Integrated Arts Program
The scene below is fictional and illustrates the unlimited possibilities that exist for integrating the arts into the Montessori classroom…
Miss Debi, the Preschool Director, is giving an individual student a geography lesson with the North America map using the three period lesson format. As the broad curriculum theme is “North America,” the listening corner features the selection “Hoedown,” by prominent North American composer Aaron Copland. While listening to the piece the children are offered an opportunity to draw what they hear. In the language area, a student is using three part cards of instruments contained in the featured music selection. In music class, Miss Rebecca has isolated one rhythm from “Hoedown” and is working with a small group of students who are playing it on hand drums. In the sensorial area, another student is working on an extension of color box three, a lesson she’s already had, and is now matching slightly varying shades and tints (yes there is a difference!) to a fine art example of a rodeo scene by Frederick Remington. In dance and movement, Miss Danielle might talk about ballet, and the fact that the music “Hoedown,” comes from a famous ballet called “Rodeo”.
The Montessori Schoolhouse is increasing its commitment to arts-based learning for its students by introducing a new Integrated Arts Program. Studies show that fine arts lessons themselves, and the use of arts-based lessons to teach other subjects, have positive effects on student learning and teacher satisfaction. Students show greater interest in the lessons and teachers are refreshed by the use of alternative approaches. In a Montessori toddler or primary classroom, most students are being exposed to the art forms for the first time and it is an opportunity to lay the foundation that the arts are connected to everything and don’t have to be separate subjects or “specials."
The Integrated Arts program will include the dance and music classes that the children love, as well as integrated classroom lessons. An Integrated Arts Coordinator will work with the Toddler and Preschool Directors to develop the arts-based lessons and extensions to support and enhance the curriculum themes and materials that are being taught. These lessons might occur in a group music or movement class, or be introduced throughout the classroom as daily work choices, especially as arts-based extensions for the traditional Montessori materials.
Violin study is the ultimate Montessori lesson- a step by step process with lots of repetition and the goal of encouraging order, coordination, concentration, independence. Oh, and it’s fun too! Students light up at the opportunity to play a real instrument that, just like the other furnishings of the Montessori environment, is exactly their size.Several days a week, thirty minute music classes will be held throughout the morning as new children join and others return to class. By offering the class as a work choice, we honor the Montessori principle of uninterrupted work time, and children who are otherwise engaged are not obligated to participate. The music teacher will combine songs and rhythm games from the Suzuki early childhood curriculum with classic Montessori music activities such as pitch matching and grading with bells, and walking on the line. Children are introduced to Italian musical terms for tempo and volume and begin to learn basic music theory using a keyboard for reference. Additionally, students frequently get to experience live music from real instruments including violin, cello, flute, guitar, harp, and more. Students will hear the instruments up close as well as in the context of a classical recording.
Returning extended-day students and kindergartners have the opportunity to build on this foundation with beginning violin studies taught during this class. They are also introduced to note-reading using contemporary equivalents of traditional Montessori materials.
Dance and Movement Classes
Dance and Movement classes are a fun, energetic and expressive experience conducted by an experienced instructor from MoCo Arts, a non-profit arts education center in Keene. The weekly half hour classes are uniquely designed to fit in with the curriculum of the whole school, making the students learning even more holistic and cohesive. Dance games, stretching to sing-along songs, use of colorful props and exploration help the children explore various music and dance styles. The classes are age-appropriate and developmentally based to broaden their dance awareness. Following directions, self expression, bodily awareness and musicality are all enhanced through playful activities, along with dances that require cooperation, or offer opportunities for solo expression. Concepts of improvisation, choreography and performance are introduced in the preschool classes, while the toddler classes focus on general movement and bodily awareness.
Integrated Arts Program Fees
The Montessori Schoolhouse has a long history of arts programming for its students including weekly dance and movement classes taught by guest teachers from MOCO, and more recently, bi-weekly music classes and violin lessons. While these lessons have been important enrichment activities for the students, their importance was not codified into the educational philosophy or the budget process of the school, leaving the lessons subject to the availability of fundraising income and grants. The majority of the funding for this new program will come from an additional Integrated Arts fee of $15 per month per student ($150 total). Fundraising events will be held to cover the remaining costs and help keep the Integrated Arts fee low.
Integrated Arts Coordinator/Music Teacher
We are pleased to announce we have hired Rebecca Junnila as the Integrated Arts Coordinator. Rebecca Junnila is a registered Suzuki Music teacher and an American Montessori Society certified 3-6 teacher. Her musical life includes playing harp, piano, and flute; and mothering three young musicians. She is a founder and board member of the Keene Community Music Center, has a BA in Economics, and a BA in Music. Rebecca has been involved at MSHOCC as a parent, board member, and teacher since 1999.