Lyonsgate Weekly Update | June 28, 2019

Hello Lyonsgate Montessori Families,

I want to thank you for reading along all year. My hope is that these weekly updates have helped keep you informed about what's going on at Lyonsgate Montessori School, and offered you glimpses inside your children's Montessori environments.

It's been a true pleasure getting to know your children this year. I think you have made an excellent choice in choosing Montessori education for your children. My own children attended Montessori and I have seen many Montessori schools in action. Rest assured that Lyonsgate does Montessori right, and very well. Also, know that we don't rest on our laurels; Lyonsgate staff was back at school preparing for next year the day after the year-end concert and graduation.

Once things are in place we'll be joining your children in a much deserved summer break, and will be back to school mid-August, refreshed and revitalized, getting ready to welcome your returning children to the next stage of their developmental journey, as well as children new to both Lyonsgate and Montessori at all levels. Lyonsgate continues to grow and develop right alongside your children.

Have an amazing summer together; make memories, plan to have no plan every now and then, get dirty, explore the woods, swim, build, grow, pick, eat, drink, laugh, smile, make other people laugh and smile, do something scary, get up and then go back to bed, invite everyone over for an impromptu BBQ, ride a bike, or learn to ride a bike, go to a festival, ride a bike to a festival, read a book, then read another book, climb some trees, buy fruits and vegetables from a local farmer, slide on waterslides, make a backyard waterslide, make a rope-swing, build a big campfire, go camping, teach the kids to mow the lawn, call in sick cuz it's a nice day, play outside in the pouring rain, play board games, build a model, start a puzzle, finish it if you want, or don't, whatever, it's summer and you and your kids deserve to relax and not care and enjoy each other's company, and we'll hear all about it in September. — Jason.

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The Last Week:

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Toddler:

Thank you all for an amazing year. I have enjoyed getting to know each and every one of you. Thank you for entrusting us with your children! I appreciate every attempt and success made in speaking to me in French or trying to figure out what I am saying. It's a wonder to see the understanding the children now have of the French language, and the parents' as well. I wish you all a warm and adventurous summer. — Mlle. Noordham


To the wonderful parents of Toddler Class 2019.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your children's lives for this year. I have had the privilege of watching many of your children go from starting confused and overwhelmed in the classroom to seeing them stepping up and showing their classmates how to take care of their environment and each other. I met children that sometimes had only a few words to use that can now have full conversations with me, and I have loved getting to know them in the process. I know that they have so much more growing to do, and I feel reassured to know that they will have your love and support while they do it.

Thanks for a great year,

Emily Colbert

It is hard to believe that we have reached the end of the school year! I have watched the Toddlers develop their unique potential through their constructive power, and witnessed incredible milestones involving language, motor skills, and toilet learning. They have developed into leaders, attained challenging work that pushes for concentration and critical thinking, and developed their resilience through various changes ranging from new students to unpredictable snow days.

The Toddlers have displayed positive socialization on various occasions — they moved from the natural state of egocentrism to an altruistic state. Empathy was displayed daily — they made it their duty to ask a sensitive child if they are okay, reassured them that they will be, and proceeded to bring their concern to an adult’s attention. The end of the school year has fortuitously transformed some of the works in the classroom to duo or group work in order to fulfill their need for socialization. One of my favourite memories was listening to a child create a song about washing dishes and happily expressing, “We’re washing dishes!”

An explosion of language occurred amongst the younger Toddlers — by the end of the school year they began forming four to five word sentences and were able to actively participate in conversations with their older peers. The Toddlers’ understanding of French has been incredible to witness — they have carried lengthy conversations with Mlle. Noordam and have even translated some of her conversations.

The Toddlers took pride in baking independently and sharing it with some of the staff at the school. There were many moments where we were able to sit and observe them in awe — they had reached a level of independence where they worked as if the adults were not around.

The end of the school year is marked by changes of course — we have a large group of children moving on to Casa and the three children from January will become second year students in the fall. This time of the year proves to be bittersweet — I am proud to see the Toddler’s transition to Casa but will miss the piece of the puzzle they represent in our little community. Nevertheless, I have wonderful memories created by each child, individually upon which I will reflect for the upcoming year, and really throughout the course of my professional life.

I want to thank you all for entrusting your children to our care. I know those precious hours away from them can be difficult, and I am beyond thankful to have been a witness to their developmental milestones. The children have expressed their excitement about summer break — these extra weeks will give you the opportunity to be spectators to their developmental milestones and adjust the home environment to fulfill their current needs.

I will be thinking of them, truly, and will cherish the footprints they have left in my heart. It has been my greatest privilege to watch their personalities unfold. Thank you all for an astounding year, these beautiful children, and wonderful memories.

Cheers to an adventurous summer! — Ms. Dee

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Casa

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Casa South: I can't believe another school year is complete! I am so proud of all the hard work done by the students in Casa South!

It was so exciting to see children tie their own shoes for the first time, or read their first word... and even the simple moments, such as pouring water into a glass without spilling! Everyone grew, everyone learned.

I also want to extend a huge thank you to all of the Casa South parents! Thank you for attending Parent Education Nights, for bringing your children on time (most of the time!), and for being a part of our Lyonsgate Montessori community.

I wish everyone a very happy, healthy, and fun summer. I hope it is full of lots of time with family and friends. For those of you moving on to new schools and to our Elementary school, I wish you all the best (I will miss you!)

Lots of Love, Miss Moffatt.

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Casa North: Wow, I can't believe the end of our year has arrived. This time of year is always filled with reflection for me — thinking about how far each child has come is all the inspiration we need as Montessorians to stay true to what we are doing. I want to extend a heartfelt thank you for sharing your little ones with us. Whether it be providing flowers, attending parent education evenings, joining your child in the classroom for a Show and Share, or coming in for an observation, your support of the school does not go unnoticed.

From tears and hugs in September to happily skipping up the stairs, the children have progressed in countless ways. I'm sure you see many changes at home, but please know that your child is also a contributing member of a functioning, independent, and beautiful community in Casa North.

Thank you for all that you do. Have a safe and fun summer. For those of you moving on, thank you and good luck! For those returning, we will see you in September for another great year! — Ms. Boyle

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Elementary:

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The final weeks and days of school pass by far too quickly, with the classroom humming with busy students, final projects, looming deadlines, and the excitement of sleepovers, canoe trips, and the year-end play.

It is a bittersweet time for guides in the Montessori environment as the students increasingly separate from the adults, supporting each other and showing greater individual grit and determination to succeed. It is wonderful to see each child's growth and development throughout the school year, yet we also know that the child we say goodbye to in June will not reappear in the fall. They will have grown and changed again after a summer full of new experiences and adventures.

Our Montessori students thrive not only because of the wonderful environment you have chosen for them, but because of your on-going support and participation in their life and school. You have kept on top of important dates, reminded your child to have the appropriate clothing and tools, and, most of all, known when to stop helping. You have joined us for parent education evenings, show and share events, concerts, project presentations, community outings, and more. It is because of your efforts and wonderful children that our little community is flourishing, and for that we are very grateful.

Thank you so much for sharing your amazing little humans with us. It has been our privilege to guide each of them as they travel their own paths. Have a wonderful summer together.

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Coming Up:

SUMMER VACATION!

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Lyonsgate Weekly Update | June 13, 2019

Hello Lyonsgate Montessori Families,

Next week is the last week of school! These last few weeks of the school year always seem to sneak up on us more quickly than a toddler can dismantle a tidy house. Your children are very busy finishing up work and seeking out last-minute presentations, and your children's Montessori guides are busy preparing final reports and making sure everyone is ready for next year, and for a well-deserved summer break.

Your children's Montessori guides have also been busy preparing for your Parent-Teacher conferences, so we don't have individual classroom updates this week. Instead, you each get a personal update, live and in person. We'll see most of you on Friday, June 14. Remember, there is no school on Parent-Teacher conference Friday, but childcare is available at the school during your conference timeslot.


Concert and Graduation Info: Please join us on Thursday, June 20, for our year-end concert and graduation ceremony. Please plan to arrive at the Primary (Aberdeen) campus between 2:15-2:25 and proceed straight to the Sanctuary (auditorium) downstairs. The show will begin promptly at 2:30 and will run until approximately 3:30.

Please Note: There is no After School or Extended Care on Thursday, June 20. This is our last (sort of) full school day for the 2018.2019 school year. The next day...


Friday, June 21, is a PD Day, but we will meet you all at the Dundas Driving Park (71 Cross St., Dundas) at 3:30 for our annual year-end super fantastic picnic of fun. Be sure to pack a water bottle, and a bathing suit and towel as there is a great splash pad.

We have reserved Kitchenette 1.

The picnic will be pot luck, and this year we are asking everyone to please Bring Your Own Water Bottle to help alleviate the plastic in the land fills. Thank you.

Last week, you should have received an email notification for access to an online sign-up sheet for picnic items, or you can click here to sign up. Thank you.


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Lyonsgate Weekly Update | June 7, 2019

Hello Lyonsgate Montessori Families,

Remember, Lyonsgate will be closed on Friday, June 14, for year-end parent-teacher conferences. There are still a few time slots available in some classes for after school conferences during the week leading up to Friday.

Childcare will be available during your conference time.

Conferences are 20 minutes in length and take place in your child's Montessori classroom. Please be on time and do not stay beyond your scheduled time slot so that we can keep everybody on schedule. Thank you.

Please click here and select your child's class to schedule your parent-teacher conference.


This week, your children's Montessori guides have some tips for the summer months, including second language tips from the Casa French assistants. There's some great advice; be sure to read them all and use them as references throughout the summer months.

 

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This Week:

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Toddler:

We have some tips for how to make the summer months enjoyable for your toddler (and soon to be Casa, in some cases!) children, and how to set them up for a successful return to school in the fall:

  • Take an inventory of the current toys at home to see what children have outgrown, and remove them. This helps prevent under-stimulation, which leads to the inevitable summer refrain of "I'm booooorrrrred!". Observe what children gravitate to organically and guide them to toys or tasks that reinforce their natural learning desires.
  • Thankfully, the summer months are (usually) accommodating of the importance of outdoor time. Spending time outdoors, whether looking for bugs in the backyard, going on bike rides, hikes, or neighbourhood walks together, or camping in the woods, outdoor play is essential for children's development. Outdoor play helps children refine their sensorial skills — how we take in the information our world has to give us.
  • Practical Life activities are also a great way to keep children engaged and on a good developmental path. Over the school year, you've seen pictures of toddler-age children performing tasks such as sweeping and mopping (with appropriate child-sized brooms and mops) and helping to prepare food. These activities are fun for children (they want to help clean up, whereas we adults have to) and support the development of coordination and motor skills, and logical sequencing
  • You can also help children continue their language development by simply using clear, concise, correct language yourself. For example, say "train" instead of "choo choo" or "dog" instead of "pup pup," and use your regular voice instead of a kid voice. This helps children to learn correct vocabulary and allows them to hear the correct sounds that words and language are built from.
  • Finally, and especially for toddler-aged children, consistency in toilet learning is essential. Please avoid reverting to diapers/pull-ups during the summer months. Your children are currently in a sensitive period for toilet learning. Reverting back to the old routine will cause them to regress (and children going to Casa in the fall need to be toilet trained).

Thank you. We know you will all have a fabulous summer vacation with yor children, just like we've had an amazing school year with them. If you have any questions about things to do over the summer, please bring them to your parent-teacher conferences next week! — Ms. Dee

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Casa

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Casa South: In the past few weeks in Casa South, there’s been a big presence of reading in French. Just like the English phonetic readers they work on with Ms. Moffatt, some of the children have started to work on the French ones as well — and if they haven’t reached reading them yet they certainly enjoy sitting to listen to their friends read with me.

Another great French activity is writing labels. The children love seeing that any work they’ve been shown in English can be done in French too! On the back of each classified card in the class are an English and a French label. I encourage them to explore further than seeing what’s on each card and see if they can write their own label for it (whichever language they choose — sometimes it’s both!).

Music is also a part of their learning experience. When I pick a song to teach them in my French group I have to make sure there are lots of gestures I can add and that it’s not too fast (it is their second language after all and it’s more fun when you know what you’re singing and are able to keep up). However, I also make time to play songs (Édith Piaf is a classic) explicitly to listen to and explore French culture.

With summer fast approaching, I welcome parents to include a little bit of French in even the most mundane activities. Listening to French audio books (or reading French books if you can) and songs is always nice for them. They hear me speak French all day at school so it’s great if they can continue to hear a little bit. Another awesome way to incorporate French is when you’re writing your grocery list; feel free to look up the French word for some of the fruits or vegetables (they’ll likely recognize those from the classroom). Lastly, I’ll leave you with a couple of links you might want to check out if you’re ever in the mood for a day trip to Toronto:

— Mlle. Paul

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Casa North: It has been a great joy — “un grand plaisir” — to work with your children in French this past year. I am frequently in awe of how readily (and seemingly effortlessly) they absorb new vocabulary, and then repeat it back to me unprompted, at the most unexpected of times. (An inspired bit of bilingualism from a child helping clean up after lunch the other day: “Wow…there’s beaucoup de mess here, Mademoiselle Peat!”).

Seeing the building blocks of language-learning begin to lock into place is a sheer delight, and something that can be facilitated at home, too, over the coming summer months! A second language can become more accessible when delivered in the form of a song, and/or when accompanied by plenty of gestures — a central part of language-learning is muscle memory! Learning to associate sound and sense kinetically is both fun and constructive. Just a few of the songs that your children have learned with me: “Au clair de la lune,” “Une souris verte,” “Tête, épaule, genou, et pied” et “Coucou hibou.” Ask for a little demonstration: you may be surprised!

If you’re eager to foster bilingualism in your child, but high school French class feels like a distant memory, not to worry/“pas de soucis”! Simply demonstrating that you too are testing the waters — even with a simple “Bonjour” or “Au revoir” — suggests that language-learning is approachable, and worthwhile! They will absorb your curiosity, and your enjoyment. I have certainly absorbed theirs, and it has deepened my appreciation for the ways in which bilingualism cultivates connection.

Merci beaucoup, et à la prochaine! — Mlle. Peat

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Elementary:

June is such a busy time in the classroom with students integrating new skills and knowledge gained through the year into their final projects, play production, and special events. Thank you, everyone, for joining us for the Parent Social to enjoy some time together in the classroom celebrating the Great Work accomplished by your students. The Parent Social is also an important exercise in Practical Life, with students learning how to show their gratitude to others by hosting people for an event. They work to prepare the environment (dusting and sweeping), the refreshments (juicing lemons, chopping veggies to make some guacamole, and whipping up a batch of no-bake squares — the coveted flapjacks), and practice the grace and courtesy rituals of seeing that their guests are happy, fed, and entertained.

Every year, right before the summer break, parents begin to see the articles warning of the summer slide, and the advertisements for STEM camps and curriculum workbooks and magical apps that will ensure your child doesn't forget what they have spent the school year learning. I would be concerned about the summer slide myself, if I thought for a moment that children stop learning once they leave the classroom, but I know that they don't. They are still the curious explorers they always were, but now it is your family and community that will be their guides.

Throughout the summer months, it is important to encourage children to not stop this work of Practical Life, but rather to continue to apply what they have learned. Invite your child to record the items you need from the grocery store on a list. Empower them to make healthy choices within a range of approved options on your list (e.g. "Should we buy strawberries or blueberries this week?" "Which do you think would be better for re-hydrating on a hot day: a freezie or an ice-cream sandwich?"). Keep some cash on hand so they can participate more fully in speaking to cashiers, conducting an exchange, and being responsible for getting change and a receipt. Heading off to camp? They can prep those lunch boxes with carrot or pepper sticks or slices of cheese, and make their own sandwich. Having children take on greater responsibility for themselves is not easier for the supervising adults; it is much harder to budget 40 minutes to prepare a snack rather than 10, to hold your breath as you watch them choose a gigantic knife for slicing tiny grapes... but this is the work of the parents — to make the time for learning and independence; to take the risk of standing back quietly and simply observing how wondrously able your little human has become.

So, this summer, hit the beach! And then let your kids do the sandy, wet towel and bathing suit laundry (even if it sits moulding on the floor for an extra day). Go to the amusement park and divide out some cash so they can budget for their own refreshments. Ask them to read you a story, not for reading practice, but for your entertainment. Put them in charge of taking photos and making journal entries to preserve the memories made on a family vacation. Put up your feet for an hour or two and declare them the adult for the afternoon, and have fun with the misadventures that may arise along the way!

I look forward to meeting with most of you over the next week at our parent-teacher conferences. Hopefully the summer weather is here to stay. Enjoy the weekend! — Marissa

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Coming Up:

Year-End Events:

    • Concert/Graduation: Please join us on Thursday, June 20, for our year-end concert and graduation ceremony. Please plan to arrive at the Primary (Aberdeen) campus between 2:15-2:25 and proceed straight to the Sanctuary (auditorium) downstairs. The show will begin promptly at 2:30 and will run until approximately 3:30.

      Please Note: There is no After School or Extended Care on Thursday, June 20. This is our last (sort of) full school day for the 2018.2019 school year. The next day...

    • Friday, June 21, is a PD Day, but we will meet you all at the Dundas Driving Park (71 Cross St., Dundas, ON, L9H 2R5) at 3:30 for our annual year-end super fantastic picnic of fun. Be sure to pack bathing suit and towel as there is a great splash pad and water bottle. We have reserved Kitchenette 1.

      The picnic will be pot luck, and this year we are asking everyone to please Bring Your Own Water Bottle to help alleviate the plastic in the land fills. Thank you. You should have received an email notification for access to an online sign-up sheet for picnic items for each classroom (and you can also click here).

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Lyonsgate Weekly Update | May 31, 2019

Hello Lyonsgate Montessori Families,

Parent-teacher conferences:

Lyonsgate will be closed on Friday, June 14, for year-end parent-teacher conferences. There are also a few conference time slots available after school during the week leading up.

Childcare will be available during your conference time.

Conferences are 20 minutes in length and take place in your child's Montessori classroom. Please be on time and do not stay beyond your scheduled time slot so that we can keep everybody on schedule. Thank you.

Please click here and select your child's class to schedule your parent-teacher conference.


 

This Week:

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Toddler:

Casa visits have officially begun — this is a very exciting time for both the children and for us! We invite the children who are moving up to have visits at the level they will be attending. This provides them with an orientation to the classroom, various presentations, and the opportunity to observe and interact with some of the children that will be in their class in September.

Post-visit, it is always interesting to hear about their amazement at the classrooms. I get to hear observations ranging from, "The classroom was really big," to "My new friends are really tall," and even the inevitable, "The classroom has a lot of people." It is equally interesting to hear about the presentations that they have received — Rolling and Unrolling a Mat, Bottles and Boxes, and Nuts and Bolts. The children are fascinated by the similarities between the classes — "I shake Ms. Boyle's hand just like I shake your hand," "There is a book shelf with a lot of books," and "I saw some snacks!" Upon their return, the children leap into our arms and will express that they missed us but truly enjoyed their visit.

I look forward to speaking to you all during the week of June 10 for parent-teacher conferences. We will talk about your children's development during this school year and what the summer can look like to ensure a successful transition in September.

Reminder: Our next community outing is on Wednesday June 5. Please ensure that your child has their backpack so they can carry their snack (that we will provide) and water bottle.

Thank you for your continuous donations of flowers, protein snack, and plastic bags; we truly appreciate this little community. — Ms. Dee


Casa

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Casa South: This week, I wanted to take a step outside of Casa South and into a couple of Montessori classrooms around the world. I have been lucky to have experienced teaching in Montessori classrooms internationally and the adaptability of the Montessori classroom to different cultures, space, and time has always been a source of intrigue.

Maria Montessori developed her Montessori Method by studying the child. She developed her philosophy for every child.

Montessori schools exist all over the world, even in remote locations. As Montessori grows, so does the opportunity for children and our world.

"Pirurvik," which means "a place to grow" in Inuktitut, is the name of a school in Pond Inlet Nunavut. Tessa Lochhead and Karen Nutarak are the founders of Pirurvik Preschool which they opened after working in the education system and experiencing it's shortcomings. Nutarak and Lochhead developed a unique early childhood education program blending Montessori teaching principles and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, or Inuit traditional knowledge (IQ).

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Thailand underwent significant educational reform since 1999. The Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) partnered with the Thai government Office of Basic Education to provide Montessori education in a growing number of public schools in Thailand. Since 2004 over 82 Casa classrooms have been established and 300 educators have been trained.

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In October of 2016, Nacee Mercier opened two Montessori classrooms, one toddler and one casa, in The Gambia. Moonflower Montessori adapts to the culture of Gambia by incorporating many beautiful textures and textiles of local artisans, from baskets to wall hangings to wooden walls. — Ms. Moffatt

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Casa North: When Dr. Montessori first established a house for children (or Casa dei Bambini), she wanted it to be what she called a prepared environment. There are four different types of prepared environments: the earth, the womb, the home, and agreed upon spaces like offices/courts of law/restaurants etcetera. Maria Montessori believed that people need to have prepared environments that are suitable to them at different stages of development, and thus the children's prepared environment was born.

The Montessori prepared environment is for learning, not for teaching. A child does not learn by simply watching — they learn by doing. In our environments, unnecessary obstacles (like ill-fitting furniture or purposeless materials) are removed in order to accommodate this learning. Our space is constructed to allow each child to reveal his or her true nature.

We curate our environments and ensure that there are always limits within the freedom that naturally exists. Our Casa environments are limited in time (only for children ages 3-6), space (appropriately sized), the number of children, and the materials we have. Within the limits of the space the children are free to move, to touch, to associate with other children, to engage in conversation, to choose from their interests, and most importantly to repeat.

Our job as the adults in the prepared environment is to prepare ourselves. If your child is registered in Before Care, you may have seen the adults of the school bustling around, quickly ensuring the spaces are ready and waiting for your children to arrive. In terms of ourselves, we do our very best to be neat, specific, intentional, and warm so that your child has the best possible example to follow. This is the intangible prepared environment, and this part is arguably the very most important of them all.

Thank you for your donations of plastic bags to the classroom — they are being put to good use! I look forward to meeting with you at our upcoming conferences to talk about a wonderful year. — Ms. Boyle

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Elementary:

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Between the ages of 6-12, children double their vocabulary to an astounding 50,000 words. Building upon the strong foundation of varied and precise oral language in the Casa environment, the Elementary classroom is packed with nomenclature materials, magazines, and books to feed each child's search for the right words to express their thoughts, opinions, and knowledge.

Many of the language materials used in the early Elementary years are manipulative cards that isolate particular concepts, such as compound words, or develop a specific skill, such as separating words into syllables, or explore different parts of speech, as with the Grammar Boxes. Yet the beautiful and precise language seeded throughout these activities and all areas of the classroom contains enormous potential. Even when a child feels they have mastered a material or topic, a new layer of language awaits.

This week, a student who reads with confidence and easily identifies nouns and their purpose, was invited to return to what appeared to be some simple card work. Match the picture of an animal with its written name, and then find the word card for the sound that animal makes. Simple, right? The pig grunts. The horse neighs. The walrus... What sound does a walrus make?! (They "wort"). What sounds does a weasel make? (They "dook"). A wondrous new layer of language was uncovered in an area the student thought he had already mastered! In this way, his curiosity and attention to the familiar is re-kindled.

As their facility in reading develops, students are challenged to build their vocabulary through research and fiction texts, as well as articles on current issues, such as climate change. Rather than relying on context to pass over an unknown word, they are asked to stop and investigate. To use the dictionary, to ponder the root, to examine a word's relationship to other languages (e.g. luminous).

In the third term of each school year, some students are invited to join a novel study group, taking turns to read aloud from a book that will act as a catalyst for discussion, historical research, and student-driven activities related to the story's setting, characters, plot, or theme. They support one another in understanding the weekly reading, eagerly discussing their predictions, criticisms, and enjoyment of the story. They become invested in the characters and argue over what is fair, right, and ideal in the fictional world presented. The development of verbal language is not only for us to connect with one another, but also with ourselves. As each child consumes and integrates the words around them, they are better equipped to not only communicate and collaborate, but to think and to reflect on the challenges and joys they experience at a deeper level, and to use them in their work of self-construction.

We look forward to seeing many of you at our Parent Social next week, and sharing with you some of the Great Work the children have created this term. Please RSVP if you haven't already done so. — Marissa

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Coming Up:

June!

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Lyonsgate Weekly Update | May 24, 2019

Hello Lyonsgate Montessori Families,

Only one more week (and a bit) for parent observations in the Casa and Elementary Montessori environments. Observations in your child's classroom are 20 minutes in duration and occur during the morning work cycle. Before your observation, please review the Observation Guidelines for Casa, and/or for the Elementary program.

Please click the relevant link(s) below to schedule your observation:


This Week:

Toddler:

This week, I will be shedding some light on the colourful materials that are often shared through the weekly updates. In the past, we’ve seen pictures of the children working with activities such as hammering, stacking rings, sorting, beading maze, and various imbucare box materials. The materials each serve a specific purpose directly tied to children's development.

These materials are aesthetically pleasing and encourage the toddlers’ gravitation to them and simultaneously fulfill their sensorial needs. Children use their senses in order to study their environment. By participating in these sensorial activities, they can consciously obtain clear information that helps them classify their surroundings. Sensorial activities are used in Montessori learning to help children develop discrimination and order. They also help broaden and refine children's senses, helping them become more logical, perceptive, and aware.

In the classroom, the Stacking Rings activity is designed to assist in visual discrimination by allowing the children to recognize differences in dimension, length, width, and size.

The auditory sense is developed in materials such as the Xylophone and the Triangle in our music corner. The tactile sense is sharpened through the use of Fabric Feel, and our snack area fulfills the children's needs for the development of the gustatory and olfactory senses.

Dr. Maria Montessori believed that educating the senses preceded intellectual development. A child’s education begins at birth as they take impressions of their world through their senses.

Note: We are currently in need of plastic bags for our classroom and would really appreciate donations! Thank you. — Ms. Dee


Casa

Note: We are currently in need of plastic bags for our classrooms and would really appreciate donations! Thank you.

 

Casa South: Music plays an essential role in our society and culture. The child comes into the world with a sense of rhythm. The ear completes its structural development between the second and fifth month of pregnancy. From that moment, it is exposed to constant noise. The child's ear is exposed to its first rhythm, the mother's heartbeat.

Children (as we have all probably observed) have very little restraint in their bodily response to music. When no one else is singing or dancing, turn to your young one and they are probably groovin'.

The Montessori classroom is a place of musical exploration. Children who sing or hum while they work are encouraged to do so, music is accessible by a cd player and we are constantly introducing new music and singing as a group.

Montessori was not a musician but she recognized the value of music in relation to the child and the human race. Montessori sought a musical instrument that the child could have a sensorial relationship with. She wanted an instrumnet that the child could: match with, grade with, evoke language, produce games from, and be taken apart, isolated, and put back together with ease. This instrument had to be theoretically sound.

Montessori approached Anna Maria Maccheroni, a famous musician at the time, with her ideas and musical endeavour. It was in this collaboration that The Bells were developed.

I have witnessed entire classrooms become more peaceful as one child spontaneously plays a bell. I have seen children become so engrossed in the sound of a bell fading in its sound. I have seen children attempt to play "We Will Rock You" (with minor success!). The Bells are one of the most elegant and thoughtful materials in the classroom, a very special piece of work indeed! — Ms. Moffatt

Casa North: This week, I'd like to highlight some of the materials that introduce geography to the child under six. In a Montessori Casa environment, we always show them "the whole before the parts." This means that we want the children to have an experience with the entire concept before breaking it down into individual components. In regards to geography, we introduce them to the Sandpaper Globe (a globe that depicts land with sandpaper and water that is smooth) and give them the language of "land and water." Next, we show them the Painted Globe, which is smooth entirely but each continent is painted a different colour. At this point, we discuss the language of "continent and ocean." By having two globes that provide different language, we are introducing the notion that there are both physical and political geography. It often results in beautiful conversations and evokes curiosity about geography in general.

Next, we introduce them to the Puzzle Maps. The maps are carefully constructed to be accurate and represent each country within each continent as a separate piece. Maria Montessori observed children and saw that they were interested in geography and also loved puzzle work, and so she created purposeful puzzles for them to use! I'm sure it's no surprise that young children love working with puzzles.

I first show them the puzzle map of the world and discuss the hemispheres. The children are then free to use the puzzles that represent each of the seven continents. We have puzzle maps of Canada and the United States as well, which are great to encourage conversation about places explored and traveled.

The children are constantly seeking challenges. I encourage them to learn all of the continents, or the countries within a continent, and they are passionate about this information. The beauty of the Montessori classroom is that even if a child isn't directly receiving the presentation, the language exists in the ether. The material is colourful, enticing, and exciting for them, and is one of my favourites, too!

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Elementary:

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Elementary Parents: Today was the deadline to RSVP for the end of year sleepover. More details about what to bring, etc., are still to come, but please RSVP ASAP if you haven't already done so. Thank you.


One of the most beloved materials in the Elementary environment is the Timeline of Life, which is presented each fall in connection with the Great Lessons. It illustrates the information gained through the fossil record of the ancient creatures that emerged during the Paleozoic Era, from invertebrates to fish and onward through the Mesozoic and Neozoic. The Timeline of Life guides students to identify the characteristics that define each class of animals: fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. It reveals the enormity of time that passed before humans arrived, with only a thin line red at the end representing how long we have been here. This is what the 6-year-old child sees, but there are many more lessons woven through the eras.

The Timeline of Life indicates periods of volcanic eruption, glaciation, and extinction. It contains maps of the continents as they slide into different positions, pushing together or drifting apart. Each little drawing is a new point of interest, a new piece of the puzzle of life on Earth, and the interplay between the physical world and the biosphere. This week, the students returned to the Timeline of Life in preparation for attending the School Strike for Climate, initiated by the remarkable Greta Thunberg of Sweden. They have learned about the role of carbon as an essential element and how it developed into coal through the Carboniferous period. Students were drawn into discussion of how humans later discovered and used coal to advance technology and society — to meet their fundamental needs for shelter and transport.

The Timeline of Life may look back through history, but it also provides the springboard for conversations about the future — about the interconnectedness of all life and the the responsibility of humans to act as the caretakers of this wondrous environment. Today, Lyonsgate students are being asked to think about our role in the world and to advocate for what they believe as they experience the Fridays 4 Future School Strike for Climate rally. They traveled to the rally in body and spirit with others who share their desire for a healthy future, and witnessed how to raise their voices collectively for change. — Marissa

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Coming Up:

Parent-teacher conferences:

Lyonsgate will be closed on Friday, June 14, for year-end parent-teacher conferences. There are also a few conference time slots available after school during the week leading up.

Conferences are 20 minutes in length and take place in your child's Montessori classroom. Please be on time and do not stay beyond your scheduled time slot so that we can keep everybody on schedule. Thank you.

Please click here and select your child(ren)'s class(es) to schedule your parent-teacher conference.


The remaining photos this week are some photographic art pictures taken by a budding Elementary photographer during our botanical sketching outing this week to the local community gardens.

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Happy Spring!


Lyonsgate Weekly Update | May 16, 2019

Hello Lyonsgate Montessori Families,

Happy Birthday Queen Victoria! Lyonsgate staff are observing at other Montessori schools today or are spending the day at the Primary campus developing the Montessori environments (we're never done). We'll see you all on Tuesday.


Parent Observations are continuing in the Casa and Elementary Montessori environments until June 4. Observations in your child's classroom are 20 minutes in duration and occur during the morning work cycle. Before your observation, please review the Observation Guidelines for Casa, and/or for the Elementary program.

Please click the relevant link(s) below to schedule your observation:


Apologies, I was sick this week, so not many photos.


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This Week:

Toddler:

The prepared environment is a concept central to authentic Montessori education; it facilitates independent learning and discovery. The classroom is filled with a variety of carefully selected materials and activities — everything has a purpose and a clearly defined home.

This week, it became evident that the children have also acquired a sense of the prepared environment and demonstrate it beautifully. They have been prompt at putting their work away, tucking in their chair and taking the initiative in helping their peers clean up after themselves. We heard, “I’ll clean it up!” at the sight or sound of any spillage, or “I’ll take care of it,” when a material was placed on the inexact shelf. We observed a second-year student proceed to bring the trays containing the materials to the front of the shelves and even knelt to ensure that they were aligned accordingly. A first-year student spent the entire work cycle with a mop in hand and immediately cleaned up when necessary. Following their hard work, we heard delightful expressions of satisfaction and pride. We also could not help but beam with pride — the children have taken initiative in ensuring that their classroom community is well-maintained.

Order and predictability play a critical role in the child’s early life. A prepared environment that provides these attributes furnishes physical and psychological benefits that produce a happier, calmer, and independent child.

“The first aim of the prepared environment is, as far as it is possible, to render the growing child independent of the adult” — Dr. Maria Montessori.

Have a great long weekend everyone! — Ms. Dee

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Casa

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Casa South: This week, I wanted to talk about Montessori and sustainability. Sustainability is a hot news topic, as it should be; we all need to do our small part to create a better world for our children.

So, I have taken a moment to think about how choosing a Montessori education for your children is a sustainable choice.

The Montessori classroom indirectly promotes responsible consumption. Starting with the materials, wherein which there is one of everything. If one of those materials breaks, no one can use it until it is fixed, which means the children must be careful when they work. Paper activities have a limited supply each day. For example, 6 watercolour papers are put out every morning. If a child decides to use all of the papers but someone else wants to do watercolours we will not give them one. We want the children to discuss and realize that their over-consumption affects their friends, and the classroom.

It should be very hard to spot plastic in a Montessori Environment. Let's face it, plastic is terrible, not only for the environment but also in relation to all sensory experiences. We use as much wood, cloth, paper, glass, and metal as possible. With the exception of glass, natural materials are fixable (and more aesthetically pleasing). Having objects made of natural materials also prompts dialogue about where those materials came from.

Now, it goes without saying that we promote recycling and composting in our classroom. Sometimes the children come up and ask, "Miss Moffatt, which bin does this go into?" Bringing that idea into their consciousness feels like there is a bright future ahead already!

In a Montessori classroom, we think about the big picture. In the second semester of their first year (when they are 3-years-old!) they are introduced to the planet Earth, our world. Understanding that you are a part of the world makes you feel responsible for your actions. It is pretty amazing to hear the children in the washroom say, "Turn the sink off! That's from our oceans!" — Ms. Moffatt

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Casa North: Thank you all for attending our Show and Share — it was yet another huge hit! The children take such pride in welcoming you into their classroom (even if it may seem a bit overwhelming to have so many extra loving faces in the environment) and it's a very prideful moment for me to get to see them showcase their work with such independence.

I am regularly reminded of their independence and perseverance. As we enter the middle of our final term, I'm particularly noticing the changes in the first-year children. Some of these children arrived under the age of three, tearful, and nervous to leave mom and dad. This week, I looked around the classroom and saw them as creative, strong, and compassionate people. It's astounding that humanity starts off this way, and when provided with a nurturing environment, they can truly thrive.

From ages 0-3, children are unconscious learners — absorbing knowledge from their environments and experiences. Your Casa children are now demonstrating their conscious awareness of their classroom community and of their own learning. The first-year students are offering to help each other and the older children; one first-year child took out work well beyond his level and performed doing the work based on what he has observed (including "hmmm"s and erasing and serious looks and eventually a group of interested observers). They are now consciously striving for learning challenges, often beyond what adults might consider too hard.

This activity from the first-year students gives me confidence that they are ready for a seamless transition to their second year of Casa. They are ready to be leaders, mentors, helpers, and friends to the younger children to come, and to guide and nurture them into their own conscious learning stages. They are going to be good hands to be in. — Ms. Boyle

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Elementary:

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Our hearts are full at Elementary this week, and we cannot thank you enough for your tremendous support of our community outreach projects. Our little school gathered 124 lbs. of food for the Kirkendall Food Drive, and the Elementary Jump Rope for Heart event raised $2,950 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation!

The children are so proud of what they accomplished: helping local families get enough to eat, learning about the heart, challenging themselves physically in a social but non-competitive atmosphere, and raising nearly three times their goal in donations. Everyone had a wonderful time celebrating the success of the jump-a-thon with a fun afternoon of bowling at University Lanes.

The collaborative nature of the Elementary environment encourages students to build their knowledge and skills so they can be proud of their contributions to the group, rather than compete with others for recognition of superiority. The third and final term of each school year reveals the tremendous social development the children have undergone since September. It is the season of greatest creativity as they each bring what they have learned this year together into what Montessori called "great work" — those big endeavours that so capture a child that they become a memorable part of their experiences, a part of their identity. We see great work in the pair striving to teach themselves to read music, learn finger techniques, and play Beatles tunes by ear, and in the team preparing weekly riddles and biographies for younger students to enjoy. We see it in the whole class working together to stage a play, all under the direction of a 5th year student. Each of our students is constructing themselves, and that is the greatest work of all. — Marissa

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Coming Up:

Once we're through this long weekend we're in the home stretch to the end of the school year. The next date to plan for is Friday, June 14, when Lyonsgate is closed for Parent-Teacher Conferences. There will be a few opportunities for after-school conferences the week leading up to June 14, but the majority of year-end conferences about your child's school year will take place throughout the day on the Friday. We'll have sign-ups for you next week.

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Lyonsgate Weekly Update | May 10, 2019

Hello Lyonsgate Montessori Families,

Happy Mothers' Day! We're wishing all of our wonderful Montessori moms the very happiest of Mothers' Days. Be sure to remind your family you spoil you, and make sure they have all the ingredients to make you brunch, and show them how to clean up properly afterwards, and where everything is to help with the other household chores, and let them know where the closest flower shops are, and what time they open on Sunday morning, oh, and be sure to remind them that they need to make you a card too, and where the craft supplies are, and how to clean up glitter, and remind them to not fight or melt down or freak out on Mothers' Day, and to make sure they get everything ready for school and work on Monday, and what you would like for dinner (and again, make sure they have all the ingredients, and instructions, and awareness of the need to clean up afterwards), or which restaurant to go to, and to make reservations 'cuz it's Mothers' Day, and to put on the going-for-a-nice-dinner clothes without arguing, (and make sure those clothes are clean and ready to wear), and don't forget to remind them to call the grandmas.

Enjoy your day of relaxation!

Moms are the best. Thank you.


Parent Observations are continuing in the Casa and Elementary Montessori environments until June 4. Observations in your child's classroom are 20 minutes in duration and occur during the morning work cycle. Before your observation, please review the Observation Guidelines for Casa, and/or for the Elementary program.

Please click the relevant link(s) below to schedule your observation:


This week, your children's Montessori guides are sharing the importance of food in the classroom and how it functions as more than just sustenance. Be sure to read their updates to learn about food work in a Montessori environment.

We would also like to share our new Nutrition Policy with you this week. One of our big projects this year has been to review and update all of our Ministry of Education-required policies to align with new legislation. We will have more to share with you as the project progresses, and some things mentioned in certain policies will come into effect at a later date.


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This Week:

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Toddler:

Across cultures and time, food sharing represents a universal medium for expressing fellowship; it embodies the values of grace and courtesy. Our snack and lunch intervals, in the form of communal dining, provide an opportunity not only to eat, but also to talk, create, and strengthen bonds of attachment and friendship.

Food is a big component in our community. Throughout the work cycle, snack is made available in the nutrition area and the children are welcomed to serve themselves whenever they feel hungry. They are limited to two pieces and it encourages them to share within their community. The end of the work cycle is marked by an invitation to join the table for a communal snack, ensuring that everyone gets a chance to eat.

Lunch follows recess and three second-year children are invited to set the table up for lunch. Setting up includes the use of placemats, utensils, and glasses for water. Each child has a name tag which is placed in an area assigned by the second year student. Once the table is set, the children are invited to wash their hands and take a seat at the table. With everyone seated, we sing a song expressing our gratitude for the food. The menu is pronounced and the children generally share their excitement with one another regarding the food. We are exposed to a world of conversations during that hour — the children often talk about the taste, texture, and colour of the food, they refer to the food they ate for breakfast, and dinner the night before. Dessert is self-served; the children pass the bowl of fruit to their neighbour. This practice establishes the concept of sharing within their community.

The transition from rest time to dismissal is marked by the last snack of the day. We usually observe a lot of energy and excitement about the end of day. I’m sure you get to hear all about what they have consumed each day!

Children come with an instinctual ability to know when they are hungry. You can set your child up for successful food habits by encouraging them to be a part of the meal preparation, table set up, and clean up process. Independence can be encouraged by ensuring that snacks are accessible in the home. Lastly, grace and courtesy can be practiced when meals are shared as a family. — Ms. Dee

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Casa

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Casa South: The way to the heart is through the stomach, and doesn't Casa South know it! We love food in Casa South, eating, preparing, discussing, and learning about it. We try to cultivate a healthy relationship with food by allowing the children to interact with food in other ways than just eating it.

I love to have a recipe book in our book corner as an option of reading material. I love overhearing the children discuss what looks yummy or what they have made and tried before. I like the exposure the children have to the layout of a recipe, it's almost poetic! Ingredient measurements are literally mathematic fractions!

Casa South is home to a lot of food preparation Practical Life! I am very happy to report (and I'm sure the children would be too) that the children prepare all of their snacks INDEPENDENTLY. They peel and slice eggs, juice oranges, slice apples and pears, grate carrots and cinnamon, and even bake bread! A 5-year-old baking bread (INDEPENDENTLY) is really something to behold. It gathers quite the crowd when someone makes bread! All food preparation activities allow for children to have a sensorial experience, the smell of fresh bread, the taste of freshly squeezed juice, the unveiling of the yolk of a hardboiled egg! Preparing food is also a lesson in hygiene (of course!). The children wash their hands before and after, as well as tidy up their messes post preparation. It is wonderful to be able to prepare snack for yourself, but the added dimension of preparing snack for your friends is something truly special.

At lunch everyone has an opportunity to serve themselves. We wait for everyone to be served and recite a little thank you poem, because having a hot meal and food is a privilege! We discuss what we're eating, and if we like it or not. The group encouragement often results in even picky eaters trying something new!

Food, glorious food. An important aspect of the classroom and life! — Ms. Moffatt

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Casa North: The children at the Casa level absolutely love taking responsibility for their snack. We treat snack preparation as we do any other Casa activity — something that is presented and repeated by individual children who show signs of readiness. We prepare trays in the morning with two options (apples, carrots, peppers, berries, pears, and much more!). The children who have been shown how to prepare snack will rinse or wash, slice, cut, and set out the snack for their friends. Once snack has been prepared, the children are welcome to serve themselves.

As with all of the other activities, we want the children to be able to self-regulate and foster their independence. Ideally, the children are navigating through the morning and afternoon work cycles organically — choosing Montessori activities that are independent or social, having meaningful conversations, looking at a book and/or observing a friend. Nutrition should fit seamlessly into the program. For this reason, we don't stop the buzzing work cycle to sit down and eat during a "nutrition break." I show the children to select snack, sit at the snack table, pour a glass of water should they want it, and tidy up. We encourage the children to think about how hungry they are, take into consideration that others in the community would also likely enjoy having snack as well, and keep these factors in mind when choosing a serving size.

Interacting with food in the Casa environment is a beautiful Practical Life activity that also starts a healthy and positive relationship with nutrition from a young age. If you're looking for ways to help support this at home, we always encourage involving your child with food preparation, baking, or cooking dinner. Giving them reasonable and safe tools sets them up to be successful, and you may notice that they start to enjoy foods that they didn't love before. Often when I ask the children about what they had for breakfast, they will tell me about slicing bananas for pancakes or peeling carrots for dinner, and they are absolutely beaming!

Thank you for all of your support, and if you have any questions about how to integrate food preparation in your home, as always I'm happy to help. — Ms. Boyle

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Elementary:

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Elementary children are cultural explorers, and food is at the heart of our cultural experiences, whether as a facet of biology, history, or daily experience. Having gained the skills during the first plane of eating with utensils and working with cutting tools to prepare food, the Elementary students build upon this foundation to increase their independence from their parents by packing their own lunches, and learning to cook!

Students continue to prepare a communal snack available to their classmates when desired throughout the morning, but now, a greater degree of planning and preparation is required. Each week, two students are assigned the duty of preparing snack, requiring them to check what we have on hand, prepare a shopping list, and go out in the community and purchase what they need within their weekly budget. They search the store for the best produce at a reasonable price (organic strawberries are a bit expensive in January...) and have to account for the dietary needs of all members of the class.

Elementary students require a lunch from home four days each week, and, as they mature, many rise to the challenge of taking over this task from their parents, choosing healthy grains, veggies, fruit, and protein options (or raiding last night's leftovers) to pack their own lunch. If your supervision is still required, involve your child as much as possible in making healthy, litter-less choices for good nutrition and environmentally-friendly practices. Our strict policy of healthy lunches with no chocolate, marshmallows, potato chips, or other sugary or salty snacks is designed to not only prepare students for the day's work, but also a lifetime of healthy eating habits.

Cooking at home is one of the best nutritional and economic practices a child can learn, and each week our students work together to prepare and cook a vegetarian meal for our Community Lunch. At different times throughout the year, students may take on the responsibility of finding appropriate recipes, work with the fraction and multiplication materials to adjust the ingredients for more than twenty people, shop, and, of course, a lot of prep work! They learn to work in the kitchen as a team, prepare the dining space, and try to expand their palates.

Of course, one of the best things about having a kitchen in the classroom are the "happy little accidents" that produce something wonderful. In preparation for our "Jump Rope for Heart" fundraiser this week, a student went to work baking muffins for a snack break during the event. Upon discovering some ingredients were short, and that ALL of the blueberries had been fed to Zeus, she had to improvise! With a few substitutions, a new recipe took form, and everyone enjoyed the Oat-and-Molasses muffins she created!

Note: Your 2018.2019 school year calendar has an "Elementary Open House" listed for May 24. This was to be an open house for prospective families. Fortunately, our Elementary program for 2019.2020 is full. The May 24 open house has been cancelled.

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Coming Up:

Next week has two items to remember:

  • Thursday, May 16: Toddler and Casa Show-N-Share (Toddler 3:30-4:00 | Casa 3:30-4:30). Please go directly to your child's classroom.
  • Friday, May 17, and Monday, May 20: Victoria Day long weekend. No school.

Locke St. Construction Update: Starting Tuesday, May 21, Locke St. will be closed from Hunter St. to Melbourne St. (closer to the Main St. end). Adjacent one-way streets (Hunter, Bold, Pine, and Tuckett) will be converted to two-way streets with local access only to allow residents access to and from their homes. The City's notice has the following note:

This configuration will require patience and careful driving. Please be courteous to your fellow residents, yielding as appropriate.

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Lyonsgate Weekly Update | May 3, 2019

Hello Lyonsgate Montessori Families,

This week, Lyonsgate began our participation in the annual Kirkendall Food Drive in support of Mission Services. Elementary students were out distributing collection bags to our neighbours this week, and both Lyonsgate campuses are drop-off locations for donations through Monday, May 6. Please remember that non-perishable donations coming to either Lyonsgate campus must be nut-free, and that personal hygiene items are very welcome.

  • Mission Services serves more than 900 families each month through its Good Food Centre.
  • In 2018, they served 12,900 meals to children

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This Week:

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Toddler:

The highlight of our week was the community walk to Beulah Park, of course! I always get to hear wonderful stories about your weekend adventures at the park, and it was great to get a chance to experience that with your children.

The walk to the park was amazing — the children were astonished by the sight of houses, dogs, cars, flowers, and onlookers. This experience allowed the children to use their senses to describe what they were hearing, seeing, smelling, eating, and touching. The wetness did not stop the toddlers from enjoying their playtime at the park — the mud was the main attraction and their clothing serves as proof. We had a picnic, played hide-and-seek, ran as fast as we could, and of course utilized the playground equipment as much as possible. We ended our stay at the park with a sing-along featuring our current favourite song, “Jingle Bells,” while jumping in the mud. The children expressed their sadness about leaving the park and are looking forward to some more adventures with you!

Thank you to all the parents who reached out hoping to come along on this trip; we have such a wonderful community. We realized that post-trip, the separation would have been too hard for the Toddlers and decided that it would be best to have parents opt-out. We are grateful to Mr. Davis and four elementary students for accompanying us on our little adventure.

Ending this week feeling inspired, overjoyed, and grateful. — Ms. Dee


For your viewing pleasure, a photo sequence demonstrating the hard work of a Montessori Toddler:

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Casa

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Casa South: One of the most important tools available to Montessori teachers is observation. We observe each child, every day. Observation is a critical component in lesson planning and class management. Scientific observation allows teachers to gather information without judgement, describing only what you can decipher through the senses. Often, as humans, we make a lot of judgements based on past experiences. For example, there may be a child who grabs the Number Rods and starts swinging them around, hitting people as they go, and it only happens on one occasion; then, another child grabs the Number Rods and runs over to a friend to see how tall they are in comparison. The past experience can get in the way of a new, frankly magical one. We try and look at each day, and each moment, as an opportunity for your children. The children change everyday, and we change everyday!

It was through her observations of children that Maria Montessori discovered the importance of the prepared environment. She discovered it must be beautiful, simple, orderly, and accessible. She noticed it must provide freedom to work according to one's needs. It must also offer purposeful materials to understand the world around them, to qualify and quantify and coordinate. She wanted the classroom to offer opportunities for social interaction. Enjoy this great video on Maria Montessori's intuition.

The month of May is your opportunity to observe our classrooms and we couldn't be more excited. When you come to observe, notice how the children interact with one another and how they resolve conflict. How do they work with the materials, how they initiate "work" independently. Notice those indirect moments when they return their work to the same spot, when they replenish supplies, how they wait patiently for work to be available. Notice how when distracted they can return to their work. Notice those beautiful moments of concentration and absorption happening with the Absorbent Mind.

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Casa North: Hello Casa North families! Wow, what a great field trip! We were thrilled that (despite the muddy terrain and misty weather) the children had a fantastic time. We got to see a police car (parked) and discuss safety, a bus driver stopping for a break, hear some birds singing, and explore a little creek before ending up at Beulah Park. The children love any opportunity to explore the world around them — a little bit of freedom goes a long way in their eyes. We are so thankful for our wonderful parent volunteers and hope you had a great time as well!

One of the things I have really noticed an increase of in the environment is the mentorship between the older and younger children. The first years have gained their footing and understand what the expectations of the classroom are, but are certainly more confident asking a nearby friend to help with an apron tie or the snap of a rain jacket instead of coming to an adult first. The older children are quick to offer help (sometimes when it's not needed!) as a demonstration of their self-confidence and assuredness in the environment. The third years have been spending more and more time with the Elementary students (visits to the park, Reading Buddies, and upcoming formal Elementary visits for those enrolled for next year) where they get the cyclical experience of being the little ones again. At the same time, the first years love to wave to the Toddlers as they pass by for recess and exclaim, "It's our Toddler friends!" with fond memories of being "so small!" It's a great source of pride to see how our little community becomes more and more self-sufficient as the weeks go on. We can't wait for you to be able to see for yourselves how amazing they are during your observations.

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Elementary:

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This week, your Elementary children had some opportunities to embrace their empathetic natures and engage with their communities. As you know, we began our annual participation in the Kirkendale Food Drive. Lyonsgate Elementary students headed out into the neighbourhood to deliver food donation bags to designated addresses in a few separate groups. These activities always fill the children with excitement. Their present developmental stage is marked by a need to understand their world in concrete terms — right vs. wrong, good vs. bad, and especially, as you may have heard, fair vs. not fair! When they learn about things that aren't fair, such as some people not having enough food to eat, their response is always one of shock, and a desire to do something about it.

This week also gave us a chance to discuss political engagement, activism, and debate. The general strike/protest that occurred on May 1, International Workers Day, led us to a discussion about differing political opinions and how different people express them. Ambiguity and subjectivity don't lend themselves well to concrete, yay or nay understanding, and it was very nice to see them start to struggle with trying to see and validate (at least) two sides to every story.

Finally this week, a number of our older Elementary students jumped at the opportunity to serve as volunteers on the Toddler children's neighbourhood walk. Watching them engage and interact with younger children is the most vivid illustration of the depth and strength of their wells of empathy. They are so gentle, patient, calm, and eagerly helpful; we're not sure who had more fun.

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Coming Up:

Parent Observations will take place in the Casa and Elementary Montessori environments between May 6 and June 4. Observations in your child's classroom are 20 minutes in duration and occur during the morning work cycle. Before your observation, please review the Observation Guidelines for Casa, and/or for the Elementary program.

Please click the relevant link(s) below to schedule your observation(s):


May also has a couple of items to add to your calendars:

  • Thursday, May 16: Toddler and Casa Show-N-Share (Toddler 3:30-4:00 | Casa 3:30-4:30)
  • Friday, May 17, and Monday, May 20: Victoria Day long weekend. No school.

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Lyonsgate Weekly Update | April 26, 2019

Hello Lyonsgate Montessori Families,

Thank you to all of you that were able to attend the Parent Education evening last night. It was wonderful to see so many Lyonsgate parents being actively involved in learning more about how Montessori education works and understanding how your children work to acquire knowledge. For those that couldn't make it, we understand. Life is busy and there are other evening activities and sometimes we're just tired and once we're home for the night, that is where we're staying. We will have another series of Parent Education evenings for you next year. We have been planning the school calendar for the 2019-2020 school year over the last few weeks and once everything is finalized we'll get it you so plans and schedules can be made.

If you ever have Montessori related questions, whether it's something your children are talking about, something you see in the weekly photos, something you see in the classroom, or something you are curious about how Montessori approaches and teaches, please don't hesitate to ask. We love talking about Montessori.


 Reminder: please refrain from sending candy or chocolate to school around holidays (such as Easter — the chocolate holiday!). Thank you.


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This Week:

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Toddler:

One of the most rewarding aspects of the Montessori environment is its sense of community, and within it the partnership between home and school. We always encourage parents to maintain consistency at home by supporting creativity, maintaining order, fostering independence, and modeling positive behaviour. It is always refreshing to receive a note or an email providing updates on the children’s latest development at home — it shows that our observations and recommendations are valued; it also encourages us to adjust the environment to fulfill the child’s current need. We value the partnership and support of parents in providing a safe, stimulating, and nurturing environment to encourage each child’s holistic development.

We thank you for your participation in last night’s education evening as we discussed the importance of Practical Life activities in early childhood development. The Practical Life exercises prepare the child for the everyday activities of their life, producing a contributing, independent member of their world. Your participation in the bread baking proved to be successful! The children collectively expressed their delight in its taste. — Ms. Dee

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experience in the environment.” — Dr Maria Montessori.

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Casa

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Casa South: Thank you to all the parents who came to our Parent Education night last night. It is always so nice to connect and talk about Montessori philosophy and practice. We know that you all have busy lives and we appreciate your participation in our community!

As promised, here is the link to an article about the new World Health Organization guidelines about children under 4 and screen time.

As always, if you have any questions or comments I would love to hear them! This topic is definitely discussion worthy! — Ms. Moffatt

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Casa North: First and foremost, I want to extend very warm and positive feelings of gratitude for our community. We had a great turnout for our Parent Education evening where we discussed the Casa-aged child as a sensorial learner and how to manage technology as a possible obstacle to the absorbent mind. We were able to come together to discuss Montessori, talk about some of the materials in the classroom and their purposes, and chat about your amazing children. Thank you for attending — we look forward to having an even greater turnout next year.

Making a connection between home and school is so important, not only for consistency (which is extra important in these early formative years) but to model to the child that there is trust and unity amongst the adults in their lives. We all have different pieces of the puzzle. When your child comes to school each day, I'm not there to experience the morning. I don't see how bed time or breakfast pans out. In the same regard, you aren't in the classroom to see how they are socializing, working, choosing, or simply being at school. This is the reality of our society, and so we must do what we can to really connect with each other (when possible!).

One of the goals I have each year is to model appropriate, healthy, and supportive relationships amongst adults (between myself and the classroom assistants, and myself and the parents/grandparents of the children). Learning that I need to prepare myself to set the best possible example for the children each day is something that the Montessori philosophy has really brought positively into my life. When you attend a parent education evening, the end-of-the-year picnic, or a Show and Share, it connects your child's two worlds in a way that is most meaningful to them.

Thank you for spending your Thursday evening with us — we know it can be tricky to navigate and can be stressful with work/other priorities, but I can't stress enough how appreciated it is. We look forward to welcoming you into the classroom for observations next month! — Ms. Boyle

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Elementary:

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Thank you to all the parents who joined us for our final Parent Education evening of the year to hear more about the Geography curriculum and catch our first screening of the student film "Welcome to Lyonsgate!" It is so wonderful to gather parents together from time to time in the children's space, with the opportunity to socialize with each other and connect with the materials and lessons presented to the students.

This week, group lessons from Geography included explorations of the hottest and coldest times of day in relation to planetary rotation, and examining the effects of water erosion under different conditions. The students love to share new discoveries, repeat simple demonstrations, and get their hands dirty! They are intrigued by stories of how natural forces and events shape human experiences through history, as well as their own daily experiences, but the greatest joy in these explorations is that of working together.

I hope you all can make the best of the wet spring weather and get out exploring the physical beauty of Hamilton and the immense power of water in shaping in our city. — Marissa

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Coming Up:

Parent Observations will take place in the Casa and Elementary Montessori environments between May 6 and June 4. Observations in your child's classroom are 20 minutes in duration and occur during the morning work cycle. Before your observation, please review the Observation Guidelines for Casa, and/or for the Elementary program.

Please click the relevant link(s) below to schedule your observation(s):

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Lyonsgate Weekly Update | April 18, 2019

Hello Lyonsgate Montessori Families,

Happy Easter! Your update is a day early this week as there is no school tomorrow, April 19 (Good Friday), or on Monday, April 22 (Easter Monday).


Your next Parent Education Evening is coming up on Thursday, April 25.

    • From 3:30-4:00 the Toddler guides will be discussing and demonstrating the Practical Life area of the Montessori environment, both for your growing knowledge of Montessori and to give parents some ideas for the summer that will also help your children to thrive in Casa.

 

    • From 4:00-4:45 your children's Casa guides will discuss the child under six being a sensorial learner, and how technology can be an obstacle to the absorbent mind.

 

    • From 5:00-5:45 Elementary parents will have the opportunity to see how the Montessori geography curriculum works at the Elementary level.

 


 For your convenience, we have digitized our "Medication Administration Form." If your child ever needs to take medication while at school, provincial legislation requires specifc written instructions from you. Please click here (and maybe bookmark it for future use) to access the form. Thank you.

 

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This Week:

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Toddler:

Sensitive Periods

Sensitive periods refer to a period when a child’s interests are focused on developing a particular skill or knowledge area. According to Dr. Montessori, the child learns from their environment without any conscious effort from birth until the age of six. Sensitive periods direct the child to what they need to learn and sensitivity disappears after the need has been fulfilled. Sensitive periods include weaning, movement, exploration, language, order, mathematics, social customs, morality, and social consciousness.

Within the home environment, sensitive periods can be identified through intense interest in repeating certain actions — these sensitive periods manifest themselves by pattern of behaviour. Dr. Montessori stressed that if the child is not allowed to work in accordance to these sensitive periods, they would lose their special sensitivity and interest in the area, which would affect their psychic development. Sensitive periods are crucial to a child’s life, ergo it is important for the adult to create an environment that nurtures the child’s natural process of development, and is the guiding factor in the preparation of the Montessori environment.

Thank you all for your continuous contributions of flowers and proteins to our classroom community. — Ms. Dee

You may remember a little while ago there was an opportunity to attend a Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators event featuring a speaker discussing Montessori Toddler education. For those unable to attend, there is now a video of the talk available. Click here to view.

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Casa

We have a request this week regarding children's clothing. The Lyonsgate Parent Handbook states: "All children should be dressed in clothing that is appropriate and tasteful for school. Nothing too fancy or playful as the children need to focus on their day's work and not on what each other is wearing."

We would like to include the sequin, glittery shirts that flip and change colour in this category. Children love to play with them, whether it is their own shirt that they are wearing or a friend's shirt. They are a considerable distraction to children in the Montessori environments and we ask that they remain a special, awesome shirt to wear at home, on weekends, to friends' houses, or on holidays, but not to school. Thank you for understanding.

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Casa South: A lot has been happening in Casa South this week, including one student's return from a trip to South Africa! Such events lead to lots of questions and stories.

As we progress through the last term of this school year, the children begin to increasingly demonstrate their own progress and development. There has been a lot of focus on writing, and our third-year Casa students are taking on increasing leadership and mentorship roles. Watching them give presentations to younger students or take the lead during group time by reading stories and singing songs gives us evidence of how they have absorbed lessons and classroom culture; they are like little Montessori guides.

Casa South children have also been enjoying trips to the Toddler room to borrow items to dust and polish this week, as well as continuing to show their empathetic natures by comforting upset friends. Explorations with Montessori materials that were previously presented have also been undertaken this week, such as finding new ways to use the Montessori Brown Stairs to balance the pieces to make it very tall.

Our Reading Buddies program with the Elementary students is also starting to pay dividends with children bringing books from home to share with the class and mimicing their time with the older students by helping each other to read together. So lovely to see!

We hope to see many of you next week at our Parent Education evening, and wish you a wonderful Easter long weekend.

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Casa North: Spring has sprung! (Hopefully... finally... permanently...). We are so excited for the warmer temperatures and longer days of sunlight.

This week in Casa North, I shared a book about Maria Montessori with the children. We read about her unique and accomplished life as the first female to study medicine in Italy, and her passion for creating a unique learning environment catered to individualized needs. We discussed words like "obstacles" (challenges that arise when trying to achieve a goal), "discovery," and "equality." Reading this book was a highlight of my time as a Montessori directress. Of course, it's lovely to discuss the work that I do with the children and where it originated, but more importantly I love hearing their thoughts on the world around them. When they learned that there was a time that girls couldn't study science unless they went to a boy's school, they were genuinely surprised. When they learned that Maria Montessori was integral in designing and constructing some of the first child-size furniture, they were in awe that there was a time it hadn't existed at all.

The child under six is working find their place in a smaller community (such as a Casa environment, or "Children's House"). The child who is approaching six years of age (and the next plane of development) is eager to expand outside of their small community and find their place in the world around them. When I read the book to them, it was a beautiful example of how a mixed age group serves different needs in the environment — the younger children were enraptured with the story at its face value and the older children were asking insightful questions like "Did Maria Montessori make our shelves?" and "Did Maria Montessori give you ideas, Miss Boyle?"

Thank you for all that you do, and we look forward to a wonderful evening of parent education next week. See you then! — Miss Boyle

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Elementary:

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Children of all ages enjoy the fun rituals and small wonders that come with cultural celebrations. Between the ages of 0-6, they are absorbing the sights and sounds of the holidays and learning to participate by decorating, cooking, and spending time with family and friends, but the Elementary child, now armed with experience, memory, and a sense of time, anticipates these annual celebrations in a new way: with a sense of nostalgia, a growing curiosity into the origin and meaning of the celebration, and why they celebrate it as they do. This week, the students have explored the history of Easter, working with the B.C./A.D. timeline, learning about the Romans and the crucifixion of Jesus, as well as secular symbols and celebrations of Spring. They have crafted eggs from paper and clay, prepared comic strips and stop-motion films, and researched Easter customs from other countries, and deepened their understanding of this part of their culture. Happy Easter! — Marissa

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Jump Rope for Heart Info

This week you should have seen your child's Jump Rope for Heart package come home. You and your child can register at the event website or use the paper pledge tracking sheet that came home (we've already seen some of you have registered, made videos, and started gathering pledges — Thank You!). The actual jump roping event will take place on Wednesday, May 8 (this will be our Community Outing), and will consist of jump rope and a round-robin of cardiovascular activities at HAAA. The children have given themselves a class goal of raising $1,000.

Pledge forms and cash collection envelopes are due back on Tuesday, May 14.

If the class goal is attained, participating students will enjoy an active afternoon of bowling on Thursday, May 16.

Thank you all for your continuing support of the Elementary children's charitable pursuits. This is a significant part of their developmental stage.

We hope you had a chance to see the photos and video of your children's karate experience on Seesaw this week. For those of you that responded to attend the graduation ceremony this coming Saturday, April 20, at 2:00 p.m., certificates are being made up and UFMA is looking forward to welcoming you. Remember, your children are also welcome to attend regular classes until the end of the month.

For those that can't make it due to Easter weekend plans and trips and visitors and such, UFMA has graciously offered to host a second event for you on Saturday, April 27, also at 2:00 p.m. Children that attend the second event will be welcome to attend regular classes for a week or so into May.

All children that attend the ceremony will work through the curriculum they were taught in the sessions and then receive a certificate, a uniform, and their first (white) belt.

Please let us know via email to jason@lyonsgate.ca, no later than Monday, April 22, if you would like to attend the second ceremony for your children.

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Coming Up:

Parent Observations:

 Parent observations in the Casa and Elementary Montessori environments will take place between May 6 and June 4. Observations in your child's classroom are 20 minutes in duration and occur during the morning work cycle. We will have online sign-ups for you next week. In the meantime, please review the Observation Guidelines for Casa, and/or for the Elementary program.

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