Winter Memories: Alice, Enda and lots of learning!
Now we are back after a restful, fun and family filled Winter Break its time to look back at the end of our first term.
Firstly we can take a little walk through the projects and themes we explored through the final month of the term.
The nursery children began by going on an Asian adventure. As we have discussed before Montessori uses a colour-coded system to assist children to differentiate the continents, this colour also serves to link all the various themed artefacts to the particular continent to provide the child with a strong visual base from which to associate the images and items. For each of the seven continents the children in the nursery begin by painting a huge outline map of the continent. This fun group activity is our point to begin discussing the continent in question.
At the nursery stage we primarily focus on animals, very iconic imagery and stories or songs about the continent. However the beauty of the Montessori method lies in the individual nature of each child’s learning, when a child has the drive to enquire farther the materials are always on hand in our school to aid their exploration to the fullest of the child’s interest.
Another theme much enjoyed by the nursery, especially when coming up to Christmas is that of the seasons. Winter is a wonderfully sensorial season. Learning about snow and ice, cold winds and shorter days really spark the children’s imaginations. Again we use art, and song, stories and sensorial play to inspire the children to question and learn. With such a multicultural group in the school as a whole we celebrate so many cultural festivals, and Christmas certainly is large on the list. The nursery has lovely traditions that help the children prepare for the holiday. My personal favourite is making our reindeer food to encourage the sleigh to stop at our homes.
The preparatory school junior class also had a busy winter term; handwriting is the buzzword in the group. Everyone is getting into their writing samples, enjoying writing poems, stories and getting lots of perfection making practice!
The drive children experience to communicate in the written medium is instinctive at this stage; Montessori called it the explosion into writing. Writing is a complex act that requires intellectual process combined with manual dexterity and is the ability to express thoughts with graphic symbols.
Activities that make this possible are abundant in the Montessori setting, from the nursery tracing sounds, sensorial activities and practical life to the insets for design in the junior class and the chalkboard and moveable alphabet, our teachers know the great importance of indirect preparation: the children must be given opportunity to prepare their hand and mind to then be able to write. When all of the components of language come together and the children individually come to the realisation they can write.
Montessori believed the children’s natural absorbent mind helps them to take in the images of the letters and also helps the children understand the importance of writing. It is significant in society and children are uniquely attuned to discovering the culture around them. This contributes to their deep desire to write. The children will come to realize that writing is not just any marks put on paper but is made of special marks. Knowing these special marks helps the child to do “special writing”.
In the senior class our crack team of “backstage managers and set designers” were busy outside of individual work time conceiving and crafting the props and set pieces that they wanted for the Christmas Play. As the oldest group they enjoy a lot of responsibility and relish taking charge and deciding what is required for each scene and how it should look. Then their years of group and individual craft and art classes come into the fray and wonderful and unique set props are created.
The Preparatory School play this year was Alice in Wonderland and what a masterpiece it was. To use Ashley’s catchphrase “Best show ever” and it was.
The children rehearsed their lines and on stage movements to polish the show until it shone! We had some stellar characterisations, from the gracefully mischievous Cheshire Cat, to the delicate and dainty Flower garden. The rambunctious twins Tweedle Dum & Dee to the military precision of the Deck of Cards. Alice was just superb and alongside the Mad Hatter they brought so much of their own personalities to the roles. The fearsome and beautiful Queen, with her much maligned and gentlemanly King to the White Rabbit who began it all. The children gave it their all and more and as usual you can see them blossom after the show, the confidence and poise performing a full play in a professional theatre is an amazing experience to have so early on in life.
Not to be outdone the Nursery group also had their play on the same day. I have to say it’s always so wonderful to see and this year was exceptional. The little ones themselves are not one bit fazed by the lights and the audience, and seem to enjoy the reaction of the parents from their places on stage. This year they performed “The Littlest Christmas Tree” and I think many of the parents were amazed at how well all the children participated.
Finally just before we broke up for the Christmas break, the preparatory school went on a trip to their neighbour in Government Buildings. We are so lucky to have so many public amenities on our doorstep. But one local amenity that not everyone gets the invitation to enjoy is the corridors of power in the department of the Taoiseach. On a guided tour of the gallery of the Dail, the chambers of the Senate and the Cabinet, we made our way to meet Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach of Ireland.
Fresh from their success onstage earlier that week the children were brimming with
confidence and poise and enjoyed asking some pretty challenging questions of our national leader. He was charmed by their manners and intelligence and they could see that he was enjoying their joie de vivre! There were Christmas carols and “fist bumps” a plenty as they gathered around the tree for a photo op!
Its with great thanks to Elsa & Leon’s Dad for organising this wonderful experience.
What a busy end of term, all I can say is we all really deserved the break when it came. And in our first week back we have been planning, scheming, inspiring and challenging each other to discover all we can about the new terms topics and projects! I for one cannot wait to see what the coming weeks have to offer!
2015 will be another amazing year of growth and learning for Hedley Park and all its bright and energetic pupils!
Have a look at our Photogallery below to see all our fun and work!
And make sure to scroll beneath to hear us singing with Enda Kenny.