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The holidays have come and gone and spring is just around the corner.  This might be a fine time to consider sorting through your children's possessions.  If you take a close look at the sheer volume of your child's books and toys, you may determine that just like adults he uses only a percentage of them.

Thinning the herd, so to speak, offers much to recommed it; Its a lot easier to find things if there are fewer things to find. 

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A place for everything and everything in its place is a cliche' based on sound thinking.  Our brains seek order, harmony and beauty in the world, your child's brain seeks it out too. 

Additionally, there's an essential developmental incentive to clear the clutter out of your child's life.  Providing external order for your child allows him to organize his thinking.  He's already taken in so many impressions of the world and now he is categorizing, sorting, grading and matching all these impressions.  (cognitively grasping same and different as well as one-to one correspondence are pre-math and pre-reading skills.) It's confusing, harder to make sense of everything when, right here in his room the crayons are randomly hanging out with the dolly blanket and Tonka truck wheel, if you will.

So here are some strategies you might consider:

  • Go through the books.  If he has long since cared about Pat the Bunny, it's time to remove it from his shelf. Likewise anything that is torn, tattered and colored on.  What should remain are only those that he is now reading or is about to advance into. House the books on shelves just like in the library rather than piled one on top of the other or randomly scattered among other phylum such as toys and stuffed animals.
  • The impedement to finding a toy when one wants it is the toy box.  No matter how cute, inexpensive, convenient or cherished, the large universal receptacle does not lend itself to everything having a place. Shelving is the best.  Categorize the toys by type; each toy deserves a lidded box, then shelved.
  • Discard or repair anything that is broken or missing a part. Wash the comfort-blankets and stuffed animals, otherwise discard them.
  • Four puzzles will be used more often than fifteen.  Likewise dolls, toy cars, stuffed animals, Lego sets, board games and coloring books.  You get the idea.  Young children can easily get overwhelmed with too many choices.
  • If your mom sent something that you may have determined is inappropriate, give yourself permission to remove it.  You are the final arbiter of what is appropriate for your child. 
  • If you are having a harder time than your child letting go of some of his possessions, that's ok.  You get to cry about it, but certainly not in front of your child...and pare them down anyway.
  • Create a place in the garage for your child's outdooe equipment such as balls, scooters and anything else you'd rather not have your child using indoors.

Here are a few more considerations:

Your child wants to, and for his optimal development needs to be responsible for his own possessions. Make sure that he can put every toy away where it belongs.  Don't make the tub for the blocks so heavy he can't move it into place himself. Is there a home for his trains? Bags, totes and backpacks all deserve wall hooks hung low enough for your child to hang up by himself.

You probably already have a child-size table and chairs.  A child-sized rocker and/or a reading chair might be nice.  How about an easel for chalking, painting and drawing? Generally, the younger the child, the more he wants to make large sweeping circular arm motions.  You might even consider getting some butcher-block paper for large mural creation.

Sibling fights can be minimized if each person in the family, no matter the age has personal property rights.  If your five year old doesn't want to share some of his toys with your toddler, I suggest that that is his right.  However, you might work with your five year old to go through some of his possessions and together determine which toys he might be willing to share. Further, many of his no-longer-used toys can be ceremoniously bequeathed to his younger sibling. His most prized possessions, however, should have a place in his room. 

Every activity (just like life) has a beginning, middle and end.  Teach your child how to get something out, use it in the place designated for its use and then put it away.  If he moves on to the next thing before putting the last activity away, you can say, "in this house, we always put our belongings away."

And finally, the most effective way to gain his cooperation is to model what you teach.  Maybe it's time for some spring cleaning of your own.

Written by Donohue Shortridge

Donohue, a Montessorian since 1980 speaks and writes on topics related to children and their families in the American culture. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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What do we mean when we say we want to raise “successful” children? Too often, especially around this time of year, that conversation centers on college or the kinds of academics and activities that lead to college. “Success” is hard to measure, and those external markers make for comforting milestones along the way.

Comforting, but dangerous. Because when checking off the achievement box is what defines success, it’s too easy to forget that it’s the qualities in our children that might lead to those accomplishments that matter — not the goals themselves.

Achievements, from the A on the science project to the letter of acceptance from Big U, can be the gold stars for parents. They’re the visible signs that we’re doing something right, and that makes it tempting to push our children forward, just a little (or maybe a lot) by stepping in when it looks as if they might not quite get there on their own. The working model of the water cycle was her idea; we just “helped” build it. She did the algebra homework; we just corrected it. He wrote the essay; we just added some structure to the argument.

Click here to read more....

By KJ DELL'ANTONIA
APRIL 9, 2015

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This year, our Spring Campers did an in-depth study of the moon. Camp started out with the history of the moon. Students learned about how the moon formed and how the moon and the ocean relate. Next, students learned about the phases of the moon, making a phases of the moon viewer and doing a light and shadow experiment.

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Each day the students have done amazing, creative art projects, crafts, and experiments revolving around the moon. When students learned about spacecraft, they made and launched rockets outside. They also watched the first landing on the moon.

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Next came a day of learning about astronauts. They learned about what a space suit and space food is like and why. Students created their own space packs and enjoyed pretending they were on the moon and cruising around in space.

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The last day of camp featured the surface of the moon. Students learned about moon rocks, mountains, and craters. They also learned about what the absence of gravity means. Students were able to create their own moon sand and make textured paintings of the moon. We would love to thank all the teachers and staff who worked during camp and made it such a success. We would also love to thank the students who came, explored, and created such a wonderful atmosphere and brought such an enthusiasm to this past week. 

"Our aim is not only to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core." - Maria Montessori

Lastly, a special thank you goes to our Spring Camp Director, Ms. Corey Day. Thank you for planning and implementing such a creative, fun, educational, and organized Spring Camp. Your skills and talents are unmatched. We are blessed to have you.

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MCS Lower Elementary students, 1st - 3rd Grade, created art pieces for the University of Utah's Eccles Institute of Human Genetics Building. The showing is on the 3rd floor atrium of the building. This building houses the Department of Human Genetics, Molecular Medicine, USTAR,  [2007 Nobel prize winner Dr. Mario Capecchi], and many other researchers.  
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Amy Fought, our Lower Elementary Art Teacher explains, "At Montessori Community School we have enjoyed exploring paint and color with our creative art installations of 'Shapes and Silhouettes.'  Working in groups of two or three, students got together to practice the style of Wassily Kandinsky, famous for his abstract art. "
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"We spent time emulating a few of Kandinsky’s famous pieces that focused on repetitions of circles. Although art often focuses on the foreground, or “positive space,” we chose to bring to life our background, or “negative space,” by choosing bright and colorful shapes to paint, as Kandinsky did."
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"The students were given only the primary colors (magenta, yellow, and blue) to begin with, and they created their own beautiful variations of colors to create layers upon layers of their shapes.  They then overlaid their work with a tree silhouette of their choosing, drawing and cutting a simple picture that would not detract from the beauty of their background.  The result was a beautiful set of pieces that shows the ingenuity and creativity of young minds."
 
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To close our Winter Sports season, Brighton Resort would love to host an MCS Family Ski Day. Tickets are at a reduced rate and can be purchased from the MCS Office. When purchasing your tickets, please ensure to make checks out to MCS. 

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"Children will be smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier and happier when they have regular opportunities for free and unstructured play in the out-of-doors."
—American Medical Association, 2005

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Spring has arrived! I can't help but be excited by the thought of sunshine, hikes, water and fresh air! This article written by Jane M. Jacobs, M.A., a Montessori Educational Consultant at Montessori Services spoke to me in considering how outdoor time is such a powerful tool for our children. In the article, Jane offers a variety of ideas for making the best of your outside time with your little one. 

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Enjoy!

Were you told to "go out and play" when you were a child? Now, as a parent, do you give your children the same instructions? Perhaps not, but even for the urban, over-scheduled family, there are ways to give our children more opportunities to explore the outdoors.

For centuries it was common wisdom that children needed several hours of outdoor activity daily. As Dr. Benjamin Spock said, "It's good for a baby (like anyone else) to get outdoors for two or three hours a day." Some say we now suffer from "nature deficit disorder." Children spend more and more time indoors with bright toys, beeping computer games, and flashing screens. A more contemporary pediatrician, Harvey Karp, similarly tells us that "there are exhaustive studies showing that time outdoors, particularly in nature, benefit us in myriad ways... while staying inside is over-stimulating and at the same time boring for children." 

Click here to read entire article.

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Spring cleaning? It's that time again to bring in all of your children's gently used clothing that is too small, or unworn and swap it for something that fits. Please drop off your gently used items in the bins located in the MCS gymnasium. You may drop off items March 16th - March 20th. 

Then, during school hours, March 26th and March 27th, you may come browse the tables in the gym. Clothes will be separated into size and style. If you are looking for volunteer opportunities, please contact the office, as the Green Committee would love help sorting, folding, and displaying the clothes. 

 

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Your child’s education in Montessori is different – so different that it makes you shake your head in wonder and say, “Is this something my child is really learning?” As parents we want our children to excel at reading, writing and math. Yet their Montessori education leads them through strange and esoteric materials. (At least they are foreign to most adults.)

Why would a three year old need to be versed in geometry? Fine, a nice circle, a square and maybe a triangle but what purpose for an isosceles triangle, parallelogram or a rhombus? Then if that is not enough esoteric learning, your child moves on to the botany cabinet. How many three year olds need botany? They are introduced to leaf forms like spatulate, orbiculate, sagitate and reniform. Most of us adults can’t even pronounce them let alone know what they are.

If that is not enough diversity in the curriculum, Montessori education then introduces them to the whole world of art. They meet Picasso, Monet and Rembrandt. What in the world was Dr. Montessori thinking? And where is the math and reading?

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There is a unique method (no it is not madness) in this approach. Your child is absorbing a tremendous amount of learning and stimuli and beginning to gain the skills of observation and visual discrimination - which is the ability to see differences. The Montessori child is effortlessly gaining a lifetime skill – the ability to see. Yes, we are born with sight but sight is passive where all the images come to us. When we observe, we actively focus our sight. But even focusing our sight does not always let us see what is there. For example, we have all seen pictures that if you look at them long enough the image changes into something else – like the two faces and the goblet or the old woman and the young girl. Skills and even talents need to be trained and refined. A Montessori classroom provides an unending panorama of activities that train and refine the ability “to see”.

Though education is primarily reading and math based, life is about having a clear vision of what is present (and what could be). And though the introduction to geometry (rhombus), botany (reniform) and art (Rembrandt) is rudimentary, it is absolutely foundational to clear-eyed success. For your child everything is new and exciting. To be able to put a name with a form or a shape not only gives great intellectual satisfaction but is the beginning of power to organize, define and categorize the world that is seen.

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Enjoy the voyage of discovery as your child, with bright new eyes, sees the world for the first time. It is this power of visual discrimination that gives strength and focus to the power to read. It is also this power that breaks the world of math into distinguishable pieces with the ability to see patterns and processes.

Montessori truly gives your child the gift of sight!      

Edward Fidellow

www.crossmountainpress.com

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There will not be any Winter Sports this Wednesday, February 25th. Instead, enjoy this video of the last 3 weeks of our Winter Sports Program.

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Montessori Community School sponsors the above beautiful girls. These girls have been growing up right before our eyes! We are so proud of their accomplishments and continue to support and encourage their goals and dreams through the COEEF Program.

Our girls have written lovely letters we would love to share with you. COEEF-GIRLS-2014.pdf. Please watch for our fundraisers this spring to continue supporting these amazing girls. 

 

 

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Please find Spring Camp registration forms on the credenza by the stairs in the lobby. Spring Camp will run Monday, March 30th - Friday, April 3rd. 

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During Spring Camp, the students will learn all about the moon! Please look over the daily schedule above.

 

Download the forms here:

Spring-Registration.pdf

Spring-Camp-2015.pdf

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Parent Teacher Conferences will be held on Friday, February 27th. There will be no school that day. Sign-up sheets for the conferences are on a table in the lobby, arranged by class, from Toddlers to Middle School (please check the top of each page for the name of the class). As we do every year, we ask that you observe the following requests:

· Please sign up for one meeting time per child.
· Please be on time for your conference.
· Please help the teachers to stay on time.
· Please arrange for childcare during Parent/Teacher conferences.

We have had parents make requests for child care during the conferences.  Unfortunately, as our staff is busy meeting with parents and all of our classrooms, along with some other spaces in the school, are being used we have not been able to accommodate this request.  Please note that our playgrounds and our Outdoor Classroom are closed during conferences for safety and liability reasons.  In order to accommodate parents who arrange to exchange child care during conferences we will make our lobby available and will provide coloring pages for the children.    

We have included some additional tips that might be useful in having a successful Parent Teacher Conference:

  • Write down questions or things you would like to discuss and email the teacher(s) with your questions/comments before the conference.
  • Ask your child if there is anything they would like you to discuss with the teacher(s).
  • Keep the conference focused on the child and the purpose of the conference-use your time carefully.
  • Be open to suggestions from the teacher.
  • Be prepared to share suggestions of your own. No one knows your child like you know him/her.
  • If you are unclear about what the teacher is telling you about your child, ask for specific examples.
  • Remember that you and the teacher(s) are a team and your main focus is meeting the needs of your child.
  • Take notes so you can share information with your child after the meeting.
  • Make sure the teachers have the best contact information for you and that you have a clear understanding of the communication protocol.
  • Keep the teacher informed. Things happening at home often affect children’s behavior at school.
  • At the end of your conference make sure that everyone understands what was talked about and what they can/have agreed to do to follow up.
  • Follow up. If you have concerns that need to be followed up on, set up that time in advance.

We thank you for utilizing this opportunity to learn more about your child's experience here at school and appreciate your time.  Please feel free to visit your Montessori Compass account prior to your visit so that you can see what your child has been up to!

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With warm regards,

MCS Teachers and Administration

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MCS Lower Elementary student Diego Reyes-Lisieski recently appeared on KSL's Good Things Utah where he shared his talent and passion for cooking as a representative of the Salt Lake Culinary School which he attends.  Diego has shared this talent with his classmates at school as well.  He has been a student at Montessori Community School since 2010 and has enjoyed his cooking hobby since he was very young. Nice work, Diego!

 

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Your child wants to do what is right, even at the youngest age.  First of all, she wants to because she loves you and wants to be just like you.  She also has a powerful inner drive to adapt to the world around her, the world of your home, and to do so she needs to know what the rules for life are.  She looks to you to show her. 

As parents, if you can keep that in mind, you can create an approach to discipline that is positive, less stressful on everyone and it will assist your child in developing into a competent, civilized, compassionate and joyful person.

So, what are some strategies that you might employ?

First of all, model the correct behavior for your child. For example, if you do not want your child to leave the dinner table in the middle of the meal, then don't you leave the table to take a call or to check an e-mail. If you do not want your child to yell, then don't yell.  

Here's another tip; your child is much more competent that we can even imagine.  Even the youngest children can do chores around the house.  In fact, so much of the trouble we have with our children at home stems from our children not feeling useful.

The younger the child, the less that verbal instruction alone works.  Show him how to sweep the floor, giving him the tools that fit in his hand. Name the tools as you use them, "This chore is called sweeping the floor; I'm sweeping the floor with the broom, then into the dust pan and now I'm throwing it away in the trash." "Now its your turn." Do the task together for the first few times, so that you know she knows how to do it.  

Also, remember that every activity has a beginning, middle and an end. Show your child how to go get the broom and dustpan, use it, and then put it away.

Cooperation and engaging in chores as well as the fun of family life is a sure wan to elicit the good will of your child.  And remember that busy hands in purposeful activities calm your child and help her sort out her emotions.  (Read remainder of article and find printable pdf version here...)

 

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P. Donohue Shortridge, a Montessorian since 1980, speaks and writes about children and their families in the American culture.  She conducts parent night talks, staff in-service sessions and workshop presentations.  Visit her website at www.pdonohueshortridge.com

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The first day of Winter Sports was a success! We would love to thank all those who chaperoned and made it possible for our students to enjoy and learn such great activities and develop their skills and talents. 

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MCS' Ski and Snowboard lessons are taught at Brighton Resort. The first day of lessons can be a bit tricky as instructors adjust groups. Instructors will assess each student and figure out what level that student will enjoy and be able to continue to develop and enhance their skills.

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Our chaperones were great in helping to keep spirits high, students organized, and feeling secure. This year we have 24 Kindergartners participating in the Winter Sports Program. It was awesome to see them hauling their gear by themselves to and from the school and also to observe the older students reassuring and comforting them. 

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Murray County Ice is providing ice-skating lessons to a portion of our students. Again, our parent chaperones were wonderful in providing support to our students and teachers.  

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Spirits were high as students finished their lesson and moved into the free-skate period to practice what they learned. 

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The Silent Journey and Discovery is coming up on February 7th from 9:00am - 1:00pm.
Sign up in the office, space is limited. Attendance is free of charge, brunch will be served & child care will be provided to those who sign up in advance.


The MCS Silent Journey and Discovery is an event dedicated to parents to provide the meaningful experience of visiting each of our programs, from Toddlers through Middle School, to experience for yourself the magic of the Montessori materials and discover how the lessons learned in our early programs set the tone and lay important foundations for later learning. This is a wonderful opportunity to gain a sense of how the Montessori Curriculum unfolds through the eyes of a child to guide and nurture the natural unfolding of the whole child to inspire a lifetime love of learning and peace.

Click on the following link to read about last year’s Silent Journey and Discovery and enjoy testimonials from parents who have participated in years past.

http://mcsslc.com/parent-center/blog/entry/silent-journey-discovery

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Winter Sports will be starting in two weeks. You should have received the following pdfs in your email. Please read through and ensure you and your child are prepared for Wednesday, February 4th! If you have questions or concerns, please contact Ashlee Haslam at (801) 355 - 1555. 

Parent-Letter-Skiing-and-Snowboarding.pdf

Chaperone-Letter.pdf

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Parent-Letter-Ice-skating.pdf

Chaperone-Letter-ICE-Skating.pdf

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What: Admissions Information Meeting

When: Thursday, January 15th from 6:30 - 8:00pm

Where: Montessori Community School

Who: Parents interested in learning more about Montessori Community School.

Open to the public. Sorry, adults only - no childcare provided.

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The teachers and administration of Montessori Community School would like to invite you to learn more about our program. During this hour and a half long presentation we will introduce our programs, administration and staff. And, you will have the opportunity to visit each of our classrooms and meet and greet with the teachers. We look forward to sharing our approach to education and the Montessori method.

Montessori Community School serves children aged 18 months through 8th grade and we offer an extended day program, 7:30am - 6:00pm.

Montessori Community School's mission is to provide a rich, individualized educational experience, which guides and nurtures the natural unfolding of the whole individual and inspires a lifetime love of learning and peace.

 

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The biggest challenge parents face is their children’s drive for independence. A toddler or a preschooler’s drive for independence is even fiercer than a teenager’s. While a teenager may be looking to undo parental control your preschooler is looking to share control. They are trying to become part of your world by taking responsibility for their own actions.

This drive for independence is slow and messy. Learning to walk – the first great independence is full of falls and scares (more for Mom than for baby). And it is a slow and unsteady success. Even when they accomplish vertical independence their rate of locomotion impels us to pick them up and carry them if we want to get anywhere now.

Learning to feed oneself is a second (and very messy) independence. Graduating from hands to utensils is a major success of coordination and development. Again, if we want to finish dinner before breakfast we wind up feeding our child.

The third independence is the ability to communicate – to be able to share desires and wants. Ironically, after Ma Ma and Da Da often comes the independent word No.

The fourth independence is often the ability to dress oneself. It is often a laborious, time consuming frustrating adventure trying not to get your head in your sleeve or putting your pants on backwards. (“What do you mean I have my shoes on the wrong feet?” “These are the only feet I have.”) Stripes and polka dots are just fine together – blinding maybe – but fine. This is about independence not aesthetics or style.

The fifth independence is usually potty training. Children have their own timetable and level of comfort with the process. We often think they are trained when we constantly ask them if they have to go potty. This independence is achieved for their convenience not for ours, even though it is our convenience that pushes the training. My wife always shared with anxious parents that she had never been to a wedding where the bride or groom walked down the isle in pampers. Relax!

Their independence is bought at the cost of our time. Their fight for independence is against our schedules, against our limited flexibility in our day. They don’t mean to slow us down, they just want to do it themselves. They don’t mean to make messes (which takes time to clean up) they just want to do it themselves. How are they ever going to pour milk from the gallon jug unless they try (and try and try and try?)

The challenge of childhood independence is that it is never perfect. They can’t sweep a floor as well or as quickly or as thoroughly as the adult. But how will they ever learn unless they try? “I will just wait until they are older” is a proven recipe for unmotivated, incompetent, uninvolved teenagers who then resent the end of a ten or fifteen year ride of being served with no responsibility attached.

“Help me do it myself” is the foundation of adult responsibility birthed into our children long before they can do it by themselves. “Help me do it myself” is the great gift parents give their children. It is not only the accomplishment of the task that affects the children – giving rise to feelings of competence but it is the feeling of confidence that comes because they know that we believe in them. When we tell our children that they can achieve anything they set their hearts and minds to – they believe us because we have been their cheerleaders for independence and success.

 

Edward Fidellow

www.crossmountainpress.com

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This year's Winter Camp has been themed around a Winter Wonderland. Students have had many creative arts and craft activities. One of the favorites was the Snowy Owl Pinecones pictured above.
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Students also got the chance to play outside with their friends. Blowing bubbles in the snow made for a great learning activity. The students loved chasing, popping, and watching the bubbles float to land on the snow- Would the bubbles freeze, or not?
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Also, learning about some of Winter's greatest wonders and works of art, the Northern Lights, students created their own beautiful art using the aurora borealis as inspiration.
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