Autumn Term: Snack Cafe, Spooks, Witches & Fire Safety!

Junior Class - Happy Haunted Halloween

Junior Class – Happy Haunted Halloween

What an autumn term we have had, so much work, fun, challenges, learning and friendship.

Back refreshed from the summer holiday all the children were quick to get back to the school routine, but not everything was the same. Much work had been done over our two-week summer break in the school to refresh and renew the school itself. New hardwood floors for our classrooms, new sash windows for our Georgian façade, new bathrooms with gorgeous shiny tiles we love to touch and a wondrous new Snack Café that makes afternoon snack a delightful community affair.

Autumn Term - Snack Cafe

Autumn Term – Snack Cafe

A key element of the Montessori educational philosophy centres on the children forming a community of learners, and of course with children learning does not stop once the “class time” ends. Modelling and acquiring grace and courtesy, sensitivity to others needs, etiquette, patience, tolerance and above all kindness. All of these qualities are in much display in our new Snack Café

We use our snack café in the afternoon. Each table of children in the café take it in turn to come to the snack stand, patiently queuing to select the elements of their healthy snack before returning to eat with their friends old and young. The young diners are given the freedom to choose what they wish to eat and drink. Displaying the independence to pick their utensils and carry them gracefully back to the table. The children model great awareness of each other as the older children assist their younger community members to choose and carry their food. It is a great opportunity to perfect good manners and tolerance in this lovely community mealtime setting in a fun and relaxing atmosphere. All in all it is a pleasure to be part of I’m sure you can see.

So what have we been getting up to in our classrooms? Well let us fill you in.

Our nursery is busier than ever, lots of lovely new learners coming to join our more seasoned nursery students. The ever patient and kind Lisa and the fun and creative Magna keep everyone engaged and happy.

Nursery Class - Sensorial Structures

Nursery Class – Sensorial Structures

With a lovely mix of newcomers and second year students the settling in period is gentle and comfortable.

New students watching the engaged and active learning of the seasoned nursery are happy to get stuck into the inviting work displayed on the bright and welcoming shelves. Of course knowing they are the “big children” in the group keeps the returning students focused, as they love to be able to demonstrate the work to the new children and show them how to move in the room and find (and replace) what they need.

Our full stock of Montessori materials are getting lots of use, in this classroom the focus is on perfecting gross motor movements, honing our sensorial learning and expanding our language skills, alongside the constant development of socialisation and grace and courtesy skills. The older children in the room are experiencing the start of what Montessori would call the “explosion into writing” as they show great interest and aptitude in mark making, tracing their sounds and making efforts to copy their names and words in the environment.

The nursery class room is a living gallery of the children’s work, for many of the children in this room the nursery is their first experience of a group environment, and so displaying their art, and photos of themselves, like those on the birthday Board and in the hallway gives them a sense of belonging and community that is vital for their self-esteem and integration as an individual of importance to the class group.

Here is a gallery of images from the Nursery students autumn term.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Moving up to the Junior Class students in the preparatory school, who have become a lean learning machine! Again a group who are greatly benefiting from key concepts of the Montessori environment which beautifully compliment the natural capacity of children to soak up information and assimilate it to grasp amazing concepts in an effortless way.

Junior Class - Writing samples

Junior Class – Writing samples

Montessori observed that children at this stage have essential need of movement in the environment. The freedom to move, at will, allows the students the space and time to integrate the concepts and ideas they are observing and experiencing from their work with the materials in a gentle and holistic manner. The junior classroom is filled with unique and interesting learning opportunities for the children to work with alone, once they have received a demonstration from Aoife or Sinead, or with a peer to share the experience.

Peer learning is very important at this age, the children in the junior class are developmentally

Junior Class - Birthday Board

Junior Class – Birthday Board

geared to make a community of friends, the hustle and bustle of a Montessori class is perfect for this as the children are free to work with anyone they choose so they can move from working with one peer to a different piece of work with another peer or work alone if that suits them better in that moment. This easy engagement and disengagement with their classmates gives the children ample opportunity to perfect their social skills, boosting their confidence and self-esteem in social situations.

With a multi age range classroom group activities are always fun, two occasions for group work in this classroom are circle time and art work. Circle time is a fantastic supportive environment for the children to begin to discover their own opinions on topics and to voice them in an appropriate manner; it is also a perfect situation in which to practice the art of listening to others. Another fantastic area for expression is art; the children in the junior class really enjoy the large and individual art projects where self-expression, language, fine motor and social skills are all enmeshed in an entertaining and thought-provoking way.

Here is a gallery of images from the junior class students autumn term.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As usual the senior class are taking learning to new perspectives. A very hands on an eager bunch in the class make for an active and stimulating environment, of course Ashley & Evan are more than happy to keep the ideas coming and really understand how to ask just the right question to have the student dig deep within themselves and push their learning in a remarkable way.

It would be impossible to tell you about all the topics and themes our study has brought us in contact with, in this age group independent study is the order of the day. The students take individual topics or perspectives on topics and using all the resources and materials in the well-appointed environment can engage in project work learning to follow their interest. In the senior class the learners, accustomed to self paced study can pursue a topic and in that pursuit are refining all the core curriculum aspects, history, geography, maths, science and language are all integral to the self-study projects, but when approached from the viewpoint of the child’s own interest nothing feels enforced, it is a very natural learning that enhances the learners own vision of themselves as capable and motivated students.

Senior Class - Our Personal Timelines

Senior Class – Our Personal Timelines

The beauty of the Montessori classroom is when you see the blended learning happening, there is no “stand alone” subject, the children profit from all the subjects in a holistic manner, languages are practiced in the investigating of a maths problem, art can contain elements of science or history, Mandarin class can encourage exploration of art history, as witnessed in the children’s art explorations on the theme of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”, they used the wolfhair brushes from our Chinese calligraphy classes and their knowledge of the mandarin characters to illustrate their adaptations with the characters for Happy Halloween. It is this kind of integrated thinking and problem solving that will stand to them in their futures as effective individuals in society.

Senior Class – Fire Safety

Senior Class – Fire Safety

I have to say one of my favourite projects to witness has been the personal timelines from each student. History and the exact passage of time can be a difficult concept for this age group, and as such a wonderful way to make it concrete and to make it personal is for the children to make a time line of their own life. The students with their family selected photos that marked the each passing year of their lives, it is a lovely opportunity to pass on stories which the children love to relay to their classmates as they compete the project in the classroom. Seeing and retelling the narrative of their lives gives the student a fantastic sense of the bond that exists in Hedley between the school and home settings, something which helps strengthen the importance of study to the young student, a vital reaffirmation to carry with them as they progress through education.

Another wonderful learning occasion arose when we had a visit from the fire safety officer; the senior class students showing great interest in his work were treated to a talk on fire safety and a hands-on demonstration of the use of fire extinguishers. Other than the very practical use of the demonstration, giving the students the confidence to handle a fire extinguisher in the event one is needed, it sparked conversation on force, propulsion, temperature, chemical properties and combustion. All topics no doubt will be explored in full over the coming weeks, its clear a big impression was made on these young scientists.

Here is a gallery of images from the senior class students autumn term.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our final piece of news is regarding the Witches Walk, which occurred just before the midterm break. We have many traditions in Hedley Park, it is a wonderful way to mark the passing of the year for children, and gives our families the opportunity to spend time together strengthen the bonds that being in the school create.

Witches Walk 2014 - enjoying our friends

Witches Walk 2014 – enjoying our friends

Our Witches Walk takes place on the morning of our midterm break; we assemble at the gates of the school and walk to the wonderful amenity on our doorstep that is Merrion Square. Where we meet the kind but confused Witch who lost her list to create the spell that can take her home.

Witches Walk 2014  - the Witch reads her list

Witches Walk 2014 – the Witch reads her list

Our search of the park for the ingredients in her list take us to the four corners and we all have time to get involved and even sing a song or say a poem to help us on the quest. Finally we gather at the steps and help the Witch to decant the ingredients and perform her spell. She can now find her way home and in return we get lovely treats to share before we go home to enjoy a few days with our families.

Through the year we have more events, some as dramatic and exciting as the witches walk and some a little more sedate, but all serve to bind the community that is Hedley and leave memories of the fun and learning that takes place here indelibly etched into our hearts.

Keep an eye on the front page of our website for notice of upcoming events, or even download our calendar to your smart phone to receive updates and reminders.

Here is a gallery of images from the 2014 Witches Walk.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hedley Halloween 2012

Reception Class Haunted City Scene

Refreshed after our midterm break we are back to school to get stuck into our practicing for the Christmas play, working on our winter projects and of course counting the days until the holiday season.

Before the midterm we had a frightful amount of work done and lots of good-goulish fashion fun at our Halloween events.

Fruits of our day at Pine Forest

Our reception and senior class enjoyed a trip to Pine Forest art centre for a morning of outdoor fun and art and craft. Some of the results of their creativity were displayed on the foyer walls. Everyone had a great day and enjoyed the bus journey and exploring the grounds of the art centre.

The nursery class worked on their sound C for cat, as we use phonetic sounds to assist the child later with word building and reading please feel free to ask our teachers Magna & Lisa for the phonetic sound of each letter so you can follow along at home. They made midnight black cats to reinforce the starting sound in a visual way.

C for Cat

Art took on another “body” of meaning with some fancy foot and handprint pieces to add to their ever-increasing art portfolio. Hand print trees and foot print ghosts adorned the walls as footprint witches flew on their brooms lending a spooktacular air to the nursery walls. I have to say my favourite are the freestyle Frankensteins made from geometric shapes and displaying some great scissors skills from the children in the class.

Nursery Halloween Display

The poem of the month “Flutter Flutter Little Bat” I’m sure was recited many times over at home as they really enjoyed learning it and absorbed it so quickly.

Hibernating Hedgehog

Finally the nursery children were continuing their seasonal nature studies with some adorable leaf filled hedgehogs, made from the leaves collected on our many walks around the beautiful Merrion Square as we soaked up the changes Autumn brings to our wonderfully appointed natural playground!

Reception class took to the Halloween decorations with their unending enthusiasm, led by Aoife and Katie the students created a Skeleton display, cutting shapes to form their interpretation of a skeleton, then with some creative writing they wrote “My bones like to…. “

My bones like to …..

Personalising each of their bony portraits! Montessori believed that subjects should not be taught in isolation, but that the child in choosing a project or work would naturally come into contact with art, literacy, maths, science, geography, history & culture. None of these subjects are experienced in isolation in the everyday world therefore it is natural for the child to absorb all subjects and utilise their learning to scaffold further discoveries. In our classroom environment we ensure that projects and lessons are undertaken with this in mind, and it can be witnessed in the boards and work displays around the class.

Spooky stencils and handwriting.

Our language arts were on display with some scarily good writing samples and some logic skills and fine motor work with our web mazes.

The group art project over the fireplace lent an atmospheric chill as it depicted a night-time cityscape haunted by friendly spooks. Of course the piece de resistance was the tableau of a witch caught in the chimney! Bravo Reception Class.

Reception chimney display

Not to be outdone the senior class followed the thread of their earlier sewing and stitching projects by weaving webs using hula hoops! These wonderfully large and evocative webs hung over the classroom and were themselves adorned with large spiders waiting for their supper!

Spiders Spinning Webs in the Senior Class

Witches Prep

The class were very busy secretly making the ingredients for our annual Witches Walk. Creating a list for our silly old sorceress who would have to lead the school on a hunt for the ingredients to ensure her safe passage back to her home for the year, the class worked steadily using their science skills and considerable imagination to make many potions and brews to get the job done.

Some of the students ready for the witches walk.

On the day of the Witches Walk all our teachers were in frighteningly good form dressed to the nines in costumes ready for all the fun. Face painting and stories, games and a party all before 11.30am when we went in search of the witch and her ingredients.

Faces Painted and ready for the party

We found her and got to work, searching high and low throughout the square stopping only to recite our poetry and sing our songs for the gathered parents and friends. Finally when all was found we helped the Witch cast her spell and lo and behold before our very eyes she vanished off for another year.

I thought this was a Witches Walk! Why are you sitting?

(Huge thank you to our photographer on the day Sharon, all photos of the witches walk were taken by her and we are very grateful)

Checking the list for the witch!

Halloween 2012 was our best yet and we cant wait to show you how we celebrate the winter holidays, Diwali, Hanukkah and Christmas!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Trick or Treat! Our Witches Walk was good enough to eat!

Gloriously Ghostly Tree!

Who can believe the term is passing so quickly.  Rested and ready for action we have been hard at work in the week since midterm break, but before we tell you all that’s planned we want to tell you all about our work before the break.

We were fiendishly hard-working on our group project themes pre Halloween. Of course the obvious theme was everywhere, but each class also created some brilliant cross-curricular projects.

The Haunted Tree says Recycle Please!

The senior class created a Haunted Recycling Tree, learning about recycling is very important to us in Hedley Park. Our pupils take great pride in caring for their environment. The Montessori method gently introduces the basics of caring for your environment at a very young age, from 2yrs old the children learn to clean up after themselves, put things away, care for plants and animals, building to looking after each other and their community. All this leads to the child becoming more aware of and confident in their ability to effect change and protect the natural world around them. Of course by the time they reach our senior class the children’s vision of the environment has grown from the home and classroom to the vast world around them. Recycling, Reducing and Reusing are all responsibilities the children take as given to ensure the planet is kept clean and habitable for all.  The class tried their hand at recycling paper of their own.

Recycled Paper.

The main project focused on the importance of trees to the ecosystem. Talking about the O2/CO2 cycle and all the benefits of trees to our ecology, the pupils decided to make a mural of a tree to illustrate their learning. The project incorporated science, art, botany, design, and great team effort. I love the way the fun and learning went hand in hand, and the tree became a haunted recycling tree.

Swap-imals Gallery

In an effort to inspire creative thinking Ashley set the class a challenge to create Swap-imals. Take your two favourite animals and combine them to create a new creature with the features of both. I really enjoyed the Hendor and the Lionphant!

Moving to Aoife’s Junior and Senior infants Class, along side the seasonal discussions of autumn and Halloween, the class took a geographical and cultural trip to the continent of Australasia. The land down under was examined at circle time, with photos, stories, poetry and song all forming part of the learning. The children of Senior and Junior infants are very used to working with the wonderful Montessori geography materials such as the sandpaper and coloured globes and the jigsaw map of the world, at this age they are still very focused on absorbing as much new information as possible so culture packs and geography folders that spark conversation and further study are in constant use.

Great Big Barrier Reef.

Cute Koalas

Animals are still a popular study point for the pupils and with that in mind they worked on creating a super Great Barrier Reef that was fixed across the classroom. Jellyfish, piranhas and tiny reef plankton all featured.

Outback kangaroos hopping through the desert sunset, furry koala’s and some aboriginal inspired snake art paid testimony to the areas of study the children undertook on their southern hemisphere odyssey.

Aboriginal Print Snakes

The season would not be complete without some wonderful handwriting samples. This time on the Halloween theme! Great industry went into these samples, with witching words a plenty and ghoulish graphics to illustrate.

Spooky writing Samples!

Halloween inspired Practical Life work

Katie didn’t hold back on spooking up the practical life area, and the children were very proud to show me their new work. Halloween spooning and transferring spiders using chopsticks, pouring witches brew, but by and far the most popular seemed to be the Vampire blood pouring. Not for the faint hearted I am assured!

Last but not least we go to the smallest in the Hedley Park family. They were as to be expected exploring and absorbing from a vast array of materials and themes in October. The beauty of the Montessori approach at all ages is the child directed learning, each child choses for himself what to work with, for how long and with whom. The adults in the environment serve as guides, to give the perfect material to the child at the optimum time, informed by thorough observations of the child’s interests and aptitudes. This creates a unique learning setting for the child and is so acutely observed to those who visit our classrooms, especially the nursery room. Gently guided towards the skills necessary for numeracy, literacy and logical thinking, the work focuses on increasing concentration, fine motor skills, sensory refinement and of course language rich interactions.

Our First Insets!

A beautiful activity for refinement of the muscles of the hand, are the insets for design. Comprising all the forms and lines needed to write every letter and number they aid the child in establishing good pencil control and hand strength all while giving the child the “muscular memory” of creating the lines necessary to replicate letters at a later stage.

Up close with the Insets.

The Insets for Design

Seasonal crafts, poetry and our special sound were all in action too, the nursery made a colourful witch, bat and Halloween mask display to accompany their poem “The Pumpkin Man” all of which came together nicely with the sound which had to be “h” for Halloween.

Finally, a quick recap of our special Witches Walk and Halloween mid term fun morning.  Costumes were donned, faces painted and everyone looked spooktacular by mid morning even the teachers got in on the act with Ashley dressing as a super strict headmistress, Katie as the Great Witch Katie, Aoife looked strikingly spooky in her witches cape and Magda and Eavan were the good witches of the nursery.

Witch Aoife casts a silence spell

Witch Katie held court, casting spells and daring only the brave to fish around in the “mummies brain” for a trick or treat surprise. At snack Witch Aoife turned milk into vampires blood, and treated us all with the help of her class to a fearsome reading of The Witches poem and we got to eat a piece of the Graveyard Cake.

Just when we were getting ready to go to the park, two wicked witches ran off into the park with our popcorn and apples and so a Witch-hunt was called for. With the help of Witch Katie and our two Good Witches Eavan and Magda the children followed the clues and found those sneaky witches before they ate all the yummy healthy treats!

Witch Katie then cast a spell and vanished for another year!

On the News Board we have some announcements:

We were all delighted to welcome Lisa back from maternity leave last week. Lisa was much missed but her bundle of joy Emily was worth us doing without Lisa for a few months. We look forward to Emily’s Hedley Park debut in a few years. Welcome back Lisa, and Luca too.

We’ve had the return of some old friends in our class, and some new faces too. So we welcome our new members to the Hedley family and look forward to learning and growing with you all.

The Cat, The Witch and The Pumpkin!

Upcoming events: Our Family Breakfast morning is coming up soon, keep eyes pealed to the pigeon holes for notes, and the Facebook page for more info. We look forward to your company and support on that morning it’s always a lovely way to get to know the other families and spend time with the children in ‘their domain” 🙂

With that we’ll get back to work.

Lots of love from all of us in Hedley.

Food Glorious Food – Lunch boxes, Oliver & other Notes

The term is whizzing by and we at Hedley are gearing up for the Halloween Spooktacular that is our annual Witches Walk, this year we are meeting at the “big steps” just inside the side gate of Merrion Square at 11.30am on Friday October 28th.  It’s a lovely high note on which to begin our half day to the first midterm of the academic year.

Last year we encountered a lost Witch in the park and with the aid of our brave and clever pupils we found all the ingredients for her spell! She thanked us for our kindness by casting a “sweet spell” which we all enjoyed! 🙂

Bats, Newts and a box of Frogs, thats some lunch list Ms Witch!

I am looking forward to all the cute and cool costumes the children come to school in. On the morning of the Witches Walk we will have face painting and some fun party games to get everyone in  spirit! 🙂

Parents are reminded that our midterm break begins after the Witches Walk; so all children are to bring a small snack and no lunch on the day.  The air can be nippy this time of year so costume wearers should remember warm undergarments, tights or a wizardly cloak to keep away the chill on our hunt!

On the topic of keeping in good health, a note about our “Healthy Hearty Lunch Policy”. As you are aware we encourage fruit and veg, fresh milk or plain water and balanced protein and carbohydrate lunches and snacks only.  We offer food heating for those who prefer their child to enjoy a hot lunch, but sometimes a cold choice of colorful food groups are more appetizing to a young child.

We all want to give our children a balanced and enticing lunch but sometimes inspiration can be hard, when you are tired, under time pressure and perhaps stuck in a rut. I found this great website with lunch box ideas that are sure to get even the pickiest eaters bitten by the “bento box” bug.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’ve included a couple of my favorites, but go check out Wendolina’s blog for yourself!

Here is  her_Lunch_Box_Idea_List Save it and print it out, then pin it to the fridge. This takes the pain out of packed lunches  just make sure you have 2 from the carbs, 1  from the protein, 2 fruit, 2 veg and a little bit of dairy, to keep those bones strong. Scrumptious snack time awaits!

Our last food related note is another of the annual Hedley Park events, The Big Breakfast Together. It takes place on the morning of Thursday, 18th November. There will be lots of healthy breakfast fare, and some special treats to share so make sure you pencil it in. It’s a lovely morning and all the family are welcome to come spend some time together in Hedley with us all.

I’m sure by now all you parents are aware of our drama selection for The Christmas Show. Last year it was a “Pirates Life for Me” with Peter Pan but this year, “You can Consider Yourself One of Us!” as we are all living the life of Oliver! in the West End adaptation of Charles Dickens’s novel Oliver Twist.

Please Sir, Can I have some more?

It will be a “Fine Life”  watching Fagins gang, “Picking a Pocket or Two” and I for one will “Do Anything” to be there, in the Pavillion Theatre on the day itself. The Dress Rehearsal is planned for Wednesday 7th December (All children from Junior Infants upwards must attend the theatre) there will be school as normal for the preschool children. The Grand Performance will be Thursday 15th December, all staff and pupils will be required to meet at the theatre that day as the school building will be closed. I know this won’t be the last you’ll hear of our grand performance, but it’s time now to mark those days on the planner to make sure you miss nothing of the action!

Hedley's Beanies mean Warm Ears!

Finally don’t forget, as the weather turns crisper we should wrap up warm for our daily park outings. Last years popular beanie hats are back again, and keep those ears toasty warm. Our school scarf, and the warm wool winter overcoat  along with an extra pair of thick socks in our Wellington boots keep jack frost at bay as we hunt for acorns and horse chestnuts!

Warmest Wishes from the Staff and Students at Hedley Park.

PS. On Monday of this week we passed 9,000 views of the blog, so I want to say a quick thank you to you all. In a little over 12months of posting thats a really great stat for viewership, so thanks  again for reading our blog and passing it on to friends and family. I personally love sharing the work of our young learners and its wonderful to know people are enjoying reading it! Thank You!