Amy Wagner

Sarah Knox

Poplar Room is a Children’s House classroom on the Toledo Campus. Sarah Knox and Amy Wagner are the classroom’s co-teachers.


2015-16 Toledo Children’s House
Dates to Know [PDF]

I want to thank all the families that came to First Thursday today. I also want to share with you the handout (below).

Structure of the Music/Literacy Lessons

CH_MusicI start with a Music and Movement lesson for the whole class. We warm up our voices and bodies and have a lot of fun. After a couple of songs at circle I spread the children around the room so that we have space to hop, jump, and wiggle without bumping into our friends while we sing action songs. During this time, I also sing songs related to content areas that children are studying in the classroom and seasonal songs.

After singing our hearts out and shaking our sillies out we come back to the circle for the Shared Reading lesson. At this time I refer to the song I have written on chart paper, and point to each word as the students and I read the text together. Even the youngest students can be successful in this reading environment because they have already sung the song and they have the support of their classmates and me.

During work time I work with the students in small groups reading their folders. All of the students have their own folders that contain copies of the songs we have used as Shared Reading texts. This gives students the chance to read the songs independently, allowing them to make one more mental imprint of the song. Songs are illustrated to provide picture support so that even the youngest readers can be successful through recognition and recitation. They see the picture of the water, and they know it is the song, “Listen to the Water,” so they begin reciting it from memory. Emergent readers use their fingers to practice left-to-right directionality and begin tracking print. Developing readers use one-to-one correspondence, touching each word as they say it, and self-correcting when they notice that the word their finger is pointing to does not match the word they are saying. The differentiation of instruction is inherent in the activity because all of the children can approach it at their own levels and be successful.

When we work in small groups, in addition to reading our folders for independent reading, there are many other literacy extension activities that we do. For example, we did a lot of work on our names with the song “What’s Your Name” including comparing names and “letter hunting.” I sometimes ask students to illustrate a song as a comprehension activity. Other times I use “zipper songs,” asking children to fill in a blank, and “zipping” their ideas into the song. When we fill in gaps in a printed song, my expectations are different for students depending on their individual levels. I might model the writing and fill in the blanks myself, stretching out a word to listen for every sound in it. I might ask children for the initial sound of a word, or to write the word independently, depending on their abilities.

The best way for you to understand the curriculum and appreciate the incredible work the children are doing would be to come in and observe on a day when your child has Music. I am in Sassafras on Mondays, Black Cherry on Tuesdays, Perrysburg on Wednesdays, Poplar and Sycamore on Thursdays, and Maple on Fridays. Please join us. I would love to see you there!

Keep singing!

Please join Amy Wagner and me this Thursday, February 4, 8:30- 9:30 a.m. Amy will talk about the Montessori materials that support language, and I will talk about how the Music/Literacy program works. We will do a quick demonstration with some of the Children’s House students, and be available to answer questions. Hope to see you there!

Welcome to 1979.  I was four years old and began calling grandma on our rotary telephone located in our kitchen.  It is funny to think that this generation has no idea of what rotary telephones even are anymore.   Phones that plug into the wall are vintage, ancient!  The looks on the children’s faces were quite humorous when I told them that when I was their age we did not have telephones that we could take with us everywhere.  When I was younger, my telephone plugged into the wall and I could not leave the room until I was done talking.  We did not have phones that we could leave the house with.  We couldn’t go shopping or get ice cream with a phone in our purse.

The rotary telephone is a new and very popular work in Poplar Room.  Children look up their friends in the”Poplar Room White Pages” and dial their numbers.  This work allows the child to practice number recognition, memorization, eye-hand coordination, and dramatic play.  It is fun to hear the conversations they are having with their friends on the “other line.”  We have had some laughs watching children attempt to walk away from the table with the receiver still to their ear as the phone falls to the floor.  They have also held the phone upside-down with the mouthpiece to their ear.  Here are some pictures…too cute for words!


The following is a blog post I found on “Planting Peas.”  I do not take credit for anything in this article, simply had to share…

The Montessori Silence Game is a brilliant and simple game that can be played with one child or a whole classroom.  It is a foundational activity in a Montessori curriculum that helps a child to develop self-discipline, self-control and a more acute awareness of the sounds or silence that surrounds him.  Over time and with practice, a child learns to relax and absorb the beauty of the world around him through this simple activity, which trains mindfulness.

It is so common and easy to assume that preschoolers, especially a group of them, cannot possibly achieve total silence or be mindful about their being or their surroundings.  A preschooler is built by nature to move and climb and stretch and jump and crawl — this is how they grow, how they explore the limits of their bodies in relation to their world.

But the same little children are also capable of achieving total and maximum silence by complete inhibition of all their movements — to the point that they are able to hear the faintest whisper of their name being called.


Mindfulness exercises naturally lead to self-awareness, self-control and self-regulation. There have been studies that show that self-control is a better indicator of success both in school and life in general, more so than higher IQ or wealth. Check out this great article in The New York Times.

Self-regulation is very important. As a child in school, self-regulation is needed to concentrate and listen to the teacher, to time oneself and complete school work according to the time limits, to control the impulse to chat with a friend endlessly when it’s time to wrap schoolwork up. As an adult, self-regulation is needed to stop oneself from binge eating leading to obesity, to control one’s impulse to drink if one is going to drive, for time management so that work is done by its deadline.

The next time you are in Poplar Room – observe the self-awareness, self-control, and self-reguation among the children.  The Montessori Silence Game contributed to that.  Thank you Dr. Montessori!

Scholastic book orders are going home in backpacks today.  Be sure to check it out and order some great books for your children (bonus: we get points from your orders to spend on classroom books)!