Friday, October 17, 2014

An alternative to narration

Narration is a very useful tool when it comes to reinforcing and understanding certain ideas with younger children. It basically consists of the retelling of a text by the younger child. It helps them organize ideas, grasp the gist, and differentiate between important facts and anecdotes.

But it can get a bit repetitive and yes, boring, over time. To keep our interest high, we sometimes recreate the story with home made cardboard figures. A few cereal boxes, some color pencils and a bit of imagination, and a child is ready to present the story in a more dramatic way. It's history, drawing and performing arts all in one. And it is FUN!!

Here is our latest, depicting

The Myth of Ceres and Proserpine


Ceres & Proserpine

Pluto, the king of the Underworld

Jupiter himself, in his palace....


Tuesday, September 30, 2014


I am always searching for new ways to incorporate handwriting to our day, and this time I found a fun one for Kinder age kids... The idea is quite simple, but it works wonders, especially with children that are a bit bored of the paper and pencil approach.

All you need is a blackboard, some chalk, a container with water and a brush.

The aim is for the child to "erase" the letters by tracing them using the brush and water.

Simple. Fun. Quite effective. :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Math materials III - Checkers board

The checkerboard belongs to the Montessori elementary material, and is aimed at children in the 6-9 classroom. Its main focus is on long multiplication.

We have just introduced it in our home, and it was a big success.

Here is a video of how to use the board that I found quite useful:

My DIY version is made using very simple materials, namely felt and adhesive felt, also known as presto felt.

I bough mine at Joanne's but I am sure Michaels and other crafts stores have it too.They come in individual 8" x 11" sheets, so you can buy exactly what you need for a few dollars.

Basically I cut a 22" by 11" rectangle of blue felt,  which doubles as a base and the blue squares in the board. After that I cut 12 green squares and 12 red squares, all measuring 2 1/4" x 2 1/4" in presto felt.

Using a picture as a model, I simply stuck them in order. Although not absolutely necessary, I use think strips of black presto felt to make a border around the board. Finally, I wrote the numbers corresponding to each column and row with a Sharpie.

Here is a graphic representation of how the board should look like:

This is our version:

An added benefit of the felt is that the beads do not roll on it so easily, so it helps the child keep everything in place, especially in very long multiplications.

As you have probably noticed, my beads do not follow the same color code as the original Montessori materials, but they were what I could get at the time I made them, and we have been using them successfully for five years now. :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Math materials part II

Addition strips board

This is another Math material I made years ago, which has been used countless times and has hold its own, even though I just used glossy heavy cardstock.

If you prefer, you can buy the already made printable through Montessori for everyone or Montessori print shop. Or just make your own using the pictures on those websites as a guide.

Here is a video lesson on how to introduce this material:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter Eggs

This week we have decided to explore the wonderful tradition of Easter Eggs and its rich symbolism and history.

Eggs, in general, were a traditional symbol of fertility, and rebirth. But in Christianity they assume a deeper meaning: they symbolize the empty tomb of Jesus:  though an egg appears to be like the stone of a tomb, a bird hatches from it with life; similarly, the Easter egg, for Christians, is a reminder that Jesus rose from the grave, and that those who believe will also experience eternal life. Eggs, while being dormant, contain a new life sealed within them, becoming a wonderful symbol of the Resurrection.

The Easter egg tradition may also have merged into the celebration of the end of the privations of Lent in the West. Historically, it was traditional to use up all of the household's eggs before Lent began. Eggs were originally forbidden during Lent as well as on other traditional fast days in Western Christianity (this tradition still continues among the Eastern Christian Churches).

One would have been forced to hard boil the eggs that the chickens produced so as not to waste food, and many traditional Easter dishes bear witness to that, having egg as the main ingredient.
Decorating and gifting (empty) eggs is an old tradition, particularly in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, and other Central European countries.

Here are some examples:

So, after learning about them, we made our own. First, I followed the instructions on this video to empty the eggs. My children were absolutely fascinated by the process… 

After that we viewed many examples of this art on the Internet, you can use this gallery for reference. 

We discussed how each look like, the differences among them, and picked our favourites.

Then, with the help of sharpies, small icon pictures from a catalog, and some acrylic paint, we all made our own.  

We finished them with a thin coat of school glue and when they were dried I made a base for them to stand on. 

I used a penny and attached it to the egg with a small ball of modelling clay (approximately the size of a garbanzo bean) by gently squeezing them together. When the clay dried I painted it gold. 

You can also use a generous amount of glue applied with a glue gun to attach the coin.

Have a Blessed Easter!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Math materials made at home part 1

 These are some of the Montessori Math materials we have adapted for our family. We have been using them all the time for a few years now, and they proved to be quite durable and fun.


Our Rods are made with 1/2" craft dowels, which I painted with acrylic. Since the dowels were 10" long, I used inches as the unit of measurement for them. They are quite smaller than the real rods, but our space is limited, so I compromised. :) Children really love these!!


One that was really popular with all three children when learning their numbers was the counting work. I simply provided them with a box containing the numerals from 1 to 9 in laminated card-stock, the corresponding number of pennies to complete the work (45) and the beads. Our beads do not follow the same color code as the traditional Montessori beads, but we have kept the consistency within our our materials and extensions.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Field trips: The Ocean Institute

We love field trips. There are so many wonderful places where you can learn, and have tons of fun. Here are some of the pictures of our visit to the Ocean Institute in Dana Point. The place is not that big, which is a plus since we did not have that weird, awful  "too little time, too much to see" feeling that sometimes accompanies going anywhere in California.

There were plenty of hands-on activities:

Dissecting and studying a squid

Looking at plankton with a microscope

Watching interesting creatures

Just outside the Institute we also had a wonderful time searching for crabs, enjoying the view, and searching for treasures at the beach.

Here is the information about the Ocean Institute:

Ocean Institute: Experience is the teacher

Have fun and learn!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Cuisenaire rods were devised in the 1920s by Georges Cuisenaire, a Belgian educator. Similar to how written musical notes make music visible, Cuisenaire rods were designed to make mathematics visible by using wood rods of varying lengths and colour.*

In her first school, and in schools since then, Maria Montessori used coloured rods in the classroom to teach concepts of both mathematics and length. Developed independently much later, the Cuisinaire Rods are neverless a kindred spirit to the ones used in the Monressori classrooms.

 They are extremely versatile. I have been using them for all my kids, and they become handy to explain basic numeric concepts and not so basic fractions, factoring, etc. But of course my children also saw the building possibilities... so we also use them for geometry and history.

 And I can't wait to use them for grammar, and music, too. (Cuisenaire himself was a math and music teacher)

Here are some of their creations so far:

 On a related note, this is what happens when a boy uses the sensorial materials :)