Spring Catchup: Open Day, Art Exhibition & Hatchlings.

Senior Class: Flat Stanley Display

Senior Class: Flat Stanley Display

Spring term has flown by and we are almost into the Summer term! What an exciting and action packed time we’ve had. New arrivals, Lifecycles, Open Day, Art Exhibition, Lego Trip, so much learning, fun and friendship.

Enjoying the fluffy new arrival

Enjoying the fluffy new arrival

 

Where to begin? We left you last with the news that we had received some eggs and a hatchery. We can tell you that we witnessed two chicks emerge from their shells and they were proudly named Niall and Zayn (there really was only “One Direction” we could go after that) it was fantastic to witness the chicks’ hatch and observe them get stronger day by day. They seemed to enjoy their custom made home in our classroom. Once they were big enough they went back to join their flock but we really delighted in having them in the class with us and we all learned so much from their time with us.

 

Daisy's egg hatched

Daisy’s egg hatched

 

Another new arrival was from our school mascot Daisy Duck who found a little companion Diddle, hatched from an egg filled with little chocolate treats! What a lovely surprise for us all.

Senior Class: The Art of the Brick trip

Senior Class: The Art of the Brick trip

The senior class had a wonderful trip to the Art of the Brick in the Ambassador. We love Lego, it is one of our favourite free play toys, it has so much to offer from design and imagination to cooperative play and cognitive skills Lego is one of the primary “go to” play resources. The exhibition featured many 3D models made from Lego and amazing artwork reproduced with the iconic plastic bricks. It gave us lots of inspiration to do something really amazing with our Lego bricks back at school.

Speaking of art we were getting pretty creative ourselves. Working hard all month on canvas, each child had created a work of art of their own. Subjects, colour scheme, and media all chosen by the individual child we worked on our beautiful creations with the aim of an exhibition for our parent and family community to enjoy.

Welcoming our guests to the Art Exhibition

Welcoming our guests to the Art Exhibition

On the 16th April we were ready to receive our guests, with the senior class putting their years of grace and courtesy lessons to good use and took it upon themselves to act as silver service hosts of the event.  Bedecked accordingly they circulated amongst the parents and friends offering canapés and drinks, ensuring a good time was had by all. The exhibition itself was a sell out and we raised €1300 for new equipment to further assist in our learning.

 

 

 

Flat Stanley goes viral!

Flat Stanley goes viral!

On the topic of interactions with the wider community, the senior class also embarked on one of our favourite projects, Flat Stanley! We have such a wonderful culturally diverse senior class it seemed to be the perfect way for everyone to share a little more of their background and family connections worldwide by sending Flat Stanley on his travels to report back to us all. This year we had the happy coincidence of benefitting from some of our schoolmates that have left us to continue their studies in other countries and still keep in touch with their Hedley Park friends.

Flat Stanley, never one to be left behind the times also took some virtual travels as suggested by one of out teachers Aoife, and went on an internet tour of our wonderful Facebook followers. He was shared 30 times and visited New Zealand, Jordan, various cities in the USA & Canada, had a mini tour of the UK & Ireland, before heading to Germany & the Netherlands.

 

Of course that wasn’t the only project on display at our Open Day, each year we think we’ve seen the most amazing projects and work from the children, who really relish creating wonderful and unique pieces to highlight their learning over the past month, but this Open Day the students surpassed all plans and came up with some really wonderful projects and pieces to show to the Hedley community.

Reception Class: Practical Life Shelves

Reception Class: Practical Life Shelves

 

Starting with the youngest in our Reception class, it is here that the work is at its most concrete, the children love to work with the practical life an sensorial pieces, their shelves filled with wonderful activities to inspire and motivate them to work on elementary movements vital to later learning and expression. The polishing and folding work area has been expanded, young children love to be more involved in their own care, cleaning, folding, tidying and keeping things in their environment in order helps children to find their place and value in the group, whether at home or in school.

Reception Class: Polishing & Folding work.

Reception Class: Polishing & Folding work.

The skills learned in practical life activities assist the child to refine their movements and logic enabling them to successfully complete tasks around the home and class, thereby increasing the child’s self esteem and concentration.  Role Play, another popular area in the classroom, is a fantastic tool for expression, the listening skills, the verbal reasoning, imagination and turn taking are all vital elements in building social skills and verbal capacity needed to make successful relationships.

Reception Class: South America Continent Display

Reception Class: South America Continent Display

Our youngest learners also took on a study of the continent of South America, using their natural interest in chocolate (who doesn’t like chocolate) as a key to their learning, they found out about the continent and its people. Using pictures as discussion starters and stories of the animals, foods and people in the continent the children get a sense of the region that they will build on year upon year as they continue to study each continent in more detail as their interests change and grow.

Identity and belonging are natural cornerstones of the Montessori approach, each child innately discovering their natural abilities and finding their space as equals in the group. A wonderful activity for the children was on display, “Guess Who?” the children brought in a photo of themselves as new babies which they could discuss and figure out which picture matched which child. It gives the children an opportunity to discuss their families and histories with each other, bringing mementoes of their family into the school setting makes the daily transitions from home to school natural.

 

Reception Class: Guess Who Display

Reception Class: Guess Who Display

The Junior class had their own transition project, “My week with Bunny” saw the children spend a week with the class mascot, recording the process with photos and writing on their display posters. The children could then present the bunny posters to their classmates, sharing the story of their week and what happens in their family time through the activities of bunny’s visit.

 

Junior Class: Bringing Bunny Home Display

Junior Class: Bringing Bunny Home Display

The students in the junior class are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to using the amazing

Junior Class: We Love Our Work

Junior Class: We Love Our Work

selection of Montessori materials they have at their disposal. They get immense pleasure from the concrete learning that comes from working with the materials. Practical life, sensorial, maths and language are all used daily, alongside the culture subjects of history and geography. The learning that comes from the materials can often be hard to explain to those who are not in the class to witness the concentration and skills building daily as there is no “product” at the end of the session, so our teachers Aoife & Sinead decided to record the junior class love of Montessori materials in a photo collage.

 

Junior Class: Butterfly Habitat

Junior Class: Butterfly Habitat

Our most exciting project has been our Butterfly lifecycle, it has been fascinating to watch the evolution from larvae to caterpillars, cocoons to butterfly. We have been so drawn to the mini beast area, so it has been an amazing experience to see the changes daily, as the caterpillars grow bigger, climbing to the top of the jar to begin their metamorphosis from cocoon to butterfly. A project, which combines science and history, observation and prediction, recording and wonder. We really have been so inspired.

 

Senior Class: Ecosystem Display

Senior Class: Ecosystem Display

Not to be outdone the Seniors had a remarkable line up of learning achievements and outcomes on display. We discussed our Flat Stanley project earlier, but another major project combining some of what Montessori referred to as the Great Lessons. The importance of the Sun, and from it a study of the water cycle and the growth of plants and the delicate balances at work in our own ecosystem. This was an action research project, the learners in the senior class were inspired to reproduce a model of our ecosystem they discovered on their research. Using recycled lemonade bottles they built a perfect working example of how a natural ecosystem can be self-maintaining. Anyone visiting on the day was treated to a wonderful guided tour of the ecosystem and its operation. Thankfully we captured a later presentation of the same information to the children in the junior class. Enjoy!

 With so much done we will leave you now, but as the summer term beckons we know we will have much to report, tennis, sports days and school trips are all on the cards this term. Where will we get the energy!

 

Here is our slideshow of images.

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Jumping right into the new academic year!

Welcome back to the blog for the new academic year

Our senior prep school class have certainly jumped into learning with both feet!

We have so much news to share with you, September has been a busy, happy and productive month for everyone in Hedley park.

Firstly welcome to all our new friends and their families, we are delighted to have you in our Hedley Family. I’m sure you feel right at home by now and that’s when the fun really begins! And to our old friends we are glad you all had a great summer and cant wait to show off all you’ve done this month.

Learning about the Seasons through art and colour.

We will start with the preschool group, its been great to welcome so many little brothers and sisters of our pupils in the prep school group. While Hedley does have a strong family feeling in general, nothing beats actually having your brothers and sisters close at hand to share in the fun.

On the “new” theme, the preschool room got a summer makeover and sports a fantastic new home corner area and loads more notice board space to display all the work our littlest ones are doing.  If you haven’t done so already, give us a call and come take a look!

Through September the Preschool group have been learning about many themes, Autumn, South America, and Weather being the main ones. Aside from the traditional academic, sounds and numbers for  preschool, the Monetsssori environment places an emphasis on assisting young children to understand world cultures, geography, natural sciences and the society they live in. This is achieved through art, music, story and movement. But particular to Montessori is the exploration of these themes through the senses.

Exploring the properties of 3D geometric shapes. Do they roll? Do they have sides or edges?

Using touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing young children absorb the physical impressions of  world around them and use these later as the foundations and cornerstones of all the abstract information older children and adults process. In the Montessori school there are materials created to provide this input to the child and assist the child in really creating the strong logical framework it needs to be an independent and active learner.

Group Painting the South American Continent: a social and physical learning experience.

South America was the focus of our geographic trip around the globe for September. As you may know Montessori colour codes the seven continents, this helps young learners to classify and connect the learning and images related to each continent. Allowing for quicker recall and better connection of plants, animals, people and traditions of each continent. Pink is the colour of the South American continent and with the help of our teachers, the preschool group painted a huge mountainous continent for our notice board.

Take a trip to Sunny South America!

Renoirs "Les Parapluies"

Another amazingly fun project got the preschoolers talking and exploring the weather through art. Using Renoirs “Les Parapluies” as an inspiration, we talked about rain!

Hedley Park's "Les Parapluies"

 

 

 

What rain felt like? What rain sounded like? What a rainy day looked like? What clothes we would wear? What things we would need?

All great topics to expand vocabulary and enhance listening and speaking skills in the group. Then we made our own version. We are sure you will agree the feeling and ambiance of a rainy day is captured perfectly!

Prep Schoolers learn about the Wonders of Ancient Egypt.

In the preparatory school group Aoife & Katie’s class have been busy beavering around too! Enjoying the mixed age range in this class, with the older ones helping the younger ones. It really is true what they say, you remember 90% of what you teach someone else to do, experiential learning has been a big feature of the work of the junior prep school class. Montessori classes have a mixed age range from each plane of development, knowing that younger children watch older ones looking for example, this n turn inspires the older children to be more responsible, assisting the younger children enhances self esteem and providing the social cohesion of a caring learning environment.

Swish! Great African themed handwriting sample!

The group learning themes this month have been The African Continent, (coded green) Ancient Egypt, Autumn and our phonogram “Sh” and the sound “C”.

Autumnal Leaves! Displaying great pencil skills.

Everyone is enjoying the discussions, art, song and story during group work and circle time, but personally I am really impressed with the personal handwriting and colouring work from these young students.

Africa Wall Display, lots of fine motor skills needed: colouring, cutting, glueing!

Practical life, a wonderful staple of the Montessori environment has been given a seasonal update. Practical live allows the younger child to gain independence and fine motor skills, and in the older child it enhances concentration and raises self esteem through accomplishment of interesting and detailed tasks.

One of our Practical Life shelves in the preparatory school

Halloween spooning. Enhancing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

Witchy Eyedropping Work. Eydroppers strengthen fingers and utilise the pincer grip essential for handwriting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Halloween and Autumn themed work has been really well received and was proudly displayed to me by the students when I went to ask them about their work. I really liked using the magnifying glass to “spot” bugs in the sand! 🙂

Footy Fun for everyone!

Last but by no means least, our senior prep school group in Ashley’s class have indeed jumped right in! You can see from their fabulous “Footy Fun” display board (also at the top of the page). This was a fantastic team building experience for the new “big kids” to be welcomed by their more seasoned senior class colleagues. Everyone got to experience a mini spa, as shoes and socks were discarded and painted feet left their mark. Highlighting that even down to our toes everyone is unique, our differing feet impressions were lots of fun to create. A nice aside to this was a small lesson in “care of self” as foot washing and drying finished the group work nicely. Well done to all you really did put your best foot forward!

Aside from their extensive individual learning the senior class have been working on three projects. Family Trees, Properties and Characteristics of various materials, and finally Story telling and Writing.

Our Family Trees! Colourful and Significant.

The family tree project saw, history taking on a very personal journey. Each child took time to talk to family members and classify each segment of their family tree. This is a great project for the older class, who are developmentally very aware of their position and place in the greater family and relative structure. It promotes a feeling of belonging that is central to self image.

Labeling our science project.

In science the junior experimenters have been exploring the properties of materials. What better way to find out about a material than to add something to it. Letting the students predict what may happen,  then observe and  record their findings. It is this concrete emphasis on the steps involved  in the scientific approach that will assist these young minds to really take in what is necessary to explore the world in a scientific manner. They tried their hand at oil marbling with great success. They also created a wave bottle, which was great fun until it fell and broke on the carpet. But all proving to be valuable physical property based learning experiences.

Oil + Paint + Water + Paper = Art!

A Story by Scarlett (Age 7)

 

The final group project involved literature and an interesting community based twist. The students used their imaginations, and IT skills to compose and print fairy tales of their own creation. Once the stories were complete the senior class authors had a “story time” for their younger school mates. This proved very popular and was enjoyed by all.

 

 

Knowing the senior class it’s just the first of many creative sharing experiences they will lead for the whole school to enjoy!

The Magic Box written and illustrated by Phoebe.

Thanks for stopping by, as you can see we’ve been really busy. We look forward to showing you our work from October very soon.

Don’t forget to keep your eyes on the Facebook page for detail of this years “Super Spooky Witches Walk”.

Big School News: Senior Class Science, Experiments & Projects!

"Hands On Learning" at the Young Scientist Expo.

In the last post we talked about the essential aspect  of  “hands on” learning style to the Montessori method, this runs the whole way through the primary system from 2-12. In our primary senior class the ladies have taken “hands on” to a whole new level.

How a tornado works.In January the class took a trip to the RDS to see the stands and projects at the Young Scientist Expo.  This proved to be a great success and in the words of the three oldest class members “it was really cool”. The school stands themselves, the fighting robots and the floor piano being particular hits. With all this inspiration under their bowler hats they returned to school to research and present their own science experiments to the class.

Science Experiment Presentation

Each girl researched a different experiment using the science resources in our library and on the internet then they practised at home. The next day they set up their chosen experiments to present to the rest of the class.

Our Experiments recorded on paper.

The presentations included combining bread soda & vinegar to inflate a balloon, creating a sunset from milk, water & a torch, showing how hot water travels from a hot place to a cold place, and proving that Co2 is denser than O2. This was the first step in the overall introduction to project work and presentation that the children of the senior class carry out throughout the spring term.

Fizzy Lizzy in full flow!

Of course individual projects are great fun, but nothing beats a class project, especially one that makes a big mess and has your teacher right in the middle of it. In a new take on the “Cocoa Cola Rocket” the class called this project “Fizzy Lizzy blows her top!” They took mint sweets and combined with 7up in a litre bottle. The aspartame in 7up combined with the gelatine from the sweets lowers the surface tension in the liquid and encourages bubbles of CO2 to grow exponentially, shooting out of the neck of the bottle to produce a fountain!

Goop in the beginning...

The class also tried their hand at making “goop”; combining cornflour, water and food colouring they made their goop, and then began to explore its properties. On a microscopic level, the corn flour goop consists of small starch particles packed close together. Separating the particles is a thin layer of water that acts like grease – allowing the particles to slide across each other and move around, as long as they move slowly. So, when you slowly push your fingers into the goop, the starch slides out of the way, allowing you to slide in easily. However, if you try to push your hand in quickly, the starch tries to move faster than the water can accommodate and grains come into contact. Now, the much stronger force of static friction acts between the grains – as long as they are being pushed together, there is force preventing them from sliding across each other – and the harder they are pushed together, the stronger the friction force is!

Goop on the move!

This is something like Roman arches that hold together without mortar. Gravity pushing down on the archway causes friction between the heavy stone blocks that stops them from sliding across each other and collapsing. In the case of our corn flour goop, the structure is random and “self-assembled”, occurring when there is a very high concentration of starch granules leaving only a small volume for the lubricating water to fill.

King of the Savannah!

All of the researching and presenting skills the students gained in the science experiments are composited in the presentation of the self-selected Nature Projects.

As our Directress Ashley informed me “Individual project work encourages the student to investigate varied subjects with great depth, promoting general reading, research and creativity in the child. The responsibility associated with completing their projects gives the students confidence in their own work and abilities.” Researching their projects from the wide variety of sources available from books on the topic, encyclopaedia and the internet the children learn to rate and compile sources and the information they contain.

Hippo Project.

Project work is the foundation for self-teaching in the senior cycle, learning the skills of time management, choosing relevant research sources, logical information compilation, and concise presentation of the facts will all be invaluable to the student in their further studies and in the eventual work environment.

Giraffe Project

It is no coincidence that the Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were Montessori educated, founding a business based on well researched individual work that merges to a larger project undertaken with cooperation and responsibility.

Stripey Sensations, the Zebra.

Another class trip was the stimulus of the natural world projects, this time to a resource right on our doorstep, the Natural History Museum. The girls selected an animal that inspired or interested them and the research began. I found it refreshing to note that while the internet was available to all students they did not rely solely on it, displaying a vigorous use of books as a resource also.

Flying Foxes.

Topics included Pandas, Flying Foxes, Leopards, Hippos, Giraffes, Zebras, Kangaroos, Lions and Tigers. I think you’ll agree that there was something for everyone to learn in the presentations of the projects and as Ashley reported to me “the class presentations are a chance to display the new-found and immense knowledge gained with the other eager knowledge seekers”

If you are interested in learning more, I know that the ladies of the senior class would be delighted to show you around their room where their projects are on display.

Big School News: So, Sewing & Sowing

With the countdown to the holiday season kicking off we wanted to share some of our fall term work with you.

Our big school senior class children have been busy bees and are proud as anything to show you their handicraft and nature work.

In celebration of National Birch Day some of the senior class participated in a photo shoot to highlight the event. They loved seeing the photographer in action, learning about composition and lighting and of course, admiring the end result; beautiful photos! One of the shots was even used in the free daily MetroHerald. Dont worry if you missed your copy, you can download it here: Birchday (08-10-10).

Birchday Photo's

 

Many of the shots are proudly displayed in their class to commemorate the fun morning and all they discovered.

 

 

Resulting from this outing the students decided to plant their own birch seeds, and with regular watering they are growing nicely.

Watering the seeds

Sprouting Birch

We’ve even seen the first sprouting from Marcella’s birch seed. With a little more love they will be ready to go home in the spring and grow tall in our families gardens.

Sunny morning in the park.

 

On another nature walk the students created some birch bark rubbings, investigating the patterns and contrasts in shading.

Rough & Smooth Boards?

This inspired them to make a very impressive full-scale birch bark trunk. Using crayons and silver paint.

 

We are sure you will agree it is very handsome.

Silver Birch

 

 

 

 

The core aspect of a Montessori community being that the activities of the community are child led. A Montessori teacher observes the talents and interests of the students, then provides inspiration, materials and projects for the children to explore and learn. In Hedley Park we are in a unique position have been with the majority of our students from the age of two. This gives us a deep understanding of each child in our care.  As a community led by the children’s interests the composition of the class members can really change the direction of the work. It became clear from the all female composition of this years class that some more traditionally gender specific projects would be well received and so the girls began a needlecraft project.

Sewing Satchels

Needle Craft Dolls

Sewing drawstring satchels, with a variety of stitching patterns and buttons to personalise their own work. The students also created needlework jars and have begun working on dolls.

Needle Craft Jars

Needlework is proving to be very popular, combining the talents of the colour and fashion sensitive students with the more technical design and mathematical minded.

Of course high on the agenda right now are the rehearsals for our 20th Anniversary Christmas Show, this year we are doing Peter Pan. So check back soon for more information on this, and perhaps we’ll treat you to some rehearsal photos! 🙂

Thanks for reading.

The staff and students of the Big School!

Big School News: 1st-6th Class Update

Here it is, the final September catchup from the Big School. Where last but by no means least, is the news from our mixed age community First to Sixth Class.

As our most wide-ranging age mixed class, first to sixth is a lovely student community to observe and engage with. The Montessori method allows students to develop and engage at their own level and pace, with younger members being encouraged, inspired and aided by elder classmates. This is very evident in our eldest class grouping and the work they engage in is confirmation of the success of this collaboration.

The overarching topic of study for the senior class this month has been Water.  Again as with all classes in the “big school” the topic study is used to inform and frame the national curriculum studies while the students learning is reinforced by the hands on experience with the Montessori materials available in class.


Water Anagram Art

The students began by creating water anagrams as an exercise in english grammar and then went on to create a fantastic water cycle mural on the wall. Researching labels and definitions for the water cycle on various internet children’s science sites.  These exercises allow the students to engage with english grammar on a multisensory level, ensuring they absorb the knowledge in a fun and creative manner. The use of internet for research is a vital skill for students and internet enabled computers, supervised by staff, are available in all classrooms.


Handwriting & Research Wall

Using arts and crafts, alongside computers, books and other resources opens the students minds to the variety of research methods and forms of expression that exist and can be utilised to communicate messages to the world. As a class group using multimedia, art, and I.T to convey their learning allows all students to showcase their talents and develop new methods through teamwork with their classmates.


Water Cycle Collage


Our Rain Gauge

Another benefit of the Montessori primary class structure is that it allows the learning and practical work to be student lead. On Tuesday 21st this was particularly inspirational when the students decided to measure the heavy rainfall that had been occurring. They created a temporary rainfall gauge and placed it in our patio area. From 9.30am – 10.30am they took record of 80ml of rainfall. The success of this experiment led them to create a more permanent instrument (pictured) and they are measuring rainfall over a period of a week to be recorded in their weather chart.  I’m sure we’ll have the results of that in their next update.

To close out this post we thought we’d leave you with the students beautiful water themed paintings. Colourful and cheerful enough to shake off the long evening blues! 🙂

Water Themed Paintings

So with wise words from our school elders, Don’t Waste Water! we leave you for now, but expect more updates from them soon.

From all the staff and pupils of “the big school”