The Albrook School--Montessori at its best
The Albrook School--The Albrook School--Montessori at its best

Upcoming Events

Monday, January 21
Spirit Day
Early Dismissal
In-service Day
Expanded Care in Session
Thursday, January 24
PK-2 Art Night
Saturday, January 26
Open House 9:00-11:00AM
Tuesday, February 5
Parent Workshop
Introduction to Preschool

Albrook News

The Albrook Book Fair

by Mrs. Ponzio

This year's annual Book Fair was held in Albers Hall on Thursday and Friday, November 8 and 9. The Book Worm in Bernardsville sponsored the event offering a full array of books for all ages. There was a holiday table and an MMUN table. In addition, 20% of the proceeds went directly back to our school.

We want to thank the Book Worm for opening their doors and extending the shopping experience to the Saturday following the event for those parents unable to attend during the week. Many parents purchased additional books off of the teacher wish lists. The new books were added to our shelves and have provided wonderful reading and sharing opportunities.

The event was a huge success under the leadership of Anne-Marie Kim and the Book Fair committee. Thank you for all you do to support Albrook.

Albrook's 2018 Holiday Celebration

by Ms. MacNeill

On Thursday morning, some of the Upper Elementary students assisted in the setup and decorating of the tables for the staff holiday party. There was great excitement as the students joyfully prepared the table settings, strategically placed the holiday decorations and lights, and created a wonderful ambiance for the staff.

This event was a very special celebration, not only did we welcome the holiday season with good cheer, but we celebrated our fortieth year serving children in our community. During the celebration, we were able to set some time aside to acknowledge some of our teachers who reached impressive milestones in their teaching careers.

I had the privilege of opening the ceremony by expressing and acknowledging our appreciation to Ms. Yamawaki for completing ten years of teaching at Albrook. Mrs. Ponzio followed by congratulating Ms. Behar who also reached a wonderful milestone of ten years.

Ms. Albers sang the praises of Mrs. Laidlaw in recognition of 25 years of loyal service. She also recognized her contributions as an instructor and a guiding light to aspiring Montessorians in the greater Montessori community.

Ms. Hicks, who was our first staff member to reach the 30-year milestone at Albrook, honored Mrs. Tarangul by acknowledging her impressive three decades of love and dedication to the Montessori philosophy and teaching at Albrook. During this acknowledgment, she listed the many contributions that Mrs. Tarangul has made to the growth and development of our school. The staff echoed Ms. Hicks' sentiments by recognizing Mrs. Tarangul's generosity, loving and giving spirit and her endless positivity. Mrs. Tarangul truly deserved her standing ovation!

This was a proud moment for the staff members being recognized and celebrated for reaching these impressive milestones in their teaching careers. It was also an opportunity for us to acknowledge our former Heads of School by honoring the combined visionary leadership of Ms. Albers and Ms. Hicks.

The Albrook Spirit of Giving

by Ms. MacNeill

The Albrook School families have always had a loving giving spirit. During this year's collection for the Somerset Food Bank and the Holiday Giving Tree, we witnessed once again your generosity firsthand.

The Food Drive opened on November 2 and ran through November 16. It was a joy to see the students as they marched in proudly with their donations in hand. We observed the determination on their faces as they carried the heavy bags of much-needed food items over to the giving box. It was priceless!

Global Stewardship has been the center of many discussions during classroom circle time. The conversations center on the needs of others and the importance of extending a helping hand. The students were invited to step into another's shoes to better understand the importance of kindness, empathy and giving both in their words and deeds. When you ask the children, "Do you know why you are placing food in that box?" they all have their own rendition, but they do understand it is because someone else is in need of food.

The Somerset Food Bank has counted on us over the years to help stock their shelves. The staff at the Somerset Food Bank shared, "Due to the recession there is a much greater demand of families in need here at the food bank, and it is through the generosity of people like the Albrook families that enable us to keep our doors open to serve those families in need. For this, we are truly grateful."

Please know your generosity, action and giving spirit helped make someone's Thanksgiving holiday a richer one. For this we truly thank you! "Kindness in words creates confidence, kindness in thinking creates profoundness, and kindness in giving creates love" Lao Tzu

Love surrounded our giving tree this year! Partnering with the non-for profit organization, Christmas is for Children is a long-standing holiday tradition at Albrook. There is nothing that provides more pleasure than giving assistance to a child. Each year, we receive a list of children in need. Each child has three wishes, and all those wish requests are placed on red paper hearts and then displayed on our holiday tree. We are asked to focus on a gift that each child wants, needs and one that will assist with their educational development. For many of the children, this may be the only gifts that they receive.

We invite students and families to have a heart, take a heart and help make some little heart happy over the holiday season. Within a few short weeks all the hearts were gone, and the gifts began accumulating. This is what holiday spirit is all about.

It was wonderful to see our school still immersed in the real art of giving. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We would also like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a peaceful and joyous holiday season.

SAVE- A Friend to Homeless Animals

by Mrs. Balaji

On November 7, 2018, Ms. Ann-Marie Krahel from SAVE- A Friend to Homeless Animals visited Albrook School as a guest speaker to educate our Lower Elementary friends about their humane education program. Founded in 1941, SAVE is an independent non-profit animal shelter dedicated to protecting the health and welfare of homeless companion animals in the greater Princeton area. Through six core programs of Rescue, Shelter, Health and Welfare, Spay/Neuter, Adoption, and Humane Education, SAVE focuses on the rehabilitation and successful placement of treatable and adoptable animals. SAVE endeavors to build, foster, and strengthen the human-animal bond.

As part of the Global Stewardship Program this year, the PET (Partners in Empathy Training) program teaches children to be comfortable and safe around companion animals, to understand dog behavior and communication, to learn about the responsibilities to pet ownership, and to learn kind and caring ways to interact with animals. Our goal was to provide accurate information about companion animals and to help children develop empathy and compassion for all living things.

Ms. Krahel visited our school with a dog named Casey. Our students learned many ways to support and help animals in the shelter. We brainstormed various ideas together to promote and spread awareness within our community. In the end, the lower elementary friends got to pet Casey. She was one happy pet that day and found a new home very soon!

Lower Elementary South American Biome Performance

by Mrs. Lipman

In their drama classes this fall, Lower Elementary students worked on a performance piece based on the biomes (geographic regions) of South America and the various animals that live there. The project began with a study of different elements of creative movement (level, shape, pathway, formation etc.). Each group of students was then assigned a different biome, such as grasslands or mountains. They learned about the regions and their animals. The animals were then used as inspiration for original choreography that incorporated these different elements of movement. The children acted and moved as the animals and were accompanied by South American music. Each student also created a design representing the particular biome that was used as a digital backdrop for the performance. Everyone enjoyed performing for family and friends in the final presentation.

Elementary/Kindergarten Extended Care Program

by Mrs. Smith

The Elementary and Kindergarten students in the aftercare/expanded calendar room are inside more than out with the change of season. However, it hasn't dampened their spirits. They enjoy playing Jacks and jumping rope. The children were asked, "What would you like to do?" and they made suggestions. We now have a foosball table and a rainbow loom for making jewelry. To add additional enjoyment to the atmosphere, we have included a variety of music. We also enjoy going to the gym, where we build houses out of hula hoops and use the scooters as cars. We also use the soccer field and gaga pit, weather permitting. All in all, we are having a terrific time.

Girls on the Run

by Mrs. Vineis

GIRLS ON THE RUN (GOTR) is a national program designed to inspire girls, 3rd-8th grade, to recognize their inner strength and celebrate what makes them unique. I had the privilege of coaching several of our girls recently with the help of Coach Kristina Goretskaya. We spent every Tuesday and Thursday, from September to November, having dynamic discussions around building confidence and self esteem while incorporating an appreciation for health and fitness. Most of our time was spent walking and/or running the path at Harry Dunham Park.

Ending our 10 weeks of lessons and running activities, there was a 5K event in Bridgewater on November 18th. I'm very PROUD to report all of our girls completed with great pride! I'd also like to give a BIG shout out to Ms. Francese, Naomi Taylor (Ms. Yamawaki's daughter), several parents, and a few siblings who joined us on that chilly Sunday morning run.

The program concluded with a service project. Thank you to everyone who donated to our coat drive in the last couple of weeks. We collected 44 coats that will be donated to a local charity.

Thank you to all the parents and staff for your amazing support during the last few months. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the girls in a different light and learning from them as much as, I hope they learned from the program.

Making Strides against Breast Cancer and National Grief Awareness Day

by Miss McCusker

As part of our theme of global stewardship, one of the areas we emphasis is helping and supporting the wider community.

The Albrook staff came together as a team to support two worthy causes over the past few months. In October, several staff set out on a beautiful fall Saturday afternoon to raise funds for Making Strides against Breast Cancer. Many other staff contributed by donating $5 to wear jeans to work for a day. In all, $580 was raised for this worthy cause.

On November 15, National Children's Grief Awareness Day, Many staff wore blue jeans and a blue top to draw awareness and show support for children who are grieving in our wider community.

At Albrook we believe that role modeling behaviors that foster giving, empathy and compassion are wonderful ways to help instill these values in our students.

Albrook's Holiday Décor

by Mrs. Ponzio

Outside and in there is a festive glow to The Albrook School! We extend a great big thank you from the Albrook staff and students to all the ladies on the decorating committee for putting us in the holiday spirit. The time you invested on our holiday decor was evident with every detail.

Tips for Raising Peaceful Children

Adapted from articles by Bill Corbett and Kathy Walsh

  1. Be intentional about having a peaceful home. Many of us never even think about an intention for our homes and yet it is the foundation. What is your intention? Your family's mission and purpose? Have you thought about it at all? Fill in the blank, in this home we are…compassionate to animals, grateful for nature, kind, positive, non-judgmental…whatever is important to you. So think about your intention, then write it down, frame it and hang it where everyone can see it. Words are powerful. Having a home without an intention is like driving a car without a steering wheel. So before anything else, set intentions for your mindful household.
  2. Reduce the audible and visual noise in the home. Don't use radio or television to fill voids. Keep electronics and toys out of the bedroom. Children need a refuge, a place that they can go to think, reflect, and hear their inner voices. Books and quiet music are fine.
  3. Create daily rituals in your families. When you build something into the routine of the day and do it consistently it becomes powerful. What are some of the rituals that you would like to incorporate in your day, every day? Write them down. Write something positive; say something I am grateful for; meditate five minutes; take walks; write in a journal; spend half an hour in nature; take a deep breath.
  4. Create family activities that speak of peacefulness. Crafts and coloring are just two activities that allow family members to come together in quiet. Play board games or card games, have family reading time, build a LEGO project, or listen to classical music together. But remember, parents need to stop and be fully engaged in these activities! Have no technology times and zones. Meal times and the hour before bedtime are perfect times to shut off the social media and televisions. Consider also creating no technology zones in your home. Start when children are young and the expectations will be set. Parents should make sure that they too follow these rules!

Albrook's Halloween Parade

by Mrs. Ponzio

"Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a known as All Hallows' Eve. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular community event to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats." (

"Witches, black cats, superheroes and princesses all could be found in the Albrook Halloween line up! The weather was perfect, the parents enjoyed a quick cup of coffee and the children were in high spirits. Who could ask for more? The parade began at 9:15am and circled A and B playgrounds as parents waved and took photographs while their children smiled back. The operative word in the previous sentence being "smiled," as we proudly announce there were no tears during the festivities! After the parade, the children went back to their classrooms to enjoy treats provided by the parents and then were dismissed to enjoy the remainder of the evening celebrating with their family and friends.

Please enjoy the pictured highlights of the morning's events.

holloween images

Positive Discipline Workshop

The Albrook education series got off to a very good start on Tuesday, October 23, with a workshop on Positive Discipline hosted by Ms. McCusker.

"There was a strong turnout for the presentation. This was a wonderful opportunity for all the attendees to discuss and share all the different methods of discipline they've tried at home. We all learn and grow from related experiences.

"Here are the most important techniques shared at the workshop.

  • Use eye contact with your child.
  • Keep the direction short.
  • Use a calm voice.
  • Always acknowledge the child's feelings.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Mr. and Mrs. Behar were downsizing after raising their family in their home of 34 years. While packing for the move they came across a dollhouse in the attic that was purchased for their youngest daughter Erin.

This beautifully designed house was in impeccable shape as were all the beautiful accessories. The family donated the childhood dollhouse to our Expanded Care program. The children absolutely love it, and love the fact that Ms. Behar played with it when she was a little girl!

The childhood dollhouse of the Behar sisters keeps on giving joy to this day.

Why Practical Life?

Practical Life is undoubtedly the most misunderstood area of the Montessori Early Childhood classroom. While most parents are definitely pleased when their child gains the ability to do their own clothing and pour without spilling, few realize the multitude of hidden objectives that go along with the teaching of these basic skills. Indeed, Practical Life may be considered the foundation to all future learning.

Young children are in the process of gaining the ability to be their own masters. Practical Life initially provides simple, precise tasks which children have already seen adults perform (and which they therefore are eager to attempt) so to assist in the achievement of this goal. All Practical Life activities fall into four basic categories: independent care of self, grace and courtesy, care of the environment, and control of movement. All exercises are presented in a sequential order so that no task demands a skill that the child has not already practiced.

The young child enters the classroom already having gained perceptions, ideas, and a great deal of knowledge about his or her world. Practical Life activities aid this young child in self-constructing focus, concentration, and a sense of order to the knowledge s/he has accrued. At the same time, the abilities required to be successful in all other future learning are being developed.

The base aim of Practical Life tasks is to teach process, not just the achievement of a product. Each exercise has a beginning, a middle, and an end. To complete a work, the child therefore demonstrates ordered thinking, coordination, concentration, and independence. Through this achievement s/he has created the beginning of self-reliance, and a sound foundation necessary to all future learning.

Also, Practical Life exercises are indirectly designed as initial preparation for both reading and writing. As examples: Objects are picked up and transferred using a three-finger grasp, as one would hold a pencil. Through control of movement, eye-hand coordination is developed. All activities are set out, and movements performed, left to right, top to bottom, as in reading. Scrubbing and polishing require circular movements taught in anti-clockwise directions as if one were writing an 'O' or a 'C'. The free wrist movement required to write is thus developed.

As in all areas of the classroom, care of the environment is stressed in Practical Life. Children may not take out a second activity until the first has been returned to its shelf location, completely ready to be used by another. This may require, as with snack and food preparation, that the dishes used be washed, dried, and the tray (or table) be reset. All Practical Life work items are real, functional, attractive, and quite often breakable, indirectly demanding the development of coordination, self-control, and both fine and gross motor ability. This development is necessary for the child to be able to move on to working with materials such as the Geography puzzle maps, the concrete Montessori math bead materials, Language Moveable Alphabet, and scientific experimentation.

Maria Montessori realized that the skills developed in Practical Life are the foundational learning required for overall success, not only in future academics but throughout life. To quote her, "The child becomes a person through work. The essence of independence is to be able to do something for oneself."

Practical Life activities nurture and build development of the whole child, creating the foundation to ultimately reach his or her full potential not only as a student, but as a responsible and caring human being in our global world.

The Van Gogh Class and Global Stewardship

by Mrs. Fritsch and Mrs. Delia

The Van Gogh class is celebrating global stewardship by learning and practicing about composting techniques and procedures. Last spring, we planted our tomato plant, peas and cilantro seeds in our earth box. The children watched and picked the red tomatoes, pea pods and cilantro leaves and had them for snack. After the first frost on one of our boot days we prepared our earth box for the winter months. The children helped to put the plant matter and soil into one of the two Albrook compost bins. We compost daily in the classroom by disposing of the fruit and vegetable scraps from food preparation work, snack and our lunches. We toasted the seeds and cooked our pumpkin from our October field trip to Melick's farm. We plan to use the fresh pumpkin for our Thanksgiving cooking muffins. Through this activity, the children were able to experience the life cycle of a plant.

Grounds for Sculpture

by Lucille and Caitlin

The Upper and Lower Elementary classes all went to a place called Grounds for Sculpture. We rode on the bus but when we got there, we went our own way. Upper El saw many beautiful sculptures. We saw a big and tall pole. Around the pole, there were four statues in armor. There was a big naked woman on a big couch with a big pillow and a not so big cat. There was a giant statue of a man outside of the main lobby. At first, the man looked like a monster, but then we saw it was just a king that was curtsying. In the main lobby there was a sculpture of a man that was all gray. He had newspaper all over him. There was also a bamboo forest and inside there was a 3D picture of the Dream. The Dream was another naked lady on a couch in the middle of a forest and next to her there was a tiger, a snake and a person playing an instrument. There was a museum on a Japanese artist that made rough rocks into beautiful, smooth rock sculptures. They were sooo beautiful! There was a shepherd sculpture that had sheep below him. They were fake sheep, of course. All over the place, there were people sculptures. They looked so real! We saw 4 peacocks. 3 of them were regular and the other one was the best. It was completely white. Everyone wanted to see it. There was a wall and on part of the wall there was a door. Lined up behind the door were a couple men and everyone lined up in between them and they took pictures. At lunch when everyone was finished, people started to run back and forth on a giant fake snake that was nearby. There was a water section and everyone struck a pose on a concrete platform that was surrounded by a small little still water creek. Also in the water area there was small pond and in the middle there was a beautiful metal sculpture. The sunlight glinted off the metal making the water illuminated. There was an area where there was a tunnel. Everyone went through and when they came out they saw a couple sculptures where there was thin metal wire and in between the wire there were tiny glass balls. After a long walk, we all went into a building and saw a statue of Louis Armstrong. He was playing the trumpet. There were other statues playing the piano and cello. It was like a band. You could hear some music coming from hidden speakers so it felt like you were at a concert. There was also a fake house. It was supposed to be a painting of a room by Vincent Van Gogh. Then an artist turned the painting into a 3D house. When we got on the bus, we were all exhausted from walking. It was a great trip.

Sculpture Garden in Albers Hall

After being inspired by their field trip to Grounds for Sculpture, the lower and upper elementary students completed an art and research project based on a painting of their choice. They each took a 2-dimensional painting and recreated it into a 3-dimensional sculpture. The Yeats and Kandinsky classes took turns presenting their sculptures and reports to one another in Albers Hall. They then were able to present to the upper elementary students, who in turn, shared their projects. The lower elementary sculptures were displayed on the stage in Albers Hall during the book fair.

"If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him… We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth."
John F. Kennedy


by Chloe

The Upper Elementary classroom has been studying bridges. We started this unit of study on 29 of October and will be done before winter break. So far, we have been studying the beam bridge and the truss bridge. We learned that the shorter, the beam bridge holds more weight than a longer one. The triangular shapes of this bridge hold the weight better than a plain beam bridge. Mrs. Vazaios thought it would be interesting to learn this and improve our knowledge of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics). In fact, bridges are one of the few studies that cover all the letters of STEAM.

Teaching children to Be Greateful

by Charlotte Latvala (adapted from an article in Parent Magazine)

Want your child to be grateful for what he has? Here's a roundup of surprisingly simple ways -- from sending thank-you notes to feeding pets -- for him to learn a sense of gratitude.

"The More We Give Him, the Less He Appreciates"

A few years ago, my son A.J., then 4, was obsessed with getting a robotic dog. Whenever we drove past a toy store, he started his pleading. Convinced that nothing would make him happier than that dog, my husband and I broke down and bought him the most expensive version on the market for Christmas. "He will be so thankful when he opens this gift," we told ourselves. And yes, A.J. was thrilled -- for about a week. Then, we noticed the dog spent most of its time in his closet, as A.J. begged for other, even more expensive toys -- a drum set, a riding mini-Jeep, a huge playhouse. "You'd think he'd be grateful for what he has," I complained to my husband, Tony. "The more we give him, the less he appreciates it."

The Art of Appreciation

Gratitude is one of the trickiest concepts to teach toddlers and preschoolers -- who are by nature self-centered -- but one of the most important. Sure, thankful children are more polite and pleasant to be around, but there's more to it than that. By learning gratitude, they become sensitive to the feelings of others, developing empathy and other life skills along the way, says Barbara Lewis, author of What Do You Stand For? For Kids (Free Spirit Publishing, 2005). Grateful kids look outside their one-person universe and understand that their parents and other people do things for them -- prepare dinner, dole out hugs, buy toys. "On the flip side, kids who aren't taught to be grateful end up feeling entitled and perpetually disappointed," says Lewis.

Indeed, instilling grateful feelings now will benefit your child later in life. A 2003 study at the University of California at Davis showed that grateful people report higher levels of happiness and optimism -- along with lower levels of depression and stress. The catch? "No one is born grateful," says life coach Mary Jane Ryan, author of Attitudes of Gratitude (Conari, 1999). "Recognizing that someone has gone out of the way for you is not a natural behavior for children -- it's learned."

Teaching Gratitude in the Early Years
When Do Kids Get It?

Toddlers are by definition completely egocentric. Still, children as young as 15 to 18 months can begin to grasp concepts that lead to gratitude, says Lewis. "They start to understand that they are dependent; that Mom and Dad do things for them," she says. In other words, toddlers comprehend that they are separate human beings from their parents, and that Mom and Dad often perform actions to make them happy (from playing peekaboo to handing out cookies) -- even if kids that age can't articulate their appreciation.

By age 2 or 3, children can talk about being thankful for specific objects, pets, and people, says Ryan. "When my daughter Annie was 2, our family would go around the dinner table each night and say one thing we were thankful for,"she says. "Annie wasn't particularly verbal, but when it was her turn, she would point her finger at every person -- she was grateful for us!"

By age 4, children can understand being thankful not only for material things like toys but for acts of kindness, love, and caring.

How to Teach It

Children model their parents in every way, so make sure you use "please" and "thank you" when you talk to them. ("Thanks for that hug -- it made me feel great!") Insist on their using the words, too. After all, "good manners and gratitude overlap," says New York City etiquette consultant Melissa Leonard, a mother of two young daughters.

  • Work gratitude into your daily conversation. Lately, we've been trying to weave appreciation for mundane things into our everyday talk -- with A.J., his big sister, Mathilda, 10, and especially with our 2-year-old, Mary Elena. ("We're so lucky to have a good cat like Sam!" "Aren't the colors in the sunset amazing?" "I'm so happy when you listen!") When you reinforce an idea frequently, it's more likely to stick. One way to turn up the gratitude in your house is to pick a "thanking" part of the day. Two old-fashioned, tried-and-true ideas: Make saying what good things happened today part of the dinnertime conversation or make bedtime prayers part of your nightly routine.
  • Have kids help. It happens to all of us: You give your child a chore, but it's too agonizing watching him a) take forever to clear the table or b) make a huge mess mixing the pancake batter. The temptation is always to step in and do it yourself. But the more you do for them, the less they appreciate your efforts. (Don't you feel more empathy for people who work outside on cold days when you've just been out shoveling snow yourself?) By participating in simple household chores like feeding the dog or stacking dirty dishes on the counter, kids realize that all these things take effort.
  • Find a goodwill project. That doesn't mean you need to drag your toddler off to a soup kitchen every week, says Lewis. Instead, figure out some way he can actively participate in helping someone else, even if it's as simple as making cupcakes for a sick neighbor. "As you're stirring the batter or adding sprinkles," she says, "talk about how you're making them for a special person, and how happy the recipient will be."
  • Encourage generosity. "We frequently donate toys and clothes to less fortunate kids," says Hulya Migliorino, of Bloomingdale, New Jersey. "When my daughters see me giving to others, it inspires them to go through their own closets and give something special to those in need, as well."
  • Insist on thank-you notes. Paula Goodnight, of Maineville, Ohio, always makes her girls (Rachel, 10, Amelia, 6, and Isabella, 3) write thank-yous for gifts. "When they were toddlers, the cards were just scribbles with my own thank-you attached," she says. "As they grew, they became drawings, then longer letters." Younger children can even dictate the letter while you write, says Lewis. "Just the act of saying out loud why he loved the gift will make him feel more grateful," she says.
  • Practice saying no. Of course kids ask for toys, video games, and candy -- sometimes on an hourly basis. It's difficult, if not impossible, to feel grateful when your every whim is granted. Saying no a lot makes saying yes that much sweeter.
  • Be patient. You can't expect gratitude to develop overnight -- it requires weeks, months, even years of reinforcement. But trust me, you will be rewarded. Four years after the robotic dog fiasco, I can now report that A.J. is a grateful, cheerful boy who delights in making other people happy. Sure, he asked for lots of gifts this Christmas, but he was just as excited about requesting gifts for his sisters. "They've both been good girls and deserve something special," he wrote in his letter to Santa. Now I'm the one feeling grateful.

Global Stewardship in the Classroom

by Mrs. Dignam & Mrs. Murphy

How are we encouraging our students to become Global Stewards? The Montessori classroom teaches children freedom with responsibility and fosters a sense of appreciation and awareness of one's environment. Global stewardship begins on the local level. Within the classroom, our students have the opportunity to choose a lesson with the responsibility of treating the work respectfully.

We remind our children that the classroom is theirs and to be mindful of their impact on their surroundings. All students participate in keeping the classroom neat, clean and peaceful by washing tables, pushing in chairs, and sweeping. Our expectation is that this translates to an understanding that they have the power to positively affect the world in which they live and to preserve and care for it.

We asked our Kindergarten students how they contributed to the harmony of our classroom.
"I organized the closet," Sarah excitedly replied.
"I did too," said Anvith.
"Bella and I cleaned the paint from the tables," Abigail said.
"We helped put away work so we could get ready for lunch," said Kieran and Corlyn.

When the children can look outside of their own needs to see the needs of the greater environment, they become stewards of their environment.

In our increasingly connected and interdependent world, it is more important than ever that our children develop geographic knowledge, experience diverse cultural perspectives and live respectfully and responsibly in a global environment. Our classroom incorporates materials that reflect our world's diversity and our commitment to preserving and protecting our environment.

For example, our study of Africa includes native artwork and sculptures. We discuss African biomes and animals. In our morning circle, we say "good morning' in languages from around the world. We sing about peace and love. We utilize the peace rose to resolve conflicts. To help the environment, we cut our paper towels, recycle, and compost.

Maria Montessori wrote, "The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth." It is our hope that as our students grow, they will extend their experiences to the world around them.

Three Tips for Fostering Environmental Stewardship at Home

Children learn to care about what we as adults care about. When we take steps in our lives to practice global stewardship, we become models for the children in our lives.

Replace Disposables: Wherever possible, replace disposable products with reusable ones (i.e., razors, food storage, batteries, ink cartridges (buy refill ink), coffee filters, furnace or air conditioner filters, etc.).

Limit Your Use of Trees: Replace paper napkins with cloth napkins, leave messages for family members/roommates on a reusable message board, reuse envelopes, wrapping paper, the front of gift cards (as postcards) and other paper materials you receive wherever possible, read books, magazines, and newspapers from your local library or online .

Skip the Plastic: Skip plastic bags for small purchases and make sure you bring your own bags to stores.

Parent Toddler Class 2019

By Miss McCusker

We are excited to announce that we will be offering our second Parent/Toddler class beginning Tuesday, January 15, 2019.

This is an eight week, one hour class for children 16 - 30 months of age. The class serves as a parent introduction to the Montessori classroom.

Each Tuesday from 3–4 PM, the children and parents will have an opportunity to explore and learn together in a modified, age-appropriate Montessori toddler classroom; activities will include individual work time, circle time, snack, and weather permitting a short playtime outside. There will also be some specific educational tools for parents on navigating infant and toddler behaviors, e.g. bedtime routines.

Registration for this class will open on Tuesday, November 6 on School Speak and our website at If you are interested, or know of someone who may be interested, we invite you to sign up quickly. Space is limited and the program may fill quickly. Note the photographs of a few of last year's graduates!

Allowing Opportunities For Movement

by Maren Schmidt, March 8, 2015

A kid's got to move. Observing a few minutes at a playground will attest to that. You don't see children sitting around if they have the chance to run, jump, climb, or skip. Children are in a sensitive period of development for movement from birth to about age five-and-a-half.

Around age four-and-a-half, children have a growth spurt where their legs may grow over an inch per month. During this time, it is difficult for children to sit comfortably. They will squirm or refuse to sit in their chairs at the dinner table. They will appear to wander aimlessly about in their preschool classes. At this time, it is important to allow lots of opportunities for movement such as long walks and other outdoor activities.

Because of this leg growth, children need additional calcium. Many children suffer from leg cramps at night, don't sleep well and end up being very cranky. Be on the lookout during this growth spurt. Children can't tell you about their legs cramps because they don't have the language experience in most cases. Additional calcium supplements, stretching and massage will help children (and parents!) get a good night's sleep, and restore pleasant dispositions.

Children love to walk on stonewalls, balance beams or lines drawn on the floor. At a playground observe all the different activities children do. Every movement is fulfilling a basic developmental need. Give your child opportunities to move and learn at the same time.

The need for movement, though, should not be a license to run wild in the house, stores, or restaurants. Purposeful activity needs to direct children's movements.

We need to give activities that engage all the senses of the child and therefore help him or her direct energy for a positive outcome. For example, folding laundry is a purposeful activity. Children can fold laundry and make many trips to put the laundry away. Send them off with one towel to put away and have them come back and get the next one. It may take twenty trips, but they'll love it, especially when a big pile has disappeared.

You can also incorporate movement while sitting and waiting. The preposition game is a quiet game for a restaurant or doctor's appointment. It's simple to play with two objects. In a restaurant I'll use a napkin and spoon. Ask the child to do things such as:

  • Put the spoon under the napkin.
  • Put the spoon next to the napkin.
  • Put the napkin under the spoon.
  • Put the spoon near the napkin.
  • Put the napkin around the spoon.

Switch roles and let the child give you directions.

Change the prepositions using words such as over, above, near, through, far, around, between and for the more adventuresome, adjacent, tangent, perpendicular, horizontal, vertical, intersecting. Dig out that old geometry book!

This game helps the child learn that certain words (prepositions) show the relationship between two or more objects.

Have a good time and laugh at all the funny relationships you can describe for the objects. Each request is a walk across the room and directs movement in a purposeful manner.

A key to a happy child, and thus a happy parent, is using purposeful activities to allow movement that aids development. Household chores and word games give children purposeful movement. Your children will have chances for movement along with learning responsibility for a cheerful home life.

Elementary Ice Skating

by Ms. Hicks

What a wonderful way to return to the Bridgewater Sports Arena! Eighteen years ago, Kimberly Cagnassola was a student in our lower elementary class and an excellent ice skater. Her mother suggested that Albrook students might enjoy skating too, and put me in touch with Jackie Kulik at Bridgewater Sports Arena. When Jackie moved from Bridgewater to Mennen Arena, we followed her. Under her leadership and excellent, well-organized instruction, the elementary students have been progressing with their skating.

This summer, when Jackie wrote that she was returning to Bridgewater after their twelve million dollar renovation, we decided to return to our original ice rink. What a surprise to be greeted by both Kimberly and Jackie! Kimberly is teaching part-time at the ice rink while she continues to train. The children were also thrilled to learn that two of their teachers have performed with the Rockettes each Christmas season for the past twenty years as the ice skating duo.

Some of the youngest elementary students approached the rink with awe while some have been skating on teams or for fun with their families. Returning students were excited to have another chance to improve their skills on a rink just for Albrook students. Many thanks to the Cagnassola family for initiating this tradition and for Jackie's great leadership through the years.



Montessori In The News

The Parent Perspective about Montessori, Introduction to Montessori Method

The Montessori Method is designed to educate the whole child, socially, emotionally, academically and physically. This style of learning creates innovative, creative thinkers from young children to adults.  It's an educational approach that is appreciated by those who have been fortunate enough to receive a Montessori education or who had parents who knew the true benefits and value of a Montessori education.

Forbes, a well known magazine, has an informative article regarding Montessori written by Justin Wasserman who is the Managing Director at Kotter International. Justin Wasserman helps leaders accelerate strategy implementation in their organizations.
Corporate Kindergarten

Montessori Madness
A video, by Trevor Eissler, informs us about why children enjoy a Montessori education. It is called "Take Five Minutes To Watch This Video," and we hope you will find it interesting.

The Montessori Mafia
By Peter Simms, reprinted from The Wall Street Journal

Google Founders Talk About Montessori

All I got out of Montessori..