Article by: Kathy Handorf; Assistant Principal at Xavier University Montessori Lab School
One of my favorite things about being at the Lab School is admiring our amazing classroom environments. Last week, I was reflecting on the beautiful works on the shelves and I was admiring a fall tree on the wall in Donna’s 3-6 classroom. It is adorned with colorful leaves that the children have punched out and taped to the tree. Many of the leaves made it onto the branches; however, some were placed falling intentionally upside down to indicate they will make their way to a leaf pile the children have created near the base of the tree. Some of the leaves have been punched out on the lines perfectly, possibly by a kindergarten student and others had dots here and there, most likely completed by a first year student. Every leaf has a purpose and a place on the wall.
To others it may seem like a simple activity, but this work is much more than it seems at first glance. It is designed to set the foundation for writing by developing fine motor skills that are needed to hold a pencil and it satisfies an inner need for deep concentration. It is also an amazing example of how one single work in a Montessori environment can ignite a spark to work together to create something wonderful. This work meets the needs of every child across the three year curriculum. It was fascinating to see how this tree started a movement to build community and bring a sense of “togetherness” as the children work as a team to create the best project possible.
Our Xavier Montessori Lab School family is an interwoven community, much like our 3-6 tree. We work together to make things happen and value each person’s contribution to get involved. Last week, Rosemary and I met with the chairs of our amazing Parent Teacher Collaborative to brainstorm ideas to build community, help the growth of school and support our teachers. We hope that you can join us and build upon the wonderful contributions and collaboration that have been started!