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Cornerstone Monthly Highlights - March 2019
Posted On:
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
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Dear Families,

Spring has sprung here at Cornerstone!  There is a buzz in the air as we prepare for spring break and all the many things that immediately follow.  

I walked into Garden this morning and was met by a peaceful classroom, filled with children working.  In just the few minutes I was observing, I saw one child working with the binomial cube, two using the stamp game, and another working on the checkerboard.  The Montessori math materials are so rich and attractive children can’t help but be drawn to them. In this newsletter the guides share how children develop their mathematical minds in each level of the program, from the toddlers who are learning to weigh options to the upper elementary children who work through advanced math problems like cubing and square roots.  

As we prepare for spring break and the final few months of school, we encourage you to offer opportunities for mathematical exploration at home and to observe your children at school to see firsthand the work they are so capable of doing.

Happy spring!


Toddler Community

Toddlers are constantly developing their mathematical mind and learning through exploration. This can be seen when they use their spatial perception to orient their body within their surroundings and locate the work that draws their attention. We prepare the environment and observe the children problem solving with attention to detail: Is this chip too big for this slot? Is this bucket too heavy for me to carry by myself? How can I balance my cup so water doesn't spill?

Children use their senses, especially their eyes and hands–and occasionally mouths–to create a mental picture of an object. They are then able to attribute a name to the object. Language understanding and expression grows as they hone and expand their ability to remember objects and their names. Finally, they learn that a real object can be represented by a replica or an abstract picture. 

Creative problem solving is used persistently in the Montessori toddler community to accomplish many tasks such as slicing food, turning a whole into equal parts, scrubbing the whole surface of a table, matching boots and shoes and lining them up inside the trays, and matching their belongings to the correct lockers and baskets.  

Children learn about these mathematical concepts long before they can speak about them because our Montessori environment provides the appropriate developmental opportunities for the mathematical mind to blossom.


Children’s House 1 and 2

Math in the Children’s House is an exciting gateway into the world of mathematics. Like all areas, the Math materials are expansive, and follow a set of guidelines. Most importantly, the Math materials must be logically sequenced themselves, and presented in an order which allows the child to build upon previous knowledge. Another general guideline is that we move from the concrete to the abstract. For example, we introduce the number rods (concrete) before we introduce the numerals (abstract). Later, we bring the two together to provide full understanding. 

CH Math


Math is often an area that stands out to visitors of the environment. Many are surprised to see children completing addition operations into the thousands. They are able to do this big work because the qualities of the math materials match the child’s developmental abilities. The materials are concrete and allow children to visually see the hierarchy of numbers. They can count individual units and see how ten units makes one ten, ten tens makes one hundred and ten hundreds makes one thousand. They can move and manipulate these quantities. Math in the Children’s House is a concrete, visual experience.

CH Math 2


Since Math is in all that we do, other areas of the environment provide indirect preparation for mathematics found in the classroom and beyond, The materials in the area of Exercises of Practical Life prepare children for Math by providing a foundation for logical sequencing. For example, a child must follow a specific sequence of steps in order to polish metal successfully. Additionally, most materials in the area of Practical Life call for exactness, which is linked to Mathematic success. The Sensorial materials provide an indirect preparation for Math by having the mathematical principles built into their design. Extensive work with these materials allow children to see Math in the world around them. For instance, the Geometry Cabinet provides children the ability early on to see geometry in architecture. 

CH Math 3


Upper Elementary 

In Upper Elementary, we continue to approach mathematics from the foundation of the mathematical mind; that is, we assume and hope that children are interested and curious to figure things out and make discoveries! We always begin with concrete materials to support their logic and learning.  This material is designed to demonstrate a key concept, give a pattern, or give the children a key understanding. We support their reasoning minds to move from the concrete to the abstract. We excite their imagination as we tell stories to interest them, for example about how to discover the value of pi. 

UE Math


We naturally want children to be competent with basic facts and skills, and we support this through regular practice in school and by offering IXL subscriptions for home. We always work to ensure children understand what they are doing and are not just memorizing steps. Our children also have the opportunity to go far beyond these basics also as they explore concepts like other bases, square root, and cubing. Often this further exploration is what elicits the most excitement and awe. 

UE Math 2


CMES Board Nominations

The CMES board is currently soliciting nominations for new members to support the school’s mission and fulfill the membership obligations detailed in the Board of Directors Job Description.  Please connect with the board chair or any board member (contact info on the CMES website) if you’d like to discuss how your skills might be applied to board work.  If you’re interested in nominating yourself or someone else, please complete the Board Nomination Form and return to the school by March 28th.  Annual elections will be held on May 21, 2019. This letter distributed to all families describes the election process in more detail.


MCM Course Offerings

 MTCM Course Offering

Upcoming Activities 

April 12 is our next Cornerstone Cafe at 8:30am.  Join Maisah Outlaw, CH1 Guide, for coffee and conversation.  

Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments begin for 3rd-6th graders immediately following spring break.  More information about the assessments can be found on pages 63-65 of your parent handbook.

Our colleagues at Mayflower Early Childhood Center in Minneapolis are holding a free nutrition event for families on Saturday, April 13, 9-11:30am.  Please click here to learn more!

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