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Cornerstone Monthly Highlights - November 2018
Posted On:
Sunday, November 18, 2018
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Dear Families, 

I hope you are all enjoying the fall!  I am still getting used to Minnesota weather and am excited to enjoy the snow, while also trying to stay warm.  

  • As it gets colder and darker in the mornings, we know how hard it can be to get out of bed some days.  Starting the day together is an important part of the Montessori experience, as children share breakfast, join collective, or settle into work.  We ask for your help in supporting this community by having your children here by 8:45 each day.
  • Now that it is more like winter than fall, we also ask that you please make sure your child comes to school with hat, mittens, coat, and snow pants (if needed).
  • At the beginning of December you will receive a new Cornerstone notice, both in your email and in your child’s backpack, with a list of important dates for the month.  We hope this will be useful to you as you schedule your time.
  • There are a number of projects in the Toddler Community for which we could use volunteers who have carpentry skills.  If anyone is interested or able to help in this way, please let me know.
  • For those of you with older children who attend the Boys and Girls Club, a math and sports program is available.  Please see this flyer for more information.

Enjoy your time off next week – I wish you all a restful time with family.

Alyssa

Toddler

The toddlers continue to build community in the afternoons after their nap time.  Upon waking up they use the bathroom and may choose to have snack, or make another choice of individual work or work with a friend first.  Edgar and Tenkai find a cozy spot to work with the farm animals.  Cedar explores the clay work.  Ella helps prepare the room for the next day by rolling up some of the rugs and putting them away.

 

Toddler Toddler

Toddler

 

Children’s House 1

Children’s House has always enjoyed caring for our environment. Some of the opportunities include dusting, washing cloths, and caring for plants.

CH1

 

 

Now that it is Fall many children have chosen to extend that care to our outdoor environment. The benefits of caring for the environment are not just in keeping a space tidy. It helps to build attention to detail as well as community. Plus, we get to play in a leaf pile after raking it!

CH1 CH1

 

Children’s House 2

In the Children’s House, there are many iconic Montessori materials: the pink tower, the moveable alphabet, golden beads. It is a joy to think deeply about your children and plan which materials will captivate their interests. While these materials are often showcased as the true Montessori experience I am captivated by the children’s developing community and their abilities to be active members in caring for our community. Recently, a child noticed that there was paint left on the locker room walls from someone’s easel painting. Without asking an adult, the child went to the kitchen, got a caddy with a spray bottle, cloth and scrub brush and went to work to clean the walls. A new ritual in our classroom is what the children call “laundry factory”. In the morning one big work our community collaborates on is folding the tablecloths, napkins and other linens from the day before. The children have developed their own manner of completing this work; they call it a “laundry factory”. Equipped with chowkis (floor tables) they assemble a team of folders, passers, stackers, and deliverers. See the process captured below!   

 

Garden

If you have spent time with a child from the Garden classroom this year you have likely heard about the adventures of Tator Tot the hedgehog. Tator Tot is an African Pygmy hedgehog who has graced us with her presence as a classroom pet this year and has provided much excitement and entertainment. Tator Tot is a skilled escape artist, which was something we were unaware that a hedgehog could be. Her first escape led to a grand 6 day adventure where she roamed the school at night leaving “evidence” behind on some shelves and floors in various parts of the school building. She was found one morning in the hallway covered in paint and looking rather disheveled. Upon her return we began to cover her cage at night with a cloth cover clipped around the edges. After only 2 days back she performed another amazing feat and escaped again, laughing at our weak attempt to dissuade her. Her next adventure lasted 2 weeks. We left food and water out hoping to entice her to return and set a live trap for many nights. Clever Tator Tot only snuck into the trap ate her fill and left again leaving evidence of her visit, but keeping herself well hidden each day. Finally with the aide of a shiny new trap meant for smaller, lighter creatures her adventure came to an end. Tator Tot is home, safe, and we have learned that a proper cage cover is the only way to keep our precious pet from roaming the school after hours.

But, why keep a hedgehog, or any other pet in the classroom? What benefit does this spiky little creature provide? Classroom pets provide an opportunity to develop responsibility in the children. It is the children who care for the animals in the room. They are responsible for cleaning the environment, providing fresh food and water, and taking notice when additional care is required. Having a variety of different animals in our school environment, and animals that are unique also helps to develop an awareness of how animals needs vary. A hedgehog needs a very different environment and care than a turtle. Finally, in caring for another living creature a respect and appreciation for life is encouraged and strengthened. We look forward to more adventures with Tator Tot, hopefully within the walls of our classroom! 

 

Pond

Dear Pond parents and guardians,

The topic for this month is how the Pond community takes care of the classroom. At the end of each day, we do “jobs”. We have a jobs chart listing all the ways we can take care of our classroom. We have jobs like re-organizing the pencils, or tidying up the scrap bin. Every month, the jobs committee switches the people and puts them on different jobs.  There are also community jobs that the whole class does like floors or putting the chairs on the tables at the end of the day. At the end of each day, we count the pencils to see if we have the same amount, more, or less pencils as we did in the morning. When we are done with our jobs, we get our things and sit in collective. Our jobs are things that could use lots of care. This is why the Pond community has jobs. 

By: Senetneb

 

Forest

There are a number of ways that Forest's upper elementary students develop a sense of belonging and a stake in their community.  One goal is that students will learn to independently take initiative for things like watering classroom plants, filling the bird feeders and making photocopies.  These activities provide them with an authentic sense of purpose and an opportunity to exercise freedom while taking responsibility for crucial tasks that help our classroom community to function smoothly.  Additionally, Forest students love "Big Clean" on Friday afternoons where they are responsible for cleaning and re-ordering the classroom.  Students develop a sense of 'ownership' for their classroom environment in this way. For example, if materials are being mis-used or not put away properly, the problem finds its way onto the weekly 'Council Fire' meeting agenda where students discuss raise their concerns and develop strategies for solving these issues.  Another way that Forest students build community is through rituals like birthday celebrations.  During this celebration, the birthday child selects a classmate to read the story, On the Day You Were Born, while the honoree (holding the globe) revolves around the Sun (candle) the requisite number of times.  Following this, the classmates delight in getting to know the birthday child better by asking them questions like, "Would you rather have a best friend or an unlimited lifetime supply of chocolate?".  It is very rewarding to see how each child develops these skills during the Three Year Cycle of Growth! 

 

Marsh

In Upper Elementary at Cornerstone, as at other levels, community is key. Children are working on more complex relationships with each other and are able to think about community and responsibility in a more abstract way than earlier. In Marsh, this means we have many conversations about words we use, about tone of voice, about what it means to have things be fair (which is not always equal). Developmentally, elementary children are in the age of the reasoning mind and want to make sure they know why we all do what we do. They work together to develop fair systems for the community, from how to make sure everyone has the computer time they need to how to distribute extra snack to how to best take care of our class pets. One of the main ways we develop these group agreements is through class discussion during Class Congress, a weekly meeting with the agenda determined by the children. The pictures show examples of the issues children bring to the group.

These skills of communicating, advocating for the community good, and taking responsibility for actions are things that everyone needs to do their whole life. As the year progresses, the children will have many more chances to do practical things that develop real life skills. For example, we will start doing more baking and cooking and planning more going-outs. Children will take more independent responsibility for caring for the environment and for contributing to the larger community, as when they support toddler recess. 

Of course, this work can only happen when children are connected, with some level of trust and empathy. We work to develop that not just through meetings, but also through games and celebrations, sharing and appreciating both our similarities and our many differences.  The work of building and maintaining community is vital and it’s lovely to see our children developing their skills in these areas. 

 

Marsh Marsh 

 

CMES Board Updates 

CMES is in the process of changing school authorizers from Volunteers of American (VOA) to the University of St. Thomas (UST) giving CMES the opportunity to interface with UST’s portfolio of authorized schools located in the St. Paul and surrounding metro area.  UST as an authorizer also enables our staff to take courses at a discount.  CMES has submitted a Change in Authorizer application to UST and will be hosting UST staff at CMES on Tuesday December 11, with the schedule to include classroom observations and interaction with staff, parents and board members.

The CMES board has begun a strategic planning process to document and prioritize the feedback gathered from parents and staff throughout the past year from various focus groups, parent surveys and HOS discussions with the staff.  The board will be asking for additional input from the parents and staff within the next few months to ensure that all ideas are heard and can be considered and prioritized within the strategic plan.

 

MCM Updates 

Take a look at our winter workshop opportunities! Please consider joining us to discover more about one of these exciting topics:

Finding Balance: A mindful approach to mental health, secondary trauma and self care
Saturday, January 12, 2019 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM  
Learn More About the Topic and Presenters: Visit the registration page 

Montessori Observation and Record Keeping 
Saturday, January 19th, 2019 & Saturday, February 9, 2019 
Learn More About the Topic and Presenters: Visit the registration page 

Ever thought about becoming a Montessori Guide? MCM is enrolling for both Primary (ages 3-6) training in Fall of 2019 and Elementary (ages 6-12) training starting in Summer of 2019. If you or someone you know is interested please visit our website at montessoricenterofmn.org for more information.

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