Monday, March 30, 2009

I Heart Blog Awards

I recently received two different blog awards - thanks! :)

First, Gigi from Montessori Spanish and Amber from Hey, I'm Just the Nanny gave me the Lemons to Lemonade award:

Next, Basia at United Teaching gave me the I Heart Your Blog award:

The Lemons to Lemonade award is for bloggers "who have a good attitude or who show gratitude," and I'm passing it - and the I Heart Your Blog award - along to bloggers whose positive attitude always comes shining through in their posts:

Julie at Havin' Fun Yet
Xia at Grillos y Canarios
Hannah at Old Creek Montessori
Adventures in Montessori
Little Hands, Big Work
Amber at Adventures of a Rainbow Mama

Thanks very much to Gigi, Amber, and Basia for nominating me. If you're nominated, you can...

1. Put the logos on your blog or post.
2. Nominate other blogs that you enjoy.
3. Link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link this post to the person from whom you received your award.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Have You Read This Book?

I stumbled upon this post today at Starry Sky Ranch. Midway through the post, the author mentions a book called A Montessori Mother by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, which was written in 1912. It's out of print, but I was thrilled to find the book in its entirety (library card pockets and all) through Google Book Search.

After a quick perusal, I find I can't "put it down" (what's the equivalent expression when you're reading a book online?). The author gives very detailed descriptions of a day she spent in one of Maria Montessori's Casas, and I find it fascinating. I hope you enjoy it too!

Monday, March 23, 2009

I Surrender (A Little Bit)

OK, obviously not much blogging going on lately, and here's why: I've been spending the majority of my free time trying to make new materials for the classroom. I say "trying" because sometimes - with some things - I tend to agonize over every single detail, to the point that I get nothing done. Anyone else out there like that?

Case in point: I recently decided to create a biology/zoology lesson on the five different categories of animals (mammal, bird, reptile, fish, amphibian), which made me realize that I hadn't done a lesson on vertebrates vs. invertebrates, which made me realize I hadn't done a lesson on plants vs. animals, which made me realize I hadn't done a lesson on the five six kingdoms, which made me realize I hadn't even done a lesson on living vs. non-living things.

So, I sat down to create some living/non-living sort cards, and I was literally paralyzed. I would be struck by this great idea - I know! Include oranges growing on an orange tree as "living" and then orange juice in a glass as "non-living" - how cool! But then I'd read somewhere that "living" means anything that has once lived (so lumber is considered "living"), and then I'd get stuck trying to come up with other great ideas. You can see how absolutely nothing would get done (it's a sickness - truly).

Fortunately, liberatingly, I saw this post at The Wonder Years, a blog that I totally admire because its author is a trained Montessori teacher who just seems to have it all together - you know? But wait a second - she BOUGHT pre-made cards?! She didn't make them herself?! You can do that?! Duh.

I spent about $35 (gasp!), but I think the investment will prove to be worth every penny (not to mention all of the agony and hand-wringing it will spare me, and, consequently, all of you :). I got living/non-living cards, the six kingdoms nomenclature cards, the plant/animal cards, the vertebrate/invertebrate cards, the five types of vertebrate cards, and the eight types of invertebrate cards - definitely a beautiful set of materials that will form the basis of many new lessons. Now I'm off to print/cut/laminate/cut, but at least now something will get done - how exciting! Progress!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Controlled Chaos

On Monday, Miss D's son, Miss K's daughter, and my daughter decided to build a pink tower/brown stair extension, and then they flipped the brown prisms on their ends and built a brown skyscraper. (Find pictures of pink tower/brown stair extensions here.)

Then the building got...interesting:

At first I was hesitant, and then I became complicit. First of all, it's not like there were any other students in the classroom waiting to use the materials (Miss C's crew wasn't with us, and the 2-year-olds were otherwise occupied). Second, I realized I'd be able to do a three-period lesson on a lot of the things the kids got out. Third, everything they got out would have to be put away, which is a learning experience in and of itself. Finally, the kids worked together so nicely that it was hard to deny them.

Thus, "What else can we use, Miss Jennie?"

"Why don't you grab the geometric solids?"
"Why don't you get the hundred squares and thousand cubes?"
"Why don't you use the knobless cylinders?"
"Why don't you grab the binomial and trinomial cubes?" (Cue the mad scientist laughter - bwah hah hah hah hah!!)

In the end, the kids ended up building with - and then properly using - the pink tower, brown stair, long red rods, red and blue rods, color box 2, the geometric solids, all five colors of sorting bears, the baric tablets, the sound cylinders, all four sets of knobless cylinders, the hundred squares and thousand cubes, dominoes, and the binomial and trinomial cubes - not bad for a day's work!

For PE, Miss D led the kids in bowling and calisthenics.

We closed with the "T" verse and story from My ABC Bible Verses: "Thou shalt not steal," Exodus 20:15.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Bank Game, Explained

In response to my question about the Bank Game, N at The Learning Ark posted this tutorial. All I can say is, "Thanks!!"

In addition to her very helpful explanation of how to use the bank game, she also explains when to use it:

Before using this the children should have already had plenty of practice with the stamp game, dot exercise, small bead frame, large bead frame, checker board and flat bead frame.

My daughter is still working with the stamp game, so we have some work to do before we're ready for this activity.

As N points out in her post, this version of the bank game is different than the bank game played with the golden bead material.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Miss D's crew joined us today, 4-week-old baby and all!

Miss D's son and my daughter did the stamp game together...

...and then they did two sides of this six-sided puzzle:

Nicely done!

The kids were very excited to be back together, and it - ummm - showed. To try to rein things in a little bit, I taped a blue line on the floor, and the kids took turns walking the line:

We need to work on other people's personal space a little bit:

(I guess it would help if I put down the camera :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Here are some pictures from preschool the past two days:

The seldom-used open and close boxes:

I think I got too cute with this activity, which is why it's not used more. I put the containers in their own treasure chest with a snapping hinge closure (Get it? The container for the open/close activity has an intriguing open/close mechanism itself! Aren't I clever?) But because the box sits closed on the shelf, the kids aren't often inspired to use it.

I may change this up a bit, because the containers themselves are pretty cool. The little heart-shaped box has a hinged lid that snaps shut with a very satisfying "thwack," if you know what I mean. The lid on the star-shaped box is held on with magnets that are embedded in the points; if the points aren't aligned properly, the lid won't stay on, making this box a little more challenging. The apothecary jar (lower right) is just fun to open and close, because the wire hinge is a little counterintuitive. There's also a hermetically sealed glass jar and some other, simpler containers.

Using a handheld broom and dustpan to sweep up pompoms:

Bead sequencing:

(When I present this activity, I show the kids how to hold the rod in their left hand and read the pattern on the sequence card from left to right. Miss C's son did the activity properly and then switched the rod to his right hand to admire his work.)

The stamp game:

(Find a lovely stamp game paper grid download here - thanks!)

Short bead stair and hanger:

(Download coloring extensions here and here.)