Molly Bernhardt

Morgan Avina

Bluebird Room is a Lower Elementary classroom for levels 1-3 on the Toledo Campus. Morgan Avina Molly Bernhardt are the classroom’s co-teachers.

How to Raise an Independent, Responsible, Cooperative Child

Does your child follow the ground rules at school, but constantly challenge your expectations at home? Join West Side Montessori’s Goldfinch Teacher, Natalie Fisher, and Elementary and Middle School Education Director, Jenn Schoepf, for this four-week session of Parenting the Montessori Elementary Child.

The class will be held at the Toledo Campus on Thursdays starting Jan. 21 from 3:45-5 p.m. Class dates are Jan. 21, Jan. 28, Feb. 4, and Feb. 11.

Click here to print a registration form or call (419) 866-1931 and ask for Jenn Schoepf.


JanusWelcome back!  We hope you had an enjoyable winter break.  “January” comes from the Roman god, Janus.  Janus had two faces- one looking back at the past and one looking forward to the future.  What a great image!

Looking back at our winter celebration, we’d like to thank all of the parents that volunteered time, energy, and goods for a delicious breakfast buffet.  Your generosity at such a busy time is much appreciated!  Thank you to Jenn Schoepf, Smita Patel, Emily Karakas, Paulette Bucher, Cathy Shaffer, Danielle Fisher-Snyder, Kate Mitchell, Sara Clark, Leslie Davis, Elizabeth Ononye, Tara Ice, Seba Tohme, David Roach, Maggie Hirt, and Addie Nelson

This last day before break is such an enjoyable day where we kick back, relax, and spend time together after much hard work.  I guess you could say we took the day to begin our “hibernation”!  PJs, blankets, books, and buddies.  Add in a movie and you’ve got one cozy winter day.

We are looking forward to this next month.  The children will be studying political and physical geography of North America, including  polar biomes.  We will learn about the amazing adaptations that allow living things to survive in the tundra of the Arctic.  Who knew there were 100 species of spiders in the Arctic?! We will also begin studies of South America as we head into February.

On any given day while looking through a lower elementary observation window, you may see a student using a stamp game to solve a multiplication equation, a child at a rug acting out verb command cards, and another youngster tracing and coloring a timeline of life. Movement is a key component in every Montessori classroom.

MovementMaria Montessori was ahead of her time when she declared:
“One of the greatest mistakes of our day is to think of movement by itself, as something apart from the higher functions…Mental development must be connected with movement and be dependent on it. It is vital that educational theory and practice should become informed by this idea.”(1967)

Maria Montessori was so passionate about this idea that she incorporated movement into every subject.

What Maria Montessori declared decades ago, current research is now confirming. Studies have supported the notion that movement and learning are closely intertwined. Studies have reported that judgment, social cognition, and memory can be greatly improved when movements are aligned with what they are thinking about and learning. Movement stimulates the brain and improves the encoding of details into the brain. (Stoll-Lillard, Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius).

In Montessori classrooms, movement is at its core. The Montessori math curriculum materials such as the golden beads and stamp game begin very concrete. As the child moves through the operation, the materials, like the small and large bead frames, become less concrete, moving the child to the point of abstracting math operations. In language lessons, grammar symbols and lessons use movement to teach nouns, verbs, conjunctions, and so on. With the phonics materials, students carefully lay out their work and record it. In culture lessons, students work with geography puzzle maps, use nomenclature cards to learn the parts of an animal, read directions to complete an experiment and then produce a record of learning from tracing and labeling a map, to painting an animal and naming its parts, to recording scientific experiment data. All of these movements of the hand are making the learning connection.

Come visit a Lower Elementary room and observe six to nine year old students practicing purposeful movement. You will see how movement is helping us develop independent workers, confident helpers, and explorers of the world.


Bluebird students had the opportunity to experience a morning similar to what the pioneers may have experienced on a daily basis! We had a sing-along and cooking demonstration outside that all of the Lower Elementary classes were able to experience together. We combined the ingredients that the students had begun to prepare the day before: carrots, potatoes, celery, chicken, and stock.

We then went back to Bluebird and experienced a few stations mostly revolving around the needs of humans. We had a kitchen station where students experienced grinding corn, making butter, and making noodles to be added to our soup. Another station revolved around building and the homes in which they might have lived. This station involved the making of craft-stick homes and the choice to use Lincoln Logs to build a log structure. There was also a clothing station in which students could choose to sew a pocket or learn to knit. Since the pioneers did not have pockets in their clothing, they would have tied or strapped on a small pocket after their clothing was on in order to carry supplies and belongings. The toys and games station involved playing pioneer games and making rag dolls. The students were also able to use their freshly-made butter on a snack of cornbread with jam. Yum!

We explained to the students that in their time, pilgrims and pioneers would not have been able to just go to their store to buy vegetables, chicken, noodles, broth, clothes, etc. They would have made this all by hand, homemade all of their food, grown the vegetables, and raised the animals for meat. We heard many comments when we first explained this concept to the students during the days leading up to Pioneer Day. Some of the comments included, “It would be fun to live like a pioneer!” and “It would be fun to make everything homemade!” This particular fun morning that we had in our classroom gave just a bit of a look into what parts of their life might have been like. By the end of the morning, we heard comment such as

  • “This is hard to do!”
  • “I’m glad I didn’t live then. They didn’t have radios to tell us that tornadoes are coming!”
  • “Making butter is hard work!”

Thank you to those that brought in donations and to the parents and volunteers that made this event possible! We had a lot of fun and are so thankful that you help us to give the students the experience that this day entailed. We couldn’t have pulled off this day without you; it is sure to be an experience that the children will never forget! See the gallery for some pictures of this fun event!

Pioneer Day Pictures