UE Update – carnivores, DaVinci, and cookies!

We can’t believe it will be December next week! This Wednesday we practiced our singing for the trip to Springdale Nursing Home next Wednesday morning, and OE was our last one for the term with Nancy in the woods. We got to play a spectacular game of Survival, with herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores running around and eating each other in Burnham Woods. So much fun! In December we get to do some seasonal baking again on Wednesdays in the kitchen, so get ready for delicious things coming home in backpacks the next couple of Wednesdays!

Our Celebrations Committee got together and organized a Secret Santa — $10 maximum, homemade gifts very welcome, exchange on the 20th of December. Hopefully your student will remember whose name they got! It is a true exercise in self- regulation: can you keep a secret? For how long?

Today the grade 6 students learned about the DaVinci Bridge, and how to make it! Now they are experts in beam, truss, arch, and suspension bridges. Mountain building will begin on Monday with the grade 4 students, and grade 5s are continuing their investigations of pulleys and simple machines.

Have a great weekend!

UE Update: Doing Hard Things Builds Resilience

A Cross-country meet?  In NOVEMBER?

Even though students had been training and practicing in gym for this late season cross country meet, many were worried; about winning or losing, about being too cold, too tired to cross the finish line.  For many, this was epic, a race of Mount Everest proportions in their minds!

There are many reasons as adults that we would be tempted to help children avoid or escape such an extreme and difficult challenge.  Too cold.  Too long.  Too boring.  Not their ‘thing’.  We have a strong instinct to protect and shield those we love, especially when they are young.  As children get older, however, things become more and more murky; we know children don’t gain confidence without experiencing challenges, but surely we could save them from THIS particular challenge….?  Which challenges are important?  Which ones could we dodge?  The fact is,  adversity builds strength.  Any adversity.  Emptying the dishwasher.  Writing a math contest. Death in the family.  Having conflicts with friends. Running a Cross-country race in November!  We want our children to face hard times and know that they can dig deep and accomplish really difficult things.  We want them to face new situations with a ‘give-it-a-go’ attitude, and be able to cope with challenge and failure.  After all, life is FULL of new and difficult things.  As well, who can deny the benefits of the camaraderie and connection we feel with others who have been through hard times too?

The first ever KMS Cross-country meet was full of challenges.  As well as training for weeks beforehand, students were directly involved in making the day a success.  Middle school students baked cookies all week and made giant pots full of home-made chicken soup, hot chocolate, lemonade to sell during the day.  The morning of the race, some schools sent in cancellations, worried about temperatures and weather.  Our multi-school race was shrinking…could we pull it together?

Parents, teachers, volunteers and students all felt the cold temperatures that morning.  It sure felt like winter, while watching other grades race.  Amazingly, in the end, the students said that when they were running, they didn’t feel cold at all!  Students made a real effort to be good hosts to those who came from other schools — playing games at lunch, describing the course, cheering each other on.  Altogether, the day was a resounding success.  Everyone worked together to make a memorable, epic challenge happen, and the benefits from coming through a day like that outweigh all of the difficulties involved.  Truly, nothing worth having comes easily.  This event built resilience.

Some thoughts about what we can do to promote resilience in our children, from a wonderful website article by the Montessori School of Wellington, in Guelph: https://montessori-school.ca/blog/building-resilience/

Model self-control – use techniques such as taking deep breaths, counting to ten, removing yourself from the stressful situation.  Demonstrate to your child that you don’t expect instant gratification.  Encourage your child to keep trying even when it’s hard, difficult or frustrating.

Help your child to understand that there are situations in life that are challenging and have no magic solutions. Show them that sometimes you need to work at finding solutions and deal with adversities.

Help your child to identify what she can and cannot control.  How we think about situations that happen to us really determines how we feel and what we do.  Be a flexible thinker and gently challenge your child’s assumptions.  Offer ways to see a situation from another perspective and new ways of handling difficulties they might face.  If you find that your child has a persistently negative attitude, for example, “I never get to go first,” or “ Now everything is ruined,”  challenge their thoughts and remind them of the times when they were first and remind that, if one thing goes wrong, not everything is ruined.

We ourselves are here because of the determined efforts and resilience of generations of others.  For them, we are grateful.





UE Update – Mini Worlds and Remembering…

Perhaps the motto in UE should be ‘Plan it, Then Make it Happen’. We keep practicing this, over and over. It’s fine to have great ideas, but we know the world doesn’t change unless you put some of those great plans into action!

We really stepped up this week to make our part in the Remembrance Day ceremony great! We wrote poems, made art, and did a little researching to find out more about the wars, and the people in them. We shared our work at the Ceremony today. Joe’s Uke group shared a great song – yay, Uke group! We had a special visitor (Brennah’s dad) come in to share a gripping story about his aunt Maria, and her life as a teenage Polish supporter of the resistance. She was a prisoner at Auchwitz, and survived the war to live her life in Canada. It really makes us thankful that we don’t have to face war in our country and all the very devastating things that come with it.

This week on Wednesday we had a great time in Burnham Woods investigating soil. There’s a lot there that you aren’t seeing unless you really look closely! Thanks to Nancy and Carrie for helping us to learn outdoors.

UE Update: Famous Figures visit us, the cupcake phenomenon, and the show-offs!

We had some spectacular famous figures from history visit us this past Tuesday morning.  Wow, never was there a day when Albert Einstein shared space with Emily Dickinson, Joan of Arc, Christopher Columbus, Sylvester Stallone… truly, 25 of the greats!  We learned how to do a Biography in the last couple of weeks, researched our famous people, and then dressed up as them, presenting our information as if we were statues that came alive in our Interactive Wax Museum!  It was both fun and stressful to present to people who came to visit, and our fellow students too.  Joe, Carrie, and Kristina said that the costumes and presentations were top notch, this year!  Thanks so much for helping us at home, too.

Awhile ago, a group of students on the Celebrations Committee had a meeting and started some planning about our traditional Halloween Potluck.  Everyone brought lots of food (cupcakes) and we ate lots of creepy things (cupcakes) and even had enough left over to offer around to the teachers in the school (cupcakes).  Ummm, if you didn’t already guess, we had lots of cupcakes!  They were DELICIOUS!  Aaaaand, there are never too many cupcakes.  Seriously! Thanks for helping us get the potluck things ready at home, we know it was such a busy week with everything happening!  We say it was very worth it.

Next week we are hoping to show you around and let you see what we have been doing here at school these last couple of months!  Won’t you please come in on Wednesday after school so we can show off a little?  Thanks for making the time.  Also, if Wednesday isn’t a great day, feel free to pop in any day with your student to see their work (as long as it’s not a yoga day!)

UE breaking news: Mayors, Unicorns, and Wax Museums, oh my!

It’s hopping in UE!


The grade 5 students did a little research on the Candidates for Mayor in Peterborough. We are having a student vote Monday to see who the student body chooses. Have YOU done your research? Do YOU know who you will vote for in your area? We take democracy seriously in UE.

Some of the committees we made are starting to accomplish things! Halloween potluck is for sure happening! Details to follow.

Another thing you may have heard about already is our UE Wax Museum, being held on the Tuesday before Halloween! We wanted a chance to dress up and this was a way to do it without freaking out the younger students with scary costumes. Come and see us and learn a thing or two about some famous people in history! Also, could you help us organize our costume/props for the day? Thanks!!

What? The ‘Unicorns’? Oh yeah! Thanks to Brennah, Sage, and Victoria for making and selling delicious Friday treats for us. In the shape of Unicorn cupcakes. Great fundraising eats!

UE Latest by UE Students: Thanksgiving and School: Same-Same?

(a collaborative blog by Noelle, Brennah, and Kristina)

Quick: what is the same about having Thanksgiving with your family, and being at school?

In our school there so many different ways of showing our skills! There’s math, spelling all that stuff but in UE you can also learn things that make a difference in the way you live your actual life at home. Thanksgiving to me is a hectic time of year but is also a great time of year!  At Kawartha Montessori we learn to help with real things like learning how to do things in the kitchen or taking care of younger people. On the special holidays, we like to do things that make it fun for us and easier for you parents too! We know what it means to be part of a group and not just take, take take!  We are also learning how to get along, and be givers and helpers, too.

Having Thanksgiving with all of your relatives and being at school with all of the people is very similar. As students we try our best to take care of each other and make sure everyone feels included just like a family. Just as we we are polite to our teachers we must treat all of our relatives with respect and be polite and talk to them even if at times it can be difficult. We take care of the Casa students and bring them in from recess. We also take care of our younger siblings and cousins at family events.  When you are really taking an active part in where you are, whether it is a family event or being at school, it makes the whole experience a lot more interesting for everyone, actually.

UE Update Sept 17-21: Would you let students run YOUR classroom?

a collaborative post by Kristina, Jenna, Brennah, and Noelle

What do you think?  Can students run a classroom?  …notice and discuss problems, and then come up with solutions?  …make their own rules?  …and do it in an organized way that respects and includes everyone’s opinion?  Sounds like a dream, right? Not here at KMS!

We all know our beloved pet snake, Elvis, but there has been talk in the class about getting a new pet friend. There’s also been talk about a Halloween spooktacular potluck! We have also been asking each other about Pizza Lunches.  You might be asking yourself, “Where are these ideas coming from, anyway?” Did you know, these things are largely thought up and organized by the students, with a bit of help from the teachers?  We run a democracy in UE most of the time. A democracy means rule by the people.  This is where the people can take part in the decisions that affect the way their community is run.  Sometimes the teachers have to make some of the decisions, but lots of the time, we can decide things for ourselves as a group.  If we practice making decisions now, then later on when we are older, and the decisions are really important, it won’t be such a new thing.  We will have had practice!  We use tools like voting, meetings and committees to make decisions.  Those are the same tools that adults use in their lives to decide things, so we might as well get good at them, now! Group work is hard, that’s for sure.  All sorts of things happen in committees.  If it’s an ‘everybody’ problem, it gets written on the agenda for the weekly meeting (on Friday morning).  If it’s something that only a few people are interested in doing, we make a committee, put up a sign-up sheet, and hold meetings.  We have to put the meeting on the class calendar, and then on the whiteboard at the start of the day, so that people know when the meeting is and can organized their day around it.  The committees meet and take notes, decide on actions, and give those jobs to people in the group.  Then we put the next meeting on the calendar.  Sometimes teachers come to these meetings, but mostly we do alright on our own.  Each week at the class meeting, the committees have a chance to report what they’ve been doing.   When we are the ones actually doing the work, it feels real and the students figure out how to problem solve and work together.

Photos from Red Pepper Jelly day!

UE Update – Sept 10-14: Assigned seats…whaaaat?

This week the students showed us that they are really heading in the right direction with planning and prioritizing their work, and accomplishing it.  A continued area of focus for the UE classroom is to give the students the tools they need to plan and do their work as independently as they can.  This includes being comfortable enough with many of their classmates so that they can ask questions, and get help from other students.  You may have heard from your child at home that they are assigned a new seat, a different one at the start of each morning work cycle.  At the beginning of the year, this has the important effect of loosening friend and seating habits from past years, and allowing the grade 4s, especially, to work alongside older students who can help them with their work and learning.  Nothing sticks quite like a lesson from student to student!  Teachers can help make and change seating from day to day depending on the needs they see in the class, and individual students.  Seating options in the room run from single tables to doubles, quadruples, and one large group table.

We also had our first classroom meeting.  It was quite an amazing thing, this year, to give control of the first meeting over to a capable grade 6 student, and watch problems get solved and discussions go so well, so respectfully.  A United Nations moment, to be sure!  If only all governments ran this well…

Part of our Wonderful Wednesday schedule in the mornings is a time to work with an Expert.  We are busy organizing some interesting experiences for the students this Term.  First week: Pickles!

UE update Sept 4-7: The Big Takeaway? Shop better with a list!

We have had a really great start to the year in UE!  Highlights of the week included hearing and writing about summer experiences, playing many inside and outside group team building games, and getting to know Elvis the snake, again.  We survived the record-breaking heat on Wednesday without melting into puddles…much.

Some initial assessments in spelling, reading, math, and writing helped the teachers to see what the students know, and what they might need to know.  This will help us to make our smaller teaching groups for next week.

Students have had thorough introductions (or reviews, for past students) of the Plan-Prioritize approach we use every morning to set work goals and accomplish them.  We set specific goals in subject areas (chunking assignments), think about how soon the deadline is for that work in order to set priorities, and mark tasks as ‘done’ as we go through the day.  This is all part of the critical planning and organizing tools we explicitly teach children in order to help them become more efficient, effective independent workers.  A possible connection to our parenting lives?  Written plans are pretty effective!  I think we can all agree that we usually shop better (we don’t miss anything, we don’t shop impulsively, we get what we came for) at the grocery store, if we have a plan and a list…

Sticky note, anyone?

UE News – Feb 26-Mar 2

Better late than never….

Wow!  What a great day skiing!  We enjoyed a sunshine and T-shirt day at Brimbacombe this past week.

We are beginning to present independent projects this week -learning from each other.  Topics from Bees to                   .  We notice students becoming increasingly competent with all of the skills associated with independent projects including research, note-taking, and making effective presentations.

Our last week will include some looking back on our term, reflecting on our academic and social work, in order to share this with our parents at upcoming Student Led Learning Conferences.  We’ll also have a tying-up and tidying up of notebooks and classrooms, and a day of apple crisp making so we remember to give to others!