Lower North Update: Sept. 29 – Oct 3 2014

Lower North enjoyed a visit from Strata Montessori Adolescent School guide Chris recently, who brought some cool gross stuff from the Strata bee hives.

Read on for pics and details.

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A honey-eating moth had infested the Strata bee hives.

“Chris cleaned it all out and came to us and taught us about the moth,” explained Lower North guide Rob. “This particular moth is cyclical, so it goes from the larvae to a moth, which eats the honey, and then lays its eggs, which hatch into more larvae. Throughout this it creates less space for the honey bees to produce their honey, and they eventually kick the bees out of the hive.”

“It was a nice connection,” said Rob, “a cosmic approach, from Strata, having the older students’ teacher come into our classroom and allowing the children to discover and understand this. There were three different sizes of larvae he had — small, medium, and large — and he even pointed out the insides, all of the organs of the larvae and how they stay still; when the larvae moves the organs stay still. It was really neat.”

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Freaky critters and the Stamp Game. Must be a Montessori elementary environment.

“This is two first year Lower Elementary students,” Rob explained of the image above. The boy with the freaky critter book is engaging in his first elementary-level project, while the other boy works with the Montessori Stamp Game material.

“They’re really starting to become part of the elementary program,” said Rob, “in the sense of just doing what they want to do, or getting things done that they know that they need to get finished.”

Rob also noted that one boy might interrupt the other to show him something interesting he has found, but they are both able to return to the work they are primarily engaged with.

“The social content in Lower Elementary is such an important factor that they want to show each other what they are working on, or they want to teach each other certain things, which is a nice way of doing things,” said Rob.

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Blue and green in the botany environment of Lower North.

The mixed-age nature of Montessori environments helps further this social development.

As Rob points out, above there are “two year three boys and a year one girl, and she’s learning from them; she’s observing and seeing what they are doing. It’s not just girls with girls and boys with boys. And the boys really want to show the younger ones examples of how to work in and be a part of the environment, to be role models.”

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Montessori education prides itself on being flexible, but you try sitting like this while working…

Another big part of Lower Elementary is beginning to take steps away from the concreteness of the materials towards being able to work more in the abstract.

“This was a lesson I did with her in division,” said Rob of the girl in the picture above. “It’s what I call a sort of two-dimensional activity, where she’s working with the materials available but working on paper to learn how the process of long division is done, to understand it.

“By the time children reach Upper Elementary they want to touch the materials a little bit, but they want to get off them as quickly as possible. That is starting to happen here. By the end of their third year in Lower they don’t really want to be working with the materials as much. They’re feeling as though they’re reaching that next level.”

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Buttons and beads in the Lower North library.

“This is the first bead chain they have worked on together,” said Rob. “Also, learning to be social with each other, working together, helps them to learn what friendships are. It’s not just one person doing it their way, it’s also learning to communicate positively with each other.”

The material they are working with offers them the opportunity to experience a mathematical concept in a concrete way.

“These are cubes, so when they get into a little higher math — exponents, squares, and cubing — they can understand visually and mentally what these things look like.”

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As you know, all of our elementary students attended a cross-country event this past week.

“It was nice to see a lot of grandparents,” said Rob, “who were really impressed with how the kids interacted with one another. It wasn’t just cheering for first, second, and third place, they were cheering for the ones that were coming in and finishing the race just as much as for the ones who finished at the beginning. It was nice to see a whole concept of a group versus just personal achievement. It was nice to see that.”

“We did a few unintentional experiments on the effects on positive socialization in children from Montessori schools this week,” said DVMS director Tony. “Tuesday morning, three Montessori Schools got together for a cross country run hosted by Fairview Glen Montessori. DVMS and Dearcroft (where I taught before DVMS) were invited. Though not crazy about ribbons and placing (even if DVMS did very well) it truly was a lovely day. What was most impressive was how the children from all three schools interacted and played soccer and frisbee after. Laughter, kindness, and patience with younger children and positive support were everywhere. It was obvious and heartwarming.

“Yesterday I went to the McMichael Gallery with our Stratolescence students. We ended the day with a picnic dinner and ultimate frisbee game with the adolescent students from Muskoka Montessori School. Muskoka Montessori had organized some games to ‘break the ice’. The same sense of collegiality and comfort was evident.

“In a study published in Science, Dr. Angeline Lillard found that ‘Montessori children displayed better abilities on the social and behavioral tests, demonstrating a greater sense of justice and fairness. And on the playground they were much more likely to engage in emotionally positive play with peers, and less likely to engage in rough play.’

“As an adult it is such a pleasure to witness this ‘positive social play’ in action.”

DVMS elementary students aged grade 2-6 equivalent (second year of Lower elementary and up) will have a chance to run in another cross-country event at Lee Academy on the afternoon of October 24. Participation in this event is optional. If your child decides they want to participate, Upper French specialist and Adventure Runner extraordinaire, Janice, has offered to help them train for the run during recess on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays leading up to the event. They will require running shoes and water bottles.

Other reminders: Two of our Upper Elementary girls have arranged a Kids vs Teachers Soccer Game and Bake Sale to support the Childhood Canada Cancer Foundation . Please submit baked goods on Tuesday, October 21. Cost for kids to play in the game is $3.00, and they can sign up at the dismissal gate on Tuesday, October 14. Click here for details.

Two other Upper students are also organizing a winter clothes swap. It will start on the 6th and run until the 8th of October; it will be from 8:25 – 9:00 and 3:25 – 4:30 (on the stage). The extra will go to charity. Please bring your family’s old winter clothes. Thank you.

Reminder: Lower Elementary children will be participating in karate on Friday mornings throughout October with Gord Waddell of United Family Martial Arts.

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