April and May 2021: Going Strong!
Wow, what a busy spring we've all had! I'm so happy to celebrate the completion of our first full School Year Session at CMC on Friday, May 28th with photos and videos from our program over the last seven weeks. Thank you to all that have contributed light, laughter, and seeds of growth to CMC over a very challenging first year!
We're looking forward to welcoming many of you back to CMC at the start of our first full Summer Session on June 7th! Please help us in welcoming a new staff member, Dorma Black, as well as three new children enrolled to join us in June.
We are busy planning a safe and fun summer for our children, full of sprinklers, sunscreen, soccer, yoga, potluck picnics, bugs, and geese! Please be on the lookout for special summer updates, events, and activity sign-ups in your inbox. As always, do not hesitate to be in touch as you are ready to share in and contribute to our growing community!
Let's kick things off inside, with the celebration of Israel and Lou's fourth birthdays (on either end of May)!
Over the course of April and May, both the hatching and early life of the goslings from the nest right outside our hallway window was a frequent subject of curiosity and conversation at CMC! It turns out Canada Geese often raise their young communally. Couples in the most favorable gosling raising circumstances (like the ones at the pond next to the assisted living facility just north of us) often adopt goslings from nests in less favorable circumstances (like ours, out on the front lawn of 5400 Karl Rd.). All adults in the area share in the supervision of goslings, as needed. Here are some snapshots from the the Forest Park Goose Kibbutz this spring (in chronological order from April 23rd through May 24th):
The goslings in our nest hatched on April 26th or 27th.
By the evening of the 27th, it appears they were already preparing for the journey to the pond just north of their nest!
In the Montessori Children's House, the materials and activities available to the children are often categorized into four areas: Practical Life; Sensorial; Language; and Math. Practical Life contains things supportive of self-care and regulation (from eating snack to nose blowing to cleaning a dirty shoe to self expression through movement and art) as well as independence and the skills needed to care for the environment (from preparing that snack to wiping up a spill to sweeping after a meal to sorting waste to outright scrubbing, polishing, and washing). Below you will find highlights of our Practical Life work in April and May, including videos taken during the much loved and appreciated post-lunch Cleanup Crew!
The Sensorial materials and activities are designed to support the child's mind in building awareness and, importantly, organization of their sense perceptions. Our botany and geography work in Children's House East this spring are natural extensions of our Sensorial activities while also supporting our children's fledgling literacy, numeracy, and curiosity about the wider world.
A note on my lack of mask in the picture above: Our team at CMC has spent nearly a year practicing careful mask use, hand hygiene, and awareness of keeping as much physical distance as practical from and among the children (while being careful not to significantly compromise our capacity to offer a nurturing environment). On Thursday, I introduced the Sensorial material smelling bottles for the very first time at CMC (an activity that had not felt like a good fit during the worst of the pandemic). Realizing I would need to remove my mask in order to effectively model smelling the bottles' contents (the essential oils of cinnamon, oregano, lavender, coconut, lime, and peppermint) was a revelation!
Although I am grateful for the protection our mask use offered us all through the worst days of the pandemic, I do not believe their benefits outweigh the real costs of continuing their use for our fully-vaccinated team at CMC this summer. We will continue to require visitors to our program - including family members at pick-up and drop-off - to wear masks for the foreseeable future. We will also encourage and support our unvaccinated children in masking as they show up in masks and/or show interest. However, our team will remove masks - indoors and out - in any case a mask would compromise our ability to support our children's development.
One area of our work where the costs of continuous mask use have been very keenly felt by all in our community this year is Language! We take great care to provide a wealth of opportunities to build vocabulary, skill in conversation, and understanding of English grammar in spoken language with the children each day. We also engage all children in our care in a variety of activities designed to build phonemic awareness of spoken English (the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate phonemes, the smallest units of sound used to differentiate meaning in spoken language). As children show both readiness and interest, we also support them with a cohesive system of activities designed to map their knowledge of phonemes onto the symbols of written English - the building blocks of reading and writing skills. I'm happy to share just some of our language work and its fruits below:
Above, the process and results of voting for things in Children's House East - an activity at the crossroads of Practical Life, Language, and Math (and a whole bunch of fun). Below, a special event in Carsten's emergent literacy: his very first word written in the Moveable Alphabet.
Of course, many children's literacy journey takes its own paths beyond our sequence of activity. One of the most remarkable and beneficial aspects of our child centered approach is the opportunity children have to meet their own needs in their own way and at their own pace. Here is Calvin reading a favorite book of Israel's to Israel after a long nap:
Just as with Language, our approach to the final area of activity in our environment, Math, follows the same type of cohesive trajectory through building awareness and then opportunities to manipulate and make use of key concepts. Lucky for us all in this year of mask wearing, the foundational building blocks of numeracy are represented by stones, spindles, wooden rods, little red counters, and a variety of golden and colored beads in our Montessori learning environment!
Above, SJ takes on the monumental task of counting the cube of seven. Below you will find Calvin and Wally quietly riffing on some early math concepts one afternoon through the combination of our sandpaper numbers, counting stones, numbers, and counters (while I quietly observe to get a better understanding of Calvin's numeracy as of joining us this spring).
Last but certainly not least, what CMC blog post would be complete without a big pile of pictures and videos of children enjoying arguably the most productive and developmentally supportive element of CMC this spring: our natural outdoor play space? Thank you to all those among us that have contributed to its upkeep this year; we're looking forward to the opportunity to make more improvements this summer!
We are looking forward to a summer full of movement, play, and creativity! Thank you all again for building a supportive community with us at CMC.