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The Frame: A look at the Montessori method

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The Montessori approach to educating centers around the individual child, says Vannessa Nasset, head of Bloom! Montessori, on the Walking Mall. Elementary student Morgan Casey works alone on a series of division problems with assistance from a wooden grid and pegs. The use of the grid provides students a physical interpretation of the numbers they are manipulating on paper.

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Vanessa Nasset

Vannessa Nasset - Owner of Bloom! Montessori

The Head of School and Lead Primary Guide Vannessa Nasset works with her preschool-level students on word-to-object associations. Although the essence of Montessori education is individual learning, time is spent each day in work groups, not only to focus on the academic task but also on social skills. Students learn to work with and respect one another while accomplishing a common goal.

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Lunabelle Cleveland performs the camel pose recently in the studio at Hot Yoga Helena. On Friday mornings, Bloom! can be found doing a downward dog at Hot Yoga Helena, or scaling the walls of Stonetree Climbing Center, and the children of both business owners just so happen to be Bloom! students. According to Bloom! head Vannessa Nasset, both activities provide her students alternative opportunities for movement outside of the daily playground regiment.

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An integral part of the Montessori approach is teaching students how to create a peaceful environment among one another. Primary Assistant Guide Veronica Rubio mediates a conflict between Sarai Skeldon, center, and Landon Trenary, after Skeldon brushed some sand that got in Trenary’s eye. After a brief conversation both students found common ground, apologized and went on playing with each other.

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Evelyn Harris walks around a lit candle once for every year of her age while carrying a globe as the class celebrated her birthday. The candle symbolizes the sun and the rotation of the globe provides students an understanding of how a year is calculated and what it means. After, each student was given an opportunity to say something nice about the birthday girl in front of the class. Carrot cake cupcakes finished off the ceremony.

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A core function of the Montessori curriculum is to provide students an understanding of cultures other than their own. To that accord, Eisley Bushilla, left, and Evelyn Harris, prepare a pot of tea, true to Japanese tea ceremony fashion. The students were then instructed to clean up, providing them a ‘practical life skills’ exercise.

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The Bloom! elementary students receive instruction from their art instructor Lori Feiss on a geometric project using multiple media. For Feiss it is important to instill in the student an understanding of process and how, in art, a methodical approach can always produce meaningful work.

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First grade level student Shiri Franklin works on a grammar exercise focused on identifying antonyms. Because Montessori students work individually, they determine the rate of study, which is intended to incentivize learning and drive them further.

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After snack time, Lunabelle Cleveland decided the table was a little messy so she grabs a rag and soap to scrub it down. The Bloom! students are taught to recognize their environment and make judgments as to whether they can improve its condition.

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Primary Assistant Guide Veronica Rubio reaches for a student after she let go of the "walking rope" while the students were on a walk up Sixth Ave.

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During snack time, S. Wells munches on saltines and an orange while cracking jokes to fellow students.

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Maddy Sickles concocts a 'raspberry pie' out of the sandbox while the preschool students enjoyed playtime one morning.

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Evelyn Harris is pictured mid-pose during a Friday morning excursion to Hot Yoga Helena for the Bloom! students.

Thom Bridge can be reached at Thom.bridge@helenair.com

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