Spring Term: Feasts, Fun and Lots of Learning.

Spring term is underway and at Hedley park we are delighted to report that we are busy enjoying all that our unique environment has to offer. We truly are in a wonderful location and with the refurbishment of Merrion Square park in progress, our students are able to make the most of our historic, creative and natural environment.

Enjoying our wonderful outdoor environment

Enjoying our wonderful outdoor environment

The renewed play and exploration area is most welcome and very popular when we go out on nature walks or just to burn off some excess energy. Being a well read bunch our students love the fact that the inspiration for the play area came from our much loved Oscar Wilde and his story of the Selfish Giant. Dublin City created a lovely illustrated version of the story if you’d like to explore it with your child at home.

A big news story so far this terms has to be the receiving of our own copy of the 1916 Proclamation from the Irish Army Officials. In the preparatory school classes, the students are very aware of the historic and cultural significance of the upcoming centenary celebrations. The commencement of the republic as an independent nation has some resonance with them as they continue to work towards making their own independent place in the family, the classroom and indeed the world around them. The presentation itself was a wonderful experience for the whole school and was fittingly officiated by our most senior student.

Receiving our copy of the Proclamation

Receiving our copy of the Proclamation

As a staff member its wonderful to see our students grow in stature, knowledge and independence from the 2yr old toddlers that come into the nursery to our 10 and 11yr old senior students, we have time to learn and grow with the student and their family. Child lead learning is key in any quality Montessori environment and that is in evidence everywhere in the Hedley Park experience. We can certainly say that in being part of the learning story of some of our more senior students we have learned about topics we as staff would otherwise never have approached. The child’s interests and questions lead their exploration of subjects and each child brings a unique perspective that we are honoured to ensure they develop and strengthen. This natural inquisitiveness, eagerness to be challenged and joy in learning is a trait of Montessori educated individuals long after they progress beyond our halls.

Nursery Class - Matching Sounds

Nursery Class – Matching Sounds

Our nursery class have been exploring many subjects, from Geography to Poetry, Natural Sciences to Maths. Of course the underlying core within all our classroom activities is the development of the individual learner and their own independence and confidence in their ability to learn. Children of this stage need to be active, involved and engaged with the topic. The need sensory input in order to establish the facts of the lesson deep within their schema of knowledge. What we mean by this as Montessori practitioners, is that children learning through the method don’t just parrot back rhymes of numbers, sounds and topics, but through the materials and lessons they can absorb the quantity, shape, weight, feeling, sound and concrete truth of the numbers, letters, and basic building blocks of the world around them. It is through the connection of the hand to feel, the eyes to see and the mind to comprehend that the child internalises the abstract idea and makes it real and useful to them for the rest of their life long learning.

The Junior Class - Australia study area

The Junior Class – Australia study area

Our Junior class students are ready for some slight abstraction from the concrete learning of the nursery, but they are still very active and hands on in their quest for knowledge. In the early part of the spring term the group turned their attention to the continent of Australia. It’s a topic that students from the nursery will have already been introduced, however as the students have developed from nursery so have their interests and the learning at Junior Class level is deeper and more involved. Animals and the natural environment are intriguing to children of this age, being well versed in the natural landscape around them here in Ireland they are now intellectually capable of comparison with a new continent. This comparison to the known gives rise to the wonder and interest to explore further, coupled with a wealth of information sources at their disposal the child’s inner drive to learn is well rewarded. It is these positive formative experiences in learning that build a solid desire to learn that will remain within the child driving their learning and questioning for life.

Senior Class - Montessori Great Lessons

Senior Class – Montessori Great Lessons

Our Senior Class students are well versed in the abstract, with a very solid knowledge and base at their feet they stride out into some unique and challenging subject areas. Spring term has witnessed deep exploration into what Montessori termed the “Great Lessons” these 5 groups of lessons explain how and why the earth, life and civilisation came to be.
For a child, the Great Lessons spark the imagination and lead students to contemplate not only the past, but the future. It is through the telling (and re-telling) of these important cosmic lessons that students are motivated to further research and works in the Montessori classroom. Our seniors have been furthering their exploration of the second Great Lesson, Life Comes to Earth. Fascinated by the Era’s timeline the students have been using the materials available to create their own versions. Large work projects like this don’t just further the child’s subject knowledge, but deepens their independent working skills, self motivation, concentration, negotiation and in part team work. Watching a senior Montessori class like our is a joy, the learning and experiences are so varied and multi-layered, cross subject and skill development is naturally occurring in each moment of the day.

Chinese New Year Feast - Emperor hold court.

Chinese New Year Feast – Emperor holds court.

Our school community relish their extracurricular activities and classes, and in February it wasn’t just knowledge we were relishing, but yummy food in our Chinese New Year Banquet. Hosted by our Mandarin teacher the banquet has become a tradition of the Hedley Park calendar. This year we got the opportunity to make dumplings in the class and share them with our Emperor and Empress at the feast. It is a lovely occasion for the students and a very colourful and unique experience each year.

Music Workshop in National Concert Hall

Music Workshop in National Concert Hall

Another extracurricular experience this spring, was a trip to the local amenity that is the National Concert Hall. We are privileged to have such national treasures on our doorstep and luckily we are in a position to enjoy them when possible. On this occasion the Junior and senior prep school classes were treated to a very hands-on and interactive workshop in music and percussion. It was fantastic morning of sound and energy exploration that the children and their teachers thoroughly enjoyed. I have it on good authority that we will return for future workshops as it was a complete success.

So ends our update from the first half of the spring term, we have many new lessons, and events coming in the second half of the term. Beginning with our Proclamation Day on the 16th March, more details on the calendar and in school.

In the meantime please enjoy the gallery of our images from the Spring Term so far.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Royalty, Arrivals, Saints & Chess-players!

What a time we’ve had!

At the end of January we celebrated Chinese New Year. We welcomed the year of the horse with great ceremony and fun!

Our Chinese Feast

Our Chinese Feast

A royal court was held with an Emperor and Empress in attendance, there was an entry procession and then the feasting began. We have been learning lots about Chinese history and culture in our weekly Mandarin lessons with Evan so we all knew the correct way to greet our royal visitors.

We tucked into a great menu of delights and everyone tried something new and tasty. Community meals are a great time for children to model good food choices and correct table manners to their peers. We are always delighted to see our children striving to try new foods and share the pleasant experience with their school.

Baby Max

Baby Max

Soon after our celebrations came a sad day when we said “good luck” to our lovely teacher Katie, as she spent her last day with us for a while. We are pleased to report she has since given birth to the gorgeous Maximilian. We are delighted to welcome Claudio and Katie’s beautiful son to the Hedley family!

So lets talk about the work we’ve been doing!

Our Solar System Planetarium!

Our Solar System Planetarium!

The senior class have been super busy! They finished off their planetarium in the skylight of their classroom, it was a wonderful art and science feat and was enjoyed by all. Getting sticky and messy with art is always a hit no matter how old you are!

Our projects were on display this month too, we all had a chance to make a presentation (which was videoed on the ipads, and which we are making available for parents) The public speaking experience is very important in this age group, teaching others in the community what we have learned, increases self esteem and confidence in our own ability as learners. Positive feedback and support from the learning community makes learning an exciting experience, these affirmative seeds planted within our students stay with them through their learning lifetime.

Chess Club!

Chess Club!

Using our Interactive White Board.

Using our Interactive White Board.

Lots of new experiences came our way in the senior class, we began our Chess Club, led by our chess master we have all been learning the pieces and plays and soon we will be champions ourselves. Chess is a fantastic training for strategic thinking and logical decision making skills which will stand us good stead. Also its great fun and everyone is enjoying pushing themselves to learn more and practice at break times.

Another addition to the classroom has been our interactive whiteboard and new class pc. It’s lots of fun, and we are adding elements of it to much of our independent study. From the touchscreen writing, hands on fraction manipulatives to complement our Montessori materials, to the fascination of Google maps and street view. We have wandered the boulevards of Paris and the Pyramids of Giza.

Tir na NOg

Tir na NOg

In the Junior class the children have been working hard on their mythology, history and folklore of Ireland. Tir na Nog being our anchor tale for the season that is in it. Folklore and Fairytale are a super way for our young learners to learn sequencing and memory skills. Hearing stories and repeating the sequence is an excellent early history and math skill. Of course we have also been getting stuck into group and individual art on the story and we think you will agree they are fantastic to look at.

Spring has most certainly sprung in the Junior class with our talk of snowdrops, buttercups, spring lambs, cuckoos, and frogs! It’s a riot of spring colours. Personally I love the personal art interpretations of a buttercup and using wonderful art techniques individual to each child.

In the Nursery class we have been getting ready for St Patrick’s Day by making leprechauns and talking about what to see in the parade. We often try out our own parading skills at break time and you can be sure everyone joins in!

Little Leprechauns in a row!

Little Leprechauns in a row!

Our story board featured the Dinosaur who lost his roar. We love books and stories in the nursery class which is good as Lisa

Story Board: The dinosaur who lost his roar

Story Board: The dinosaur who lost his roar

and Magna love books too and we get so many fantastic stories in the class. We have read lots in our exploration of the polar regions, and our vocabulary is really expanding with all the new words and phrases we hear. Exposure to a wide vocabulary is of utmost importance at this stage and our teachers are so aware of this. Stories, poems, songs and new words introduced daily really concrete our natural inclination towards acquiring new language skills.

World Book Day - Willy Wonka

World Book Day – Willy Wonka

Of course the love of books and stories only grows in Hedley Park, which is why we loved our celebrations for World Book Day. We had a whimsical day as everyone came dressed as his or her favourite character from a story or book they had read. We had a great book sale on the day too, so we could find a new character to inspire and delight us further. Book day is a wonderful family experience as all our parents come in that morning and we have some uninterrupted enjoyment of all the lovely books on display.

St Patrick’s Day also brought another fun family occasion as we went on out walk led by

St Patrick!

St Patrick!

our own St Patrick in Merrion Square, this year we were hunting our old friend Larry the Leprechaun who had been up to his old tricks and leaving a big green mess all over the school. (You can see for yourself in the slideshow below) We went to find him and send him on his way home, but only after he paid for the mess he made in yummy gold chocolate coins!

So you can see that we have been very busy indeed, thankfully we also had our midterm break in there too, so we have had some rest. But one of the most exciting events is still to come, it has been rumoured that we may be getting a hatchery in the Senior classroom. Our very own Hedley Chicks!  The Senior class have been busy learning about the life cycle and care of chicks so that they can be prepared for our new arrivals. We can not wait to tell you all about them next time!

Thanks for reading and be sure to share our new with friends and family.

Lots of love, the students and staff of Hedley Park.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.