Sunday, July 27, 2008

Today's Hero: Greg McKendry

On Sunday July 27th Greg McKendry attempted to stop a lone gunman by stepping in front of his gun, blocking the 25 children performing a play in front of their congregation. The Sunday Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist church service had just begun, excited children dressed in costumes stood before their church family smiling, proud parents pushed record buttons on their video cameras but in a matter of moments their whole world would change.

Tragically Mr. McKendry lost his life, but because of his selfless bravery so many others did not. He slowed down a mad man wielding a fire arm, preventing him from doing more harm. Other members of the congregation were able to pin the man to the floor until help arrived.

I'm sorry for posting such a sad and scary story. I just can't stop thinking about it. As the former director of religious education of our UU church, I have lead many a children's play. I have stood proudly before the a packed santuary, introduced an enthusiastic bunch of performers and been filled with joy for the children; sharing their spirit and knowledge with so many. I have shared in their anxiety and joy, whispered forgotten lines to nervous preschoolers, and snapped photos for our church scrap book.

My heart is breaking for the Tennessee families and the innocent children who will be plagued by nightmares for years to come.

There is speculation that this was a hate crime. Implying that the shooter disapproved of the UU church's "liberal values". This is especially painful to read.

This morning I say a prayer for this congregation, for the families who lost a loved one on this tragic day, and for the intolerant who may carry hate inside them, may you find peace.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
~Kathryn Oliver

Montessori Mama

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fine Motor Activity

a block of flora craft Styrofoam (mine was recycled from a recent flower delivery)
drinking straws
lollipop sticks
tooth picks
Popsicle sticks
and lastly...
two busy toddlers in need of something NEW to hold their attention :)

the result:
I made myself a cup of tea and took some photos(obviously)and they didn't even notice me!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Transfering Seashells by the Seashore

A friend gave me these star fish plates. (Thank you Susan)
They screamed "Summer Camp" to me and so I passed them along to Cornerspring's Summer Camp program, along with the tongs. We quickly pulled this little beauty together! Isn't it lovely to look at?

Almost every person is drawn to it the moment they walk into the Practical Life area. But I have to say, it is a bit of a challenge. My Little One was too busy with play ground play to give it a try but for ME, it was a challenge!
Here is why:
Because the shells were cone shaped it made it especially hard to pick them up with tongs. I might have realized this if had I tried it BEFORE it was put it out.

So, although this work was certainly ascetically pleasing, I felt it was a bit too difficult for a 3-6 class. Perhaps if a different shape of shell was used it would allow even the youngest child to be successful while using it.
*MM NOTE: It's important to try out the works you create prior to putting them on the shelf.
Another transfer work idea: small sponge pieces!
Happy Summer Creating!

Monday, July 21, 2008

It's a Small World, afterall

Our attitudes and opinions toward other people begin to be formed in the first years of life. As your child absorbs the feelings in the home or their child care/classroom community they build their knowledge of our world's people. Well, who we choose to expose them to anyway.
I believe we have a responsibility to foster a healthy and loving introduction to the cultures of our world (especially if you are a Montessori teacher) whenever possible.

Provide your children with a variety of music, foods, songs, clothing, celebrations, dances, houses, languages, means of transportation, tools ~ in the home, in the classroom and in your community.

Offer a cloth globe ball as a first toy for an older infant or young toddler. As the children near the end of their third year provide a real globe and wall map of our world. References can then be made in a tangible, physical way for your children.

The goal is not to teach an understanding of the scope of space and distance, no not yet. Now is an age of celebrating the wonder of it all, the colors and shapes and in attaching names to them. Creating a familiarity. Later your children will build on these early impressions to make sense of the history and cultures of the world.

*Source: Michael Olaf's Birth to Three 2007-2008

There is a wonderful collection of books that I feel should be in every Montessori classroom (if possible) they are the International Family Life Books by Gwenyth Swain. You can find them in the Michael Olaf's catalog.

Another great collection of books for the very young areHelen Oxenbury's First Cultural Board Books.

Enjoy ~ Celebrate Common threads and Create an Awareness
Montessori Mama

Thursday, July 17, 2008

While the Wild One Napped...

While Little One napped I finished a pen and ink of small hands that have found a treasure.

Mama Rant!

Okay so it's day 24. It's been 24 Days since Papa Montessori left for his Montessori training.
I'm nearing my breaking point. Can I just rant for a moment please?
Thank you.
Before I start, I hope it goes without saying that I love my children more than anything. That said,
The last two days have been very stressful! Little One is officially TWO, as you know, and he is turning into a wild man! I know his routine is upset and he misses his rough and tumble play Dad, but oh my goodness kid! Could you bring it down to a low roar? Could you stop moving for two minutes?! Yesterday he tried to eat a candle! He won't eat any vegetables all of a sudden, but he'll eat a candle?
What gives?
In a matter of moments he dumped four bathroom drawers on the floor, dumped his bucket of crayons (which he had to climb up on a chair to get it off the counter!)and some how, I'm still not sure how, got into his sleeping teenage brother's bedroom and took his IPOD hostage.
The result a screaming hissy fit when said IPOD was retrieved by his now awake and very grumpy teenage brother.
Everything always goes wrong while I am getting dressed or using the bathroom.
Does this happen to you too?

The past few weeks have been a pretty constant stream of:
driving to pick some one up
driving to drop someone off
making meals
buying food to make a meal
cleaning up after a meal
and doing laundry.

Middle Man had to have his teeth cleaned yesterday and he ended up refusing to open his mouth for the dental hygienist (that was fun)she had to come and get me in the waiting room. Little One saw this as his opportunity to take off down the hallway toward the Treasure Chest of children's goodies usually given to a child who WILL cooperate with the dental hygienist, and he proceeded to, guessed it, DUMP the contents of the treasure box. EXCEPT for the things he wanted to have (a handful of pencil erasers shaped like teeth) which he promptly put into his mouth!!!!
(I am NOT making this up!)

Taller than Me (who's social life is way more important than just about anything else) has been needing me to drive him every where and just once I would love to here a "Thanks Mom" without me having to hint around for one.

Could I complain about the smelly lunch boxes or the mildew on the laundry no-one seems to know how to do except for me? Did I mention the WET library books, broken window screen and lost water shoes?
Perhaps it's better if I don't.

This is the most difficult job, isn't it? Some days I want to call in sick.

Well that's it, as you can all relate to I'm sure, I have a very long TO DO list and it's calling to me.
Little One is napping and sharing with all of you is a short lived luxury.
Thanks for reading this. I hope I didn't scare you with my honesty.
Like my mother always said,
"I try my best, that's all anybody can do."
Montessori Mama
PS I just found some cheese to go with my whine, phew!
Only 15 more days till Montessori Papa comes home! YA HOO! But who's counting?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Many Thanks!

So many of you have been emailing me lately and I'm having trouble keeping up with responding! I really appreciate receiving your notes and questions please know that I WILL write you back.

So, I wanted to take a moment to say THANK YOU and to share with you a sweet thank you card I received from friends of mine recently.
The image was created using magazine clippings and a glue stick. My Middle Man saw it and wanted to make one too!
It's lots of fun using the rich colors found in magazine photos to create a completely new image.
Thank you Jasmine for the inspiration!

Some More Heroes

Aline Manna
Theodor Seuss Geisel
Alicia Nash
Single parents everywhere
Trina Schart Hyman
Shel Silverstein
My Mom

Sunday, July 13, 2008

What Will My Child's Day Be Like?

Building the nest continued...
This is a summer I am sure to remember fondly, for a variety of reasons, but most importantly because this is the summer I am setting up our Montessori school's toddler environment...from scratch! Please know I love to bake "from scratch" I love to craft "from scratch" and what I am discovering is although I am LOVING building this nest from scratch, explaining my vision to others is a challenge.
I can imagine how it may be difficult for some parents to sign their child up for our toddler program, sight unseen. And so I thought I would share my visions with all of you. I look forward to feed back and encouragement and questions if you have any. Feel free to email me at

If you are a parent of a toddler soon to enter into our toddler program at the Montessori school this post is specifically directed to you. If you are a visitor to this blog and find anything at all useful in this post I am very happy to share with all of you and thank you for reading!

"What will my toddler's day be like?
I'm not always sure how to field this question because every child is different and what one is drawn to is different for each one of them. So every child is going to give and receive something different than every other child in the group. Without having had an opportunity to observe your children, I have yet to discover what will become interesting to your child; however based on my 16 years of experience and formal education in child development, Montessori and early childhood education I am hoping I will create an environment in which your children and you will find the following:

Many, MANY sensorial experiences!
As you know our toddlers are sensorial learners, our classroom will be designed with this in mind. Prepare for picking up MESSY but happy children.

a quiet space to cuddle up with a board book or stuffed toy

climbing opportunities, rolling opportunities....large motor development supportive materials (tunnels, hula hoops, balls etc.)

Musical instruments!
Singing and dancing EVERY day.

Language nurturing activities such as animated story telling, puppet play, listening games and opportunities to make silence as well as noise.

Opportunities for your child to develop Care of Self Skills such as hanging up his or her own coat, washing hands, blowing one's nose...
Toys! Play things designed for toddler learning and MORE than one of exciting items as we learn how to share.

Mirrors and hats, smocks and paint, blocks and nesting containers and so much more!

Every day your children will go out doors and move at their own pace about the play yard; climbing apparatus and a large sand box are provided. Ride on toys and balls to run and kick with too. Plants and materials to build with and create new things from will be provided seasonally also.

There is a both a start and a finish to your child's time at school, at the school we believe in community building and peaceful conflict resolution. Visiting the Nest, your toddler will be provided with opportunities to grow and learn, to try new things and make discoveries. They will be encouraged to use language to communicate and their hands for helping.

It is our goal that they will feel welcome, important, safe and loved while at school. Our presence is to assure safety and provide support for their learning. We teachers will nurture their independence and help them to identify their feelings, the feelings of the other children in the group and for them to slowly gain control of their bodies and voices. We will provide a space full of positive learning experiences, opportunities for social growth with a focus on your toddlers as sensorial learners.

My family who had been out and about while I was typing this have returned. Now three boys and their Papa (home for the weekend from his Montessori training) fill our tiny house with noise and commotion. I can no longer concentrate. Perhaps this post will be continued yet again....

PEACE to all of you!
Enjoy your family
Montessori Mama

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Summer Time Fun!

Here Little One enjoys the rain.
Spraying the hose high above him makes him smile and laugh every time.
I haven't been blogging much...summer is here. But we have been crafting lots!
And my wheels have been turning creating activities for my toddler class this fall. I've decided to open an Esty Shop and slowly but surely it will get up and running!
Thank you to all of you who have encouraged me to take this step toward sharing what I love to do! The following is a short list of items soon to appear in my on-line Etsy shop.
I have several different options available for sale.

1.) Reflection Cards are a set of 30 hand painted, laminated cards with dish (inspirational words)~~$15

2.) Comfort Cards are a set of 22 hand painted, ( a bit larger than the Reflection cards) laminated cards with dish (words and phrases to comfort such as 'Let it be')~~$15

3.) 'While You Wait' Cards for expectant mothers are a set of 30 hand painted, laminated cards with dish with words and phrases to both comfort and inspire the future Mama example: "You are a Goddess!" and "Magic within" ~~$15

4.) Children's Affirmation Cards are a set of 20 large hand painted, laminated cards with dish (these cards are intended for both home & classroom use; if you are buying them for a classroom please specify the number of students if more than 20)~~$20

5.) Yoga Position Cards (something NEW I've been working on) are a set of 20 yoga positions, hand painted and laminated includes dish ~~$20

6.) Sentence Starters a set of 15 hand painted, laminated cards with sentence starters printed on them (some examples: "While walking through the woods I saw..." "I opened the box and discovered..." "I heard a loud noise and felt...") with dish ~~$20

If you have another request of idea in mind I can also do custom orders. I once did a set for a friend who was recovering from surgery, she chose some of the words she wanted. Or if you have a favorite color choice, let me know. :)

Also for sale will be prints of my art work and greeting cards as well as note cards featuring Maria Mouse and original cut paper designs!

So bear with me while I get up and running PLEASE I may look computer savvy but honestly, not so much.
I hope you are all enjoying your summers and your kiddos are too!
Montessori Mama

Monday, July 7, 2008

Art Projects for Young Preschoolers

I thought I would share some ART+PLAY projects we did this year:

We drew with water color crayons and then painted over them with watercolor paints. Three Friends on Swings by Amelia 5 years old

We drew with oil pastels to create colorful posters for display at the Art Center.

We crafted animals and shapes from clay after learning about Pablo Picasso.

We learned about Georia O'Keeffe and painted with flowers and made mono-print ferns.
We made cut paper collages after sharing the Story Basket about Henri Mattisse.
Here's a photo of an "Everything Collage:

We made prints using everyday objects of different sizes and shapes.
We even painted with our feet!
Art+Play is now over but creative activities for young ones are still happening around here! Please check out past posts for more ideas and in the near future I will be sharing what projects we've been up to these past few weeks. I am presently without my beloved digital camera! So photos will follow soon.
I hope you are all keeping cool and have had a wonderful 4th of July weekend (if you are in the States :)
What are your favorite summer time art projects?
Montessori Mama

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

For their Montessori Papa

(My husband is finishing his Masters and taking his formal Montessori Elementary Training this summer. I am so proud of him!)
I took this photo Montessori Papa's last day here. We went for ice cream in town and the boys let me take a photo of all three of them at the same time! This is unheard of you see. I really like this picture. I hope he does too.

To all of YOU:
# 1.) My hat is off to single parents everywhere! I have no idea how you do this day after day. I am very blessed and I know that. I wish I lived closer to you so that I could offer to care for your kiddos so you could have a break!
# 2.) Thank you ALL for all the sweet comments and emails I've been receiving lately. They always make me smile. I try so hard to write to you, to answer questions etc. But unfortunately often things get lost in the shuffle around here.
Please keep writing and I'll keep trying.
Montessori Mama

Where in the World?


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