The Holiday Spirit

Now and throughout the year, Foothills Montessori students learn about a variety of holiday traditions celebrated by FMS families and people around the world.

“FMS is incredibly fortunate to have a diversified community lending to the enhancement of our cultural curriculum,” says Karen Kolb, Executive Director. “The holiday season is a wonderful opportunity for students and their families to share traditions and customs with their classmates.”

In P2, they learn about Las Posadas, a nine-day celebration which originated in Spain, and Diwali, a five-day “Festival of Lights,” in addition to family and cultural traditions surrounding Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Christmas and Hanukkah. E3 also learned about Diwali as well as another Hindu holiday called Raksha Bandhan, which commemorates the bond between brothers and sisters.

“At the end of our continental units, we like to celebrate the culture of the region we have just studied,” says Marian Rusche, Support Teacher in E1. “After sharing our projects on South America in early November, we had a feast for Dia de los Muertos. One of our moms made authentic Pan de Muerto (a delicious sweetbread), and we tried different drinks and cookies made in Mexico while listening to Latin music. We are studying Africa now and will have an African holiday celebration when we complete the unit just before winter break.”

April Dane, E4 Head Teacher, says: “In December we traditionally ask the parents to come in and share their family traditions. They may share the symbolism of lighting the Menorah or of decorating a Christmas tree. We may eat latkes, read books, or sing songs. During the year we celebrate traditions of the children in our class.  When we studied India this year we had our parents from India share traditional songs, religious traditions, food, history and culture. We usually  have quite a variety of cultural traditions and the children learn a lot.”

E6 enjoys similar activities. Says Head Teacher Amy Nhaisi: “Before Thanksgiving, parents make berry tarts and the students write letters of thanks. During Hannukkah, parents come in to share traditions and make latkes. Before Christmas, we discuss family traditions and parents come in to make gingerbread houses. We participate in a gift-giving collection for the needy and students make holiday gifts for parents.”

Ms. Danna, Head Teacher in E5, remarks: “These past two weeks have been pretty amazing! In observation of Thanksgiving we have conducted two service projects, one that is still in progress. Students went to Cashman Center and gave out clothes to the homeless community of Southern Nevada. It was an all-day event and they served thousands of people. Additionally we have been raising money for Bead For Life and had a booth set up during our PTO Holiday Bazaar. We raised over $500 for the women of Uganda and their families. We will be selling our beads until winter break.”

Whatever your holiday traditions now and throughout the year, Foothills Montessori wishes you health, happiness and lots of good cheer.

Learn more about holidays around the world.

Photo Credit: (“Diwali: One festival, many customs“)/AFP/Getty Images

Teaching Confidence

“These words reveal the child’s inner needs; ‘Help me to do it alone’.” — Dr. Maria Montessori

Each child in a Montessori classroom is treated with respect and dignity and is often addressed by peers and teacher as “friend,” creating an environment of equality rather than of hierarchy. The open floor plan enables unrestricted and independent movement; instead of being forced to sit at a desk all day and ask for permission to get up to use the bathroom or sharpen a pencil, the child is able to naturally engage with his peers, teachers and the fascinating materials which surround him.

Mixed-age grouping and the three-year cycle is another hallmark of Montessori classrooms. This creates a more natural learning environment and allows the child to develop appropriate social skills. Often, older children are able to serve as mentors for younger children, modeling good behavior and teaching them new skills. This empowers the children and cements previously learned concepts, and allows them to feel that they are integral and valued members of a community. Younger children learn to engage with others rather than always relying on the teacher to tell them what to do.

By teaching primary children how to do real-world tasks like pouring water, sewing and tying their shoes, they learn to be self-reliant while increasing hand-eye coordination, concentration and focus.

April Dane, E4 Head Teacher, remarks, “Young children love to do things for themselves because they have figured out that they can — things like walking, eating and playing. It is very physical. It is that wonderful realization that inspires them. At the elementary age they begin to see that not only can they do things for themselves physically like help make meals and dress themselves, but that they can make important choices including how to accomplish their goals and when it is important to complete their work. When the children in our class start realizing they have the power and control to accomplish things, they are so excited and say ‘I finished my goals this week.’ No one can tell them that, they have to experience it.”

Maryam Khadavi, Head Teacher in P3, agrees. “All work described by Dr. Montessori in Practical Life and other areas is to help a child to find his/her independence. She always emphasized that the hand is the chief teacher of the child and by using the hands to complete different tasks, children develop independence and build self-confidence. One of the things I do in my classroom is to give each child a particular project such as greeting the visitors, organizing the classroom, cleaning after lunch and watering plants, along with setting achievable weekly goals. In addition, occasionally I offer older children to select a student from the classroom and teach them three tasks in different areas. This also helps both older and younger children to build self-confidence and social skills.”

This sense of independence extends outside of the classroom into physical education, art, outdoor classroom and more. P.E. Teacher Ms. Angela tells of how excited a young student was after mastering the proper way to hold a lacrosse stick. Says Outdoor Classroom Specialist Ms. Valerie: “We always give the children choices so they can practice independence which allows children to feel empowered. Autonomy breeds spontaneous engagement and cooperation.”

In middle school, students are able to demonstrate what they learn through creative and innovative mediums and often present their projects to their peers, which allows them to develop valuable skills such as leadership, critical thinking, initiative, teamwork, public speaking, research techniques, troubleshooting, personal responsibility, time management and more.

In addition, students of all ages are allowed time for “heart work.” Says Ms. Erica, Middle School Head Teacher: “After they complete their goals and work they can go a step further to something they find really interesting and run with it; it can be something they are learning about in class or not.”

Both Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of Google Inc., have publicly credited their success as entrepreneurs to their early education in a Montessori classroom. In an interview with ABC News, Google CEO Larry Page remarks “I think that [our success] was part of that training of not following rules and orders and being self-motivated and questioning what’s going in the world and doing things a little bit different.”



Leading the Way

Two of our staff members, Erica Sherlock, E1 Head Teacher and Middle School Grade Level Head, and Nina Jacobi, E3 Head Teacher and  Elementary Grade Level Head, recently attended the 2013 ACSD Conference on Educational Leadership held here in Las Vegas, Nevada. They attended expert-led sessions such as “College and Career Readiness,” “Passion-Driven Leadership,” and “Effective Supervision,” and came away inspired with fresh ideas and armed with powerful new information.

In a speech by acclaimed educator and author Salome Thomas-EL, they learned about the “immortality of influence.” Says Erica, “It was a great speech about teacher passion and its endless influence. I learned to not ask for a lighter load, but a stronger back.”

Foothills Montessori School is a private Montessori school serving families in Henderson, Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.

Breaking New Ground

Thanks to the vision, dedication and hard work of parents, students and staff, our new courtyard gardens are currently underway.

A special thanks to Phillip Fagan and his crew for landscaping and Lorin-Pierre Andre for building the planters.



Meet Ms. Angela

“I look to each person whether old or young as a means to learn and grow … anything is possible with education, creativity and motivation.” — Angela Drew

[button url=”” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”coolblue” ]MEET ANGELA[/button]

Foothills Montessori School is a private Montessori school serving families in Henderson, Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.

Art in October

From Ms. Angela’s art blog: “As you may have guessed, the students at Foothills Montessori are busy creating amazing works of art. Each time I walk into a classroom, I look around at all these shining faces and watch them continually challenge themselves to produce works that show their intelligence and creativity.


“The fall has brought all sorts of amazing lessons. In the Primary classroom, we have worked on color and shape. Primary parents may have noticed their children spinning colorful tops or creating rectangles by making teeth out of clay. This week, we used spices to add tone to funny little faces after reading a story entitled, The Color of Us.

“Lower Elementary has begun to learn about artists like Picasso and Modigliani by creating exaggerated super heroes. We’ve discovered a new way to make delicious looking sweet treats by constructing clay cupcakes. Artists like Thiebaud helped to inspire our non-sugary confections.

“In Upper Elementary students have been studying the Middle Ages and Renaissance with projects that include modern twists on stained glass and illuminations. Look for amazing personal castle construction in the next few weeks as we study ancient castles and cathedrals.

“After our Middle School students completed their kinetic sculptures, we began a little facial reconstruction. Using mannequin heads, the students are challenging themselves with creating recycled portraits. You wouldn’t believe what they can accomplish with a few plastic spoons and old water bottles.”

Subscribe to Ms. Angela’s art blog today!

Foothills Montessori School is a private Montessori school serving families in Henderson, Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.

Cultivating Peace

From the P2 Blog: “Ms. Melissa has introduced a peace curriculum into our classroom based on Sonnie McFarland’s book Honoring the Light of the Child. It is an in-depth presentation of creating peace step-by-step, of learning how to be an active listener (of oneself and with others), and of problem-solving, all based on ‘activities to nurture peaceful living skills in young children.’


One of the first skills we practiced is learning how to make silence. It goes like this:


I cross my legs

I place my hands on my knees,

I make my back very straight,

I tell my body to be still,

I tell my mouth to be quiet,

I take a deep breath,

I close my eyes,

I make Silence and feel my love

You would not believe the quality of silence we witness on a regular basis when the children ‘make silence.’ It immediately puts them in an alert and quiet mood and we see the positive effects of this exercise during the work cycle that follows.

We also learned to recognize that each of us has a ‘light of love within ourselves.’ This was demonstrated by creating a person template, with a shadow template. The teaching is ‘that our own love light is always shining and there are times that we feel mad, sad or afraid. When this happens, it is difficult to feel our love lights.’

Even when we are feeling these emotions, our love light is always shining. There are ways to help our love light shine brighter.  We can take a moment and breathe deeply, practice the art of making silence, and allow the cloudy moment to pass, as it always will.

You may have seen your child wearing a little yellow felt circle pin. This is symbolic of their love light and when they feel like wearing one in the classroom they visit our peace area and pick one out to wear.”

To see more pictures and read more about the goings on in P2, click here.

Foothills Montessori School is a private Montessori school serving families in Henderson, Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.