Why Cottage Elementary School?—What makes our kids so happy to come to school each day? Discover all that The Cottage School has to offer students from Kindergarten through 8th grade

Private School NJ, Private School New Jersey, Art Based School New Jersey, Alternative Education New Jersey, Alternative Elementary School Somerset CountyThe Cottage School will be hosting an informative session for current and prospective parents who are interested in the elementary program for their children on Monday, February 5th from 9:30am to 11:00 AM.

Our students enjoy school and are engaged members of our community because their individual curiosities and creativity are nurtured in a non-competitive environment. The Cottage School emphasizes the learning process, forming patterns of learning in an environment that is free from pressure, which is a unique quality in today’s achievement-obsessed educational culture.

 A private school based in Gladstone, New Jersey, the elementary program at The Cottage School teaches students aged 5 through 14, with its unique, well-rounded academic program, which integrates the traditional subject areas of language arts, literature, foreign languages, mathematics, natural sciences, world studies, and the arts. The Cottage School has developed its own curriculum and materials to exceed academic expectations on many levels using an interdisciplinary approach, while still covering all NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards. This is complemented by a wide variety of after school enrichment programs, including athletics and language immersion classes.

 The Cottage School Difference: In the elementary program, our students develop a love of learning sustained by a spirit of discovery at a pace that accompanies each individual child. Students’ innate abilities and learning interests are nurtured in a cooperative, non-competitive environment—free from tests or academic competition. The emphasis in the elementary program is on the joy of discovery, sustaining academic curiosity, and embracing experiential learning to maximize creative thinking, rather than on the rote memorization and the recitation of isolated facts. We encourage our students to ask questions, think out-of-the-box, take risks, and embrace mistakes, which all aid in building a strong foundation for innovative thinking. Without using textbooks, The Cottage School’s teachers do research and study from original material, which encourages their students to do the same. The result is an engaged, mutual effort to go deeper in knowledge.

 Nurturing Individual Growth: At The Cottage School, academic gifts and interests flourish while academic pursuits grow steadily and confidently. On individual projects, children are encouraged to concentrate on their own projects; there are no comparisons made between students or between student works. Within student’s own abilities, each child is expected to do his or her best—whether the activity is math, painting, singing, or sweeping. Expecting each student’s best from every activity helps cultivate a strong sense of integrity and confidence with every endeavor taken on and accomplished.

Fostering a Collaborative Environment: Cooperative skills are developed throughout daily routines as well as through unique experiential projects that include gardening, folk dancing, original script writing, and play production for the annual school play. This balance of nurturing individualized expectations in a collaborative environment results in the development of a confident student body that works together in a caring and cohesive manner. This helps The Cottage School maintain a strong sense of community where creativity and a joy for learning are nurtured.

The Cottage School is a multicultural learning community that values and fosters the children’s spirit of discovery to sustain their innate abilities and passion for learning. We create a non-competitive environment where creativity and the joy for learning are nurtured. To learn more about The Cottage School visit us at www.thecottageschools.net.

Baking (and Eating) Cake Together—A Monthly Birthday Tradition at The Cottage School

A private school based in Gladstone, New Jersey, The Cottage School takes a collaborative approach when celebrating students’ birthdays. Students commemorate this milestone once a month by baking a carrot cake together and enjoying it once it comes out of the oven.

A wonderful example of “learning by doing,” baking brings into play so many different educational concepts in a fun and cooperative manner. The students are required to read the recipe, which is written in both English and Spanish to encourage literary fluency. Each student with a birthday that month gets to crack an egg while other students measure out all of the ingredients exactly, which requires a basic understanding of fractions. Finally, the students bring the ingredients together and watch them “transform” into a cake with the heat of the oven—a delightful way to bring basic chemistry to life. This experiential experience allows students to engage all their senses and use their minds in creative ways to solve the scrumptious problem of turning ten single ingredients into one delicious cake.

Once the cake is out of the oven, the students gather with their teachers and parents to sing the birthday song. The “birthday children” get to decide which language the song will be sung in, choosing from English, Spanish, French, Guarani, Portuguese, German and Mandarin. You will find our 15-year old recipe for Carrot Cake below, and we invite you to try it at home.

Carrot Cake
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups shredded carrots (about 5 medium)

Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour rectangular pan, 13 x 9 x 2 inches. Mix sugar, oil and eggs until blended; beat 1 minute. Stir in remaining ingredients except carrots; beat 1 minute. Stir in carrots. Pour into pan.

Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

The Cottage School is a non-selective multicultural learning community that values and fosters the children’s spirit of discovery to sustain their innate abilities and passion for learning. We create a non-competitive environment where creativity and the joy for learning are nurtured.  Learn more at thecottageschools.net

Simplicity & Sweetness Abound at The Cottage School’s Halloween Parade and Harvest Festival

 At the end of every October, The Cottage School hosts its annual Halloween Parade and Harvest Festival for the school children and their families. All ages participate, including our littlest ones who attend our Mommy and Me program. Children are encouraged to wear noncommercial costumes—some of which are found in the school’s handmade “Theatrical Costume Collection” from the children’s annual school plays.

During the Halloween Parade, children walk a path with their teachers through the school yard and into the decorated playground. The children visit “stations,” where they say a nursery rhyme or sing a song and receive a healthy treat, such as an apple or bread. Each harvest station is directed by a parent dressed in costume:

  • The Farmer distributes organic apples from her harvest
  • The Miller shows the children how to mill corn into cornmeal
  • The Baker distributes corn bread
  • The Candlestick Maker hands out natural beeswax candles, which are handmade by the children at school the previous week 
  • The Wizard performs magic tricks and gives each child homemade playdough

After the children visit each station, family members gather with their children and the teachers to enjoy some apple cider. 

Nursery Rhymes Recited and Songs Sung at the Harvest Festival

The Farmer
Ten little apples, up in a tree
five for you and five for me.
Let’s shake that apple tree just so
and all the apples fall below.

The Miller
Blow, wind, blow!
And go, mill go!
That the miller can grind his corn
That the baker may take it,
And into bread make it,
And bring us a loaf in the morn,
And bring us a loaf in the morn.

The Baker
Pat-a cake, Pat-a-cake,
Baker’s man,
Bake me a cake, 
As fast as you can.
Pat it and prick it,
And mark it with B,
Put it in the oven,
For baby and me.

The Candlestick Maker
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick,
Jack jump over the candlestick.

The Wizard
Twinkle, twinkle little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky.
When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.


 

The Cottage School is a multicultural learning community that values and fosters the children’s spirit of discovery to sustain their innate abilities and passion for learning. We create a non-competitive environment where creativity and the joy for learning are nurtured. To learn more about The Cottage School visit us at thecottageschool.net.

Folk Songs: A Morning Tradition at The Cottage School

Regardless of age or grade, the children at The Cottage School start their day together. Teachers and children join up at circle time to greet each morning with a folk song, sung in either English or Spanish.

Folk songs provide a rich opportunity for language development and help set the foundation for bilingualism. Wrapped in melody and rhythm, songs use language in a way that is different from regular speech, enabling children to develop and expand language through the repetition of sounds, alliteration, and rhyme. This way, children intuitively learn new words, absorb meanings, and refine pronunciation. At The Cottage School, children are inspired to learn foreign languages, not only through folk songs, but through a wide variety of play-based experiences, including play-acting, art activities, traditional games, writing and drawing in books, and reading original prose, poetry and folktales out loud.

Folk songs are wonderful for building language; they help to instill confidence, generate multicultural awareness, and are best when shared. Parents are encouraged to sing our morning songs—like the one featured below—at home with their children.

Listen to  Good Morning the Earth :

Good Morning the Earth :
Good Morning the Earth and
Good morning the Sun
Good morning the rocks and the flowers, every one
Good Morning dear beasts and the birds in the trees
Good morning to you, and Good Morning to me!

Listen to Buen Día a la Tierra :

Buen Día a la Tierra :
Buen día a la tierra,
y buen día al sol,
buen día a las piedras, y las flores de todos,
buen día queridas bestias, y los pájaros y árboles,
buen día a tí, y buen día a mí.

The Cottage School is an alternative school focused on play-based learning. We integrate arts, and academics in all the traditional subjects. To learn more about our multicultural learning environment visit us at thecottageschools.net.

Open House – September 1st, 11am-1pm

Summer is winding down and we’re gearing up for what’s sure to be an amazing year here at The Cottage School.

The first open house of the school year will be September 1st from 11am-1pm. This is a great opportunity for current Cottage School children, families, and community members to come see the school and meet The Cottage School teachers.

The children will have an opportunity to reconnect with and meet new schoolmates in the playroom or outside on the playground.

RSVP by emailing liza@thecottageschool.net. 

To learn more about The Cottage School visit  www.thecottageschools.net

The Cottage School Version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Based on our curriculum for the 2016/2017 school year (Animals and Plants), The Cottage School students wrote and performed The Cottage School version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory  for our annual end-of-the year play.

In learning how to read, children are often taught that “reading” is a skill that one develops to decode words, but it is not always offered related to context. One of the fundamentals of The Cottage School is to educate the children to become “life-long readers,” with an appreciation for the literature that they are being read or reading by themselves. In play acting, children not only develop literary skills and a love for literature, but they also develop confidence in expressing themselves through the creative process.

Each year, our elementary school students initiate their research at the beginning of the school year.  Then, they start the creative writing process.  They learn the editing process and how to revise.  The group works together during many classes to create a cohesive story that includes all members of the school through dialogue, singing, and dancing.   All students take part in the production; they are involved in the entire process – from painting scenery and helping with costumes to acting without the script.

The end of the school year play nurtures creativity linked to what they are studying. In addition, the experience of being part of a story, teaches children to appreciate literature by creating an environment in which the literature makes sense to them. By play acting the story, they “re-create it”; they comprehend it, and thereby, unite the learning experience.

To learn more about The Cottage School, an alternative school in Somerset County, New Jersey, visit http://www.thecottageschool.net.

Alternative School Somerset County, NJ

The Cottage School Alumni Profiles – Isabella and Tessa

The Cottage School elementary school Alumni ProfileWe are so proud that the children who attend The Cottage School transition well into other educational settings and look back fondly on their time at our school.

Twin sisters, Isabella and Tessa, attended The Cottage School through 6th grade. We asked each girl to write a bit about their experience. Here’s what they had to say.

Isabella 
Hi, my name is Isabella and I used to go to The Cottage School. My last year at The Cottage School was in 2015. I was in 6th grade with my twin sister Tessa, and my friend Emily.

The Cottage School prepared us well for the public school academically. When we first started at our new school, it seemed like we were far advanced compared to the rest of the class. We received good grades and made good friends at our new school.

I am now in 8th grade, and my teachers are getting me ready for high school. I’m glad I am now in a public school, but I think The Cottage School enabled and encouraged my creativity. It allowed me to learn better than any other school would have. 

Tessa 
Hello, my name is Tessa and I am a twin who went to The Cottage School from preschool through sixth grade. I went there for a long time and learned a lot and did many plays with the school.

I think that going to The Cottage School helped me in terms of my grades. I am a honor roll student who gets A-’s, A’s, and A+’s. The Cottage School taught me how to study well, get my homework done faster, and prioritize my work better.

All the teachers at my new school love me. I think it is how The Cottage school taught me, I have been a kind and enthusiastic student that has always been on top of her work.

What did you like about The Cottage School?

I like that we didn’t have very much homework so that we could do a good job on the homework that we did get and that we could do some other stuff and not do as much homework. – Tessa

How did The Cottage School help you to do well at your current school?

The Cottage School helped me do well in school academically. – Isabella

The Cottage School helped me because they taught us well and if there was something that we didn’t get, then we could go to the teacher and she would help us and focus on that for the day. Also, we did all of the homework and there was not as much stress to get things right. – Tessa

3- What’s the best memory of TCS you have?

Making great friends. – Isabella

To learn more about The Cottage School,  visit www.thecottageschools.net

A Day in the Life of The Cottage School Students – Thursday, March 23rd 7:30pm-9:00pm

New Jersey Private School This Thursday evening we’ll be hosting “A Day in the Life of The Cottage School Students.”

Come back to school to catch a glimpse of what the children here do, including opening circle (which includes story time, songs and rounds​), math, language arts, and Spanish class.

We have so many unique teaching tools here at the school and this is your opportunity to experience them  hands-on.

This event is great for current Cottage School parents to come see what their children are up to as well as families who are considering the school to gain a better understanding of our teaching methods and atmosphere .

Bring slippers if you want to get the full experience.

A Day in the Life of The Cottage School Students  – Thursday, March 23rd 7:30pm-9:00pm

RSVP: cottageguglielmino@gmail.com or 908-719-9610

To learn more about The Cottage School,  visit www.thecottageschools.net

Mondays on Education – Positive Discipline – March 20th 9:30am-10:30am (recording below)

Once a month, The Cottage School hosts Mondays on Education. It’s an opportunity for the parents of children who attend the school as well as members of the community to come together and discuss important topics on education.

This month we will be discussing distinguished psychologist, educator, and mother of seven, Jane Nelsen’s book, “Positive Discipline.”  In it, she tells us that “The key to positive discipline is not punishment, but mutual respect.”

An approach to discipline based on the work of Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs, Positive Discipline is designed to teach young people to become responsible, respectful and resourceful members of their communities, and teaches important social and life skills in a manner that is deeply respectful and encouraging for both children and adults.

 For those of you who missed this , you can view a recording of our discussion below. 

In addition, you can view the powerpoint that we referenced here.

And a useful Mistaken Goals Chart here.

You can see a short video clip of Jane Nelsen here, where she explains the Five Criteria for Positive Discipline.

To learn more about The Cottage School,  visit www.thecottageschools.net

Weaving at The Cottage School 

Weaving at The Cottage School in Gladstone, New Jersey

One of our unique teaching tools here at The Cottage School is our weaving looms. 

About fifteen years ago, at the early stage of the school, Laura, the founder of The Cottage School’s, brother Jose was visiting from Oklahoma, and made our very first Cottage School Start Looms. Even though Jose is not a carpenter (he is actually a scientist), he was able to assemble them in a short period of time with a staple gun and big nails to hold the yarn. Laura says, “If Jose made them, anyone can make them!” 

The art of weaving is not only rewarding to the soul, but it is also educational. As early as the New Stone Age, people have been weaving fibers from the flax plant to make clothing. Weaving at The Cottage School starts as early as four years old. We offer these young students the opportunity to weave and only expect them to do “their best” (as with any other activity we do at the school).Neurological research shows that mobility and dexterity in the fine motor muscles, especially in the hand, stimulates cellular development in the brain, and so strengthens thinking.

Though there are looms that are sold commercially, they don’t usually hold the warp as well, making the activity a little bit frustrating for young children. (Warp is the yarn wound onto the loom in preparation for weaving.)  The big nails on The Cottage School Start Looms, allow the activity to be less frustrating by holding the warp very well.

If you have the time and some simple materials, (Some wood, big nails, and a staple gun), building your child a loom instead of buying it can be fun, diminishes consumerism and helps children understand that things can be made. 

We make weaving even simpler for beginners by letting the children use their fingers! Holding the Weft (yarn or fabric strips) with their fingers, they move it over and under each warp thread in one row and then under and over those threads in the next row. For beating the weft into place, beginners use their fingers instead of a comb.

The simpler the setup the more involvement children will experience and the more rewarding the activity will be!

Once the students have used these Cottage School Start Looms for one or two years, they move to a regular lap loom and later on to a vertical loom. 

Weaving builds self-esteem and brings joy to children and adults alike. 

DIY Cottage School Start Loom  (pictured on right)

Weaving at The Cottage School

Materials

Directions To build the Loom

  • Cut dowel into 2 pieces measuring 11 inches and 2 pieces measuring 8 inches
  • Create a rectangle frame with cut pieces and attach with wood glue
  • reenforce with a staple gun, two staples in each corner
  • evenly space 7 nails on either of the short sides and hammer into place

Preparing the Loom

  • Using your warp yarn, start by creating a slip knot looping it over an end nail
  • weave the string back and forth zigzagging from side to side
  • tie off the string at the last screw

  • Your child can now begin using their fingers to weave colored yarn or fabric strips over and under each warp thread in one row and then under and over those threads in the next row. For beating the weft into place, beginners use their fingers instead of a comb.

Enjoy!

To learn more visit www.thecottageschools.net

Photography is this post by Anne Katherine Photography

Weaving at The Cottage School

Weaving at The Cottage School

Weaving at The Cottage School