Monday, July 27, 2009

A book review - The Developing Child

I found this book at my local library. It is written by Willi Aeppli (1894 - 1972) who was a master Waldorf Teacher in Switzerland.

I enjoyed this book, but I especially liked the first chapter titled "Sense and Nonsense in Education." Here are some quotes from that chapter:

"Every adult in a child's environment represents destiny, a stroke of good or bad fortune, which will have a decisive influence on that child's life."

"What is thus revealed as a necessity for the teacher? A philosophy of freedom, not as a theory, philosophical system of concepts, or weltanschauung but as a way of life, a capacity."

"The reason is clear," says Pestalozzi. "We have spelling schools, writing, schools, catechism schools only, and we want - schools for human beings."

Some of the other chapters include Teaching Writing (which involves teaching children stories that have characters that represent the shape of the letters or teaching pictographic writing.), Teaching Arithmetic (using natural items for concrete manipulatives), Local History in First and Second Grade (learning about familiar plants, animals, and other natural items in the environment), The Legitimate Path of Teaching (to adopt the goal to install in children the ability to cope with life, and approach all teaching opportunities with this goal in mind), Unscheduled Classroom Events, Transforming the Subject Matter, Teaching Botany and Zoology (Teachers must be able give their imagination free rein and to speak of plants and animals, clouds and mountains, in such a way that the child sees them as living beings), Teaching Grammar (using visual and other sensorial representations of parts of speech), Teaching History (begin with teaching about ancient myths and then ancient civilizations), The Main Lesson Block (a period of 3 to 7 weeks where the same subject is taught every morning from 8:30 to 10 am. This is a blessing to both the teacher, who can concentrate on a main subject and become completely at home with the material, and to the child, who can submerge himself in the world of a specific subject without being wretched out by another main subject.), and The Life and Soul Metamorphoses of the Human Being and their Impact on Education.

This book gives some examples of how to teach these items, but as with many Waldorf books, this is not a curriculum book. You would need to find other materials to really flesh out how to use these ideas in a practical, daily way. But overall, I thought that this was a very good book and helped me look at teaching in a different way.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Why I homeschool . . .

Well, I don't exactly feel like an expert on this subject. I have homeschooled one child who was past preschool years for one year. And didn't start homeschooling until 3rd grade.

But I'll try and explain how we came to the conclusion to homeschool.

It all started when Flower started in Kindergarten. I had taught her in preschool for two years before that. I had done some research in early childhood/kindergarten education. I'd done a lot of research on our local elementary school. Flower had attended Pre-K in the afternoons at that same elementary for two years.

Everyone agreed that Flower was bright. She was academically ahead of most of her peers. Not altogether surprising since her birthday is in late September, so she is almost a full year older than some of the students in her grade. The Pre-K teacher, a Kindy teacher, and the principal and I met during the May before Flower went to Kindergarten to decide what would be best for Flower.

And that has always been the key to all of it - Do The Best Thing For Each Child. It May Be Different For Each Child. And Decisions Will Be Made On A Year To Year Basis.

We discussed which Kindy teacher would be best suited for her - she was very bright, but also very, very hard on herself. She couldn't stand to do anything that she perceived as "failure." (It was heartbreaking to see a 5 year old so hard on herself.) The idea of advancing her to first grade was discussed briefly but decided that it would be much better for her to be in Kindergarten where she could have time to learn that writing an "r" backwards wasn't fatal.

And off she went to Kindergarten. She had a GREAT year. Her teacher was WONDERFUL. She was really good about being able to modify assignments to challenge Flower without making it a big deal to her classmates or increase her workload. And when there were occassions that it made more sense to pull her out and send her to a 1st grade classrooom, she advocated for it instead of letting Flower be bored.

1st grade. Sigh. It was a tough year. Flower had a teacher who felt that all students should fit into a little box and all learn the same things at the same time. Everything was very textbook oriented. Flower finished her assignments early often, and was told to "just look out the window until the rest of the class finishes." (Confirmed by the teacher at a conference. She saw nothing wrong with having a student do this instead of doing, uh, anything? Read? Help other students? A supplementary worksheet? Anything?) This was the year when Flower started asking to be homeschooled. She also started reverting back with her perfectionistic behaviors, and would cry instead of answer a question that she wasn't 100% certain of the answer or heaven forbid, an open-ended question with no "right" answer. I chalked this year up to a not good match with a teacher and hoped for the best during the next year.

2nd grade. Sigh. Sigh. It was another tough year, but not really because of the teacher. Well, a little, but not for the same reasons that there were problems with the 1st grade teacher. Her 2nd grade teacher was much more willing to try and make changes to curriculum where possible, and she did lots of hands-on, creative activities. Well, it appeared that way anyway in the end of the year photo album. This teacher was VERY difficult to work with. She was almost secretive about what was going on in the classroom, and didn't want parents to help with homework, help in the classroom, etc. She also had NO tolerance with Flower's behavior. Flower had also started to get "stuck" on things - She just couldn't let stuff go. She also got very hooked up with semantics, and if the teacher or a child, or anybody (even her family) said something, she would ask questions if the person said the wrong word, or wasn't quite descriptive enough or whatever. It comes off as very disrespectful or worse. But I believe that most of the time, she just couldn't help herself. By the end of the year, she was still doing very well academically, but in all other ways, school was becoming a miserable experience. She started asking me to homeschool her by November of this year. I still feel bad for making her stay. I decided by February to homeschool her for 3rd grade, but decided to have her finish the year.

Jelly Bean, on the other hand, has needed the structure of school. Or to be more clear, she has needed to see the behavior of lots of children her age and see how most of the children are acting. And the structure too. Jelly Bean doesn't do well with "Oh, we'll just hang out and see how the day goes." That's a recipe for disaster for her. She attended the same Pre-K program Flower did, but she attended because she had boundary issues. She was either overly violent, or overly affectionate. By the time she went to kindergarten, her behavior was better, but not great. She had the same Kindy teacher (We love Mrs. B!) as Flower. It was a great fit, not because Jelly Bean needed the same things as Flower, but because Mrs. B is just such a great teacher and knew what would help Jelly Bean the most. By the end of Kindy, Jelly Bean was doing really well. Flower was just finishing 2nd grade, and we had decided to homeschool her. I was afraid if we didn't homeschool her, she would begin to associate her negative experience with school with learning, and I didn't want that to happen. And since I had been teaching preschool at home for years, it didn't seem like a stretch to homeschool.

So we talked about it and talked about it. And we decided that for 1st grade, it would be best to have Jelly Bean stay at school, and Flower to come home. But that we would discuss it at the end of the year and decide what we wanted to do for 2nd and 4th grade.

So here we are - it is July, and Jelly Bean is most likely going to do 2nd grade at home. Jelly Bean really wants to do it. I think that she is capable of it now, and that she will enjoy being able to study things that she wouldn't be able to at school, but we will still provide her with enough structure so that she will feel comfortable. Flower will also do 4th grade at home. She has made great strides with her behaviors, but I feel that she still needs one more year at home. Super is attending preschool here in the mornings, and attends the Pre-K program in the afternoon. He will go to Kindergarten at the elementary school, and most likely, will return home after that.

But I always try and remember when I am making decisions about homeschooling - Do The Best Thing For Each Child. It May Be Different For Each Child. And Decisions Will Be Made On A Year To Year Basis.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Why I teach preschool . . .

Well, I could give the short answer, and say "Because I love it" but I won't.

Some days, it still surprises me that my job title is Preschool Teacher. I wasn't sure that I'd ever get married and have any children of my own, but even if I did, I always imagined that I would work outside of the home.

My educational journey wasn't exactly a straight line after high school - I graduated from high school in 1984, went to school for a couple years, worked as a 911 dispatcher for a few years, moved, and finished my bachelor's in English a couple years later. Worked as a technical writer in Chicago for 18 months, and then went to graduate school for a year. Got married, dropped out of graduate school, and then worked as a technical writer for another 3 years. Got pregnant with Flower, and was offered a job as a computer software trainer at a university (same university that I got my bachelor's degree). I worked as a trainer/training supervisor for the next 4 1/2 years. During that time, I had Jelly Bean. When Jelly Bean was a year, I decided to go from full-time to part-time so that I could see the kids more. It was nice - I got to see the girls in the mornings, and I worked in the afternoons when they napped. It lasted a lovely six months. But the University was going through budget cuts, and they laid off many part-time employees, including me.

Flower was 3 years old. I had been hoping to be able to send her to preschool, but with our income cut quite a bit, preschool was not in the budget. So I decided that I would teach her myself. I researched early childhood education, and checked lots of books out at both the University's library and our local library. It was an exciting but overwhelming time. But I had been around my own young children for 3 years now, and I had taught young children at my church for several years, and I had been teaching for my work for a number of years (not to young children, but some of the techniques were similar).

So I started in January 2003 with Flower and two other 3 year olds. I had some homemade Montessori materials, but I didn't have many. But we did lots of Practical Life activities, and read books from Before Five In a Row and used a lot of the ideas in the BFIAR book. I saved up most of the money that I made that first semester to buy some basic Montessori materials. Word had started going around that I taught preschool, and by Fall of 2003, I had 10 students and had to offer a MWF session and a TTh session. I decided to offer lunch to the students starting this fall (something that I still offer) so that we would have a more natural setting to do our grace and courtesy and practical life work.

By late 2003, I was pregnant with Super. My due date was in September 2004, so decided that to take my maternity leave during Fall of 2004, and just hope that there would be enough interest to still have students come by January 2005. Well, I worried unnecessarily, because I ended up with 7 students (plus Flower) who were willing to wait for me to come back. Super would take his morning nap during preschool, and Jelly Bean was attending also by this time as a 2 year old.

Flower went off to Kindergarten at the local elementary by Fall 2005, and Jelly Bean started her first official year at Montgomery Academy. Super had dropped his morning nap by this point, and he would just come to preschool with us. I had toddler materials available for him, and I would also try and include him with the group as much as possible (if we were drawing, he would try and draw too, etc.)

Each summer, I would worry about whether I would have enough students to keep teaching, and each year it would work out somehow. I met a woman once when I was pregnant with Super when we were watching a football game and we were talking about what we did, and I said that I taught preschool out of my home, and she said "Oh, I've been looking for months, and I'd love to have her go to a smaller in-home school!" Her daughter attended up attending for two years, and her son for one. Some people here about it through my church - during any given year, I usually have at least one student from my church, although I do not do any religious teaching at Montgomery Academy. I've had a few neighbors send their children, I've had parents refer me to other people, and people have heard from my husband at his work, and asked me if I had openings. I have had a MWF group and TR every year but the first and the semester after Super was born, and I generally have 5 students (including one of my children) on each day.

In Fall 2007, Jelly Bean started Kindergarten, and Super started his first official year at Montgomery Academy. By December 2007, I had my first daycare child. She was 3 years old at the time, so she would come to preschool every day, and then nap for a couple hours, and then play with my kids from 3-5 pm. In July 2008, I started watching a 6 week old. And in Fall 2008, I had another daycare child start - a 3 year old girl. Since most of daycare children have been preschool age, and attend preschool here, it wasn't a difficult transition to adding childcare to Montgomery Academy. Now, I generally have two preschool only children on MWF, and two other preschool only children on Tues/Thurs in addition to the daycare children and Super, so I still end up having 5 students attending each day.

When I first started teaching, I just taught in the living room or at the kitchen table, but shortly decided to move it to one of our then spare bedrooms. It was a rather large bedroom (15 x 12) with a walk-in closet for storage of all the Montessori Materials. I put shelves against three of the walls and left one wall for a circle time/reading area. The room had a door, which was nice when other children came to play so I didn't have to worry about other children getting into the preschool materials. When Super was 1, I needed to move him into the girls' room, and move the girls into the preschool room. So we moved the preschool materials out into the family room. This room has more wall space, but it does not have a door. It was a problem sometimes when we had play dates with children who didn't know how to use the materials properly, or who might choke on one of the smaller pieces, and so I'd have to move stuff into the office, etc.

So very recently, we took almost all the toys in the house and moved them to the living room and turned it into a playroom. In the preschool area, I've moved the smaller pieces up to the top shelves, and put plenty of the toddler materials on the bottom shelves. So far, it is working out well.

I've had a few people ask me if I am going to stop teaching preschool when Super goes to Kindergarten in Fall of 2010, and go back to Training, or Technical Writing. I tell them "I don't know." If I do go back to work outside of the home, it will be because we really need the money that a full-time outside the house job would bring in. It would also depend on if I was still able to have enough children interested in attending Montgomery Academy, either as a preschool student or a daycare child.

But honestly, if I can, I would like to teach preschool forever. Well, maybe not forever. But for a good long while longer. Teaching children, and just being there as they learn, is one of the few things that truly brings me joy.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Homeschool Plan - 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th

My sister, if everything works out, is going to be my assistant in the fall. She has 4 children - a 10 year old boy, an 8 year old boy, a 5 year old girl, and a 1 year old girl. She is planning on sending her 5 year old to public school for Kindergarten, but she is hoping to homeschool the boys. I have 3 children - a 9 year old girl, a 7 year old girl, and a 4 year old boy. Flower is the 9 year old girl, and she was homeschooled last year. I am planning on also homeschooling Jelly Bean, who is the 7 year old girl. Super is the 4 year old boy, and he attends preschool here in the morning, and Pre-K at the local elementary in the afternoon. So for elementary, we are planning on homeschooling 4 children from 2nd grade through 5th grade.

After much looking at a variety of different curriculums, we are going with primarily a classical curriculum from The Well-Trained Mind. I am also filling in with books listed in the Core Knowledge book Books To Build On, and other books that I like, and as always, lots of library books. I've got many of the books so far.

Here is a list of the main books that we will be using:

2nd Grade

Spelling: Spell and Write Grade 3
(Will purchase at the local school shop - $8)
Grammar: Rod and Staff Beginning Wisely
(Haven't purchased yet)
Writing: Writing Strands 2
(Lent to me for free)
Poetry: R is for Rhyme
(Bought last year for Flower)
Literature: Books from Literature Book List for Core Knowledge Grade 2 & Books about Ancients (Library)
Math: Saxon Math 2
(Bought at Curriculum Sale for $2.50)
History: Story of the World 1
(Lent to me for free)
Geography: Blackline Maps of World History: The Ancients
(Need to purchase)
Study of Africa, Europe, Asia
(Montessori For Everyone downloads, wooden puzzle maps, toothpick flags)
(Need to purchase - approximately $250. May not be able to afford any, or perhaps just enough for one country.)
Science: Usborne First Encyclopedia of Our World
(Need to purchase)
Apologia Botany
(Lent to me for free)
Music: M is for Melody
(purchased last year for Flower)
Story of the Orchestra
(Purchased at the Curriculum Sale for $5)
Art: M is for Masterpiece
(Purchased last year for Flower)
Picture/Artist Study (Library/Internet, etc.)

3rd Grade
Spelling: Spelling Grade 3
(Will purchase at a local teacher supply store - $8)
Grammar: Rod and Staff Beginning Wisely
Writing: Writing Strands 2
Poetry: R is for Rhyme
Literature: Books from Literature Book List from Core Knowledge Grade 3 & Books about the Ancients (Library)
Math: Math-U-See Beta
(Need to buy Student Book and Test booklet)
History: Story of the World 1
Geography: Blackline Maps of World History: The Ancients
Study of Africa, Europe, Asia
(Montessori For Everyone downloads, wooden puzzle maps, toothpick flags)
Science: Usborne First Encyclopedia of Our World
Apologia Botany
Music: M is for Melody
Story of the Orchestra
Art: M is for Masterpiece
Picture/Artist Study

4th Grade
Spelling: Spell and Write Grade 6
Grammar: Abeka God’s Gift of Language A
(Bought Book, Teacher's Book and Tests for $15 at Curriculum Sale.)
Writing: Writing Strands 3
(Bought at Curriculum Sale for $3.)
Poetry: Poem/Poet Study
(Purchased Set of 6 books through Scholastic for $20.)
Literature: Books from Literature Book List from Core Knowledge Grade 4 & Books about the Ancients (Library)
Math: Everyday Math 4
(Lent to me for free)
History: Kingfisher History Encyclopedia
(Need to purchase)
Geography: Blackline Maps of World History: The Ancients
Study of Africa, Europe, Asia
(Montessori For Everyone downloads, wooden puzzle maps, toothpick flags)
Science: Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of Science
(Need to purchase)
Apologia Astronomy
(Lent to me for free)
Music: Music Lessons
Story of the Orchestra
Art: Art Lessons
Picture/Artist Study

5th Grade
Logic: Mind Benders
(Need to purchase)
Spelling: Spell and Write Grade 6
(Need to purchase)
Grammar: Abeka God’s Gift of Language A
Writing: Writing Strands 3
Poetry: Poem/Poet Study
Literature: Books from Literature Book List from Core Knowledge Grade 5 & Books about Ancients (Library)
Math: Saxon Math 6/5
(Purchased at Curriculum Sale for $35)
History: Kingfisher History Encyclopedia
Geography: Blackline Maps of World History: The Ancients
Study of Africa, Europe, Asia
(Montessori For Everyone downloads, wooden puzzle maps, toothpick flags)
Science: Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of Science
Apologia Astronomy
Music: Music Lessons
Story of the Orchestra
Art: Art Lessons
Picture/Artist Study

We will also be using Workboxes for supplemental learning in each subject. Each student will have a Language binder with dividers for Journal, Reading Log, Grammar, Writing and Copywork/Dictation, and a Main Lesson Book for Literature, Poetry, History, Science, Nature Study, Art, Art History and Music History.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Part 2: Making Montessori Materials

Printed Materials
I've printed off materials as much as I could for free. The Montessori Materials Group and the Montessori Makers Yahoo Group and their subgroups have many items for printing, as well as the Montessori By Hand Yahoo Group, and freebies at Montessori For Everyone. I have seen free downloads off from various Montessori websites and blogs. I am also currently taking an on-line Montessori Training class and have been printing manuals available to members of the course.

I also am a member of Scholastic Printables, KidsSoup, and Enchanted Learning.

Practical Life
I've picked up a lot of things at discount stores and thrift stores and things that I have at home, and put them together to make a practical life activity. Materials like:
  • Little pitchers
  • Little glasses/votives/dishes
  • Duster/dust pan
  • Eyedroppers
  • Dish Drainer/Drain Mat/Dishpan/Dishcloths/Sponge
  • Cloth Napkins
  • Containers with different closures
  • Vases
  • Mirrors
  • Cloths
  • Aprons
  • Spoons/Scoops/Tongs
  • Baskets
  • Trays

I'm always on the lookout for items that I could use in preschool, but perhaps not in the way that people traditionally use it.


  • I made the color tablets twice actually. Once I wrapped embroidery floss around embroidery spools. The children would eventually start messing with the floss and it would come off. Then I made it out of paint chips. It was a little time consuming, plus I found that I needed to laminate it so that it wouldn't get bent, and then they didn't use it much. However, when I purchased Color Box 1 and 2, there was a renewed interest in it, and it still gets used fairly often. I am in the process of making Color Box 3 out of paint chips actually, just because I think that since it is more of putting the shades in order, that it will be o.k. if they aren't as thick, etc. as the real tablets.
  • I made the sound boxes. I collected 6 bubble containers in one color and 6 bubble containers in another color. I put a variety of items inside it and glued the lids on.
  • I made the rough and smooth boards and the graded tablets. I got the sandpaper at a hardware store, and the wood and glue at Hobby Lobby. I'm glad that I made this, because it doesn't get a lot of use.
  • I made the fabric matching with some fabric scraps that I had around. The children use this on a somewhat regular basis. I switch the fabric every so often.
  • I made the thermic bottles. I got some very small metal containers (shaped like metal milk containers) and some small corks at Hobby Lobby. This isn't out on a regular basis, but the children enjoy it during the time that it is out. There is a dot of paint on the bottom in a 3 different colors for the control.
  • I made the smelling bottles. I used 8 dark matching salt/pepper shakers. Again, this isn't out on a regular basis, but they do enjoy it. There is a drop of paint on the bottom in 4 different colors for the control.
  • I made tasting bottles out of dark bottles and eyedroppers. I put a drop of paint (two with red, two yellow, two blue, and two green) on the bottom for the control. I think I ordered the bottles and droppers from Montessori Services.
  • I made the constructive triangles out of very stiff felt that I got at Hobby Lobby. I store them in wood rectangle boxes with lids that I got at Hobby Lobby that have a painted number on top to distinguish one from another.
  • I made the Red Rods, although mine were natural colored, and they weren't the exact dimensions of the Montessori Red Rods. They worked o.k., but weren't used as much as the block tower or broad stair. I eventually bought it from Alison's and the Red Holder. The paint has chipped a lot, and Super occasionally uses them as swords. I probably should have just kept the ones I made, or not had them at all.
  • I made baric tablets out of small boxes with lids that were weighted down with varying weights (taped to the inside bottom of the box.) Then the entire box was taped shut.
  • I made sandpaper shapes using matboard and sandpaper.
  • I decided not to make the geometric cabinet. I had considered saving up for it and purchasing it, but I have decided that the insets and shape puzzles will be enough for us.
  • I printed out the red/yellow/blue downloads from My Montessori Journey, and created similar sound books, etc. based on her description of the system.
  • I made the Spindle Box with a cookie sheet and then long utensil holders taped together and address stick-on numbers at the top of the holders. I used craft sticks for the spindles. It worked o.k., but not great. I'm planning on buying it.
  • For cards and counters, I bought some magnetic numbers from a teacher supply store, and used red poker chips for the counters. I also use create many seasonal cards and counters activities from items that I purchase at Hobby Lobby. (I got this idea from My Montessori Journey.)
  • I also create lots of seasonal matching and sorting activities with items that I get at Hobby Lobby or Dollar Store.


  • I printed and laminated Animal/Plant/Body Classification cards, landform cards, and animals by continent.
  • I also put out books and Dover books from our book collection that match the zoology and botany puzzle that we are working on for each month.
  • I made landforms out of Sculpey clay and disposable containers.
  • I am working on making landform cards out of matboard and sandpaper.


  • I always make my own homemade playdoh, and I use beans, pom-poms, shaving cream, sand, etc. that I have on hand.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Part 1: Buying Montessori Materials

I think most parents who decide to use Montessori At Home go through something like this:

1. Find out about Montessori, and decide that it is great.
2. Try and figure out whether to send child to a Montessori school or teach them at home, and decide to teach them at home.
3. Look at all the Montessori materials and the prices. Realize that it probably isn't reasonable to be able to buy EVERY SINGLE Montessori material.
4. Decide to make all of them.
5. Decide that perhaps it might be best to purchase the ones that would be extremely difficult/not cost effective to make, and make others.

This is certainly the path that I decided to take. Back in 2003, I decided to teach my then 3 year old Flower (she is 9 now!) and two of my girlfriends' children using Montessori. I had recently been laid off, and didn't have much of a budget to buy things (some things never change! LOL) But I hoped that I would continue to use the materials for future children and future students, and that is the way that it has turned out.

FYI, Over the years, I have generally had children that were between the ages of 2.5 and young 5s. Most of the children did not use many of the bead materials or the language materials, and I've only had two children over the years that was reading for any significant portion of time. I've never had a child who went beyond the pink series in the Language area before moving on to Kindergarten. The children generally found most of the Geography Puzzles were too difficult, and only regularly The Continent World puzzle and the North America puzzle.

Here are the materials that I decided to buy. Most of the things I purchased, and unless otherwise noted, were from Montessori N' Such. Over the years, I've also bought a few things from Montessori Services, and Alison's Montessori, and Montessori For Everyone, e-bay and Neinhaus.

Practical Life

In the Practical Life Area, I mostly used catalogs for ideas for activities and I would buy the materials elsewhere.


  • I got the Natural Ten Tower because at the time, it was cheaper than the Pink Tower.
  • Broad Stair
  • Knobbed Cylinders
  • I eventually got the Knobless Cylinders from Alison's, but probably could have been o.k. without purchasing these, but the older children like to use the knobless, and the younger use the knobbed.
  • I decided not to get the Color Tablets. I made them by putting embroidery floss on embroidery spools. It worked o.k. but not great. I did purchase Box 1 and 2 a couple of years ago from Alison's.
  • I bought the Color Matching Cards from Montessori For Everyone.
  • I bought a Geometric Solids kit from a garage sale, and it worked o.k., but didn't have an ellipsoid or ovoid, and several shapes that the Montessori set didn't. I bought the Natural Geometric Set a couple of years ago from Montessori N' Such.
  • I bought a Sterognostic Mystery Bag from Alison's.
  • I bought the Binomial Cube. It rarely got used, and I sold it on Montessori Swap.
  • I bought Geometric Shapes Matching cards and Geometric Solids Matching cards a couple years ago from Montessori For Everyone.
  • Some not traditional Montessori but things that we have used: Tuzzles Shape Puzzles (Circle, Square, Triangles, Rectangles) from Alison's (no longer on their site), Geoboard, Melissa and Doug Pattern Blocks.

  • I bought lower case sandpaper letters from someone who was making them and then selling them on e-bay. They are smaller than the traditional letters, and my consonants are blue and vowels are pink. I have not replaced them yet, but am considering it.
  • I initially bought some letter tiles at teacher supply store and stored them in a tackle box, but it didn't work well. So then I bought the small plastic letters for the moveable alphabet and a wooden box.
  • Montessori Plastic Insets. I purchased the plastic insets because I didn't feel that I could create them realistically myself, but I didn't have the money to purchase the metal ones.
  • I purchased the Inset Tray and Inset Paper from Montessori Services.
  • Purchased seasonal matching cards from Montessori For Everyone.
  • Some non-tradtional Montessori items that I have used: Melissa and Doug Magnetic Letters, D & K Language Cards (In The House, Transportation, On the Farm, In the Garden, Phonics, etc. Unfortunately, no longer available. I LOVE these cards. They have a picture on the front and the word on the back. I got two sets of each so that I could also do matching activities.) I also have an Alphabet Center pocket chart (The consonants are blue and vowels are red, which is part of why I haven't purchased different sandpaper letters), and a 6 strip pocket chart to put strips in for our nursery rhyme.

  • Tabletop Number Rods
  • Introduction to Decimal Quantity. Purchased through Neinhaus. I purchased the plastic, fused version. I sold these a few years ago, but replaced them with wood Base 10 blocks.
  • Introduction to Decimal System. Purchased through Neinhaus. I purchased the plastic, fused version. I sold these a few years ago, but replaced them with wood Base 10 blocks.
  • Teen Beads and Box. Sold these, but am going to replace them this year with Math-U-See blocks, or at least use the Math-U-See color scheme.
  • Ten Beads and Box. Sold these, but am going to replace them this year with Math-U-See blocks, or at least use the Math-U-See color scheme.
  • 100 Bead Chain - Purchased from Montessori Swap.
  • Colored Bead Stair - Purchased from Montessori Swap. Sold them, but now use Math-U-See blocks.
  • Some non-traditional Montessori items, but things that we have used: Counting Bears, Melissa and Doug Magnetic Numbers, Lauri Peg Set and Melissa and Doug Bead Sequencing Set.

  • Leaf Puzzle
  • Flower Puzzle
  • Tree Puzzle
  • Bird Puzzle
  • Horse Puzzle
  • Fish Puzzle
  • Frog Puzzle
  • Turtle Puzzle

I also bought the Parts of the ____ cards for the Botany and Zoology Puzzles that I have from Montessori For Everyone.


  • Land and Water Globe. Purchased from Appleseed Montessori.
  • Continent Globe. Purchased from Appleseed Montessori.
  • Continent Map Puzzle
  • North America Map Puzzle
  • South America Map Puzzle
  • Europe Map Puzzle
  • Asia Map Puzzle
  • Africa Map Puzzle
  • Australia Map Puzzle
  • U.S. Map Puzzle
I sold all but the Continent, North America and US Map puzzle a few years ago on Montessori Swap because they weren't being used and I wanted to use the money to buy some materials that I felt would get more use. Now with Flower and Jelly Bean being homeschooled, I really wish that we still had them. I'm going to try and replace at least Africa, Asia and Europe puzzle this year. I haven't purchased the cabinet, but it has always been a problem to try and store the puzzles, and if I had the money, I would recommend purchasing it.

I bought the Continent Kit from Montessori For Everyone.

In Part 2, I will discuss the Montessori Materials that I have made/in the process of making/planning on making.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Thrifting for Montgomery Academy

I started going to thrift stores a few years ago, but it was to fill in the gaps of clothing that I didn't have for my children. Last year, inspired by My Montessori Journey, I started going to thrift stores and garage sales to get things for Montgomery Academy. It is so much fun! And I'm able to get SO much for so little! Also, this summer, I posted on my other blog that I was looking for things for Montgomery Academy, and I've had several people loan or give me things for free, and I've also done some "curb shopping" too. Check out my other blog for pictures of those items.

Here are some pictures of some of my recent finds for Montgomery Academy:

Wood bowling set - I found it (well, actually my sister found it) with all 10 of the pins. The other 7 are in the drawstring bag. 50 cents.

Books from a recent trip to Goodwill. Tomie A. dePaola Mother Goose book $1, How Things Work $1, Animals and Nature $1, The Mitten (hardcover)$1, Better Homes and Gardens Junior Cookbook (1975) $1, How to Draw People and Animals 25 cents, Julius 25 cents, Discovery Toys Stacking Cups 50 cents, and a Wood Tray 75 cents. Total $6.75.

Books from a recent trip to another local thrift store (my new favorite one!) The Little House 50 cents, Dear Mili 50 cents, Do Pirates Take Baths 25 cents, Treasure Island 50 cents, Mother Goose board book 25 cents, The Yearling 25 cents, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe 25 cents, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm 50 cents, and The Prince and The Pauper 50 cents. Total $3.50.

Discover Toys Roll and Play Game. You roll the cube, and then pick a card that matches the color on the top. This toy is intended for toddlers, but it would be easy to extend this to preschool or even elementary aged children by making your own cards with appropriate level cards. $1

Globe. $3. It is just like the one that I saw in the local school shop recently, except that one was selling for $50.

Also, our local homeschool association just had their first annual Curriculum Sale, and I was able to pick up Saxon 6/5 for $35, Saxon 2 for $1.50, Abeka Language A for $10, and Story of the Orchestra for $5.

Lots of Movin Around Around Here

The Living Room has been turned into the playroom! In addition to the books that were already there, there is a train table, dolls, a doll cradle and doll high chair, puppets, silks, play kitchen, blocks, and toddler toys.

On the left bookcase - wooden rollercoaster (thrift store $1) and sensory puzzle and locks puzzle

Doll basket - I crocheted that blanket over twenty years ago, long before I even had any children. Makes me smile when I see it in there. There is also a wooden high chair and wooden cradle.

Silks. We used to have some authentic Waldorf silks, but they eventually ripped. My mom got all of this silky material for practically free, and sent it to me.

The train table. Purchased this about 5 years ago. Love it. It has two drawers on each end. I also slid two of the baskets from our coffee table. (The baskets have always held toys in them. The coffee table had 3 openings for 3 baskets.) Moved this train table where the coffee table used to be.

Wood Thomas the Train pieces

Mega blocks in the other drawer.

Puppets and toddler stacking toys in the baskets

End table with another basket in it (coffee table matched this end table. It was shorter and had 3 openings.) Toys next to end table and couch.

Soft toddler toys inside the basket

Toddler balls and Jack In The Box

Fisher Price Aquarium with plastic balls

Toddler toys in the bottom shelf of the right bookcase - smaller rollercoaster, Fisher Price Piggy Bank, Dust Pan/Hand Sweeper,Wooden Car, Stuffed Rabbit Pull Toy, Hammering Toy, and Nesting Cups.
Above these shelves, there is a shelf for toddler books, and a shelf for preschool/early reader books.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Well, it took the better part of a month

and I'm not quite done yet (still have to go through the kids papers and decide what to keep), but things are packed up at Montgomery Academy for the summer. I took everything out of the preschool storage closet, and reorganized it, and put some things away. (Oh, and the pictures are out of order - the room starts with the sensory table, then practical life, art, sensorial, geometry, language, math, and ends with the toddler drawers.)

Here's what is still on the shelves:

Sensory Table (not pictured)
Clay & Tools
Tree Blocks, Mega Blocks, Wood Blocks

Tot Shelf
Potato Head

(Part of Math area) Large Wood Dominoes

Art & Writing
Crayons, Markers, Dry Erase Markers, Pencils, Scissors, Glue
Dry Erase Books
Paper, Cardstock, inset paper


Fraction Circles, Pattern Beads, Counting Bears
Pegboard with pegs, Cards and counters, Number bowling
Number puzzle, Number magnets, Sandpaper numbers

Language 2
Small chalkboard, Wikki Stix Letter books, Moveable Alphabet,
Language cards, Matching Cards
Magnadoodle, Letter magnets

Language 1
Picture books
Sandpaper Letters
Alphabet cards
Leapfrog letters

Insets (sorry, I cut off the top of the picture, but they are on a shelf the above pencil holder and inset tray.)
Geometry Puzzles - Triangles, Circles, Squares, Rectangles, Geoboard
Pattern blocks, Geometric Solids, 3 part cards, Sandpaper shapes
Felt shapes, paper mache shapes, simple shape puzzle, shape sorter

CD/Tape Player and CD/Tapes
Lap Harp, Percussion Instruments

Color Tablets 1 and 2, Color Sorting
Block Tower, Knobbed Cylinders
Brown Stair

Practical Life
Sew N Sew, Shoe Tying, Nuts and Bolts
Sweeping, Dusting, Cutting Food
Rugs, Dressing Vests

Ironing Board/Iron/Cloths
Clothesline/Clothes Pins/Cloths

Small Pool
Basketball Hoop
Hop Balls
Misc. outdoor toys/balls
Montgomery Academy is expanding! No, not me! In addition to homeschooling Flower, Jellybean will be joining us next year. We hopefully will also have my sister as an assitant, my nephews for homeschooling, and my niece for Tot School. Tot School is also new. There is a link for it on my blog list. We will be doing Tot School for the toddler that I watch and my niece.
The elementary aged kids will also have a room of their own! I've been hard at work on getting supplies for the room and arranging the room. Pics of this room coming soon!