West End Phoenix Assignment for Uppers

On Wednesday, May 22nd, Upper Elementary students will meet with Dave Bidini at the West End Phoenix offices at The Gladstone Hotel to chat about the paper and hand in their submissions for the New Voices award co-sponsored by the paper and Six Shooter Records. Please make sure your submissions are at school by Tuesday, May 21st.

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Botany and Mothers




We are completing the botany series on functions, parts and adaptations of plants. Each week, an Upper Elementary child collaborates with Holly to present the material on leaf, stem, root, flower, fruit and seed. Today, our presentation on flowers coincided perfectly with Mother’s Day this coming Sunday. We used the flowers remaining from our dissections to create table top set ups of still life to paint. The results made lovely gifts to honour our mothers, who one child equated to the flower, which is the ovary/woman of the plant. How cosmic.


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Reflective Journalling with Marina Dempster



Today we welcomed Marina Dempster for a workshop on journalling in Upper Elementary. This is a part of a series of exercises that we hope will expand capacity for self-reflection and awareness. She used a variety of techniques, including blind contour drawing, poetry assemblage, collage and word association. The first few pages of the journals are just beautiful and we will continue with this work on a weekly basis. One of the exercises asked the children to seal a piece of paper that listed a dream they have for themselves in ten years’ time into an envelope. Then they were to write on another piece of paper a fear that they have which might stop them from reaching that goal. As a final exercise, we literally took those fears on scraps of paper outside and fired them in a metal canister. It was the perfect closure to a beautiful morning.


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Justification for Skipping Math to Cut and Paste Today:

“Find out who your children are. Really get to know them and find out what their passions are, what they love, what they care about. If you find out what they care about, and then build curriculum to that, or around that, their love, their passion…will drive your curriculum.” Jon Hunter, Founder, World Peace Game

Watch this space to see what we made out of it.

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Thank you for opening your kitchens and your wallets yesterday to raise money for Kpedze Todze Basic School, in Ghana.

We raised $592 dollars which we’ll convert to US dollars for Links Across Borders to take to Headmaster Amoako to share with his school community. For those of you who don’t know, the money we raised last year funded:

-a complete elementary Montessori math apparatus (which we shipped in May and Holly went over in July to train them on)

-new sewing machines

-school activity fees for 24 children who would otherwise have been prevented from sitting their final exams

This year, the faculty at the school will decide how to use the money that we’ve raised and we’ll find out about it later. Meanwhile, Links Across Borders will pick up our book donations, penpal letters and the cash at midday on Monday.

This morning in Elementary, I presented my slides and stories from my trip to Ghana last summer. Then we cracked open letters the students sent back with me. Orchard children wrote return letters about their school life and interests outside of school. Some wanted to include small tokens in their letters, which is possible, but only if they arrive early Monday morning to get them into the envelopes before they are picked up.

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The Coming of Humans

Three of our grade four students spent a week making a timeline of human evolution. Beginning with the arrival of humans in the Pleistocene Epoch of the Quarternary Period, they traced our development through geographic, climactic and evolutionary change that modern humans evolved in accordance with. When they were finished, they presented their project to their forty casa peers, aged two and a half to five years.

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Model UN in New York

Live from the UN General Assembly from 9-12 Saturday morning:

To watch, go to webtv.un.org and look for “Montessori Model United Nations Live Stream” in the schedule on the right-hand side.

WEDNESDAY Our Model UN contingent of five delegates plus one observer arrived in New York today. Tonight was the opening ceremony and our two flag bearers for Congo Brazzaville did a marvelous job.

UPDATE THURSDAY: This morning, the children went into their committee sessions at 9am to deliver their opening speeches on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, Disposal of Nuclear Waste and Climate Change. The five are divided onto three committees which means that one of them is on her own and they have six papers among them to present over two days. They were all nervous but the speeches went flawlessly. When we broke for lunch, they briefed me on what had happened and it looks like at least one of our groups has a solution that will get sponsored and drafted into the final resolution to be read aloud in the UN General Assembly on Saturday morning.Two of them managed to get into the scrum to get line items onto draft statements on Disposal of Nuclear Waste and Disarmament. Not a bad showing for first timers!

UPDATE FRIDAY: Today was a brilliant day at Model UN. One of our teams led a discussion on the drafting of a resolution on Decolonialization while the others contributed line items on the topics of Biological Diversity and Disarmament. The two speeches given by our group today were bold ideas delivered with confidence. Tomorrow morning we attend the closing ceremony where the final drafts are officially recognized. It’s broadcast live on the UN’s website tomorrow.

UPDATE SATURDAY: The last day was a day of big emotions. The final statements were read in the UN’s General Assembly and either resolved by consensus or vote (roughly 85% were by consensus which mirrors the UN’s usual rate). The children were congratulated by the Secretary General, two ambassadors and the Director of Unicef. After, we went for lunch and the children were at turns triumphant, disappointed it was all over and angered by an injustice they felt they had suffered in one of the committee sessions earlier in the week. My admiration for the their work on researching their country and their topics, preparing themselves for their position papers and speeches, their forays into solving difficult situations with diplomacy and the way they conducted themselves in general is profound. They are already planning to return next year.

To watch, go to webtv.un.org and look for “Montessori Model United Nations Live Stream” in the schedule on the right-hand side.

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Hot off the Press

This month, Orchard students were invited to contribute stories, photos and drawings of animals that fit loosely into the category of “pets”. The feature mirrors a regular monthly column that runs in The Phoenix called Pet of the Month. In keeping with the editorial mandate of the paper, most of our contributions were decidedly unconventional and unusual. To get the scoop, pick up a copy of The West End Phoenix. Thanks to Dave, Melanie and the makers of our amazing local paper for giving space and fostering young journalists! Students are welcome to send in photos of themselves…reading all about it…for the blog.

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Sound Bath with Kiko

The Upper Elementary years are a very collaborative time. It’s wonderful to watch the social being emerge from the soul of the child. Sometimes, like in all planes of development, these new-found roles and scripts require some refinement. We spend a lot of time talking about governance, motivation, different ways of communicating and self-reflection in Upper Elementary. Today, on our last day of school before March Break, we took the afternoon off to attend a sound bath with Kiko Sounds. She did a beautiful job of introducing the children to the experience of a sound bath meditation and letting them hear an array of chimes, crystal bowls, shells and the magical shruti box which she said contains “all the sounds of the universe”. That certainly got their attention and afterward, they were thrilled that they got to handle some of her instruments as well. Here’s an outtake from our little free-form jam:



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High Park Dates (Changed)

Please note the following changes to the dates for High Park Forest Fridays.

March 1

April 5

April 12

April 26

May 10

May 17

May 24

June 7 * meet at 440 Parkside location!

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