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 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.


January Cocoplum Newsletter

Happy New Year, Cocoplum Families!

I hope you have had a wonderful holiday break. We are excited to jump back into the swing of things in the Cocoplum classroom. Our biggest news is the coffee shop. We will be dedicating a lot of time in the beginning, making our business a success. Each day we will be graphing and reflecting on sales and lessons we’ve learned that day. Thank you for supporting us in this new learning adventure!

A friendly reminder that all students will be training in and working the first week back at school, starting on January 7. Please make sure your child arrives at school by 7:30 a.m. and meets us in the classroom. We are learning great responsibilities, just like a real job.

In December, we enjoyed our local poet laureate, Arlo, and the funky musicians, Huck and Lily. Both visiting guests helped us with our writing skills. We even wrote a poem and song together!

Our afternoon work cycle went really well in December. We have more fun planned for January:

Monday: We will continue Literature Circle in January, where we delve deeper into literary terms such as summarizing, critical thinking questions, set up, problem, climax, solution, and conclusion of a story. Literature Circle goes hand in hand with and has helped us become better writers during our Writer’s Workshop story writing.

We will also start Spanish lessons with Ms. Jennifer on Mondays.

Tuesday: We look forward to starting our new self-paced Reading curriculum, SRA. Our SRA curriculum will help us develop comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, word analysis, and study skills. It will also help to reinforce specific skills that students may show weakness. It will also help to interest students in reading and to enlarge their specific knowledge, using a wide array of fiction and nonfiction stories. Students will answer 33 literary questions (comprehension, vocabulary, and word study) after reading each SRA story. This is a fantastic tool for the Montessori child to help bridge the gap to a more traditional Reading program. We will also help bridge a traditional school math approach by using math cards, similar to last year.

We continue to have PE on Tuesdays.

Wednesday: We are using our debate in Storyworks to have a Socratic discussion. Socratic discussions are thoughtfully orchestrated to listen to everybody’s viewpoint in a constructive manner. We listen to opinions and evidence and respond thoughtfully.

We also have Drama with Ms. Caroline on Wednesdays.

Thursday: We have been doing STEM, which teaches creativity, cooperation, and communication. We are excited to have the third years join us and help us with our creative problem solving.

We will start music with Ms. Ann on Thursdays.

Friday: We will wrap up our busy week. If your child was absent, they will receive their missed lessons. Students receive one-on-one lessons as needed. Self-paced work can be completed during this time as well.

We continue to have PE on Fridays.

Ms. Ann is also joining us in the afternoons to do one-on-one math help and extensions.

Here is a more in-depth look at our day from the sixth-year students:

“Hello, my name is Caber and I’m here to give you some information on what your child is doing during PE or physical education. First, we jump rope for around 10 minutes. We do these kinds of jump ropes: forwards, backwards, one footed on left and then on the right foot, high knees, butt kicks, crosses, and the double jump. We are throwing the football and doing spirals. We pass the ball to practice our spiral training. Then after jumping rope we learn basketball skills. We pass the ball, we dribble, we do layups and drills for basketball. In my opinion this is one of my favorite subjects but some others’ answers may be different.”

“The Cocoplum class came together (with the help of Ms. Amy and Mr./Dr./Financial Joe) to start a coffee shop. We needed a name for our shop and came up with Cocoplum’s Coffee & More. We brainstormed five name ideas to choose from: Coconut Coffee, Cocoplum Coffee, Children’s Coffee, Montessori Coffee, and Cocoplum’s Coffee & More (we chose the best one out of all of them). We (Stellina, Samara, and Hunter) drew three logos and as a class we voted and picked one of them. Our logos looked like this: a coffee with whip cream on top, one Cocoplum in a mug, and a Cocoplum tree inside of a coffee mug. We chose the last one to be our logo. We picked jobs that would be best fitting for the type of person we are. Stellina is the CEO of the shop, Samara is the CEO’s assistant, Caber is the treasurer, Mason is the treasurer’s assistant, Hunter is the secretary, and Noah and Kaia are the managers. We are all pretty happy with our jobs. The Cocoplums worked hard to put together the shop and we would love it if you came to our opening day, which is January 7, 2020, from 8:00 to 8:30 a.m. Cocoplum’s Coffee & More will be open every morning before school for the rest of the school year. We hope you can make it sometime!”

Please visit our Amazon Wish List for this year’s fundraiser gift basket. The theme of the gift basket is “Adventure!” If possible, please choose items for the gift basket and bring them to school no later than January 27. Please let me know which items you have purchased so I can take them off of the wish list (I’m not sure if it works like a registry). Also, we would love to add to the basket gift cards or certificates for “adventures” around Key West like Fury parasailing, sporting lessons, or any adventure ideas that you may have! If you have an idea, I would love to hear about it and add it to the basket. Thanks!

Also, we are looking for donations for making bread: bread flour, active dry yeast, milk powder, and olive oil. Each student will have a lesson on reading a manual, following step-by-step directions, and troubleshooting. All great life lessons.

We are excited to see all the Cocoplums Tuesday at 7:30 a.m.!


December Cocoplum Newsletter

Hello Cocoplum Parents,

I’m excited to announce that I will be returning to the classroom in the afternoons to teach a second work cycle. Students will still enjoy PE, drama, and Spanish. Then have a lesson or recap/extension in: Math, Language, Science/STEM, Literature Circle, and Socratic Discussion. I do want to note that I have doctor appointments on the afternoon of December 2 and all day on December 9 so I will be out of the classroom those two days.

We are excited to bring in a famous author, Arlo Haskell, to help us with our Writer’s Workshop. Arlo will be coming in the afternoons the week of December 9 through the 13th to inspire us to write and publish our writing into a Cocoplum Book. I will help guide the class during the writing process and help them with their story.

We are also excited to have Huck and Lily joining the class on Wednesday, December 11 and 18th to share their musical passion.

Students have been working hard during the first half of the year on their ancient civilizations. Fifth and sixth years will complete their research on ancient Egypt and ancient Rome in December. Stay tuned for more information regarding the culminating projects on December 20.

We have been so blessed to work with Honest Eco to create a hands-on science curriculum. The students learned to graph their data that we collected about natural semi-permeable membranes. Our last trip of 2019 will be December 16.

October Enrichments:

Foreign Language

At the beginning of November, Ms. Ana came to talk to the class about Argentina and specifically, where she grew up in the city of Mar del Plata (which translates to Sea of Silver). She explained that Mar del Plata has one of the largest fishing ports in Argentina and that it exports fish to many countries, such as the United States, Saudi Arabia and Italy. The port is home to a large seal population and its climate is similar to California. Mar del Plata has a vibrant community and is a popular tourist destination. Its varied landscape and immediate proximity to the Atlantic ocean make it an ideal area to host the triathlon, “Ironman Argentina”. In this challenging triathlon, participants are required to swim for 3.8 km, cycle for 180 km, and run for 42.2 km. Ms. Ana showed the Cocoplums how to make the most popular cookies in Argentina, “Alfajores de Maicena”, of which six million are sold in the country on a daily basis! The week ended with students being shown a video of the Tango, which is the traditional dance of Argentina.

Ms. Ina, whose daughter Victoria attends the Children’s School, shared with the Cocoplums her knowledge and experiences of living in Bulgaria. She demonstrated how to make traditional Bulgarian yogurt, which is not strained like Greek yogurt, and therefore retains its healthy probiotics. The Cocoplums sold the yogurt they made in their bake sale.

Reef Relief

Ms. Alex from Reef Relief came to share her knowledge of sharks. She explained that sharks can adapt to their environment, whether it be saltwater or fresh water. They have the same five senses as humans – sight, taste, smell, hearing and touch – plus two additional senses, which are their lateral line plus their almost 360 degrees field of vision. Unfortunately, the shark population is in decline, with a hundred million killed each year, which is due in part to poor commercial fishing methods. She emphasized that the existence of sharks is important because they balance the ecosystem.

Eco Class

Ms. Joyce shared her knowledge and concerns regarding marine debris and global warning, and how this affects our planet as a whole, and on a local scale. She discussed with the Cocoplums the impact of the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease that is happening along the Florida Reef track, and about what we can all do to make a positive environmental difference in our community. These were some of the suggestions raised:- To wear protective clothing, in lieu of a lot of sunscreen, while outdoors; to reduce, reuse and recycle; to collect trash; to use less plastic and refuse straws when offered; to raise money for environmental awareness, and to use the services of environmentally friendly companies when possible.


Mr. Joe, whose daughters, Kaitlyn and Piper, are in the Gumbo Limbo classroom, talked to the Cocoplums about the fundamentals of finance. A class discussion evolved around the Cocoplums’ recent bake sale, regarding the profit that was made for the classroom and the cost of producing the goods. In summary, Mr. Joe explained the importance in business of providing a valuable service, and of doing so for a fair price. He also emphasized the importance of choosing a career based on what you love to do.

I want to end with the amazing fact that 9-12 year olds should be getting 10-11 hours of sleep each night! There are a lot of yawns and complains about being tired each day. We are starting a new rule in December of no laying down in class. Hopefully more sleep and a positive attitude for learning will help with our educational environment.

Ann and Ashleigh

November Cocoplum Newsletter

Hello, families,

If you visit the Cocoplum classroom, you will feel the energy of scientists at work. We have been moving through the scientific method with several different experiments. We are becoming very familiar with the steps in the scientific method: question, research, hypothesize, test, analyze, and share results. Hopefully, students are sharing the results of these interesting experiments with you!
We conducted an experiment that demonstrated osmosis in action. Based on last month’s Honest Eco acidification lesson, we were able to conduct a parallel experiment in a controlled environment, our classroom. The students used vinegar to treat eggs, which are covered in a calcium carbonate shell, similar to the coral reefs.
We soaked an egg in vinegar for 24 hours so that its calcium carbonate shell dissolved, leaving behind a permeable membrane with egg whites and yolk.
We made hypotheses/predictions on what would happen. We consulted our scientific notebooks to re-create the ocean’s parts-per-thousand salt-to-water ratio.
Then, 24 hours later, we put the eggs in different solutions and watched/questioned/observed what happened.
As we learn more about osmosis, we will continue to use inquiry-based research to draw conclusions about our experiences.

Also, our mangrove propagules are evolving, and we continue to make note of growth and changes.

Our boat trip with Honest Eco in September fueled our desire to learn more about the creation of the Keys and the bigger picture of Earth. We have completed seven charts in our Montessori Dynamic Geography curriculum, which includes: Anthropology, Astronomy, Botany, Chemistry, Fundamental Needs of People, Geology and Historical Geology, History, Meteorology, Oceanography, and Physics. Our study of Dynamic Geography began with the study of the Sun. So far this year we have completed Chapter 1,which includes: The Solar System and the Earth, The Cosmic Dance: Beginning of the Cooling Process, The Time of Volcanoes, The Chemical Constitution of the Earth, The Rock Cycle, Continental Drift, and much more! Students are transferring their knowledge into their own words in the form of a booklet. It’s a hefty subject, and many students are using art to understand and explain it all.

Another big driving force in upper elementary is our Cultural Studies. We have been dedicated workers day by day to create sentences from our research,and week by week to create paragraphs. After two months of work, we have incredibly rich paragraphs that have turned into multipage essays. The students can’t believe that by chipping away each day in our culture research, each of them has created an impressive essay! Who knew essay writing could be so fun?

We have completed our eight-sentence paragraphs on the material needs: clothing, shelter, defense, food, and transportation. Next, we will delve into the spiritual needs: religion, communication, music and dance, beauty and ornamentation. We will finish our current Ancient Civilization project by winter break.

Fourth years have been working on Early Humans migration charts and dioramas. We all enjoyed learning about Ancient Egypt when the fifth years threw an Ancient Egyptian Feast for us. Thanks again for the delicious lesson!
Of course, we have been diligently using the Montessori materials for Math and Language each week, as well. Some favorite lessons have been using the Golden Mat in a variety of ways, including adding, subtracting, and multiplying decimals to the millionths place.

In Writer’s Workshop, we are beginning to develop the parts of a story, focusing on writing a story step-by-step. This month, we worked on character development, creating a setting including the location and time, and are beginning to work on the plot. Lastly, we will write the conclusion. By reading other stories, we are identifying important parts of a story so that we can become better authors.

In our study of the U.S. states, we have learned about our borders, capitals, and popular cities; major rivers and bodies of water; major mountains and deserts;and state history. I will continue to encourage students to research and find information that is personally interesting to create a U.S. states notebook that is beneficial for each child.

Thank you again for those of you who have donated watermelon for pizza Friday lunches. If you haven’t signed up for a month, we need volunteers for December and January. Please let me know.


Ms. Irie beautifully demonstrated how to play the violin, and then gave each of the Cocoplums the opportunity to play. She explained that a violin has four strings and is a bowed string instrument. The viola and cello are also bowed string instruments, whereas a guitar is a plucked string instrument. The bow of a violin is strung with approximately 150-200 hairs from the tail of a horse. The sound of the violin is caused by drawing the bow across the strings. Rosin (which is made of tree sap) is applied to the bow to increase the friction and to help produce the sound. The class finished with a fun game of “freeze dance,” with everyone dancing to the lovely sound of the violin.

Several nursing students from the College of the Florida Keys came to talk about different health and well-being subjects. Their first visit was to bring attention to the sugar content in various beverages. This was demonstrated practically by placing sugar cubes in a cup next to the beverage in question, to illustrate how much sugar was in that particular drink. In the demonstration, Sunkist soda had the highest sugar content, followed by Powerade. It was recommended that we should have no more than six cubes of sugar per day, as consuming too much can lead to tooth decay and brittle bones, and can thicken blood. It was advised that labels should be checked for sugar content — but the best thing to drink is water!
In subsequent visits, practical skills such as thorough hand washing to help prevent the spread of germsand how to properly take care of wounds were discussed. Bicycle safety was also addressed, along with valuable tips on how to choose a well-fitting helmet.

A class favorite has been our Photography Enrichment each Wednesday. We learned how to use a Polaroid camera in different light, stop action, and photo transfers. Look for more information on our photography exhibition, coming soon!

Our play was a huge success! Everyone worked together to create an amazing play. Drama teaches teamwork, problem solving, creative thinking, and builds confidence. I am proud of everyone for getting on stage with such a big audience!

Foreign Studies
Ms. Erika (Jack and Cody Hawks’ mom) spent a week with the Cocoplums teaching Spanish. She explained that her parents grew up in Cuba and that her family roots were from Spain. We learned about the flag of Spain, and how the joining together of five kingdoms — Castile, Leon, Aragon, Navarre, and Grenada — are represented within its coat of arms. Ms. Erika taught numbers and colors in Spanish, and explained that there are 30 letters in the Spanish alphabet (compared to 26 in the English alphabet).

Mr. Peter (who has a daughter, Sandra, in the Kapok class) came to talk to us about growing up in Poland, how he became a musician, and that doing so helped him to learn the English language. Thirty-eight million people live in Poland. Its language is Slavic, and is considered to be the third-most difficult one to speak (after Arabic and Mandarin). Geographically, it has both lowlands and mountainous regions, and is bordered to the north by the Baltic Sea. Amber (fossilized pine resin) is found naturally on the beaches of the Baltic Sea and has medicinal properties. It is a valuable resource, as is salt excavated from salt mines in Poland. Mr. Peter also shared information on the meaning of the Polish flag, and demonstrated a Polish folk art form with cut paper.

October’s enrichments wrapped up with a Foreign Studies lesson about Argentina and watercolor painting with a local artist .

Thanks for reading all about our month!


Ashleigh and Ann

October Cocoplum Newsletter

Hello Cocoplum families,

SPECIAL NOTE: Cocoplum school photos will now be on Monday, October 7th.

School is in full swing and we are full steam ahead in the Cocoplum classroom. Although we had a soft start to the school year, we now do our best to head upstairs by 8:15 a.m. to enjoy our three-hour work cycle. A gentle reminder that if your child wants to be social and run around, please drop off by 8 a.m. (If arriving ready to work, 8:15 a.m. is fine.)

A definite highlight to our first month of school was a trip with Honest Eco. The environmental educators of Honest Eco are helping us take our science and dynamic geography curriculum outdoors all year long!  We focused on:

· Geography of the Florida Keys
· Reefs
· Changing ocean levels
· Ocean acidification

We performed many cool experiments on the boat, and even brought an experiment back to observe in the classroom. We have been using our scientific notebooks and our knowledge of the scientific process to study our propagules. The tentative date for our next trip with Honest Eco is Monday, October 28, when we will learn more about the mangroves.

Our new enrichment schedule has proved true to its name.. I’ve headed back several afternoons to enjoy some beautiful lessons from a variety of talented artists and musicians. We have also enjoyed cultural lessons during our foreign studies time. For the next two weeks we will be rehearsing for a play about the courageous Ruby Bridges. Performance date TBD. Starting October 1, Coach Paul will be teaching PE (thanks to Mr. Kevin, who filled in for the month of September). Coach Paul is known in Key West as an amazing tennis player, and is excited to share his expertise in many sports with the Cocoplums.

As Upper Elementary bodies are growing, students need extra sleep and a big, healthy breakfast to start the day. Snacks that are brought in should also be healthy and naturally sweetened.

As always, thank you for your generosity and support this school year.

Happy October!



Enrichment Updates:

We were delighted to kick off our foreign studies program with the amazing Ms. Diana from Bulgaria. Ms. Diana works in the Gumbo Limbo classroom but is also a professional dancer. We were introduced to a classical instrument called the gaida: which is a goat skin bagpipe. Ms. Diana taught us several dances and the students enjoyed learning and dancing as well!

Our second week of foreign studies, Ms. Iveta taught us about the Czech Republic. Ms. Iveta has a daughter so she was able to bring in books to read in the Czech language and also interesting materials to share with the students. We also learned how to read and write the numbers one through 10 in Czech.

During the third week of foreign studies, Ms. Karthi, who teaches in the Banyan classroom, came to share her memories of growing up in Sri Lanka. She spoke to the students in both English and in Tamil, which was her first language. On the last day, her daughters beautifully presented traditional dances for the class, wearing colorful silk dresses.

Last week, Ms. Valarie and Ms. Ann taught foreign studies. Ms Valerie is from Belarus where they speak Russian. She taught us about the interesting history about the flag in Belarus. Belarus currently has a dictator so the flag is different from the flag that she had growing up. She was hesitant to share the current flag with the class because she has strong feelings against this flag. She also brought in books from her home country to read to the class.

Ms. Ann shared with the class the history of the Union Jack, explaining how the flag of the United Kingdom embodies the emblems of three countries united under one Sovereign.  The emblems are the crosses of three patron saints – the red cross of St. George represents England and Wales, the saltire of St. Andrew for Scotland, and the red cross of St. Patrick for Northern Ireland. Ms. Ann also shared interesting facts about England and its rich history and culture.

Each week, students are adding rich and interesting information to their foreign studies portfolios. Feel free to stop in to the classroom to see them or look forward to seeing them during conference time.

Ms. Caroline wowed us each Wednesday with her love for acting during our month long Intro to Drama class. Students broke out of the mold of kids and played many complex characters.

Ms. Ann came back for music this past month to focus on Jazz and Blues. We received a music history lesson and also had plenty to time to learn new songs on the xylophone and glockenspiel.

As always, we enjoyed having Mr. Kevin for PE on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but are grateful to have Coach Paul joining us in October.

Because of Labor Day and our Boat trip, we have only had two Monday Literature Circles. Cocoplums have had a great start with passionate dialogue. Ms. Ann is excited to lead in-depth conversations and assist with new vocabulary from our Storyworks magazine.

A big thank you to all of these talented guests this month! We look forward to another exciting month in Enrichments including: Photography, Watercolor Painting, Health, Drama, Spanish and Polish during the month of October

May Cocoplum Newsletter

Dear Cocoplum families,

“When confronted by situations which concern the child and seem difficult to solve, do not seek outside remedies but concentrate upon the nature of the child and the essential needs of his development”
~Maria Montessori

As April comes to a close, a month that directs our minds to new beginnings, an openness to warmth, energy, and growth, we also take the time to reflect on what has passed, our accomplishments, and our amusements. The Cocoplums have spent several weeks harnessing the will to work on what is necessary, becoming aware of time restraints, and practicing self-motivation. They have completed bigger, more creative and collaborative works. This is a prelude to the month to come where we spend much effort in research and culmination of cultural works to present on immersion night.

We have explored figurative language through reading and writing our own myths and poems. We began studying invertebrates, learning the larger groups of taxonomy, their Latin derivatives, and practicing the skill of note taking. We had a great time practicing what we learned at the local aquarium showing off our knowledge and getting our hands on some living invertebrates.

Lastly, we have spent time reflecting on our work habits and goals, collecting our best products for portfolio, and prepping lessons for presentation to our parents which we had a great time hosting for conferences. Often the child evaluating themselves offer insight into their perspective of their work. You might think they are not a good speller, but they see it differently. We may be struggling to wrap our minds around what they need for success when we are forgetting that educational success is only part of the equation. Especially in evaluation and reviewing test results which do provide insight into what knowledge your child is gaining, we must not discredit the importance of the child developing his personality; creating his self. We might often feel frustrated that our children execute behaviors irritatingly different from our own, but their nature is theirs and must be considered when measuring individual growth. How can we support our children? Know them, listen to them, and meet them with knowledge they are interested in. Engage them in topics that thrill them. Provide them with literature and media that enhance their enthusiasms. These are the essential needs of the child. These are the essential needs of all of us.

After their journey of man from Australopithecus to Homo Sapien, the Cocoplums are now exploring the essential needs of humans, both material and spiritual. This study will be led by Ms. Ashleigh, now with us after her own fascinating journey into parenthood. We are very happy for Ms. Ashleigh and her family and to have her back in the class guiding the Cocoplums.


Hello Cocoplum families!

I am happy to report that we had a great first couple of days back together. See pictures of our STEM activity involving marshmallows and spaghetti noodles. We have started our final Early Humans project that we will be presenting at the Cultural Immersion Day.

This week we are researching the fundamental need, food. Please send a shoe box by May 1 for the diorama portion of the project.

We have started reading the follow up book to Hatchet, The River. We are also trying something new in Spelling. Students picked their own spelling words this week.

We have many exciting activities and events planned for last month of school. On May 6, students will have our ocean cleanup thanks to the help of Honest Eco. Please sign and return forms. We will meet at the docks at 8:15 AM. Let me know if you need to make special arrangements for getting back to school at 1:15 PM.

Thank you all for welcoming my family back into the Key West community,

April Cocoplum Newsletter

“Not only can imagination travel through infinite space, but also through infinite time; we can go backwards through the epochs, and have the vision of the earth as it was, with the creatures that inhabited it.”

~Maria Montessori

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.

~Khalil Gibran

Dear Cocoplum Families:

March came and went with a breeze and was a month filled with a break from our schedule.  We finished studies on Vertebrates and Homo Habilis, and finished reading our much loved novel, Maroo and the Winter Caves, all in time to welcome an evaluation of our learning through the more conventional means- testing.  The Cocoplums faced the sometimes stressful and frustrating task of answering questions with bubble sheets and without their materials with an overwhelming calm and steadfastness.  I am quite proud of their ability to accept the challenge. Their reward, a week respite, was hopefully filled with experiences both new and familiar; socialization with friends, reconnection with family, travel, and relaxation.

Upon return, we commenced our studies of early humans, examining Homo Erectus and his world in comparison to earlier humans in preparation for more detailed research as April progresses.  We began invertebrate studies, a subject we can really put our hands on and will on a field trip to the Key West Aquarium and some exploration of tidal pools nearby.  In April, we can also look forward to preparing for student led conferences scheduled for April 19th.  As our school year gears closer to an end, we don’t slow our work or our minds, but we open ourselves to possibilities of knowledge gained being realized.


Ms. Jennifer

March Cocoplum

Joy, feeling one’s own value, being appreciated and loved by others, feeling useful and capable of production are all factors of enormous value for the human soul.
~Maria Montessori

Dear Coco Plum Families,

March’s newsletter begins with exciting news, the welcoming of Ms. Ashleigh’s two precious new babies. The two, Sunny Luella 7 pounds, 12 ounces and Cedar Moon 5 pounds, 5 ounces, made their debut on February 20th. Ms. Ashleigh and the babies are doing well and growing stronger each day. We look forward to meeting the babies when they return to the Keys.

Otherwise, the Cocoplums have not been without their excitement as we welcomed a new community expert duet, Tobin and David of The Red Trouser Show, a local circus troupe currently performing on Mallory Square through the end of April. Tobin and David are teaching the children tumbling, balancing and juggling for the next several weeks.

We enjoyed a sunny exploration of the West Martello Gardens where we photographed our favorite flowers and turned them into beautiful cards to sell at our annual bake sale which was a huge success thanks not only to the creative efforts of the children, but also to the contributions of parents. Thank you.

Ms. Debbie has continued to lead the children in growing our garden with lessons in pollination, root vegetables, and edible flowers while SOS has helped the children learn how to choose and prepare their own healthy snacks like cinnamon sprinkled apple spirals and fruit salad. SOS also hosted us again at their kitchen where the kids measured, whisked, and scooped out corn muffin batter. Next year, they are prepared to bake for the bake sale, or better yet, let them make you a nice treat one evening.

February was bustling with other events too. Thank you to the children and families that participated in the the annual Love and Play event. Everyone enjoyed the popcorn made by the Cocoplums.  The Open House also provided opportunity to families both already flourishing in Montessori and in our community to explore and ask questions about continuing Montessori education into the elementary program where children fine tune their organization skills, explore critical thinking, and become more self-directed, independent humans.

In the classroom, the children are continuing the exploration of early humans with learning about Homo Habilis, the toolmaker. If your children start fashioning rocks into spearheads, do not be alarmed. It is all part of the process. I will be sure to give notice before they make fire. We will soon be shelter building and could use plastic gallons or cleaned cardboard milk and juice cartons. If anyone has skins, furs, or any other material they think useful to early shelter building, please let me know.

We are coming to a conclusion with our vertebrate research and moving into studying invertebrates, and look forward to examining specimens under microscope and in their animal rich tropical environment.

Cocoplums are fortunate to spend time exploring the environment outside the classroom to enhance their learning and serve their school and local community. We are an industrious group with much to learn. In March, we will continue our practice of parts of speech, grammar symbols, simplifying fractions, multiplication, and division. We are also doing some practice of abstraction that could aid for upcoming testing with tentative scheduling in March before spring break. Please look for an email with details about testing and try to keep children on their best sleep and eating schedules in the preceding weeks. We also look forward to seeing you at Parent Education on Wednesday, March 6th at 5:30 where you can explore your child’s typical week in the classroom.

This newsletter gives insight to the mental maturation your children are experiencing at school. At home, there is opportunity to grow this independence as well. Ask yourself, what can my child do that I could not expect them to do last year? What ways can my child become more helpful and responsible to household function and to his or her routine? For example, every child can help some way in the preparation of the evening meal or household chores. Maybe it is time for your child to start preparing the lunchbox or folding his or her laundry. As for education, engage them in their interests, read with them, and it never hurts to practice a little on the addition and multiplication facts. Most of all, laugh with them. We only get a few more years before they learn cynicism.

Ms. Jennifer

February Cocoplum Newsletter


We shall work together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.

~Maria Montessori

The Cocoplums have begun their spring semester with exploring the human experience, beginning with our studies of Martin Luther King,Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.  What may have seemed a mere occurrence in a distant past to people unlike them, the children are grasping the vision of justice and equality and how vital it is to a connected universe.  We have discussed the importance of meeting violence with non-violence and hate with love.  The story of King’s life, cause, and struggle has captivated the children, and hopefully will inspire them to dream big and fight hard for what they believe is right. They especially enjoyed a walk to the African Slave Cemetery at Higgs Beach where they read Adinkra symbols originating from Ghana, West Africa where the Atlantic slave trade began.  If you have not seen the memorial, it is a worthy piece of Key West history.

Our journey in the human condition did not stop there.  We had the opportunity to continue to support the SOS Foundation by preparing food for meals that benefit children and elderly in our community.  The children take great pleasure in working in the kitchen and pride to know their effort is helping provide nourishment and promote healthier eating for our community.

In the classroom, we began our studies of early humans with an introduction of Australopithecus.  Go ahead, ask your children to pronounce it.  They have practiced.  We have imagined our role as anthropologist by examining details about this early hominid’s skull and other features, and how they differ from modern humans, but bridge the gap to our ape-like ancestor.  We have taken these studies further by rehearsing a play of the Leakey discoveries and writing a fictitious newspaper article about making anthropological discoveries.

In February, we look forward to the introduction of Homo Habilis and to practice tool making.  We will continue some civil rights writing exercises and add in some more creative writing choices.  All the children are very eager to work on the recently started animal research.  We must practice our math and language skills, of course, but make time for community service and outdoor activities.  We are a happily busy bunch

Ms. Jennifer