Winter Memories: Alice, Enda and lots of learning!

 

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On set at the Play

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.

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Asian Adventure

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.

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Winter Art in the Nursery

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Photobombing is great fun!

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.

Busy at work in the Junior class

Bust at work in the Junior class

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.

Handwriting Sample

Handwriting Sample

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.

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Being photobomed again!

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.

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Tweedle Dum & Dee

 

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.

Backstage getting ready

Backstage getting ready

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Some of our Enchanted Flowers!

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.

Nursery on stage!

Nursery on stage!

Future leaders meet the current leader

Future leaders meet the current leader

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

The Dail Gallery

The Dail Gallery

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.

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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!

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