HOTM Blog Hop- Homeschooling Montessori Wrap Up and Giveaway!

Whew!  We made it!

I’m so glad you joined me on this journey of Montessori ideas and inspiration.  There are certainly many others who are more qualified than I am, and I am honored that you spent time visiting during this Blog Hop.  Maria Montessori’s discoveries are first and foremost about helping children to grow to be their best selves, to reach their full potential as individuals- academically, socially, and spiritually, and to contribute to their world in a significant and fulfilling way.  I love the Montessori philosophy and hope I’ve been able to convey some of my excitement to you.
I am please to offer to one of my readers this Mystery Bag.  My kids have always loved working with this set, and I have to say that I just adore the smoothness and quality of the wooden pieces.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post.  For an extra entry, subscribe to my blog, or follow me on twitter (I just joined up last week, so I’m pretty lonely so far!) and let me know in separate comments that you’ve done so.  I’ll choose a winner at random on Sunday evening at 8 pm.
And be sure to visit these other Blog Hoppers for this one last day!!

HOTM Blog Hop- Montessori beyond preschool

Welcome to 10 Days of Montessori!

Today I am pleased to welcome a guest contributor- Lisa Nolan, licensed 
Montessori educator and now homeschooler.  Lisa also has her own Montessori program offered through her websites.  Be sure to visit her site and check around for some wonderful information and advice.  Lisa is sharing today about the Montessori method extended through the next plane of development, the 6-12 year old child.

The Montessori Elementary Child
The 6 to 12 year old child has a mind that is reasoning, abstracting and imagining, according to Maria Montessori. When the child turns 6 years of age, the stage of the absorbent mind (which lasts from birth to age six) is gone and the stage of the reasoning mind begins. Physically, the six year old loses his baby teeth, and grows taller and thinner like a beanstalk, gone is the preschooler.
The elementary child that emerges has a strong “herd instinct” and very much wants to be a part of a group of children his own age. If a family is home-schooling, this is a good time to involve your 6 to 12 year old in activities outside of the home: Cub or Girl Scouts for unity, a swim or sports team will help them a lot learn about team world, cooperation and discipline, that’s why we love sport teams, and we get everything we need for it at top9rated, we know that kids tend to get sore from sports but that’s something we don’t worry about since we bought a muscle recovery machine for our home. It was recommended to us from the healthy usa site, it’s a site about fitness and everything you need to know about nutrition.
Another activities could be Bible class or group church activities, art or music classes, or nature groups in your neighborhood and local community, as well as connect socially with other homeschoolers.
The emerging elementary child seeks adventure and looks for “acts of courage” in other people, including people in fiction, movies, the news, the local community, sports, and comic books. This is a good time to introduce Mythology to your child.
This “age of reason and of values” creates in the 6 to 12 year old child a strong interest in religion and law, in right and wrong.
This is also considered the “why?” period: In the previous stage of the absorbent mind, the world and everything in it was experienced sensorially, but now this is not enough. The elementary child wants to know what, when, where, how, why, and why not.
This is also the stage when the 6 to 12 year olds learn about life outside the home and around the world, and out and into the universe. Subjects like geography, history, culture, art and astronomy can be introduced and expanded upon.
It is the time when he learns to respect God and Mankind. The child of this period can explore and experience the outside world and community as part of a larger group. He learns about acceptance, loyalty, discipline, winning, and losing.
The Montessori educational materials are still sensorial materials which give him concrete experiences and leads to abstraction; but he can no longer enjoy the freedoms he had in the pre-school stage. He does not have freedom of choice to work or not to work. Instead, this is the time to “perfect his tools of reading and writing and using time constructively.” His choice thus becomes what kind of challenging works to do.
No more does the elementary child have the freedom to work as long as he wants to with the Montessori activities. Now he has to complete a project. Whatever he chooses to do, gets finished.

Lisa Nolan

Here is another post from Lisa about this age group:

Is it too late to start Montessori?

Thank you, Lisa!

Tomorrow I’m giving away this geometric solids mystery bag.  
Be sure and visit!  I’ve enjoyed sharing my 
Montessori experiences with all of you!

Be sure to visit the other ladies taking part in the blog hop!  There’s only one day left!

10 days of socialization for mom | The Homeschool Chick
10 days of classical education | Milk and Cookies
10 days of large families | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of special needs | Special Needs Homeschooling
10 days of struggling learners | Homeschooling the Chaotic Family
10 days of homeschooling girls | Homegrown Mom
10 days of homeschool enrichment | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of building a spiritual legacy | Mommy Missions
10 days of frugal homeschooling |The Happy Housewife
10 days of Charlotte Mason | Our Journey Westward
10 days of unschooling | Homeschooling Belle
10 days of organization | Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom
10 days of getting started | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of homeschooling boys | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of homeschooling Montessori |  Fruit in Season
10 days of preschool |  Delightful Learning

HOTM Blog Hop- What, where and how?

Welcome to Day 8 of 10 Days of Homeschooling Montessori!

I’m glad you’re here!

To see the rest of the series, click the button on my sidebar.

What do I choose?

Where do I get it?

How do I store it?

Now that I’ve given an overview of the Montessori philosophy and the categories of work, as well as some basic “how to’s”, it’s time to get some links and pictures out there so you can sink your teeth in.
What follows is my way of doing things, and it is certainly not the best way, I’m sure.  It works for us, though I can’t say I ever feel completely organized.  We have so many things that we’ve collected over the years, some that are used often and some that I could probably do without.  Here is the chart I use to plan each week.  I do not fill every box, and often leave the works up for 2-3 weeks at a time.
Here is a list of non-Montessori items I use often.  You’d be amazed how creative you can be with a good collection of random materials:
  • little glass jars and bowls, spoons, tongs, and ladles from Montessori Services
  • counter-type manipulatives such as shells, stones, glass bead, plastic beads, and buttons.  I’ve gotten most of these from craft stores, usually in the dollar bins.
  • trays, baskets and sectioned plates (you can get these also at Montessori Services)
  • stickers, especially alphabet or number stickers, from scrapbook sections of craft stores
  • my awesome laminator
  • a good laser printer, and I often print materials on cardstock and then laminate them
  • pattern blocks, cuisenaire rods, tangrams
  • various games, dice, etc.
  • pom poms, pipe cleaners, silk flowers, etc.
  • stationery, stamps, writing supplies
Here are some wonderful websites and blogs that I use for inspiration, or to purchase materials:
Our schoolroom space:
These are the shelves that my husband made, along with a small table and chairs, 
and a large, low, wood table that the kids kneel around to do work.
Here is the left side of that space where I have plastic drawer organizers
for the young ones’ work.  The drawers are labeled with their names.  I also use the little
wooden Ikea drawer unit for crayons, pencils, colored pencils and markers.  The drawers come completely out and the kids can take an entire drawer to work with.

Our schoolroom also has these cubes from Target where we store puzzles
legos and other building toys, and educational games.  Don’t mind the poster
that is falling down in the back.  🙂 
Our circle time area has….circles!  These little circle carpets are from
Ikea and go a long way toward keeping everyone in their own space.  
You can see our calendar board.  I got many ideas for calendar time from the creative ladies at 1+1+1=1
We got this Antonio set from Ikea and love it.  We got the frame, the wire shelves, 
and a few sectioned plastic bins to go inside them.  
Our antique book case which holds all of my trays, baskets, pitchers, glass jars, tongs, spoons, 
funnels, and all sorts of other random things great for Practical Life work.

More Antonio shelves from Ikea.

Just a plain over-the-door shoe organizer for scissors, glue, yarn, dry erase markers, etc.
Please feel free to email me with any questions.  I am not an expert on Montessori (and I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night) but I can offer some tips based on how we have incorporated Montessori methods into our home.
Tomorrow Lisa Nolan will be guest posting about the philosophy of 
Montessori education for older children.
And Friday we end the Blog Hop with a giveaway!  
Be sure to stop back and enter!

And visit the rest of the blog hop ladies here:

HOTM Blog Hop- Montessori: Cultural Activities

Welcome to day 7 of 10 Days of Homeschooling Montessori!
To see the rest of the series:

Montessori cultural activities can encompass a wide array of works: art, music, geography, science, etc.  It is a way to connect the children with not only the culture and social environment that they are familiar with, but also to connect them with other cultures and societies.  Here is a great post on cultural activities that includes links and videos.
In our homeschool, much of our geography, art, music and science is done together with the older children.  We read a lot of living books about different subjects, do science experiments and art activities, and interact with each other as we experience the world.  I do include some cultural activities into the preschool Montessori works, but they are probably about 10-15% of the total amount of works I use.
Here are some ideas for the different areas of cultural activities:

Botany puzzle
  • Assembling a flashlight.  Have all of the parts out and available, and let the child explore the right way to put it together so that the light comes on.  
  • Circuit activity. There are different kits you can buy with simple circuits to make.
balance with weights and small items to explore
  • Balance and weights of different kinds.
  • Botany or Zoology puzzles
  • Sorting plant and/or animal figures or pictures into categories
    • living and non-living
    • land and water animals
    • deciduous and coniferous trees
    • vertebrates and invertebrates
  • A nature table or tray to display things the child has collected.
  • Sorting and identifying shells or stones (with an identification book)
  • scrubbing pennies- toothbrush, water and white vinegar, dirty old pennies
Penny scrubbing

Geography:  There are two branches of geography explored in Montessori: physical and political
  • Puzzle maps with map templates for self correction.  We actually have all of these- a gift from the grandparents- but they are pricey to have them all.  The kids love them though, so you might consider one per year as you study different continents.
Geography cabinet with control maps
  • land and water models– I love these, though we don’t have them.  You could make them with salt dough and some foil trays.  Here are cards to print and laminate.
  • sandpaper globe
  • climate, continent, country books and cards (you can find many of these at Montessori Services.  Just click on their Geography and Culture section on the left sidebar.  There are many, many things to choose from.)
  • children and cultures from around the world (we like the books Children Just Like Me, and Hungry Planet)
  • world flags– this is a fun activity to be used with a book of world flags like this one.

  • color mixing with colored water in dropper bottles
  • any craft or open-ended art material
    • do-a-dot markers
    • colored pencils
    • markers
    • stamp and ink pad
    • bendaroos or wikki stix (can also be used for language activities to make letters)
    • paints
  • cutting and pasting into a collage
  • Playdoh or modeling clay
  • leaf rubbing

  • My husband and I are classically-trained musicians by trade, so there is always music in our home and school.  We have a CD player in the schoolroom and I choose a different CD to feature each week.  Some composers I would suggest for school time are Palestrina, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Handel, or Haydn.  Of course, there are many others, but this is a good place to start. 
  • I don’t often have music works out, since they can be distracting, but during circle time we sing songs, including simple rounds, and sometimes bring out percussion instruments to accompany ourselves.  Musician’s Friend is a wonderful place to get reasonably-priced children’s percussion instruments.  It is a huge site, so take some time to explore it.  Some fun ones to create activities with are resonator bells, diatonic bell set, and boomwhackers.

Tomorrow I will post a whole bunch of links to resources, books and organizational supplies that have helped me in creating a Montessori environment, as well as pictures of my organizational system.  And on Thursday I have a guest poster who will share with you about the next plane of development- the 6-9 year old child.

Thanks for visiting today!  Make sure to check out the homeschool posts of the other ladies in the Blog Hop:
Remember to come back on Friday for a giveaway of a Montessori Mystery Bag!

HOTM Blog Hop- Montessori: Language

Welcome back to 10 Days of Homeschooling Montessori!
We begin our second week learning about 
Montessori activities for Language.
Here are the previous posts in this series:


Friday’s giveaway winner of the HOTM Online Conference ticket is commenter #1, Leisure Treasure.  Congrats!  I’ll be contacting you by email!


As with Mathematics, many of the sensorial and practical life activities in Montessori prepare the child for formal language work.  While the child is sorting buttons, he is using fine motor skills necessary for writing.  As she grips the knobbed cylinders with a three-finger pincer grasp, the child is preparing for pencil work as she gets older.  Tweezers and tongs help to strengthen little hands.  We mustn’t discount the overlap in activities such as these and rush formal work in reading and writing.  Children show natural sensitive periods for developmental milestones, and we as their parents should be looking to take advantage of those times.
I love the language methods and materials of Montessori.  There is a strong phonics base in Montessori, using tactile materials, and a clear progression of work toward fluent reading and writing.  In Dr. Montessori’s classroom children would often be able to write neatly in cursive by the time they were six years old.  While I don’t introduce cursive that early into our homeschool, I do use a lot of prewriting activities and print practice to help with coordination and fluidity.  I also create other activities that might not be strictly Montessori by being creative with the materials.
Language activities (for both reading and writing):
  • Metal insets (I actually use shapes from our Geometry Cabinet): Have the child take a tray with a shape and frame of his choice, a piece of paper (you can get square papers to match the frame size here), and 2 or 3 colored pencils.  Have the child remove the shape from the frame and trace both the shape and the frame with his finger.  Then he can trace within the frame with one pencil, and around the shape with the other.  Next steps with this material would include creating patterns in the shape (stripes, zigzags, full coloring inside, etc.), or even using more than one inset to create artwork by overlapping shapes and colors.  Every part of each activity should be demonstrated very deliberately (as in this video).
Metal insets
  • Sandpaper letters: The sandpaper letters may be one of the most recognizable materials for the Montessori method.  Here is a post on making your own.  There are different ways to use the letters for reading and writing.  Here are some ideas:
    • Take out a few distinct lowercase sandpaper letters at a time (not b and d for example).    Make sure the child is sitting facing the letter the same way you are.  Show one to the child, trace the letter (exactly the way you would write it) with two fingers while saying the sound of the letter.  Repeat, and then let the child try it.  Do the same with the other letters.
    • Use a few sandpaper letters along with a number of small objects that start with the sounds of the letters you chose.  Trace the letters and make the sounds of each, one and a time, then encourage the child to say the name of each object and place it next to the letter it starts with.  If your child does not yet recognize the beginning sounds of words, use it as a demonstration lesson and you exaggerate the beginning sounds and put them in their proper places.
    • Choose one lowercase letter from the box along with a piece of lined paper (with appropriately-spaced lines for a young child) and a pencil, trace it exactly as you would write it, then write it on the paper. Repeat, and then have the child do it.  Emphasize the correct direction and movement.
  • Moveable alphabet:  I absolutely love the moveable alphabet.  If I were to only have one actual Montessori-designed item, it would be this one.  You certainly can use other letters (Lakeshore Learning has nice magnet ones), but the feel and look of the wooden ones, with different colored vowels and consonants, just make me happy, and the kids are really attracted to them too.
    • Take out the moveable alphabet with your child, and a mat, and begin with a word that is easy to sound out, like “cat”.  Sound out each letter (don’t use the letter names) slowly to isolate them.  Then remove the first letter and replace it with another, like “m”.  Again sound out each letter carefully and slowly.  Give your child a few other beginning consonants to choose between and encourage her to sound out the new word she made.
    • In working with the moveable alphabet you could also use small objects that are easy to sound out, or even pictures of phonetically simple words.  I’ve used these noun and verb cards, and bought this set of mini language objects.  I usually choose 6-8 items (words with V-C-V combinations like “pig”, “jet”, “bug”, etc.) and as they get better at creating the words, I introduce words with consonant blends like “clip”, “tree”, or “nest”, or consonant digraphs like “ship” or “chop”.  The child will choose an item, say its name, then begin to isolate sounds and choose from the alphabet box until the word is spelled out on the mat.
Moveable alphabet with small objects
  • Other language activities I like to use include:
Practicing cursive with salt tray
Pin pricking leaf template on cork board
      • salt tray, for practicing writing letters (my daughter, who is in 2nd grade, has been using this for cursive practice, as well as our preschoolers for print practice)
      • pin-pricking with a large thumbtack (encourages proper pencil grip)
Magnetic letters with small objects to spell
upper and lower case matching
    • rhyming sounds with items or cards
    • word ladders
    • letter bingo or other similar grid games
    • upper case and lower case matching (I have used glass beads and written on them with a sharpie to use along with a laminated sheet)
    • letter magnets to spell words on a magnetic white board (dry erase paint kit
    • alphabet boxes (like these– LOVE them!)
    • these alphabet bean bags– there are tons of ways to use them!
    • grammar symbols (we’ve just recently gotten these and have begun to use them with these downloadable cards)
    • magnetic poetry kit with magnetic white board
    • vocabulary building, story telling with felt boards and characters
words written on dixie cups, bananagrams letters inside
My First Magnetic Poetry Kit with magnetic white board

Get more inspiration by visiting these other awesome ladies:




At the end of the week I’ll be giving away this mystery bag to start your Montessori materials collection. Be sure to come back and enter on Friday!

HOTM Blog Hop- Montessori: Mathematics

Welcome to 10 Days of Homeschooling Montessori, Day 5!
(And a giveaway!)

Today completes our first week of Montessori and we will explore the math materials and methods that have such a wonderful reputation for creating solid understanding of mathematical principles.
To find the previous posts:
*Be sure to scroll to the end of this post for a giveaway, and then come back next week for another giveaway on 
Friday, February 18th!*

“By age four, the child is ready for the language of mathematics. A series of preparations have been made. First the child has established internal order. Second, the child has developed precise movement. Third, the child has established the work habit. Fourth, the child is able to follow and complete a work cycle. Fifth, the child has the ability to concentrate. Sixth, the child has learned to follow a process. Seventh, the child has used symbols. All of this previous development has brought the child to a maturity of mind and a readiness of work.” 

This topic is so huge, one post cannot do it justice.  But I’ll try to outline the basics and give you a jumping off point for future exploration.  Here we go!
Montessori math is based upon a very clear progression of concrete understanding by the child.  Many of the materials in the Sensory area begin preparing the preschooler for mathematics by the presence of the number ten: ten cubes in the pink tower, ten cylinders in each set of knobless cylinders, ten red rods, etc.  Our whole number system is based on the number ten, so presenting it in the environment before a child even understands why allows the familiarity of the concept to sink in long before beginning any kind of formal math.
Bead stair
Ocean Animal Race 
The first thing for a child to learn is one-to-one correspondence, or the idea that, when counting, each item gets its own number.  There are many activities to create which will help to reinforce this concept:
  • Use index cards with the numbers 0-9 and pipe cleaners.  Have your child line up the cards in a row and put the number of pipe cleaners beneath each card.  Make sure you have 45 pipe cleaners exactly.  The child will be able to self-correct- if there are any pipe cleaners left, or he runs out, he will know there was an error. (The numbers 0-9 are all the numbers there are in our decimal system, if you think about it.  Above 9, you move into the “tens” column with a “1” and a “0”.)
  • Use little terra cotta pots, labeled with a sharpie with the numbers 0-9, and 45 glass beads.
  • Print out a blank Hundred Chart, get a 10-sided die with the numbers 0-9 on it, and 100 buttons.  Have your child roll the die and place the buttons on the chart (in an orderly progression, left to right, top to bottom) and continue until she’s filled up the chart.  Make it a game and have two play at the same time; the one who fills the chart first wins.
  • I’ve always loved these Grid Games.  I laminate them and use a variety of counters.
  • Create a table with 10 squares and give your child a mini stamp and stamp pad.  Label each box of the table from 0-9 and have them stamp the amount in each box.
  • My kids love this Ocean Race game.  They roll a die and cross off one of the numbers that was rolled.  The first number to be rolled ten times, wins.
  • Here are some more counting ideas.
  • Use the Montessori bead stair.
Number rods

Once the child has learned to consistently count well, it’s time to introduce the teen numbers, and the decimal system.  The Montessori bead materials are wonderfully designed and beautiful to look at.  They provide everything needed to learn the decimal system, skip counting, squares, and multiplication tables in a concrete, hands-on way.  You can make the bead materials yourself with pony beads and pipe cleaners.  Make sure, however, that each number is a different color, 1-9.  You can see a post about making the materials with wire and beads, and also see which colors are for which bead number here at Homemade Montessori.

Lessons are designed to identify each step in learning about numbers in a very simple and non-frilly way.  You can see a video example of a teen bead lesson here.

Introducing the decimal system is just a small step further, and a Montessori child who has already been familiar with numbers 0-9 and one-to-one correspondence, is ready to learn that when you have ten of something, you trade the ones in for a ten.  Then when you have ten tens, you trade them in for one hundred, and trade ten hundreds in for one thousand.  The bead materials make this very clear in the way they are created since ten ones wired together is a ten, ten tens wired together is a hundred, etc.  Laid out in this fashion, and with the concrete, hands-on materials, the decimal system is easy for even a 4 or 5 year old to grasp.

Here is a video example of the Montessori Bank Game.   We have some of these materials (ones, tens, hundreds, thousands) but not the exact Montessori materials.  These are a very important addition to your homeschool, so I would suggest having these in your home.  There’s really nothing like being able to manipulate these tangible examples of an abstract concept such as our decimal system.

Once you have worked with your child and he understands the ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands and how they function together to create larger numbers, the next step is addition, and then subtraction.

Fraction insets (I traced them and had my son match them)

Hundred board (I put ten tiles in each little pot to make it easier to complete)

Hundred bead chain with labels

Here are some other math activities:

  • We have this hundred board which you can make yourself using any number of different materials.  It is wonderful for skip counting, ordering numbers, etc.
  • Pattern blocks: make hexagons using triangles, rhombuses, and trapezoids, use these templates, printed and laminated.
  • Fraction insets for exploring parts of a whole.  You can also find plastic ones cheaper here.
  • Number rods for number comparison and adding.
  • I love the book, “Games for Math” by Peggy Kaye.  I find that the games I play with my children go a long way in reinforcing what we are exploring in our Montessori time.  There are many great games for working with the decimal system, for example.
Whew!  I’m pooped!  I know that’s a lot to take in, but more research and reading will help you get more familiar with the wonderful math methods of Montessori education.  You can read a more detailed post about Montessori Math here.

Monday we’ll look at the Language materials and learn about how to use them.

And now for the giveaway!!!

If you’re not going to the HOTM Online Conference, you should be!

I’m giving away one ticket to the conference to a random reader and commenter today.  To enter, simply leave a comment on this post telling me what interests you most about the Montessori Method.  I will draw a name at random on Sunday, February 13th before I go nighty night.

Don’t forget to visit the rest of the blog hop ladies today!

10 days of socialization for mom | The Homeschool Chick
10 days of classical education | Milk and Cookies
10 days of large families | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of special needs | Special Needs Homeschooling
10 days of struggling learners | Homeschooling the Chaotic Family
10 days of homeschooling girls | Homegrown Mom
10 days of homeschool enrichment | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of building a spiritual legacy | Mommy Missions
10 days of frugal homeschooling |The Happy Housewife
10 days of Charlotte Mason | Our Journey Westward
10 days of unschooling | Homeschooling Belle
10 days of organization | Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom
10 days of getting started | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of homeschooling boys | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of homeschooling Montessori |  Fruit in Season
10 days of preschool |  Delightful Learning

HOTM Blog Hop- Montessori: Sensorial

Welcome!  Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you find some ideas and information that may help you in your homeschooling journey. 
You can find the previous posts here:

Montessori saw the importance of the manipulation of objects to aid the child in better understanding his environment. Through the child’s work with Sensorial material, the child is helped to make abstractions, he is helped in making distinctions in his environment, and the child is given the knowledge not through word of mouth, but through his own experiences.” ~Montessori Primary Guide

Sensorial materials are designed to allow children to experience with the senses certain qualities in isolation, and then use what they learn to better understand their surroundings.  For young children, who are not yet abstract thinkers, all learning is precipitated by use of the senses.  Montessori works allow a child to explore differences in size, shape, weight, texture, color, loudness or softness, and more.  
There are many Montessori materials that can be recreated well at home for less money, though there are a few Montessori-designed materials that have no equal and would be a wonderful learning addition to your home (my top suggestions are starred below).
Sensorial works:

Montessori-designed materials that are hard to duplicate-
pink tower
  • Pink Tower– 10 pink cubes which are graduated in size (you could use cube nesting blocks for a similar exercise without the expense)
  • Brown Stair– 10 brown rectangular prisms, graduated in size
  • Knobbed Cylinders– four sets of cylinders each in a wooden base; each set graduated by diameter, height, or both
  • *Knobless Cylinders– four sets of colored cylinders; each set graduated by diameter, height or both; you can buy some extension cards here for a modest price
  • *Geometric Solids– a box of wooden solids including sphere, cube, rectangular prism, triangle- and square-based pyramids, ovoid, ellipsoid, triangular prism, cylinder, and cone
  • Geometric Metal Insets or *Geometric Cabinet– for exploration of shapes; used also for stenciling as a fine motor activity that is a precursor to writing
Other sensorial materials-
color tablets made from paint samples

  • Red Rods– 10 rods graduated in length, from 1 dm. to 1 m. (can be homemade).
  • Color Tablets- I’ve made my own from paint samples at the hardware store.  Get two of each color, cut them apart and laminate them.  The child then either matches them, or orders them by shades
  • Mystery Bag– this one is very well made and affordable and we love the feel of these little smooth solids, but I have also just used a fabric bag and put household objects and small toys inside
  • Sandpaper Tablets- use different gradations of sandpaper, two of each, and have your child match them by touch only
  • Matching fabrics by touch- corduroy, velvet, fabric with little bumps, satin, denim, etc.
  • Sound cylinders– make them with film canisters or other similar-sized containers; fill with rice, sand, shells, confetti, etc. and have two of each kind to match
  • Weight discrimination by touch alone (blindfolded)- use stones, or other like items and have your child put them in order by weight alone
  • Sorting- by color (buttons, premade manipulatives, etc), shape (shells, coins, etc.; use a blindfold), size, or other characteristic
  • Pattern blocks and templates
  • Scent bottles- glass herb jars or other small jar can be filled with different items for olfactory exploration
  • Taste exploration- with eye-dropper bottles filled with different tastes to discriminate
  • Sensory bin- great for sorting, tactile exploration, etc.  Here are some fabulous ideas.
sorting glass beads by touch alone

fall sensory bin with various tongs, bowls, and spoons

sorting a button and bead sensory bin

Many of the above materials are even more challenging when the child is blindfolded!

You’ll notice that the works on the floor are all done on a mat.  I purchased towel bath mats and we keep them rolled up in a basket.  One of our first lessons in getting out a work was to demonstrate and practice how to unroll and reroll a mat.  This mat becomes the child’s work space and the other children know not to interfere with or step on someone’s mat.

You can find some great pictures of sensorial works at Mont Home.  My Montessori Journey has a good post on Sensorial works as well.  Montessori at Home has a trio of posts on making your own Montessori materials.  Click on the link and look on the sidebar for the others.

I’ll be giving away one of the sensorial works that we love at our house next Friday, February 18th.  Be sure to come back and enter to win!

Visit these other brilliant homeschooling ladies at these Blog Hopping places:

10 days of socialization for mom | The Homeschool Chick
10 days of classical education | Milk and Cookies
10 days of large families | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of special needs | Special Needs Homeschooling
10 days of struggling learners | Homeschooling the Chaotic Family
10 days of homeschooling girls | Homegrown Mom
10 days of homeschool enrichment | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of building a spiritual legacy | Mommy Missions
10 days of frugal homeschooling |The Happy Housewife
10 days of Charlotte Mason | Our Journey Westward
10 days of unschooling | Homeschooling Belle
10 days of organization | Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom
10 days of getting started | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of homeschooling boys | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of homeschooling Montessori |  Fruit in Season
10 days of preschool |  Delightful Learning

HOTM Blog Hop- Montessori: Practical Life

Welcome!  I’m glad you’re here today!
I have been posting on how to make the Montessori Method work in your homeschool, especially emphasizing the preschool years.  You can find the first two posts here:
Montessori works are divided into five basic categories: Practical Life, Sensorial, Mathematics, Language and Cultural (including science, geography, art and music).  Today I will be providing ideas and resources for Practical Life activities.
The purpose of Practical Life activities is to allow the child to perform day to day tasks for living in an intentional and successful way.  Children want to participate in meaningful ways in the ordering and caring for themselves and their environment and should be given the opportunity to learn life skills with real, functional, and even breakable materials.  Practical Life activities include tasks such as pouring, cleaning, scrubbing, transferring, carrying, opening and closing, dressing themselves, focusing attention, walking carefully and with coordination and purpose, and basic hygiene.
Creating aesthetically-pleasing Practical Life works has always been one of my favorite things to do.  If we truly think about all of the basic skills we use on a regular basis in living our day to day lives, and then consider how young children need to observe and then practice these skills in order to achieve their own mastery, we can understand the benefits of an intentional use of isolated activities in our homeschool.  As moms and dads, we have unlimited opportunities to teach and model these skills outside of “school time” as well; making time to share these experiences with our children is an important part of our interaction with them.  In a Montessori environment, the teacher/parent demonstrates each activity carefully and deliberately, emphasizing each small step without being wordy, and then lets the child explore the work on his own.
“When we do something for a child that he can do himself, we become a burden.”
Here are a number of ideas for practical life activities.  The list is by no means exhaustive, but does give a good example of the vast array of choices we have for our kids to practice these skills:
Pouring water with a funnel (and cleaning up his mess too!)


Pouring beads
  • pouring beads using small glass bottles
  • pouring colored water using small jars
  • pouring sand or salt
  • pouring confetti
  • pouring rocks or mini shells
  • pouring using a funnel 

Transferring with tongs


Transferring with a spoon


Using an eye dropper with colored water


Transferring with tongs
Transferring water with a baster


Transferring plastic rings with a clothespin


  • transferring pompoms with tweezers from bowl to bowl
  • transferring beads using a spoon and ice cube tray
  • transferring using tongs
  • transferring using chopsticks
  • transferring water using a dropper
  • transferring water using a baster
  • transferring using a clothespin
  • transferring water using a sponge
Life skills-


Symmetry cutting work


  • tweezing kernels from a dried ear of corn
  • arranging silk flowers in a small vase
  • rolling cloth napkins and applying napkin rings
  • hole punching with colorful paper
  • sorting and folding socks
  • sorting buttons, shells, beans, etc. by color, size, type, number of holes, etc.
  • hanging laundry with clothespins
  • using a padlock and key
  • opening and closing different types of bags and jars
  • opening and closing twist-off bottles
  • screwdriver and screws
  • hammering golf tees into a pumpkin
  • cutting (there are many levels of this skill, begin by cutting an index card into small strips)
  • sewing buttons (for older children)
  • using a crumb brush and tin on a tray
  • polishing silverware
  • stringing beads
  • buttoning with a felt button snake
  • assembling a flashlight
  • using nesting dolls (matryoshka dolls)
Food/kitchen skills-
  • slicing apples
  • using a whisk in a bowl of water with a couple of drops of dish soap
  • peeling carrots
  • washing dishes
  • dusting
  • washing potatoes with a potato scrubber
  • using cookie cutters with playdough
  • setting table (make a template on a place mat with a sharpie and use child-sized plate, cup, utensils, etc.)
  • walking the line (use masking tape to make a large oval on your floor and have each child practice walking on it silently and deliberately)
  • silence game (my version of this has me asking the children to go do a task quietly and then come back to our circle- ex. “Go to the stairs, go to the third step, count to 5, come back down and crawl to your spot.”  I’m always amazed how even the youngest child who understands direction will be so careful and quiet with this game!)
All works should be cleanly and attractively presented, and should use real materials in a size small enough for little hands.  I always try out the works myself first to see if there might be any frustrating elements that I can eliminate.  I am sometimes surprised at how hard a certain style of tongs is to use accurately, for example.  The key is to allow your child to achieve success and gain confidence in her own abilities.

You can find tons of Practical Life materials (trays, small glass jars, bowls, tongs, spoons, etc.) at Montessori Services.  They are very reasonably priced.    I also find many supplies at dollar stores, crafts stores, or the dollar bins at Target.  Be creative!


An email from a reader says,

Hi, I’d like to find out more about organising space for the Montessori style method. I don’t have a separate school space and will be using my living room to home school. I was wondering how to organise the whole thing, should I just put “school” stuff on the shelves or all of my sons stuff like Lego, cars etc? Or would it even be better to do the schooling in his room so he has all the toys there too?”

I responded:

“What if you were to have work “areas” in both rooms?  I would keep the school area separate from the toys, but they don’t have to be in different rooms.  Even in our school room, we have shelves of works and shelves of toys and games.  The toys and games are mostly educational, though, so sometimes I let them build with Lincoln Logs, or play with dominoes, as part of their school choices.

You can get a small 2 or 3 shelf bookcase for each room, if you can find space for them.  Each one could then fit 4-6 work trays that you could rotate every week or two.  Make it an attractive space with maybe a scented candle used only for school time, or a pot of potpourri and some flowers.  The more attractive the space, the more likely your children are to see it as a special experience.

You could have different categories of works in each room, or switch them around depending on your week.  I’ll be posting lots of specific ideas for works in each category the rest of this week and into next week.  I’ll also be posting next week on where to get materials and resources and ideas on how to store them.”

If there are any more questions throughout the next week and a half, I’d love to help if I can.  Email me, or leave a comment and I will get back with you.


Visit these other Blop Hop participants!

10 days of socialization for mom | The Homeschool Chick
10 days of classical education | Milk and Cookies
10 days of large families | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of special needs | Special Needs Homeschooling
10 days of struggling learners | Homeschooling the Chaotic Family
10 days of homeschooling girls | Homegrown Mom
10 days of homeschool enrichment | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of building a spiritual legacy | Mommy Missions
10 days of frugal homeschooling |The Happy Housewife
10 days of Charlotte Mason | Our Journey Westward
10 days of unschooling | Homeschooling Belle
10 days of organization | Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom
10 days of getting started | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of homeschooling boys | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of homeschooling Montessori |  Fruit in Season
10 days of preschool |  Delightful Learning

HOTM Blog Hop- Montessori preschool- how do I start?

Welcome!  I’m glad you’re here!

In yesterday’s post, I outlined the philosophy of education as developed by Maria Montessori.  Her observations and understanding of children led to a revolutionary and systematic method that focused on the child as a unique individual with a natural and insatiable curiosity about his world.
Sounds great, you say, but how do I homeschool Montessori?
My older two children both completed a Montessori preschool and Kindergarten program before I kept them home.  I loved the school, the owner, and the way they truly followed the Montessori philosophy (not all “Montessori” schools do).  But when I had been homeschooling for a couple of years already and it was time for my third child to “go to preschool”, even though I loved the Montessori program we had used in the past I decided to keep him home and organize our day to include preschool time.
We already had a school room in our basement, so we taylored it to fit our preschool needs.  Our fourth child was almost ready to begin work with us as well, and I was excited to devote myself to this important early learning time with both of them.  We invested in some true Montessori materials with the help of some dedicated grandparents, but the materials themselves are not what make the method work.

It is the totality of the prepared environment to be explored and acted upon by the children that is primary…it is possible to have an environment that meets the essentials of Montessori education when no manufactured Montessori materials are available.” ~Paula Polk Lillard, Montessori Today

I had to adjust my mindset and view our space from the perspective of my preschoolers.  I had to ask,
Could they succeed in the space I set up for them?  

Could they reach the shelves?  Was everything, or most things, child-sized and child-friendly?  Was the space uncluttered and free of distractions?

In a home environment this might not be easy, especially if you don’t have a room to devote to this purpose.  But think outside the box:

  • Can you allot the bottom two shelves of a bookshelf and put a small table or desk near it for a Montessori corner?
  • Can you set up learning areas in different parts of the house- the kitchen, the den, the dining room?
  • Can you set up a book corner with a cozy bean bag in a corner of your child’s room to encourage book exploration?
  • We have some of these wire cubes and have found them to be sturdy enough for storing or displaying activities in a small space.
  • Is there counter space in your kitchen to spare where you can store child-sized utensils and cooking supplies?

Once you feel successful in mapping out a place or two for uncluttered learning, you can begin to brainstorm and research activities to meet your child’s developmental and interest needs.

Montessori activities for preschoolers (ages 2.5 to 6), called “works”, are grouped into five basic categories: Practical Life, Sensorial, Mathematics, Language, and Cultural (including science, geography, art and music).  All activities are designed to meet the young child’s need to move and manipulate objects, and as the child works with the materials she is learning how things work in her world.  This concrete, hands-on experience will become the foundation for abstract understanding later in childhood.
Our morning also includes a circle time when we have a routine of calendar topics, games (including some Montessori games such as our version of the Silence Game, and the Mystery Bag, which I fill with little trinkets that the children have to identify by touch only), songs, scripture memorization, etc.  This kind of structure in our Montessori time allows me to intentionally demonstrate works for the younger two, and to cover a specific topic that we may all be studying in science, art, music, or history.
In the next few posts, I will be describing each of the categories of works and giving lots of examples and links to help you get started developing some activities for your child.  I found that once I had a number of ideas and suggestions from books and websites, I was able to begin to formulate my own works and be creative with the materials I had.  Most importantly, once I had spent some time observing my preschoolers, I could more easily gauge what their needs and interests would be each step of the way.
If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me or leave them in the comments and I’ll be glad to  answer them as best I can.  Hope to see you tomorrow as we talk about Practical Life activities!
And on Friday I’ll be giving away a ticket to the HOTM Online Conference.  There are many wonderful speakers and you can hear them while sitting on your couch in your jammies!

And be sure to visit these other lovely ladies as they also share from their hearts and homes:
10 days of socialization for mom | The Homeschool Chick
10 days of classical education | Milk and Cookies
10 days of large families | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of special needs | Special Needs Homeschooling
10 days of struggling learners | Homeschooling the Chaotic Family
10 days of homeschooling girls | Homegrown Mom
10 days of homeschool enrichment | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of building a spiritual legacy | Mommy Missions
10 days of frugal homeschooling |The Happy Housewife
10 days of Charlotte Mason | Our Journey Westward
10 days of unschooling | Homeschooling Belle
10 days of getting started | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of homeschooling boys | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of homeschooling Montessori |  Fruit in Season
10 days of preschool |  Delightful Learning

HOTM Blog Hop- The Montessori Philosophy

Welcome!  It’s great to have you here!

For the next ten days I will be sharing information, principles and ideas in order to further acquaint you with the Montessori Method of education as it can relate to your homeschool.  
First of all it’s important that you know that I am not a trained Montessori educator.  My love for and understanding of this unique form of learning comes from my own research, my own experience as a Montessori student when I was a child, my faith in the tenets of this philosophy, and my own trial and error in implementing Dr. Montessori’s principles in our home.  I hope you will find that the Montessori Method is challenging yet accessible, and that the next ten days will begin a process of exploration for you, eventually culminating in the enrichment of the life and learning within your home.
This first post outlines the main characteristics of the Montessori Method.  Tomorrow I will leave the philosophical and enter into the practical “how-to” of homeschooling Montessori.

“The secret of success [in education] is found to lie in the right use of imagination in awakening interest, and the stimulation of seeds of interest already sown.”

~Maria Montessori

How do you sum up a life’s work in a few short essays?  Well, you don’t.  The vastness of Maria Montessori’s motivation and effort in seeking to understand how children best become the individuals they are intended to be defies brief commentary, instead begging for contemplation and discussion.  But for our purposes here, I would like to merely introduce you to this brilliant physician-turned-educator who contributed such a significant amount of literature, based on her exploration, observation and understanding of children, to the educational world.

Dr. Montessori’s philosophy has at its heart a profound trust of a child’s ability to learn about the world.  Human beings, she realized, have a fundamental need to explore, manipulate and subsequently adapt to their environment, and children should be given the opportunity to do the same in a small-scale, but real, environment of their own.  Her thoughts and methods came about as a result of her experience in formulating a learning opportunity, and educational materials, for developmentally-impaired children in a low-income area, children who were thought to be “unteachable”.  These children later defied stereotypes and expectations by not only learning to the level of, but often even surpassing, their more privileged age-mates.

How did she accomplish this?  Through some seemingly simple, but profoundly meaningful, principles:

  • a structured and orderly environment
  • freedom with responsibility
  • interest-led work choices (Montessori called the tasks in her classroom “works”)
  • well-constructed materials that are self-correcting, leading to independence and thus to self-confidence
  • respect for others and their work
  • a teacher who does not actively impart knowledge, but guides the child to discover for themselves the truths about their environment

The children in our schools are free, but that does not mean there is no organization.  Organization, in fact, is necessary…if the children are to be free to work.”~Maria Montessori

A structured and orderly environment:  Dr. Montessori observed that children thrive within an environment that has a strong sense of order, both in regard to space and time.  A Montessori classroom has low, uncluttered shelves with clearly organized works upon them, space for the children to work on the floor or at child-sized tables and chairs, and different areas of the room devoted to each category of exploration: sensory, practical life, math, language, and social/cultural (including geography and science, art and music).  

When Montessori discussed freedom, she invariably mentioned its relationship to responsibility and self-discipline.  We need freedom to exercise responsibility; we need the ability to be responsible before we can be truly free.”
~Paula Polk Lillard 

Freedom with responsibility:  In a Montessori classroom, children are not told what work to choose.  The are taught, by demonstration with very few words, to use materials and then left to explore them as they wish.  They can work alone or with a partner, or observe quietly someone else working.  But along with this freedom comes the responsibility to care for the space, the materials, and the other students.  The freedom Montessori speaks of is not born of a child’s whim or emotional desires, but his intellectual curiosity. 

We discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being” ~Montessori

Learning is made possible for the children, it is not forced.” ~Paula Polk Lillard 

Interest-led work choices:  Montessori came to believe through observation of children that they could be trusted to choose what they needed developmentally, and repeat that task until they found mastery.  Children were not interrupted in their work but were left to their own concentration and focus.  On occasion, a teacher would guide a child to a different task but great respect was given to their choices.

Well-constructed, self-correcting materials:  Montessori believed that children were attracted to beauty, and that they wanted to have a part in the adult world.  Children mimic, and that is how they learn and adapt to their environment.  Montessori’s materials, developed during years of observation and work with children, are child-sized, aesthetically pleasing, and well-made.  It is not necessary to purchase all Montessori materials, but the basic premise must remain true.  Each work has an element of self-correction, meaning that when the work is completed properly, the child can see for himself if he has done it correctly or not.  For example, in a one-to-one correspondence counting work, a child might have tiles with the numbers 0 to 9 printed on them and manipulatives to count.  The teacher will have specifically set out the exact number of counters needed (45) so that there would be none left once the child has completed the work.  This allows for accuracy and independence in the task and leads to self-confidence in the child’s own abilities.

Respect for others:  Visitors who are unfamiliar with the Montessori classroom are usually surprised at the calm and quiet that reigns even at the preschool level.  Children are taught, and then expected to follow, clear guidelines of respect for the school environment and their peers.  Children are to wait patiently for a work they’d like to use, walk around and never on another child’s work space, put work back as they found it and in the proper place, use each work purposefully, and use politeness when dealing with others.

The teacher’s role:  Montessori teachers are guides and examples for the children to follow.  Their role is to demonstrate the correct way to use a work, and then step back to allow the child to learn from it herself.  They are to observe the children to discover their individual developmental needs and interests and guide them to reach their full potential as a whole human being.

These are some of the main tenets of Montessori’s philosophy, and the framework we will use to discuss homeschooling young children in the next two weeks.

If you have any questions you’d like me to answer, please leave them in the comments and I’ll be happy to address them.

Join me tomorrow when I will post on the categories of works and how to use them in your homeschool.  And stick with me till the end of the ten days and I’ll have a giveaway too!

Be sure to visit these other wonderful homeschoolers in the next 2 weeks as they share on topics they are passionate about:

10 days of socialization for mom | The Homeschool Chick
10 days of classical education | Milk and Cookies
10 days of large families | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of special needs | Special Needs Homeschooling
10 days of struggling learners | Homeschooling the Chaotic Family
10 days of homeschooling girls | Homegrown Mom
10 days of homeschool enrichment | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of building a spiritual legacy | Mommy Missions
10 days of frugal homeschooling |The Happy Housewife
10 days of Charlotte Mason | Our Journey Westward
10 days of unschooling | Homeschooling Belle
10 days of organization | Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom
10 days of getting started | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of homeschooling boys | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of homeschooling Montessori |  Fruit in Season
10 days of preschool |  Delightful Learning