December Is the Month of Mercy

By Primary 2 Teacher, Yiseul Chung  

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Matthew 5:7

from wikipedia

In December, SJMS peace curriculum is focusing on the virtue of Mercy. As part of this week’s peace lesson, P2 students enjoyed a discussion about “What is Mercy?” and “the Mercy game.” It was fun and interactive way to help children begin to understand the virtue of Mercy.

As a class, we spent a good chunk of time, discussing “What exactly is mercy?” According to the P2 students, mercy meant…

"Being extra kind to someone." -Lilly "Being kind to your new neighbor." -Nick "Even when someone is being bad you let them off the hook because sometimes you know that they did not mean to do that." -Ian "Be nice even if they are doing something you don’t exactly like." -Nora "Inviting people to do something with you." -Atticus "Respect someone even if they don’t respect you." -Heidi

It was obvious that most students have heard the word before, but had hard time defining it. After a little discussion, we agreed that mercy is when we choose to be kind to someone, when we have the option to be mean. We also shared and contemplated on some examples of merciful moments that happened and could happen in the classroom.

We choose to be merciful to one another. We all want mercy in our lives and we want to be merciful people.

Then, we ended the lesson with the Mercy game. Here is how the game goes and this game can be played anywhere with all ages:

Pick three kids, one plays Mercy, the other two play Meanness. A child with the label Mercy stand at one end and this child acts as the goal in the game. He or she remains stationary like a statue. When you say go everyone will run to Mercy. Children wearing Meanness try to tag as many children as possible before they reach to Mercy. When a child is caught, a child is caught by meanness and has to sit down. When a child is about to get caught, they can cry “Have Mercy on me!” to avoid getting caught once. In the end some will make it to Mercy, some will get captured by Meanness.

Through the game children realized that many times in our lives we make mistakes and act in a mean way. However, when this happens you just apologize and ask for mercy. Let’s always run toward Mercy in our lives and try to keep away from Meanness.

Interest Fair Breakdown for Middle School

Interest Fair participants will be presenting their completed projects on Thursday, February 25 at SJMS. This is an extensive research project that includes written and visual exploration of a student's chosen topic. Students will gain experience with long-term project planning, thorough research, and dealing with outside critique of their work. Requirements are different for each level, so please get in touch with your teachers if you have any questions about what is expected. The Middle School level has sent home a thorough breakdown on what students and parents can expect from the Interest Fair, including a calendar, judging rubric, and helpful hints. Email copies have been sent to Middle School parents, but here is a copy for reference. Interest Fair is always one of the most exciting events of the year for our school and we are all looking forward to seeing the work from our students.

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Primary 2 Classroom Discusses Their Thoughts on Gratitude

This is the time of the year that we are giving thanks for our many blessings and the perfect time of the year for us to explore the Virtue of “Gratitude.” Primary 2 has been doing just that! The lessons on Gratitude began with the reading of Bible quotes about Gratitude. These particular quotes then were discussed and reflected upon by the children during our weekly Peace Lessons. The second presentation was the “I am Thankful for…” and “I am Grateful for..” jar in which the children are invited to write down their personal feelings. Also presented was the “Thankful Prayer Jar” in which the children may say a prayer of thanksgiving while dropping a bead in the jar. The beads in the Thankful Prayer Jar were used to make prayer necklaces to share their appreciated feeling with their families and friends on Thanksgiving. The children then explored the word “appreciation.” Working in small groups, the children wrote about what they appreciated. A book titled, Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp was read and discussed. The following are some quotes we gathered after some time for reflection.

Gratitude means…

"… you are happy that you have something." -Nick

"… that even if you have one thing, you have more stuff because you have a family." -Xavi

"… that you feel something is better than nothing." -Nora

"… you appreciate everything and anything." -Jonah

"… that you are being thankful for something that God gave you." -Lailah

"… that you are being thankful for the roof over your head." –Eva

"… just because you are not good at something, you should still be grateful that you tried." -Tyler

How do you show gratitude?

"You thank somebody for being there." -Heidi

"You take time to give – not stuff, but your own time. And being able to have fun." -Jonah

"You show gratitude by respecting people, being respectful." -Nick

The season of Thanksgiving is a common time for people to show gratitude for their life and the lives around them. In our classroom, we try to make this an everyday practice. We hope these lessons can help spread the impact of what a little gratitude can accomplish.

Mindfulness and Montessori - Thursday October 22 @ 6pm

By: Carolyn Thomas "Be happy in the moment, that's enough. Each moment is all we need, not more." - Mother Teresa

We live in a world that seems to be stuck in fast forward, we are easily distracted by all that is happening and at times forget to disconnect and enjoy the simple things in life... the warmth of the sun on our skin, the smell of rain, a baby's laughter, the sunrise/sunset and the list goes on and on. You can begin your mindfulness journey by taking a break from the auto-pilot mode and being present and fully engaged in your surroundings. Start by closing your eyes taking three deep breathes, paying attention to how your body feels when you inhale and exhale.

What does "mindfulness" mean to me?

To me, mindfulness is being fully present with my current situation(s), good and not so good, being aware of how I choose to respond to circumstances and being cognizant of my breath. My experiences in life lead me on a quest to find ways in which to be truly in touch with my inner being and present during times of adversity and just dealing with life in general and gaining tools to take better care of myself. My practice has taught me to be right here, right now, because that is all I can control. I set the tone for the day by practicing a 3 part morning routine:  1.) Practice gratitude, taking time to say "thank you" for all that feels good and is going well in life. 2.) Meditate, 5-10 minutes, get myself grounded and setting the mood for attracting good energy. 3.) Set intentions, asking, believing and receiving that good things are coming my way.

Our children are constantly being bombarded with this and that. The Montessori environment provides the children with the tools to develop mindfulness skills, for children to become mindful adults, Montessori plants and waters seeds of compassion, peace, caring for oneself, others and the environment as well as nurture the spirit. The materials in the environment invoke mindfulness, the tracing of the metal insets, the pouring of water, the washing of hands, and the caring of the environment call to the child to become one with the materials and environment, to experience and explore using all fives senses.

In the classroom, encouraging independence aids in developing the skills of mindfulness, we introduce and practice mindfulness through games, breathing, meditation and relaxation techniques. A popular activity in the classroom is called the "Nothing" work; the children get a rug, place it on the floor and sit. They can either practice their breath work and/or sit in silence doing absolutely nothing. We promote mindfulness in the classroom by providing the opportunity for children to give lessons to one another, staying focused on how to be good role models. Taking the time as a community to work together in strengthening mindfulness, compassion, caring, and independent skills.

Maria Montessori once said, "The children are now working as though I did not exist." This is mindfulness at it's finest, the children totally present and fully engaged with their environment.

Want to know more about Mindfulness? Come experience and learn some simple techniques and tools on how you and/or your family can start a mindfulness journey at our next Montessori U event entitled Mindfulness. Looking forward to you joining the conversation on Thursday, October, 22 at 6pm.

Teachers as Role Models

By Roxanne Holonitch, SJMS Art & Technology Role Model: noun: a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people.

A role model is a person who inspires and encourages us to strive for greatness, live to our fullest potential and see the best in ourselves. They are someone we admire and someone we aspire to be like. We learn through them, through their commitment to excellence and through their ability to make us realize our own personal growth. We look to them for advice and guidance.

Anyone can be a role model: a parent, a sibling, a friend --- but some of our most influential and life-changing role models are teachers. Teachers follow students through each essential stage of development. At six to eight hours a day, five days a week, teachers are poised to become one of the most influential people in your child’s life. Teachers not only watch your students grow --- they help them grow.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

-William Arthur Ward.

Much of what students learn from their greatest teachers is not detailed on a syllabus or course of study. Teachers who help us grow as people are responsible for instructing some of life’s most important lessons. School is as much a place of social learning as academic learning, and this is true, not only in our early years of education, but all the way through college.

Teachers are sources of experience. They have already been where their students are going, undergone what they will go through and are in a position to pass along lessons, not only regarding subject matter, but lessons on life. A role model goes far beyond the old adage of “do as I say, not as I do.”

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”

-Albert Einstein

To demonstrate the definition of a role model, Matt asked our faculty and staff last spring to create a personal art project over the summer that expresses their personality, life experiences, and interests. These projects came together to create an art exhibit entitled “Express Yourself" which is on display in the library hallway until early October. A wide variety of styles and projects are hanging for our school community to enjoy.

The concept of expressing yourself has become contagious. Michael and Laura, our Erdkinder teachers, challenged our 7th and 8th grade students with the same assignment, and the results are equally impressive.

Roxanne - Express yourself