Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Her Name is Ruby!

Okay, so even though many of you commented that you liked 'Periwinkle', I did not. I liked the idea of her but my mind's eye had other visions of what she could be. And so I went back to work and this doll (who I call 'Ruby') was born.

We just returned from vacation, visiting my family in Massachusetts. My niece Emma seemed happy with this gift, although she mentioned the hair felt scratchy, I think she liked it.

Christmas was a whirlwind for us; as I am sure it was for most of you too.
Sometimes being a parent can be exhausting. For me, Christmas is one of those times. I adore my kids (obviously) but there are so many expectations wrapped up in Christmas (no pun intended). I feel such an obligation to meet expectations, which is something I've tried and let go of because I usually come up short. This time of year makes me feel upside down. I want the kids to be happy, but I struggle with buying vs creating happiness. In this time of mass production, emails take the place of hand written notes,store bought items over shadow the handmade ones, and so it is easy for say a 10 year old (Spirited Child) to get caught up in the hyper, over stimulating, noising world of X-box. But between his OBSESSION with the TV screen and Little One's need for destruction (no tree ornaments are safe! we lost FIVE this year) I think the 6 hour car ride (and 6 hours back) was what elevated my stress level more than anything,'Taller Than Me' wanted to drive the whole way!

It was a week of realizations for me, that parenting children of such drastically different stages of development is often more difficult than I think it will be. And that I need to ask for help occasionally. Something that has always been a challenge for me. I had imagined TIME as my Christmas gift. That with school break and tons o' new things to entertain my boys, I might find the time to draw, sew, paint, do SOMETHING other than referee, clean and care for others. But, alas, no such luck. The six hour car ride was what did me in. Did I mention, my husband had walking pneumonia? So, my partner was down for the count.

Now, I'm home and my cat wants all I have left to give. Which oddly enough is just enough and the relationship is symbiotic so it's all good. Montessori Papa is in better health and we are no longer in a minivan. Life is good this morning. I hope you all have had a wonderful week of Christmas, with safe travel and good times. I appreciate you reading my rant. There were MANY wonderful things that happened this week also...I intend to share about them as well; maybe tomorrow?
Tomorrow is the first day of 2009!
Happy New Year's Eve!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

'Periwinkle' a hand-made doll for my niece Emma.
This hand-made Christmas is turning out to be allot harder than I imagined!
Phew! One doll done, three left to make. Wish me luck.

Last night was our Cornerspring Staff Christmas Party. It was lots of fun, the kids made candy houses and as always we exchanged gifts with the Yankee Exchange. I appreciated getting a chance to talk with the other teachers I don't work with on a regular basis. Monique's house was a dream for a big party and the food was wonderful! Sure 'Middle Man' had a crying moment,(typical of most large gatherings he is part of) but for the most part all went well.

I learned upon returning home that my Dad had fallen in the shower and broke some ribs! We are traveling home in a few days, and we will see him but, I wish I could magically transport myself to him just this moment. I feel so badly for him! I would like to give him a big hug. Gently of course. Say a prayer for him.

Today we are all home together, there is a blizzard brewing outside and I am baking cookies. I love days like this, when we don't have anywhere we HAVE to be. And of course I LOVE cookies! Just wondering, what is your favorite Holiday cookie?

Hot Cocoa wishes,
Montessori Mama

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My first published work!

I'm very excited tonight, I have just found out that my book, When I Make Silence, will be in print in time for the Feb. 26th American Montessori Society National Conference (held this year in New Orleans)!!!
It's a small book, a poem really, that the kind folks over at Parent Child Press read and enjoyed. I sent it along with Maria Mouse, hoping she would become a story book. They liked the poem better and now IT will be a book!

Alicia Jewell
is the illustrator she wrote and illustrated a book called The Peace Rose which is a beautiful book, a treasure for primary classrooms especially. Anyway, she agreed to work on my book and is just finishing up the illustrations now so the book can go the graphic designers and then to print!

So, if any of you fellow Montessorians, parents and educators alike, plan to attend the up-coming AMS Conference PLEASE stop by the Parent Child Press table and buy one of my books!

When I have a copy myself, I will post more about it. Our local library wants me to do a book signing! Did I mention I was excited? Thanks for sharing in my joy. PEACE to you all during this busy time of year.

Now, I'm back to my sewing crafts....each night I get a little bit closer.
Oh! today I received the MOST delicious cookies from a sweet parent. They were so yummy! Thank you, you know who you are!
PEACE to all,

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Making Progress....

One of four. It's slow going but I'm almost done. A handcrafted Christmas is harder than it sounds, Tasha Tudor I am not. So far I've made a few gnomes, two matching card sets, several affirmation card sets, and 5 cloth gift bags. My hunny is sick with a bad cough, Little One and I are sharing a cold...
I may resort to baking gifts instead of making gifts.
In the classroom lots has been getting done. Some of the children's parents read this blog so I won't share what the toddlers have made as gifts until after Friday.
I will say, I love my job. Today a friend I haven't seen in a long while stopped by the school to say hello. She asked me about life, she had heard about 'Taller Than Me'crashing our minivan, Little One's fractured arm and she knows about our on-going money troubles (our moderate income family of five surviving with the economy in the state it is in....). It feels like we are just keeping our head above the water. Anyway, she asked me how I was doing with all these troubles and things to worry about?

And I answered honestly, I worry yes, but still every day I thank God I have what I have. The husband, the family, the friends and especially my job. It's allot of work, yes, but I love it. The children make me smile every day, every day at this job I smile and laugh. I feel loved and appreciated and I know what I do is important work.
My friend could tell I was happy, she told me she missed seeing me smile and hoped to see me again soon. Sometimes it can be valuable to tell a friend you haven't seen in a long while, about your life and what you do and don't enjoy about it. It gives you perspective and reminds you to count your blessings.
I'm feeling blessed tonight. Tired but blessed. Goodnight.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This Little Light of Mine...

Have I mentioned that I LOVE our new Goodwill Store? While searching for containers for potential Montessori works, I discovered this flashlight for .59cents. Can't beat that!

Anyway, add some D batteries and a tray and you have a flashlight work for under $5.00. One little boy in the group is lovin' this work! He likes to build, put things together AND to take things apart. The flash light work is his new favorite material.

This month we've been talking about candles, the sun, light, shiny and dull, bright and dark etc; so this work has found a home on our shelves not a moment to soon.

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

And the Oscar Goes To...

Middle Man as 'Mole' from Wind in the Willows
I was so proud! At just ten years old, he landed a large role and pulled it off successfully. So many lines, scenes and too much make-up!!!
But today was the last performance and it is done!

How are those holiday crafts coming? I'm not doing so well...who has the time?! But I'm gonna keep trying. I haven't done any shopping so....I hope to share some creations in near-future posts. By the by, I recently had my one year blog-anniversary, one of you emailed me to let me know. How sweet! Apparently I haven't been paying attention...I thought I would list a few of my favorite post from the past 12 months for those of you new to my blog to read when time allows you.
Be Safe Be Gentle Be Kind
Cosmic Education
A Sense of Wonder
Creating a Center~Peace


Saturday, December 6, 2008

For the Birds

The story goes that Maria Montessori observed the "children's joy in making silence" when one of her assistant teachers visited the classroom with her infant daughter. The baby, just weeks old, was asleep when the teacher visited.

Maria observed that the children, who had been excited about meeting the new baby, quickly quieted down and sat down on the floor forming a circle of awe and silence around the visiting baby and mother. With respect and reverence they circled the infant, admiring it's small features and soft hair. The once busy and bustling classroom had become quiet, peaceful and reflective.

Dr. Montessori later went on to introduce 'The Silence Game' recreating the peaceful atmosphere by leading the children in 'making silence', and in doing so she would share with the children and with the world, that even young learners benefit from a quiet time in their day, a time to listen and nurture one's inner peace.

In our classroom making silence has been inspired by hungry birds. The kindergarten class that used our classroom last year, had attached a bird feeder to one of the low windows. Each day one of the toddler students will ask to feed the birds. Once every child who wants to, has had a chance to scoop bird seed, the window is closed and the waiting begins. Some of the toddlers leave the window as quickly as the arrived to it, moving on to other activities in the classroom. But there are some friends who patiently wait for the birds to come and eat.

And Oh! When they come,the birds eat and the hop about making sounds and gazing at their own reflections, while the children sit quietly and smile, making silent observations. Truly, it happens just this way, almost every day. And it is beautiful. At the beginning of the school year when we introduced the bird feeder; the children would run to the window shrieking with excitement and of course, the birds would fly away. On occasion this will happen still but usually one or two out of the ten will stop the shrieking friend by saying, "'ll make them fly away." Then together they will creep closer and quietly, finally sitting down to watch together. Sharing the moment with quiet appreciation.

Our classroom is called 'The Nest'. At circle time, I lead the children in making silence, by reminding them about the birds at the bird feeder. It is a tangible point of reference for them and it works. They so love those birds!

Pine Cone Bird Feeders:

The toddlers loved making these pine cone bird feeders. Using small spreaders they spread sun butter (a peanut butter substitute made from sunflower seeds) all over the pine cone they chose. Next they spooned bird seed over the sticky pine cone. We later hung these yummy bird ( or squirrel) snacks from the monkey bars for our feathered friends to enjoy.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Yoga With Toddlers

Before nap, we stretch like cats.

We curl up and make our bodies small and still like pebbles on the beach.

We feel peaceful and we go to sleep.

Well not every day....and not every child. My son, pictured here, refuses to nap on a regular basis, yoga or no yoga. But he likes the yoga.
We are finding that most of the children really enjoy it and are quickly learning the positions. Do any of you use yoga with toddlers?

Friday, November 28, 2008

I Went Walking (a story basket)

Using the board book: I Went Walking by Sue Williams, I created this story extension for the toddler language shelf; I didn't intend for it to be used right there on the shelf but so be it. The kiddos really enjoy this book, much like Eric Carle's Brown Bear, Brown Bear. They like to hear it read again and again and are very knowledgeable about the order in which the animals appear. It was a fun and easy language work for me to pull together (once I found the animals). I happened to find the animals needed at our local toy store, but you could draw or color copy the illustrations, laminate them and use those too. Happy crafting.
So far my holiday creations have been limited to felt wreaths and birds...I will post photos soon. What are you making?
PEACE to all,
Happy Thanksgiving!
Montessori Mama

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


PARENTise ... great new resource for parents.

a quote from another blogging Mama:
"I can't tell you all of the times that I have wished there was a place to go ... to get TRUSTED advice from other parents on what classes or programs are worth the money ... somewhere to read what another mom thinks about the new pediatrician that just came to town ... a website where I could go to find out who the best of the best are when it comes to photographers."

PARENTise is here!

The folks behind PARENTise believe that parents are the experts when it comes to their children. As you know I believe that we parents are our child's first teachers. When I was approached to share a review of their site I was certainly out of my element, but as I investigated it I discovered many useful pieces of information and I think you might find it helpful too.

PARENTise is a free service that offers parents a centralized location to read and write reviews on services that they have used, or are interested in using with their children.

Here is the idea: YOU write reviews about the services and such that you have knowledge about ... other parents write reviews about the services they know about ... and from these reviews a comprehensive, all-in-one-place location for reviews parents can trust is created.

You can view the ratings and reviews by zip code, you will be just a couple of clicks away from finding out just where to spend your time and money.

Also! The folks at PARENTise are hosting 14 DAYS OF GIVEAWAYS!!! Visit the PARENTise site (you'll need to complete a very short registration process)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

From You, I Receive, to You I Give, Together We Grow and From This We Live

I have been thinking allot lately about Giving and Receiving as the holiday season approaches. It's a difficult time of year for many people and although I know I should be able to ignore the pressures of this capitalist society we here in the US are part of, I still struggle with this. I say to myself every year around this time:
"This year we are going to have a hand made holiday! No store bought gifts, only things made by our family to give to our family." and then....
something happens and before I know it, I'm running around, like all the other busy people, to the shopping centers and on-line I'm placing orders for items where time is RUNNING OUT for heaven's sake! I feel like Animal from the Muppets by the time the holiday actually arrives.
It's part of the reason I enjoy teaching at a Montessori school. When I enter, I feel safe and secure and I know just what is expected and generally what will happen. Even around this busy time of year. The end of Novemeber brings Stone Soup (or fruit salad if you work with toddlers) and December brings a focus on light, peace, and the gift of giving back to the community. In the past I have written in detail about this season. I invite you to look back and read some of these past posts.
Stone Soup
Yummy Soup
What I'm Thankful For...
Festivals of Light
Gift Wrap
Seasonal Scissor Fun

In the next few weeks I will continue to share about what my class is up to but I am making a promise to myself today to create something for someone I love, each day until the winter Solstice arrives. I intend to share my creations with all of you and I look forward to hearing your ideas. I know this is nothing new for allot of you crafty people out there in blog world, but it is for me. I hope my kids understand when there are no store bought gifts. I worry people's feelings will be hurt, but I believe this is the best way for our family. Times are tough all the way around this big beautiful world, and there just never seems to be enough money to pay for everything. We are blessed in so many ways, and spending too much energy or time focusing on what we don't have, will only distract from the riches we do possess.

So, enjoy one another and your creative gifts!
In PEACE and with THANKS,

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fruit Salad, Yummy Yummy

Here are some photos from my Stone Fruit Salad lesson. They seemed to enjoy the story although it was a bit long to hold their attention. We followed up the story with a craft of gluing fruit shapes onto a bowl. These are now on display as you walk into the classroom with the characters of the story. A note to parents went home yesterday with the children saying what fruit they offered to bring in on Monday. Mallory and I will bring in some fruit, yogurt and granola also and of course the STONE. A special stone fruit salad feast will take place (just like in the story). The children will prepare the fruit for the salad: they will slice bananas and cut apples, pull and wash grapes, drain and rinse the canned peaches, they will set the tables and fold the cloth napkins.(and I will share the photos!)
Thanks for reading as always!
PEACE to you all, Montessori Mama

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Sun Will Come Together....someday

Here is my four seasons mat. Confession time: I am not someone who normally sews.
I mean other than the occasional Halloween costume {that usually falls apart by the end of the evening}...I'm just NOT someone who sews. But seeing all of the creative and talented folks on-line who are using felt to create amazing toys for children, inspired me! And we needed a birthday something for our classroom celebrations.
This photo was taken before completion and now this somewhat completed four seasons mat is already being used with the children's birthday celebrations in the classroom. They seem to like it! We made up a simple & short song to go along with it. Here it is:

Four Seasons Song (tune: Twinkle, Twinkle)
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
There's FOUR seasons,
Count them all:
1, 2, 3, 4

There are also laminated labels provided that the children assist with laying out. (Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall) I'm hoping now that I've found my camera I can capture the mat being used and share that with you.
The following is the song we use for our birthday walks. What song to you use?
This is a sign language song I discovered while searching the web a while back.
The children really seem to enjoy it. It's tune is the same as the traditional Happy Birthday song.

"We celebrate your birth,
and your place on this earth,
may the sun, moon and stars
bring peace where you are."

Happy Birthday to you!

Stone Fruit Salad
By Jennifer Howard

Two friends went walking,
And happened to meet,
both were very hungry
and wanted to eat.

Together they had
NOTHING to share,
Their tummies were empty
It just wasn’t fair 

One had a stone,
the other a bowl,
one was a mouse,
the other a mole.

“I know,” said Mole
“We could ask at each house”
“For fruit, for our salad?”
said small & shy Mouse

“Yes” said Mole
“Just one little part,
one berry, one slice,
a gift from the heart”

So they went hand in hand,
to every last house,
Mole asked politely,
“Please?” said friend Mouse.

But no-one had fruit,
to offer the pair,
not even one berry,
NO ONE would share.

The two sad friends,
sat down on a rock,
they were both still hungry,
neither one could talk

“I’ve got it!” said Mole,
“I’ve got a plan!”
“We’re sure to make salad,
just as fast as we can!”

“With my large bowl
and your small stone,
We’ll make enough salad
to feed every home!”

Mouse was curious,
how could this be?
So she watched and she waited
and she started to see.

With the stone and the bowl,
There would soon be salad to share,
“We’ll show them,” said Mole
“It feels good to care!”

“Fruit Salad we’ll make,”
Mole said with a grin.
“Put the stone in the bowl Mouse,
it’s time to begin.”

“Delicious Fruit Salad to EAT!”
Mole called down the street.
Mouse stood behind him,
with the empty bowl at her feet.

“Made from a STONE, it is said,”
“this fruit salad will be
the BEST fruit salad ever eaten
by you or by me!”

The animals they came,
from each and every house,
wanting taste the Stone Salad,
made by Mole and by Mouse!

“When we made this the last time,
wasn’t there a slice of peach?”
Mole ask friend Mouse,
“Yes, a piece of peach for each.”

“And I seem to remember,”
Mole said to Mouse
“EVERY animal gave fruit.”
“Yes, fruit from each house”

“So what will YOU give?”
Mole said to the crowd
“a GRAPE!” said the Pig
(and he was so proud).

“We’ll share some apples.”
Said Bunnies One, Two and Three
“they are ripe and red,
just picked from the tree!”

Soon others were shouting out
What THEY wanted to share,
Two mangos, 6 blueberries,
and the cat gave a pear.

Mole winked at Mouse,
“I knew this would work.”
“You were right,” said Mouse,
please hand me a fork.”

The whole town enjoyed
Stone Fruit Salad that day,
Because Mole and Mouse shared,
and showed them the way.

Mole and Mouse were hungry,
and now they are not,
they are thankful,
you see, for the food that they got.

If YOU made Stone fruit salad today,
What kind of fruit
would YOU bring,
and what words would YOU say?

You should say, “PLEASE”
and especially “THANK YOU”
You could share just one grape,
Or a bunch if you want to.

Sharing, you know
Is NOT easy to do,
But if you share what you have,
You will feel good too!

If each one of us,
gave just a little bit,
more of us would have enough,
that’s all there is to it.

The End
[more illustrations to follow]
Thank you for reading this.

Shoe Box Doll Houses

My Assistant Mallory created these shoe box houses for our toddler friends to play with. I adore them and so does Little One! This little boy (in photo) took the toy house to a table with some wooden animals and became completely engrossed in his play. He was unaware of me snapping photos of him.

YES! I found my camera! Oh happy day. I have allot to share but am running out of time to share it. Life has become increasingly busy these days. I know you can all relate. Working full time, three kids, creative aspirations...

Mallory made this gem by painting a shoe box inside and out. She made one box for each season. This one is summer. Isn't she amazing!? I am so blessed. And so are the kiddos in our class. Thank you Mallory for being you!

Last night was Opening Night for The Sound of Music at my oldest son's high school. He had a small part in this year's production but he did very well in it. I was proud of him and so impressed with ALL the kids involved. The star of the show was the young lady who played Maria, she was fabulous! I briefly spoke with her mother during intermission and it was really very sweet. She was beaming and rightly so! I wanted to be near her to soak it all in, her pride in her daughter's efforts, her joy for her daughter's shining moment. It was beautiful.

Middle Man is still sick with a fever/sore throat virus and is expected in rehearsals for Wind in the Willows this afternoon. Send him a healing hug please.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Take Care

Here Little One cares for our solo classroom plant. (Before his arm mis-hap) The spray bottle is a favorite of his. A green thumb I am NOT; but having more than one plant to care for is I'm wondering, what types of plants do you have in your classroom/home that your children care for?

Another question:
Does anyone use a beginner reader series they would recommend?

On another topic, many thanks for all the emails and comments I received from folks lately! Sharing your stories of homesickness with me and sending me words of comfort, helped me remember I'm not alone. Thank you for your kindness.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

In a NUTTY Shell

Okay so October (usually my favorite month of the year) stunk. I'll TRY and be brief because as regular readers know, I tend to well, not be.
So, 'Bigger Than Me' after just two weeks of having his driver's permit, crashed my new caravan (new to in has yet to be paid off) NO ONE was hurt which is, of course, the good thing. Second, Little One and Middle Man were wrestling on the sofa, flipped off and Little One ended up on the bottom of the heap. We, THOUGHT, he just had 'nurse maid's elbow' but two doctor's and specialist later it seems the bone just above his wrist is cracked. NOT BROKEN but a little bit cracked. (also a good thing, well it could be worse)Anyway, with all of this stressed, I have a pain in my neck that worsens with each day that passes. And I hope I am not sounding too pathetic here, but I miss my mom. I moved too far away from home to raise my family I've decided. Although I LOVE my community and wouldn't change a thing about my place of employment, my kid's education, or my distance from 'convenience'; I do miss my family. As the holidays approach I feel sadness about being so far away. This recent Halloween photo of Middle Man (the orangutan) friend Stella (the beautiful bee)and Little One (the not so small mouse prior to breaking his arm)makes me smile. It's laughable how serious they all look being so goofy!
Anyway, November is off to a good start and I have a positive outlook about this winter. I'm just a bit gloomy tonight, missing my family and wishing they were closer. I've been fooling around with the colors of my blog background, but now I'm done.
I'm closing with a photo of one of my toddler friends who must have been watching me when I was too lazy to been down to wipe up a spill!!! Caught on film, my two year old friend here decided to 'clean up' her mess using the method I demonstrated! I'm embarrassed and once again I become the student. I won't be lazy again, little eyes are always watching...I am the role model, demonstrating desired behavior and in this case, the undesired. OOPPSS!!

I hope YOU all had a wonderful October and are feeling joy in the amazing historical political happening! No matter your political preference, this election has proven to be one that will be remembered. GO OBAMA!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

What We've Been Up To: Practical Life

Here's a quick pic of Little One washing the door to our classroom. So often the windows, mirrors and doors are covered with hand prints and mouth marks (mostly from Little One). Today I thought I'd ask for helpers to help me clean these surfaces; several of my young friends were more than thrilled to oblige me. Tomorrow I think we will scrub the chairs. Purposeful work is very satisfying, especially to this two year old.

Other practical life activities my busy boy is 'into' presently are:

Feeding the birds (this involves carrying a large bin of bird seed from one end of the classroom to the other...which is his favorite part of the process)we are very fortunate to have a bird feeder that is attached to the glass of one of our windows. Our classroom is on the second floor and the window is just above floor level, so the children can lay on their tummies to watch the hungry birds to enjoy our daily offering. More about this soon...

Pushing Pipe Cleaners Work
There are 55 holes in the top of this seasons shaker ($1.89 local discount store). There are 55 pipe cleaners (27 cut in half + 1 half) provided (various colors). Lots of concentration is required to stay with this activity to its completion, most often one child will begin it and many others will follow adding a few colors here and there(some not-yet-two friends will remove the pipe cleaners).
Happy Creating!
PS I hope all had a happy and safe Halloween.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Caps for Babies

Knit One Save One
Every winter I try and do something for our world's children. I mostly do this because I had a wonderful role model in my own mother and I long to be that for my children. I participate in this particular effort because of Save the Children. If you don't know about this amazing organization please visit their web page and introduce yourself.
To be part of 'Knit One Save One' on a large scale you can do the following:
Write up a brief letter to your school families and share with them what your goal is. Last time I did this I said my goal was to collect 100 caps; I ended up collecting 121 caps! Share with them your goal and how they can help. Do they knit? Would they like to learn? Visit your local yarn shop and ask them to hang up a poster for you with where to mail donations. Get your church congregation involved and spread the word to the older generation. Knitting a small infant cap takes no time at all for the seasoned knitter. Next, set a dead line (when you want the caps collected by) and remember to check in with people closer to the collection date so that they can have time to buy one if they have not yet started knitting.
Happy Knitting Everyone!
PS: FYI, I don't know how to knit. I just collect the caps and send them on their way. Every bit helps and I'm doing what I can. Someday though, I'd love to learn how to knit. Maybe this winter?
If you want to contribute a cap visit: Save the Children
or contact me directly at
Montessori Mama

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Went Walking (a story basket)

Using the board book: I Went Walking by Sue Williams, I created this story extension for the toddler language shelf; I didn't intend for it to be used right there on the shelf but so be it. The kiddos really enjoy this book, much like Eric Carle's Brown Bear, Brown Bear. They like to hear it read again and again and are very knowledgeable about the order in which the animals appear. It was a fun and easy language work for me to pull together (once I found the animals). I happened to find the animals needed at our local toy store, but you could draw or color copy the illustrations, laminate them and use those too. Happy crafting.
So far my holiday creations have been limited to felt wreaths and birds...I will post photos soon. What are you making?
PEACE to all,
Happy Thanksgiving!
Montessori Mama

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Work in PROCESS...

Because the image moved me, I snapped a photo of a child admiring a leaf. Next thing I know I'm sketching this

and then creating this
and then making changes...

I am happy with the details of the skirt and hair but not sure about the back ground color. Please share your thoughts.
Working Title: Autumn Reflection
Peace to all,
Montessori Mama

On the Toddler Language Shelf This Week

Here are a couple of finger plays I've made into works for the language shelf. 5 Little Monkeys and 5 Little Pumpkins. I suppose these could be on the math shelf also, but they've found themselves here. The toddlers are enjoying them and honestly so am I. It is lots of fun to share a familiar poem at circle and then again during the work session. What I enjoy most is when a pair of friends choose these and play them out with one another.
The reason for the extra large pumpkin in the bowl with the other small craft pumpkins is because one of the smaller ones has gone missing. With only four pumpkins in the bowl and five in the finger play, my toddler friends came up with a solution: use a REAL pumpkin!

*Side note: I'm really frustrated with my computer these takes so long to post and I have so much to share....
thank you for still reading even when I post so infrequently. I have about twenty or so drafts waiting in the wings for photos. It always amazes me how quickly Monday arrives. This weekend just wasn't long enough for all I wanted to do!
Take care,
PS Middle Man was cast as Mole in the Wind and the Willows (local theater production)!!! I'm so excited for him.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Forget the Rocks, Let's Paint Pumpkins!

Inspired by the traditional Montessori rock painting I created a seasonal take on it by using pumpkins. The kiddos LOVED it! Giving two year olds a clear visual, for example, the fill line on the glass, is a point of interest that can be very helpful. Every day since this work was introduced there has been a child using it and one watching, continuously through-out the morning work cycle. As we know, toddlers LOVE water play, but in watching the concentration developing; it is more than the water that draws them to this work.

Monday, October 13, 2008

First Friends

The buddy system, walking down the ramp. Two friends walk together, leaving the nest to play on the play ground. I love HIGH SPEED!!!!
And my husband who just figured this out!
PEACE to all,
Montessori Mama

Little One Asks for More Snack

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Montessori Mama Where Are You?

Hey Everyone,
I'm still here. It's been a busy week and now I am away (for the long weekend)with Montessori Papa, celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary. Even on vacation, I'm an early riser, so as I type this he sleeps. He would tease me for blogging on vaca, if he were awake. We are having a lovely time and enjoying our kid-free days. It's been really wonderful to connect with him and just 'be' together.
In other news...
The original paper cut design of the Little One Reading (pictured on my side bar)has sold! It has been up in the children's room of the public library for a few weeks now and interest has been peaked! I wanted to share because my Etsy shop has never gotten up and running and many have emailed me requesting this image. I will continue to sell the image but the original is no longer for sale. Until we are able to get high speed internet (like the service provided by the hotel I am staying in) at home, my Etsy shop is on hold. It is so difficult to upload images and without them nothing can be viewed (obviously). Anyway, I apologize for that and ask those of you interested in making purchases to contact me directly via my email address
Thank you!!
When I return home I will attempt to post some photos of works and activities from 'The Nest'.
What we've been up to:
We've been washing, rolling, painting and comparing gourds. We've been dancing with scarves pretending to be trees with colorful leaves. We've been celebrating Fall! How blessed I feel to be living in an area where there is so much Autumn color. We have been rubbing leaves, crushing leaves (the fallen ones) for collage work, matching like colors, and creating new images with leaves etc. in nature. Have I mentioned that I love Fall?

While surfing the web this morning I saw many lovely blogs sharing Fall crafts, here are a few of my favorites:
Super Fun Mama and her adorable little girl explored many different leaf activities!
Creative Kismet doing October up right! Wow! My boys will love those monster cup cakes! Thanks for the inspiration!
Next visit The Van Klan for a beautiful lesson on creating a centerpiece...I can't wait to make one!
Playful Learning inspired me and Papa Montessori (who teaches elem. and is now up reading the paper)and we look forward to creating our own leaf people with our classes. I'll let you know how it goes.
I hope all of you have wonderful weekend!
In Peace,
Montessori Mama

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Toddler Texture Collage

To make:
provide bowls of yarn pieces and pom-poms (well, really anything you have on hand: tissue paper scraps, cut paper, wrapping paper pieces, color saran wrap, felt...)
we used these soft items because we are talking about differences and these soft items are very different than the sticky contact paper we were placing them on.
Stretch a big piece of contact paper sticky side up on a group table or floor space.
Next invite the children to decorate the sticky paper. When everyone has added their personal touch, simple stick to a slider or large window. Not only it this group project fun and interesting to look at it is also a multi-texture experience! Sticky, soft AND when displayed on the window at toddler eye level, it is also a BUMPY surface to explore.
This activity brought smiles to the faces of the participants and we teachers while watching the children carefully choose which pom-pom to place and where. It looks very random but believe me folks it was not. It was however very sweet.
To quote one little girl, when I hung it on the glass,
"Wow! Look what we made!!"

Monday, October 6, 2008

Happy Fall!

Little One, his Papa and big brother all marched in the Church Street Fall Parade. Two flowers and one pooh bear (not pictured) I face painted street side and watched the crowd.
This was the highlight of my weekend for sure, face painting at the church street festival! But really, if I am being completely honest, my most favorite moment was when Middle Man (my spirited child) who participates in the annual cake walk again and again and NEVER wins, WON a cake for the first time. As the music started to play and he anxiously stood on his 'lucky number' 3, I felt my stomach and jaw tighten anticipating the let down tantrum that would follow when yet again, he did not win a cake. Can I just stop here to say this: he doesn't EVEN like to EAT cake!!!
It's the winning or rather the loosing that hurts him. Again and again, year after year....but thankfully NOT this year!
It was a much more enjoyable experience this year, I'll tell you.
Little One was photographed for the local paper and enjoyed chasing his best friend Stella around a big tree, kicking leaves and dancing. Montessori Papa I'm pretty sure could think of 10 other things he would have rather done, but in the end had a good time. Middle Man is still talking about it (and I will note* The uneaten cake still sits on the kitchen counter, like a shrine to the day).
Ahh....Middle Man, you certainly keep me on my toes! I love you so. To all of you with children who did NOT win a cake this year, I hope your child has recovered from the disappointment. Who invented the CAKE WALK anyway?
So tell me, how was your weekend?
Happy Fall to one and all!
Now back to our regular scheduled Montessori programming...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Helping Hands

It's no secret that toddlers LOVE to see pictures of themselves, so why not make a book using pictures of your toddlers doing what they love to do? I take allot of photos...I have a small digital camera that fits in my pocket and I carry it around with me. When the opportunity presents itself, I snap away! It's a nice way to review my day (as I am obviously a visual learner) and it's a tool for bridging the gap between school and home for parents. With the photos I take I create materials for the classroom. Here is a book I made for my classroom called, "Helping Hands".

and here is one of its pages...

and here is the back cover...

the children choose this book every day. I am working on a another copy because they all want to hold this one. I'm sure I'll end up with several similar books in the classroom before this month is over! (MM note* the paper used is a combination of scrap-book paper and recycled wrapping paper. This book was laminated and spiral bound to protect the pages.)
Happy picture taking!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pictures from my week...

It's been a long but fun week. With my assistant out yesterday a substitute was needed and as you can imagine, my toddler friends were not so keen on this idea at first. It went well though, eventually they warmed up to her and enjoyed her stories and play dough ideas. Thank you Jane!

This photo is of Little One playing with dolls in the PEACE corner. Both of his older brothers are into the dramatic arts so participating in dramatic play is a favorite of his day. He enjoys visiting the PEACE corner to play with these soft dolls; he makes them talk and sing and dance in front of the mirror. Catching him there lost in his play is one of my favorite moments of my day.

Here is a photo of a not quite two year old girl who has carried her chosen 'work' to her rug and has begun playing. The interesting part about this is that moments before I snapped this photo, this little girl was standing and watching a small group presentation of this activity. She stood off to the side and watched curiously and intently. As soon as the work became available to be chosen off the shelf, she picked it up and brought it over to her work space. I observed her use the materials just as I had done, even repeating some of the same language that I had used. This young learner only attends school twice a week and this was her first time using a rug for her work. It was a very rewarding moment for me.

We use the sand paper letters every day it seems; this is a very appealing Montessori material for young twos! One of my students is especially interested in rubbing the letters and asked to color them. I wouldn't have normally introduced this extension this early in the year but the child's interest was there and so were pumpkins! I set up a stationary crayon rubbing work that includes:
a real pumpkin to admire
the sand paper letter 'p'
an orange crayon
and metal inset paper

[I am happy to share that this work has been very popular]

I'll post more tomorrow, we are in the middle of a storm here in New England...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fall Window Hangings

The children seemed to enjoy making these pretty window decorations, both the process and the end result. (Which is odd for such process oriented beings) They were very interested in which one they made and in the telling of that very important fact to others. It's really very sweet and I'm happy they like them. I anticipate we will be working with clear contact paper allot this school year.
So this is how we did it:
We (teachers) cut pieces of contact paper into various shapes and placed them sticky side UP on the table in front of each child. Then we provided them with cut paper scraps, flowers and leaves. The children chose which objects to stick on their paper and where they wanted everything to go. Once they were done with their creations we covered them with another piece of contact paper, then punched holes in the top and added yarn to hang from a stick. (*The child collected the flowers and leaves and even the sticks!) They seemed to really enjoy the project and the end result was beautiful! Almost every parent has commented on how pretty they are hanging in the window.
I try and do this project every season, using various materials: pine needles, dry leaves, beach sand, brushed wool...the list is endless!
*Remember to include the child's name some where, we wrote them on a leaf shaped piece of paper that they added to their almost finished creations.
Happy Collecting!
Montessori Mama

Carrot Picking

Okay, besides my little guy trying to run away, the carrot picking activity was so much fun! Our toddler friends seemed to love being part of such a grown-up task. They searched for the perfect carrot and carried it with pride up to the deck where we washed and scrubbed the dirt from them. Even the smallest set of hands took part and all tried a carrot (some children ate two or three!)
What are your child's favorite veggies to harvest?

Oh sure, he looks cute...

Here's a picture of Little One just before he made a break for it and ran toward the street!!! With my heart in my throat, running as fast as I was able, I caught my little Houdini just as one of his rubber boots made it over the white line. AND, while running away from me he looked back and smiled, laughing a delighted thrill seeker cackle and picking up speed! Where did this boy come from? He's such a dare devil! My husband doesn't even ride a bike and I always wear my seat belt. Who's kid is this?
I imagine him one day rock climbing every weekend in Acadia and just for kicks, bungee jumping off the Belfast bridge!

Then today while I had my head in the dryer attempting to do a week's worth of laundry, Little One just happened to find himself in Montessori Papa's side-table drawer, where he discovered a book light. I closed the dryer and stood up to see him standing in the kitchen with the clip end of the book light sticking out of his MOUTH! Yes, you guessed it, he was sucking on the light bulb! No real harm done, he didn't chew on it or swallow it, so I guess it's okay...
But I couldn't help thinking it's a good thing I'm not on a reality TV show.
AND it made me appreciate my Montessori classroom that much more. There is nothing more important than a well prepared environment. Okay, maybe that's an extreme comment. But man do I wish I had an assistant here at home! And less stuff to get into. *Please note: We have safety locks on just about everything (including the refrigerator door and toilet seat cover because he is so curious)

By the way, that's a photo of him after he just pulled a carrot from the children's garden at Cornerspring. More about that soon....
It appears that Saturday is my blogging day, now that I'm working outside the home Monday through Friday. I'll try to pick an evening during the week to blog also.
I hope things are going well for all of you!
Remember this cautionary tale and Keep a watchful eye on your toddlers they can move mighty quick! (Although I suppose if you have a toddler, you already know this fact.) :)
Montessori Mama
aka Mom to a busy two year old boy and going crazy want to come?
In the past 4 months I have called poison control 3 times
RE: half a tube of acrylic paint (white), 2 Surfs Up tattoos, and the liquid inside a plastic ice cube (it's NOT water by the way)
Please don't think less of me.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Toddler Conflict Resolution

Some one recently posted a very good question I would like to take a moment to answer.
Q: How do I handle conflict with Little One?
A: Well, since I am presently a teacher of toddlers (10 children with myself and one wonderful assistant) I will share with you, not only how I handle conflicts with Little one at home but also how conflicts are handled in the classroom. (It was my photo of our classroom peace corner that inspired the question.)
At home: Being the youngest of three, Little One has, well, very little to get into conflicts over. He is often given what he wants, as he wants it,to be completely honest. And when he wants something he can not have, we tell him so using simple clear statements and comfort him while he expresses himself. (i.e.we listen to him scream and hope he gets over it quickly) And he usually does move on quickly because my husband and I decided years ago (with Middle Man) that we were never 'giving in' to a screaming toddler ever again. If he wants something we model for him how we want him to ask for it politely and we support him in getting it for himself (when possible) and we try and provide him with as many opportunities as possible for him to independently take care of his own needs (by preparing the environment).
At School:
Our Toddler PEACE Corner is a space for friends to go and sit and just 'be'. There are beautiful & interesting things to look, a soft pillow to sit on, dolls for playing with...
And this is how the space is used by even our youngest friends. Conflicts are not often resolved in the PEACE Corner; they are resolved as they occur usually with the help of an adult. To share an example:

Two children are interested in the same toy, they each have hold of it and are pulling and yelling or crying, neither child is willing to let go.

The teacher joins the duo and begins to calmly state her observations and ask questions:
"I can see you are both wanting this toy. Let's work together to figure out a solution/ or way to make it work. (I once worked with someone who said "Make it work" and now all I can think of is Tim Gunn!!)
State the obvious: "There are two of you and only one toy" What can we do? Then offer the desired answer: "We could take turns with the toy." or "We could use the toy together, we could SHARE" (one of my favorite words!)
Next ask to hold the toy and assure the kiddos that they will each get to hold it too. Demonstrate a way to use the toy and then how to share with a friend. Offer the toy to one of the children and say,
"I will sit by you while you play and you can show me how you two SHARE with one another."
The expectation is clear, and if possible the two children will use the item one at a time. Most likely the child waiting for his turn will become disinterested or distracted and no longer want to wait for their turn. When I see this happen I try to remember which child didn't get their 'turn' with the item and later when it is not being used I lead them to it, so that they can choose it off the shelf for them self and have their turn (If the want to of course).
Now, just like sometimes with Little One, things don't always go that smoothly, often a two year old will cry or yell or tantrum. Depending on their temperament and the time of day. Sharing just before lunch or rest is probably not going to happen.
But this is what we try to nurture, this is our best practice. If both children are still fussy or becoming aggressive, I will remove the object from the equation and distracted with something new that I have many of or a puppet. (I'm a big fan of puppets)
I could talk more on this and will in future posts. Write now Little One wants his big brother's new National Geo Kids magazine. I've gotta GO!

Where in the World?


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