The Upper Elementary community recently returned from a camping trip to Susquehanna State Park, a publicly owned recreation area located on the banks of the lower Susquehanna River, just north of the city of Havre de Grace, Maryland. The students camped, hiked trails, climbed trees, put on performances in the outdoor amphitheater, collected tinder and built fires, told stories at the campfire, played “night tag,” awoke to birdsong at dawn (not everyone was happy about this), toured historic sites in the area, and played lots of games together under a “tent city” they built to get through the rain.
Studies throughout the year prepared students to work and explore outside the walls of the classroom. The spring camping trip is not simply an opportunity to bond and have some fun as a class, but it also serves as an integral part of the curriculum. For example, exploring the past of early man, our American beginnings, the mathematicians, linguists, philosophers, and scientists that suggested early theories – all tie us to our present and prepare students to to live together as a community for a night and two days. Students’ work with plants and animals connect them with the living world and studies in math and language help them to relate and communicate at a new level. All of this work allows students to see themselves as integral parts of an ever-changing world, capable of making a difference when they engage as active, participating members of humanity.
Work in the Upper Elementary community also provides students with perspective and opportunities to consider what their own roles are in the greater community. Working collaboratively on the trip in the planning and execution of every detail, the students were tested on how to really put the needs of others in front of their own at times. Service to the larger community took on new meaning.
The removal of distractions and even daily expectations of the classroom freed the students to explore, enjoy, play, and work together in new ways. This year we had the added element of the weather…oh my, the rain, the mud, the cold! A great challenge in the second plane of development is demonstrating flexibility and this skill was truly put to the test! Some of the challenges were predictable, while many others could not have been foreseen; yet all required that each person make choices to best address the challenge at hand. The students were so successful! Planning, packing, practicing, cooking, playing, working, and exploring – they did it all.
We had a stellar group of chaperones. Thank you to Brendan Hoffman, Terrance Dickson, Bob Bauserman, Cindy Seriano, David Schwartz, Natalia Tychshenko, Kathie Wagner, and Kristy Council. Thank you for all the donations of food and supplies – we could not have done it without you.
Our Adolescents have recently returned from their Odyssey trip to Seacamp in Big Pine Key, Florida. Seacamp offers interdisciplinary field experiences designed to allow students to raise questions about the natural world, conduct investigations through free exploration, and practice the use of field observations in order to attempt reasonable answers to scientific questions.
Among their many activities during the week, Greenspring students studied the effects of environmental stressors on Cassiopeia (upside-down jellyfish) in their natural habitat, went to Mangrove Island to study mangrove communities, participated in a squid dissection to learn about the internal anatomy of cephalopods, and explored the causes and effects of global climate change on our oceans. Students also participated in several lab programs, including an Algae Lab, the Echinoderm and Fouling Communities Lab, and the Nocturnal Adaptations of Marine Organisms Lab.
Students enjoyed many adventures, including a boat trip to the Coral heads, snorkeling among sponges, a trip to the Blue Hole (an abandoned rock quarry turned wildlife preserve complete with alligators), and swimming with bonnethead and nurse sharks!
Another highlight of the trip was the campfire, in which students enjoyed an astronomy lesson while gazing at the stars overhead. (There may have been a few campfire songs and roasted marshmallows enjoyed in the process!)
On the final day, Greenspring students visited the Sea Turtle Hospital and rehabilitation center in Marathon, Florida and adopted a Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle named Bender.
Eight sixth-year students got the chance to celebrate moving up and moving on by going on an overnight trip to Dewey Beach, DE on April 24th & 25th, chaperoned by Mrs. Charlotte & Mrs. Cortney. The student-organized trip included plans for trips to the beach, a local boardwalk, and visiting an escape room. It rained the entire trip, so the students exercised their flexibility and changed things up. They spent quality time together playing games, watching movies and cooking in the beach house. Although they didn’t completely escape the escape room, it was a great bonding experience!
This spring, students at Greenspring Montessori School have been busy in music enrichment!
After learning Hot Cross Buns on the piano, the upper elementary class was challenged to figure out how to play the song with glasses! They found all of the correct pitches by ear, and worked together to figure out exactly how much water each glass needed.
The Lower Elementary classes took out children’s books from the library and were given the challenge of telling the story through music. Some students added sound effects to their story while others morphed their story into a song!
“To assist a child, we must provide him with an environment which will enable him to develop freely.” – Dr. Maria Montessori
A question commonly asked by Montessori parents is, “How can we implement what you’re teaching in the classroom at home?”
While at school, your child has been busy learning practical life skills for both taking care of herself and her environment. The toddler Montessori environment at school is specifically designed to foster independent learning and exploration for your young child. However, there are many ways you can easily create a Montessori-friendly toddler environment at home.
Maria Montessori often refers to the “prepared environment,” which simply means offering an area to the child that is intended to facilitate as much independence as possible. It is important that a toddler have opportunities to exert her “will” and accomplish self-care tasks independently. The child’s unspoken plea is, “Help me to help myself!” With a few simple modifications, the home environment can provide a sense of freedom, have order, and be beautiful.
Here are some ways to foster independence in the home:
Create an organized space where your child can store personal items and maintain a sense of order. A great place to start is with a little basket by the front door where she can store her shoes when she comes into the house. You can also add a hook at her eye level where she can practice hanging up her backpack and coat.
Allow time for your child to get ready on her own – allow her to practice putting shoes on and off, and also give time for her to put on her own coat.
Have artwork at the child’s eye level to spark conversation and language development. This is also a fantastic opportunity to teach children to look with their eyes and hold hands behind their backs (a great lesson in self-control and care of the environment!).
Provide a low tables and chair as a workplace that your child knows belongs to her. The expectations are that she puts materials away when finished working, focus on only one task at a time, and push in the chair when leaving.
Provide real child-size utensils, tools, and glassware – we use these every day in the classroom, especially during snack time.
Provide cleaning materials that are accessible to your child so she can pick up after herself. A few good tools are a small dustpan and broom, a table crumber, and a small spray bottle and washcloth to wipe the tables.
It is amazing what a toddler can accomplish when given the proper tools and a sense of independence! We simply need to help them to help themselves.
Parental Challenge: Choose one (or more!) of these ways to implement the Montessori Method in your home. Observe over time to see how your child responds to the change.