Sunday, July 31, 2011

John Bowman's new book

Olives and Pickles is holding a brilliant giveawa for you all who are looking for ways to enhance your child's abilities. The book "Early Learning Activities" by John Bowman is a fantstic resource for parents,   and teachers alike. You will find lots of illustrated activities, all using very practical learning materials and all easy to setup.Check it out on Olives and Pickles blog.

And if you are looking for a handbook relating to the Montessori method only, have a look at John Bowman's Montessori at Home Book on his website

 I think it is very interesting and will give people who are just starting the Montessori method at home a great boost, especially if they are feeling a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of info and ideas they can come across on the internet. Go on, have a look for yourself.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Help! I need your help... For some reason, I find it hard to post comments on some of your blogs!! It is as if my google account is not recognising me. So, at the moment, the only thing I can do is to add a comment on my own posts to thank you. Is there anybody out there who could help me with this problem? This is really annoying.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What's on our sensorial shelves for September?

Well, today I worked a little bit more in the classroom and I re-organise the materials in my sensorial corner. As you know now,  sensorial is a pre-academic area of the classroom that bridges Practical life with the other academic areas in the Montessori classroom (Math, Language, Cultural). Please refer to this post  to get more information on the benefits of the sensorial materials.  Again, to begin our new school year, I wanted to re-introduce the "old" kids to  the basics as well as lay the foundations of the sensorial area with the newcomers. I removed some items which were probably too advanced for the beginning of the year. We have 2 sensorial shelves in our classroom.

Here is the 1st shelf:

And the details:

Cylinder blocks

Knobless cylinders

Colour tablets

Not a Montessori item but brilliant for sensorialwork. As you can see, the child uses cards and needs to recreate the patternthey are copying.


Game of colours and shapes - patterning

Great game to differentiate left and right, up and below.
I forgot to take pictures of the top shelf. I have geometric jigsaws, a multi pieces cube & cylinders tray puzzle, a stackabe geometric tray puzzle and a pyramid.

Here is our second shelf: (it is placed right behing the first one)

Bionimal cube and touch boards

The brown stairs

I got this little game for 1 Euro at a Field day! Great game as the children have to match the colour and the texture with the picture.

I only put out one triangular box for the beginning

Peg boards

A simple jigsaw: matching the colour to the picture

Our popular little bears- classify by colour and by size

I don't know if you can see it on the left hand side of the1st shelf, but we also have our red rods in a basket. And on the left hand side of our 2nd shelf, you should be able to see our Pink Tower on a stand. Today, I placed some laminated cards I made on the shelf to be used in connection with the Tower. ANd my son had to try for himself.

This is when sensorial and maths overlap each other.  Great preparation for the decimal and number system.

So, what do you think? What have you got on your shelves at the beginning of the year?

Featured postin Living Montessori Now post studying clouds has been featured on Living Montessori Now. This is such a privilege and it feelslike I have been rewarded. Thank you Deb.  You can have a look for yourself  right here

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Don't miss on another great giveaway!

Here is another FANTASTIC giveaway for you all on Montessori Printshop .  There are 100 of their amazing 3 part card to win! So, what are you waiting for? Go on and enter your name !!! I know I have and I keep my fingers crossed! Imagine what I could do with all these cards!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Our classroom Calendar - Part 2

I finally finished my new calendar. Remember my last post on how I decided to review and update our class calendar? I added another cork board above it. A much smaller one. It is going to be used to focus on the current month, the season and on birthdays.

Again, I insist a lot on the passing of time in our classroom. I think it is very important for the children to be able to visualise where they are in time. One thing that always catch their attention is their birthday. They often ask me how far their birhday is. So in order for them to get the concept, I use month cards: they are colourful, attractive and their drawings represent a theme usually associated with the month in question. I have them up on the wall in chronological order. Above each card, I have placed the pictures of the children born in the month. 

Not that many photos yet... Wait that the school starts!!

In September for instance, I will take September card down and will place it above my calendar with the photos of each child whose birthday is coming soon. This leaves a gap on the wall, indicating how far we are gone in the year and how many months there are left til the end of the year or until their birthday.

What else do you do in your classroom  (or at home) to show your children the passing of time?

Madness Give Away!

I love giveaways and right now, Lori over at Montessori Moments is offering a giveaway:  the book "Montessori Madness"! This book has been reviewed all over the blogosphere! This is very interesting because this is Montessori from the point of view of a parent, not from an educator or practitioner. He is very enthusiastic about the whole theory.  I haven't been able to get my hands on the book yet so I DO hope I ' ll win. Check out it yourself on Lori's fantastic blog while you're there! Good luck.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Our new updated Practical Life area for September

Today, I concentrated on my Practical Life area.  I took all the trays off the shelves and thought hard about what I wanted to achieve. Basically, I came to realise that my goal for the beginning of the year is to have many activities out that are easy for my youngest children to complete successfully.  it is going to be alot for them to absorb when they arrive in our classroom (I am talking about the "newcomers") as they will be busy learning how to choose work, take it from the shelf to a table or the floor, complete the work and finally return it. It is quite a lot to digest for them and I usually spent the first 2 weeks or so showing them how to do it properly. So for the beginning of the year,  I needed to choose activities that "returning" children can complete without much adult help in order to increase their independence and confidence. Hopefuly this  will allow me and my assistant Rachel to spend the bulk of our time helping our new children learn the ground rules those first few weeks.

 Of course,  I will rotate materials on these shelves throughout the year.  However, I always have out increasingly difficult variations of pouring, spooning, beading and grasping activities for the entire year on these shelves.

So at the moment, this is what our little practical life area looks like:

And here are the details:

These are our frames (sorry, the picture is upside down!!)

Pouring activity with couscous. I got the jugs at a car boot sale the other day for 50cent (both!!)

Tongs and marbles. Great for little fingers (pre-writing exercise). And I got my cute little duck from Karen (Little Acorns)!! Thanks again Karen.

This exercise is brilliant for the small muscles of the hand and it teaches the concepts of right and left. Each bolts, washers and nuts are graduated in size which makes the whole activity a great mathematical and sensorial exercise.

Polishing exercise. We will be using Johnson's Cream (non-toxic). And isn't my litle brush cute..?

Using chopsticks with runner beans

Balancing game with Lola and Charlie

Opening, zipping, twisting, closing exercise

Using a dropper .. Great dexterity exercise..


Spooning round plastic vegetables using a larger spoon


More bolts exercise, and hand eye coordination activities

A simpe salad bowl with colourful pegs. Again hand eye coordination (pre-writing exercise) and a sensorial game too with the matching of colours.

Beading games. On the left, we are using large chunky wooden bits (flowers, fruits and vegies) for the little ones not used to beading. On the right, smaller beads for the more "experienced" preschoolers.

A great cutting exercise. The pieces of fruit and vegetables are joined together with a velcro. I got the game on

Pouring activity using a funnel and sand

Hammering activity

And finally,our playdough... Very popular

I still haven't finished sawing my 3 white squares of fabric which we will be using for our folding exercise. I will take a picture when I am done with them and add a quick post about them.  That's it for now though. Hope you like it.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Re-setting our Montessori maths centre

A key element of a Montessori education is the "prepared environment" as we talked about in this post. A lot of time and forethought goes into the prepared environment.  Because young children vary so much in their interests, skills, and confidence in themselves as learners, it only makes sense to design a learning environment that can easily accommodate those differences.  And Montessori education does just that. Next September, I have lots of little newcomers and a new group of "old ones". Their abilities are all different of course and most of them will not be ready for the activities the "leaving group" was able to perform during the last 2 or 3 months of school. Soooo, I have started revewing my classroom. I spent another couple of hours working in the classroom today.  My goals were to put away all the spring work that I had just left on the shelves since last May and prepare the maths corner.

I don't want to start the year with too many activities on the shelves to start for the simple reason that the chidren will not be able for most of it.  In fact, our  "newcomers" cannot really count up to 10 yet and most of their older peers are not able to recognise (nor write) numbers up to 10. So I put away our teens and tens boards, as well as our thousands/hundreds/tens units trays, our 100 board and our large number cards. Now, doing this is a little hard for me.  It just seems like too little on the shelves. Anyway, this is what our Montessori mathematical area looks like now for next September:

Here is a closer look at all the activities/exercises that are on our shelves:

Hanging beads 1-9

Cut-out numerals and counters

This is not a typical Montessori material but it is similar to the spindle box. The child must use the right amount of sticks. Another dimension is added to the exercise when using the 2 colours: blue for odd number and red for even numbers. This is new. I just got it a week ago and I can't wait to see the kids using it.

Our traditional sandpaper numbers which will be used in connection with our counting plastic teddy bears.

Spindle box

Counting and lacing button. Each carry a number and the children have to follow the instruction on the pattern cards you can see  above. Even if the children don't know which number they are actually picking (only at the very beginning of course,  because we will work on numeral recognition as we go along), this is a great way for them to visually get used to numerals.

Traditional wooden matching cards for the younger ones

A picture matching game for the older kids

Our geometrical shapes jigsaw (this is where sensorial area and maths area overlap!)

Our counting caterpillar puzzle. It helps the children practice with their counting and numerals.

A fun game encouraging early number skills

Of course, as the children are developing their skills, I will introduce more Montessori materials on our shelves. Following the various themes we study during a year, I like to create mathematical activities to go with the studies, to keep the children's interest and enthusiasm going. But what I have shown you above is basically what we will start with in September. One thing I forgot to take in picture is our set of  numerical rods which we use on a large mat beside the math shelving unit. The children will learn how to work with these rods as soon as September. Later on, I will introduce variations using the sandpaper numerals and then the cut-out numerals and counters. Keep in touch.