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  • Taylor Dautremont

August 19th through September 17th 2022: Goodbye Summer and Hello School Year!

We have experienced a tremendous amount of change and growth at CMC as we've entered our third full School Year Session together this past month! Since I last shared photos and videos here, Yung Chi has done a beautiful job of reopening Children's House West and welcoming three new children to our community; over in Children's House East, Mary and I have welcomed eight new children while making plans to say goodbye to a handful of very dear and familiar community members.

On top of all that, I am proud and happy to share that CMC has just taken over ownership and management of 5400 Karl Rd. from Karl Road Christian Church! We plan to lease space back to KRCC and other former-KRCC tenants for at least several more months. However, we are also hopeful that this step will be an important one towards our long-term goal of offering fully-implemented Montessori to families of Central Ohio children from 12-weeks to 12 years of age!

As one way of introducing many new adults to our community and our Montessori practice this month, I've chosen to organize photos and videos by area of activity across our program: Practical Life; Language; Sensorial; and Math.

We'll start with the independence, concentration, coordination, and specific skills built through Practical Life activity:

Yazan, Sagine, and Rizwan enjoy our chalkboard.

Rita, Yazan, Roshan, and Oliver develop fine-motor skills alongside capacity for self-expression.

Our afternoon dance parties in Children's House East have also offered a variety of opportunities for self-expression.

Our dressing frames give Isla, Kyri, Elias, Mia, and all the children of CMC the opportunity to practice important self-care skills like snapping, fastening safety pins, buckling, buttoning, braiding, tying bows, and more.

Elias tries out a perennial favorite in Children's House East for the first time: Nut Cracking!

Flower Arranging has always had a special way of welcoming and welcoming back children to CMC! Above, Sagine, Elias, Zane, Kiki, Jiraiya, and Yazan (the black eyed susan above is his first ever flower arrangement) all add their special touch to one of our favorite Practical Life rituals.

Jada wipes her own face clean with a washcloth while James delights over a set of folding squares!

Opening and closing containers is also a big hit among those interested in refining their fine-motor control!

James enjoys the finger nail brush in the very special new hand washing set up in Children's House West!

Pouring or transferring beans and water from contain to container is another popular Practical Life activity in any well prepared Children's House. Here, Avi, KK, James, and Rizwan show off their developing skills.

And here is Dane pouring for the very first time in Children's House East during his Orientation Visit.

While our youngest and newest community members often find purpose just in the opportunity to repeat and refine their movements, older and more advanced members of our Children's Houses are often drawn to Practical Life activity as a path to caring for themselves and their community. Elias, Rita, and Hannah watch me sew a ripped seam in my old shirt; Carver cuts carrots for Wednesday's snack.

Refining the ability to feed oneself independently is also a real pleasure for our newest community members. More established community members tend towards using our buffet snack option to build important social skills around sharing food together.

After a busy Morning Work Cycle, the process of transitioning outdoors is a Practical Life opportunity all its own! Yaz sports his Mama's shades while waiting in the "CMC Train Station" to the left and, below, I lead a group of children newer to following an adult in a train (i.e., line) by explicitly modeling "keeping my hands to myself."

The rewards of a successful transition outdoors are many in terms of Practical Life skills and just sheer joy! The beautiful weather during the first four weeks of our School Year Session made the transition outdoors an easy one overall. However, as colder and wetter weather comes our way, our families can help keep all the joy alive by helping their children choose and bring weather appropriate clothing to school each day. Our guide to all things outdoor gear is here!

Our commitment to each child's language development at CMC begins in their very first days in their Children's House. Two important introductions to building vocabulary, awareness of the sounds of language, and overall communication skills are pictured above. To the left, there are two examples of our mainstay Sound Game (ask any child enrolled at CMC for more details or a game)! To the right, Yung engages Avi and James in learning new specific vocabulary with the use of a small set of picture cards.

Mary, Elias, and Rizwan offer two beautiful demonstrations of early/introductory level Sound Game play (both the boys are new to Children's House East this month)!

Children with strong vocabulary and an awareness of the constituent sounds of language are ready to engage in learning to match symbols (i.e., letters) to the sounds that make up their spoken vocabulary (i.e., phonemes). Above: Isla attempts to trace an 'i' (named for the first sound in inside, not like 'I' for ice cream) in sand; Rita and Yaz fetch Sandpaper Letters for me; Sage, Carver, and Sir work with me on our Green Sandpaper Letters (two-letter phonograms that round out the Sandpaper Letter's and the Montessori phonics system's representation of all common English phonemes); Rizwan, Kyri, Sir, Yazan, Oliver, and Dane pose for the camera behind their completed work of matching objects to their starting/beginning phonogram (e.g., 't' for tray; 'f' for fabric; 'ee' for equilateral triangle).

Sage and Kyri each carefully engage our Metal Insets. This material is at the intersection of Practical Life, Sensorial, and Language materials; it offers each child unique opportunities to refine their control of a writing implement and awareness of two-dimensional shapes on paper. The Metal Insets are one of the keys to literacy in the Children's House.

The Metal Insets' importance in our sequence of literacy learning opportunities is because the process of writing generally—constructing symbolic language—is a key to early literacy learning in Montessori. Above: Kyri, Hannah, Carver, and Sir work to write the names of common objects using our Large Movable Alphabet; I show off my writing with our new Movable Alphabet stamps to Mia and Rita; Roshan gives a thumbs up to his writing of my name in chalk; Wally copies the names of plants from our much-loved Trees, Leaves, Flowers and Seeds.

Roshan "reads" his writing in the Movable Alphabet (it's actually more of a recitation of a well loved joke he's worked hard to write).

One of the greatest joys I take in Montessori is observing all the ways that our sequence of Language learning activities support a love of books and reading. Above: Jada and Avi explore a couple of beautiful board books; Mary reads Saffron Ice Cream to a large group before retiring it from our bookshelf for the season; Mia reads the lyrics of a song about colors to Carver and Jiraiya; Rita, Wally, and Oliver review the names of common land and water forms. Below: Mia takes over my reading of Little House in the Big Woods during nap and rest one afternoon.

As with Practical Life and Language, we offer children opportunities to refine their sense perceptions and cognition from their first days with us. Here Jada engages two very early/introductory Sensorial materials: matching picture cards and stacking silicone semicircles.

Elias, Sagine, Kyri, and Dane engage in their own early Sensorial work, matching our Sound Shakers and Primary Color Tablets.

Wally and Jiraiya engage another important activity in our Sensorial sequence: grading (i.e., ordering according to changing characteristics). Wally is working with two sets of our Knobless Cylinders while Jiraiya works to regrade two sets of cylinders with knobs back into their blocks.

Here Jada focuses on her grasp of all those little knobs while using the structure of the Cylinder Block to keep one set of 10 cylinders graded.

One unique and valuable feature of the Sensorial opportunities we provide in fully-implemented Montessori is the ability to explore multi-sensory experience. Above, Zane uses language to describe his experience of touch (i.e., rough and smooth). More great examples of Sensorial experiences are pictured in the album below, including advanced "extensions" of Sensorial experience exploring concepts of Geography and Architecture.

Unlike the Practical Life, Sensorial, and Language areas of our learning environments, fully-implemented Montessori carefully layers Math skill-building opportunities on top of more foundational cognitive experiences and development. For this reason, many of our two and three-year-old community members do not engage with math materials beyond observing and perhaps helping more advanced children to clean up. Here is one of our many new four-year-olds in Children's House East, Kyri, working with two introductory math materials, the Sandpaper Numbers and graph chalkboard in her first weeks with us.

From the first introduction of number and quantity, we carefully focus on the relationships between the two and how to arrange that information most clearly in space. To the left: Hannnah, Sir, and Roshan learn a new exercise with the ten boards and beads. Below: Sir and Carver watch Sage take a first try at Numbers and Counters.

Here is Sir and Hannah's independent work a few minutes after wrapping up our lesson.

From an understanding of numbers and quantities from zero through ten, we dive into work exploring the decimal system with our perennially popular Golden Bead material. Above, Sir and Carver prepare to fetch different quantities of units, tens, hundreds, and thousands; Jiraiya watches as Elias puts quantities of Golden Beads away after an addition problem; Sir and Carver put away small number cards after the same addition problem.

After a child has a solid foundation regarding numbers, quantities, place value (i.e., the decimal system), and the four basic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division), our math materials focus on developing fluency in operational procedures and automaticity around math facts. Above: Hannah counts to 100 by 10s; Mia and Wally count to the cube of seven linearly (i.e., one bead at a time) while placing an arrow with the sum of their counting at the end of each group of seven; Wally mixes up his 6s and 9s a bit while using an addition fact chart; Wally looks up from grouping and counting eight bars (e.g., ". . .eight taken two times is sixteen, eight taken three times is twenty four. . .").

Lastly (both here and chronologically), I wanted to include a couple of happy and funny snaps from our tent at the Northland Unity Festival, which took place in our back yard on September 17th. It was a joy to have so many of our new and established families show up and pitch in! Going forward, please feel more than free to share your own photos and videos from our events. I'd be very happy to share what I can with our community (after filtering through our media sharing permissions and standards).

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