Entries in kindergarten (4)

Tuesday
Sep012015

Children's House Montessori School of Reston: Offering a Unique Experience and an Authentic Montessori Education 

Each school in Northern Virginia offers something unique. When you are searching for a preschool for your child, it can be difficult to identify exactly what sets one school apart from another. So, we're going to make it easy and tell you what makes Children's House Montessori School (CHMS) of Reston so wonderful.

Our community is unique in it's own way - our families enjoy being involved in the school and it is not uncommon for families to form lifelong friendships during the time that their children are in our care. Our families return year after year, child after child - many have trusted us with 3 or more children, have been with us for 5-8 years or more. Our teachers are dedicated, educated, experienced with children, and all are Montessori trained. Our teachers make a difference in our community - in an area as transient as Northern Virginia, it's not common for all of the teachers to return to the same classroom year after year, but at CHMS they do. 

Our family community is strong because we have wonderful families of course, but we also believe in offering opportunities to spend time getting to know one another through events such as the Ice Cream Social and Parent Coffee at the beginning of each year, our fall and spring festivals, the eagerly awaited Parent Day, and the best of the best - our Annual Family Camping Trip - where memories are made that will stick with both the children and their parents for many years to come. It is truly a wonderful experience. 

In addition to our one of a kind community, we put a great deal of thought and effort into providing opportunities for children to explore and appreciate nature through the natural playscapes that we've added to our playground, creating several habitat gardens, a six week fall and spring gardening curriculum, and weekly educational hikes. If you are a lover of the outdoors, appreciate nature, and want your child to learn to love nature and value time spent outside, then you'll appreciate our unique focus on nature.

Our weekly "specials" go beyond traditional extras to offer educational enhancements to our curriculum. In addition to the previously mentioned educational hiking that we do each week as part of "specials," we also offer a spectacular Montessori music program, which Ms. Karen (assistant director) puts together for us each year. The children learn to read, play, and understand music. Classical music and classical musicians are integrated into our daily activites from preschool through kindergarten, and annually we have two music shows for the parents - one during the holiday program and one during the Kindergarten Art Show. Our third weekly "special" is Spanish. We bring in a fluent Spanish-speaking teacher to work with the children throughout the year to introduce them to a new language.

In addition to community, our focus on creating nature-based education, and weekly specials, we also integrate the Virtues Project into our daily interactions. Teaching virtues has made a significant positive impact on our environment. If you observe our classrooms and playground, one of the first things you'll notice is that the children take these virtues to heart and practice them in every interaction - they are cooperative, helpful, thoughtful, respectful, and kind to everyone around them and it shows by how peacefully they work and play together. The Virtues Project is a remarkable program that we are happy to offer.

The final unique program that we offer is one that starts as soon as the children enter the school and is integrated into the classroom throughout their three years with us - it is our focus on art appreciation. In the preschool and pre-k years, the children learn about artists, are introduced to famous works of art, and have ample opportunity to try a variety of art materials. But it is the kindergarten art appreciation classes and annual Kindergarten Art Show that provide the exceptional experience in art appreciation at CHMS. In kindergarten, the children receive art lessons, learn in depth information about 10 or so artists, and create their own replicas of famous art work. Our children leave CHMS with a thorough understanding and appreciation of art history, and we're told that many of them continue in their love of the arts long after they've moved on to elementary school.

We hope that you've clicked on the links throughout this blog post to learn more about what makes Children's House Montessori School of Reston so special. We welcome your questions via phone or email (703-481-6678 or Keturah@childrenshouse-montessori.com), and look forward to getting to know the new families who will join our CHMS community this year.

 

Friday
Jul102015

Our Montessori Kindergarten Art Appreciation Program

One of the highlights of the kindergarten year here at CHMS in Reston is studying some of the great artists of the world.  The children truly love learning about art history and artists throughout the year. We have a entire hallway dedicated to their masterpieces, take a field trip to the National Gallery of Art to see the paintings first hand, and every May we host a Kindergarten Art Show for parents to view their children's accomplishments. It's during the Art Show that parents realize just how much time and effort their children put into their art work...

Each week throughout the school year, the children learn about the history of art. We start with a book called "The First Drawing" by Mordicai Gerstein and then we take a make believe field trip to the Lascaux Caves in France (a sight famous for Paleolithic cave paintings). The caves were discovered in the 1940s by young boys who were out exploring the area when one of their dogs fell into a hidden underground cave.  Our kindergarteners are always surprised to learn that one of the greatest discoveries in art history was made by chidlren.

We set up a room across the hallway from the classroom with posters of Cave Art, turn off all the lights (it has no windows so it's really dark), and take the kids on an adventure to see what we can discover. We bring along a flash light and gather together in the center of the room to "ooh" and "aah" over the amazing images we are finding on the walls of the "cave" we have stumbled upon. It's always a fun day, and a wonderful, hands-on introduction to art history that the children remember and talk about all year.

Next we learn about Functional Art, which is anything that serves a purpose and has been decorated. We show examples of items that are plain and compare them to ones that have been decorated - a wooden bowl vs. a carved wooden bowl, a plain white porcelin vase vs. one that has been elaborately painted and decorated. We look around the school for all types of examples to use: flower pots, clocks, trays, anything we can find. We ask the children to think about things in their homes that might be considered Functional Art. They are interested to learn that a long, long time ago, people started creating tools and items to help them in their daily lives (bowls, baskets, clothing, etc) and at some point along the way, they decided that making those items beautiful was also important. Between the Cave Art and the Functional Art we establish that humans have been creating art for a very long time and in many different ways and now WE, the kindergarten class, are a part of that history as well.

We then begin our study of the lives and works of famous artists - some of whom are Johannes Vermeer (Golden Age), Claude Monet and Mary Cassatt (Impressionism), Vincent Van Gogh (Post-Impressionism), and Pablo Picasso (Cubism). We use a series of books called "Getting to Know the Worlds Greatest Artists" by Mike Venezia. Each book is about an individual artist, with details of their lives, pictures of his or her most famous works, and a few cartoons sprinkled throughout to add a little kid-humor. The children love these stories and learn so much about the artists in a fun way. We introduce artists that have an interesting story that might capture their interest like Rousseau, who never had a single art lesson and never traveled anywhere, yet painted incredibly imaginative jungle scenes, and Pippin, who was injured in World War I and had to use his left hand to support his right hand when he painted. These little details stick with the children and really leave an impression. Monet is a regular favorite and seeing "The Japanese Footbridge" during our field trip is always a highlight for the children. We also share with the children a portfolio of post cards of the artists' work to further tell the story of the artists.

We spend a month on each artist learning about their style of art and what makes them unique.  We usually have three or four art projects where we try our hand at the artist's unique style. Several of them are group projects, like the large "murals" of the Japanese Foot Bridge by Claude Monet and Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh. The rest are individual projects. We draw their attention to little things and think about how the artist was feeling or what they were thinking/doing when they decided to create their paintings. We use the "Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artist" series of books as well as books by Laurence Anholt to get to know who these artists where in an effort to better understand some of the choices they made about their art and what might have happened in their lives to motivate them artistically in some way. We also demonstrate specific techniques each artist used to create their works. The children can reproduce the works at the easel, just like they see the artists do at the National Gallery of Art during our field trip. 

During our field trip in the spring, the children recognize and know the stories about many of the pieces that they see.  The museum tour is led by a docent, and the children each receive their own sketch book to use as they learn more about these paintings during our time there. 

The children gain a true appreciation for art throughout their kindergarten year, and we have as much fun with the studies as they do.  It is such a joy watching them so engaged and learning to love the world of art.

 

You can read about our kindergarten program on this blog post or on our website. Please contact us to learn more!

Thursday
Jul022015

Kindergarten at Children's House Montessori School

Kindergarten is a unique and wonderful experience for the children at CHMS. Earth Keeper activities, an annual Art Show, and three field trips that expand on our learning in the classrooms are just a few of the things that the children most look forward to in their kindergarten year.

The kindergarten children spend each morning in their own classroom working on advanced math and language materials to prepare them for the tough work ahead each afternoon when our two classrooms combine for kindergarten from 1:00-2:30.

Some of our lessons are designed to help our children learn to collaborate on a group project and work together toward a common goal, since much of the work they've done in preschool and pre-k was done independently or with one or two other children. Other lessons are accomplished individually with the goal of listening and following instructions to prepare them for their adventures as first graders. We also work each week to teach the children to pay attention to details, to lengthen their concentration, to focus on a task, to learn about cooperation, improve their fine motor skills, and teach them to strive to do their best.

For the kindergarten children, our afternoons are dedicated to more in-depth work in handwriting, story and poem writing, advanced math concepts, science and geography, Earth Keepers, sensorial, sewing, nature hikes, and art appreciation.

 

  • We do handwriting every day for 15 minutes at the beginning of class. Children are taught the proper way to form each lower case letter, and practice in their writing journal. We then move on to capital letters, numbers, 3 and 4 letter phonetic words, sight words, phonograms, sentence writing, punctuation, and spelling tests. 
  • In addition to the creative writing the children do in the mornings, kindergarten children do story and poem writing. They write acrostic poems about the seasons, Japanese haikus about nature, and stories about the three field trips we take each year. 
  • Special math lessons include money, time, temperature, graphing, fractions, and measurement. We track the weather throughout the year and in May we create a line graph, a bar graph, and a pie graph to compare the weather through the seasons, and count the money collected for our Global Outreach each year.
  • Science lessons include learning about vertebrate and invertebrate animals in zoology and trees, flowers and leaves in botany. We draw and name the fins of a fish, take a hike in our neighborhood to collect, rub, and label leaves, and take a listening nature hike to graph how many different species of birds we find, just to name a few. 
  • In geography, we study the seven continents, as well as cultures and biomes. Two of our favorite lessons are when we draw a South American rainforest complete with native flora and fauna, and paint an Ndebele village from Africa.  
  • Earth Keepers includes work in our gardens to create a natural habitat for the animals that visit, maintain our certified National Wildlife Federation Schoolyard habitat with food, water, shelter and a place to raise young. We take nature hikes in our deciduous forest to learn about and sketch nature - we sketch our woodland biome and label the parts of the biome - land, air, water, plants, animals, energy (sun). 
  • Sensorial activities include the manipulation of sensorial materials, comparing and contrasting shape, size, and color. Some of the activities we do include painting shades of a color from light to dark and creating patterns of circles of graded size from the knobless cylinder boxes. 
  • Sewing is a favorite activity in the classroom. The children learn the major stitches by sewing projects throughout the year.  They cross stitch initials on fabric, make a pouch of whip stitch and bead design,
    and make a creative critter with blanket stitch and button eyes. Stitches they learn include: running stitch, back stitch, whip stitch, cross stitch, and blanket stitch, plus bead and button sewing.   
  • In art appreciation, or the study of art history, we begin with cave art, functional art, and then study 8 famous artists such as Johannes Vermeer, Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, and Pablo Picasso. Our focus is on the lives of the artists, learning what makes each artist special, experimenting with the techniques the artists used, and being able to recognize several of the most well known pieces from each artist. At the end of the year, the kindergarten children display their work during an Art Show.

We also enjoy three field trips each year.  Each field trip is intended to expand upon our classroom curriculum when we take the children out to experience what they have learned at the Montgomery County Recycling Center, George Mason University Center for the Arts to see a live play, and the National Gallery of Art to see paintings by the famous artists we have studied in art appreciation. 

Read more about our art appreciation focus and our kindergarten program

Wednesday
Jun172015

Pajama Day! Hooray!!!

 

Pajama Day is one of the most anticipated days of the year for our students at Children's House Montessori School. It is also the very last day of school each year.  The children wear their pajamas to school and bring a blanket, stuffed animal, and a flashlight with them for the festivities. They "roast" marshmallows over the flashlight fire, get cozy cuddling with their stuffed animals on our blanket, and get creative with crafts.  The preschoolers are especially excited because they've never experienced it before, but the pre-ks and kindergarteners talk about it all year.  The pre-ks can't wait because they remember all the fun from last year.  And the kindergarten children know it's the last event of their time at CHMS and enjoy showing their friends how it's done.  The kindergarteners also receive their yearbooks at the end of the day and have an opportunity to let their friends sign them. 

 

Well, today was Pajama Day and the end of the school year celebration. We all had a blast!  Our theme was a beach party - so the children brought their beach towels and we enjoyed decorating beach supplies - sand buckets and awesome personalized cups.  For the pot luck, each family brought their favorite dish to share. This is always a favorite because we find new recipes we love and get to try new foods/dishes we may never have tried before. 

While we are always sad for the year to end, this is also one of our favorite days. It's a day to celebrate the hard work and all the friendships made by each of the kindergarten children who will be starting a new journey in 1st grade - to celebrate the pre-ks who are almost anxious for summer to be over already so they can being their adventure at Children's House as the big kids in the fall - to celebrate the preschoolers who just a few months ago came to us ready to being their Montessori experience and are now eager for more...soon they will be learning to read and will be able to help their new 3 year old friends who will be joining us in a few short months.

We hope you all have a safe and wonderful summer! For our famlies who are moving on, please keep in touch, send us pictures, and come to visit once in a while - we'll miss you all!