Archive for the school update Category

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

Our Snowshoeing Adventure

Each year Maine Mountain Children’s House tries to take a trip to Sugarloaf  Outdoor Center in Carrabassett Valley to go snowshoeing.  This year, despite our small group, we had a fabulous time and couldn’t have asked for better weather!  Take a look at our pictures to get a peek at our special day.

We all met up around 9:30 at the Outdoor center to get our snowshoes and organize our trip.  By 10:00 we hit the trails (our mile loop) and got to play in the fresh snow!

L and S adjusting the snowshoes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

L and S took some time to adjust their snowshoes–it’s a hard thing to get used to for a 3-year-old!

 

 

 

 

 

R, M, L and S trudging through the fresh snow!  Some of the snowshoes were taken off in the first few minutes of our trip.  It doesn’t matter what’s on your feet as long as you’re out experiencing the Maine woods!

 

 

 

 

 

S and M walking hand in hand back to the lodge.  M says, “I’m tired” so S says, “Me too, lets help each other get there…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A and C taking turns pulling PQ in the sled.  Even after all that hard work in the woods they had energy left over to help out.  Plus, they got to show off how strong they are!

 

After a little lunch and rest from our trek through the woods (by “rest” I mean the adults ate and the children ran around playing hide and seek and tag) we headed back outdoors to sled on the sledding hill.   This was a BIG hit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M, S, and P having fun on the sledding hill!  It was impressive to see how brave the children were going down this steep hill.  On top of that, they managed to pull their own sleds back up the hill when they were finished!

 

 

 

 

E and C getting ready to take the plunge!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

S with total concentration (note the tongue hanging out!)                                                                                B and C patiently awaiting their turn!

R, L, and B hanging out by the sledding hill

 

 

(L): S and PQ enjoying the spring-time sun!  PQ was all set in her sun bonnet!

 

 

 

(R): A is king of the deck  up high on his perch.  The children enjoyed playing around and exploring the outdoor space!

 

 

 

After some major outdoor time the children got to enjoy a little treat–cookies!

 

 

 

We ended our day with some much needed YOGA!

 

 

 

 

Around 2:00 we wrapped things up and headed back to school just in time for the after-school-care kids.  We had a wonderful time and we really appreciated getting outside and trying something new with the children.  Thank you to everyone who participated because it wouldn’t have been the same with out you!

 

 

 

 

 

December at Maine Mountain Children’s House

Take a peek at our classroom during the month of December! We’ve been having some holiday fun!


Here N, S and I are playing the dreidel game!  Yesterday Becky made potato latkes with the children.  For circle time we all sat together and ate them with sour cream and applesauce.  Unfortunately we didn’t get a picture of this but we sure did enjoy them!


This is our version of advent.  Each day that the children are here they open up an envelope and read their challenge of the day!  Yesterday they were challenged to say “Thank You” to the person that picked them up from school.  This has been fun because you can really write anything, including “ask a new friend to sit by you at circle,” or “notice something in nature.”  At then end of the day the children get to talk about what they did for the challenge.

 

During the holiday season it’s important to remind our children that it’s not only about receiving, but about giving as well.  Here our friend J just finished making his holiday gift.   He’s thinking about giving it to his dog Capi!

 

M and A used our blocks to make a small village.  M wanted to make a house for her dog.  When they noticed I was taking a picture of them they both struck a pose with out any prompting…pretty funny!


Though we have been doing some projects, they’re coming few and far between.  In an effort to maintain some sort of normalcy during this holiday season we are mostly sticking to our Montessori inspired lessons lined up neatly on our shelves…

 

Organizing objects into sets and then matching the corresponding number.  Look at all the treasures in there!

 

 

 

 

Making an ornaments out of an orange and cloves.  Smells wonderful!

 

 

 

 

Handling fragile objects with care!  Listening to “Perry Penguin” can be fun while working with these glass penguins.

 


 

 

Flower arranging.  This morning N decorated our snack table with these lovely poinsettias!

 

 

 

 

Spooning red and green beads.  E worked on this a lot this morning, making sure to get every last one into the other bowl!

 

 

 

 

 

Stringing Jingle Bells!  P loves jingling these around her neck after she’s strung them all on!

 

 

 

 

 

I’d like to take credit for all of these clever holiday ideas, but I must say that most of them come from an incredible blog called, “counting coconuts.”  Use this link to check her out! http://countingcoconuts.blogspot.com/ Her ideas are fabulous and she makes you excited to try everything out in your own classroom!

 

And after a busy week at Maine Mountain Children’s House this is how we all felt…

 

Still to come…Winter Solstice and cookie decorating with Becky!  Stay tuned!  Otherwise, have a happy and healthy holiday!

 

Autumn at Maine Mountain Children’s House

Happy Fall from Maine Mountain Children’s House!

All the friends posing for a class picture

Autumn is a time for back-to-school, apple picking, watching the leaves fall, and celebrating Halloween!  Here in our classroom, we’ve been doing all that, and more!  Come see what we’ve been up to!

This friend got to try out our apple peeler, corer, and slicer!

Sam had this amazing contraption at her house and she brought it in the share it with our classroom!  We picked the apples at Cayford Orchard in Skowhegan, and then we turned them into delicious treats!

First we shined the apples with a clean towel.  Then we put them through the peeler, which actually cores, peels and slices the apple into rings!  It’s really easy to use so the children got to use it too!

After the apples were ready to go we turned them into apple sauce and apple crisp for the children to take home!  They had a lot of fun with the whole process!

Our friend N.D. uses his creativity to build a maze with these Jenga blocks

 

 

 

 

In a Montessori classroom, we use rugs to put under our work when we’re working on the floor.  This not only gives the child a clear work space to use, but it also helps to protect their work so that it’s clearly visible and no one will walk on it.

This friend has utilized his space well by working from one end of the rug to the other.  Though these blocks are typically used to build a vertical tower, N.D. is experimenting with the materials by building a horizontal structure.  Lets not interrupt him, he looks like he’s really concentrating!

One of our friends hammering nails into a pumpkin

One of our friends carefully hammering nails into a pumpkin

 

Pumpkin hammering is one of our favorite activities around here!

The pumpkin has a thick skin but is easy to penetrate, which makes it ideal for children to use.  The hammer is age-appropriate, so that it’s maneuverable for small hands and the nails are long so they’re easy to grasp.  And of course, we always wear our safety goggles to protect our eyes and face!

It takes a lot of skills to hammer a nail, including hand strength to hold the hammer, fine motor control to hold the nail in place, and hand-eye coordination to actually hit the nail with the hammer.  We show this lesson at circle time to be sure that each child knows how to work carefully and safely.

As Halloween quickly approaches, we’ve spruced up our classroom with hints of Halloween in our lessons.  Here’s a few examples…

Pumpkin numbers and florescent spider counters!

Make your own Jack-O-Lantern face!

Spooky Spider Tonging!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are looking forward to what November will bring to our classroom with a Presidential election, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving and the arrival of Sam’s baby (due Nov. 19).  We hope you have enjoyed your Autumn as much as we have at MMCH!  Have a safe and fun Halloween!

 

 

Yea summer!!

Summer is here in full force!!  I hope everyone is enjoying the weather, staying cool and hydrated!

Just a quick update on school for this fall.  We do have space available, limited full time, more  1/2 day options.  We do have before/after school care available too, the bus drops them off right here if they are of school age.  Feel free to call, email or text with any questions about what we offer.  Please pass this information along, word of mouth is the best marketing!!

School will start Sept. 4.  We will be at the school setting up after Aug.22, feel free to stop by for a visit.  If you are already enrolled you will hear from me in the next few weeks with re-enrollment forms, tuition contract, etc.   We will also be planning another family BBQ sometime at the end of August.

Enjoy the next few weeks and we look forward to seeing you all soon!