Montessori School Feed

Chinese ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ New Year ๐Ÿ‰ Celebration at a Montessori School

The Year 2017 is the Year of a Rooster, according to Chinese zodiac cycle. The new year begins on January 28, 2017 and will last until February 15, 2018. (Guided by the lunisolar Chinese calendar, the date changes from year to year.) Today, Julia had a beautiful celebration at her Montessori school. Children heard a presentation about the meaning of this holiday, as well as held many traditional items used during the Chinese New Year celebration. Though in a winter, the holiday is called "Spring Festival" because the "Start of Spring" (4โ€“18 February) is the first of the terms in the traditional solar calendar. While wintery weather prevails, Chinese people look forward to the beginning of spring since "Start of Spring" marks the end of the coldest part of the winter. 

DSC_0189

A fifth of the world population celebrates Spring Festival. It is China's winter vacation week, like between Christmas and New Year's Day in Western countries. Schools in China get about a month off, and universities even more. China, Hong Kong, Korea and Macau get three days of public holiday. Other Asian countries such as Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei and Singapore also have public holidays.

DSC_0189

During the New Year holidays, people are making amends, reconciling with each other, and are re-establishing old ties. They clean their house, buy and wear new clothes, and give gifts. (Billions of red envelopes are exchanged during the celebration!) The houses are being decorated with banners in traditional New Year's colors: red (representing good luck) and gold (representing fortune). Food also has symbolism, where fish represents fortune, and long vegetables and noodles represent long life.

DSC_0189 Chinese New Year holidays resemble a mixture of Thanksgiving and Christmas, as celebrated in Western Hemisphere. Spring Festival brings unification of families, who joyfully celebrate harvest in hopes for good and prosperous new year. Chinaโ€™s railways expect to host 356 million passengers during the 40-day official travel season, known as "Chunyun." ("Chunyun" translates as "Spring Festival Transportation" and begins 15 days before the start of Chinese New Year and lasts for around 40 days.) The number of passenger journeys during the Chunyun period is being projected to be 2.98 billion for the 2017 holidays. It has been called the World's largest annual human migration. Many migrant workers seize their only chance in a year to flock from the cities back to their rural roots to reunite with their families and celebrate the holidays together. 

DSC_0189
DSC_0189
DSC_0189Children heard wonderful stories, and had a chance to hold and explore native traditional objects used during the Chinese New Year holiday. Children also tasted some traditional Chinese food and made crafts. It was a memorable celebration indeed! 

Read here a post about "How we celebrate ... the Chinese New Year of a Rooster."


Julia's 7th Birthday (Montessori Celebration of Life)

What do most children expect from a Birthday Party? Gifts, balloons, party decorations, and a lot of sugar in a form of a dessert :) Montessori approach on the other hand, aims to introduce a deeper and more meaningful understanding of what a birthday truly means. Little children cannot comprehend abstract ideas very well. So, telling them the date of their  birthday is as abstract to them as quantum leap to us, the adults. Instead, during a Montessori celebration, a child is offered a first impression of the relationship between the Earth and the Sun, and taught that a year is the amount of time it takes for the Earth to circle around the Sun once. A birthday child will generally tell a story of their life from birth to the present day (or a parent can tell a story if a child is too small).

DSC_0012

Smaller children celebrate Montessori Birthday by "walking the Earth" (read Adrian's 3rd Birthday Celebration here), where a birthday child is given a globe representing the Earth, a candle or a lamp is lit in the middle representing the Sun, and a circle is drawn on the floor either with a masking tape, or laid with a long piece of rope representing the orbit the Earth makes around the Sun. A child, while holding the globe, would slowly walk the line on the floor, realizing that the globe stands for the Earth, the planet we live on; and that every time the Earth goes all the way around the Sun, one whole year is passing by. "It takes one year for the Earth to go around the Sun one time - that is when you celebrate your birthday: when the Earth had completed its round." 

Julia just started Elementary at a wonderful Montessori school, so at her age level, instead of "walking the Earth", children sit in a circle, and Julia would mark her birth date on a season wheel, and then read her "life-story" year-by-year from a timeline. To prepare, Julia would look back at a year, reminisce, think of the most prominent events that had occurred, and hand-write them into the space provided, choose the pictures which would complement her writing, and I would finally laminate the pages, to prolong their use. 



DSC_0015-001Julia marking the month of her birthday on the season wheel.


DSC_0023-001A teacher lighting the candle to represent the Sun.


DSC_0023-001Here is where the ultrasound picture came handy :)

Julia is showing to her classmates the "Before I was born" page from her Timeline.

DSC_0032Showing the "Just Born" page from a timeline

DSC_0033When Julia was 4, her baby brother was born, so Adrian wanted to see his picture:)
 

After Julia have shared her "life-story"until her present birthday, children sang her a Happy Birthday Song.  

 

DSC_0037 making a wish for PeaceJulia's wish: "Peace Everywhere: inside oneself, among the family, in the world ..."

DSC_0039-001"Blowing off" the candle

You may also make a box, where you can collect pictures or sentimental things that represent each year. This way, the child can look through them each birthday. You might also want to consider making a time capsule of objects to help a child to reminisce the years that have gone by. If you have done a scrapbook, you would know what I am talking about: a picture, a ticket, some art or anything memorable your child decides to add. 

Just a note: birthday gifts are a big part of our children's birthdays, but they cannot be the entire focus of the birthday celebration forgetting the true meaning of the day of birth. Montessori approach helps us make it the day of reflection, a moment to make wishes, build dreams, a time to appreciate, remember, and gather together with loved and dear ones!

DSC_0001.JPG

A birthday card from Julia's Grandparents from South Korea. 

DSC_0002A gift from a friend from her new Elementary class :)
DSC_0002

 Thank you, everyone, for your kind wishes, for thinking of us, and for being in our lives.

 

For more reading, there is a nice overview of Montessori Celebration of Life (Birthday Celebration) and Waldorf inspired Birthday Ring from Montessori Print Shop. 


Kindergarten Graduation at a Montessori School

Today, Julia had a kindergarten graduation ceremony which started with a professionally staged Cinderella play. Interestingly, each child eventually chose a role they naturally gravitated towards, even though initially they thought they would want to portray someone else. For example, in the beginning, Julia hoped to play the Cinderella role, but in her "heart" she was a true Stepmother, whom she depicted very authentically.

DSC_0157-002

It was impressive that five and six year old children could remember, and flawlessly reiterate, dialogs which cumulatively ran for longer than 30 minutes.
DSC_0157-001

The skillfully intertwined script allowed each child to shine through their respective roles, while accommodating for different personalities and aptitudes, so that even the most timid child was "awaken" by the theatrical ambiance and performed splendidly: the timid child was gone - the actor was born :) From flawless dialogs and beautifully crafted hand-made costumes, to live musical performance by children on Orff instruments and choreographed dances and singing  ....

         ... to custom hand-painted stage decorations ...         

Carriage Carriage 2

DSC_0216-001

The play was splendid indeed! 

Parents teared, children cheered :) 

 

DSC_0170-002

At the end of the ceremony, each child received a scrapbook album, made with love by their teachers, presenting child's work throughout the year in the most detailed and meticulous manner.  Thank you Dear Teachers! To us, it is the most precious gift of all - the gift of carefully collected, thoughtfully crafted and lovingly assembled child's "work", pictures, achievements, milestones, friendship snapshots, and other special memories shared with this wonderful "Montessori School Family".

 After the play, children were invited to proceed to a graduation reception in their honor. 

DSC_0186-001child-size tables and chairs with matching crystal children's tableware, and child-size flatware ...

DSC_0182-003collectible heirloom table decorations

DSC_0195fresh flower arrangements

DSC_0195

children were tenderly catered for:

from orange juice and fresh fruit salad, to grapes with cheese and little sandwiches ... to mini cupcakes

DSC_0218-001
DSC_0195each table had its own theme 
DSC_0195

What an unforgettable reception indeed!

 

After the reception, kindergarteners gathered for a graduation picnic at a nearby park. 

DSC_0235Children enjoyed pizza, refreshments, and of course, each other's company
DSC_0235
DSC_0235
DSC_0235
DSC_0235

Children even had a visit from an ice-cream truck ... the day could not have been any better :)

Congratulations, Kindergarten class of 2016!


Teacher Appreciation Luncheon at a Montessori School

I truly believe that the most important person in any child's life, apart from a parent, is a teacher. When children are not only learning things that impress them daily, but are also being shown love by others, there is only one thing to feel: gratitude, and there is only one thing to say: thank you

Montessori education addresses the whole child: his/her physical, social, emotional, and cognitive growth. Thus, Montessori Teachers, besides assisting children in becoming independent learners, also help them to turn their attention outward - fostering solidarity, collaboration, respect and dignity of others. We never forget the young child who exclaimed โ€œI learned it myself!โ€ -and we will forever be grateful to teachers who, despite good or bad personal days, are always poised, always patient, always ready to give: knowledge, attention, discipline, affection .... themselves. I myself, have been home-schooling my two children, and I know how it can take a toll: emotionally, physically, mentally .... and they are MY children! Thus, it is so praiseworthy for a teacher to give oneself so unselfishly, so wholeheartedly, so constructively ... to the ones we love so dearlyโ€ฆto our children!

Our dearest Teachers - Thank You!

And on the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon, we want to show you how much you all mean to us!

DSC_0298.JPG

Dear Teachers, You are cordially invited to be a guest at Alice in Wonderland Tea Party!

DSC_0321

Is the Tea Party behind this magic door? 
DSC_0298.JPG

DSC_0321 

DSC_0334"The March Hare, have you seen Alice? What about our Special Guests - The Teachers?"

DSC_0376We have something very special prepared for them ...
DSC_0298.JPGFresh Flowers

DSC_0346Heirloom Decorations 
DSC_0346

DSC_0321
DSC_0298.JPG

DSC_0321

DSC_0387 DSC_0386
DSC_0387 DSC_0387

Food prepared by parents with love...

DSC_0366Sweets ... Anyone? Where is everybody? Having a tea?

DSC_0369

DSC_0373

DSC_0372 

DSC_0363Oh, and no tea party is complete withouttea!

DSC_0364

DSC_0345Gold-ribbon wrapped chocolate and custom printed playing card personalized with student's photo

Shhh ... each card will reveal a surprise! 

DSC_0298.JPG 

Thank You Our Dearest Teachers!

We hope that we showed you just how special you are to all of us!

 

p.s. It is such an honor to be part of such a wonderful parent-community who have put their hearts into making this event so special. From heirloom decorations and fresh flowers, to delicious home-made food and special gifts to commemorate the event ...

The Luncheon was simply fabulous :)


Decorating the Spruce Tree at Santaโ€™s Workshop

With Christmas spirit in the air, Julia's (Montessori) school had arranged a wonderful field trip to the Nursery, where each child is given a tree to keep and decorate. Questions were raised on the importance of trees and the role they play in our environment. Children eagerly replied that trees produce oxygen, give shelter to animals, and that some trees give us food. 


DSC_0347-001Children were given a variety of decorations to put on a tree.

DSC_0349-001

DSC_0355-001Each tree was individually decorated. 

DSC_0367-001In the Christmas spirit of giving, the tree itself was a gift from a nurseryโ€”both to children and the environment as the children pledged to care for their tree by watering and planting it outside after the last spring frost. What a beautiful gift indeed! Thank you for giving the children the opportunity to reconnect with nature, oneself and with others!


Today, we also had an opportunity to spread the Holiday Spirit to others. The Girl Scouts visited the Retirement Community and sang caroling and other holiday songs to its residents.  It is in the giving that one finds true happiness and fulfillment. And we did indeed. It is the season of giving after all! I hope that through these experiences my children find the true meaning of giving, and discover the true happiness in it. 

"Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more." H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

"Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love." Lao Tzu

"Happiness... consists in giving, and in serving others." Henry Drummond