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Cornerstone Monthly Highlights - May 2019 - English
Posted On:
Thursday, May 30, 2019
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Dear Families,

One of the most important things any adult can do to build a child’s academic skills is read to them.  Reading with children, from birth, creates learners who love books, nurtures the creative imagination, supports logic and sequence, and so much more.  In this newsletter, the guides share strategies for developing literacy and age-appropriate book recommendations for the children in their environments.  My personal favorites are Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney (I called it “the lupine lady” when I was a child) and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.  We were excited to celebrate reading and literacy with you in these pages and at our Literacy Night on May 20!

As the school year comes to a close, it is remarkable to see how far the children have come.  Almost everyone’s pants are a few inches too short, where six months ago they fell to the floor, and our littlest community members in the Toddler class are bursting with new vocabulary.  We are beginning to take stock of the year and think about ways to continue serving your families as best we can. Look forward to new and different family education opportunities, better communication around logistics like drop-off and pick-up, and more!  And as always, please share with me your ideas and thoughts.

The upcoming weekly Stepping Stones will contain important information about the end of year activities.  This is the final issue of the full newsletter for this 2018-19 year - stay tuned for news and updates this summer! 

Best wishes for smooth transitions and a relaxing summer!


Toddler Community


Three tips for communication with Toddlers from 

1. Prepare an environment with detailed language

  • You and all the other adults in your child's  make up his language environment. Make sure that you and every one who is involved in his life is aware how important it is to use detailed expressive language all the time.
  • Make sure everyone who he spends time with understands the value of responding to his efforts to say words and communicate at this time. He/she is trying hard and when this is acknowledged he will be encouraged to keep trying but if no one notices he may feel that his efforts are futile and stop trying.

2. Connect your child to detailed language through his everyday experiences

  • Every item you use to bathe, clean, prepare meals, dress, and maintain the life of the family is a word your child is learning. By naming objects you are also explaining their function. For example, there are baby spoons, soup spoons, serving spoons, measuring spoons and teaspoons. Make sure you use these kind of words rather than calling everything a spoon. Don't worry that these words might be too complex for your child. These detailed words will make sense to him when used in the context of his daily life and will enrich his language.
  • Use correct grammar and full sentences whenever possible. Use speech that will give your child a good model to express himself clearly so that everyone can understand him.

3. Make time for conversation

  • You will need to wait patiently for conversation to emerge. The words that your child understands will always be greater than the words he uses. You can tell him to go and find his shoes and he will scoot across the room to find them long before he can hold them up in the air and say: ‘Mummy I found my shoes’. You will have to be patient enough to have one-sided conversations at first and to interpret what it is he is trying to say to you.


Children’s Houses 1 and 2

The afternoon work cycle in Children’s House Two has turned into a reading hive in the last week. It’s been lovely to work with children on reading short books and then see them turn around and invite a friend to listen to the book they just learned how to read. Older children are discovering a new skill that they can share with younger children. Sometimes a quiet child will read to children on their cots, after they’ve just woken up or invite them to sit on the sofa to share a story. What a wonderful energy to be a part of! 

In Children’s House One we are seeing the development and deepening of literacy skills from beginning to end. With our youngest children building up their sound consciousness, Sound Games that isolate first, last, and middle sounds in words have enjoyed a resurgence in the room. On the other end, children who have gained fluency in their reading are now enjoying researching with favorite books to add to their level of reading comprehension.

In the afternoon, older children engage in group reading, taking turns reading pages of their favorite books. Our library allows us to put books out which range in complexity from interesting phonetic picture books, to early chapter books. The classic series Cam Jansen novels by David A. Adler continue be a hit!

When given the opportunity to read as a large group, we have shared in some stories that highlight persistence, and self-expression. Some suggestions include: Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights by Rob Sanders, Imagine by Juan Felipe Herrera, and of course Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty.

Children’s House Two has been reading books about skin color in the last month at school. A couple recommended titles are: All the Colors We Are: The Story of How We Get Our Skin Color by Katie Kissinger (bilingual book in Spanish), Who We Are: All the About Being the Same and Different by Robie H Harris, The Color of Us by Karen Katz, and Black is Brown is Tan by Arnold Adoff. 

After lunch, we’ve been reading the The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown, sequel to The Wild Robot. I believe I speak for the children when I say, we recommend it! Ages 6-12

And for parents, who are looking for a book that can fuel them during those challenging moments, I recommend No Drama Discipline: The Whole Brain Way to Calm the Chaos by Daniel J Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson.

CH reading


CH reading


Upper Elementary - Marsh and Forest

Reading with your child is one of the most beneficial activities you can share. Reading is linked to school, career, and life success in all kinds of ways. In Upper Elementary, we aim to support children to find joy and challenge in reading as they continue to build their skills. Children read for research, for enjoyment, for social connection, and to explore ideas and stories different from their own. 

One way we support independent reading of books they choose is by dedicating 30 minutes a day in school for reading. Making time for this and for conversation about our choices fuels great excitement about books. We have many children currently reading in series books, which is a great way to support book choice and social connection. Popular books include The Land of Stories, Redwall, Percy Jackson, and of course many graphic novels. We allow choice without restriction for this time as that supports their skills and their joy. 

We don’t forget decoding in reading in Upper Elementary, but, for many children, it stops being a major focus as they become independent readers. We are able to focus on different genres, as well as on interpretation and discussion in literature. One structure that supports this work is book club. We go through cycles of book clubs, changing the groups every cycle. Though these are sometimes grouped by measured “reading level”, other times they are interest groups. 

Currently both classes have been working with non-fiction and fiction about immigration and refugees in book groups. 

Another important support for comprehension is read aloud. This is also a time of great connection and shared experience. The current read aloud books, A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park (Forest) and Refugee by Alan Gratz (Marsh), blend nicely with our current book club work as well. 

In addition to reading at school, we strongly encourage children and families to read at home as well. Children should choose their own books or bring them from school. Sharing conversation about books is a great way to explore ideas or topics that are otherwise difficult to introduce. And no one is too old for read aloud – just a couple pages a day can be a great time to connect with your children.


Montessori Training Center of Minnesota

MCM welcomes administrators and school staff to the Foundation Course. This is a great opportunity to learn more about Montessori pedagogy and the philosophy behind this proven method of education. The option to audit the course is available! The cost is $2,000 for the five- week course starting June 17.   

The Primary Assistants Coursebegins this summer, August 19-28. The cost is $875 and you can download the application here. Space is extremely limited and spots are held on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

Should you or someone you know participate in these trainings?

Email Kristen at kristen@mtcm.orgto ask questions or submit your application.

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