Welcome to Julie and Melissa's Class
Our classroom is a place where your children are invited to experience their world at their own pace, we hope that you will find these brief synopses helpful in gaining insight to the many facets of our classroom.
Melissa Cole, Primary Guide
B.S. Western Michigan University, Graphic Design
AMI Montessori Primary Certification, Ohio Montessori Training Institute,
Primary Classroom Support
Julie Shearer, Primary Guide
B.S.W. Ferris State University, Social Work
AMI Montessori Primary Certification, Ohio Montessori Training Institute, Cleveland
The Children's House experience (2001- present):
Primary Classroom Support
Primary Classroom Guide
May 25, 2017
The Capital Green, an a capella group from Michigan State, came to perform for our students last week. They were amazing and entertained us with songs from pop music to classical. Two of the students were from Traverse City, which was really cool. The performers that provide the percussion part of the team seemed to interest the children the most. If you heard the phrase “pretty kitty” minus the vowels you got a glimpse of your future family beat box.
The universe is something we are all a part of and with the upcoming Dance of the Cosmos we have been talking more in depth about the planets, dwarf planets, stars, asteroids and comets. We read a book written and illustrated by a group of third graders from California titled “Poor Pluto”. Ask your child why Pluto is no longer considered a planet.
As the end of the calendar school year approaches the air in our classroom almost seems to buzz. The extended day children are realizing they will soon graduate and move on. The up and coming Extended Day students are understanding that their time as the leaders is nearing and our youngest children are aware that they are no longer the littlest and now need to be even more independent. That being said it can bring an unease to them and you might see a lot of unusual tears, stomachaches, etc. We have found that lots of extra hugs and words of encouragement can go a long way.
May 11, 2017
Our new raised beds are here! We have been working diligently to transfer the soil from our old raised bed into the new ones. There have been many discoveries of spiders, rolly pollies, assorted worms and the occasional beetle that have slowed down our progress as we stop to examine and talk about each one. We love the discoveries that the children make and hope that their love of all things small follows them into adult life. Hopefully, when they are able to drive they are not so surprised by a spider that they drive off the road.
The extended day children prepared a special selection of "spring foods" to share with their classmates for our No Ruiz celebration. We celebrated with sprouts, boiled eggs, sweet wheat pudding, olives and apples. Each child was given a chance to jump over the flames of our pretend fire to leave the old year in the past and prepare for the new year.
There are so many activities coming up in our calendars as the end of the traditional school year draws near! It is a time of great excitement and emotions that your child may not be able to give a name to. Please try to keep their routines the same and if available offer some more down time for just walking in the woods or relaxing around the house.
April 27, 2017
Reduce, reuse, recycle. We have been talking a lot about Earth Day and the many different things we can do to help keep our planet clean and healthy. The children were surprised to learn that before our school started our compost and recycling programs we had a full sized trashcan in our classroom that was nearly full at the end of each day. Now we have a much smaller can and even that barely has anything in it.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
words that we all know.
We have to save our planet
so we can live and grow.
We might be only children
but we will try you’ll see.
And we can save our planet
it starts with you and me.
(To the turn of the Itsy Bitsy Spider)
The digestive system is next up as we continue to study how our bodies work. It has been fun to travel along the path our food takes and how are body turns it into fuel. It has brought up a lot of questions about how what comes out as waste are the things your body didn’t need and why it’s important to make healthy choices.
We have been excitedly getting ready for our May Day celebration which is happening this Monday. The children have been making colorful crowns adorned with flowers as well as practicing a song entitled The May Day Carol. The extended day children will also participate in “weaving” ribbons around the may pole. It always feels like this event is the official welcoming of spring.
April 13, 2017
What happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar together? Yes, combined they do make a naturally wonderful bathroom cleaner, but in our room we are using them to blow up a balloon. The children are discovering that these two elements when mixed together create a gas which is collected in the balloon causing it to expand. Ask you child if they can tell you the name of the gas that is released.
Tis the season of spring the birds are chirping, the flowers are peeking out and trees are beginning to bud. One lonely chick hatched from the clutch in Amy's room, and our own "poultry whisperer" Melissa has been caring for it. The chick gets the best of both worlds with classroom interaction during the week and weekends at the Cole home. The children are enjoying observing his antics. He loves to peck gently at painted nails and freckles on arms.
We have been discussing Easter and while baskets full of goodies and hunting for eggs are great fun, there are many different ways that Easter is celebrated throughout the world. In Russia families prepare for Easter by cleaning the house and everyone helps! They also play a game with their Easter eggs, the eggs are tapped together and the first egg that breaks belongs to the other player.
March 23, 2017
Did you know it only takes 21 days for a chicken egg to hatch? We have been talking a lot about eggs and the lifecycle of chickens. In the past we have ordered our chicks and they’ve arrived via USPS (strange I know) but this year we are hoping to let Mother Nature work her magic. Our chickens are laying eggs like crazy and although we collect them daily we have one hen that seems to really want to take on the role of mama. As the weather gets warmer we plan to let her incubate a few and watch her raise her brood. We’ll keep you posted.
Vincent Van Gogh was an amazing artist. Although he had a pretty rough time while he was alive and his great work wasn’t appreciated until many years after his passing, we all agree that we would have recognized his talent right away. Ask your child what they like most about his art.
We have been studying the respiratory system and considering that many of us have had a cough in recent weeks, we all agree how important it is to stay healthy. Not only have we talked about all the things we can do to make that happen but also how important it is to keep the air we breathe clean and what we can do to help.
March 8, 2017
March is not only the month of college basketball brackets, it is also when we celebrate St. Patrick's day! The children have been creating rainbows using different colors of construction paper and then gluing them in the rainbow sequence onto paper. Rainbows are so amazing! They have the power to stop children and adults alike in whatever they are doing to admire the sometimes fleeting array of colors. We have been talking about what weather conditions are necessary in order for rainbows to form and we will be experimenting on making our own small rainbows next week in the classroom.
During collective group we have talked about the weather and the big winds that we had experienced. I told the children about my cousin who loves a good storm. He likes them so much he actually goes on vacation to follow storms in hopes of sighting a tornado! Thankfully none of the children thought that sounded like fun... but this did lead our conversation to a discussion about funnel clouds and what a funnel is. we will continue to explore other weather themes throughout the spring weather.
We are looking forward to gardening outside and have many things to do before this can happen. Seeds must be ordered, but first we will be planning what to put in the garden. The children really like peas so we are going to try a different method this year in hopes of foiling the rodents that love to nibble the tender shoots. Last year our experiment did not yield a very good harvest and we have high hopes for this year. We look forward to a bountiful crop of many fresh vegetables from our gardens.
February 23, 2017
It was so nice seeing many of you during parent visiting day. I always enjoy watching how excited the children get to show you all of the amazing things they are learning each day. Julie and I are looking forward to talking with all of you further next week during conferences.
It has been so much fun talking with the children about President’s Day. They had some really funny questions like “Did President Washington and President Lincoln know each other?” or “Was President Washington President Lincoln’s dad?” He was the “father” of our country after all.
Discussions continue about our circulatory system. This week we’ve been listening to our hearts using a stethoscope. The discovery that my heart beat is much slower that many of theirs seems to be hilarious. Ask your child why sometimes our blood is red and sometimes blue.
February 9, 2017
Have you heard about Tumtum and Nutmeg? They are the main characters in our read aloud book. We began reading about their adventures before our holiday break and are currently reading our third story titled, "A Circus Adventure". In this story a friend of the mice joins a traveling circus only to discover that the circus mice have been stealing from the cities that they have visited. When Tumtum and Nutmeg find out, they set off to rescue their friend. Ask your child how the rescue is going!
Everyday since my return, at least one child has asked about Valentine's Day. We have many heart making art activities; stamping, coloring, rubbings and cutting, all for the purpose of brightening someone's day. The oldest children will have the opportunity to make an individual Valentine card for someone special and we will be reading about how this holiday came to be. Since we are making hearts, it is only natural that we learn about our heart and the circulatory system. We will talk about the pumping action of the heart and look at how it moves the blood throughout our bodies and take turns listening to our heartbeat.
In 2001, a young girl named Sahara Sunday Spain published a book of poetry. I would like to leave you with her words.
If you can only speak love,
Then only love can come out of your mouth.
If that is so,
Then let's have a conversation of only love.
January 26, 2017
Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy New Year! The extended day students have been getting ready to perform the Dragon Dance in celebration of the Chinese New Year. For the past few weeks our Great Books specialist, Rose Hollander, has been busy sharing stories about Chinese culture and the history surrounding this event. In turn the extended day students have been sharing what they’ve learned with their younger friends. Our classroom is all about China right now.
We traveled to the barn to enjoy the sounds of local violinist, Kaylee Erlewein. She entertained us with many selections from Brahms to Vivaldi. It was fun to see how many of the children were familiar with much of what she played for us. Ask your child if they remember their favorite piece.
It looks like the snow is finally coming back. We have been studying many different kinds of snowflake and talking about the fact that no two are the same. Not only have we been catching and looking at them through a magnifying glass we have also enjoyed looking at the pictures William Bentley, aka Snowflake Bentley, spent many years compiling.
January 12, 2017
Welcome back, It is wonderful to be back on the classroom with your children!
We have an indoor greenhouse in our room (thank you Della Terra) and we started basil seeds in our room a few months. The children have kept the tray full of water, we thinned the seedlings and shared the wealth with another classroom and this month we were able to harvest some to make fresh pesto. A small group of children helped to harvest the basil and rinse it, we grated cheese, and collected our other supplies from the kitchen pantry. Everyone enjoyed having fresh pesto pasta for snack! We will be exploring their uses for basil after I return from vacation in a couple of weeks.
In our classroom, we have a shelf which houses jars of beach sand from many areas in the United States and a few from other countries. We use these in our discussions about geography to help foster the awareness that not all beaches are made up of the same type of sand, which we then broaden to other types of nature, trees, grass, flowers, etc. If you are traveling to warmer climates in the coming months, would you please consider bringing a sample of sand from your beach visit? We need do not need much, about two- three tablespoons would be perfect.
The birds are enjoying the suet blocks that we have outside of our classroom. It has been enjoyable to watch the chickadees hanging somewhat precariously to get to the tastiest seeds. The larger blue jays and cardinals have be sticking to the bird feeder closer to the gardens where they have a better view of their surroundings. Why are the males more brightly colored is the question that is often asked, we have many theories floating around on this, ask your child if they know why.
December 15, 2016
Our classroom is full of joyful singing as the children are going about their daily activities, there is singing while tying shoes, washing dishes, zipping coats and some wonderful collaborations between students as they join in with each others songs. We have been practicing some standards and we are hearing some classics from children who have been experiencing these songs through technology that wasn't available just a few years ago during their teachers' childhoods.
We have been practicing a grace and courtesy lesson about giving and receiving gifts. This can sometimes be tricky for our age group as they can get caught up in the frenzy of opening gifts. We present the gift (just one) and the child receiving the gift says thank you using the presenters' name, for example; thank you Shamus. After they open the gift they are encouraged to say something that they like about the pretend present and again thank the person who gave them the gift. I am sure this will be different in each home, but we are beginning to cultivate the idea that gifts are special and we can show our appreciation at every age level in our own way.
There is a new student that will be joining our room in the new year, Sloane has been spending time in our classroom during our morning work cycle. The oldest students in our classroom are taking their mentoring roles very seriously and are doing their best to help each of the youngest students feel comfortable and welcome in our environment. They get to put their skills to the test by tying shoes on moving feet, assisting in cleaning up spills, giving some lessons, helping to get supplies for an activity and reading books to their young friend.
We are looking forward to seeing each of you at our annual sing-a-long. We wish you a warm and joyful holiday break and are looking forward to a new year filled with new milestones for your children.
December 1, 2016
Local singer Levi Britton came to entertain us all in the barn and what fun we had. Levi has visited our school before and our music teacher, Amanda, has introduced many of his songs to the extended day children during music class so it was a lot of fun watching them sing along to many of his songs.
Can you say “Yummy Taco Bar?” Yep, that is just what we had in our classroom for our Harvest Feast. Every year we ask the children what they would like to share together on this special day and this was their choice. We hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving that may or may not have included tacos.
In preparation for our upcoming Holiday Sing-a-long we will begin practicing many holiday favorites. Everything from Rudolf and Frosty to Jingle Bells (of course.) One song that the children love is Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah so if you don’t already know the words get ready because you soon will.
November 10, 2016
Kindness, spread it like butter or nut butter if you are working on healthier alternatives. Our children have been discussing current events, the election being the primary topic and we are working towards having kind discussions about the candidates and our newest elected official. This is a wonderful lesson for us to be working on, not just as it pertains to the election but the life of our classroom. We are asking the children to stop and really give thought to the words that they choose to use with each other throughout the day. How can we convey our wishes without using words that can hurt another’s feelings and invariably hurt ourselves? Do you feel good after having a disagreement? How can we settle those emotions peacefully? This is a part of the daily work in our primary classroom and we feel these are some of the most important lessons to share.
Preparations are underway for our harvest celebration. The children are looking forward to our tradition of all contributing to a meal that we will prepare and share together before we leave to enjoy a Thanksgiving with our families. We have our menu planned and will begin talking about the forefathers who helped to create our country and the hardships that they faced. During this time of the year we also ask the children what it means to be thankful and to choose one example during our community meal to share with our group. I look forward to hearing what our kids will choose to share this year.
Thank you for taking time out of your day to sit and chat with us about your child’s progress in the classroom. We hope you are feeling more connected to the wonderful work your child is doing and as always please come in and spend some time in our classroom observing while everyone is working to get a glimpse of the class in action.
October 27, 2016
It was so nice to see many of you last week for Parent Visiting Day. It’s always so much fun to see what the children choose to show you. Julie and I are looking forward to chatting with you further about all the great work happening in our classroom during conferences next week.
We have begun studying the skeletal system. Along with books and language cards we also have a full size x-ray of the human body that is put together much like a puzzle. The children have been having so much fun holding the pieces up to their own body then labeling the bones when they are finished.
Halloween is almost here and we have been reading books and singing many songs about this festive time of year. Here are the words to one of their favorites songs so you can sing-a-long too.
There was an old witch
Believe it if you can
She tapped on the window
And she ran, ran, ran
She ran helter-skelter
With her toes in the air
From the old witches hair
Swish went the broomstick
Meow went the cat
Plop went the hop toad
Sitting on her hat
Wee chuckle eye
What fun what fun
When the witches run
October 13, 2016
One of our small group activities during this week included reading a book about Columbus Day. We discussed Christopher Columbus and what an explorer is, as well as the names of the three ships that his crew sailed to the Bahamas. The children enjoyed looking at our new painted globe to following the path that the ships sailed to discover new places.
Fall has arrived and so has the bounty of apples! We will be learning about the many different types of apples and comparing tastes and textures of the many varieties that grow in the surrounding orchards of our area. We have made some tasty applesauce and will begin incorporating them in many baking recipes throughout the fall months. The last of the cucumbers and summer squash have been harvested and we have a lot of squash in the freezer to use during the winter months in soups and baking. The mint and lemon balm are being harvested and dried using the dehydrator or just hanging in the sunshine to dry. We will be using these during the cooler months for a practical life activity of making tea bags and a grace and courtesy activity of serving a friend tea in our classroom.
Our classroom is growing! We have welcomed two new toddlers into our classroom community this week, their names are Oliver Mock and Louisa King, it has been wonderful to witness the gentleness and kindness that the children are offering our new classmates. Look for them during parent visiting day next week, and remember when your child was just beginning in the primary community. They have grown so much......
September 29, 2016
Last week we traveled to the barn to enjoy some folk music performed by Amanda Egerer. The children had a wonderful time clapping and swaying along to her unique sound. Ask your child what they liked most about the performance.
We had our first fire drill of the school year. In preparation for it we talked about the reason we practice is so that everyone will know what to do if there was ever a real emergency. If you don’t already have a plan in place this would be a good time for your family to discuss what you might do at home.
We have been eagerly anticipating a visit from Piper the airport dog. He will arrive via helicopter to our school on Thursday morning. Piper works at Cherry Capital Airport helping to keep the runways clear of birds. If you aren’t familiar with Piper you can go to his website to learn more. www.airportk9.org
September 15, 2016
It is wonderful to be back in the routine of our classroom with all of the students present!
Many times throughout the day the children request a "new lesson". It is so exciting to have these requests made of us but many times we are not able to honor your child's wish for the lesson they are requesting. This is because there may be some foundational lessons that they have not yet received or more likely have not been practicing. Throughout our day in the classroom we observe the work that the children are doing and this in turn helps us to know when a child is ready for a new lesson or needs to practice a work that will prepare them for the larger work of the presentation they are working towards.
We have been enjoying the bounty of our garden; children have been grating summer squash in preparation for baking bread. There are several tomatillos and tomatoes that have been harvested, washed and chopped for a yummy salsa, and, we will be making some pickles next week. We are hoping that the fall plantings will produce some kale, broccoli and carrots for us to enjoy through the months before snow begins to fall. Let’s keep our garden going for as long as we can!
We have learned a new song titled “Hello Song" we sing it in both Spanish and English. Here are the lyrics in case your child spontaneously begins singing and you wish to join in.
Hello, hello, hello and how are you?
I'm fine, I'm fine, and I hope that you are too
Hola, hola, hola y como estas?
Estoy bien, Estoy bien, y espero que tu tambien
We have also begun using the phrases "where is" donde esta and "Como estas" how are you.