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  • Taylor Dautremont

April and May 2023: Big Kid Style!

Since last sharing here, we've been busy at CMC preparing for big transitions in our community this summer and at the start of our next School Year. Many children and families are or will soon be sharing farewells with our community. While we say our goodbyes — some after well over two years of growth together — we've also been supporting six families in planning to join or rejoin our community this summer!


Please join us in celebrating Wally, TJ, Mia, Kiki, Kyri and Juniper's time with us at CMC with the before and after pictures below. (We're looking forward to sharing more before-and-after farewells at the end of our Summer Session.)


Left: Wally looks up with a smile as his uncle reads to him from a board book during one of the first CMC Open Houses in October 2019. Below: Wally helps Dane understand the relationship between length and quantity in our Number Rods in May 2023.


Left: TJ tries out our rock crayons for the first time in early November 2020. Below: TJ shows off his map of North America in May 2023!


Left and Below: Wally, Mia, Roshan, and I take some quick breaks from the Geometric Solids to pose for the camera in May 2021. (The "mustache mask" — as we called it back then — I'm wearing was an attempt to model articulation of advanced vocabulary while still remaining masked.)

Below: Mia sits by my side to help guide the process of Golden Bead Addition one last time with Kyri, Lincoln and Syd in May 2023.


Left: Kiki enjoys her first glass of water in Children's House East with her big sister, Lyanna, during both girls' Orientation Visit in September 2021. Below: Kiki shows off her painting skills in Children's House West, May 2023.


Left: Kyri looks up from her first Metal Inset during her Orientation Visit in August of 2022. Below: Kyri flashes double peace signs after counting to the cube of eight (512) with Mia and Rizwan in May 2023.


Left: Juniper gets in the swing of things in Children's House East with some simple transportation puzzles in September 2022. Below: Juniper works on a complex geometric design to decorate the outside of a card in May of 2023.

As we say our farewells to the children above, please also join us in welcoming Addy, Calvin, Pearl, Kahlo, Charlotte, and Ani to our community this summer. Pearl is the younger sister of Eleanor, a CMC alum who left us at the end of last summer; Calvin is also a former CMC student that will be returning to enjoy the first four weeks of summer with us!


In both remembrance of our year together and preparation for the one ahead, here are some highlights from our last two months together:


Practical Life

Stretching, opening, closing, tying, tonging, buttoning, cracking, snapping, washing, dusting, polishing and scrubbing, oh my! (Thanks for helping the children of CHE imagine what being born as a horse might feel like while subbing for Anna in May, Mary!)

Arranging flowers has been in vogue again this spring:

As has all things lacing, stringing, and sewing!

Meanwhile, all things food and drink — including making farewell jugs of CMC Citrusade — will never go out of style!

Our artistic endeavors often lie at the intersection of Practical Life, Sensorial, and Language in terms of inspiration and content. This spring, we've seen a real explosion of creative expression across both Children's Houses. Creative processes and products without words are pictured directly below. Creative expression involving map making (a.k.a., "cartography") in any form can be found in the Sensorial section while writing in any other form can be found in the Language section.


Sensorial

The Sensorial work below is roughly organized by theme as well as level of skill and/or difficulty. I've also mixed in some pictures of activity that are closely related to the Montessori materials we use to support exploration and understanding of our sense perceptions: difference types of two and three dimensional puzzles, including a couple of games of chess (Wally really enjoyed sharing my old chess set along with a few other games from home during Break Session Care this Spring Break — we don't typically play competitive games in the Children's House).


Language

The best foundation for the early literacy work we engage at CMC is made up of strong spoken language skills. We work with all the children of our community — and especially the youngest and newest members — to build strong vocabulary, articulation and grammar skills. We also pay special attention to each child's ability to identify the individual sounds that make up spoken English as well as their ability to understand and tell important stories about their life and the world around them. We're so happy you're finally five Roshan! It was a joy to tell the story of your birth and trips around our sun for a third time this April!

While building spoken Language skills, we also work with many Practical Life and Sensorial materials with the intention of preparing each child's hand to write. The Metal Insets, pictured below, consolidate the fine motor skills needed to write by offering the child a specific set of artistic exercises using a set of high-quality stencils and colored pencils.

We also engage the child's hands in work with the Sandpaper Letters to build whole-body associations between the individual sounds of spoken language and letter symbols. Each sandpaper letter is not named with its letter name in the alphabet but instead with the individual sound that it most often makes in spoken English. The two-letter or digraph green letters represent all common individual sounds of spoken English not represented by the 26 pink and blue Sandpaper Letters. You can see examples of the names of the Sandpaper Letters in the matches made across two mats at the end of the gallery below — the children of Children's House East have really enjoyed reinforcing their knowledge of the Sandpaper Letters sounds this spring by matching objects starting with those sounds to the Sandpaper Letters.

After work with both Metal Insets and Sandpaper Letters, each child is ready to engage the last of our "Keys to Literacy" in the Children's House: our Movable Alphabets. The Movable Alphabets are sets of letter cutouts or cards that can be used by the child to encode or write their first words and phrases using the symbols of written English. For more advanced writers, a Small Movable Alphabet can also be used as a first or rough draft tool — offering them an opportunity to isolate and execute the metal processes of writing before turning their focus to the physical mechanics of the task (see TJ helping Wally use a Small Movable Alphabet below).

Once the Keys to Literacy have been mastered, a whole world of writing and reading opportunities are available to the child! We focus on building writing and reading skills in tandem because a strong understanding of the relationships between the processes of encoding (writing) and decoding (reading) is a powerful support of early literacy!


Math

In a fully-implemented Montessori Children's House, progress towards early numeracy is also supported with a cohesive set of materials and activities designed to support increasingly complex encoding and decoding of mathematical symbols. For example, the large number cards and stamps (small plastic squares) pictured below work something like mathematical Movable Alphabets to support early encoding of mathematical concepts!

In Children's House East, there was a real fad for "counting chain" from the Bead Cabinet among the most advanced or "mathy" children. Work with the materials of the Bead Cabinet is designed to develop and reinforce strong counting skills while offering children clear Sensorial impressions of multiples, factors, squares and cubes!


The Great Outdoors

As in years past, our entire community enjoyed experiencing spring unfold during hours spent in thick coats and other ones in sun hats and shades out in our natural, outdoor play space!

On May 5th, our After Care I crew welcomed a group of newly hatched chickens as they traveled from a local high school to the farm where they will spend their lives! (Thank you, Kim, for sharing your knowledge and excitement about all things chicken!)

On May 20th, many of our community members traveled north for a tour of Sunrise Sanctuary. While I was not able to make it — or access many of the pictures taken during the trip — it sounds as if much was learned about the needs and life cycles of animals! (A big thank you to Anna and Jenny (Syd and Ike's mother) for coordinating the trip!) We are hopeful this experience will be the first of many Family Field Trips in the year ahead!

Last but certainly not least, on May 27th, we were happy to celebrate the completion of our School Year Session and many children's development at CMC over the years with our (Second Annual) End of the School Year Picnic!

Thank you, as always, for the time and resources you have spent learning about and supporting our little community! We are looking forward to celebrating summer and catching up with many of you at our (Third Annual) Summer Solstice Picnic Potluck on the evening of June 21st!

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