Category Archives: Lower El Downstairs

The European Connection: Creative Connections in Lower Elementary

An open environment for making connections.
An open environment for making connections.

“The essence of creativity is to be able to disassemble and recombine elements in new ways.” – Adele Diamond, Canada Research Chair Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, University of British Columbia

Presenting European biome brochures.
Presenting European biome brochures.

Connective thinking, which is considered to be the foundation of true creativity, happens easily and organically in the Lower Elementary Montessori environment. At any given moment, a diverse range of topics are being studied and pursued by the children, and more than one lesson could be taking place. All students do not learn a particular subject at a particular time; instead, individual students or small groups of children are invited to lessons while the rest of the children go about their own independent learning pursuits.

A world of ways to say hello!
A world of ways to say hello!

Connective thinking is also actively encouraged through integrative curricula and lesson-building: Currently, the LED class is studying the continent of Europe, and this focus anchors the webwork of our studies in Literature, the Physical and Life Sciences, as well as Cultural subjects, including Geography and History.

The children have worked on learning different ways to say hello in different European languages, and created various flags and greetings to decorate our community display board in the classroom. Already, the class has enjoyed a few independently-researched presentations on various European countries, almost always with the application of ICT skills on their Powerpoint presentations. Our story circle and novel study groups will be focusing on the work of notable children’s authors from Europe.

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Creating a biome booklet.

Much of our studies in the Life Sciences focus on the different biomes found on our planet. Some students have been enjoying writing and illustrating mini-booklets about the animals and plants that live in the various European biomes, using biome reader sets that reinforce their knowledge of sounds as well as sequence. Other children use more complex and dense biome research cards to write down facts in their own words, and record connections or questions they have about what they have learned. Some children have used the research cards to create “travel” brochures about different European countries, focusing on the different ways that humans have adapted to life in various biomes found on the continent.

 

Demonstrating Isaac Newton's First Law of Motion.
Demonstrating Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion.

Science and History have become natural partners in our study of famous European scientists and inventors. Over the past few weeks, the children have learned about the remarkable lives of Galileo Galilei (Italy) and Sir Isaac Newton (England), and have explored their important discoveries through various Science experiments on ‘Gravity’ and the ‘Laws of Motion’. We will be continuing to learn about scientists this month, including Marie Curie (Poland), Louis Pasteur (France), and of course, Maria Montessori (Italy), and will be moving on to famous European artists and explorers after that.

By making the learning environment a conducive space for connective thinking, and by actively facilitating opportunities for the children to make connections across various subjects, we are fostering true creativity!

 

An African Adventure in LED

On December 11th, the Lower Elementary Downstairs class hosted its African Project Display Day, and invited all of the parents into the classroom to embark upon an adventure into this vast and beautiful continent.

The children were incredibly proud to share their projects with their parents as well as other visitors, and eagerly shared their favourite tidbits of information from their research. Many of the children completed projects on animals, biomes, and/or various countries in Africa. It is of note that the children conducted the research and the writing of their projects as independently as possible, and this was evident in how knowledgeable they were about their topics.

We were very fortunate to be able to warm-up our public speaking skills with a few Grade 4 students from the Upper Elementary East class, who came for a sneak peek of our projects. The children loved being “interviewed” by their older peers about their projects, and beamed with pride as they shared their hard work.

The children’s creative responses were also on display: vivid pop-up habitats that brought the savanna and rainforests to life, as well as dioramas and sculptures that beautifully depicted various biomes, animals and landmarks. These wonderfully creative, artistic components of the project are incredible synthesizers of the children’s knowledge, enabling them to express what they have learned in a way that sparks their imaginations.

Thank you to all of the families who were able to attend this week’s Africa Project Display Day. Your presence, interest and support were deeply appreciated by the children and the teachers!

Montessori Parent Mornings in Lower Elementary

Lower Elementary parents enjoyed a brief glimpse into their child’s work in the  classroom as both LED and LEU classrooms hosted Montessori Parent Mornings throughout this past week.

During a Montessori Morning, parents are invited to drop in between 8:00 and 8:30 am and spend some time with their child as he or she demonstrates a few pieces of independently-selected work. Each grade has its own designated day, to ensure that there is space for every child to be able to focus and concentrate on sharing their work with parents.

These mornings are always very well-attended, and it is a pleasure to observe the children proudly exhibit their knowledge and skills. Thank you to all of the Lower Elementary parents who attended the Montessori Mornings this week!