Amber Osterkamp Staff Photo

Pond Updates

Stone Soup  

January 18, 2018


Dear Families,

The Stone Soup event is coming up in a little over a week (Saturday, January 27th at 4:30) and the children are busy preparing!  Everyone has signed up for one part of the plant.  They are receiving lessons about that part and they will contribute ingredients to the soup based on what they signed up for.  We will have our very own “Stone Soup” recipe created by the children.  They will also be sharing with you what they have learned about their part of the plant. 

Ask your child:

What part of the plant did you sign up for?

What does that part of the plant do for the plant?  For example, what does the leaf do for the plant?  Why does the plant need the leaf?

What kinds of (seeds, leaves, stems, roots, fruit) do we eat?

I look forward to seeing all of you soon!

Best wishes, 

Amber Osterkamp

December 2017  

December 2017

As we come to the halfway mark for the school year (how did that happen so quickly?), I am just amazed by the progress the children have been making!  I am sure some of you are noticing this at home too, there is an explosion happening with reading and writing.  

Children are writing chapter books, letters, reports, plays, and poems.  I am noticing beautiful cursive and illuminated letters.  Children are also practicing alliteration, hyperboles, personification, metaphors, similes, and repetition.  There has also been a lot of interest in fiction writing.  We studied what our favorite authors do and tried to mimic their style, especially with “great beginnings.” 

Here are a few pieces of writing that I wanted to share with you. 



By Alanis

Beautiful blue ballerinas

Dance the stars

Up high

You better be awake because they

Will dance the night away

Join us

Join us

And all together

Always sparkle

Like the stars up high

And that will make the world so bright



By Maryama

The beautiful sun

flying up high

like a butterfly in the sky

going up and down

each morning

its going to hit our house


“Great Beginnings”


By Eamon and Harrison

“It was the dead of night.  Bobo was going to get a drink of water from the water hole next to his cave.  He hid behind every rock on the way to the water hole.  He sipped a little bit of water, it was as cold as ice.  He shivered a little bit and sipped some more.  Then he went back to his cave….”


It was also really fun watching the children share their knowledge of handcrafts the week before break.  There was a joyful buzz around the classroom as children created gifts for those that they love.  I hope all of you enjoy the cold winter break snuggled up somewhere warm!



Best Wishes,





Parent Partnership Event  


November 26th, 2017

The classroom has been buzzing with excitement in preparation for the Parent Partnership event Monday, November 27th from 5:30 to 7.  Children are checking the materials, writing problems, preparing paper for follow on work and generally thrilled at the idea that they will be putting you to work.  Thank you for all of your prompt RSVP’s, it looks like we will have a full house!  Some children are planning to present with a friend and others are planning to present by themselves.  Either way, I hope you leave with a better understanding of how your child is learning through experience with these beautiful materials!

Here are some questions you can use to support your child with their presentation:

What material are you presenting?

What is this material used for?

How does it work?

How might you follow on in a different way?

Learning Through Discovery  

Hello Families!

I hope you all enjoyed the conversations we had over conferences as much as I did.  It was really wonderful to hear your goals for your children.  I left for the weekend with more inspiration and energy than expected, so thank you for that.

Many of you talked about how you were taught differently and that you wanted to know more about how your child is learning.  We know that meaningful learning occurs when the child is actively engaged.  Maria Montessori said,

“…education is not what the teacher gives: education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual.  It is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences upon the environment.” 

In math in particular, many of us learned by being given a rule and then asked to repeat it.  Our aim is that the child through their actions discovers the rule.  As the guide we provide the lessons to engage them with the material, we ask prompting questions, and provide purposefully chosen problems to get them to that point. 

I wanted to share a moment from the classroom last week that highlights this process.

A child was working on fact families with the bead bars.  She was placing a strip of paper on the beads to separate the whole into two parts and then writing the equation she created. 

While doing this, she had the problem 4 + 6 = 10 already written down when she came to 6 + 4.  At that point, she asked me, “wait… is that the same thing?”  At that moment I could have answered her and told her the rule, but instead I shrugged and said I wasn’t sure.  She counted and saw that it in fact it was the same.  She did this over and over and was enthused by her discovery.  I told her that she had discovered the commutative law of addition just like many great mathematicians from the past and she beamed with pride.  She is much more likely to remember this rule because she discovered it from her own experience.  

Announcement Image for Learning Through Discovery

October 5th, 2017  

Within Cosmic Education, the elementary guide has an important role.  He or she must offer the children exciting stories, nuggets of information, or probing questions that will inspire them to investigate or explore.  Through their exploration and concentration, real learning takes place. 

We want the children to follow their interest and so it is our goal that they will be inspired and leave a lesson with more questions than they started with.    

One inspiring lesson that all of the children received this week was the work of the river.  The story is given with a river model.  The children see how water pushes its way downward and sideways.  They see that it carves its way through the earth; it carries sediment, and then deposits it. 

After this lesson, many children were inspired to follow on.  Some children made their own model and some labeled the parts of the river.  The children making the model collaborated and they problem solved (What materials are available?  How can we use these materials to construct a model?).  It was really fun to watch the buzz of work that continued through most of the day.



Announcement Image for October 5th, 2017

Cosmic Education   

September 2017 

Welcome back everyone!  With the beginning of a new school year, I am always excited by the potential it brings.  The elementary aged child is enthusiastic and inquisitive.   I look forward to the questions and interests that each child brings with them everyday. 

The method of teaching the elementary aged child in a Montessori classroom is called “Cosmic Education”.  Dr. Montessori developed Cosmic Education because she recognized the need to grab the interest of the elementary aged child.  She observed and then identified what the children were attracted to, how they learned, what got them interested, and what got them working.   She saw that they were not satisfied with mere facts; instead they were interested in how things were interrelated.  They wanted to know how things worked and why. 

I love this quote from a lecture she gave in Amsterdam in 1950.

It should be realized that genuine interest cannot be forced.  Therefore, all methods of education, based on centers of interest, which have been chosen by adults, are wrong.  Moreover, these centers interest are superfluous, for the child is interested in everything… A global vision of cosmic events fascinates the child and his interest will soon remain fixed on one particular part, as a starting point for more intensive studies.

In a Montessori classroom, we present the universe to children in a way that they can naturally understand.  We open the doors of the cosmos and invite the children to enter so they can take their part.

Amber Osterkamp


Announcement Image for Cosmic Education