Category Archives: Montessori

Making Paint

Both MG and DG love painting. I’m not a huge fan of clearing up the mess, and it’s never really possible for them to fully clean the mess on their own, especially as it usually descends into an emergency bath moment…

Today while MG was at school I realised that I had a perfect activity for DG (now 2 years 7 months). I’d been letting the readymix paint get used up in order to replace the bottles with mixed powder paint that I’d bought “to save money” and we now had 5 empty bottles to fill. This is an excellent activity, and if properly planned (which of course I didn’t!) covers spooning, measuring, counting, pouring, funnelling, shaking – lots of motor skills for small children plus maths and science activities for older children. In Chez Chaos, what you usually end up with is mess!

In theory the process involves:

  • Unscrewing lid of powder paint jar (depending on age of child – I did this with DG because of the mess aspect)
  • Spooning powder into measuring cup (pouring from the powder jar was far too messy)
  • Pouring powder from measuring cup into funnel
  • Shaking or stirring to get powder from funnel into paint bottle
  • Counting number of measuring cups of powder required (our instructions said 2 parts powder to 1 part water but 3 parts powder to 1 part water made a better thickness for our use – with older children experimenting with consistancies would be great fun)
  • Measuring water and pouring into funnel
  • Screwing top onto paint bottle and shaking to mix the paint
  • Admire your work 🙂

Did I mention the mess? Whilst I was taking a picture of DG spooning, she accidentally knocked the bottle and funnel over (we should have got the powder in the bottle before measuring the next cupful) and the powder went everywhere…

An emergency bath was in order, but DG loves baths so was quite happy with that.

I’m linking this up with Montessori Monday – Yes, it’s Thursday but we’re chaotic 😆
Montessori Monday

High Frequency Words Learning Game

To commemorate over 1000 tweets and 250 followers on Twitter (wow!) I wanted to give something away. A physical something was never going to be an option, so I am sharing something I made for Mighty Girl’s “homework”.

Fortunately her school is not pushy with homework in Foundation Stage, and I’ve certainly not made her do anything but she has been getting small lists of ‘key words’ to learn by sight and sometimes she wants to move onto the next set of words so we work on them at home. She loves letter sounds and writing (see First Words) and I’d collected some Montessori materials from when I was planning to home ed so I combined the two to make a game to help cement the words in her head.

We have the small moveable alphabet, Sassoon font in red with blue vowels from Absorbent Minds Montessori and the key words from school were printed in Sassoon font too (it’s a good font for distinguishing b from d etc and easy to read). However, I expect that a wooden moveable alphabet isn’t something that most people own so I’ve modified the files slightly to include a printable moveable alphabet for the matching game. The size of the moveable alphabet and large word cards are to match the wooden small moveable alphabet (it’s not 100% accurate but very close.)

There are four files you can choose to download:
moveablealphabet.pdf – paper version of the moveable alphabet with red consonants and blue vowels. Usually there are 5 of each consonent and 10 of each vowel printed for a “complete” alphabet, to get this print the file 5 times (I’ve included y in red and blue as it can be both).
HFwords1.pdf – the first 22 high frequency “key words” that eldest has brought home from school to learn so far in large red and blue letters (can be flash cards, matching with moveable alphabet).
HFwords1wde.pdf – as above file, but the words are spaced out so that the paper moveable alphabet can be placed on top of the cards more easily.
HFwords1sml.pdf – the same 22 words in smaller black Sassoon font for more traditional “flash cards”, matching with the large word cards etc.

For durability, print onto card and laminate (and definitely don’t let your two year old drip water all over unlaminated paper copies :lol:) There are all sorts of games that can be played, the most obvious of which is probably matching the individual letters with the words. I usually set out three to five words and the exact letters needed for those words (to give “control of error” – there should be no letters left over when all are matched). MG knows almost all letter names and sounds so tries to read phonically for words she doesn’t know and can say the letter sounds as she matches.

The game MG made up that she likes to play is to have either the pile of small cards or big cards and give the other pile to whoever she’s playing with. We mix the cards up and see if we match. I add in questions like “What does yours say? What does mine say?” for words she knows or “You’ve got x and I’ve got y” if she’s not sure. If the “learning” bit is annoying her I stop it of course, it’s supposed to be fun! Seeing the words regularly, matching up different size word cards, creating words with the moveable alphabet and talking about the words (then recognising them in books when I’m reading to her) is cementing the words in her mind and she is happily memorising these words at her own pace.

For an idea of the Montessori method of introducing language, see Montessori Print Shop‘s Language Overview. MPS also offer lots of printables to support using the moveable alphabet, and their moveable alphabet file includes lesson plans, lower and upper case letters in three colour schemes and images of phonetic words to sound out. This file is also included in the MPS Montessori at Home materials bundle for an even more bargainous price, very useful if you want to follow some Montessori principles at home and get the Montessori At Home! book (which is fantastic!) No, I’m not on commission, I just like these 🙂

Montessori Monday

Work and School

I took voluntary redundancy at the end of May this year and here I am, less than 4 months later, back at the same organisation… It’s only for 8 days spread over 4 weeks and I did the first day today. In some ways, it was as if I never left. In other ways, everything is completely different. After one day I have a killer headache and although I do enjoy the work and am appreciating the change in routine from being a stay-at-home-mum, I don’t think I want to return to the ‘workforce’ just yet. I do realise I am fortunate to have the choice.

Mighty Girl started school last Wednesday, so has done nine school days now. Walking to school she says she doesn’t want to go and school is boring… When I collect her she says she’s loved the day and she wants to go back tomorrow! So far (early days I know) I am very happy with her school experience. I am not parenting my girls as well as I’d like to and having the break from each other is good for both myself and MG at present. I do miss her though.

On Tuesday it was Roald Dahl Day and everyone at MG’s school had to dress as a character from a Roald Dahl book. Erk, my first creative challenge. Fortunately I found an easy-looking idea for The Enormous Crocodile and we made her snappy croc arms together the night before.

Today was MG’s first day with before-school and after-school with her old nursery because I was at work. I left before drop-off time but Daddy said she was quite shy as no one else had arrived yet (I thought she’d be in the Casa before and after school but she was upstairs in the after-school area) but she was with people she knew and when we picked her up she was running and playing happily in the garden with her friends.

Destructo Girl has been sad that her big sister has been going to school so I sold nursery to her telling her she was going to school. She had three one hour settling in sessions as it had been three months since they were last there (MG had one one hour settling session) and generally screamed at being left but was okay during the session if a bit unsure. However, her first full day she completely loved. Daddy said there were screams at dropping off but the IC (infant community) staff said it was as if she never left – she knew where to choose materials and put them back and she joined in with everything. She was also playing happily in the garden when we collected them and chattered away happily about her day at school, singing songs. It’s made me realise that I’m not really doing enough with her. She loves singing and joining in the actions and she had that at nursery but I don’t do it at home. I must do a ‘circle time’ with her. She’s always been the one to get on with things happily while MG took all the attention but now she has one to one time with me I really should use it better. One of the things I really want to do is start some Montessori ‘tot school’ work at home, I should start with this Montessori Minute post from 1+1+1=1. Or this post on setting up a Montessori toddler environment from Living Montessori Now.

In four weeks I shall be back to being a stay-at-home mum again, I’m not sure how I’ll feel about that. I’m hoping this brief return to work will remind me why I left in the first place. And maybe the structure of a work day will influence a structure into all our days and a little less chaos 😆

Montessori Print Shop Giveaway From 1+1+1=1

Have I mentioned I like Montessori Print Shop? If you follow my twitter, you might notice I retweet them a lot! I forget when I first stumbled upon the site, probably via a yahoo group post on a Montessori list. To start with, I downloaded some of the free printables. Then I purchased a couple of the other printables when they were on offer. Then I bought files that were so much cheaper than wooden materials (and just as good for home use) and a teaching manual. More recently, the site has expanded its information and has a list of some of the best Montessori oriented blogs around, books worth reading, an idea of Montessori ‘curriculum’ (e.g. Maths), guidance on using Montessori principles at home, Montessori terms and theory in bitesized chunks, how to prepare and use their printables and not forgetting the blog full of activities, ideas, information and giveaways. Montessori Print Shop are very generous with their giveaways.

I have not been asked to write this post, I have not been given anything to write this, I’ve not even ever won a giveaway! I just wanted to share a resource I find really useful (even though I don’t utilise what I’ve learnt as much as I want to!) and share a fantastic giveaway.

Homeschool blog 1+1+1=1 is hosting a giveaway for the entire Montessori Print Shop catalogue: almost 1000 files. I’m not entirely sure I’d know what to do with them all, but I’d certainly have a go: my girls will love helping with the laminating and cutting 😆

I think this is a fantastic resource and a great giveaway. Click here to enter (but please let me win!) 😆

Montessori Online Resources

Some time ago, I started to create a mini blog / site with a variety of Montessori links and info. But my bookmarks kept growing and growing and I had no time to organise them. Other sites have already done the same (and better) so I shall link to them instead 😆

About Montessori from Montessori Print Shop. Plus lots more information under the different menu headings. “Montessori Theory” is a great place to get an understanding for Montessori philosopny and “Montessori Lessons” for an idea of scope and sequence.

Free Montessori Materials
Free Montessori Materials Online – from Living Montessori Now (including free 3-6 Geography Album from A Montessori Marketplace)
The Little List – directory of free printables, DIY materials, curriculum (albums and scope and sequence) etc

Montessori Blogs
What Did We Do All Day? – extensive, updated Montessori Blog list (and DIY materials links)
Montessori Print Shop Favourite Blogs – a very good place to start!
50 must-read Montessori Blogs (some now obsolete)

Free Albums
There’s a few more albums not on the links above that I had collected:
Meg McElwee’s 3-6 Albums (Passwords:- Practical Life and Theory: pl101; Sensorial: sens789; Language: lang456; Mathematics: math123) If this shouldn’t be posted, let me know and I’ll delete but I got it from a public place originally…
Wikisori Albums
Mid America Montessori Teacher Training 6-9 Albums
Cultivating Dharma 6-9 Albums
Great Lessons 3-part cards (sorry, I can’t remember who created these)
Free Printables
Montessori for Learning
Montessori Print Shop
Montessori Materials
Montessori for Everyone
All these Yahoo! groups have a large number of free resources in their files sections:
Montessori Materials Makers
Montessori by Hand
Playschool 6

Maria Montessori’s Writing
Full Books Online
The Montessori Method (Celebration of Women Writers)
Dr Montessori’s Own Handbook (Project Gutenberg)
Spontaneous Activity in Education (Project Gutenburg)
Chapters Online
The Absorbent Mind (Moteaco)
Basic Ideas of Montessori’s Educational Theory (Moteaco)
The Child in the Family (Moteaco)
From Childhood to Adolescence (Moteaco)
The Discovery of the Child (Moteaco)
Education for a New World (Moteaco)
The Formation of Man (Moteaco)
What You Should Know About Your Child (Moteaco)
To Educate the Human Potential (Moteaco)
Lectures Online
The California Lectures of Maria Montessori, 1915 (Moteaco)
How It All Happened (1942) (Moteaco)

Other Useful Links
Virtual Montessori – online versions of several Montessori materials (e.g. 100 board, small bead frames, pythagoras board, synonyms)
Montessori Bells – online version of the bells
Edupic – royalty-free pictures that could be used for making 3-part cards, all sorts of subjects

Montessori Madness! again!

Lori from Montessori MOMents blog is offering the Montessori Madness! book by Trevor Eissler in a giveaway. The rest of her blog is well worth reading too! Click here for a direct link to the giveaway.

See my previous post on why this book is worth buying. And because it’s so fab, here’s the video again:

Montessori Madness!

I first read about Montessori before I had any children or had started planning to have children and was ‘sold’ on the philosophy from the start. The more I read, the more involved in Montessori education I want to be.

Last week, I saw this video for the first time:

Ever since, I’ve wanted to share it with everyone I bump into. Trevor Eissler’s book, Montessori Madness is being offered in a worldwide giveaway by the fantastic Montessori Print Shop (load of info on their blog and site on use of Montessori principles, as well as printables that reduce the cost of buying materials that aren’t needed in a home environment). If the contents are anything like the video, it looks like a book I’ll be gently lending to all the parents I know (after I’ve devoured it myself) 😉

To enter their giveaway, click here.

My answer to the question Why is the best product in the world (Montessori Education) so poorly and timidly marketed? How can we change this? is: I think one of the problems is that anyone can use the word ‘Montessori’ without really knowing what it represents. When I told other parents that I was thinking of home educating using Montessori philosophy, many of the comments were along the lines that it’s very prescriptive (certain materials used in certain ways) or that Montessori ‘hated imaginative play’ or that it’s just for pre-schoolers. In the UK, we have an early years framework that requires play based learning until age 6 with children free to choose activities, so those parents who are aware of Montessori also think this is ‘the same’ as Montessori. Montessori schooling is considered an elite choice, so many don’t even think to look into it – and that’s from the small sub-set of parents who look into any alternative to State education for their children.

It seems strange that Montessori education should be such a ‘hard sell’ but I think sadly it is to do with cases where the word ‘Montessori’ has just been added to a school run by people with only a vague idea of what the philosophy is about. It seems like the connection between MMR and autism – there’s no link but people think it’s there because of media exposure; Montessori and hot-housing seem to be linked inextricably in people’s minds. The solution? I have no idea, but I think Trevor Eissler’s video is a very good step in giving the world a bite-sized introduction to what Education could be like.

But on thinking more, I wish I’d added that parents need to be made more aware of alternatives to state education, and that alternatives are not ‘hippy’ or ‘out there’ or just being alternate for the sake of it. How much media coverage is there on “X% of school/college leavers can’t <insert basic skill here>”? I don’t think the media is helping anything but instead of blaming schools, teachers,  parents, ‘the youth of today’ maybe more debate on the value of testing, tables, standardisation etc should be in the mainstream so that there are a variety of educational choices?