Friday, December 18, 2009
Video Clip from the Classroom for Home: Knobless Cylinders and Mat Rolling
Montessori teaching guides can make exercises seem stilted, so we wanted to show you a real life Knobless Cylinder exercise that includes mat rolling at the end. Notice how the mat doesn't really get rolled so neatly, but the child is trying very hard (despite being distracted by our camera and lights!)
Thursday, December 10, 2009
DIY: Montessori Dressing Frames for Toddlers
Dressing Frames with toddler-friendly Velcro, large buttons, or zippers allow your child to work with these great materials before they are ready to use the smaller materials in the standard Dressing Frame sets.
The Nienhuis Montessori Dressing Frames are beautifully made, but a bit expensive. They do, however, provide a great reference if you are making your own at home.
The wooden frames are easy to put together, and you can use an old picture frame if you make sure it has no rough edges or splinters.
The Velcro Dressing Frame shown here is really nice for younger toddlers and older infants. You can put it together with two or three tabs of cloth that have Velcro on the underside.
The nice thing about Dressing Frames is that they can be placed on a mat or small table easily, allowing your child to be in a good ergonomic position when he or she works with the material. The dressing cubes that I have seen are a bit harder to use for younger children who can't zip or button materials that are facing in an awkward direction.
For more ideas and formal lessons, visit Montessori House for Montessori teaching albums full of instructional material for parents.
Monday, December 7, 2009
DIY Color Matching for Colored Tablets
Sue Eustis, director of the Apple Ridge Montessori School in Catonsville, Maryland, exhorts that "... all of the Montessori equipment can be made at home!"
Sue suggests button matching for older children for whom choking is no longer a concern. Look for pairs of identical buttons in different colors that can be used for matching in the same way that you use the Colored Tablets.
Once your child has worked with this basic matching exercise, you can vary the sizes of the buttons to expand upon the exercise.
For younger children, look for three pairs of large coat buttons in red, blue, and yellow. These buttons should be bigger than your child's mouth, so that there is no chance of them slipping in.
The feel of the buttons is nice, too.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Testing for Entrance into Kindergarten
Kayla Rosenblum sat upright and poised as she breezed through the shapes and numbers, a leopard-patterned finger puppet resting next to her for moral support.
But then came something she had never seen before: a visual analogy showing a picture of a whole cake next to a slice of cake. What picture went with a loaf of bread in the same way?
Kayla, who will be 4 in December, held her tiny pointer finger still as she inspected the four choices. “Too hard,” she peeped.
Test preparation for basic skills leads to a number of problems including 1) a reluctance of children to experiment and learn by trial and error, and 2) the creation of a fear of making a mistake, which will inhibit normal development processes.
For those of you not using our Montessori teaching albums, here are a few pages of age-appropriate material for children in the PreK to Kindergarten years!
One of Maria Montessori's original books, The Montessori Method, has also been made available online for free, many thanks to The Celebration of Women Writers project.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Holiday Gifts of Clay or Cookies
1. Using modeling clay, mold a lump of clay into a small plate. Your child can place his or her palm print into the clay. Fire or dry the clay, let your child sign it (or scribble with paints), and you have one great gift for a loving family member. You can use a baby's footprint, too, for great results and no clay on the fingers.
2. The same concept as above, but use cookie dough on a circular baking sheet. The hand impression goes onto the cookie dough and you bake the cookie. Frosting and sprinkles optional. If you use a small disposable cookie sheet, you can just place the whole sheet into a box and wrap the box.
Looking for the ultimate Montessori gift this year? Try our Montessori teaching albums for infants and toddlers!
If you are looking for a quick, efficient, and great place to buy gifts online, check out the Cool Mom Picks Holiday Gift Guide. We're advertising in it for the first time!
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Montessori for Infants: Who has a child under 18 months?
The supplements will help everyone work around the expensive material for infants that include brain-body exercises and materials such as the Object Permanence sets, Imbucare, and others. We introduce DIY ideas and substitutions that are quite useful for maintaining a good classroom setup at home on a budget.
Montessori House: New Customer Service Announcement
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Montessori for Infants: Object Permanence Box DIY
In our Montessori teaching album for infants and toddlers, we discuss the use and presentation of a lot of material that is designed to promote the brain-body development link.
This object permanence box for infants is a wonderful piece of equipment that can also be made at home. For example, you can take a small box (about half the size of a shoe box) and cut a round hole exactly the size of the ball on the top of the box. Using the ball shown, your child can experiment by putting the ball through the top round hole and then lifting the lid to find that the ball is inside the box.
Promoting this sorts of physical and intellectual interaction addresses your child's development needs in these early years.
For those of you who have purchased this teaching album, it is important to get or make as much of this series of material as possible -- it is all in the same chapter in the album.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Montessori for Children Under Two Years of Age
Some of the simplest material that we introduce for infants and toddlers is the most important. For example, there is a whole section of lessons in the album that addresses brain and body development directly: the object permanence box use that covers the stage of development in which children discover that an object continues to be the same, even when you cannot see it (e.g. Mommy still exists even if she has gone to work this morning); imbucare boxes designed for infants to work on hand-eye coordination as he or she works with cylinders, cubes, triangle prisms, and rectangular prisms (are you using the language of the pieces to introduce the vocabulary to your child?); supinated wrist movement exercises that help children work with hand and wrist movements that will be the foundation for writing, fine motor skills, and other key movements later, and; simple shape puzzles, bells, and mirrors.
We discourage you from attempting to push reading and other topics that might be considered more academic at this time. The building blocks for development are crucial, and your child is not helped by learning to memorize words on cards or other material that is outside of his or her developmental needs now.
The prices of material such as the imbucare boxes or the object permanence boxes can be a bit daunting, but you can usually find good deals online and the price of these pieces of material are inline with those of regular toys, so we encourage you to make the substitution when you buy gifts and toys for your child. A lot of our readers have had success putting this material on gift lists for holidays and other special occasions as well.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Toddlers: Suggested Reading
We found some great (free) material online about water and the Chesapeake Bay that we wanted to share with everyone who is homeschooling or informally working with their children at home.
This daytime reading is not meant to take the place of time-honored bedtime stories!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Between Infancy and Toddlerhood: Choosing Curriculum Material
We highly encourage everyone with children in this age group to start with the Montessori for Infants and Toddlers teaching album instead of moving directly to the Primary class album because a number of key lessons such as use of the Imbucare boxes, Object Permanence Boxes, refined hand and wrist movement projects, and language and interaction work provide important building blocks for overall growth and development.
Language leading to reading and writing is a natural progression that we do not rush in the Montessori classroom. The infant and toddler album contains a lot of material that is focused on developing overall language skills that your child can build upon at his or her own pace.
Questions? Send them along in comment form to share with everyone!
Monday, August 31, 2009
Montessori Versus Nursery School: Role of Parents
Here are some tips:
1. Nursery schools cater to parents. Montessori schools focus on your child.
2. When you drop your child off at Montessori school, you will be expected to be as inobtrusive as possible. This is not because we do not like you or want to avoid you! It is because we need to create an ideal child-focused learning environment. We hold one-on-one parent meetings and host pot-luck dinners for parent-teacher interaction. It is great if parents enjoy socializing with one another, but please try to move away from the playground or door to the classroom, preferably to a nearby coffee shop, when you do get together. It is very distracting to children to see or hear their parents nearby when class begins.
3. Please schedule a time to talk to teachers or the administration. If you can email or leave a voice mail, we will be every so grateful. Drop off and pick up times can be challenging for young children and our priority will be taking care of the children.
4. If you would like to observe a class, we will be glad to accommodate you, but it might take some scheduling if we are starting a new class or have a number of new students to help acclimate.
Questions? We would love to hear from you!
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Montessori Sensorial & Colors: Before Color Tablets
Montessori Sensorial work includes lovely Color Tablets that are ideal for introducing children to the concept and names of colors.
But if your child is young enough so that he or she still prefers to bite and touch objects instead of showing an interest in handling them delicately, wait for a bit and introduce naming exercises with objects that he or she can touch and bite such as a bright red apple, a bunch of purple grapes, or the peeling of an orange tangerine.
You can prepare a bunch of purple grapes and a bunch of green grapes for your child's exploration and enjoyment to introduce the name of the fruit and the two colors.
Next, prepare three-part cards using these same fruits and vegetables!
Montessori curriculum for infants and toddlers in our Montessori teaching albums.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Montessori at Home: Homeschooling Classroom
Parents who are using our teaching albums: Refer to the Learning Environment section in your binder. Try taking photos of your home environment before and after you implement the changes we suggest for creating a child-friendly and touch-friendly environment.
Learn more about our Montessori teaching albums to use at home.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Montessori School in Baltimore Maryland: One spot left for the September
A teacher friend says that one spot is left in her adorable local Montessori school in Baltimore, Maryland.
Apple Ridge Montessori School
200 Ingleside Ave
Catonsville, Maryland, 21228
Ask for Sue and tell her we sent you.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Montessori Class Work: Outdoors
This original photo from Maria Montessori's classroom is from The Montessori Method online.
I love this photo because the children look so relaxed in the garden setting!
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Montessori Terminology: Primary Class versus Preschool
Sorry about the confusion!
Here is our Montessori teaching curriculum for the Primary Class.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Montessori Teaching Curriculum: Three-Fingered Grasp
All of the small pieces of equipment such as the ball and geometric shapes in the Infant Object Permanence Boxes are meant to be held in a three-fingered grasp (e.g. pointer, index, and thumb). This grasp is a natural one for infants and toddlers, but worth mentioning because adults tend to pick things up with two fingers (e.g. pointer and thumb) and you should use the grasp that you want your child to use.
Younger children will tend to use their whole hands when holding something large. This is fine. No need to correct anything, but just make sure you use the three-fingered grasp with equipment for which your child will need to use it.
Check out our Montessori Curriculum Teaching Albums!
Monday, July 27, 2009
Montessori Teaching Curriculum: Reading, Writing, and the Sand Tray
This Sand Tray is your child's first introduction to writing and writing-related motor skills.
Let your child enjoy tracing and drawing shapes in the sand and then show him or her how to make curves, circles, lines, and dots.
Once your child has been introduced a handful of letters via the Sandpaper Letters, you can show your child how to trace these letters in the Sand Tray, too. However, if your child prefers to draw in the sand, that's fine!
Photo credit: Guidecraft Children's Toys
Friday, July 24, 2009
Montessori Teaching Curriculum: Where to Sit?
When we write, "Sit on your child’s non-dominant side," this means that you should sit on the left side of a right-handed child. And, naturally, on the right side of a left-handed child. Try having a friend sit on your right side while you try to use a pen with your right hand. Does it feel as if they are in your way? You can’t quite move the way you would like to or you have to be careful that you do not bump into them?
Are you not sure which side your child favors or do sides alternate? Try different sides and see what happens. Be aware of your child's body language and interaction with you when you are on the right side versus the left side. The goal is to have your physical presence not interfere with the presentation or work at hand. Your role is to guide and present without changing your child's focus.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Mats for Floor Work in the Montessori Classroom Setup
In our curriculum guides, we discuss using mats or carpets for floor-based projects that are frequently presented in the Montessori classroom.
Note that these carpets should be of a simple single color. Lines and patterns distract from a lot of the projects and equipment -- for example, setting up geometric shapes or different types of triangles involves looking at the lines of the equipment itself, so a patterned carpet does not work well.
Look for a carpet that is the size of a yoga mat, but made from a flat carpet. Avoid materials that bunch, wrinkle, or gather.
This beige floor mat is featured on the Nienhuis site.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Montessori Teaching Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers: Time and Attention
In our curriculum for infants and toddlers, we discuss the presentation format, materials needed, and sequence of events for each lesson or exercise. You will notice, however, that there is no particular length of time for the duration of each lesson. This is key because the length of time that an individual child will be focused on a particular exercise depends on that child.
Once you set up the exercise with all of the equipment and present it, the number of times your child decides to, for example, pour water from one pitcher to another, is an independent choice. At the right stage in a child's development, he or she will has the ability to be completely captivated by a certain type of lesson, for example, a fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination practice lesson such as the Practical Life Water Pouring Exercise. This means that your child's current stage of development calls for this type of skill practice and development in terms of the Montessori Sensitive Periods of Development.
Importantly, make sure that you allow your child to engage his or her periods of attention during these projects without adding interruptions. It is really tempting to go up and talk to a child who is being super cute by doing the same thing over and over, but this is the time that you need to step back and let your child develop the particular skill that has caught his or her attention!
For step-by-step lessons, check out our Montessori teaching curriculum for parents and teachers.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Selecting Montessori Material for Your Home or Classroom
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Montessori Teaching Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers
Montessori teaching methodology for all ages focuses on providing the right learning environment with the appropriate material, teacher, and student mix that will allow children to follow their own individual paths to learning.
For infants and toddlers, this focus on the individual path is especially important because children in this age group are developing so many key facets of themselves during these early years. A lot of parents ask us for a very clear and precise curriculum with information on how much time should be dedicated to teaching a certain lesson and when their child should move to the next more difficult topic. No matter what curriculum one follows, this is pretty much impossible due to the different developmental schedules of young children.
In our teaching binders, we strive to provide the same mix of topics and developmental exercises that one would find in a real life classroom, so parents can set up the material and let their children learn at an individualized pace. Some children may spend hours on a project that other children spend months enjoying. This is completely natural and does not indicate any developmental level or differing progress achievements.
See our Montessori teaching curriculum for infants and toddlers.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Montessori and the Tactile Sense
When you visit a Montessori classroom for infants and toddlers, the first thing that all parents remark upon is how calm the teachers remain. There is never an outburst of "No, don't touch that!" in the classroom.
Ah, but how about in real life? Yes, it does get tricky to maintain a Montessori like calm presence about everything, especially in a world of vehicles, power tools, and other dangerous things.
Since touching, tasting, squeezing, biting, watching, listening, shaking, and grasping are primary routes to discovering the world around them in these early years, our task is to help them go about this process!
So, here are some suggestions to try steer your child's touching and testing towards good and helpful activities for children under three:
- Provide a touchable environment at home. No breakables, no glass tables, and no access to electrical outlets and similar hazards.
- Put together a low shelf full of Montessori equipment (see our earlier posts for DIY, which will save you tons of money) such as
- the Imbucare set (shown in my May 15th post Hand Eye Coordination and Grasping Practice) -- these are fantastic DIY candidates or Amazon wish list items
- Soft blocks in a variety of shapes
- Hard building blocks
- Dressing Frame Sets (another earlier post on Practical Life Material)
- Three shape puzzles
- A Mystery Bag full of delightful and toddler or infant safe objects such as soft toys, a smooth large pebble, a soft squishy beanbag, a feather, and a small book.
- Children's picture and word books as well as more difficult children's books for you to read aloud to your child.
- And other tactile and friendly items!
Monday, June 8, 2009
Montessori and Language Development for Infants and Toddlers
Using descriptive language with an infant or toddler is not always an intuitive thing. It can be tempting to use simple words and phrases, omitting more difficult vocabulary and sentences, so it is important to think through the process so that you use correct phrasing and great descriptive words when you speak with your young child.
Many parents who observe a Montessori class for children in this age group for the first time are struck by the level of vocabulary used in the classroom. From the equipment itself complete with rectangles and spheres to social skills interaction, the goal of a Montessori teacher is to provide a well-rounded language environment in addition to the beautiful equipment and furnishings.
- For example:
- Use full sentences with concise and descriptive vocabulary when you speak with your child. For example, a "the blue cup" can be described as "the blue ceramic cup" and "the red cup" can be described as "the red plastic cup".
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Infant Health: Safe Sleep for Your Baby
I also thought it a useful reminder that soft plushy surfaces can pose Sudden Infant Death (SID) risks to infants because a lot of new organic mattresses and padding is not as firm as regular bedding.
Three useful tips from the NIH site include:
- Babies sleep safer on their backs. Babies who sleep on their stomachs are much more likely to die of SIDS than babies who sleep on their backs.
- Sleep surface matters. Babies who sleep on or under soft bedding are more likely to die of SIDS.
- Every sleep time counts. Babies who usually sleep on their backs but who are then placed on their stomachs, like for a nap, are at very high risk for SIDS. So it's important for everyone who cares for your baby to use the back sleep position for naps and at night.
To read the entire article on Safe Sleep for Your Baby: Ten Ways to Reduce the Risk of Sudden Infant Death (SID) visit the NIH site. Those of you volunteering in the community will find the free printable material links there.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Toddlers: First Box of Color Tablets
The First Box of Color Tablets is the official name for the box on the right that includes three pairs of red, yellow, and blue tablets.
Superb for introducing toddlers to color names, these beautiful tablets are meant to be handled by the tabs on the top and bottom (the white bars). You can show your child how to hold them by simply grasping them with either one hand or two hands, depending on how big your child's hands are because he or she will copy what you do.
For DIY tablets, you can make colored bars with handles out of any material that allows the colors to come through well. If you are buying red, yellow, and blue child-safe paint, remember to get a lot because these colors are used frequently in the classroom for other material you will want later.
More Montessori House curriculum ideas for infants and toddlers.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Hand Eye Coordination & Grasping Practice for Toddlers
"Crossing the midline" is a concept in a lot of toddler equipment that you can see clearly from the equipment itself. Look for the midpoint in the dowel and see how the relationship between the objects on the dowel and the arrangement interact. Your child will experiment with this relationship as he or she arranges all of the discs on this particular dowel. Since this is a horizontal dowel, your child will need to carefully push the discs past the midline to fit all of them onto the dowel, unlike the vertical dowel where the cubes go to the base by themselves.
One key feature of Montessori equipment is that it is well-crafted. Everything balances, stands, and performs its function flawlessly. If you find yourself looking at material that is not steady or does not fit well together (e.g. the lid does not close completely or the dowels are different sizes), don't buy it!
The easiest way to create a good DIY project out of this concept is to attach a vertical dowel to a stand and find a series of large symetrical round or square beads of the same color to use as disks. Of course, if you are good with woodworking, a horizontal and vertical dowel set would be great.
More curriculum and lessons for little ones in our Montessori curriculum monthly newsletters (only $12.99 a year).
Photo credit: Nienhuis Montessori equipment for infants and toddlers.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Montessori Practical Life for Toddlers: Dressing Frame
This Velcro frame is the easiest frame to use and make.
Use the same set up, shelf, and steps as shown above for the button frame. When you close the flaps, close the one on the bottom first. Then place the top flap on top of the bottom flap. Press lightly. Show your child how it sticks together.
Let your child work with this and other exercises for as long as he or she wishes.
The dressing frame sets include a number of different types such as buttons, laces, and zippers, but you can also make this into an easy (and cheap) DIY project. If you are making dressing frames for your older infant or toddler, the dressing frame with three large buttons comes next.
More curriculum ideas in our Montessori curriculum monthly newsletters.
Photo credit: Nienhuis Montessori Equipment
Saturday, May 2, 2009
The Need to Touch
In the Montessori classroom, we create Mystery Bags full of objects that can be identified by touch. Taking this concept and adapting it for infants and toddlers allows us to help our children satisfy their need to touch (and taste) everything around them.
Put together three simple and distinctly different objects such as an apple, a baby-safe soft toy, and a block. Find a cloth or brown paper bag and place the objects inside. Now let your toddler sit on the floor and explore the objects in the bag. You can add or change the contents as needed.
If your child is still an infant, you do not need to use the bag now. Just sit with your child and let him or her explore the object. You can also let your child sit or lie on a mat on the floor and independently handle the object.
Friday, May 1, 2009
Our New Montessori for Mandarin Chinese Blog
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Montessori and Early Math Ideas
For example, you can put three berries into your child's oatmeal. As you help your child with the spoon and oatmeal, you can count the berries as they go onto the spoon...one, two, three!
If you and your child are sitting on the floor, you can roll three soft balls his or her way as you count them, too. You can also add in the name of the item -- one ball, two balls, three balls.
Just look for opportunities to mix touch, sight, and the use of language to the exercise and remember NOT to take the counting part seriously at all right now. This should all be relaxed and enjoyable parent-child time with no thought of actually having your infant or young toddler really remember the counting.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Refined Hand Movement Exercises for Toddlers
* Material needed: Six large nuts & bolts
* Two small bowls and one larger bowl
* A small tray
Put the bolts on the nuts, place the sets in the larger bowl, and put all the bowls on the tray. Keep the tray in the Practical Life section of your home classroom so your child can return to use it whenever he or she likes.
1. What to do: Invite your child to try this exercise.
2. Take the tray from the shelf and place it on the table.
3. Sit on your child's non-dominant side (on the left of a right-handed child).
4. Pick up one nut and bolt. Hold the bolt with your left hand and unscrew the nut with your right hand (if you think your child is left-handed, switch hands).
5. Put the nut in one bowl and the bolt in the other.
6. Ask your child if he or she would like to try.
7. Let your child tinker with the process and work alone (sometimes it is easiest if you excuse yourself and wander off a bit).
8. Your child can put everything back together and put the tray on the shelf.
Younger toddlers and infants who are still putting things in their mouths can work well with wooden or plastic (depending on your feelings about plastic) versions of nuts and bolts, too.
Learn more about teaching your child at home with Montessori with our curriculum newsletters.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Infants and Language Development
Focus on succinct phrasing along with rich and precise vocabulary. For example, use the word "thin" to describe something that is thin, rather than using the word "small" as you might be tempted to do because you know your child knows the meaning of the word.
Learn more about using Montessori with infants and toddlers by signing up for our Montessori at home curriculum newsletters.
Montessori for Infants and Toddlers!
If your child is over the age of three or you are looking for general Montessori and early childhood information, please do take a peek at our Montessori House at Home blog.
Are you new to Montessori? Maria Montessori's original book, the Montessori Method, is available for free online at The Celebration of Women Writers site.