Author Archives: Tibby

Resources Series: Teacher’s Manuals

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Here is Part One of the Resources Series. Hopefully you find something you need. I would also like to encourage you to post your favorite source for teacher’s manuals if you do not see it on the list.

Updated 2/1/2015: I recently read a really great blog post from a Montessori teacher on her blog Montessori 101 where she discusses what teacher albums are supposed to be and why we probably shouldn’t buy them. I agree with her mostly, although as a someone who wants some idea of what I’m doing the idea of the albums is appealing. I’ve said it before, but I have yet to find a Montessori book that breaks down the activities, their sequence, what they are, and what they are teaching. There are tons of blogs out there that have “Montessori” activities, but most of them are themed variations of the same four or five “Montessori” activities, like three-part cards and counters with cards. This is why the teacher’s manuals are so appealing to me, in theory, they should help you grasp the method as a whole and give you a sense of the entire curriculum. However, Aubrey makes some excellent points. I suggest reading her post and her subsequent posts about making your own that I will link to here and using that in your decision about whether or not to purchase one.  Make Your Own Albums 1

Teacher’s Manuals

Montessori Primary Guide is a free online resource that walks you through various aspects of the Montessori curriculum. It gives you foundational knowledge for each area (practical life, math, etc.) and then gives you activities with detailed instructions on how to do them in each section. They also have videos.

Shu Chen Jenny Yen’s Online Montessori Guides is similar to the Montessori Primary Guide. She has pedagogy and activities. These are really nice and are free!

Montessori Print Shop has teachers manual’s for practical lifesensoriallanguage arts, and math. You can buy them separately or as a bundle. The manuals are based on AMI principles and concepts. One nice thing about these is that they are essentially eBook versions. Instant Montessori gratification. :) They are not free, but the cost seems reasonable. These are only for primary ages (2.5-6).

Montessori Research and Development also publishes teacher’s manuals. There are some sample pages available for viewing before buying. Again, they aren’t free, but the price seems reasonable. For me, the most important thing here is that there is a manual for the 0-2.5 set. While I feel ill prepared to follow the Montessori Method in the primary years I feel even less confident that I am “doing it right” currently. These manuals were developed and written by several certified Montessori teachers and child development experts, another plus in my book.

Montessori at Home! is an awesome eBook with the Montessori Method adapted to the home environment. It’s easy to follow and there are lots of activities. Plus it has some pedagogy and history. It’s not free, but again it isn’t unreasonably priced. And if you buy it through Montessori Print Shop you have the option of purchasing it bundled with the printable materials you will need for the activities.


Resources Series: Intro

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After my post last week I spent some time this week focusing on researching Montessori scope and sequences. In the process I stumbled across several excellent resources for teacher’s manuals, products, free printables, scope and sequences, and more. I thought for my own sake, as well as anyone else looking for some guidance, I would create an annotated bibliography of sorts. I figured to make it more manageable I would break it up into a series of posts each one with a different type of resource. The list is by no means exhaustive and if you have a favorite resource feel free to post it in the comments. I am especially glad to have found the teacher resources as that is the area where I feel least prepared to follow Montessori principles.

Obviously I haven’t actually put all of the resources into practice or even read each material cover to cover, so I can’t give them ringing personal endorsements. However I think if you are looking for places to find information these would be good places to start and would be worth taking the time to see if you are interested. If nothing else, it may give you peace of mind that there are materials out there to help you.

Scope and Sequence

There is something I have found very frustrating about the Montessori Method. I can find a hodge-podge of ideas for activities, but I can’t find a scope and sequence of these activities or really even an appropriate time to introduce the activities. I understand it’s when the child is ready, but should I have the materials on hand for land forms at 15 months or 3 years? I don’t even have a place to start from or an idea where to jump in exactly, since I don’t have a list of potential activities that I could just move through sequentially. I have read quite a bit about the history of the method and about the philosophy of the method and this was a great place for me to start. But it isn’t what I need now. It doesn’t provide the day-to-day information I need. Ultimately I don’t have a big picture of the actual method and am finding it to be nearly impossible, or at least extremely daunting, to work with. I think having a scope and sequence will make me a better teacher and will impact the quality of my daughter’s education.

With this concern hanging over my head, I finally took time last week to sit down and write up a plan for homeschooling Cam. It’s mostly a checklist with a lot of research. I would like to mix and match curricula and educational methods in a way that creates a program that is ideal for my daughter. After all, this is the biggest perk of homeschooling. To do that, however, I need a clear sense of where we are going and what skills and accomplishments we are striving for.

The overall goals of my plan are:

  • Research and write a scope and sequence for 0-3 & 3-6 age groups.
  • Create themed monthly units for 1-2 that integrate skill development.
  • Research curricula to use for various subjects to begin at 5 or 6.
  • Research early reading curricula to begin around 3, especially Montessori and Lindamood Bell.
  • Create elementary/primary scope and sequence using chosen curricula.

The first order of business will be to find Montessori scope and sequences and read up on the Method. To that end I have found a few free and a few priced materials. I began reading David Gettman’s book Basic Montessori: Learning Activities for Under-Fives. So far it’s got what I have been looking for and my local public library had it so I was able to avoid buying it. Montessori Print Shop also has a set of teacher’s manuals for the 3-6 set. They do cost, but I don’t find the cost to be exorbitant. Montessori for Everyone has a set of comprehensive skill lists but so far as I can tell they are not connected to the Montessori activities that build the skills. I also find them a bit pricey. Maitri Learning has a couple of resources that look like they may help me. There is a sequence and order of activities for various areas of “study”. There is also a record keeping log that looks especially helpful. Even better, these resources are free.

So that is where I am this month and this week. Cam is enjoying her activities and new schedule (hooray for one long nap!) so I’m not inclined to introduce anything new just yet. We’ll see how my research goes.

For Your Bookshelf: The Perfect Thanksgiving

Perfect Thanksgiving

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Perfect ThanksgivingThe other day when we were grocery shopping I happened to stop at the table of books Whole Foods has set up (books at the grocery store?). Normally this kind of thing bothers me. Those tables of doodads are there to get you to spend more money on stuff you don’t need from the grocery. I also imagine they tempt many a child and fuel many a grocery store meltdown. However, I happened to see this book sitting there and, for whatever reason, actually picked it up. I’m so glad I did. It’s a sweet little story told by one little girl who compares her family’s Thanksgiving with Abigail Archer’s Thanksgiving. Abigail’s family is perfect in every way. They have a Martha Stewart Thanksgiving. The narrator (you never learn her name) has a Thanksgiving that is more in line with what I imagine everyone else’s Thanksgivings are like – the turkey isn’t perfect, someone sings at the table, the relatives are crammed into the house, pies come from the store. But in the end she points out that her Thanksgiving and Abigail’s are the same in the most important way. They both have loving families.

This resonated with me. Yes, it’s a sweet message that I want Cam to internalize. But, we have a family that resembles Modern Family more than it resembles the “traditional” model. It is no less loving than the “perfect” family, though, and I want Cam to know that and be proud of that.


November Restart

So, we had a little adventure over the last month that prevented me from following our regular routine and from blogging. Cam and I were out in Wyoming with my best friend helping her recover from a serious car accident. As a result we put everything here in California on hold and spent the majority of October and the first week of November out there. I felt very lucky to be in a position to help her out and we had a great time. Cam got to spend some time with a “big brother”, my friend’s 3.5 year old son, which was just a great experience for her. It was a really good visit despite the unfortunate reason for being there.

Now that we are back and getting into the swing of things I am just simply going to pick up where we left off. All the things I have set out for her will stay the same as will the books in the book bins. Hopefully, by next week I will really be back on track and will have several new posts to share. I have a new book shelf to show off that my handy husband made for us and some fun new books. Not to mention I’ve been reading up more on the Montessori Method (thank you David Gettman and my local public library) and been getting my act together to make a plan for researching what I want to do in terms of homeschooling and preschool.

Snack Table

Snack Table

Snack Table

About a week ago my husband and I were at the craft store where he spotted this little lap desk. It’s essentially a plastic tray with pockets on either side that can sit on your lap as you work. My husband’s idea was to use it as a little dinner table for Cam by slinging it over a stool and placing it near our table. We tried it out, but it wasn’t nearly as helpful or popular as we thought it would be. In a moment of inspiration, though, I set it on the floor next to our cabinets, placed Cam’s water cup and a little snack bowl on it and turned it into her snack table.

It has been a huge hit with everyone. Cam is able to get herself a drink and little snack whenever she wants. I can monitor when she is hungry and thirsty, but allow her some independence and choice. It has also cut down on a lot of fussing that went on when she would try to communicate that she needed a drink or a little pick-me-up snack. I can still control what she’s snacking on, of course, but she really seems to like it.

Under the Sea

Photo by Tom Wroten
Photo by Tom Wroten

Photo by Tom Wroten

This month we have a conference in Monterey, so we’ll be paying a visit to the fabulous aquarium there. In preparation I’m trying to expose Cam to names of sea creatures, but also to colors, number and stories. I’m also hoping this month she really transitions to one afternoon nap so we can get into a better routine than we had last month, but I know kids don’t always follow your plan!

Cam is currently really into putting things into containers. She is also totally into putting lids on bottles and jars. In the Montessori fashion, I’m trying to create activities that encourage and reinforce those skills (and maybe sneak in a bit of an ocean theme). I have to admit, though, the lids thing makes me nervous. She’s most interested in small lids, like those on water bottles, but she isn’t totally out of the phase where she puts things in her mouth. It had created a dilemma for me, since I worry she’ll choke, but I don’t want to discourage her. She has really good fine motor/dexterity, so the large lids don’t really do it for her. If any one has any suggestions I would be more than grateful. In the meantime I haven’t made it an activity that can sit out on her shelves and she has to be very closely supervised while she plays with them.

I just recently went back and looked at a little chart I created that shows the phases or “sensitive periods” that Maria Montessori based her method on. I was very surprised to find Cam going through several of them just as predicted. Not really surprised that it was true, but just amazed by my daughter. I have to admit being a parent is really cool and it’s so gratifying and rewarding to watch my daughter explore and discover the world.

Sensory Box: Colored Rice

Wednesday of last week we gave another sensory box a try. I found instructions online on how to dye rice in fall colors. It’s surprisingly simple: Measure out as much rice as you would like into a large Ziploc bag. Put in a couple generous splashes of rubbing alcohol and some squirts of food coloring. Close up the bag and massage and shake the rice around. Once the rice is all evenly coated and as brightly colored as you want it to be ,dump it out onto waxed paper to dry.

My red rice turned a little pink as it dried, but Cam didn’t care. She was super excited to get in there and throw the rice around. She also sampled a handful, after which she made a face and didn’t do it again. I did notice that the rice will leave a dust of food coloring on your hands, so be forewarned. I had Cam play in this in just a diaper and I wiped her hands afterwards. All in all, a winner. Now I want to find some small fall items (apples, pumpkins, spiders, etc.) and hide them in the rice.

Toilet Training: Early Stages

When Cam was about six months old I read the book Diaper Free Before 3. The woman that wrote the book advocates early potty training and I agreed with her ideas and her method. I should note, it is something that fits well with my parenting style, so sticking to it hasn’t been too difficult despite the fact that it’s a bit labor intensive.

You begin by having a small potty chair either in your bathroom or the nursery and just sit the baby on it from time to time. She suggests starting young (six-ish months) in order to get a habit and association formed, plus they can’t run off yet. Slowly you work up to sitting them on the potty each time they wake up, after every meal, and whenever you notice them going. This continues to build the association of going potty in the potty, as well as building “potty breaks” into their routine. At a year or so, you put the child in training pants to begin teaching them the sensation of when they have gone pee.

This is where we are now and I’ve been gradually introducing the training pants (we don’t wear them outside of the house). Sitting Cam on the potty is like trying to pin down a cloud now, but there are times when she picks up the books we keep in a bin by the potty and she spends some quality time on the pot. It’s pretty funny to see actually. To support the potty training we’ve installed little potties in each of our two bathrooms and I set up a “getting ready” area in her bedroom. This is where we change clothes and sit on the potty in the morning and after naps. As a precaution, I laid down an old bath mat to prevent accidents from occurring on the actual carpet. Her clothing drawers are near by and the hamper is behind her. I’m hoping this transitions into the toddler years for teaching her to dress herself.

Sensory Box: Oatmeal

I recently read about sensory boxes and realized I had already done one with water. Per the blog post I read from Pink and Green Mama, I decided to try out some more. I went over to Walmart very early in the morning to avoid the crowds and bought a huge tub of oatmeal as well as a plastic bin and some plastic measuring cups with colorful handles. The day before I had found some large plastic spoons in the dollar bin at our local hardware store. I dumped the oatmeal into the bin and placed the spoons on top.

Cam was thrilled to run her fingers through the oatmeal and scoop it up. She also had a grand time dumping it on the floor. I had my handy little dust pan and whisk on standby, so clean up wasn’t difficult. Cam also tried eating some of the dried oatmeal and fed me a few grains, but that didn’t last long. All in all, it was success and we’ll be doing this again soon. On to colored rice next.