Celebration of Life

One special Montessori tradition is the celebration of a child’s birthday. Called “The Celebration of Life,” it involves the child standing in the middle of a circle with all of the children seated around him or her. In the center of the circle is a paper cut-out of a sun, a candle, and the 12 months of the year.

Displayed prominently is a poster board with pictures of the child at each age and the child’s life story. The child’s parents can also provide snacks. While some families prefer traditional birthday treats of cookies and cupcakes, we recommend striving to provide nutritious (yet delicious!) treats such as oatmeal cookies, fruit trays and whole wheat muffins.

As an expectant hush settles over the room, the teacher begins: “On [child’s birthday and time of birth], [child’s name] was born to loving parents and two older siblings, all of whom were very excited for [child’s name] big arrival.” The candle in the sun is lit, and the child, holding a globe, gets ready to walk around the sun. The teacher continues telling about the child’s first year on earth. Then all the children sing, “A trip around the sun, A trip around the sun, every year we get to make  a trip around the sun.” Says the teacher, “Now [child’s name] is one year old!” The teacher proceeds to tell stories from this year and to hold up or point to the pictures on the board. This continues until the child’s present age. The child can then blow out the candle to make a wish, and treats are enjoyed.

There are many variations on this theme, and if your child has a summer birthday, you can host your own Celebration of Life with friends and family. Here are some more instructions, and here is a video of an example. Another great story to read on a child’s birthday is On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier.

What you will need:

  • paper cut out of a sun
  • candle
  • small globe
  • days of the month
  • pictures of the child at each age
  • Life story (here is an example)

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

The Keys to Success

My name is Elizabeth Carleton. I was very honored to have my essay selected to be the speech at eighth grade graduation; many thanks to Ms. Arlene for helping me to polish my speech. I have been going to FMS since third grade and it has been a wonderful time. I am excited to start ninth grade at Bishop Gorman High School in the fall. I will be taking forensics and hope to continue refining my oratory technique. I also hope to join the musical theatre program and expand my recent interest in classical singing. Much gratitude to FMS for helping me to begin my journey!

[h2]The Keys to Success[/h2]

The purpose of a key in its most literal sense is to open a lock. A key to success can unlock many different things for many different people, depending on their unique perception of success. For some, success means money. For others, it’s helping those less fortunate. For others yet, it means having a family.

I have already acheived some success in my young life. I experienced success when I rode a bike for the first time as a child, and again recently when I mastered the French song Dirait-on. In between, I was the school winner for the AMC-8 School Mathematics Competition, solved the Rubik’s Cube, and have never lost a game of Risk. These successes, though small in the grand scheme of the world and even in my life, have helped motivate me to learn more and reach higher. Small successes are to life as caffeine is to mornings; they help us to get up and move.

Success is important because it adds a sense of fullfilment to life and enables us to go wherever we want to. I believe that true success is having the empowerment and the knowledge to leave your mark on this world, like a thumbprint on moist earth. Everyone has goals, and success can mean either acheiving those goals or finding new goals aong the way.

Picture life as a maze, an intricate, constantly changing maze. Some find contentment in following the path of wisdom laid down by history, while others are not satisfied until they have become a trailblazer and found an innovative way to navigate the maze. As long as one enjoys both the journey and the destination, both are wonderful. At intervals, there are choices we must make that will shape our paths. Sometimes, not every path is open to us. That’s when we need a key. Almost six years ago, my maze took a sharp and unexpected turn: my family had to move halfway across the country. I had never lived outside of the small-town Midwest in my life, and I was a little shell-shocked. Luckily, I stumbled upon the small metaphorical garden of Foothills Montessori School.

This school is different from other schools. It’s not all about test scores, it’s about — as Ms. Erica says — learning to understand. FMS has instilled in all of us the joy of learning and given the tools and the knowledge we need to have successful careers in high school, in college, and in life.

In our early years, the Montessori method nurtured our imaginations and helped us grow from toddlers to inquisitive children. As we progressed into elementary school, not only were we taught fundamental knowledge about the world around us, but our curious minds were indulged with the refrain, “Go research it!”. In middle school, many of the Montessori materials became less fundamental, but our school continued to differ from most. Ms. Erica constantly strove to improve her math lessons to an even higher level, and she always had interesting demonstrations in science and invigorating reenactments in history. In Ms. Arlene’s English class, we learned so much more than grammar and spelling. We read culturally significant books and discussed every aspect, relating them to current and historical events. In both classes, we were taught critical thinking skills and learned how to apply our knowledge to the world around us.

At this school, teacher and student form a unique bond based on mutual respect and appreciation, and I can’t imagine a more secure and supportive environment for student-on-student interaction. Out of these bonds, we forged keys: the keys to success.

I have been attending this school since third grade, and I have watched my peers and myself grow from uncertain and tentative children to confident young men and women who are ready for whatever the next bend in our theoretical mazes brings. In this unique learning environment, the teachers and staff strove to help us recognize our path and gave us the neccesary keys to help us go where we like in our mazes of life.

As former U. S. Representative Solomon Ortiz said, “Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students.” That could never be more true than it is here at FMS. You have all shaped my path in ways that I never imagined possible. I will always look on my time here as one of the most enjoyable and enriching times of my life.

Today, my fellow eighth graders and I have reached a critical milestone: the metamorphosis from middle school to high school. Here, our paths part — perhaps for good. We must plunge on down the maze of life, in all likelihood meeting with thorns aplenty. But this wonderful school has given us — and we have given each other — the keys we need for the next phase of our lives. I know that everyone on this stage has the knowledge and the determination to unlock their success. I will always remember my outstanding teachers and the amazing group of people graduating with me today. Thank you for the keys.
Foothills Montessori School is a private Montessori school serving families in Henderson, Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.

Summer Fun in Las Vegas

There is absolutely no excuse for sitting at home and being bored this summer. Put down the video game controller and get outside! Here are some activities and camps around town — from Shakespeare to fencing lessons — that will keep your children active, busy and making friends all summer long!

And the list goes on.
Don’t forget, you can always join us on the Foothills Montessori campus for sports, games, arts and crafts, outdoor fun and more! Camps include tennis lessons and swimming at nearby DragonRidge Country Club. Call 702-407-0790 to enroll today!
Foothills Montessori School is a private Montessori school serving families in Henderson, Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.

 

The Great Technology Debate

In the April 2013 issue of The Atlantic, author and national correspondent Hannah Rosin takes a long look at The Touch-Screen Generation: the current under-10 set who are just as familiar with Angry Birds as they are Goodnight Moon.

While attending a California conference for developers of children’s apps, a rapidly expanding industry that has some jumping on the “digital education is the future” bandwagon and others longing for less tech-trendy days, she pontificates:

“What, really, would Maria Montessori have made of this scene? The 30 or so children here were not down at the shore poking their fingers in the sand or running them along mossy stones or digging for hermit crabs. Instead they were all inside, alone or in groups of two or three, their faces a few inches from a screen, their hands doing things Montessori surely did not imagine.”

After interviewing various experts, researchers and psychologists — and conducting informal experiments with her own toddler — Rosin ends up echoing the beliefs of Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician who directs the Center on Media and Child Health. As quoted in this 2010 New York Times article, he says “with media use so ubiquitous, it was time to stop arguing over whether it was good or bad and accept it as part of children’s environment, ‘like the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat.'”

In other words, stop setting time limits and stressing out, and just let them touch, tap and swipe away. But then, some say toddler iPad addiction is a very real thing, while studies are suggesting that too much tech time can lead to behavioral and relationship problems.

The debate goes on, even at The Atlantic. This month’s issue revived the roundtable via an interview with longtime tech executive Linda Stone. In “The Art of Staying Focused in a Distracting World,” she claims that tech overload can lead to a condition that is “worse than autism”, a lack of empathy, and even “a kind of sociopathy and psychopathy.”

But the app-happy parents and entrepreneurs at Rosin’s conference whimsically quote Montessori (“The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence”) and emphasize their wares’ educational potential. After all, whether they are tracing a “C” on a screen, in the dirt, or on sandpaper, the end result is the same.

Others assert that technology is essentially and fundamentally Montessorian, in that it allows the individual to learn at his or her own pace, unimpeded. The world’s knowledge is, after all, at your fingertips, and the tablet is a powerful, interactive tool that arguably has its place on Montessori shelves as well as in the home. Everyone from the 2013 Ted Talk winner to forward-thinking educators agree that we need to integrate technology to prepare students for the future, as well as to empower and equip them in new, never-before-seen ways.

Somewhere there is an ideal balance to be found between hands-on, person-to-person learning, time spent playing outdoors, and Toca Tea Party. It’s up to us as parents and educators to find it.

What do you think? Let us know on our Facebook page.

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

What We Learned

FMS Middle School students had a busy year, learning everything from electromagnetism to etymology.

From building (and then knocking down) a periodic table of elements, to re-enacting the WWII D-Day Normandy Invasion, to dissecting cow eyeballs, to traveling the Oregon Trail, to discussing Lord of the Flies and 1984 … the list goes on.

 

Here is a partial list of the 2012-13 Middle School curriculum and activities:

History

  • Colonization
  • Road to Independence
  • American Revolution
  • Current events
  • War of 1812
  • Westward Expansion
  • U.S. Geography

Physical Science

  • Matter
  • Periodic Table of Elements
  • Chemical Reactions
  • Acids, Bases & Solutions
  • Motion & Forces
  • Work & Machines
  • Energy
  • Electromagnetism

Math

  • Algebra/Pre-Algebra

Languages

  • Spanish
  • French
  • German
  • Farsi

Language Arts

  • grammar, etymology, vocabulary, spelling
  • reading comprehension/critical thinking
  • 1984, Lord of the Flies, The Pigman, Fahrenheit 451, and more

Music

  • Rhythm: composing and notating complimentary rhythms, utilizing rhythmic improvisation as the melody over ostinato accompaniments, swing feel vs. straight classical feel
  • Melody: explore Renaissance music via Alto recorder, improvisation over modal music with shifting cords
  • Form: ABA, rondo, canon
  • Rhythm: poly-rhythms, poly-meter, compound meters 5/4, 7/8, 12/8
  • Melody:  from improvisation to composition – creating melodies
  • Form: 4 part canons, theme, & variation Rondo, ABA, ABAC

Physical Education

  • Kicking Skills/Throwing Skills
  • Cooperative Games/Team Building
  • Net Ball
  • Lacrosse
  • Softball
  • Yoga & Aerobics
  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • Track & Field

Art

  • Self-Portrait and Environmental Studies
  • Techniques used by artists: Euclide, Nicholls, Millet, Duchamp, Calder , Rickey, Escher, Termes, Rembrandt, Dolci
  • Develop skills using: Ink, Pastel, Acrylic Paint, Sculpture, Metal, Pencil
  • Identify elements of art: Radial Balance, Symmetry, Texture, Positive/Negative Space
  • Literature, Social Concerns, Visual Culture Studies
  • Techniques used by artists: Escobar, Dr. Seuss, Judi Chicago, Britto, Johns, Warhol, Picasso, Shulte, Ocampo
  • Develop skills using: Mixed Media and Found Materials
  • Identify elements of art: Perspective, Dimension, Space, Texture, Value

Partial List of Field Trips

  • Techatticup Mines (history and chemistry)
  • Mt. Charleston Rope Course (community building)
  • New York New York roller coaster (physics)
  • PALI (adventures and skill-building in California)
  • Opportunity Village (community service tradition)

[button url=”http://elementary1.fmsparents.com/2013/06/01/our-most-memorable-middle-school-lessons-2011-2013/” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”coolblue” ]Our Favorite Lessons[/button]

[button url=”http://foothillsmontessori.com/congratulations-class-of-2013/” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”coolblue” ]List of 2013 Graduates[/button]

[button url=”http://foothillsmontessori.com/middle-school-memories/” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”coolblue” ]Middle School Memories[/button]

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

Middle School Memories

“In 20 years, when I have a job that I enjoy and look forward to everyday, I will look back to my upper elementary and middle school years, and will give thanks for everything I had.”

— Noelani, 2013 FMS Graduate

[button url=”http://foothillsmontessori.com/middle-school-memories/” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”coolblue” ]MORE MIDDLE SCHOOL MEMORIES[/button]

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

Congratulations Class of 2013!

We would like to congratulate our eighth grade middle school students who are graduating from Foothills Montessori School and going on to the exciting realm of high school!

Next week they will be honored at a special Graduation Ceremony, where they will give speeches, receive diplomas, celebrate with parents, fellow students and staff, and commemorate their academic achievements.

2013 Foothills Montessori Graduates and their chosen high school:

Helena Ward – Bishop Gorman

Elizabeth Carleton – Bishop Gorman

Javid Habashi – Bishop Gorman

Spencer Schmidt – Lake Mead Christian Academy

Robyn Myers – Green Valley High School

Noelani Mattstedt – Green Valley High School

Allie Weddell – Las Vegas Academy

Cindy CK Tung – Las Vegas Academy

Cristina Pate – Las Vegas Academy

Marleigh Pape – Las Vegas Academy

2012-13 sure was a busy one, filled with history, science, math, language arts, hands-on projects, foreign languages, field trips and more. Ms. Erica has been meticulously recording it all in her classroom blog, complete with pictures and video. Check it out!

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

The Montessori Mafia

In this Washington Post piece, Peter Sims calls entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos, Jimmy Wales and Larry Page “the creative elite” and “the Montessori Mafia,” an idea echoed by a follow-up article by the Harvard Business Review, “Montessori Builds Innovators.”   [button url=”http://foothillsmontessori.com/studies-articles-and-more/” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”coolblue” ]STUDIES, VIDEOS AND MORE[/button]

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

Loving the Earth

All throughout the month of April, FMS students learned about the earth’s ecosystems and focused on how to preserve them for future generations.

Primary students learned about “the three Rs” (reduce, reuse and recycle) and sewed cloth napkins so they wouldn’t have to throw away so many paper towels. Elementary students toured Whole Foods to learn about where our food comes from and participated in a variety of upcycling projects like planting herbs in old Chinese food takeout boxes, making natural air fresheners from baking soda and essential oils, and using old T-shirts to make headbands and bracelets.

 

On Earth Day, middle school students helped the primary students in a completely student-directed project that involved planting a basil garden, building a homemade birdbath and making windchimes out of found materials.

We encourage parents to check out storyofstuff.org to learn more about the environmental impact of waste and this Pinterest board for upcycling projects you can do at home.

Finally, seventh grader Kyla Savage wrote a poem about her Earth Day experience. Enjoy!

“On Monday we went to go celebrate

Earth day because our earth is so great

We went to P4 to help them with crafts

We had lots of fun and shared lots of laughs

 

There were 3 main things we wanted to get done

All earth friendly and all lots of fun

It involved paint, glue, pots, cans, hangers and flowers

We managed to get it done in just under an hour

 

Wind chimes are what the first group made

They will blow in the wind as the preschoolers play

They were made with recycled materials such as cans, buttons and string

They were a great addition to the garden this spring

 

The second group planted in the yard of the class

They planted Basil that was next to the grass

Even though the planting made some what of a mess

The preschoolers still loved it and thought it was the best

 

Making bird baths was also lots of fun

We worked together until the pots were done

We stacked the pots and painted them yellow, orange, pink and blue

These projects were eco friendly and we had a great time too”

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