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Important Reminders from Maria Kaminstein

  • 1/31/14
  • Posted by: (nicole)


The learning process in a Montessori classroom is cumulative, assembled through many consecutive hours of engagement with the materials, individual help from teachers, and interactions with other children.  Children go through distinct daily work cycles when they engage in self-directed learning, and it is important for them to have the full allotted time in the classroom to consolidate knowledge and to experience the satisfaction of work completed and well done.

So – this is a friendly, mid-winter reminder to bring your children to school on time.

I know, I know – children don’t make timely departures from home easy, especially when you have to bundle them up in extra layers.  Probably nobody in the family really wants to go out on days like this!  But persevere – hang on to your voice of reason and authority.  And be confident that once your child is actually in school, he or she will happily engage in the learning process.


With the arctic weather, more parents are understandably driving to drop off and pick up their children. Please remember a few key things for drop off and pick up by car: If there is a line of cars, pack your patience! Staff is moving as fast as we safely can to transport children to and from the doors. Please make sure that you aren't blocking the driveways on either side of the school. Finally, please make sure that a quick "hello!" to a friend doesn't turn into a longer conversation on the sidewalk, as everyone is eager to pick up/drop off their children as well.   


We are already thinking ahead to the 2014-15 school year!  Please remember to send in your re-enrollment agreements – the due date is Monday, February 3, and it’s coming up fast.

Maria Kaminstein

Acting Head of School

Happy Lunar New Year!

  • 1/29/14
  • Posted by: (nicole)

January 31, 2014 marks the start of the Year of the Horse.

Stay tuned for photos and more about all the New Year activities we’ve been participating in this week!

The Asian Lunar New Year is celebrated by many Asian ethnic groups from China, Vietnam, Korea, and parts of Japan. The Lunar New Year marks the start of the Spring season, with a celebration of family, friends, community, and wishes for good fortune.

The Lunar New Year is celebrated with loved ones, lots of special holiday food, and traditional music including drums and gongs. Family members and friends gather at each other's homes for visits during which they share large meals and gifts symbolizing fortune. According to tradition, Chinese and Vietnamese give each other "red-envelopes" with good-luck money for the New Year, and Koreans offer newly minted money as a symbol of auspicious and fortuitous beginnings. Before the New Year, houses are thoroughly cleaned to sweep away evil spirits that may be hiding and everyone buys bright new clothing to wear on New Year's Day.

Known as "Chuen Jie" (Spring Festival) in Chinese, "Tet Nguyen Dan" in Vietnamese, and "Sol" in Korean, the Lunar New Year is represented by a cycle of 12 years, each denoted by a different animal zodiac. Traditionally, the holiday festivities start 22 days prior to the New Year and continue for 15 days afterwards. Lunar New Year parades in Asian communities are annual traditions across the United States and Canada.

Year of the Horse Birth Years: (from late January 23/early February)

1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014. 

WANTED: Gently worn children’s shoes with a variety of closures for new work in the Toddler and Primary classrooms!

  • 1/29/14
  • Posted by: (nicole)

Has your child recently outgrown shoes that are still as good as new?  Send them to Greene Towne and we’ll transform them into work for the classrooms. 

We’re looking for simple shoes with a Velcro, buckle, or tie closures. PLEASE, no light-up shoes or shoes with characters on them.  We would also appreciate any all-leather shoes for a separate polishing work.

Please send the shoes in to the attention of Erika. Shoes that we don’t use will be donated to a worthy cause, unless you indicate otherwise.


In this weeks’ Friday Folder

  • 1/29/14
  • Posted by: (nicole)

The January 2014 issue of Tomorrow’s Child, the Magazine for Montessori Families. This issue includes many interesting articles including, Montessori’s Youngest Students: Infants and Toddlers, Staying the Course: The Importance of Montessori for the Kindergarten Year, Parenting 101: Quiet time is important, great book reviews, and more! We hope you will enjoy these and the other articles and then pass them on to a friend interested in Montessori Education or your local library.

Kindergarten: A Time of Mastery

  • 1/23/14
  • Posted by: (nicole)

“When a free spirit exists, it has to materialize itself in some form of work, and for this the hands are needed.  Everywhere we find traces of men’s handiwork, and through these we can catch a glimpse of his spirit and the thoughts of his time.

The skill of man’s hand is bound up with the development of his mind, and in the light of history we see it connected with the development of civilization.” ~ Maria Montessori                     

The age of 5 to 6 years is a time of mastery, and the Kindergarten year in a Montessori classroom assists this development. This is the time when the children put all the impressions from the language, math, and cultural areas into a more conscious format. The 5 to 6-year-old is ready to consolidate and integrate detail, information, and experience. He/she starts to make comparisons and later can move more readily into abstract thinking.

For example, a 3 or 4-year-old can look at a set of geography cards picturing people from different countries. The younger child can realize that the people are different, but it is the 5 to 6-year-old who begins to realize what is different. It is this developmental readiness that enables our Kindergarten program to provide the opportunity to discover and learn about different cultures and life-styles, draw geography maps, label names of countries, etc.

Moreover, the three-year or four-year Montessori cycle is designed to help children progress from stage to stage in this developmental sequence without interruption or loss of continuity. We build upon what came previously!

Besides allowing for continuous development, the Kindergarten year provides mastery of self. It is one of the few times in life when children can be “top dog” in the classroom and feel the great pride in that esteemed position. The children feel great competence, serving as teachers to the younger children, either directly or by example.

This competence is partly the result of having experienced their own progress in the same setting. They once were the little ones coming into the classroom, learning how to pour juice and roll mats. But now they are the Kindergarten children, who write stories and count all the beads of the 1000 chain. 

This is the age when children master their socializing skills of cooperating, sharing, and taking turns. The Montessori classroom is a community where every child is important.  Often, visitors to Greene Towne comment on how kind the older children are to the younger ones. It is a common occurrence to see a 5-year-old helping a 3-year-old with his coat and boots.

When a child leaves this environment after his/her second year and does not continue on in the Kindergarten Year, he/she loses time in this developmental sequence. The energy that would be put into mastery now must be put into adjusting to a new environment, teachers, expectations, work methods, and classmates. The transition means adjusting to a new school, new friends, new routines, etc.—and thus interrupts and delays the developmental sequence.

This delay tends to reduce the feelings of mastery and competence at this age. Again, the consolidation of impressions is left at random if a transition occurs at this point. The esteemed position of “top dog” is delayed until the end of grade school since children in other Kindergartens are regarded as the “babies” - they are the youngest, not the oldest.

A child naturally is ready for new challenges at 6 to 61/2 years of age, when entry into 1st grade typically occurs. This need to “move on” comes naturally from within the 6-year-old, while the need at the age of 5 is one to “finish”. The Montessori Kindergarten differs in content and process from other kindergarten programs. In the Montessori program, children learn through concrete materials and through the senses. It is learning by doing, with verbal input integrated into the process. In other programs children are more involved with verbal instruction and much time is spent in helping them listen and follow directions. Greene Towne Montessori students have already acquired these skills so they have the opportunity to move on and build upon what has been accomplished in the previous years. 


  • 1/23/14
  • Posted by: (nicole)


Early Bird Discount" of $10.00 for each application received by February 10, 2014, and a "Sibling Discount" of $10.00 for each additional child in the same family. Scholarship information is available upon request, and will be kept confidential. All children may participate, regardless of financial circumstances. Please visit for more information and to register. Please DO NOT return any Taney forms to Greene Towne.

For Parents of the Greene Towne Kindergarten class of 2015

  • 1/23/14
  • Posted by: (nicole)

Now is great time to start visiting schools as you consider your child’s 1st grade education after Greene Towne.  Winter and Spring Open Houses offer a calm and unhurried way to see schools and some schools will not accept an application or schedule a tour/visit unless you’ve attended an Open House.  You can check the schools’ web sites or the free monthly parenting papers: Parents Express, MetroKids, and Philadelphia Family, available in the GTMS lobbies at East and West campuses. If you’d like a copy of the long list of schools that Greene Towne graduates typically go to, please contact Erika and we can email it to you.  The list will also be available at The Applying to 1st Grade Workshop.

SAVE THE DATE for our February 25th Parent Workshop: Applying to First Grade.

101 Things Parents Can Do to Help Children

  • 1/23/14
  • Posted by: (nicole)

This week we resume:

101 Things Parents Can Do to Help Children by Barbara Hacker
This week, 41 through 50!  The entire list is available in the Greene Towne parent library.

We hope these little hints are helpful in your parenting adventures!

41. Whenever you go somewhere with your child, prepare him/her for what is going to happen and what will be expected of him/her at the store, restaurant, doctor's office, etc.

42. Express appreciation to your child and others and help your child to do the same. Send thank you notes for gifts. Young children can dictate or send a picture. Older children can write their own. Key is learning the importance of expressing appreciation.

43. Help your child to learn to like healthful foods. Never force a child to eat something he/she does not like, but also don't offer unlimited alternatives! Make trying new things fun. Talk about foods and how they look or describe the taste. Introduce the word "savor" and teach how to do it. Engage children in food preparation.

44. When food shopping, talk to your child about what you see -- from kumquats to lobsters. Talk about where food items come from. Talk about the people who help us by growing, picking, transporting, and displaying food.

45. Provide your child with appropriate sized furniture: his/her own table and chair to work at; perhaps a rocker in the living room to be with you; a bed that can easily be made by a child; a stool for climbing up to sink or counter.

46. While driving, point things out and discuss -- construction work, interesting buildings, vehicles, bridges, animals.

47. Teach the language of courtesy. Don't let your child interrupt. Teach how to wait after saying, "Excuse me, please."

48. Analyze any annoying behavior of your child and teach from the positive. For example: door slamming -- teach how to close a door; running in the house -- teach how to walk; runny nose -- teach how to use a tissue.

49. Spend quality time with people of different ages.

50. Teach your child about your faith and make them feel a part of it.


  • 1/23/14
  • Posted by: (nicole)

Re-enrollment agreements are due February 3!  Please return your child’s re-enrollment asap so that we may plan appropriately for next year.  Thank you!

GTMS Auction: Get Your Donation and Advertisement Forms!

  • 1/16/14
  • Posted by: (nicole)
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Hello GTMS families!  Invites have been mailed and we are now ready for donations and advertisements!

 Please click HERE to easily download the Donation Form and Advertisement Form. 

Forms are being accepted at both GTMS East and West.  If you have any questions regarding donations or ads, please feel free to contact Amanda Cooper or Natale Nagele at .

Honoring MLK's Legacy in Service

  • 1/16/14
  • Posted by: (nicole)
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“Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Montessorians have long recognized the contribution community service has in developing and educating the whole child. It was Dr. Montessori’s vision that a peaceful world, created by children raised with respect to their natural development, would make the world better and more peaceful. Service to the community is a corner stone of this belief and it manifests every day in a Montessori classroom. Students learn the joy of giving of them selves and develop compassion because of these real, practical life experiences. In the Montessori learning community we model and teach students to be stewards and caretakers of the Earth and all its inhabitants. By doing so, we create caring, empathetic students capable of thinking beyond themselves.

The needs of mankind are universal.  Our means of meeting them create the richness and diversity of the planet.  The Montessori child should come to relish the texture of that diversity.”  Maria Montessori

Service at School:                                                                                                          
Community service, in the form of kindness and helpfulness, is accomplished at all levels and in all age groups in the Montessori school. In the Toddler House and 3 to 6-year-old Primary classrooms, children have opportunities every day to assist and serve their classmates. Helping a young friend take off a coat, showing concern for a classmate who misses his parents, reading to a classmate, showing a younger child how to do work, helping a classmate clean up a spill, preparing and serving a snack to others, sorting recycling, and watering plants are just a few of the many ways in which children in a Montessori environment serve others, helping them build a foundation of compassion towards their fellow human beings and establish themselves in a cooperative, respectful community.

To sign up for this year's Day of Service Project with Project Linus, click HERE!

As a school community, at GTMS, we also hold a Thanksgiving Food Drive, Holiday Gift Drive, and Lemonade Stand which each benefit local charities. These activities are an integral component of the expanded curriculum our Kindergarten students participate in.  Along with Art, Lunch-around-the-World, and field trips they open these oldest student’s eyes to the wider world outside the classroom.

"The difference between what we are doing and what we are capable of doing would solve most of the world's problems."   Mahatma Gandhi

Service outside of school:
It can be challenging to find opportunities for very young children to participate in service activities outside of school and home but here are a few ways you can honor the spirit of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. every day with your young children.

* Clean out the closets.  Children grow quickly and before you know it, clothes, toys, strollers, car seats, and books are outgrown.  Gather these up and donate them to a Salvation Army emergency shelter (near us, there is the Salvation Army Eliza Shirley House at 1320 Arch Street; to learn what they need now call 215-686-7150), Ronald McDonald House, the nursery at your place of worship, or simply take them to a thrift store so that another family can continue to enjoy them. Here are some other organizations that appreciate your help:

HELP a Greene Towne Alum with her MLK day of Service Clothing Drive
All types of clothing accepted!  Drop-Off to Girard College-Armory Building.
This Saturday, 1/18 and Sunday, 1/19 between 11:30 and 1:30.

Youth Service, Inc. in Philadelphia is happy to receive donations at any time of year:

Cradles to Crayons accepts gently used clothing, new toys and craft items - don’t you have some duplicate gifts?

"What good shall I do this day?"   Benjamin Franklin

* Many of us think about those in need at holiday times but in reality many families are hungry all year round and could use help at any time of the year. Take your children to the grocery store and let them help you select a bag of groceries to donate to a food bank or shelter.

Turning Points for Children accepts donations all year and focuses their efforts on Center City Families. You and your child can also help sort donations - which children LOVE to do. Contact Alison Floyd to learn more about how you can help at Turning Points.

Northwest Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network welcomes families to cook meals, serve meals, keep a family company in the shelter by bringing games to play, crafts to do and books to read (this is a family friendly opportunity.)

* The most meaningful service for children to take part in is to those they know. Do you have an elderly or infirmed neighbor or relative who would appreciate a hot meal or home baked cookies and a visit from a child? Do they have a pet that needs to be walked?  Is there a sick friend cooped up indoors that would like some company or simply a card?

* Children can donate a portion of their allowance or do extra chores to “earn” money which can then be donated to a favorite charity. Parents can make a list of charities and talk about the work they do with the child. Then let your child choose which one they want to help.  Some good causes for young children are Unicef, Heifer International, Ronald McDonald House, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Children can also participate in fundraising walks throughout the year! 

* Plant flowers to beautify a school, park or other community area or clean up a playground (with proper supervision and safety considerations.)

Participating in these activities teaches children that although they are young, they can and do make a contribution to their community.


  • 1/16/14
  • Posted by: (nicole)

Financial Aid applications have been sent home to those families currently receiving assistance.  If you anticipate requiring financial assistance for the 2013-14 school year, please contact Erika Goldberg for details at .

The application must be submitted on-line at to School and Student Services NO LATER than February 3, 2014 to be considered.  There are additional documents required so contact Erika for details.

The Montessori Minute: Geometric Solids

  • 1/16/14
  • Posted by: (nicole)

Since shape is the defining characteristic of each letter of the alphabet, Dr. Montessori designed several sensorial exercises to make children aware of this quality.  She began with the Geometric Solids.  This is a set of materials alike in color and texture and of approximately the same size, but different from each other in shape.  The set includes the cube, the sphere, the cone, the cylinder, the pyramid, the rectangular prism, the triangular prism, the ovoid, and the ellipsoid.

          Children learn to recognize these shapes by handling the solids, looking at them, and playing group games where they try to identify the shapes while wearing a blindfold.  They also learn to relate the solids to common things in the environment; for example, the sphere is like a ball; the cylinder is like a drinking glass; the cone is like an ice cream cone.

          Vocabulary building is an important part of this activity.  Children love a big word like “supercalifragilistic”, in the same way, they enjoy the challenge of big terms like cylinder, pyramid, and rectangular prism.  It is much easier for children to learn what a pyramid or a sphere is when they can hold it in their hands, than it is for them to learn it later in abstract form.  When they study geometry in future years, children who have been in a Montessori classroom will have the necessary vocabulary based on concrete representations.

Did You Know...

  • 1/16/14
  • Posted by: (nicole)
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In October, we celebrated Eid in Ms. Prestas' class. They read an excerpt from Rashad's Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr by Lisa Bullard describing how Muslims celebrate Eid.

 In November our classrooms welcomed our American holiday, Thanksgiving, each in their own way. Some classrooms made variations on the turkey.  Ms. Dhar had her class make some fancy Oreo turkeys.  Ms. Matsukevich's classroom also made dreidels and other classrooms made menorahs for the Jewish holiday Hanukkah.  This year, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah happened at the same time.  Rachel's family celebrated this rare occurrence with "the Menurkey!"

Earlier in November, we celebrated the Indian Festival of Lights, Diwali. Some families hung up lights and decorations outside their home and lit sparklers. 

In December, various versions of what we call Christmas were celebrated in Mr. Aurelien's class. Sinterklaas, Befana and the Day of the Three Kings (in early January) are all being celebrated in our community from December 6 through January 6. Mrs. Pysher's classroom made delicious reindeer cookies and hats! Ms. Dhar's classroom also celebrated Kwanzaa in advance by making kinaras.

Greene Towne Montessori will be honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this Monday by opening up the school for families to come in and build blankets and make cards for Project Linus. If you are free, please check out sign-up genius and consider bringing your kids in for this project.

Winter Parent Social!

  • 1/16/14
  • Posted by: (nicole)
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