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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Sneak Preview of Oz!

Heading backstage for our morning's work.

Heading backstage for our morning’s work.

This morning we had a wonderful rehearsal in the Pavilion Theatre in Dun Laoghaire.

The children were so enthusiastic to get on stage and practice their lines, and I have to say (having see in it in full myself for the first time) that this year our parents are in for a big treat.

Voice projection, grace of movement and wonderful stage presence were evident in all the characters, and with some certainty I can say that we have the sweetest lollipop guild and lullaby league in many years!

I’m sure all the performers are sleeping soundly after their day, but we staff are very excited to let you see how all the hard work is coming together.

With that in mind here are a few “sneak preview” photos from our morning’s work.

See you on 17th for a magical afternoon in Oz!

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Oz will get your Christmas off to a magical start.

We cordially invite you to follow the yellow brick road.

We cordially invite you to follow the yellow brick road.

We are delighted to announce the 2013 Hedley Park Christmas Play.
Tickets are available from the school, please contact your child’s class teacher or ring the office to reserve yours.

See you in the Emerald City.

Winter 2012 – Science Snow & Sparkle

The Kind Christmas Tree Board

The Kind Christmas Tree Board

The winter season is well upon us and the Christmas spirit is alive and well in Hedley Park Montessori school.

The children are deep in character for their Christmas extravaganza, and all I can say is, even though snow may be forecast for this week. On the 18th December “the sun will come out ……..” and it wont be “a hard knock life for us” … what can I say, we will offer you “Annie” excuse to get in the Christmas mood and “wear a smile”. For parents looking for tickets, please talk to a member of staff. Our rehearsal is today Monday 10th (see Facebook page for details) for children from junior infants upwards.

Nursery winter wall

Nursery winter wall

On the big day itself (18th December) there will be an arrival schedule for each class group that will be communicated to you in the coming days. With our play housekeeping done let us fill you in on all the work we’ve been doing throughout November.

Polar Insulation experiment

Polar Insulation experiment

Starting with our senior class who got into the spirit of Science early in the month and have brought a scientific method to their studies in all subjects since.  They looked at Arctic insulation with a very hands-on experiment to show how polar animals keep warm.

Does a flame burn oxygen?

Does a flame burn oxygen?

Then a look at another side of that coin with an experiment to prove that a flame burns oxygen, this was fascinating as they got to witness the vacuum created by the flame as it burned the available oxygen and the water rose to fill the void generated.

In a further experiment, that took a little more time to witness, the senior class also created their own crystals along a line of thread. It was fascinating to watch the frosty looking crystals spread along as we progressed through the week.

Growing crystals

Growing crystals

The senior students also took a scientific look at leaf structure and types with some leaf rubbings and parts of a leaf analyses.  It is this sensorial approach to learning that the students have hones through their years in Montessori education that allows them to perceive the finest details of each leaf structure, identifying leaf types by touch alone, and internalising and synthesising this knowledge to build on their schemes of the natural world.

Leaf Structure Studies

Leaf Structure Studies

They got into the seasonal spirit with some lovely language arts display work, both as gaeilge and as bearla.

Snowman creative writing

Snowman creative writing

In English language arts they created original stories from the starting sentence “My snowman came alive today and he…” very creative an imaginative stories are on display on the walls. In Irish language arts they completed their Crann Nollag focloir sheets.

Crann Nollag Focloir

Crann Nollag Focloir

In a little bit of arts and crafts the class created gorgeous winter fir cone owls. I’m sure you will agree each is a very unique size and personality, but make a wonderfully unified clan en-masse, reflecting the class group itself.

Fir cone owl

Fir cone owl group

Another art moment took the class to a practical life exercise that helped them count down the days to Christmas day. They made a Santa with a numbered beard, each day they cut a little strip off with that days date until they have trimmed the beard in full and Santa is on his way!

Cutting down to Christmas

Cutting down to Christmas

Handmade Cards

Handmade Cards

Finally taking their place as the elders of the school, the senior class lead the school in creating wonderful Christmas cards and Yule logs for the sale of work at our fundraising breakfast last week.

It was wonderful to see the admiration in the younger students working with their older schoolmates and in turn the care and attention shown to the younger student by the senior students.

Creating a community

Creating a community

This really is the essence of a Montessori environment, younger children learning from and aspiring to the elder students, and the elders assuming responsibility and learning through teaching the younger. It was wonderful to see and experience.

Parts of a Reindeer

Parts of a Reindeer

While all that was going on in the senior class the reception and nursery classes were not falling behind in their winter learning. The Reception class also took a scientific approach to the season with their “parts of” displays.

Montessori created a wonderfully scientific and sensorial approach to learning about botany and the animal kingdom in the early years. “Parts of” jigsaws allow the child from the earliest experience to become aware of how the parts of something come together to create a whole.

Parts of a Robin

Parts of a Robin

Once the child has sensorially internalised this, they can move to connecting the names of each part. This serves as the first stepping-stone to further study and dissection of the unique characteristics of each aspect of the natural world. The Reception class chose the seasonal emblems of Robin and Reindeer.

Independent learning Robin

Independent learning Robin

The robin is a standard of Montessori part of study, but the reindeer is a lovely departure to inspire the students to look further than the materials to hand and a commendation to our staff who love to encourage the students to pastures of new learning.

Independent learning reindeer

Independent learning reindeer

The beautiful winter tree display with migrating birds leaves the room cheered to brightened the darkest winter spirit and serves to house the parts of labelling work that the students undertook either by handwriting each label (if they are at the writing stage) or cutting the appropriate labels (if they are at the reading stage) and identifying the parts during independent work. It is this independent work at the child’s level that is vital to the Montessori class, each contributes the work at their stage and all work comes to form the class board, no one feels in front or behind as each contribution at that students level is vital to form the whole and leave the student feeling accepted as an individual part of the unified class community.

Reception class Winter Tree

Reception class Winter Tree

The nursery class proved themselves, as ever, an art and craft phenomena. The scale and amount of projects and displays they create are astounding. It brings great joy to the class and their teachers to fill the room with wonderfully creative and bright display boards. November saw them on a literature exploration with Elmer the Elephant as the face of their sound of the month “e”, the elephant handprints are just exceptional!

Elmer the Elephant.

Elmer the Elephant.

They threw a party with the Gruffalo, on the party menu was scrambled snake, roasted fox and owl ice-cream and if that didn’t tickle your taste buds then the Gruffalo cake was sure to please the discerning palates of the nursery community.

Gruffalo Cake

Gruffalo Cake

I loved the Dr Seuss like rhyming words on the board, it’s a fantastic way to open the student’s ears to the sounds in words, and vital to inspire the word building that they are embarking on.

Gruffalo Party Display

Gruffalo Party Display

Annie Enright’s ‘The Kind Christmas Tree” took us on a journey of empathy with the birds to whom the kind Christmas tree gave homes to, a wonderful way to begin a conversation about the spirit of the oncoming Christmas season, being kind to others. The footprint robins are so cute and I’m sure when they go home they will make wonderful Christmas tree decorations for years to come.

Arctic Art

Arctic Art

The continent studies in the nursery this month was the Arctic and Antarctica. The students filled the walls with penguins, polar bears, ice caps, walruses and puffins. They had lots of experiential fun with the Arctic sensory box.

Arctic Sensory box

Arctic Sensory box

A sensory box allows the student to explore the colours, textures, sounds, smells and even tastes (depending on) attached to the topic. Small imaginative play items allow the child to construct meaning and explore the subject matter at hand in their own way.  The sensory box was very popular and we will with the aid of the students create more on further topics of study.

Jack Frost nipping at your nose.

Jack Frost nipping at your nose.

The seasonal theme of winter was also explored and illustrated in the displays and circle time talks on aspects of the season.  Jack Frost and the words that describe his work was illuminated on one, another depicted an igloo and winter scene snow globes, while paper cut snowmen was the icing on the cake for me. They really have created a “winter wonderland” of seasonal art.

Nursery papercut snowmen

Nursery papercut snowmen

With the season of winter well underway, we begin to decorate our classrooms for the Christmas festivities and we are looking forward to sharing all our holiday handiwork with you soon.

Lots of love

Students and Staff of Hedley Park.

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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!