October has been a bit of a whirlwind. This month creates a lot of conversations about the changing season, the colours of leaves, what autumn entails, the traditional harvest season, winter food storage, Thanksgiving and Halloween. We talk about how humans and animals store food and prepare for winter. Autumn also ties in with migration and hibernation. We explore the effects of seasonal changes through the year. A nature tray is kept on the classroom shelf year round for study with magnifying glasses. Children are welcome to add their own found objects to the tray, which keeps everyone interested and involved in the evolving process. These items change throughout the year with the seasons. Materials on the shelves and art shelves also change according to seasons, themes and special occasions. Thanksgiving was only a few weeks ago and included a baking activity of pumpkin scones, our favourite Thanksgiving recipe. The last week of October brought pumpkin felt materials, gluing and pasting art, spider counters, and a lot of black and orange. Continent studies of the southern hemisphere has now begun with South America. Cultural Studies enhance geographical studies. These are all done at an age appropriate level with the focus on animals.
Math and language components are daily parts of classroom life, done with materials and games, in group lessons and also individual presentations. Geometric solids are used in a game where the children must find another object in the classroom that has the same shape. Geometric hide-and-go-seek. Puzzles of all sorts, shapes and sizes are available on the shelves and changed regularly. Puzzles also include wood 3D puzzles such as the Roman arch and a particularly difficult pyramid puzzle. Binomial cubes and trinomial cubes are being used regularly and mastered by many also. Wow! A dot-to-dot method is often used for first time printers, working towards a freehand approach. We teach using all lower case letters and only use capitals for names and the beginning of sentences. Please avoid using all caps at home. It is very confusing. We use the phonetic sounds of the letters rather than the names of the letters, which facilitates reading abilities. Sound boxes are being used, matching a letter to an object. For example, a toy cat is matched to a card with the letter ‘c’. It’s a wonderful fun way to make sound repetition into a game.
Sewing exercises with buttons on cloth, lacing with card shapes, and ring making with tiny crystal seed beads are favourite activities. Pin poking shapes, cutting paper, and gluing activities are always changing which helps keep the exercises fresh and in demand. These are all activities that help with fine motor skills, hand to eye coordination, focus and concentration abilities, with really adorable results. These all can easily be done at home. Art is always open with easel painting, drawing, and tabletop paint palettes. We usually have a teacher directed art for every holiday or occasion, however the benefit of open art is creativity and imagination, which are priceless.
By the end of September we are starting safety drills and health measures. By October we are well on the way to regular elbow sneezing and coughing, washing hands and other safety measures. We had a fire alarm go off (building false alarm) one afternoon and the children all knew to head straight out even without shoes and coats. Fast learners. We quickly went back for coats and shoes and had an early outdoor play time. Two that day. Yay! The weather is cooling quickly. Outdoor play is a part of every class, so please ensure your child is dressed appropriately. We can always peel layers of clothing off, but cannot magically make them appear. Daily outdoor activities require many gross motor skills, but gross motor skills can also be quiet exercises. For this, yoga exercises have also begun this month. Please phone to let us know if your child is ill as soon as you can. During Covid, it is especially important that we know when and why children are away. We are very impressed that all of you parents are keeping the babes home when they are ill and letting us know about testing. It takes a village.
Halloween week was focused on making an art project of a finger puppet. Simple, cute, fun. Lots of fine motor work. Don’t hate us for the glitter. Fair warning … there will be more throughout the year. We had an extra-large pumpkin this year which the Kindergarten Prep class enjoyed gutting. The seed beads were changed to oranges and black, and playdough was made into glittery orange balls (kept in individual jars). We had two days of costumes which was two days of fun. Snacks were themed on black and orange foods (blue corn que pasa chips look black), we had witch’s brew (bath bombs into the witch’s pot) and then a dance party. Little treat bags went home from the teachers, as well as some treats and baking from friends. Thank you everyone for participating. We always enjoy these festivities, but this year we are grateful for little bits of normal.
The Student Led Conference sign-up sheets are available at the front door. Traditional observations in a Montessori classroom is for a parent to sit and observe, but not interact in any way. We take a different approach and have parents come for short visits, and participate in the activities their child is involved in. Each child will host their guests on a tour of their classroom and the activities they enjoy for a 15 minute duration. This allows parents to better understand what goes on in the classroom and see through their child’s eyes. It also allows a child to take pleasure and satisfaction in sharing their interests, and introducing friends. This year we must be strict for timing and protocols. Parents must sign up for a time slot, come on time and leave on time. We cannot overlap visitors. Masks must be worn for the duration of the visit. Hand sanitizer and disposable masks are available at the front door. Times will be sent out next week as reminders. Student Led starts November 16th and ends November 26th. It is short and sweet, but should not be missed.
Children start Kindergarten in the same year that they turn five years old. The first step for public schools is to register with your neighbourhood English catchment school, regardless of where you hope to send your child. Registration begins on November 1st, ending the last weekday in January 2021. Private and independent schools will have different registration dates and criteria, and you will have to contact each school individually. Most schools will give sibling priority, but there will be registration due dates for siblings as well. If you are uncertain, call the schools or check out their websites. Do not leave any registration process to the last minute. Schools are overwhelmed with processing paperwork during the last weeks of registration.
Please mark your calendars for upcoming school closure dates. The Remembrance Day observance is on Wednesday, November 11th, and the school district closure date will be on Friday, November 27th. Please remember to tell caregivers and family members that usually pick up that school will be closed on these days.
A big thank you to Astrid for bringing a special gift of wood manipulatives for the classroom. We often use wood blocks and manipulatives in groups for sharing and cooperation exercises. This new set is already a fast favourite. Don’t forget to check out our Instagram page. There is usually a fun addition every month. Welcome November!