Montessori Happenings

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Asian Country Studies

The Lower Pod classrooms at Switzer Mesa campus dedicated their continent study this semester to Asia. While activities and studies were done in the classroom, students also chose a country on which to do an in-depth study at home. This week those students revealed their weeks of research to a packed house of friends and family.

As always, it is such a treat to see the many ways in which students choose to present their findings. Some children were dressed as if they had just landed from that very country while others provided food samples and recipes. Some students focused on the animal life of his or her chosen country, while others zeroed in on the cultural mores. The presentations were as varied as the countries themselves.

All in all it was a busy and exciting morning that taught everyone in attendance something new about the large continent of Asia.


A-3 Trip to the Arboretum: Macro-Invertebrates and Their Adaptations

arboretum macroinvertebratesOn May 21st, 2013 the A-3 Class at Switzer Mesa went to explore the Arboretum and learn about macro invertebrates! We had a fun-filled day of discovering what the Arboretum has to offer, learning about the animals that we have in our backyard and lastly exploring pond studies! The pond is where we learned about different adaptations that insects possess in order to survive in the water in our climate. We experienced an interactive study of macro invertebrates by having students dress up as one – complete with the many adaptations you might see on these different insects. We even had one student pose for us with gills, eyes, a net for a head and other adaptations that make these insects unique.

Our Own Charming Cellist

One of the Front Class students had an upcoming cello recital and requested to practice his performance for our class! How could we say no to learning more about this fascinating instrument?!

The students practiced their audience etiquette while our soloist performed two songs. Then he answered some very tough and interesting questions from the audience about his practice of the cello. He showed the other children how to make low and high notes and how pressing his finger on the strings changed the pitch. The students had some great questions about the parts of the cello, which our musician was able to easily answer! For example, one student asked about the "stick" at the bottom of the instrument. Our cellist explained that it is an endpin and even showed how he could raise and lower it depending upon how high he was sitting. He also explained how the stickers on his fingerboard helped him learn where to put his fingers to play certain notes. 

After asking many penetrating questions, the attentive crowd requested one last song. He performed another memorized piece beautifully. Then, our musician took a bow and showed us how he carefully packs his cello away. 

The students were very interested in musical instruments after this concert, and many asked if they could bring in their own instruments to play. We seem to have a class of budding artistes!

cello1   cello4

Future First Years Visit the Lower Pod

A group of very excited kindergartners from the Westside and Sunnyside Campuses visited the Switzer Mesa Campus last week, in order to learn more about their future classrooms. The teachers and current elementary students who welcomed the kindergartners were just as eager to meet the new members of their classroom communities. 

The students played a game in order to learn their new friends' names and then worked together on a creative project. A couple of the classrooms did a folding and cutting lesson, while another tried origami. The older children did a great job helping the future first years with their projects and many new friendships were made! After taking a tour of the school, the students headed outside to learn more about the playground. The future first years were very eager to try out the much bigger playground equipment. When it was time for the kindergartners to leave, many were sad to go. It won't be long before these students are official First Years at our campus and we are looking forward to them joining our community!

Here are some photos from their visit to the Switzer Mesa Campus:


Shakespeare Sonnet

website sonnet_cafeOn April 7, 2013, all the students from our Montessori Middle School memorized and presented a Shakespeare Sonnet. We were able to pick any sonnet we wanted.  We had four weeks to memorize the original sonnet. Part of the project was to re-write the sonnet in our own words, copy it onto colored paper and include art to make it uniquely our own.

On April 7th, we had a little café for our performance of the sonnets. When it was your turn you stood up in front of the school and performed your memorized sonnet.  When I presented I felt scared at first, but in the middle, I began to calm down. By the end I felt so good I wanted to say my sonnet again. We were graded on our eye contact, if we dressed up and if we were a good audience for the other students. This project helped build my confidence, increased my ability to memorize and taught me to be attentive to other performers.

Paloma, Eighth Grade Student

Crime Investigation Dinner

This cycle, in Natural World, our teacher, Ms. Larson, let us participate in a Crime Investigation Dinner. This was basically a simulation to help us understand how investigators solve crimes. In the scenario, students in each class took on the roles of different Italian family members having dinner at Mama Rossa's Restaurant. One member of the family, Pepi Rony, had just disappeared and most of our characters were suspects. 

We started by sitting around a table, as if we were at a real Italian Restaurant. Then we got our scripts and began the simulation. Throughout each of the three rounds, clues were revealed and we made predictions as to who we thought kidnapped Pepi. Eventually the kidnapper was revealed. This was a very fun and exciting activity and is just one of the ways Montessori makes learning fun!

 Aja, Eighth Grade Student

website crime_investigation_dinnerwebsite crime_investigation_student

Kindergarten Trip to Warner's Nursery and Willow Bend

The kindergartners from both classrooms at Sunnyside had the opportunity to visit Warner's Nursery and Willow Bend Environmental Education Center! It was a beautifully sunny day, perfect for learning more about plants and nature. 

We started the day at Warner's Nursery, where we were greeted with a creative sign welcoming us!

Ms. Kathy and Ms. Tree led us on a tour around the nursery, where we learned about the difference between perennials and annuals and about which plants like sun and which like shade. We also got to visit the many fruit trees that are growing at the nursery.

After the tour, the children were given a small pot and were invited to choose seeds to plant in their pot and take home! Ms. Kathy and Ms. Tree taught us a song about planting that we've brought back to the classroom and taught to the preschoolers!

Once everyone had planted their seeds, the children were invited to play in the playhouse on site at Warner's Nursery. Eagerly, the children ran to the playhouse, only to discover that it was locked! Ms. Misti, the store manager, cut the playhouse window screen and bravely climbed through the window to unlock the door! What dedication!

By midday, the children were very hungry and were happy to eat their lunches in the greenhouse among the plants!

After lunch, we said "goodbye" to Warner's Nursery and took a quick busride to Willow Bend. Inside the education center, Ms. Lauren talked with the students about using their five senses to explore their environment.

Then, we all headed out for a hike to put our senses into action! Ms. Lauren and Ms. Lisa encouraged the children to feel several rocks and talked about how the air bubbles in lava rocks make the rock feel rough. The children used their sense of smell to experience Ponderosa Pine trees in a whole new way!

We all walked as quietly as we could, in order to hear the many sounds of nature. The children heard birds visiting a birdhouse high above, the wind rustling through the plants and even a runner panting on the Urban Trail as he passed by! Ms. Lauren and Ms. Lisa gave the students paint sticks with many different colors on them. The children were challenged to find something in nature that matched their stick! It was fun to realize just how many shades of colors exist when you really stop to look!

In the gardens near the Education Center, our guides talked about how we use plants for beauty, medicine and even eating. The children were encourged to choose a leaf off of a rosemary plant and taste the somewhat bitter herb. Every student was curious enough to try and many enjoyed the taste....

...while some did not!

What a great day to spend outdoors, learning more about plants and nature! Thank you to Misti, Kathy and Tree at Warner's Nursery and Lauren and Lisa at Willow Bend for making our day so special!


Can you didgeridoo!?

As our semester-long culture study on Australia was coming to a close, we were very fortunate to have a special visitor in our classroom! Ms. Nicole, the mom of one of our students, has visited Australia and has her very own didgeridoo! She had been practicing her circular breathing and was brave enough to perform for our classes!

Ms. Nicole brought some photos of many of the elaborately decorated didgeridoos she saw during her trip to Australia. 

The students were able to accurately answer what the didgeridoo is made of: wood from the eucalyptus tree! The children were able to look closely at the beautiful designs painted on the didgeridoo and could feel the smoothness of the wood. Ms. Nicole took a deep breath and blew hard into the didgeridoo. The long, low buzzing sound made some of the children giggle, as it's quite unusual! Ms. Nicole did a wonderful job, giving the students a first-hand experience of traditional Australian music!

Thank you, Ms. Nicole, for sharing your knowledge of didgeridoos with our classes!



One Man's Trash...


On Tuesday, April 9th, the Montessori Students participated in a bartering simulation organized by social studies teacher Stefan Vest. In the simulation students were allowed to bring in items they no longer used or needed and trade them with other students and teachers. The school was arranged like an old time flea market. The students were only allowed to trade goods or services, with no exchange of money. This got really hectic. There were items that everyone wanted, so the value would go way up.

Also, if a student wanted to acquire an item and the seller wasn’t interested in their item for trade, they would have to obtain a different item first.  Then they would go back to the original seller and see if they wanted to trade for the new item. This is what most of the students were doing during the simulation.

One lesson that this simulation taught was that if you are very persuasive, you can achieve a lot in batering. For example, Mr. Vest stared out with ordinary junk and ended up with quality items. Overall, this was a very fun learning experience for the students of the Montessori Middle School.

Cypress, Eighth Grade Student





Serenaded by Strings

Violinist with students

Our Very Own Violin Concert!

Westside students in Ms. Leah and Ms. Meghan's class were treated to a special musical demonstration on Monday afternoon. A fellow classmate performed on the violin and wowed his audience with such songs as the “Kangaroo Song” and “Lightly Row”, a folk song.

He demonstrated how the violin is played with a bow and taught the community about its various parts. It was interesting to learn about the construction of this beautiful instrument and exciting when his classmates learned how to pluck the violin's string. After an encore the children gave a standing ovation and practiced courteous “Bravos”. It was a fun time for all!


Montessori Philosophy

Montessori PhilosophyThe Montessori Philosophy encourages children to develop their observation skills through activities that use the five senses, kinetic movement, spatial refinement, small and gross motor skill coordination, and concrete knowledge that leads to later abstraction.


Arizona School Tax Credit

Arizona School Tax CreditThe 2015 Arizona School Tax Credit lets your donation go directly to a public school of your choice! A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your tax liability. Any Arizona taxpayer may contribute, regardless of whether your child is attending school.

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Enrichment Programs

Montessori Schools of Flagstaff Enrichment ProgramsTo meet the needs of working parents, we offer a before- and after-school program designed for children 18 months–12 years. The older children can sign up for the many special classes offered after school such as drama, art classes, and music lessons.

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