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The Summer of Invention

This year’s 2024 Summer Camp theme is Invention. Students will learn about famous inventors and their inventions, and have the opportunity to explore a variety of materials to create their own inventions.

This engaging and creative curriculum will also include exciting arts, movement, and cooking activities. Students will enjoy many fun field trips and splash days as well.

Camp Dates: June 17th-August 9th
Summer Camp is offered for all current and incoming Montessori Community School students in the Infant through Lower Elementary programs.

To register, visit your FACTS Family Portal or email summercamp@mcsslc.com for more details.

Wintering Eagles

Courtesy Pixabay

By Donda Hartsfield

Majestic, free, sacred, fierce, and faithful are words that could be used to describe North America’s most distinguished raptor, the Bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus.  Today we are on a mission with Uinta class (upper elementary) to spot Bald eagles that are wintering around Farmington Bay near the Great Salt Lake and the Eccles Wildlife Education Center.  There is just one problem with today’s plans.  It is raining and expected to stay that way most of the day.  Bald eagles are well suited for cold northern climates with their highly insulating feathers, however they migrate south during the winter so they can continue to access their favorite food of fish in areas where the rivers are not yet frozen over.  This is why we see so many of them in Utah in the winter and why the month of February is considered to be Bald Eagle month.  Bald eagles can often be sighted around Farmington Bay and other brackish waters near the edge of the Great Salt Lake as well as many of the surrounding rivers and reservoirs. 

Our first Bald eagle sighting takes place on a lone dead tree branch in the middle of a wetland surrounded by tall grasses and reeds.  Through binoculars we were able to see the distinguishing white head and razor-sharp, yellow beak.  Enthusiastic gasps from the students such as, “That is so cool!” and “He is so beautiful!” echo throughout the van.  Heavy cloud cover extends out across the sky, as phragmites stare back at us through the mist.

Photographer:  Donda Hartsfield

Continuing with our exploration of the area, we drove down the road and looked out over the expanse of the wetland towards the west where we spotted some movement in the distance that looked suspiciously large.  This was our second sighting of a bald eagle in flight which we tracked through binoculars for several minutes.  It hovered low over the landscape, occasionally dipping down and disappearing among the tall grasses.  Then it would later reappear continuing to fly low, as though it were scouring the landscape for lunch.  There was another eagle participating in the same behavior nearby. Everyone enjoyed the challenge of tracking the aerial masters as we wondered what they were doing when they slipped into the bushes unseen for many minutes at a time.  Bald eagles prefer to eat fish whenever possible, however they will also eat other birds, small mammals, reptiles and carrion.  Sounds of seagulls, red winged blackbirds, ducks, and geese filled the wide-open skies of the wetland.

Photographer:  Donda Hartsfield

Yellow eyes, beak and feet as adults, these large birds of prey develop their famous white feathers on their heads and tails once they reach adulthood, around four years old.  As juveniles, their feathers are mostly brown and they are often mistaken for Golden eagles.  Their call to each other is distinct, but not necessarily what many people presume.  The classic trailing cry of a raptor in flight that is often associated with a Bald eagle, actually belongs to the Red-tailed hawk (popularized by movies).  Bald eagles make many different sounds, however the most distinguishing call is a high pitched, quick series of shrill chirps.  

Bald eagles are typically monogamous and tend to return to the same nest each year in their nesting range.  Nests can typically be up to 5 feet across and 3 feet deep or larger, making them the largest nest built by any bird in North America.  

Photographer:  Jacob, Upper Elementary student. Jacob obtained this photo of a pheasant 
from the window of the van as we were leaving the wetland.

While gazing across the water, we saw many ducks, seagulls, blue herons and Tundra swans.  The swans appeared as large, white ovals floating on the surface due to tucking their heads into their bodies as they rest.  We also saw kestrels perched on telephone lines and Northern harriers flying gracefully.  As we are tracking the harrier, one student comments, “I thought bird watching was going to be boring, but it’s actually pretty awesome.”

Just as we are heading out, we notice a bald eagle perched on a tree in full view about 15 yards away.   This beautiful adult is calmly looking out over his world and with the aid of binoculars, students can even see into his eyes.  The eagle patiently observes us looking on, but does not seem to perceive us as a threat.  It occasionally preens its feathers, but mostly sits perfectly still, seeming content and at peace with the moment.  Everyone seems to be comfortable being present with the wetland and this magnificent creature. 

Another lesson learned from nature:  There is a time and a place to exert one’s effort and energy, and there is a time to rest and to be content with what you have wherever you are. For, it is in the balance of these two realms of action and non-action that we can find our sense of inner peace and satisfaction with life.  Perhaps we can try to “perch” with contentment more often, as inspired by the bald eagle.

Admissions Open House RESCHEDULED: January 16, 2024

Montessori Community School will be hosting an Admissions Open House. Parents are invited to this adult-only event to learn more about the Montessori method, curriculum and philosophy, and how our programs are designed to educate the whole child. You will have the opportunity to visit our classrooms and meet our Montessori teaching staff.

January 16, 2024

7 PM – 8 PM

Program Ages:

  • Infants / 3 – 18 Months
  • Toddlers / 18 Months – 3 Years
  • Early Childhood / 3 – 6 Years
  • Elementary / 6 – 12 Years

You are invited, regardless if you have previously made an inquiry to the school or spoken with someone from our dedicated staff. This is an in-person event for adults only. An opportunity for your child to tour is available later.

You may fill out our “Request a Tour” form and specify the January 9 Open House event in order to indicate you will be attending.

Re-Enrollment for 2024-2025

We are happy and honored that you have entrusted us with your child’s education and look forward to continuing that relationship for the next academic year.

Re-enrolllment for 2024-2025 opens December 15, 2023.

Every family should have received an email from enroll@mcsslc.com by December 15, 2023 called Enrolllment for {your student} for 2024-2025 explaining how to complete the re-enrollment process for the 2024-2025 school year. The email was sent to the same parent/guardian who filled out the application and enrollment forms previously.

Re-enrollment should be completed by January 16th. That is when open enrollment starts for new families. We wish to preserve our current families’ spaces by enrolling your children first. After this date, spaces will be opened to new families and your child’s placement will no longer be guaranteed.

Enrollment details to note for 2024-2025

  • The tuition increase this year is 5% across all programs.
  • If you are considering the Extended Day option, we encourage you to sign up sooner rather than later. Staffing is based on those who have selected this option during enrollment and we cannot guarantee space for later schedule changes.
  • Terms and Conditions updates include use of cameras in the classroom, a rate change in the parent participation replacement cost, and an additional PSA Fee. We also anticipate enforcing the charge for lost access cards and fobs in the coming academic school year.

If your child will not be returning for the 2024-2025 year, please email enroll@mcssl.ccom to indicate your decisions. Alternativlyl, log into FACTS Family Portal and click Apply/Enroll > Enrollment / Re-enrollment and click the button “Will Not Enroll”.

If your family has elected not to return to MCS next year, we recommend that you wait to relay that information to your child until closer to the end of the academic year. It has been our experience that children who are told in advance of such a change often lose their focus for the balance of the year, and begin the process of separation long before the change is imminent.

We understand that educational decisions are the result of a thoughtful, intentional process and we appreciate our families taking the time when they are considering re-enrollment for another school year. Do not hesitate to contact us at enroll@mcsslc.com if you have any questions or need assistance in this process.

Celebrating Native American Heritage

As part of our Native American Heritage Celebrations, our school was blessed to have two Native American dancers, Carl who is Hopi and Kayden who is Navajo, come to tell us stories about their culture and dance for us. Even the Infants and Toddlers were entranced.   One message that was given to the children was how important it is for us to be kind and respect our people, our earth, trees and plants and animals. 

A number of our family members, who were onsite when the program began, decided to join us and seemed so happy to have had the opportunity. 

Kayden was the valedictorian of Highland High last year – the first Native American valedictorian ever in the Salt Lake City area. She speaks Navajo fluently. Both of the dancers were amazing and happy to come back in the future. We are grateful to our community friend Harry James for recommending Carl and Kayden. What a wonderful way for all of us to start our day.

World Kindness Week

Last week all of the Montessori classes worked on projects to decorate the dinner tables at the Sarah Daft Home for Thanksgiving. Students decorated pumpkins with flowers, leaves, feathers, acorns and other beautiful items for the centerpieces and made colorful leaf rubbings on paper for decorative placemats. 

Teachers Joshi, Carson and Amanda delivered the items last Friday and set up the decorations on dining tables.  They looked very festive! Employees and residents at Sarah Daft home were so excited and grateful for the decorations. 

The students enjoyed making these items and learning more about the Sarah Daft Home through a flip book Amanda made with pictures from the home, including their dining room where the items would be set up.  MCS will continue to be involved with the Sarah Daft Home and plan to set up some in-person visits and activities. In December, we will be making decorations for the residents’ doors.

Halloween Warmth

We are celebrating the change in the weather with lessons on assessing the temperature and practicing bundling up. Prepare your family with gathering up the jackets, hats, gloves and boots. Look for our Winter Clothing Exchange comming soon in November.

Our seasonal activities included the Book Fair, Halloween Carnival, and Halloween Parade.

We hope that your fall celebrations are equally awesome!

Jack-o-lantern photo courtsey of Jacob, Uinta student.

What is Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB)?

by Tori Snarr

You may have heard our Art Studio referred to as a ‘TAB’ Studio. So what is TAB? TAB (or Teaching for Artistic Behavior) is a choice-based approach to Arts Education that regards students as authentic artists and centers their interests and their ideas throughout the artmaking process. Rather than present to students a pre-planned project with a desired outcome, my responsibility as an Art Guide and TAB educator is to create the opportunity for our students to explore their own interests and ideas – to grant them freedom within limits.

Just as Montessori classrooms are prepared environments for student learning to occur, the MCS Art Studio is intended to function as a prepared art-making environment for our school’s young artists. Art materials are organized into areas of the studio such as Drawing, Painting, Collage, or Printmaking and will be made available to students gradually throughout the school year. Each week, Art Studio begins with a group lesson during which students receive instruction on art materials, techniques, concepts, and/or art history. Students then have the opportunity to apply this learning to their own art-making during studio time.

Teaching to the “Artistic Behaviors” prepares students to engage in every step of the art-making process and helps them find success along the way. This process begins with exploration and play, followed by observation and idea generation, developing a plan, applying knowledge of art skills and processes, creative problem solving, sharing their artwork with their community, and self-evaluation or reflection. In addition to teaching concrete art skills, TAB aims to nurture within students the skills required to think like an artist: curiosity, imagination, critical thinking, adaptability, perseverance, storytelling, and so many more invaluable qualities, all of which are transferable to other subject areas and to life endeavors outside of the studio.

What Constitutes a Big Change?

by Catherine Mathews

For children any change in their routine can be upsetting. The younger the child the more difficult it can be to deal with any changes. Our Guides really appreciate when families share this information with them so we can be as supportive of the child and their needs. Often times parents are surprised at what constitutes a big change for their children so here is a good list to go by:

Every Child:

Separation or Divorce

A parent dating someone new

A parent becoming engaged or getting married

A parent going out of town

A parent coming home from out of town

In split households – a change in who will pick up the child

Prolonged family illness or a major medical diagnosis (grandparents and close family members included)

A family member or pet dying (grandparents and close relatives included)

Moving to a new home

An upcoming vacation

A change in extracurricular activities (includes the addition of tutors)

An upcoming change in schooling plans

Any addition or change to the child’s care team (nannies, babysitters, etc.)

Any illness the child has experienced

Infants and Toddlers

Any time a child’s sleep routine has altered

Any time a child’s bowel movement routine has altered

Teething

Family illness (this can make a lot of difference to a child’s day)

Vaccinations

Changes in the food routine of the child

Early Childhood Students

The loss of a favorite blanket or toy

A forgotten school item or rest time item

A change in the child’s sleep routine

Any event that was particularly hard for the child such as vaccinations, doctor appointments, or being scared by a movie

A friend or family member moving away

A family member or pet getting sick or having an accident (grandparents and close relatives included)

Cooking with Ruby at UMC Fall Conference

Our own Ruby Chouldjian presented Cooking in the Montessori Classroom at the UMC Fall Conference this past weekend. Sharing her love of cooking, Ruby set up multiple stations to engage her audience: pancake, smoothie, and slicing were a few of the stations.

Practical Life: Practical Life is one of the areas in a Montessori classroom. The works are applicable for all ages, even infants, and vary depending on what the child can do at each stage of development. The work can start with something as simple as pulling up pants or washing hands and can as complicated as baking a dessert, or even planning for a Montessori Market in the elementary or middle school years. These exciting everyday tasks that are visibly part of the human world are empowering for students to master.

Food Preparation: Food preparation and cooking are fun works/activities in a Montessori environment. The Guide can choose to create group or individualized food stations. The children may choose to work on their own or invite a friend to work with.  Examples of works: transferring with tools, setting up, grading, pressing, washing, spreading, and slicing.

Benefits of food preparation.The food preparation tasks, which increase in complexity as a child ages, help children practice motor skills, such as pouring, twisting, and squeezing as well as help develop their pincer grip, coordination, and finger and hand strength.

Benefits of cooking with children:  Lessons, problem solving, independence, order, sequence, coordination, cognitive development, creativity, cultural studies, science, math, language, sensorial, healthy eating habits, grace, and courtesy. It also allows children the opportunity to socialize, communicate, and most of all have fun!