Malia is visiting us from the Huckleberry Cottage as well and takes off her shoes and socks to dance on the line. She moves however she likes, but keeps her feet on the black tape of the ellipse with each step.
Ryan is joyfully helping a friend change their shoes. They had entered the classroom with their outside shoes and Ryan knows just how to help them. He stays close and is kind and patient.
Huck finishes working with a basket of wooden blocks and carefully rolls his rug. When he finishes and notices the rug isn’t as tidy and neat as he’d like, he rerolls it until it looks just right.
Eloise is busy exploring cards with different leaf shapes. She notices the points of the maple and the curves of the oak.
Adelyn is off on a trip to watch her cousin graduate from high school. When she returns she’ll tell stories during lunch to the entire table.
Quinn has a rug with a moveable alphabet and a set of cards with different pictures of pets on them. He chooses one from the stack and carefully sounds out the word and finds the matching symbols to build the word. “cat” “dog” “gineepig”
Cameryn sits with her friends, happily talking while she threads a thin string through a pentagon, hexagon, and octagon.
Sylvia is playing a game where she works to find the first sound of a word and match it to the symbol, or letter. She delights as she finds a “v” for volcano, checking her work and singing a little to herself.
Frances is practicing reading with the phonetic object box. This early reading work gives children ten labels and ten objects, and they practice sounding out the words and matching the labels with the same objects. If she gets stuck, she’ll reach out to a friend for help.
Colbie is on a relaxing and lovely trip with her mom and dad, fishing and canoeing, enjoying the great outdoors and filling her mind with memories.
Simone is carefully writing down the names of different colors and drawing pictures of each color. Grapes for purple, a tree for green, she is proud of her work and how easily she can read her own writing.
Carter has a table full of numbers. He sorts them into piles of tens, looking to the first digit to read the number and practice knowing the difference between 12 and 21. He is doing the hundred board.
Grey works at a table, studying the pictures of a stinkbug and a junebug and figuring out how they are different and similar. They all enjoy saying the names of these bugs and because we have a classmate named June, of course there are experiments with Greybug and other names.
Dylan has the knitting fork and a ball of red yarn. His fine motor skills are getting refined with every repetition. He wraps the tongs, pulls the bottom loop over the top, and then pulls the finished string before starting again. He likes to make his necklaces long and use the whole yarn ball.
June is washing the workboards. They are more fun to wash when they’re dirty because your soap changes color from the paint left on the board. Her board is green and yellow and she builds up a thick lather before wiping it clean with the sponge.
George sits at a table with the clay work. He separates the big ball of clay into small chunks and rolls out each piece into a ball before smashing it flat and stacking it like a tower of discs.
Geoffrey practices his handwriting with a sheet of numbers. He works to make sure his 2s and 5s face the right way and that each 8 flows with an even line.
Kennedy sits close to friends and sings a song as she ties knots. Instead of a line of small knots, Kennedy has decided to tie many knots on top of each other. This work is great fun, and the real practice comes when she’s ready to untie the whole mass and perfect those fine motor skills.
Abby has a set of three part cards. She has set out the first set of cards, all pictures, and now she works through the labels and reads each one before matching it to right card. At the end she’ll use the third set of cards to check her own work so she can see how she did without the intervention of an adult.
Peter is reading books. He is determined to read the chapter books and sits at a table with a stack of books he wants to read today. Occasionally he stops to bring the book over to a friend to read them a page and delight in his literacy.
Jane is practicing division with the unit division board. She chooses an amount, 12 for example, and then goes through 12 divided by 9, 12 divided by 8, 12 divided by 7, and so on, each time setting up the amount of people she’ll share with and discovering if the number can be evenly and fairly divided or if there’s a remainder. She records her answers and always comes to celebrate an answer without a remainder!
Matthew laughs with friends as he juices oranges. He has a conversation about being five and gives advice to his peers about counting by tens.
Rosie is working to finish a list of equations with the small bead frame. This level of abstraction has taken years and she steadily counts out her beads to exchange ten units for one ten.
Roland is busy figuring out what time it is. He sits with the large clock and looks at the smaller one and just as he needs my help he joyfully proclaims “I’ve got it!”
Harrison has a rug with both the pink tower and brown stair on it. He builds a structure with all twenty pieces and has a group of children who stop on their paths across the room to observe and see what he’s making. He stops to talk and explain to them what he’s working on and they look at him with admiration.
Josie sits at a table with two huge paper butterfly wings, part of her costume for the upcoming play. She knows the wings of a butterfly are symmetrical so she’s working to decorate them so that both wings are a perfect match. She uses shades of pink and purple and is so very happy.
From Anna – May News, Early June 14 Dismissal and Picnic
Dear Sunflower Parents,
Wine and Cheese Thursday May 16th at 6:00 – Join me and the other Guides up in the main building as we welcome new families to our school! Eat some cheese and drink some wine and talk about Montessori! I’d love to see you.
Sunflower Potluck Wednesday June 12 5-6:30 – Join us at 5 in the Sunflower Cottage. We’ll have seats set up so everyone can come and watch the play, A Day on the Island, that the graduates have written themselves and will be performing. Siblings and grandparents and all are welcome to attend this event. After the show we will all go to the kitchen to enjoy a potluck and families are invited to eat in the kitchen or out on the playground! Room Parents will be sending out the sign-up soon so keep an eye out. Thank you for getting ready for this great party.
Last Day of School Picnic Friday June 14th 12:00-1:00 – Come to the front lawn to join us for a big family style picnic. Bring a blanket and some lunch to share with your child. If you’re able to come, you can enjoy lunch with your child and then take them home at 1 to rest and relax before graduation in the night. If you’re not able to come, we’ll see you at 3 o’clock for an early end of the day. Please let me know if you can come so that we will know who will be joining us.
All are welcome to come back at 6:00 and watch our graduates walk in the processional and stand on the stage to celebrate the accomplishment of finishing their three-year-work-cycles!
Sunscreen: The sun has arrived! We love to be outside so please apply sunscreen to your child first thing in the morning because they may be going outside to work in the garden before our midday recess. We will apply sunscreen in the middle of the day and again at the end of the day. Sunscreen is helpful, but remember that the best sun protection is a good hat!
Happy Mother’s Day and happy weekend to you all.
All my best,
Dear Sunflower Families,
Dear Sunflower Parents,
From Anna – February News
Dear Sunflower Families,
Happy February! I hope you’ve all been staying warm and dry in this wintry mix we’ve been experiencing the past few days. Thank you for bringing rain-pants for your children. Whether it’s light snow or a deluge of rain, all of the children are happier outside when equipped with the proper attire.
This month we’re very happy to welcome Ryan from the Huckleberry Cottage. He’s been visiting us in the mornings and everyone’s been kind and happy to help. Please welcome parents Mingui and Tao and definitely introduce yourself to his brother Raymond (in Maple) if you haven’t already.
Later this month we’ll also be joined by our student teacher Natasha. We’re lucky enough to be hosting her from Montessori Northwest. When she visits she mostly observes but later on she’ll be giving some lessons and practicing games with groups. I’m sure some of the children will tell you about her, while others will be so immersed in their own work that they won’t even notice. If her name comes up, now you know who she is, too!
As you’ve all seen, I like to record things that the children say and I often write them on the dry erase board in the coat closet for everyone to enjoy. It’s become a tradition for me to ask the children about love this time of year and I like to share it with all of you. To keep children’s answers pure I invite them one by one for a little interview. I sit down with my pad of paper, look into their eyes and say, “will you tell me what love is?”
Josie “Love is something when you love somebody. It means you like somebody SO much and you always love them. Hugs is love.”
Harrison “It’s something when you care about people or friends. I love Peter and Roland.”
Roland “Well, it’s about being with your family and you care about everybody. Oh yeah, it’s how you take care of all the stuff you have.”
Rosie “Love is kindness and peace. It’s love and sweet joy.”
Matthew “Love? I think it’s love. Love is love. I have love, and I love my Dada and my cat.”
Jane “Love is when you really love someone. It means you really love someone. Love is caring about someone. Love is like when you love someone so so so so much.”
Peter “Love is like when you love someone, like you’re in love with someone. I love Harrison and Roland.”
Abby “When somebody likes you a lot, very much. . . it’s hearts.”
Kennedy “Hugs, and not kicking, and no pinching.”
George “Love is you love someone. It feels good. I love Papa and Daddy and Matthew also I love Geoffrey of course. Also I love myself.”
Geoffrey “I don’t know. I love Matthew ‘cause he always plays with me. I love playing.”
June “I love Abby because she’s my best friend. I love her, she plays with me.”
Dylan “It’s when you like to spend time with a person – a lot.”
Grey “It’s about love. I love Carter because he’s a boy. He’s friendly to me. I’m good to him.”
Carter “It’s when you love some people. I love people. I love when people come to my house.”
Simone “Love is like — do you know what ‘love someone’ is? It’s that – you kind of like it — feeling kind of happy, right?”
Colbie “I don’t know. I love my kitty cat because she has that long tail. Yeah. I love that long tail.”
Frances “Uh, lots of things, like stuffed animals. I have one at home – it’s orange – but I can’t find it now. I love that one. Love is a horse.”
Sylvia “I love you. Neelam. Peyton. Our plants. The fish. The pictures. The erasers. The books! The scissors. The pens. The lines on here. The garbage cans. I love them because I like blue. And the packpack – the little packpack.”
Cameryn “Yes! Love is like when you give each other a kiss or a hug or something nice. Doing things nice. That’s what love is.”
Quinn “It’s when you like something. Love is when you love something. I love and like my Mom!”
Adelyn “No. I won’t tell you. I don’t know. Rosie’s going to read a book to me after I do this. I like when she reads to me because she’s nice to me.”
Eloise “Hm. Uh. I don’t know. I love Holden.”
Huck “I was a baby and then I brought my car to school. Family. Rosie. Rosie is my dog. I got Rosie. Rosie’s I got at home. And that’s Rosie right there – (points to Rosie in our classroom) Yeah. I love my Rosie.”
From Anna – January News
Dear Sunflower Families,
The classroom in January is busy and glorious. All of the children came back from the break a little taller and older and ready to dive back into the work we do everyday. The oldest members of our community have started visiting the lower elementary classrooms. They write notes and make appointments, and get excited. The days when they visit they have stars in their eyes and the friends that stay behind talk about what’s happening all day long. When they come back, they’ve had adventures in the main building, and are so proud. The four-year-olds in the classroom are settling into the big work. Daily I see beautiful stories written with the moveable alphabet, dramatic games of addition and subtraction, and the exuberant bliss that only comes when a child reads a book for the first time. The youngest in the classroom are finding their way. I see them scrubbing tables and carrying water so carefully. I see them using their words and making friends.
Today was so rainy and cold in the afternoon that we all sat together on the big blue rug and danced to Peter and the Wolf. The children took turns, each one eager to act out and dance to the different animals. As I sat there, watching two tiny people do the dance of the bird and the duck, I thought about how lucky I am to get to spend my days with your children. It’s the beginning of 2019 but also it’s the time of year where I ask more of the children. I watch the oldest begin to transform into elementary students, I watch the middles barely begin to test the waters of leadership, and I see the littlest ones starting to find their way.
The best ways to support what we’re doing in the classroom is to help them at home by getting them to bed nice and early (7:30 is an excellent time,) giving them good and healthy meals, helping them be a part of the family with chores, and connecting to them with true stories and wonderful books.
Next week we’ll be welcoming Huck and his family to the Sunflower Cottage. If you see them on the playground please be sure to say hello and give them the warmth you’re famous for. Next Thursday January 31st we’ll have Parent Child Sharing from 4:30-6. Please be ready to join your child in the classroom so that they can show you the lessons they’ve been working so hard on. As always, be a patient and gentle observer, because the lessons they decide to demonstrate could be anything! It can be intimidating to share our classroom with so many adults so forgive them if they get a little flustered. As the next few weeks go on, Molly and Cathy might be reaching out to schedule a little coffee date with you. They’re wanting to get to know everyone better and connect, so if you have a little time you might like to get together for a chat after drop off.
Thank you so much for being part of this community with me. As always, please let me know if you have any questions, and I look forward to seeing you all so soon.
From Anna – December Newsletter
Dear Sunflower Families,
Happy December! In the classroom we’ve been snipping out snowflakes and filling oranges with cloves. We’ve strung cranberries and started a long and colorful chain to decorate our classroom. It’s cold and dark outside, but inside the classroom we are happy and bright. Your children are helping each other, engaged in work, and welcoming Eloise from the Huckleberry Cottage. It’s always wonderful when a new child starts because all of the rest of the children are eager to demonstrate what’s important to us in this space. I am so happy to work with your children everyday and guide them in this important work of being three, four, five and six.
This month we’ll be having our annual Winter Sing on Friday December 14th at 1:00 in the Commons. Please be there a little bit before 1 and find your spot. We’ll come to the stage and sing the songs we’ve been practicing. Grandparents, siblings, and friends are welcome. Afterwards you can come right up to the stage to pick up your child before heading back to the classroom for our Winter Sing crafts.
Suggestions for a Less Stressful Holiday Season
The holiday season can be a little overwhelming. With the hustle and bustle of many family events, the excitement, the cold, sometimes children and adults can get stressed out. Here are a few suggestions that might make your holiday time a little easier —
Take time for true stories and conversations
Help facilitate real conversations between yourself and your children, and also between yourself and other family members. Help your child tell stories about themselves by asking simple who, what, where, and then rephrasing their answers into complete sentences. For example, your child is excited about a pinecone. “Where did you find it?” “At the park” “You found your pinecone at the park. Who was there?” “Mom” “You and Mom went to the park and found a pinecone.” In this way the simplest things can become stories.
Slow down, take breaks
It can be helpful for the whole family to set a timer and have a half hour of quiet time – where people can read, draw, cozy up to take a nap on the couch, or just enjoy each other without phones or technology. If you’re going to do this for the first time, be sure to introduce what’s going to happen and start with just fifteen minutes first.
Let them help
Whether it’s baking cookies or cleaning the house for company, your children can and should be a part of these activities. Turn on music and have the whole family clean at the same time for a treat. While you’re finishing up cooking a big dinner, ask your child to set the table and then look through the house to find something nice for a centerpiece. Your child can make placecards for guests or be incharge of pouring the eggnog.
Chances are your child will be receiving some gifts this season. Help establish a tradition of gratefulness by gathering some envelopes and paper so that they can make thank you cards for everything they get. If they’re able to write on their own, give them a slip of paper that says “because” so that they can write why they like their gift so much. Help them to see that thanking a person for a gift is great, but also writing about how much they enjoyed spending time together is important, too! If they can’t write yet, let them dictate what you’ll write and they can do all the drawing.
As we all head into the New Year it can be a good exercise to ask your family what they want to work on. You can talk about the idea of a resolution and how people decide they want to practice something and get better at it. Maybe your family is going to make a resolution about keeping the coat rack tidy. Maybe your child is going to make a resolution about learning how to tie a bow. Maybe you and your child want to do ten sit-ups together everyday. Good luck!
Important: Arrival & Drop-off
Lastly, we have realized it is pertinent to revisit the rules regarding morning drop-off. As part of our partnership with the neighbors in this community, we have agreed that, in order to ease congestion during peak arrival times, all arrivals between 8:10 and 8:25 must occur on the blacktop via the drive through drop-off lanes. Please do not park and walk your child to the front door during this window of time. It is imperative that we abide by this rule; recently we have received complaints from neighbors about this issue. Thank you for working together with us to keep us in good standing with our neighborhood agreement, and for helping us maintain a smooth, orderly drop-off procedure!
Happiest of holidays to all of you. I look forward to seeing you for the Winter Sing. As always, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask me.
All my best,
From Anna – September News
Dear Sunflower Families,
Last week, in the afternoon, I made a quiet announcement that I would be having a meeting with the graduates on the button rug. The graduates are the oldest children in our classroom, five or six year olds who will spend the year as leaders, perfecting their skills and beginning to transition to the second plane. This was the first time I referred to them with this important title, and I saw the honor and pride wash over them. There was a flurry of excitement, whispering, and giddiness. Peyton overheard one of them comparing this meeting with eating a wonderful cake. As I went to join the meeting, the graduates were waiting for me, with huge smiles of anticipation, while the rest of the children quietly orbited the rug, eager to see what we were doing. I sat down and we talked about our classroom, and I gave them a big job. I asked them if they would be willing to write down the most important rules of our classroom. After some discussion, they decided on these seven rules.
- We all listen to each other.
- We walk peacefully. We’re careful.
- We get lessons everyday. We work.
- We take care of everything, and the fish, and the plants.
- We love the classroom and we love everybody.
- We’re peaceful. We touch gently and kindly.
- When you feel frustrated, still believe in yourself.
It’s wonderful to watch children take ownership and feel proud of the world they’re in. It brings me joy to help cultivate the space where these are the things that are important. You can see the children know that this is a place where we treat each other well, we get to work and take care of the world around us, and we are persistent. During the day I see these things in action simultaneously. Your children are happily engaged in work and finding the rhythms of this classroom. It’s a place where we celebrate the achievements of others, help out, and keep going, even if we get a little frustrated.
Now is a great time to think about the culture of your family and the rules of your home. You can schedule a family meeting, bring a piece of paper, and talk with your children about what the rules are at home. Do they know what time bedtime is everyday? (7:30 is a great idea, remember that children 3-6 need 11 or 12 hours of sleep a night.) Do they know where to hang up their raincoat when they bring it inside? Where do they unpack their lunchbox when they get home? Does the dog have rules about the kitchen table or the couch? When Grandma joins us for dinner, does she have to wash her own plate or is she our guest? Do we take care of guests in a special way? Whether your children are three or six, they know what it means to take care of someone, and you can easily bring up the jobs and chores that everyone does to help out. Keep the meeting happy and warm, and celebrate that your children know what to do in different situations.
Thank you for being part of this community, I look forward to seeing you all at the Fall Mixer on October 4th, the Fall Festival on the 6th, and Parent Child Sharing on the 18th.
All my best,
From Room Parents – Welcome Back!
Hello Sunflower Cottage Community!
Welcome to all new and returning families! We wanted to take a moment to formally introduce ourselves as the room parents in the Sunflower Cottage – Ashley McConnell Vanderjag (Harrison), Fanny Adams (Peter), Janet Terranova (Josie) and Linda Oji (Grey). We’re excited to spend time with you all and make this year a great one for your children, for Anna, Neelam and Peyton, and for the school.
What Do We Do?
Our responsibilities as room parents are varied, but most importantly, we are here for you! What do we do exactly? Glad you asked!
- volunteer opportunities – We help communicate volunteer opportunities within the classroom. If families are needed to sign up for flowers/laundry, classroom wish list items or to volunteer at solstice, you may hear from us. Some are able to give their time, others would rather offer donations. We encourage you to volunteer in a way that is right for your family. You can check out a list of volunteer opportunities on the parents page of the website. Please let us know if you have questions about any of the opportunities.
- gifts and staff appreciation – We coordinate gift giving efforts for Anna, Neelam, Peyton and the support staff during the holiday season and at year-end. We also coordinate a staff appreciation meal once a year. For staff appreciation, each classroom chooses one month during the year to provide a meal to honor the whole school staff and show our appreciation for all that they do. Meal ideas have included breakfast goods, brunch, a sandwich spread and serving homemade goodies for lunch. If you have any ideas or suggestions, we welcome your input! We will let you know when our selected month is and send out more information at that time.
- winter solstice activities and class auction art projects – We help plan and gather supplies for the winter solstice craft activities as well as the sunflower cottage art auction project.
- sunflower community events – We organize special events for the sunflower community. Iin addition to the coffee/donuts/water we had at Willamette Park on 8/26, we will also have our annual picnic gathering on the front lawn at the fall festival. We also have some more events planned…so stay tuned!
Throughout the year we will use this listserv to communicate any info. We highly recommend checking this sunflower classroom page in the Tuesday communications each week, as Anna has updates/news on what’s happening. https://sunstonemontessori.org/sunflower-cottage-news/
Also, Back to School Night is September 13th, 6:00-7:30. During this time, we usually sign up for milk/snack/flowers and laundry for the entire school year. Anna’s done this for quite some time and it’s always worked out…so we will continue this tradition! Sunflower parents are seriously…awesome, but you already knew that.
We hope to see you soon and look forward to sharing a new school year with all of you!