. We have practiced saying vaca (cow), pato (duck), caballo (horse), cerdo (pig), gato (cat), and perro (dog). We have had interesting discussions about the words used to describe the sounds animals make. Many of them are different in Spanish!
September 29, 2016
The children and I are beginning to find a rhythm as we learn to live together in our shared environment.
The more time we spend working together, the more the children develop a sense of ownership for our room and materials. To empower children in this process, we join for care of environment at the end of each day. Children choose how they would like to prepare our space so it is beautiful when we return in the morning. Children choose to organize shelves, dust, turn off lamps, sweep, refill paper, sharpen pencils, and place lids on all of our open boxes. Dr. Montessori wrote, "There is respect for the environment and for the individuals within it, which comes through experience of freedom within the community”.
We have also started integrating Spanish into our morning work cycle. Some children have been practicing the names of colors and short phrases in Spanish while others have chosen to study the country of Mexico. We will continue to talk about Mexico’s language, climate, flag, food, and traditions in the following weeks.
In the spirit of getting to know each other, we have started to learn the song “Getting to Know You”. We have enjoyed acting out some of the words and talking about the meaning of the lyrics. If you’d like to sing with your child at home, we have been practicing these verses:
Gettin' to know you,
Gettin' to know all about you.
Gettin' to like you,
Gettin' to hope you like me.
Gettin' to know you,
Putting it my way but nicely.
You are precisely,
My cup of tea.
Gettin' to know you,
Gettin' to feel free and easy.
When I am with you,
Gettin' to to know what to say.
Haven't you noticed,
Suddenly I'm bright and breezy,
Because of all the beautiful and new
Things I'm learning about you
Day by day.
September 15, 2016
It has been a wonderful first two weeks with your children. We have spent time getting to know each other, sharing stories about our summer, and exploring the changes to our classroom. Children were most surprised to see a new snack table, a new place for our fish tank, and a fan!
We have also had discussions about what it means to be a mentor. Extended day children are learning how to be mentors to all the children while second year children are mentors to those who have just moved up to primary. During our discussion, children decided I would also need a mentor because I am new to the school. Luckily, the children offered to take on this role. I am grateful to have such a supportive group showing me the ropes!
We’ve spent the last few days enjoying the sun while it’s here. The children moved some work tables outside and have enjoyed watching Della Terra put in our new raised beds for gardening. We will begin planting lettuce seeds soon! Dr. Montessori believed the outdoor environment to be just as important as the indoor environment. The children have reminded me of this as they take care of our plants, observe monarch butterflies, and read books in the sun.