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Sharing of talents May 19, 2016

Today I had the pleasure of attending a very special Performance Day in our elementary classroom.  Once a week, throughout the year, the elementary students are invited to demonstrate and share a talent in front of a live audience of their peers – their classmates!  Today, towards the end of the school year, parents and teachers were invited to attend the performance.  This is a very kid friendly and kid organized event, so the definition of talent is very broad and very entertaining ~ whistling, twirling, showing off a new ballet move or karate move, singing a song, drawing a picture, telling a joke, reading a book, reading a story you wrote, counting (forwards, backwards, in another language, by fives, by tens . . . ), demonstrating a magic trick, explaining a science experiment, playing an instrument – cello, guitar, violin, keyboard, recorder, demonstrating some signs you know . . . the list is varied, endless and changes from week to week.  A demonstration of how to clap loudly, or how to make a special sound from blowing on a blade of grass held between your thumbs, or jump rope , or blow up a balloon. . . you betcha these are talents in the eyes of the children!

I was so impressed with the poise of the children.  The children introduced themselves, told the audience what they were going to perform, performed, took a bow, thanked the audience and then sat down.

The children learn and practice so many worthwhile skills from Performance Day.  They develop confidence in being able to stand up and address a group.  They practice their audience manners, an age appropriate grace and courtesy skill.  They work on developing respect for one another and themselves.  And I think most importantly, they recognize the unique gifts and talents of each child in their community, and so develop their appreciation for both diversity and community.

The final performance of the afternoon included a small group performance of ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’ on violin, cello, recorder and keyboard.  Second time through the tune, the quartet was joined by the voices of the children and audience members.  It was very special indeed.

Thank you, Ms. Sudha, for sharing your amazing and unique talents as a teacher!  That is what you performed today as I watched your children share their talents.  You have created a community of children who are confident in their own skills and contributions to the community, as well as appreciative of the talents and contributions of others.  This embodies all of our school values – community, diversity, love of learning, dignity and child centered!





Children’s House Montessori School. Lewiston ~ revisited

Filed under: cultural studies,Montessori education,Uncategorized — bevfollowsthechild @ 6:40 am

It’s been two years since I last visited Ms. Megan’s school, Children’s House Montessori School, in Lewiston, Idaho.  Megan has owned and operated the school since 2011.  The school began in a gas station that was creatively converted into a wonderful space for children that was very quickly outgrown.  Then, Megan moved her school into the old library in Lewiston, a very gracious building, with some parts dating back to the early 1900s, in an amazing location next to Pioneer Park in Lewiston.  It was nice to revisit the school and see how plans and dreams Megan had for the building two years ago have come into being, and that the school is growing and thriving.  Congratulations, Megan, and best wishes for your future success.

So, when I visit a Montessori School I like to focus on three beautiful things about the school.  This is what I see as making the school unique.

First I love the location.  (Isn’t that what realtors say?  The three most important factors in real estate are location, location and location!)  The school is in Pioneer Park, so as well as the playground (which in itself is awesome, and includes lots of natural elements like rocks, planting boxes, places to dig), the children have access to the park for outdoor play.  The park contains a bandshell that I know is used for both impromptu and scheduled performances by the children.  The outdoor space is used a lot for community gatherings.  The school sits high up above the valley, and from the school you can see trains and tugboats, and osprey . . . and the school receives a lot of natural light through beautiful windows that frame the view.

Second I love the focus on the cultural subjects.  it was very obvious from my observation in the K-I classroom that they were studying Africa ~ Masai shield art project, research and building models of pyramids, books about Africa in the library area, models of African animals on display, research on African animals.  Similarly, downstairs in the 2 – 4 classroom, it was obvious that the children had been focusing on Greek mythology.  They are working on making costumes for plays based on Greek myths that they were going to perform for the younger students, and all of the families.

I am having a hard time deciding on # 3 – was it the strong sense of community, the creative use of space (loved the variety of work stations in the K-1 classroom, including a tray table, and a small coffee table with cushions), the welcoming atmosphere, the artwork on the walls . . .I think I am going to have to go with a beautiful phrase used by Megan.  “Trust my words on this.”  Used sparingly, for very important information, especially concerning safety, this is a powerful phrase.  Today, during my visit, Ms. Megan was talking about fire safety.

Please trust my words on this.  If you live in the Lewiston Clarkson Vally, check out Children’s House Montessori School.

I leave you with some photos of my favorite details of art within the school.  ( I feel that I have totally worked around my own three beautiful things limit with this post!)


What Moms Can Do ~ 2016 poems May 9, 2016

Putting together community poems is one of my favorite activities of all.  All you need to do is give the children a good prompt and a moment or two to think. You can remind the children to use flexible thinking.  “If someone says just what you were going to say, you can think of something else to add to the poem.  Moms can do more than one thing.”

Older children could be given each of the different contributions on notecards, and they could play around with the order of the lines, maybe focusing on rhythm and flow, or contrast or what sounds good to their ear.  It would be interesting to hear the different versions the children put together.  Another tip is to suggest that the children try to be as specific and concrete as possible, and you can give a prompt.  If the child says that Mom is a good cook, you might ask, “What does she cook best?”

Here are this year’s poems from three of our classrooms.  I love how similar yet different they are.  I’ve combined these with some special photos of the very early moments of some of our teachers as Moms.  Just look at the love!  There is also a photo of one of our teachers with her daughter from a previous Moms’ Day tea.  Taking photos, like writing poems, is part of our tradition and celebration.  Enjoy!

What Moms can do . . . by Willow class

Put on their shoes without any help

Put on their ear-rings all by themselves


Ride a lawnmower

Ride a mountain-bike

Help me learn to ride my bike

Help me wash my bike and our car

Fill up cars and change the oil


Drive me to school

Take me horse-riding

to Disneyland

to Alaska

to Hawaii

Drive me to the Space Needle in Seattle

Work at home

Work in lunchbunch

Go to work

Work hard

Give me a haircut

Play toys with me

Paint monsters

Get me in and out of trouble

Take care of me

Love me with all her heart!


What Moms Can do . . . By Aspen Room

Cook dinner

Bake chicken

Make lunch

Get pizza for her kids

Moms are good at cooking food


Work and do jobs

Sew things back together

Take care of me

Take care of me when I am sick

Pick me up and hug me when I am cold

Help me go to bed and fall asleep

Moms are there when you need them

Moms give us strength and love

Moms are good at taking care of kids


Moms can play

Read a story

Help me paint a picture

Take me on a walk

Tie shoes

Mountain bike

Help me learn

Moms are good at teaching kids


What Moms can do . . . by Maple Room kids

cook breakfast

make lunch for me

cook dinner

make the best soup ever

play with me

snuggle me

sleep with me

give me a big warm hug

watch me play my violin

play duets with me on the piano

sing with me

take me to Art class

grow a garden

read a book

read Harry Potter aloud to us

help me do my school work

Mom can be a teacher

Mom can love me

And protect me

Moms are awesome!


Mom’s Day, 2016 ~ An invitation to work May 6, 2016

Oh my goodness, today was a busy day at school, with our school  hosting three Moms’ Day teas!  I wear a fitbit, and today I tracked 19000 steps, almost eight miles and thirty flights of stairs! I took an hour nap when I got home today.  I know that I wasn’t the only one who was this busy.  Thanks, teachers.

The children were also very busy.  An event like this is an invitation to work ~ invitations and name cards to write, decorations to make, gifts to make and wrap, songs to learn, poems to write, flowers to arrange, furniture to move and rearrange, muffins to bake, strawberries to slice, tables to set, tea to pour and then a lot of clean up chores and dishes to wash.  I think of special events like our Moms’ Day teas as invitations to work ~ a joy filled opportunity to work hard for a specific purpose.

So far, it has all been very worthwhile ~ 100% turnout by Moms, lots of hugs, laughter, joy, love, excitement and special memories and traditions being made.

This is also building our school’s sense of community and traditions.


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