Sowing Seeds

The following passage was written in 1993 for the Oregon Montessori Association’s newsletter by our Director of Elementary Training, Elise Huneke-Stone:


The soil was fertile, and some of us were hungry for the harvest, and so we sowed the seeds…that’s S.E.E.D.S., or Some Elementary Educators Discussing School. Born of the need to talk shop with our peers, without our long-suffering significant others sitting silently, this new group has met twice for a frenzy of discussion and laughter and inspiration. Our first meeting had eight in attendance, with SunGarden, the Earth School, and Montessori School of Beaverton staff represented. We plan to continue meeting, every six weeks, rotating among the homes of the members. The group is open to Montessori elementary guides and administrators who seek meaningful conversation in a causal setting with the only people on Earth who really understand. (Forza Vitale, Winter, 1993)

There were only three elementary programs in Portland at the time this article was written, yet eight people showed up to the first meeting of SEEDS. It was the most concentrated local Elementary event our city had ever seen!

Portland’s Elementary programs have quadrupled in the subsequent 22 years and Elise no longer guides children in the classroom nor edits the OMA newsletter. But for as much as this community has changed, many of the same needs remain in place. Teachers are still communal creatures, engaging one another for support and inspiration. There’s comfort in remembering we’re not the only one who struggles with a squirmy six-year old, or a child who doesn’t know their math facts, or how to make the Kingdom Vegetalia materials more engaging.

MNW is excited to announce the revival of SEEDS after years of dormancy. You are invited to join the robust lineage of Portland’s elementary community, and strengthen your own connections. MNW will host these monthly gatherings, with a rotating cast of Elementary staff and community members facilitating conversation. Show up and talk about charts, reminisce about your time in the training, and meet students from our current training course. Take pictures of the practice environment, swap stories, and make materials. Get connected to the community you’ve been investing in.

Join us for “At the Beginning,” our first SEEDS meeting of the year: Saturday, September 19, 10:00AM-1:00PM at MNW.

*Future SEEDS gatherings: Oct 17, Nov 21, Jan 16, Feb 20, Mar 12, and Apr 16.

More info about this event and others can be found at Teacher Support and Workshops & Events.

Posted on September 4, 2015 .

Primary Foundations & Peer Learning

Recently, as part of the foundations course, our elementary students divided into groups to study and discuss different aspects of the Exercises of Practical Life. Following their discussion, each group organized the information and created a presentation of key points to share with their classmates. The students presented on the history of Practical Life, the different sections of Practical Life, the characteristics of the materials, and the importance of key elements like points of interest and analysis of movement. At MNW, we understand that students learn a great deal by explaining their ideas to others and by participating in activities in which they can learn from their peers. Learning with and from each other is a necessary and important aspect of building a positive learning community.

Posted on August 28, 2015 and filed under Elementary.

Student Variations with the Sensorial Materials

Recently, our primary summer course students explored variations with the Sensorial materials. When we speak of variations, we refer to something which the child does spontaneously out her own activity with the material. These spontaneous inventions are an important aspect of the child’s interactions with the materials; they result from the discoveries she is making based in the purposes of the activity. Variations are never shown to the child – this would rob the child of the joy and certainties of her own discoveries. 

Posted on August 28, 2015 and filed under Fun, Primary, Materials.

The Clock in the Children's House

Have you ever wondered how to introduce the clock in your classroom? Below is a statement from the Scientific Pedagogy Group of the Association Montessori International to clarify the use of the clock in the Children's House. Following it, there is a link to a document that details how MNW introduces the clock (and calendar) in our Primary teacher training courses.

Posted on May 4, 2015 and filed under From MNW Staff, Primary, Resources.