Sunday, March 29, 2009

Inspiring Mamas

We do not inherit the earth
from our ancestors,
we borrow it
from our children.

Visit these Amazing Mama's Blogs, they understand this quote, they live it, and they inspire the rest of us to also!

By the way, as we all know, there are MANY MORE AMAZING MAMAS than these out there, and I plan to share about them too, but this morning has given me only a small window of time to post.

When/if time allows you please comment and tell these folks that Montessori Mama sent you. Many thanks ~ J

The Magic Onions
5 Orange Potatoes
Periwinkles and Pine
Everyday Unitarian
Green Mama
Creative Kismet

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hooponopono ~ What's it All About?

A few years ago I learned about a Hawaiian (I think ? Forgive me if I'm wrong) chant called Hooponopono. I think it's about forgiveness and the law of attraction, again, please forgive my ignorance. I'm not sure exactly, it's late. I was raised Catholic and presently find myself as a member of a Unitarian Universalist church and because this is not a blog about religion I won't spend much time on that topic.

But the reason I share this is because since learning this simple chant, I have used it many times through difficult situaltions and not surprisingly, it has helped.
It has gotten me through four MRI scans, 3 jaw surgeries, one very long home birth, countless sleepless nights with a croupy toddler, turbulence on my recent plane trip, and even (silently) through a very difficult conversation with a dear, dear friend.

I've decide all we can do for one another is listen. It sounds so easy, so small but it isn't. It is our greatest gift to one another.

You ever notice how when someone is sharing something with you and you chime in a possible solutions or a different view point, that the person will shut down, and stop sharing. It's different of course if someone seeks your advice or asked your opinion and you offer it.

I'm talking about deep sharing, baring your not always so nice but human and vulnerable side and being received in love even still. That's real, that's beautiful. That's a gift.

Adults are so good at hiding away their true feelings, sometimes even from themselves. Our emotions become cloaked in humor, sarcasm, lies, even rage can hide us from truly getting in touch with how we are feeling. We all do it. Now...

But as toddlers we didn't. I think that is part of why I love my job. A two year old is new to this earth, born just 24 months earlier and still open, vulnerable and free. Don't you wish some times, just every once and a while you could express yourself like this?

Apparently he didn't like being dress up as a jungle animal as much as his big brother thought he would? Can you guess how he feels?

Or this, clearly he is having a good time:

My point, even though it's late, is:
It's not about saying anything. Sometimes it's just about the expressing, the listening and being heard. It feels comforting to know you are not alone in your emotions. Hugs help (especially for toddlers) but when your a grownup, listening means so much more.

I've decided to change how I deal with my frustrations. (Wish me luck, as you know if you read regularly, I am human and I rant sometimes) :) I will only put out what I want back. I've tried this before and it does work, but it's purposeful living and it's work for this tired mom of three. But I'm gonna try.

MM's Mantra:
"Just for today...
I will treat others as I wish to be treated.
I will Listen, not interrupt, just listen.
I will bare witness to other people's expressions of emotions
and I will respond, not just react.
Just for today, I will respect all living things.
I will speak from my heart and say only true statements.
This is my life's work.
Just for today I am going to do these things.
Tomorrow is a new day, a fresh slate...
What will be will be, let it be.

PEACE to all of you AMAZING Mama's and Papa's out there! After a day of parent teacher conferences, I can tell you, you are doing the most difficult and important job you will ever do! Your children are unable to express their thankfulness to you right now, but maybe one day they will. Sacrifice goes hand and hand with parenting, but it worth every minute of it.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I've Got Rhythm...Sticks

Do you? Banging sticks rules! My two's LOVE these sticks. "Circle Round for some music together friends, it's time for rhythm sticks." I say this and instantly 10 toddlers are sitting on circle rugs awaiting two painted sticks to bang together. You gotta love magic like this. Making noise is fun, making noise together with your friends? Even more fun! Now making MUSIC with sticks? This is altogether too cool for school. Seriously folks, if you don't have them, invest.

"Tap, tap, tap your sticks, tap your sticks together"
"Roll, roll, roll your sticks roll your sticks together"
"Drum, drum, drum your sticks, drum your sticks together"
see how many ideas they can come up with.

My most recent favorite toddler idea: "Hammer, hammer, hammer your sticks, hammer your sticks together." The child who came up with this idea is the son of a carpenter. One stick is the nail, the other, yep you guessed it, the hammer. They love these sticks! And obviously I do too. Enjoy.
Most importantly: Enjoy your time making music together, if not with sticks then with pots and wooden spoons. Get creative.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Okay, I'm wordy. I'll admit it.
If you read this blog regularly you've probably already come to this conclusion.

Right now I'm struggling with writing progress reports. And I'm writing too much. I've gotta say, these kids do allot in one day, never mind one year! Thank Heavens for photos. The journals too, have been very helpful. I have a kept individual journals for each student since the start of the school year and I am finding these mini scrap-books to be incredibly helpful. Still, I am not suppose to be writing thesis papers, these are meant to be one page narratives.

So, I am visiting some of my favorite blogs and taking a short break to say hello to all of you. I've been getting allot of requests for my book which is lovely. I hope people are enjoying their copies with their students. Let me know how it's going. I LOVE comments and try to answer each one.

Spreading Jam

Such fun! On our recent trip to NO I saved away this itty bitty jam jar, with this work in mind. My toddler friends loved getting sticky and sharing snacks with their friends. It was a success!
More to follow....
PEACE to you all on this beautiful Spring day

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Strawberries were on sale...

My Little One has been hungry allot lately, so to meet the constant begging for food throughout the morning from him, I created a food prep activity: cutting and serving strawberries! Plus strawberries were on sale. *Note: Little One eats a good b'fast and is in no way actually HUNGRY he just loves to eat. It's comforting, as is often the case for many growing bodies, but I just want to be clear: he is not actually suffering in any way, shape or form.

The set up (pictured) shows a purple vest (with the contact paper strawberry), the vest was for the person preparing the strawberries for serving. As a visual cue for the other children waiting. This was a very popular activity! WOW! I'm going to have to create more food prep. works. We went through TWO containers of berries today!
What do you do in your classrooms? Ideas are welcomed, thank you.
Montessori Mama

Friday, March 13, 2009

Toddlers Spring PL Shelves

A view from the toddler's shelves: This week's favorites!
Color sorting pom-poms (we call them eggs)

Flower arranging (using florist foam and plastic flowers)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Four Seasons Birthday Mat

I'm not sure who it was who requested a photo of this finished but here you are! It's done and being used day after tomorrow to celebrate our friend James' 3rd birthday! Happy Birthday James!
I made this mat from felt and cotton fabrics, scraps I had mostly. The words are on card stock. laminated and have a small velcro tab on the back for attaching to the mat. This is the toddler child's point of interest by the by. Velcro! So much fun for little hands.

We introduce the 4 Seasons Mat with this song:
(Tune: Twinkle, Twinkle)
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
There's four seasons,
count them all,
1, 2, 3, 4!

The birthday Toddler walks our globe around the mat while we sing a special birthday song using sign language and music. (Our globe is a soft pillow ball globe I bought locally but I've seen for sale in Micheal O catalog.).


Monday, March 9, 2009

The Peace Box

While at the AMS conference I came across this beautiful addition to my classroom. It's called The Peace Box and it was designed by an amazing toddler Montessori teacher Marcia Hublebank and created by the Nature & Nurture Learning store. I adore this! Obviously Little One is fond of it too.

You introduce the Peace Box with a photo of Maria Montessori, then follow with other Peace Makers you are fond of (Helen Keller, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. Johnny Appleseed) and then mid year when your children are familiar with discovering peacemakers inside the box, you include photos of them! Isn't that lovely?

I can't wait to introduce this new circle activity. Marcia shared during her workshop that each of the laminated photos she presents have a small velcro tab on the back of them so that they can be hung in the classroom on the wall where she has a felt rainbow. Above the rainbow it says "The Gallery of Peacemakers".

Sunday, March 8, 2009

On the shelves...

Sorting Heart Bracelets on a Flower Post
(MM original)

Clothes Pin Drop (MM Original)

And on my wish list, these two items I saw at the AMS conference:
(I have no idea what either one is called or who makes then, I'm sorry! I just saw them and took this quick photo, it was a busy weekend. I'm sure when I unpack I'll find some more information)

Thank you to everyone who has placed an order for When I Make Silence! You are so kind and I hope it becomes something you use regularly in your classrooms and homes when playing the Silence Game.

Friday, March 6, 2009

When I Make Silence by Jennifer Howard

My book arrived today! Here's a first look at the cover and some pages inside. The book can be purchased through Parent Child Press or through me. If you would like a signed copy, order through me by sending me an email to
I'll sign a copy and send it to you. They sell for just $6.00! If you have a special request, dedication etc. just let me know.

I wrote this book years ago to assist my 3-6 class with the Silence game. I found that providing examples of ways to make silence, especially for young children, assisted them with centering themselves and finding peace.

Alicia Jewell illustrated it beautifully! You may be familiar with her work she wrote and illustrated The Peace Rose.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Some of what we did while my camera was missing....

Diapering Teddy Bears

Snow in the sensory table

Jackson Pollack Tribute

Photo Match Up Game

Home At Last

Phew! As many of you know, the East coast was hit with a big snow storm, Georgia got 4 inches! So Montessori Papa and I got stuck in New Orleans after the convention. But we've made it home safe and sound. Little One was excited to see us, our older boys happy to have us back too.

It was a wonderful trip! I can't say enough about the hospitality, the food, the entertainment! It's a city rich with history and talent! Everywhere you walk, someone is playing music, it's incredible. The food was so good too, I MUST have gained 5 pounds while there.

Meeting Aline Wolf was wonderful, and Micheal Duffy too (he was so kind)it was also great to put faces with names and email correspondents! So nice to meet so many of you! And thank you for buying my book! If you would like to buy a signed copy from me pleases email me at Thanks!

Most of all to be a couple again with my dear husband, without interruptions, was such a gift. If I had to be stuck in an airport with anyone, I'm so happy it was you. I can't thank my mother-in-law Susan enough for taking care of the boys and the board and Paula for making it all possible!!!

More to come! My camera is working again! I have to post recent photos and activities, I am so far behind. PEACE to you all,
Montessori Mama

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