One more Thanksgiving treat!

Many of our children have known this poem for a while and the MWF class learned it today!

Mr Turkey went for a walk in bright and shiny weather.
He met Mr Duck along the way and they stopped to chat together.
Gobble, gobble, gobble...
Gobble, gobble, gobble...
Quack quack, quack...
Gobble, gobble,gobble...
Quack,quack, quack...
And then they both went back.

Teacher Cinda


We like this song at Thanksgiving time!

We are enjoying the Run Turkey Run song in most classes these days!

Run turkey run turkey, run far away, for soon it will be Thanksgiving Day!
Five little turkeys sitting by the barn door, one ran away and then...there were four!
Run turkey, run turkey, run far away, for soon it will be Thanksgiving day!
Four little turkeys sitting under a tree, one ran away and then... there were three.
Run turkey...(first line repeats here).
Three little turkeys singing Skip to my Lou, one ran away and then...there were two.
Run turkey...(and again)
Two little turkeys sitting in the sun, one ran away and then...there was one.
Run turkey...(and again)
One little turkey having no more fun, he ran away....and then... there were none!
Run turkey, run turkey run far away, for soon it will be Thanksgiving Day!

Ask your child if they can teach you the tune....
Have a great holiday!
TCS Teachers


The Pre K looks forward to a puppet show!

The Pre K  will make a visit to the Northwest Puppet Center  December 9 2011.
We shall see Cenerentola the Italian Cinderella. When we attend there will be interesting characters to find:a dove that transforms into a Fairy Godmother, a clown Pulcinella, The Prince and Cenerentola the Princess who saves the Prince in this telling of the story!


Party Time at The Children's School

There are some significant skills one can put to use in putting on a good party. Not the least of these is setting a pretty party table. So of course, here at The Children's School, we like to practice this skill. We have a small table, often found in the hallway, in between Rooms 341 and
343 (Mrs. Banks' snack room, and the MWF classroom), and a rolling cart full of table-setting tools. Looking carefully at the picture below, you can probably identify the "theme" as well as the color choices around these supplies. Usually included are things like: tablecloth, cups, vase(s),
flowers, plates, utensils, and sometimes napkins. The table below was set by one of our friends in the M-F class. Mrs. McArthur was there to help, should the need arise. (I don't recall that ever turned out to be necessary!)

Another simple, but very fun party preparation is to make table runners for our snack tables. With a few paint sponges, and or cookie cutters, we can practice our stamping work (or hopping) and decorate a long sheet of paper that can then be used as a table runner upon which to place other decorations. Flower arranging, which is a skill we have been practicing in our older classrooms now for a couple of months, becomes an important and useful skill for our parties.

We also take advantage of these special occasions to do some "secretary work" with our children around the idea of cooking special foods, and so writing down recipes the children share with us. Here's an example from a couple of years ago:

Pumpkin Pie by Karsten
cherries on top
Picture of a bunny hopping on a rainbow plate. It serves the whole class.

We might also have the opportunity to write down some party planning ideas for someone.
From last year:
Lily and Grace's Costume Party
Lily - Sleeping Beauty, black shoes
Grace - Belle, yellow shoes

M&M's - blue, orange and yellow
Candy bar
Fruit - Strawberries
Water and Apple Juice

TV Show:

Flowers - Blue, Pink, REd, Yellow, and Orange

Dora Game
Princess Game
Backpack Game

We don't always take on the responsibility of the writing. Our invitations allow for, not only the obvious "announcement" of an upcoming party to our families, but also the opportunity to practice our writing.

Another really important component to Party Planning here at The Children's School is the opportunity for special clothes. It is FUN to have the opportunity to dress up and wear our special clothes. Here at TCS that is defined as dress shirts, dresses, ties, and slippery shoes! If you don't have a tie, you are always welcome to borrow:

None of these preparations alone is very complicated. And that is by design. Because when you put all of these lovely events together, you create an amazing and memorable experience for the children that is fun without being overwhelming or complicated.

And one more party plan - this time from Hannah who is planning a party at her house:

Food will include:
Macaroni and Cheese (rainbow colored)
Salad Cheese (green)

Jack O Lantern
and a decoration pumpkin
White pumpkins to paint

7 people will come to her party; bring a costume. Hannah's costume is a Snow White Princess!


Simple...But NOT!

Many of us would know what to do with the above object if handed to us, wouldn't we??

An object or shape on a clipboard, a piece of paper underneath, and a marker, would indicate that we were invited to trace the object. As you can see when you look closely at the shape afixed to the above clipboard, many a child has attempted to do just that - TRACE the jack-o-lantern, and obviously, with varying degrees of success.

I sat with some of my friends from the M-F classroom just a couple of days ago with this very tool in front of us. Hannah and August and Macy and I all sat with our clipboards and our choice of markers with the point of the marker placed carefully next to the edge. We then all tried to follow the edge of the jack-o-lantern - ALL THE WAY AROUND. OO-oo-oo! My that's tricky.

Once the tracing part is done, what next?? Well, here's an option of what can be done after the tracing, done by a friend of ours, Griffin, with a dinosaur cut-out a couple of years ago:

Any opportunity our friends can have to hold a marker, or a crayon, or a pencil is a plus. The trick sometimes is finding something interesting enough to compel our friends into wanting to do the work. Handwriting is a hard-fought for skill. And here's another idea for getting our friends to pick up a writing instrument:
The above structure was created just the other day in the M-F class by our friend, Dominic, with a few Halloween-colored Lego blocks. Instead of destroying the structure, which is hard for many of our friends (deconstructing their creations to allow others to make something of their own), we offer them the opportunity to preserve it by tracing it.

Above is Dominic's structure inside his tracing, and below
is the result!! Awesome, huh?!

This is another great and simple way to practice, practice, practice with our handwriting tools - paper and pencil (or marker or crayon).

And here is another amazing example of a traced structure by Amin from our Pre-K Class.
If you want more ideas and examples of ways to help our children learn writing skills or just want to learn more about Montessori in general, please join Mrs. Banks on Wednesday, November 2nd for our 2nd Parent Education Opportunity!


Montessori and Our Youngest Friends

It is often clear to the parents of children in our 3's/4's classrooms and in our Pre-K classroom that we are clearly using Montessori tools to invite their children into the wonderful world of learning, but sometimes that may not be so clear to the families of our youngest children. So I
wanted to take a moment and just take a peek into that classroom to see what, if anything, Montessori was going on...

At the very beginning, even if we are not using a Montessori designed learning tool, such as a spindle box, or a color wheel, we are taking the first steps toward introducing our youngest friends to an environment that is designed much like the environments of their older friends or siblings in the other (older) classrooms.

There are spaces designated for use by just one student, with toys, or games or puzzles laid out on a carpet square to designate space for one.
There are opportunities to play and share a space with just one friend at a time.
And there are opportunities to play in small groups, too. These areas are closely monitored by the teachers, allowing students to have this experience, but making sure it is a positive experience for all who choose to participate. If it's not working out in this bigger play group area for a particular friend, then the teacher can choose to redirect that child to one of the other options that allow for more individual play.
(Notice Zadie's carefully lined up shapes from the bucket before she left this area to investigate the other possibilities in the room!)

All of these seemingly small details are giant stepping stones in this first classroom. First and foremost for our youngest friends is the hard and serious work of being in a classrooms with friends and teachers for 2 hours without their primary caregiver (mom, dad, grandma or nanny). To manage this big task - to be dropped off and then manage their bodies and their emotions and ENJOY their experience - is our greatest work in this first tender year.

In addition, with their routine, schedule and room set up all mirroring the older classrooms, our friends are getting a solid leg up on their start with some of the more formal Montessori learning opportunities awaiting them in the years to come!

Take Apart Returns to Pre-K

One of the favorite projects experienced by our Pre-K students (and some of our staff!!) is our annual "Take-Apart" project. This is a hands-on experience of "deconstruction. Our students are given safety goggles, and instructions on how to use screwdrivers, small hand drills, hammers, and their own muscles to take apart in the means they feel will work any of the myriad of small household appliances and/or electronics that we have acquired sometime in the previous year.

Here is an example of what was in the Take-Apart pile of goodies:

This particular vision of pink lovliness was of great interest to many of our students upon taking a turn at the Take Apart table. Unfortunately, this item seemed keen on keeping its many mysteries hidden from view until Mr. Henry had his turn. Within moments, Henry had discovered the key, and...

Ta Da!!

Thanks, Henry!


Packing Lists

Packing lists are a wonderful ritual here at the Children school!
We prepare for travel by making a list of what we might need during the time away.

Hannah's packing list for Australia:
Princess dress
Toy rabbit
Barbies-princess one
Extra underwear
Pony shoes-crocs
Blue crocs
Chicken and rice
Chicken and noodles

Teacher Cinda's list for Pt Robinson Lighthouse:
Pink umbrella-Molly
Raincoat -Henry Hoffman
Flashlight, blanket- Mrs.MacArthur
Jammies- warm-Leah
Cupcakes-Henry Cassady
Thank you everyone for the great ideas! We have great helpers here at our school!


What Are We Learning?

We are learning, learning, learning all the time!!
In our classrooms and even between rooms, there are skills to practice and master. Here at The Children's School, some of these skills will be in the category of what we refer to as "Practical Life."

These can be skills that we, as adults, do so often, and mastered so long ago ourselves that we don't even think of them as a series of steps to be put together that will then result in one glorious self-sufficient task.
For example - hanging up one's coat. Here at school, we must start the whole process by identifying where the coat should go in the first place. Then, you have to figure out how to take it off!
Once removed, you have to identify some part of that garment that will actually effectively allow you to hang it up so it doesn't fall down. And this doesn't even address the whole inside-out arm thing! See how intricate this really is? It's a skill that our children are practicing everyday, and no matter where a child is along this pathway toward independence, any time they are willing to do any of it themselves, that is SUCCESS!

Another really important skill which leads to self-sufficiency is learning to pour liquid. Here at school this is affectionately known as "pour.pour.stop." Often you will see a set up much like the one pictured above somewhere in your child's classroom (3,4 and Pre-K). The teachers color the liquid to help the children better see the results of their work. The goal is to control the pitcher well enough that you can pour liquid to the marked line and then stop. The encouragement from the teacher, then sounds very much like,"Ok, let's pour...pour...ok STOP!" Again, this takes effort, concentration and control. But once mastered, this skill transfers to many tasks on an everyday basis. Not just the obvious of pouring one's own glass of milk or juice, but also learning how to fill a bucket to wash the car, or put water in your play tea set, or fill the pan with water to do hand-washing at the hand-washing station. All of these small steps play a BIG part toward moving a child further along the road to independence, accompanied with a healthy dose of self-confidence.


We're Back to School!!

In so many ways, this is how I feel at the end of our first week of school - inundated with paperwork! The picture above is in front of my neighborhood elementary school, and I just couldn't help but stop and take a picture of it. (Can you see me?)

As I find myself making lists, checking for completed forms, following up with missing information, I am also shuffling through the multiple forms that have been sent home with each of my 2 children. And of course, everyone wants them NOW! My son, who is a very responsible 13 year old, called me this morning apologetically to say that he had left his packet of completed paperwork on our dining room table, and I couldn't help myself - I answered him with a giggle, "Oh, you mean the one I stayed up until midnight to finish?! No problem, Kiddo, I'll drop them at the school!" You'd think the start of school could be about something more "learny" than forms for goodness sake!

And so much of it is. For our students, as they learn new routines and for our teachers as they learn about their students there are many more important things than emergency numbers and contact information. But for some of us, who understand part of the joy of being entrusted with the care of your children - in all circumstances - as one that demands we be as well prepared as possible, we also understand that sometimes that means we just need the paperwork.

All those phone numbers, names, addresses - these are the tools we will add to our "Preparedness Toolbox" - a toolbox we have been assessing and reassessing actively for the past 10 years. Everyone helps us to put this toolbox in good working order .

This year we have added a Parent Education opportunity around the topic of safety to our schedule. On Wednesday, October 5th, during our lunch program time, we invite parents to come into the school and learn more about how The Children's School, and the greater community of childcare programs housed at our location are prepared to keep your children safe and secure during any unexpected event or emergency. We'll discuss scenarios that are varied in size and scope; we'll discuss safety from an "everyday" perspective, and we'll take time to answer questions and concerns that parents may have in general. Please join us for this important topic.


We Remember Mrs. Jaques

In memory of and thanksgiving for the
life of Elaine Daly Jaques.

November 23, 1951-August 7, 2010.

Personal Goals:

Be in Place
Believe in Your Gifts
Work to Your Passion
Trust Your Instincts


The Clip Board

We use the clipboard for many important tasks at the Children's School. It is used for signing in and
taking notes from the children to send home. Letters are a great way of diffusing feelings around separation. For letters or stories you will hear..."Do you need a secretary?".
Before someone takes a trip it is used to make a packing list. This year Leah and Teacher Cinda were both making packing lists on the same day. Leah made a packing list for her trip to California. And then she helped Teacher Cinda make hers for a trip to Delaware for her daughter's graduation. What a great help Leah was to Teacher Cinda because she remembered to bring food on the airplane....just in case a snack was needed. We love to help our children plan their trips and help their parents bring the most important items. Let us know when you think a packing list might come in handy! Sponge Bob is our cold pack that travels with us to the playground for the bumps and bruises.


A Little Time in The Coop!

These little Playmobile chicken coops are some of the newest additions at The Children's School, courtesy of Teacher Cinda, who is also keeper of a chicken coop of her very own! (See post from April 5th, 2010!) With our conversations about animals, and giving and the Heifer Project well under way, these chicken coops have become a real favorite not only with the students of Teacher Cinda's room (where the coops live), but also with our Lunch Bunch friends. Once again, our children have blessed us with their creativity. Here is a story from Jack, who played at the chicken coops recently with Children's School Alum and current Tuesday Volunteer, Margaret Roe (13 years old). Margaret was Jack's secretary as he told this story:

Once upon a time there was a chicken who was not happy at her home because all her friends were mean. One day she flew up on the roof and would not come down. The lady who took care of the chickens was mad, so she climbed up and tried to get the chicken down, but she couldn't. The chicken's friends felt bad so they said "Sorry." So the chicken came down and was happy.
The end.

Thank you Jack for your story, and thank you, Margaret for being there to capture it!

The Montessori Mafia - Ideas Market - WSJ

The Children's School is part of a proud and wonderful tradition of fostering creativity.
We want to invite you to read the following article, and share it with friends.

(We are still taking registrations for the 2011-12 school year!!)

The Montessori Mafia - Ideas Market - WSJ


Preschool lessons: New research shows that teaching kids more and more, at ever-younger ages, may backfire. - By Alison Gopnik - Slate Magazine

Dear TCS Friends:
I first read this article as a shared post from our beloved Teacher Cinda. It so speaks to what our staff at The Children's School tries everyday to foster in our young students that I wanted to share it with as many friends of our program as I could possibly reach. Please take a moment to click on the link below and read this research.
Thank you.

Preschool lessons: New research shows that teaching kids more and more, at ever-younger ages, may backfire. - By Alison Gopnik - Slate Magazine


Children Discuss Emergencies around the World

Art Linkletter, a CBS television personality when I was a kid, used to say "Kids say the darndest things!" And if you listen closely to our friends here at The Children's School, some of the "things" you might hear them say these days sound something like this:

An Earthquake Report by Gavin and Caleb in our Pre-K Class while sitting at the 911 Emergency Station in their classroom -
Gavin: We picked up an earthquake in Japan...
Caleb: An earthquake in Egypt and Japan!
Gavin: A really BIG one. If you look, you see hot lava coming up everywhere!
Caleb: Underwater volcanoes are exploding!
Gavin: It's really DANGEROUS! Cover your head.
Caleb: Hide somewhere so volcanic rock can't fall on you. Hide under your desk!

Our classrooms have phone stations accessible to the children all year round. These include a variety of phones, as well as keyboards. They can be used to call friends, or as 911 stations to pass on really important information to their community at large.

In a different area of the room, where children were looking at a globe of their world, our teachers were challenged to answer these questions from our students:
"Where is Seattle?" and then "Where is Japan?"
"What are the arrows for?" (they children were looking at currents denoted on the globe)
"What is the big word?" (It was Australia!)
"What happened in an earthquake?"
"What is the blue?" (looking at a line on the globe) "Is it light rail?"
"Why are there blue lines?"

And while looking at some of the other resources on earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes at this same resource table, these questions came up:
"What are the little dots on the volcanic rock?" (Rm. 341has actual volcanic rocks for the children to look at, hold and observe.)
"Why are there lines on the rock?"
"Where does the lava come from on Mt. Vesuvius?"
"Tell me about the trees in the tsunami water."

All of our teachers practice actively listening to your children as they make sense of their world through experiences such as these. It is a privilege to be present with your children as they explore and even explain what is around them.


Being Prepared at TCS

The Children's School revisits Emergency Preparedness regularly
throughout the year, and most recently at the March Teacher's Meeting. But with the recent events in Japan this past weekend, we thought we could remind ourselves what resources are at our disposal to do our own due diligence when it comes to "Being Prepared."

At the beginning of the school year, families receive a pink booklet entitled "The Children's School - Emergency Preparedness and
Safety Handbook." This booklet has several useful articles, checklists, and pointers for preparing your home, and your family for the unexpected.

One of the links here on our blog's front page is taken from that booklet: Your Role in The Children's School Emergency Preparedness Plan. This document contains a table that you can cut out. It is designed to cut in two, so that 2 household members can have easy access to information such as the school address, child's teacher's name and cell, etc. This is the kind of information that can go out of one's head when an emergency arises.

Another great resource is the website from King County on preparedness 3Days3Ways.

In order to truly be prepared, we must update records, update forms, and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE our procedures.

With our media filled with images of earthquake and tsunami, we have extended this "practice" to include language. In the older classrooms only (M-F, MWF and Pre-K) there are now books, games and maps available to our children who are curious about some of language they may be hearing or images they may be seeing.
NOT ALL CHILDREN are interested in these resources. They are there for those who need/want to know more. These classroom resources include: "Tsunamis" by Luke Thompson; "Tsunami for Chile, Hawaii and Japan" - a USGS book; the "Ring of Fire" map; the globe; "Earthquakes" by David Newton; a map of Northern Japan from the 3/12/11 NY Times; the "EMERCENCY" take away game; and the TCS-created board game about fire and earthquake drills and emergencies. There is renewed interest and practice for the children at their "communication stations" where they send out emails, and dial "911" reporting emergencies and sending out for help.

We want to remind families that, as with all of our materials in the classrooms, the use of these materials in child-interest driven.


A Chicken Named Pot Pie Comes To School

    We had the great pleasure of meeting Lander's chicken Pot Pie! Pot Pie likes to eat worms....She was a happy and calm visitor and her family name is Sex Link. She is very good with children. Thanks so much Annette for bringing the farm experience to school!
    We are now  entering the time of year when grown up chickens are laying eggs. Teacher Cinda's chickens are laying now. When we have enough sunlight in the day this is the effect it has! Hooray for sunlight! We have more information about Teacher Cinda's chicken family... you can see last year's post (April 5, 2010) as well.


Snow Delays

Due to hazardous road conditions, The Children's School will NOT hold morning classes today. We will be open for Lunch Bunch and Pre-K class this afternoon.


The table was set....

The treats were delivered....
And didn't we have a marvelous celebration!

Thank you to everyone who brought treats, and flowers, and napkins. Thanks to everyone who danced and ate and brought joy to our days together in school as we celebrated together our joy and thanks for the holidays!!
Now we will gather in the new year, and continue our work together as friends learning, playing and working together! Happy New Year, Everyone!