Spanish in the Classroom

The Spanish language can be heard in three FMS classrooms as naturally as we hear words and phrases being said in English. Two of our Primary classrooms and one of our Lower Elementary classrooms deliver their lessons in English and Spanish. P1040065In the Primary rooms, the lessons mirror the work shown to the children in English. If a child has done a math lesson using the small bead stair, they will also be given the same lesson using Spanish nomenclature.

“One” becomes “uno” and “two” becomes “dos.” In the process of using the Spanish language to respond to the teacher; the students are reinforcing their core lessons, while at the same time, they are utilizing their second language skills in a practical and useful way.

Lower Elementary students in E3 have the extra benefit of doing math, grammar and word studies in Spanish. They also read books in both English and Spanish, and are asked to apply their written skills in the Spanish language. By the time a student has gone through Primary and Lower Elementary Spanish immersion classes at FMS, they will have had 6 years of actively learning and using the Spanish language. Research confirms that immersion in a second language when a child is young, often makes it easier for the child to acquire the fundamentals of using the second language.P1040072

Author Ronald Kotulak observes, “During the first three years of life, the foundations for thinking, language, vision, attitudes, aptitudes, and other characteristics are laid down.” He states in Inside the Brain, “Consequently, it would be a waste not to use a child’s natural ability to learn during his or her most vital years, when learning a second language is as easy as learning the first.”

Picking up the Spanish language comes naturally in our primary aged classrooms and is further refined as our students move into their lower elementary classrooms. P1040070All students on campus are given the chance to learn Spanish even if they are not enrolled in our Spanish immersion classes.All other classes are visited on a weekly basis from our Spanish speaking teachers and are taught the fundamentals of the language. This time spent learning the Spanish language in a primary and elementary setting lays the groundwork for all of our students who elect to take Spanish in high school. FMS graduates report that having the chance to learn Spanish, while here on campus enhanced their ability to further their skills in high school.

Process Precedes Content


“As a child becomes familiar with the expectations in a Montessori classroom, they develop a sense of internal order helping them navigate through the multitude of decisions they make on a daily basis. Part of the core foundation of a Montessori classroom is ‘freedom with responsibility.’

“A Montessori student enjoys the freedom of choosing a variety of work, once they have learned the specific steps of using the materials and to work at the level matching their experience and abilities.

“Often, it takes time and practice for a child to use the materials in the way they were initially presented by the teacher. If a child is not engaging the materials in a concise way, it becomes vital for the teacher to continually model the way it needs to be done. The child needs a clear view of how something is done in order to achieve mastery of the skill.


“If the child is left with an unfinished impression of how to do something, they are not enjoying the higher level of confidence they could experience by following a process that is tried and true. Integrating a process of how something is done is the foundation for learning. We know that a sure, steady organized approach to a work is going to net a better experience for the child and increase the likelihood of them using the materials independently again.

“Even at home, it can be helpful to encourage your child to take their time with any tasks you might ask them to do. Maybe putting their toys away in an organized and consistent process could help foster the habit of slowing down and doing something with full attention.”

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From the P2 Blog

Concentration in the Classroom

“Children are born with an amazing capacity for learning and interacting with their parents and their peers. It is the gift of the Montessori education that a child is methodically shown the process for doing a job, moving in the classroom, or taking care of their body (eating and washing hands, putting on a jacket).

“All of this attention to ‘how’ the work is done reinforces the idea that if you slow down and pay attention to the order of the task and to the way your work is laid out, then you will get it done with more ease and in a less stressful way.


“To the untrained eye, it may not be obvious why a teacher would sit one on one with a three year old and carefully watch them transfer items from one bowl to another. Yet the grasp of the item is important (as it leads to the coordination of holding a pencil, the fundamentals of writing). The transferring of the items from left to right is also important, as it trains the young student’s eyes and mind to move in the same direction they will be using when they read words on a page.

“We are also mindful of the way the materials are handled by the student; are they engaged with the specific task at hand or are their eyes wandering away from the job to look around at their friends? Can they develop the concentration to be fully present with the task at hand? All of these core behaviors create the template for learning, not only from an academic view; but for how all information is received and processed internally. It is a lens for living their lives.” — From the P2 Blog

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.

Courtesy in the Classroom

Let’s peek inside the doors of P2, where students are learning about the concept of courtesy in the classroom.

“Grace and courtesy are fundamental concepts taught by Dr. Maria Montessori  in her original school for young children of working class parents. It was the recognition of how the children and their ‘guide’ (teachers) interacted with each other inside the classroom that helped create a peaceful and productive learning environment.

Today, we see that when each child recognizes that their voice and their actions have a direct impact on the flow of the whole class, they experience the power of working and being with others.

Not only do they begin the lifelong process of developing inner control and discipline but they experience the joy of being in harmony with the collective. It is a profound and important lesson in social development.

Some examples of practicing grace and courtesy begin first thing in the morning when the classroom doors are opened and the children are welcomed into the classroom. You may see a teacher extend their right hand greeting the child individually by name.

This action calls the child to the present moment and gives them a deep sense of belonging to the whole group. At the same time, this gesture reminds the child that they have entered a special place of learning and that they individually play an important role in that space.

Pushing in a chair after completing a task, is another tangible action of courtesy and one that our students experience numerous times a day. While the act is practical and signals to the child that they have completed their task, it reinforces the awareness that other children are using the environment with them.

Replacing a job in the condition they received it in and at the precise spot on the shelves also creates the awareness that if they do their part to preserve the order in the room, the whole Montessori classroom functions at a higher level. Watching a young three-year-old cheerfully push in a chair and roll up a mat is one of the delights of being a Montessori teacher.

Try this at home:

Create a simple method of organizing their toys or books. Use baskets and shelves to find a specific home for each toy or groups of toys and then teach your child to consistently replace the item in that exact spot. Actions speak louder than words, so in the beginning you might have to show your child the correct location for the toy and repeat the lesson until they have absorbed the idea. Once your child sees the advantage of having their toy accessible in the same location, it will be easier for them to return it consistently to that spot.”

–The P2 Teachers

See more pictures on their blog (FMS Parents only)

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

Primary Starts Off Right

Let’s peek into the window of P3, where primary students are already making friends and learning new things:

“We are having so much fun getting to know your wonderful children. We love our new friends already! We spent the first week easing into the school routine. We will spend the next few weeks of school building our classroom community, getting to know one another, learning important social skills and practicing all of our school routines.


Our goal is to take the time to explain the daily steps needed for our children to truly succeed. We have found that children progress much faster throughout the school year, and accomplish much more academically, if we take the time at the beginning to model and practice appropriate behaviors. We will teach children how to get along with one another and solve problems in a peaceful and respectful manner. We want every child to feel a sense of belonging and of course have fun!

We are working hard at building independence and responsibility. The children are practicing the morning routine of putting their lunch box in their cubbie, washing their hands, choosing a work, and putting their finished work in their file folders. During snack time, the children are serving themselves, cleaning their snack area and getting to know each other through daily conversations during snack.

Our returning students are doing a wonderful job being role models to our new students and helping and guiding them throughout the day. We are thrilled to be spending our year with your children. It is going to be a full year of growth, friendship and laughter!

This month’s themes are: Safety and Community Building, Health and Nutrition, Living vs Non-living, Land and Water. In addition, each month the children will be doing self-portraits to display on the wall. The children had a great time looking into a mirror and drawing themselves. We have some very proud artists!”

— P3 Teachers

 See more pictures on Primary 3’s blog (FMS Parents only).

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

Into the Rainforest

This month, primary and lower elementary students have been exploring South American geography and culture and learning all about the amazing biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest.

Many had the chance to meet two capybaras (the largest rodent in the world, indigenous to South America) and a grey parrot named Buckley. Students sampled delicious tropical fruits such as papaya, pineapple, mango and coconut. We danced the tango and played native instruments such as the zampona, jira, jicara and maracas. Many parents and students shared items from their journeys through these beautiful countries, and we thank you for your participation!


Students are also learning about the importance of “reduce, reuse, recycle” and how vital the rainforest and indeed all of nature is to our collective well being. P2 sewed reusable napkins so they wouldn’t have to throw away so many paper napkins and paper towels! We are enjoying learning about all the amazing plants, animals and ecosystems of South America and what we can do to preserve them for future generations.

Right now, primary and kindergarten students are enjoying a rainforest assembly to complement their studies of South America. We can’t wait to hear all about it!

Click the links below for more pictures!

[button url=”” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”cherry” ]Primary 1[/button]

[button url=”” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”cherry” ]Primary 2[/button]

[button url=”” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”cherry” ]Primary 3[/button]

[button url=”” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”cherry” ]Primary 4[/button]



Field Trips and Fun

Many students have been out and about on field trips recently, learning in a sensorial, hands-on way.

Primary and Kindergarten students went to the Natural History Museum, where they learned about dinosaurs, sharks, wild animals, fossils and more. They also recently visited the Estes McDoniel Marine Lab, where they explored the many creatures of our amazing oceans.

Elementary recently visited the Nevada History Museum and Springs Preserve. They have now built their own model wagon trains which are now on “a journey.”

Our middle schoolers are now in California at Pali Adventures, which is sure to be a truly unforgettable experience. We will have to wait until Ms. Erica and the rest return to hear all about it!

For more news and a TON of great pics, check out your child’s classroom blog!

Benefits of Spanish Immersion

Let’s take a look into the window of P1, one of our Spanish Immersion classrooms.

“Hola, como estas?” (Hi, how are you?) “Por favor” (Please), “Gracias” (Thank you) are a few of the common Spanish phrases heard in our classroom as we begin our day together. “Uno, dos, tres” (one, two, three) can be heard as the children count in Spanish. “Por favor, venga al circulo, no mas trabajo,” (please come to circle, no more work) is an example of the daily instructions our students hear as they experience the Spanish language in a natural and routine manner.

We have found that singing in Spanish is also an easy and enjoyable way for the children to hear the rhythm of the language. The children work with exclusive Spanish language materials in learning how to identify objects and pictures in Spanish. They do this by learning how to pronounce, spell and associate the concepts in the Spanish language. The Montessori math materials are also taught in Spanish, once the concepts are learned in English. — From the P1 Blog

Spanish Immersion is an optional program for ages 3 through third grade that is designed to provide students with a solid foundation for bilingualism. Half of all lessons are given in Spanish and one classroom support teacher speaks only in Spanish, creating a native-like environment. Conversing, singing and doing works in Spanish is a fun and natural way to acquire bilingual fluency and cultural understanding. Research suggests that learning languages at earlier ages and over longer periods of time supports second-language acquisition (Tochon, 2009). Benefits include:

  • Increased ability to control attention and keep information in memory, better awareness of language structure and vocabulary, and improved skills in creative thinking and problem solving (Adesope, Lavin, Thompson, and Ungerleider, 2010).
  • Bilingual students attain higher levels of achievement on standardized tests in reading, writing, social studies, and math, and report higher levels of self-confidence (Tochon, 2009).
  • Students in “50-50” language-immersion schools, in which students spend half of their day learning in a nonnative language, perform as well as, or better than, students in monolingual schools on standardized tests, and these benefits extend to English-language learners as well as native English speakers (Gómez, Freeman, and Freeman, 2005; Palmer, 2009; Thomas and Collier, 2002).
  • Learning a second language not only has cognitive and academic benefits, it also supports a greater sense of openness to — and appreciation for — other cultures and improves opportunities for cross-cultural friendships and employment (Tochon, 2009).



Chinese Acrobats Visit Primary

Last week, the primary students witnessed some amazing acrobatics during their Primary Assembly.

Says P4: “We began our week with a fantastic assembly with the Chinese Dancers. The children and teachers were amazed by their unique talents and acrobatic abilities. The men were able to flip and create human pyramids, and the women juggled and did a Chinese yoyo routine. It was endearing to watch the students emulate the performance during recess time.”

You can see tons of amazing pictures from the assembly (and other classroom activities) by visiting the primary classroom blogs under Classroom News. Check it out!

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