March Spanish Lime Newsletter

Dear Spanish Lime Families,
For the past month, the Spanish Limes have been a busy community. We celebrated Friendship Day with our toddler friends, presented poetry projects, researched U.S. presidents, and dove deeper into our history of humans.

The class split up and joined the toddler classroom’s circle time for Friendship Day. The Spanish Limes created a photo book of the toddlers at work, and wrote a caption to go with each picture. In exchange, the toddlers made a wonderful salt scrub that we use for hand washing to keep those pesky germs away! As a group, we recited Light a Candle for Peace, exchanged Friendship Day gifts, and ended our time with a dance party!

The Fourth Great lesson, The Coming of Writing, was presented to your child. This lesson focuses on the introduction and importance of the human language. This story is divided into parts:
• The First Word is an origin story about the birth of human speech.
• The Ox and the House looks at the beginning of the alphabet, individualizing sounds and the introduction to pictograph and writing.
• The Piece of Paper that Sees and Speaks is primarily about the “magic” of reading.

These stories introduce all three components of language — speaking, writing, and reading — in a narrative way. In addition to these stories, the lesson discusses the different cultures, time period, and writings that were influenced. The Fifth Great Lesson comes soon after, and is about the history of our numbers, the underlying motivations for counting, and how our number symbols came to be.

Throughout the next few months, we will be keeping history simple and straightforward by highlighting major events, personalities, and national stories of the world’s culture. From the first nomads, to the rich lands of the Fertile Crescent, to ancient Egypt we will be immersing ourselves in it all. These stories will give us a small insight of what life was like long, long ago.

Ms. Sally and Ms. Sarka

March Gumbo Limbo Newsletter

Greetings, Gumbo Limbo Families,

February was a busy month on campus and in class. Here are some of the highlights:

Parent education was well attended. It was a pleasure to share information regarding the kindergarten year (presented by Ms. Karthi and Ms. Casey) and give lessons in the Gumbo Limbo classroom.

The love and play primary event was a fun-filled morning of games, bouncy houses, crafts, and general, all-around fun. Thank you to all volunteers!

The Gumbo Limbo bake sale brought in almost $800! We are so very grateful to everyone who baked, sold, set up and cleaned up. I will place the first order for science and geography books and materials this week. We are in need of maps and other Montessori materials, which I am pricing out to get the most bang for our buck.

Friendship Day in the primary program looked like this: Each class presented to the others handmade Montessori materials. The Banyans gifted us with a lovely patterning material made with colored hearts. This material is a prereading activity with left to right orientation and following a pattern. The Kapok class presented us with a beautiful and aromatic herb garden. This science material allows us to observe and care for living things, and sensorially enjoy using sight, smell, and touch. In turn, the Gumbo Limbos presented each class with a classification material for small/medium/large. We rolled the clay, cutting and painting five different shapes to sort.

Several staff members, myself included, attended a 12-hour training on the Orton-Gillingham Reading Program by the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education. Interestingly, some of the methods (e.g., using a sand tray for letter formation) have a very Montessori feel. We will be meeting to discuss how to implement what we learned into our own programs.

This week, we start our cultural immersion study. In the Gumbo Limbo classroom we are focusing on the continent of South America. We will start simply with the puzzle map, naming each country and talking about its location on the continent. We will move on to talk about different countries, biomes, peoples, animals, plants, food, and arts. Please keep an eye out for information regarding the at-home project each child will take part in.

In March, we will move away from our study of the body and into other vertebrate and invertebrate animals. The children have enjoyed making their own body maps. Younger children enjoyed drawing in and coloring themselves. Older students drew in organs and bones, and labelled them. We continue the season study with an introduction to Spring. We also continue with land and water forms, time, and directionality.

As always, I am available by appointment should you have specific questions about your child’s progress. Simply email me at

Mark your calendar:
March 2-6: Literacy Week: Book Exchange
March 12 and 13: Bake Sale — Toddler
March 1215: AMS Conference, Dallas, TX
March 16-20: Spring Break — No School
March 23: Professional Day — No School

Ms. Suzanne and Ms. Jill

March Pigeon Plum Newsletter

Dear Pigeon Plum Families,

Dr. Maria Montessori believed that “There must be provision for the child to have contact with nature; to understand and appreciate the order, the harmony and the beauty in nature.” Toddlers are sensorial learners and enjoy the sensorial experience of being outside in nature. Dr. Montessori understood that children must experience the world through their senses in order for their brains to develop. Being able to feel, hear, see, smell, and taste their environment are critical to your toddler’s development. Through movement and sensory input, children form neural pathways, shaping their minds and gaining control of their bodies. While working outside, toddlers also learn about the natural world around them and how to care for it. The more children are outside, the stronger their connection with nature becomes.

“When children come in contact with nature, they reveal their strength.”
—Dr. Maria Montessori

Activities that you can do outdoors in nature with your toddler:
• Notice the beauty of nature together.
• Listen to the wind in the trees.
• Look at all the flowers in bloom.
• Smell the rain.
• Observe insects at work.
• Watch the movement of the ocean and look for water droplets on leaves.
• Find moments of quiet; choose a peaceful place to sit and just breathe or sit and watch the clouds.
• Take a basket to the park or beach to collect flowers, leaves, rocks, shells, and sticks.
• Grow your own fruits, herbs, and vegetables. The garden provides toddlers with a chance to dig in the soil, and to plant seeds and plants and watch them grow.

Ms. Megan has been taking the Pigeon Plums outside during our morning work cycle to help water the plants around campus, pick up fallen sticks on the playgrounds, and scrub away leftover chalk from the chalkboard and playground equipment.

“Let the children be free; encourage them; let them run outside when it is raining; let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water; and, when the grass of the meadows is damp with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet; let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath its shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning as it wakes every living creature that divides its day between waking and sleeping.”
—Dr. Maria Montessori

Happy March,
Ms. Dori and Ms. Megan

March Banyan Newsletter

Dear Banyan Families,

I cannot imagine that we have already marched into March; it feels like we just started the school year!

Last month, Teagan from the Mangrove class transitioned to the Banyan classroom. I have to share with you all how wonderfully the Banyans are supporting their new friend with her transition process.
I recall once entering the Banyan class after observing the Toddler classrooms when I felt that transition for myself. I paused by the door for a moment, and started thinking and putting together all the processes and procedures that a child goes through when they transition from one classroom environment to another. So many factors are included in that transition process: class size, number of students, new classroom environment, teachers, peers, lessons, and change of routine. The transitioning child needs support from the entire classroom community in order to feel safe and adapt to the new class, peers, teachers’ lessons, and routine. Isn’t “the empathetic human” an excellent lesson for all of us to learn, to feel others’ feelings and needs, and to support them accordingly?

Moving on to March, the Banyans will slowly start the North American continent study.
We will continue our practices on following the bathroom procedures (ask your child about it), using the tissue to blow the nose, covering the cough and sneeze, and washing hands.

Discussion of the Month: “What Is Happening in the Banyan Classroom?”
In my October newsletter, “What is happening in the Banyan Classroom?” was mainly about the daily routine and what we learn together at the beginning of the school year.
Now we are close to the end of the school year. The children are growing and needing a change. Especially this time of the year, children get ready for the next developmental stage. So children need a shift of pattern in their routine. The routine is the same, but with modulations and extensions. For example, in the morning circle, we sing the same song but with different voice modulations. At the beginning of the school year, kindergartners were willing to place the nap mats. Now our young leaders (first-year students) are placing the nap mats, and kindergarten students can run the circle.

As Dr. Montessori said, we “follow the child” and guide them accordingly. Once we understand and study the child, it is a pure pleasure to follow their pattern.

Change of Pattern in the Environment
The classroom environment needs consistent changes throughout the school year. Some changes are:
Switching around a couple pieces of furniture
Replacing the lessons and objects
Adding new lessons on the shelves

Every time I make a change to the environment, I feel refreshed to come to the classroom and see the children’s excitement when they enter the class. Changes should be made carefully, and should not overwhelm the children when they enter the class.

Adults in the Environment
We adults must recognize that the children have physically, emotionally, socially, and intellectually developed over the months, and thus, their needs and expressions have changed. This requires being present with the children at all times, studying about them to support them.

“The teacher, when she begins work in our schools, must have a kind of faith that the child will reveal himself through work.”
— Dr. Montessori

So, what is happening in the classroom at this time of the school year?

“The satisfaction which they find in their work has given them a grace and ease like that which comes from music.”
— Dr. Montessori

The older students in the class have been enjoying their pattern of tasks (work-help-socialize), and sometimes the patterns take twists and turns. They all know their responsibilities, and sometimes require a gentle reminder. The building-year students have been building the bridge to walk on for the kindergarten year. They have been working, working, and working with the same lessons again and again, and helping young friends.

Our young leaders are familiar with the routine and have been building confidence via consistent routine, working with the lessons, and socializing with their peers. In young children, the process of unfolding from the unconscious absorbent mind to the conscious absorbent mind may happen at various times, and for some students, it is just starting to happen.

“The child passes little by little from the unconscious to the conscious, treading always in the paths of joy and love.” —Dr. Montessori

On the whole, the Banyan classroom is filled with little humans (25), their work, the noise from the materials, and the children’s work. The class also has lots of feelings and expressions: waves of laughter, excitement, sadness, crying, screaming, and talking. The beauty of a Montessori classroom is allowing the children to regulate their feelings and guide/ support them as per their needs. A child’s expression is related to their feelings, and it is OK to let them feel their feelings as long as the child and the children around the child are safe.

“Once a direction is given to them, the child’s movements are made towards a definite end, so that he himself grows quiet and contented, and becomes an active worker, a being calm and full of joy.”
— Dr. Montessori

March Studies
Spring theme:
The life cycle of a butterfly Parts of a flower Continent studies


Ms. Karthi and Ms. Desiree

March Mangrove Newsletter

Dear Mangrove families,

The struggle is real.

Think back on the greatest lessons that you have learned throughout your life. Lessons that made you stronger and more resilient. Lessons that made you learn something new about your capabilities. Lessons that gave you the opportunity to learn about the world around you.

All those lessons came easy, right? You set your mind to it and accomplished it like a piece of cake.
Wait, no one said that?

Upon reflection, are you realizing that anything worth learning, anything that taught you a lesson came with a bit of struggle? If it is easy, you didn’t really learn anything. When it was difficult and you had to work at it, you ended up growing, learning, and evolving into a better version of yourself.

We do that in the toddler environment EVERY SINGLE DAY. We provide experiences that require the children to push themselves, to struggle, to evolve with each new day.

Teachers like to refer to themselves as scaffolding and I quite like that metaphor. We are there to be a supporting structure but not to do the work for them. We want the children to do as much as they can with the least amount of adult inferences as possible. We are ready to support and guide when they need us but it comes with a lot of patience and restraint- a lot of retraining of ourselves and how we may have been taught what ‘help’ means.

Maria Montessori so eloquently wrote, “Help me do it for myself.” That is a guiding principle in Montessori education, to create the environment where a child has all the tools to complete the task independently, or as much as possible.

I challenge you do to the same at home and watch your children blossom. I know it is hard to watch your children struggle. We are hardwired to step in and shelter them from ‘pain.’ But I ask that you rethink it. Is it really pain they are experiencing? Often times, no, more like frustration or how about we call it growing pains. To learn and grow, we must step outside our comfort zone and do something we haven’t ever done before. And usually if given a little support and TIME, we can all accomplish the task and that goes for toddlers as well.

The end result is a goal that was earned and sense of pride that can’t be gifted. It builds perseverance and grit and confidence. If someone does it for you, you miss out on all the amazing accomplishments of that work.

So when your toddler struggles putting on pants- let them. They will learn something in the struggle.
When your toddler struggles placing a puzzle piece- let them. They will learn something in the struggle.
When your toddler is struggling to get a grape on a fork- let them. They will learn something in the struggle.

If you have more questions on how to support your toddler through the struggle, I am always available and open to talk more about Montessori philosophy and what we do inside the classroom environment and how to incorporate it at home.

Here is a link to an article on the power of the phrase “I did it.” Enjoy the extra read.

Ms Liz and Ms Yudis

March Kapok Newsletter

Dear Kapok Families,

The Kapok class has recently welcomed two new students, Venice and Dean. It’s a treasured moment to see the Kapok community welcome new friends with kindness and respect. They take the responsibility with pride.

A few of us, myself included, have been in and out with bouts of sickness. Please take care to monitor your child’s health. We are all still learning to wash our hands after we touch our mouth and nose and how to properly blow our noses and cough into our elbows. It’s always best to stay home and rest if you suspect your child isn’t feeling well. It’s important to practice these skills at home too. Coughing into our elbow and washing our hands after we blow our nose prevents our germs from spreading from our hands to the materials we touch.

Starting this month we will begin our unit study on the continent of Asia in preparation for the Cultural Immersion Art Show in May. A unit study in the montessori classroom is integrated throughout the entire curriculum.
In Practical Life you might find clothing from an Asian country for the children to try on or transferring materials using chopsticks or an Asian soup spoon.

In Sensorial, the children will touch different fabrics from Asian countries, smell Asian spices, or grade Russian nesting dolls from largest to smallest.

In Math, the children will learn how to write numerals in Chinese and Arabic or learn about the different currencies in different countries.

In Science we will see different biomes of the Asian continent and the different flora and fauna one might find within each biome.

In Language we will learn different vocabulary relevant to Asian cultures. For example, what is a sari, a kimono or a non la? We will learn what some of the Chinese symbols mean and how one symbol can mean a whole word! We’ll discuss how many Asian cultures read from right to left instead of left to right.

In Geography, we will study the map of Asia and the various regions and countries within. We will learn the flags of the different Asian countries and the surrounding oceans and seas. At circle we will try different Asian foods and learn some Asian songs.

These cultural experiences are one of the many gifts of having a Montessori education. It offers an opportunity for your child to “travel the world” from within their classroom. Using movement, their senses, and intellect, children explore the geography and cultures of this amazing planet. As Montessori educators, we want to equip our children with a wealth of knowledge that enables them to understand and delight in both the wondrous world around them and their personal identity within.

When Maria Montessori returned to Europe from India after World War II, she was asked her nationality. She replied, “I live in Heaven, my country is a star which turns around the Sun and is called the Earth.” Maria Montessori passionately believed that, “we are a single organism, one nation…” and that “contemporary man has citizenship in the great nation of humanity.” (Education and Peace).

If your family happens to have any clothing, art, photographs, or artifacts from an Asian country, we would absolutely LOVE to present them at circle. If your family originates from an Asian country and you would like to come talk to the children, we would LOVE to have you!

And please visit the following two links for items we’d love to add to our classroom:
“Amazon Wish List”

“Second Hand Donation List”

Peace + Plants,
Ms. Casey

March Cocoplum Newsletter

Hello families,

I want to thank you again for your support with the coffee shop. The coffee shop has been a huge commitment for everyone involved. We really appreciate your ongoing help getting your child to school extra early and helping with supplies. They are learning a great life lesson: the importance of grit. Their strong work ethic can also be seen in the classroom.

Several times in the past month I have observed the hard-working Cocoplums in awe! Something exciting shifted in the Cocoplums in February, and I am so proud of their dedication to our lessons.

We continue to graph and keep track of coffee shop sales using math skills that apply to real-life problems. Many of us have also started working on story problems to help us apply information. I encourage you to quiz your child at home on multiplication and division facts so that we can continue to expand our math knowledge. A couple minutes a day over breakfast or in the car are great times to practice math facts.

In upper elementary, the subject culture, specifically ancient civilizations, drives our curriculum. Ancient civilizations are a fascinating way to tie in a variety of lessons. Since August, students have been researching a specific civilization on the timeline. We wrapped up our projects and presented them to the third years. The culminating project was a beautiful example of wonderful Montessori brains. Fifth and sixth years wrote three- to four-page reports that were filled with extensive research, time, and thought. Fifth years have now moved on to ancient Greece, and sixth years are doing an abridged study of the Dark Ages before they move on to the Renaissance. Fourth years continue their in-depth study of Early Humans. They’ve also started their reports on the material needs: food and shelter. They will present their research in the spring at our Cultural Immersion Day.

Honest Eco came in to teach us how to make nets so we can learn more about plankton. We are so grateful for our educational outings with their crew.

Unfortunately, we had many absences due to illness in the month of February. I hope everybody is feeling better and ready for a happy and healthy March.

Thanks again for all you do,

February Spanish Lime Newsletter

Dear Spanish Lime Families,

The Spanish Limes came back from winter break with the same pizzazz and excitement when they left in December. We are working on slowing down, taking more time to reflect on our progress, observe more often, meditate, and find answers to our questions within ourselves before seeking the answers from others. Ms. Sarka has been leading our morning meditation since November. It has been a brilliant way to start the day and remind ourselves of everything we are working towards for ourselves: academically, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

In the month of January we discussed the relationships between humans’ fundamental needs to the civil rights movement. Questions asked during group discussions were:
• How were people’s rights taken away?
• When human rights are taken away does this affect their material and spiritual needs overall?
• What happens when we are not given an adequate balance of our fundamental needs?
• Historically, what groups of people have had their rights taken away?
• What steps did they take to win them back?
• Who are these historical figures?

We first reviewed the fundamental needs, which include the need for shelter, clothing, transportation, defense, food, culture, religion, and vanities. Next, we dove into our own nation’s history, from when the Constitution was created, its meaning and the Bill of Rights, which explains the rights given to all American citizens. We read about how our country had not been abiding to these rights, and how these people who suffered inequality had their fundamental needs violated; which in turn sparked the civil rights movement and the other movements for justice throughout our own nation’s history. Our goal in mind was to create awareness of inequalities that occurred in the past, and how even present and when these fundamental needs are not fully met the quality and longevity of one’s existence can be affected.
For the month of February we will be celebrating friendship month with our toddler community. This year we will create a book filled with pictures of current toddler students at work (photo credit Ms. Liz and Ms. Dori). Each student will write simple sentences describing what is taking place in the photo. For example, “Karen is putting on a hat from the season’s basket.” The purpose is not only to share and connect with the toddler community but also to aid in expansion of vocabulary by personalizing the book with their own photo and their classmates as well!

Big thank you and shout out to those families who have donated to our classrooms Mystery Basket for the Gala Fundraiser. This is a great cause and every item donated makes our basket that much more intriguing! Your continuous dedication and support to our community is always noted and appreciated by every member; thank you.


Ms. Sally and Ms. Sarka

February Cocoplum Newsletter

Hello Parents!

Our biggest news in January has been the amazing experience of our coffee shop! We thank you for getting your child up early, donating supplies, and supporting the coffee shop! I have been surprised with the amount of lessons I am able to teach, which has been extremely rewarding. Who knew so much could go into such a simple idea? We continue to graph our sales each day and meet as a group to discuss the struggles and accomplishments.

In January, we were able to pay it forward and donate 10% to SOS for their hygiene drive. The culminating project of packaging the hygiene bundles was a great experience for all who participated.

Third years have been joining Cocoplums for our STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — class each Thursday in January. It has been a great experience for all involved! Do you know that today’s employers want their employees to be able to think outside the box creatively while also being able to cooperate and communicate well with others? STEM fosters exactly that!

The first STEM project that we did in the classroom was to create a structure out of toothpicks and sticky dots. Students worked together, focusing on creativity, communication, and cooperation. The second week, we built structures using a box of dry spaghetti noodles and marshmallows. We added an extra challenge of rotating Cocoplum students to different groups to give insight into their group’s ideas. Last week, the third week, we built bridges using Post-it notes and cotton balls. We had an extra challenge when students added paper clips to their bridges to see how many paper clips their bridge could hold.

Cocoplums have been great leaders and helpers during STEM and working the coffee shop. I am so proud of all that they have accomplished. Here are some other Cocoplums to tell you what else we have been doing in class.

“Hi, my name is Samara and I am in fifth grade. This is an update on the coffee shop. We donated 10% of our money that we made each day to the SOS hygiene drive. Now this month we are donating to the SPCA. We also wanted to tell you about Free Friday. Free Friday is if you bring your own mug all week then you get a free coffee on Friday. We now have Cuban Coffee Queen’s coffee. We are also saving up for a class trip. Please help support us and thank you to the people that have supported us.”

“Hi, my name is Mason. I’m going to share about plans for our school trips in the future. One idea is to go to Universal Studios. It’s $118 per person for a day pass. Another idea is to go to the Dry Tortugas. We will be able to snorkel, kayak, and maybe even camp out there. We are also planning on some small trips like going to the Cuban Coffee Queen to watch them roast the coffee. We are going to pay for all of it by using the money from the coffee shop we own.”

Thanks again for your love and support.


February Kapok Newsletter

Dear Kapok Families,

Although spring has not officially “sprung,” the temperatures in Key West are ideal for planting before the heat of summer is upon us. The Kapoks will begin to dive deeper into our botany studies. Botany studies in the Primary Classroom start with a look at the life cycle of plants and presentations that explore the importance of plants for human life. Botany studies continue with presentations of plant parts, beginning with the seed. Children will then study roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits. Scientific nomenclature is simultaneously introduced while discussing the functions of the various parts.

All Botany studies are rooted (pun intended!) in hands-on scientific experiments, and are further supported by exploration in the outside environment. Outdoors we observe how the plant meets its needs, how plant systems function, and the important role of plants in the ecosystem. Children are actively involved in growing, caring for, and observing plants in the environment. Botany work also parallels studies in geography, history, and zoology.

Maria Montessori emphasized the importance for children to understand the interdependence of all life forms and the role humans play in protecting and preserving life on Earth.

Below is a list of ideas for your family to extend our Botany study into the home:

Dissect weeds and identify the roots, stem, leaves, flowers, and seeds (if present).
Press flowers and leaves.
Grow a garden at home.
Take a trip to the West Martello Tower.
Visit the Butterfly Conservatory and discuss the role and importance of pollinators.
Make a salad together (fruit salad counts).
Go on a plant scavenger hunt.
Check a plant identification book out from the library and see if you can find some in your neighborhood.

Important Dates
Wednesday, February 5: Parent Education Series
Saturday, February 9: Love and Play Primary Event
Tuesday, February 11: Filip’s 5th Birthday Walk
Thursday, February 13: Wyatt’s 4th Birthday Walk
Friday, February 15: Friendship Day Exchange (between primary classes)

Peace + Plants,
Ms. Casey & Ms. Iveta