Children’s House Blog

Sugaring Time!

Hello Friends! 

Throughout the month of March, we studied and emulated the process of making maple syrup. Here’s a timeline of our sticky adventure: 

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It all began when our friend Kim came for her every other Tuesday visit on the first day of March. We had been wanting to tap the maple tree on our playground but we needed some help. Kim to the rescue! She showed up with everything we needed.

 

Kim even gave us all a little taste of maple syrup that she made during the 2015 sugaring season. It was delicious and left us begging for more! But it was time to put on our outdoor clothes and head to the maple tree…

When we got to the maple tree, Kim gave each friend the opportunity to drill a portion of the two holes. Each student also got to help hammer the syrup spiles into place. The side that the sun was shining on starting dripping sap right away! With that, we hung up our buckets, put the covers in place, and headed back inside. Now it was time for nature to do its job. 

When we had that delightfully warm week in March, our tree gave us lots and lots of sap. We decided that we had enough to boil down to syrup…

During one of our morning work periods, each child watched a short video of other children learning about the process of making maple syrup.

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L and B were very engaged. They asked a lot of questions and made the connection between what the children in the video were doing and what we were doing!

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A and M were astonished by the sap going into the boiler and coming as syrup.

 After everyone had seen the video, we began the two-day process of boiling down our sap. We filled a pot 3/4 of the way full with sap. Then we left it on medium heat until there was only 1/4 left. Then we added more until the pot was 3/4 of the way full again. We did this until we ran out of sap. Eventually it boiled down into a little more than 1/4 cup of syrup. The children loved watching it bubble, seeing the condensation on the windows, and smelling the sweet, sugary smell. We were all eager to taste our very own Maine Mountain Children’s House maple syrup. But we decided we should make some crepes to go with it.

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The students made the crepe batter independently. A teacher simply told them how much of which ingredient they needed. Here M is pouring the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients while F whisks it all together. Awesome teamwork friends!

When the batter was ready, a teacher cooked each crepe in a pan while some friends watched.  

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M was so excited to see the crepes transform in the pan. She couldn’t wait to have a taste!

 That afternoon we enjoyed our crepes with fresh fruit that the children helped to prepare and a drizzle of our homemade syrup. It was the perfect ending to our maple syrup unit!

May the long time sun shine upon you,

Ashley, Bethany, and Emily

Sustainable Community Symposium

MMCH-Sustainable-Community-Symposium

Please join us Friday, May 6th, from 7-9pm at the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center for a Sustainable Community Symposium–a panel discussion on local living, community based solutions, and the capacity to endure.

Enjoy desserts, drinks, live music, a silent auction, and presenters in support of Maine Mountain Children’s House. Get rooted in your community!

$30/person




Nature Walk

Dear Friends,

On Wednesday, March 16th, we went for a long stroll on the trail across the road from our school. Here’s an overview of our morning in the great outdoors:

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Here we go!

 

We stopped just a short distance down the trail to do some exploring and munch on a tasty snack.

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Here is E in a teachable moment as M and P collect bits of nature in their paper bags.

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T brought his very own camera on our adventure! We can’t wait to see how the photos came out.

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N helped keep our planet clean by picking up some trash.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we continued on our journey, we realized we had some extra time before we had to turn back for lunch. We are very grateful that we had the opportunity to play on the elementary school’s playground during this time. Our students tested their gross motor skills as they climbed, swung, and balanced. They also got to meet and play with new friends from the other preschool whose classroom is located in the elementary school. We even got to see our friend, L who splits her time between both schools.

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Determination can go a long way! Q spent the first few minutes of our time at the playground conquering this structure.

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B had a blast discovering how to stay on this balancing contraption.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi L! Thanks for letting us play at your other school.

 

Next we headed back to the trail for a class picture. We found the perfect fallen tree to fit all of our friends. They loved scaling it’s obstacle course-like surface.

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Here is M through the lens of our binoculars. She is working hard to walk across the slippery log.

 

With tired legs, we made our way back to our first snack spot to eat lunch.

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Here’s another cool shot through the binoculars. This is right before we approached the rickety bridge on our way back. Our friend B stopped to “hold up” the bridge for everyone. So kind!

 

When our bellies were full, we headed straight back to our classroom for some warm tea and quiet stories. The teachers and children at Maine Mountain Children’s House would like to thank everyone who made our outdoor adventure possible! We had a truly lovely day.

 

May the long time sun shine upon you,

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 Ashley, Bethany, and Emily

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February Fun

Hello Friends!

Another month has come and gone. 

First and foremost, we celebrated 5 birthdays in February! Our classroom is now bustling with 3, 4, 5, and 6 year olds.

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Here is a snapshot of F and M’s birthday celebration.

Birthday celebrations are an exciting event in our classroom. The black sparkly square in the center of the circular mat represents the solar system. A beautiful wooden sun is placed upon the “solar system.” Then we add a lit candle to represent the heat and light that the sun provides. Next we place the names of the months around the sun to show the cycle of one year. In the photo above, F and M are “orbiting” around the sun with two of our classroom globes for every year that they have been on Earth. We finish our birthday celebrations off with photos and/or memories from years past, blowing out the candle, giving birthday wishes, sharing a healthy treat, and reading On the Day you Were Born by Debra Frasier.

 

In February, we put out several thematic lessons based on Valentine’s Day and the solar system.  

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Here S is in the process of putting roses in lovely colored vases and placing them out in the classroom. This movement lesson strengthens both gross and fine motor skills. It also provides our students with a sense of belonging as they help make our school a more beautiful place.

 

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In this photo, B is learning about the layers of our sun. This science lesson was one among many other solar system lessons. Our students also had the option of choosing to learn about the phases of our moon with paper plates, complete a solar system puzzle, and match planet pictures with their names.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Our students have also been practicing…

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Putting on mittens independently.

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Painting from beginning to end. Here, A hung up her paper, chose her paint colors, then washed her brushes and paint cups and sponge cleaned the easel when she was done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sewing. B taught a few friends how to sew with a real needle this month! Other friends had the opportunity to sew a paper button onto another piece of paper with a plastic needle.

 

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Taking care of their environment. In this photo, L is gently polishing the leaves of one of our classroom plants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During our afternoon work period, we like to delve into group projects that further strengthen some of the concepts we’ve learned.

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Here are some friends constructing hibernation homes for various animals.

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L, L, A, and A had the opportunity to mix colors using snow as their canvases!

 

And finally, we celebrated our 100th day of school on February 22nd! We put out various 100-themed lessons for the day.

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Pictured here is S working on our 100 days of school paper chain.

 

It looks like it’s going to be a MUDDY March. We look forward to sharing our happenings, both in and out of our classroom, with you! 

 

May the long time sun shine upon you,

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Ashley, Bethany, and Emily

It’s a Practical Life!

Hello Friends!

In her book, The Absorbent Mind, Dr. Maria Montessori wrote, “To have a vision of the cosmic plan, in which every form of life depends on directed movements which have effects beyond their conscious aim, is to understand the child’s work and be able to guide it better.” Today we’re going to talk about one of our pouring lessons from the Practical Life Avenue so that you may better understand the work of our students.

Fundamental work takes place in the Avenue of Practical Life in a Montessori classroom. It is comprised of lessons that enable children to practice and master basic life skills (pouring, squeezing, twisting, etc.) that contribute to a successful, independent future. Each Practical Life lesson falls under one of the four main areas:

1) Control of Movement

2) Care of Person

3) Care of Environment

4) Grace and Courtesy

When children choose to work with a pouring lesson, they are specifically honing in on their control of movement. Pictured below is a pouring lesson that is currently living on one of our Practical Life shelves.

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This lesson tasks children with equally distributing the dry materials in the pitcher to the two smaller cups. While working with this lesson, our students develop a sense of order, fine motor control, hand-eye coordination, independence, and concentration.

A lot goes into designing a lesson like this one. The whole lesson (tray and all) must be functional, aesthetically pleasing, proportional to the children, complete, color coordinated, safe, clean, cost efficient/easily replaced, developmentally appropriate for all of the children, organized, applied to real life, culturally relevant, appeal to the interests of the children, follow a step-by-step sequence, and include a control of error so that the children may feel more independent and self sufficient. During the creation of the lesson pictured above, everything from the position of the pitcher to the color of the tray was considered. You will notice that the pitcher handle is facing outward. This is because we have students who are dominantly right-handed and left-handed. This lesson wouldn’t cater to all of our students needs if it was one way or the other. You may also notice that the tray is red. This is because this lesson was made available to our students around Valentine’s Day and it coordinates with the other lessons on this Practical Life shelf. The red tray also matches the red flowers on the small cups.

The Practical Life Avenue is such a fundamental part of our classroom. By practicing carefully prepared lessons that focus on specific skills like pouring, our students are able to make physical, social/emotional, and cognitive gains through their new-found skills and independence.

May the long time sun shine upon you,

IMG_3603Ashley, Bethany, and Emily

 

 

January Recap

We have had a wonderful start to the new year here at Maine Mountain Children’s House! Because January brought both snowy days and warm, sunny days, our playground has transformed many times. No matter the weather, we always find ways to enjoy the natural world.

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S, Q, F, and B soaking up some Vitamin D on our mountain of snow. This has been a place for the children to explore tunnels, dig holes, perfect the art of penguin sliding, practice their balance as they maneuver across the slippery surface, and much more!

 

After battling weeks of feeling under the weather in December, we were finally able to host our annual “Stone Soup Night.” This night is based on the book, “Stone Soup” by Jon J. Muth. It’s a story about three monks who visit a quiet, poor village in the mountains. The monks are hungry, but the villagers are suspicious of the strange travelers. Slowly, the monks are able to entice the villagers out to the city center to learn how to make soup from nothing but stones and water. As the villagers begin to trust the monks, they share small items from their own homes. Through this kindness and sharing, the village is able to create a delicious soup big enough for everyone to enjoy.

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Everyone who joined us came together for delicious bread, even better soup, and great conversation.

 

Throughout the month, our students have been practicing all sorts of skills while learning about snow and ice and the Arctic regions of the planet.  

Marble Tonging

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This winter-themed lesson aids the children in developing their fine motor skills. The purpose of the lesson is to grasp the tongs and carefully transfer each marble from the bowl to the empty spaces on the small white tray. It lives on our practical life shelf with other lessons that prepare children for everyday tasks.

Snowflake Matching

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This lesson can be found on our science shelf. First, the children lay out the large snowflake cards at the top of their work mats. Next, they use the magnifying glass to examine the details of the the small snowflake cards in order to match them to the large ones.

Arctic and Antarctic Animals

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This lesson also lives on our science shelf. Our students use the four animals in the dish to explore what it’s like to live in the arctic zones.

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Here Q and M are applying what they have learned about penguins. Male penguins carry their eggs in their pouches. They came up with the idea of placing eggs (snowballs) in their pouches (boot straps). They carefully waddled around Antarctica (our playground) and waited for them to “hatch.”

Animals in Winter

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In this photo, Emily is working with L, M, and Q to identify the birds that have been visiting our new feeder.

 

Towards the end of the January we hosted our first ever “Bring a Parent Night.” The children showed their parents around the classroom and showcased some of their favorite lessons. We are looking forward to our next one in the spring.

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Stay tuned for what we’re up to in February

 

May the long time sun shine upon you,

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Ashley, Bethany, and Emily

 

The Samantha Wright Community Garden Project

Sam’s Garden 

Kim, accompanied by the Ukulele, lead us in a song for our friend Sam after building and planting the garden.


Sam Wright, the founder of Maine Mountain Children’s House, came from farming roots.  When she started the school in 2006, it was in her nature to teach children where food comes from and how to grow it.  Sam encouraged her students to get their hands dirty, plant seeds and bulbs, search for worms and watch things grow.   It had always been her intention to start a community garden where people could come together to grow vegetables, converse and share with one another.

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Sam and her students, breaking ground at 87 maple street in 2012


 Bringing the dream to FRUITION

In the spring of 2014, Maine Mountain Children’s House, along with our gardening guru’s Kim Roberts and Kerry Oulette, created a community garden in Samantha Wright’s name.   We gathered together in June of 2014 at our former location to build the gardens from the ground up.  Volunteers, current students, MMCH alumni, friends and family sifted compost, hammered together frames, shoveled soil, painted signs, and planted seeds and seedlings.  By lunch time we had a garden!  Over sandwiches and lemonade, we sang a song in tribute to our friend, admired our work and pledged to work together to keep this small garden and great spirit of Samantha Wright alive.

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Quinn getting some practice with hammering nails before we build our raised beds


 And boy, did we!

The first year we were bountiful in produce!  With the help of the students, their families and summer and early fall volunteers, we harvested beans, carrots, kale, tomatoes, basil, chives, brussel sprouts, cucumbers, eggplant, sunflowers, nasturtiums,  squash and pumpkins.  The children loved racing through the pathways, popping tomatoes in their mouths as they whizzed by the raised beds in the fall.

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A variety of fresh fruits and veggies harvested during an “open garden” evening.


Summer of 2015

In 2015, as MMCH was in the midst of  moving to our new home, Kim joined together with local establishments to plant satellite gardens and perpetuate the goal of having community gardens.  MMCH hosted three raised beds: one at The Orange Cat Cafe brimming with squash and marigolds, one at Rolling Fatties full of red, gold and purple potatoes, and another garden at Webster Library with various strains of kale and sunflowers.  Once we had passed papers, we dug ground at our new home and created one final bed with more sunflowers, squash, broccoli and tomatoes.

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Brynn at the Orange Cat Cafe location.


 And here we are today…

Sam’s garden continues to play a role in our day to day lives here at MMCH. Kale and sunflowers from our garden were used in our Harvest Festival celebration in late September. We said goodbye to fall by putting garlic and daffodil bulbs (donated by our dear friend Kate Dewar) to bed before the frost froze the ground.  In November, we scrubbed potatoes from our raised bed with Kim and enjoyed mashed potatoes for afternoon snack.  As a final gesture to our harvest this fall, we added our potatoes to our Stone Soup meal on January 7th, that we enjoyed with our parents.

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Gathered together family-style for a meal of Stone Soup prepared by the children.


 A Look to the Future

Last week we kicked off our Sam’s Garden Organic Seed Sale through FedCo (click here for order form).  Just print off your order form, fill it out and send a check for your total to MMCH.  Seeds arrive as early as the first week in March.

Once our seeds arrive, we’ll start seedlings and begin the early stages of our garden. In May we will once again host an open house for the Samantha Wright Community Garden Day.  We welcome all past and present families as well as community members to help us prepare our gardens, enjoy the merriment of nature and each other’s company.  Stay tuned for event postings on our MMCH website  and our facebook page.


Winter Wreath Fundraiser

Winter Wreath Fundraiser

Get yer wreaths here!! MMCH is doing a Maine-made wreath fundraiser this holiday season. Just click on the link and order away- the wreath is delivered right to your door free of charge from Family Tradition Wreath Company!

MMCH FUNd Raiser

Maine Mountain Children’s House will be hosting a FUNd Raiser at The Rack on Sunday February 16th at 6pm. We are gathering to honor and remember our founder and friend Sam Wright and raise funds for our school.

There will be live music, a live auction (featuring items generously donated by local businesses), door prizes, face painting, henna tattoos, dancing, hugging, and laughing. Bring your kids and your friends and come on up to join us. We would love to see you!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Samantha Wright, Founder MMCH

Samantha Wright

Sam teaching, 2013

On January 6, Samantha Wright, the Executive Director and Founder of Maine Mountain Children’s House, was killed in a car accident. Your donations will help accomplish Sam’s short and long term goals for her school. Fundraising has always been necessary for the school’s survival, but we’re doubling our efforts to make sure Sam’s school thrives.

Make a donation In Sam’s memory to MMCH by clicking here. OR you can send your donation to:

Maine Mountain Children’s House
PO Box 266
Kingfield, Maine 04947

Charitable donations made to MMCH, because it is a non-profit organization, may be considered eligible to claim as a tax deduction. Every situation is different so please consult with your tax professional.

Thank you so much. Be safe, be kind, be gentle.
–Maine Mountain Children’s House