Wrapping up our Winter Wonderland

Before we all head back to school and work its time to have a quick look back at what made Winter Wonderful at Hedley Park Montessori School. We celebrated the midwinter in all its guises with food, fun, art, games, and craft all leading to super seasonal learning!

Our Sensory Snow filled play box.

But first, a quick recap of our fantastic annual theatrical recital. We had two shows for the audiences enjoyment, the nursery made us all smile and laugh with the antics of a sneezy Santa Claus (aka teacher Magna) who with hours to go to the big night, caught a cold and needed the help of his best mouse, cat and reindeer friends…. not to mention some of the cutest elves in Dublin!

Elf-ceptional Elf!

Thankfully much to the relief of Mrs Claus (aka teacher Lisa) and Santa’s little helper, Santa recovered and was able to deliver gifts to all the children on Christmas Eve.

While our little ones went backstage to their green room to relax, it was showtime for the preparatory school. Oliver was the order of the day and its safe to say that everyone wanted more at the end.

Mr Bumble in the Workhouse (from the wings)

Opening from the wings the children came down to the “workhouse” to a stern Mr Bumble and a bowl of gruel, from there the drama and songs carried us along on high spirits. It’s amazing to see these young actors rising to the challenge of performing a full play in a real theatre.

The poise and self belief our students gain when they see all their hard work coming together to give an amazingly professional performance is a wonderful thing to see. From costume changes to stage entrances, knowing the rules of the wings to voice projection to reach the back of the theatre, the yearly show is more than a day out or an evening to remember, it gives our young thespians the confidence boost of a lifetime, something to be part of them always.

Rehearsing in the theatre. Learning to project our voice.

As you can imagine we were busy bees backstage so photos  for the blog are at a premium, however the DVD of the show is a wonderful keepsake and will be available very soon to enjoy over and over again!

Someone's in our chimney! Who could it be?

Back in the school things were no less colourful nor dramatic! The senior class got into the winter theme with their snowflake paper design display, highlighting the uniqueness of each crystal and the uniqueness of each child. It’s a motto we live by at Hedley, each child is unique and their education and care is personalised to their talents and requirements.

Unique snowflakes from some unique students

Junior and senior infants really got into the seasonal sentiment by making the longest prettiest paper chain to decorate their classroom ceiling and walls. They all worked hard and everyone contributed each day, as the work was available on the shelf for individuals or groups to work together.

Working together!

Pretty paper chains.

The handprint tree was a wonderfully bright and welcoming display, not to mention a certain someone making an appearance in our feature fireplace! Even the windows got a look in, with snowmen “sun catchers” and a sensational sensory snow scene play box, which was very popular.

Sensational writing samples.

My personal favourites are their winter, “S for star, santa and stocking” writing samples and the Art Gallery in the reception area from the afternoon club, displaying exceptional unique representations of a winter scene!

Snowy Scenes

Our smallest students were our chief seasonal cheerleaders with poetry, art, craft, and even geography we welcomed the midwinter with great joyousness.

Antarctic animal study

We studied the animals of the Antarctic, polar bears and penguins and learned a poem about a snowman and a hungry rabbit who stole the snowman’s nose.

Ten Little Snowmen......

Our Rudolphs

Iridescent reindeer food.

Our seasonal crafts included snowmen, Rudolph, a very bendy Christmas tree, a paper chain wreath and stockings for our door, however the highlight in my humble opinion was the special reindeer food to guide Santa’s sleigh straight to our homes.

Colourful poetry and art display

We all listened carefully to the poem and the instructions and everyone got a turn to make with care and love the special food for Santa’s hungry reindeer, it was a magical end to our midwinter term.

Stirring up our Reindeer Food!

We are looking forward to welcoming our friends back on Monday and getting ready for the change of season, lets hope it doesn’t take too long!

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”.

Nursery White Christmas Remembered….

As promised in our last post here’s  a quick recap of what the nursery got up to in the run up to Christmas.  I have to say the pre-Christmas season literally flew at Santa’s sleigh speeds this year,  but our students packed more activities in each day than the elves who load up Santa’s presents!

🙂

The Junior class got the ball rolling with their seasonal tree display.

Winter Tree

Teaching history in the 2-6 age group begins with simple concepts such as what happens in a childs day, the concepts of morning, afternoon, evening and night,  days of the week and of course the seasons.  The seasonal tree takes a prominent place in classroom for discussion and observation with the children.

P-p-p-pick up our penguins!

Continuing on their Antarctic journey the junior students learned about the penguin in circle time, creating penguin art and learning their poem about  Playful Penguins!

Playful Penguin Poetry!

In the Senior class we were busy too, decorating our class for the festive season, making Christmas cards and decorations for home and lots of singing! 🙂

Christmas Cards and Paperchains.

Arts and Crafts are important in the 2-6 age group, creating things to take

Busy making garlands.

home and learning to express ourselves artistically gives the children a confidence in their abilities alongside having great things to take home to treasure. The skills involved in cutting, sticking, stapling, glueing, painting and colouring all develop hand eye coordination and fine motor skills. The sense of accomplishment in the finished product encourages children to complete the projects they start, these are many of the building blocks to the competent learner and member of society.

Some examples of what we were doing

Advent Wall

Christmas Weaths

Christmas Angels

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course the seasonal theme didn’t end with arts and crafts or music, we began our Christmas counting.

Christmas Counting stage 1

Much like our Halloween counting we had a Christmas stocking filled with items to count from 1-5. As it turned out to be so popular we were all very proficient at 1-5 and I had hoped to move to 6-10 but the weather had other plans and the snow disrupted our progress somewhat.

Discussing the snowglobe

Still we really enjoyed examining and counting our Christmas cornucopia. 🙂  It’s a lovely work and alongside enhancing concrete number skills it added much to our language and vocabulary as we talked about each item and our experience of it. It also calls to the sensorially sensitive child, using our tactile and visual senses to group the items into similar and different items for counting.  The  snowglobe (pictured left) was particularly entrancing to the students.  I’m thinking in the summer we might make glitter globes as these two in the counting were so popular.

And finally once the numbers were laid out and the contents of the stocking examined our work looked like this…

One Angel, Two Snowglobes, Three Snowmen......

Our practical life work also took on a festive aspect, adding cinnamon and nutmeg to the sieving work, scenting the work with a Christmas air. We added glitter to our pouring water, and Christmas pompoms and mini baubles to our transferring work.

A break from festive themed work we were lucky to be given a pre-christmas gift from a mom of one of our teachers. Our wooden marble run!

Marble Run

 

Building this in a team and taking turns running the marbles through the maze was a very popular activity and gave us many learning and laughing experiences.

Taking turns on our marble run.

 

The last Christmas project the Nursery students would like to share with you was our extra large Santa complete with sleigh, reindeer and toys! This took us four afternoons of painting, glittering, glueing, and giggling. We were very proud of it. 🙂 And we hope the man himself visited your house as he was very generous to us all in the nursery! 🙂

 

Santa Claus Came to Town!

 

Thanks for reading and enjoying all our work. Come back soon for a review of our eventful christmas gala production. 🙂 And a host of posts from the big school on their work in the past three weeks. 🙂

Huge thank you from the staff and students of the Nursery!

Little School Food Revolution.

Hi Everyone,  time for a catch up with the smallest of our charges! Yes its the Nursery School Junior Class 🙂

If you have watched Jamie Oliver’s American Food Revolution, or his earlier UK-based show. You will probably have been inspired, shocked and moved in equal parts at the diet of this generations school going children in both the UK and US. As Ireland does not have a tradition of “school dinners” Irish children in the main have been raised on packed lunches, which looks in comparison to be the better option.

Hedley Park students have benefited from parents that care enough to give their children the healthiest packed lunches. This is supported by the staff and directress ensuring that evening snack is equally fresh and nutritious.


Fruit Bowl Art

Our curriculum  provides opportunity for students to be  educated in good food choices through circle times and various exercises during the school day. While their palates are informed to new flavours at mealtimes and “make and munch” sessions, all of which opens the child to the world of healthy eating we hope they will carry throughout their lives.

This starts at the very beginning of a child’s education in Hedley Park and continues right through to our sixth class students, laying strong foundations for good food practices as an adult.

We all know how resistant to new foods children can be, creatures of habit they like to stick to what they know to be tasty. Repeated introduction in small amounts, visual stimulus and community effort will make a big difference to the reception of new foods. At home, eating together as a family, new foods being introduced in tiny portions, a rule of “try everything on the plate”, and if needed sticker charts when foods are tried/finished will really see your healthy eating child growing strong and positive about food.

Junior Class Healthy Eating Wall

Marianne in the junior class has devised a fantastic project to support her students and their parents in this endeavour. Each day the children in her class are offered a sample of a new fruit or veg at circle time. They talk about the new food, smelling, tasting and talking about its colour, shape and texture.


Healthy Eating Sticker Chart

Children who try the new food are given a sticker for their “Healthy Eating Sticker Sheet” providing a visual stimulus to taste the fruit and a record for them to show off to friends and parents giving them a sense of accomplishment even many days later. In week one the children tried strawberries, blueberries, grapes, pineapple and banana, In week two they tried pear, apple kiwi, mango and avocado.  This week they begin on veg!

Circle time is a perfect arena for this tasting exercise. Allowing the children to encourage each other to try the foods, talking about the taste and texture normalizes the experience and develops taste buds and expands vocabulary to boot! 🙂

After circle time the children create their artistic interpretations of the new fruit or veg. The fine motor skills involved in gluing, cutting, painting the fruit alongside colour and shape matching adds unseen dimensions which aid the child creatively and cognitively, all helping to make this a fun and rewarding introduction to new foods.

Many parents of children in the Junior Class have remarked that their children are taking about the fruit at home, and are more receptive to new foods in their lunches and at family meals. It is amazing to see how a simple but effective Montessori class project can make a difference in our students lives.

Week 2 Fruit Art Assortment

Well Done Junior Class you are setting a great example to your older schoolmates! 🙂