Arts & Enrichments
Our Arts & Enrichment programs help to provide a greater educational experience for our students. These programs encourage the children to pursue their passions to learn, experiment and grow in each area. These creative and physical pursuits complement the traditional academic instruction they receive in the classroom.
MCS is dedicated to educating the whole child, so art is an important piece in that education. We consider it essential for children’s development to be able to tell their own stories and create their own visions. The self-esteem and confidence gained from art class, as well as the ability for flexible problem solving, not only manifest themselves in other areas of their classroom work but carry over into all areas of the children’s lives.
Art classes at MCS begin in the child’s third year of primary (the elder year) and continue through adolescence (grades 7 and 8). Students come to the art room once a week for classes of 45-minutes for the elders and one-hour for elementary and adolescents. Upper elementary students are able to come for studio time as well, in order to finish up work from art class or create art to go with their classroom assignments.
The art curriculum focuses on the elements of art, line, texture, shape, and color, while also delving into art appreciation. It developmentally builds skills and concepts and becomes more complicated and abstract as the years progress. Students participate in art in the relaxed, individualistic atmosphere that our beautiful art studio provides. There is plenty of room to paint on easels, spread out big pictures to draw, choose work from the many shelves or read art books on the rug in the library area. Additionally, we have a wide range of materials for the students to use for exploration. Some of these include various types of drawing pencils, charcoal, oil and chalk pastels, pen and ink, watercolor and tempera paint and printing inks.
In class, children are encouraged to express themselves and to exhibit their own personal styles. They are exposed to numerous and varied artists through our collection of art reproductions and through their research work. This allows them to see that art is extremely diverse. In the art room, problems have multiple solutions so there is no easy answer. Thinking must go on. Everyone’s opinion counts, so students learn to grow confident in their own opinions. Experimentation and risk-taking are all a part of being in art class. Our constant companions are What if…, What will happen when…, Can I try…, Look what I just discovered…, Can I keep going…, I was wondering…, I never knew that…
To see children, who had no confidence in drawing, suddenly like something they drew, is to see a child transformed. To see children totally lost inside their paintings and not look up until it’s time to clean up is magical.
The ceramics program at MCS offers a peaceful, sensitive space for students to experience and learn the process and technique of clay creation. Through this sensorial experience, students will develop the necessary motion skills and sense of three-dimensional space to create ceramic pieces and experience the joy of working with clay.
Through projects and simple exercises, students reinforce their self-esteem, self-expression, and creativity while enjoying a soothing experience of peace and joy. Clay creation also offers opportunities for problem-solving and important basic tools for design.
Throughout the year, students in 4th through 8th grade have classes and open studios. They learn the entire process from the early stage of fresh clay to drying, bisque firing, glazing, and using tools to obtain finished unique pieces.
Using basic techniques like coil, slab making, and hand-building, students create useful, functional objects as well as artistic, colorful pieces. Students also learn the basic rules for recycling and repurposing clay.
In our studio, students learn how to throw pots on the pottery wheel. This is a fun experience that requires skill, patience, attention, and perseverance.
The ceramics room, located in the Spark Center, is equipped with a kiln, a drying area, and a peaceful, comfortable space for students to develop ideas.
The choir is a significant part of the music program for MCS. All interested upper
elementary students meet in the music room once a week for rehearsal. Song selections are based on student interest and ability.
In an effort to connect students from all levels, we have used adolescent students as guitar, ukulele, and piano accompanists.
The choir is meant to be a fun, joyful, and enriching experience for students that want more out of music class.
The students perform at various assemblies and school functions throughout the year and at two major performances at the end of each semester.
The Spanish program is an integrated program that seeks to encourage students to read, write, speak, and listen in Spanish. As a child progresses through the levels at MCS, their exposure to the Spanish language and culture builds on what they have learned.
Spanish is introduced in the toddler environment once a week for 30-minutes. The students start the year building a routine where they learn vocabulary to greet others (hola, adios, hasta manana) and then they move into learning numbers (uno, dos, tres, cuatro), colors (azul, amarillo, verde, rojo), directions (arriba, abajo), body parts (la cabeza, los ojos, la nariz), and feelings (estoy feliz, tengo calor, tengo miedo). The students learn this vocabulary through a variety of songs, games, and activities.
Much like the toddler program, Spanish is organized around vocabulary “units” such as colors, classroom objects, etc. This approach is introductory in nature and as such the main goal is to expose children to Spanish.
A typical lesson has three periods: an introductory active period when students are invited to join the teacher in singing songs and in doing activities that require them to follow commands in Spanish and to move their bodies. The same activities are used in every lesson to aid students’ transition to a lesson that includes a foreign language. The active period is followed by the teacher presentation of the vocabulary unit using the Montessori 3-period lesson structure (1. Naming/Introduction “This is a yellow”, 2. Recognizing/Identification “Show me yellow”, and 3. Remembering/Cognition “What is this?”) and employing 3-part material (1. the object and the written word, 2. the object, 3. the written word, with real objects, to the extent possible. Puppets and action are used to illustrate abstract vocabulary and dialogues. During the teacher presentation students are engaged by repeating the vocabulary and volunteering to take a role in an activity or answer a question. The lesson usually ends by saying “Adios” (goodbye) to the objects used during the lesson and singing a Spanish goodbye song. Storytelling and cultural exposure is also an important component of the lessons. To the extent possible any interaction with class “guests” (including dolls and puppets) brings introductory knowledge of the facts and traditions of various Spanish-speaking countries. A short illustrated book in Spanish is a frequent visitor during the lessons and a good way to end the lesson.
At this level, vocabulary building, common expressions, and impressions are the focus. Listening and speaking are the main skills employed during lessons. After lessons, materials and activity are left in the classroom for students to work with throughout the week. Art projects and games such as “mystery bag”, where the students are asked to blindly choose from various tasks, including mimicking an action or answering a question are also commonly used, The lesson usually ends by saying “Adios” (goodbye) to the objects used during the lesson and reading a short book in Spanish. In addition, there are scheduled times when Spanish-speaking guests visit the classroom and share facts and traditions from their Hispanic heritage. Short videos are also used, when appropriate, as tools to enhance cultural exposure.
At this age, the children are divided into groups of 6-8 students by their Spanish ability, not necessarily by grade. As is common in a Montessori environment, the older students will assist the younger students with their work. During the week, students focus on reading and writing and the introduction of the concepts of grammar. They also work on listening and speaking Spanish through games and songs. The students also learn about the culture of the many Spanish-speaking countries through cultural projects. This helps them to learn about the world around them and the rich traditions that exist.
During the two-year cycle, students continue to develop their beginning to
intermediate Spanish skills consistent with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages’ 5 goal areas: Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities. In order to meet these standards, the curriculum integrates grammar, reading, writing, vocabulary, cultural studies, and multi-modal lessons to increase fluency. The adolescent students are divided into two groups by ability.
There are 3 specific activities: reading, grammar, and cultural. Students sign-up for the activity they want to work on and at the end of the week, students submit their work. In reading, students are asked to read a story and answer some questions about this story. This story can be read through a book or through a video. Either way, they choose, they need to focus on reading, scanning, and writing. In grammar, they have in-class time to complete the lesson and clarify any questions they may have. They work through a Spanish grammar workbook that involves learning a lesson and completing a worksheet. In cultural, students choose a topic about culture or tradition. They then research and prepare a lesson to present to their classmates. Lessons and follow-up work are structured to develop verbal and written communication as well as reading comprehension. The majority of students leave MCS well-prepared to continue their studies in high school at the Spanish II level.
MCS holds at its core the philosophy of educating the whole child. To this end, we offer a series of classes, starting in 5th grade, that help the child gain perspective about their whole body and their emerging sexuality.
Honest, accurate information about sexuality changes lives. It dismantles stereotypes and assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, fosters healthy relationships, improves decision making, and has the potential to save lives. For these reasons and more, we are proud to offer Our Whole Lives (OWL), a comprehensive, lifespan sexuality education curricula. These classes are offered by trained professionals, who have been conducting these classes for a number of years at MCS.
The music program is an interdisciplinary study of music as a cultural, historical, and social tool for communication. Music is taught as a medium for movement, science, math, connection, and for understanding one’s self and sense of place. Not only a theoretical study, music is also a practice that embraces and encourages community at MCS and the world beyond our school.
Students receive music in the classroom from their teachers. In addition, elders enjoy music class in the music room. The fundamental purpose of music study for the elders is to engage them in the music that is present all around them. This is achieved by completing activities that enable the students to practice keeping a steady beat and matching pitch. Music class at this level also involves a lot of stationary and gross motor movement in the form of group dances and singing games. We frequently use non-pitched percussion instruments and we are learning basic technique for playing simple melodies on the barred Orff instruments namely the glockenspiels, metallophones, and xylophones. Students are beginning to identify simple music symbols such as note values, rest signs, and tempo. This year, the elders have connected music, geography, and history through the Smithsonian Folkways curriculum. These lessons allow students to explore music from countries around the world. Students have been learning songs from Botswana, dances from Kenya, notation from Austria, melodies from Germany, and so much more. drawing,
The fundamental purpose of music class for the lower elementary students is to build upon their knowledge and skills and to engage them in the music that surrounds them. Like the primary level, music class at this level also involves a lot of stationary and gross motor movement in the form of singing, group dances, and rhythm games. We frequently use both non-pitched percussion instruments and the barred Orff instruments (glockenspiels, metallophones, and xylophones). Students are beginning to identify simple music symbols such as note values and rests. This year, students have connected music, geography, history, and culture through the Smithsonian Folkways curriculum. These lessons allow students to explore music from countries around the world. Students have been learning songs from Botswana, dances from Kenya, notation from Austria, melodies from Germany, and so much more.
Students have general music class and the option of participating in weekly chorus, music, and dance electives, and studio. In the past, students have completed units on North Carolina roots music, Broadway musicals, classical music, and jazz. This year, students have connected music, geography, history, and culture through the Smithsonian Folkways curriculum. These lessons allow students to explore music from countries around the world. Students have been learning songs from Botswana, dances from Kenya, melodies from Germany, symphonies from Russia, and so much more. Each student is guided towards a firm understanding of the music surrounding them and the skills, technique, and knowledge of theory to express themselves by singing or playing an instrument.
The music program is a significant part of the adolescent experience. Using James Hill’s Ukulele in the Classroom Book I and II as the texts, the students are guided to play songs on open strings and learn to play two-part harmonies with more complicated notation. Adolescent students meet to rehearse ukulele, warm-ups, exercises, and full-length pieces that are practiced over the course of the week in between class. Topics covered include, but are not limited to: the pentatonic scale, playing by ear, transposing, playing in various keys, ties, and playing 4/4, 3/4, and 6/8 time. The students perform at assemblies, Grandparents and
Special Friends Day, 8th-year solo trip celebration, and graduation.
Throughout the process of learning the ukulele, students are presented with a variety of theoretical work. Each lesson and song assignment has encouraged students to demonstrate their understanding of time signatures, note and rest values, measures, dynamics, tempo, and repeat signs.
In conjunction with the ukulele and theory work, music is present in other areas of the Adolescent Program curriculum. In 2017, the adolescent students embarked on a year-long study of African American roots music, This intensive work took the students from field songs to gospel medleys, rural blues to modern jazz. The study culminated in a 10-day trip through the Deep South in which the students connected the significance of African American roots music and the Civil Rights movement. By pulling music into humanities, literature, and beyond students are able to make introspective connections and tie the pieces of their studies together.
MCS provides many opportunities for students to showcase their artistic abilities. From the time students enter primary as 3-year-olds, they engage in song and dance in the classroom. They perform with their class or as a group, combining with other classes, at assemblies throughout the year. Whether singing “Planting the Seeds of Peace” or dancing the “Virginia Reel”, our smallest performers are always a hit with parents, faculty, and older students who come to watch.
In elementary, students also sing, dance, and perform short skits in assemblies. Students in upper elementary perform in two choir concerts each year. They also have the opportunity to perform at special events on campus.
The after-school jazz class offers a great opportunity for aspiring dancers. The students practice once a week and then performs two outstanding shows in our gym for the MCS community to enjoy.
Adolescent students put on one major performance each year after winter break. In addition, the ukulele ensemble performs at our assemblies and graduation ceremony.
This area is centered on the health and well-being of all students. The physical education programs, for elders through 8th-grade, are designed to provide knowledge, skills, and motivation for a lifetime of health, exercise, and physical activity.
Beginning at the primary level, a student’s world expands while they reach developmental milestones, gradually increasing the bounds of their physical environment. Cooperative games encourage children’s coordination and ability to follow directions within the group. Physical education for young children helps strengthen their balance, hand-eye coordination, tactile awareness, directionality, and agility.
Once the children reach second grade they are exposed to sporting units. Each unit, such as volleyball (or beach ball volleyball for the younger children), basketball, or soccer, lasts about a month to ensure a good knowledge and feel for the sport or activity. Team play is encouraged and as the children get older you can really notice the improvement of their game playability and skill level. We complete ten different sporting units throughout the year.
Dance is also a big part of physical education at MCS and is often a part of the children’s warmup activities. The children are exposed to many different dances and by the time the children reach upper elementary they can already perform about 20 different dances! Dance improves strength, coordination, balance, and rhythmic abilities that in turn help in all areas of sport and activity.
Children are also exposed to gymnastics, relay activities, parachute games, scooter games as well as numerous ball games just for fun.
Our campus includes a well-kept sports field, track, outdoor volleyball court, and outdoor basketball courts. We also have two tetherball sets and a ping pong table. All students are welcome to enjoy these facilities after school. Upper elementary and adolescent students have physical education twice a week for one hour, lower elementary students have class once a week for an hour. Elder children (kindergartners) have class once a week for 45 minutes.
Our upper elementary students enjoy participating each spring in a Mini Olympics that includes a variety of fun sporting events and team competitions where students represent many different countries and display their colorful flags and decorated t-shirts during opening and closing ceremonies.
An Elementary Field Day occurs in late May and consists of several fun stations on the sports field and on the outdoor circle.
Elementary students also voluntarily participate in the MCS Mileage Club annually from October to May. All participants are encouraged to walk or run the track (or at home) and keep a total of miles walked/run. Students receive foot tokens for every 5 miles achieved. The students’ total miles walked are posted in the gym.
Physical education classes at MCS provide students with the skills, knowledge, and attitude necessary to make active living a way of life. Cooperation, fair play, sportsmanship, communication, and respect are emphasized at all times.
MCS holds at its core the philosophy of educating the whole child.
In the earliest years, students develop independence in caring for their bodies and maintaining health through various practical life activities. As they move into our elder program they begin to participate in our P.E. program. In addition to the physical education component of the curriculum, the students are well-educated in a healthy living element. The students learn a variety of lessons in healthy eating, personal safety, care of self, and healthy communication. Beginning in the fifth grade we offer a series of classes that help the students gain perspective about their whole body and their emerging sexuality. Honest, accurate information about sexuality changes lives. It dismantles stereotypes and assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, fosters healthy relationships, improves decision making, and has the potential to save lives. For these reasons and more, we offer Our Whole Lives (OWL), a comprehensive, lifespan sexuality education curricula. In the fifth-grade year, these classes are offered by trained professionals, who have been conducting these classes for years at MCS. OWL continues in the seventh-grade year with a sexuality education program that models and teaches caring, compassion, respect, and justice. A holistic program that moves beyond the intellect to address the attitudes, values, and feelings that youth have about themselves and the world.
The American Montessori Society encourages and supports exploring the use of technology in Montessori educational environments, especially at the elementary and higher levels. Using technology is appropriate and desirable for teachers and school administrators, and for a variety of student uses. Intelligently integrated into the Montessori environment, technology can be a valuable communications tool and may promote traditional Montessori tenets. At MCS students in the upper elementary begin using technology to write papers, make presentations, gather information for research, write emails and develop keyboarding skills. These beginning skills are further developed in our adolescent program.