Sunday, 31 May 2015

The Mysterious Cocoon

 Recently, all the students at our little yellow school were outside in the playground enjoying a beautiful spring day.  One of our six year olds excitedly ran over to me and said with great urgency,  “Mrs. P., come quick!  I found something!  I think it’s a cocoon!”  We quickly ran over to the side gate accompanied by an entourage of fellow students.  This is what we saw.

The Mysterious Cocoon - The Side Gate
There were actually two.  One was on the side gate and one was on the deck.  Can you guess what they are?

The Mysterious Cocoon - The Deck

He had found spider egg sacs!  Little baby spiders were beginning to crawl their way out of the sacs. 

The children were fascinated by the little baby spiders and kept going to check on them. 

By the end of the school day, the little spiders had all crawled away.

The hatching spiders brought to mind the classic children’s story, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.  Originally published in 1952, Charlotte’s Web is a book that continues to resonate with readers young and old.  It is the story of a little girl named Fern, her pig Wilbur, and a spider named Charlotte.   I went home that evening and dug out my childhood copy, now yellowed with age.  Our experience in the playground reminded the teachers of a part in the story.  In Chapter 22, A Warm Wind, Charlotte’s babies are born.   (The following excerpt has been condensed.)
One fine sunny morning, after breakfast, Wilbur stood watching his precious sac. He wasn’t thinking of anything much.  As he stood there, he noticed something move.  He stepped closer and stared.  A tiny spider crawled from the sac.  It was no bigger than a grain of sand, no bigger than the head of a pin.
I have added Charlotte’s Web to my pile of summer reading.  Re-reading it will be just like visiting with an old friend.  If you have never read it, it is well worth reading.  If you have read it, perhaps this summer is a wonderful time to share this endearing story of friendship with your own children. 


Monday, 25 May 2015

The Sweet Smell of Spring

Last week the children and the teachers got their hands dirty planting seed potatoes in our back garden.  It is always a fun time as we plant in anticipation of the fall harvest.  We now have a few weeks before the school year ends to watch as the potato plants begin to grow.




Our planting day was quite breezy and the air smelled sweet with the fragrance of flowers.  Where were the heavenly scents coming from?  As we looked up, we were greeted by the sight of beautiful lilac blooms. 
At our feet was a carpet of lily of the valley.


The children were enchanted by the tiny bells of the lily of the valley.  The lily of the valley brought  back memories of a song I learned as a child.  I shared it with the children.

White coral bells upon a slender stalk
Lily of the valley deck my garden walk
Oh don't you wish that you might hear them ring
That will only happen when the fairies sing.

One little girl said "We will never hear them because fairies aren't real."  Another said "What about the tooth fairy?  She's real." The children thought for a moment and agreed that the tooth fairy was indeed real.  This gave us all hope that somewhere the lily of the valley are ringing.
We picked some of the flowers and brought them into the classrooms.  We placed them in small vases and set them on our work tables so that we could enjoy the sweet smell of spring for just a little longer.  It was lovely!




Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The Finished Work Envelope

At the end of each month, the teachers remove each child's completed work from their files and place this work in each child's finished work envelope.  When the children see the teachers removing work from the files the news quickly spreads through the classroom.  The children will start to circle around and ask "Are we taking our work home today?"  The answer is usually "Not today, we want to organize it first.  We will take it home in a few days."  The children walk away smiling, anticipating the day they will take their envelope home!  So begins the story of the finished work envelope.

Finished Work Envelopes

FInished Work Envelopes

Many parents through the years have told me that there is a whole ritual surrounding the finished work envelope.  If you value your life, you will absolutely never touch the envelope before your child has shown you the treasures that lie within.

We are taking our work home today!

We are taking our work home today!

I asked the children questions about the work envelopes. The following answers are compiled from those received.

Mrs. P.:   What happens when you take your work envelope home?

The Children:  We take the work out and look at it.

Mrs. P.:    Can your parents look at the work without you? 

The Children:  Oh no! They won’t understand it!

Mrs. P.:    There are printing books, math books and other pieces of work in there.  Why won't they understand it?

The Children:  I have to show it to them and explain it.

Mrs. P.:  So how do you do that?

The Children:    After dinner we will all sit at the table.

Mrs. P. :  Do your brothers and sisters come too?

The Children:    Oh no, they are too busy.  My mom and dad sit with me.  Sometimes we sit on the couch.

Mrs. P.:    Then what happens?

The Children:   I show them all of the work one by one. 

Mrs. P.:   What do your parents say?

The Children:   They say it is so beautiful!

For parents who have two children attending our school, the process is slightly different.  Some children will argue to be the first one to show their parents their work.  In other homes, one child shows dad, while the other shows mom. Then they switch.

So what is in the envelope?  The work is organized into subject areas (Arithmetic, Language, French, Culture, Tracing/Cutting for the younger children).  The younger children (those under the age of 3 ½) are primarily working with the Montessori materials and will have a thinner envelope than an older child who is writing and doing arithmetic sums.  

A Younger Child - Language, Tracing, Number Writing

An Older Child - All Subject Areas as well as Culture and Language Booklets

In addition to Arithmetic and Printing Books, here is a sampling of the work the children completed last month.

French Work - A Place Setting

French Work - Crossword

Parts of the Face

Writing Numbers 101 to 200

Cheetah - Part of a Savanna Habitat Booklet

Writing Numbers 601 to 700

Parts of the Bird - Younger Child

USA Flag - Part of a Flags of North America Booklet

Finished and Decorated Printing Book

Parts of the Bird - Older Child

Story - Younger Child

The ritual of the finished work envelope is one of the traditions that makes our little yellow school what it is. When the children walk out the door clutching their finished work envelopes, they are glowing with pride.   They have worked hard and are eager to share the fruits of their labour with their families.  In the days following, the empty finished work envelope will make its way back to school ready for the beautiful work it will once again hold at the end of the next month.