Montessori Minute ~ Bare Essentials

{disclosure: this post contains affiliate links}Montessori Minute Bare Essentials

This is a guest post written by John Bowman, author of Montessori at Home!

 

Montessori Bare EssentialsIf you have a Bachelor’s degree, a year off, and $ to spare, you can take a Montessori teacher training course and learn everything you want to about Montessori. The sheer quantity of books, papers, and other work Montessori created during a lifetime dedicated to children is incredible. It takes awhile to wade through, much less grasp thoroughly.

Photo: Toddler Approved!

There is a ‘secret’ about Montessori, though, that programs charging big bucks to train teachers don’t talk about much. Since I’m a huge advocate for parents, however, I’m happy to tell you:

Doing Montessori with preschoolers is simple

Montessori did all the heavy lifting of creating a completely new way of looking at young children that changed everything all over the world. Then, she created the first Prepared Environment. Like many jewel-like things of beauty, this practical application of her work is wonderfully simple. Don’t think so? Let me explain every Montessori preschool in 9 sentences:

A clean, bright, attractive area is furnished with sets of low shelves and child sized tables and chairs. There are flowers and works of art, and everything is aesthetically pleasing and organized. On the shelves are a huge variety of interesting, self-contained materials for the children to use. They move freely, making their own choices about what they want to work with and whether to work alone or with other children. The children set out rugs and mats to create work areas, and then bring materials to their work areas to use. When finished, they put the material back in the same spot on the shelf where they found it. The children follow a few simple rules that encourage them to respect each other and share the space and materials constructively. A teacher wanders among them, demonstrating materials, guiding children as needed, and working with children individually or in small groups. The atmosphere is busy, rich in opportunities for all kinds of fun work, and the children largely manage themselves.

It’s like free play on steroids. Free play in traditional preschools, like many things we do with preschoolers (except digital learning), had its origins in the Montessori Prepared environment. The big ‘secret’ about Montessori is that her work fills volumes, but the practical application of all her work – the Prepared Environment – is easy to understand. All those materials on the shelves are easy to understand as well. They are for preschoolers, after all!  There are a lot of them in all the different areas because Montessori followed a simple rule:

The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.”

She summed up her approach this way:

“An interesting piece of work, freely chosen, which has the virtue of inducing concentration rather than fatigue, adds to the child’s energies and mental capacities, and leads him to mastery.”

Montessori Bare Essentials 2Rather than have adults decide what the children should do every day (lesson plans), Montessori put out it all out there at once in the form of self-contained materials the children could choose from and use on their own whenever they liked, following a few simple rules that taught them to exercise their freedom with responsibility to others.

Photo: Flower arranging at Discovery Moments

Montessori trusted life to unfold in an intelligent, optimal way if given the chance. She followed children as they grew according to nature, rather than trying to control the process as most forms of education do. Montessori let children follow their universal inner passions to absorb, learn, grow, and know. The result? Children who by the age of six read and do math at what public school calls a second to fourth grade level, without pressure or stress, in an environment filled with joy and discovery. These children also develop excellent brain architecture, a positive and confident self-image, and a true love of learning. Not bad! Parents can do many of the same activities found in Montessori schools right at home. You can make most of your materials yourself and buy others. Here are a few core points to remember to help guide your home Montessori adventures:

Encouraging spontaneous concentration and focused attention is the heart of Montessori. The materials are vehicles for this. Concentration creates self-disciplined children who are calmer, happier, and more satisfied with life; and who can learn anything more easily.

Start with Practical Life and Sensorial materials. Work in Science, Math and Reading as your child shows interest.

Try a wide variety of materials. Observe to see what materials your child spontaneously focuses her attention and concentration on, and wants to repeat over a period of time.

Keep these materials out on low shelves for your child to use when he likes. When a material no longer attracts his interest, take a picture of it and put those in a little box on the shelf. Switch the material out for one he is into concentrating on now. The pictures help your child remember each activity in case she wants to repeat them.

Not so complicated. It really is quite fun when you get into it. Parents are very capable of creating excellent Montessori style experiences at home. Montessori just makes sense. Montessori materials free the adult from having to be the center of attention and the source of all knowledge. Children ‘auto-educate’ with Montessori materials simply by using them.

 

Montessori bare Essentials 3Like a Montessori teacher, your job becomes helping maintain your child’s materials in a nice condition, suggesting and making new materials, and demonstrating or working with your child as needed. Your child’s work will increasingly be independent. You can focus more on reading together, playing outside, doing art projects, and just having fun. Photo: Touch Basket, Montessori At Home!

Montessori bare Essentials 4Start small, with one or two materials a week. The Quick Start Guide in Montessori At Home! shows you how to get started the same day you download the eBook. As you and your child become comfortable, add more materials that your child shows interest in. Let him look through the eBook with you to find them, and help shop for supplies to put materials together.

Photo: Color sorting at Family Go Simple

With a small investment of about half what you would otherwise spend on disposable plastic toys over 2-3 years, your time, and your love, your child can have many of the same benefits of a Montessori school.

© 2013 John Bowman

The new Third Edition of Montessori At Home! was released in March 2013. It has 512 pages of guidance, how-to information, descriptions of over 300 early learning materials and activities, recommendations for over 225 digital tablet apps for preschoolers, 76 pages of free printables, and a copy of the eBook, Mom Bloggers Talk Montessori. $10.95 at Montessori At Home!,


My thanks to John for writing this extensive article for us here at 1+1+1=1! I invite you to ask him any questions you may have in the comments below and he can hopefully answer them for you. If you have an article you hope he will write for us in the future, please let us know in the comments also! Be sure to let him know if this article was helpful-we all love encouragement, right?

Did you miss earlier Montessori Minute Posts?

Continent Box ~ Australia

Continent Box Australia

We enjoyed our recent North America Continent Box and the kids really got into it with the addition of the Continent Box Challenge. I was excited to get another box done quickly and they chose Australia!

{disclaimer~there are affiliate links in this post, also a giveaway!}

I have Australia set up like this…Australia Continent Box -8316

 

I pulled out some Australian animals, we had from our collection, and also got a new Safari Toob.Australia Continent Box -8310

 

I bought my boxes from Walmart, in 2 different sizes {small 6.7qt, large 12.7qt} knowing I would need bigger ones for continents with more stuff! I made simple labels that color-coordinate with Montessori geography colors {free download here}. This box is the smaller of the 2 sizes I bought. Australia Continent Box -8319

 

In the folder on top of the box, is each child’s Continent Box Challenge paper.  You can create your own using our editable pdf file, but here’s a glimpse at ours…

Continent Box Challenge Australia

 

I currently have a few of the extras in these little blue bins from Ikea, hooked to the photo ledge from Ikea also. The one in the middle holds a couple of mini sticker books sent to us by a sweet Aussie blog reader years ago! The one on the right has the Australian  Landmarks ~ Rand McNally.

Australia Continent Box -8318

 

I made a trip to the library to pick up some books for our study.  I couldn’t find all that I wanted but love the ones I was able to get. See the books we got and the ones I wish we had gotten here.

Australia Continent Box -8322

 

 

Printables

We have a few materials from Montessori Print Shop! Thankfully I was given their bundle to review awhile back. We are focusing on the Australian Animals

AustraliaAnimals

You can see in the very top photo, I hang our 3 part cards up on metal rings and hooks. The shelf they are hanging on is a photo ledge from Ikea. Be sure to read to the end for a giveaway from Montessori Print Shop!

I also created a few printables for the box which you can download for free on my Continent Boxes webpage in the North America section. I also used some printables from other sources. I will list out everything shown below with links.

Follow Directions to Color Australia

 

There’s also the Continent Kids Coloring for Australia {free download on the Continent Boxes webpage}…Australia Continent Kid Printable


Here you can see us exploring together, there’s no real plan. The kids can explore the box on their own, and I also am taking time to explore together. It’s amazing what they absorb just from exploring and us talking about what they are doing!

The books and Australian animals have been a BIG hit.  Many of the animals are totally new to my kids, as we haven’t studied Australia before! She’s in love with wombats now thanks to some of the great books!

Australia Continent Box -8438

Pac dove right into his challenge and loved the creative options and chose to make Australia out of Play Dough!

Australia Continent Box -8611

You can download printables and see more on our Continent Boxes webpage!

Continent Boxes


Visit my Pinterest boards for even more ideas!

image image


Enter to Win!

One of you has the chance to win the Australia Printables from Montessori Print Shop! Winner will receive PDF files of all printables listed here, your choice of either the color coded set or the blank set!

Use Rafflecopter below to enter to win! Open worldwide, ends September 24, 2013.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Continent Box Challenge {with Printables}

North America Continent Box -3878

We have created and used 2 continent boxes {Europe and North America} in one year, and I still hope to create the remaining 5 and use them along with these in our homeschooling years to come! My kids have been very into the box on the first few days, but then the newness wore off.  If I engaged them, they would explore with me, but I wanted a way to encourage them to explore on their own {and learn something}.

Enter….the Continent Box Challenge!

I made a chart reflecting our North America Continent Boxes, coming up with tasks that the children could complete. Here is a copy of the sheet my kids used…

Continent Box Challenge North America

 

I set individual goals with each child to earn prizes as they marked off tasks. North America Continent Box -3880First we brainstormed prizes that did not involve money {or shopping}. They came up with ~

  • Peanut Butter Pass ~ the option to choose a PB sandwich for dinner on a night when they hated what was offered {the little 2 in our family are VERY picky and we don’t make alternate meals so they often go hungry at dinner time}
  • Juice Ticket ~ our kids drink water all day long except for the occasional cup of 100% juice with dinner or milk.  They never have soda or other sweetened drinks. The Juice Pass is a ticket to have freedom to drink 100% juice whenever desired for one day.
  • Chore Pass ~ Mom and Dad complete ALL of your daily chores for one day.
  • Stay Up Late ~ this one is obvious, right?
  • Candy Baggie ~ freedom to nibble from a pre-created candy baggie {by me} throughout the day. Candy intake around here is VERY low, and most of our candy is dye-free and organic if possible, but either way this is a BIG deal to them!

Each child chose prizes they wanted and ranked them.  Then we set the goals. Pac had to complete his entire chart {21} to get a chore pass, 19 to get a candy baggie, and 17 to get a juice pass.  Krash was 15, 13, 10 for his leveled prizes.  Ladybug was 12, 10, 8.  I marked out on their sheets what I thought was above their level with a few optionals.  You can see K’s below with an X on “name 50 states” and a ? on “name at least 25 states” showing how we modified the activities to their levels.

Continent Box Challenge-5285

Yes they can earn all 3 prizes, when they reach each goal. I wanted to make it fun to keep going!

This really got them going and we are still using the challenge now! Here are some action shots of the kids…

Matching up the North American Landmark 3-part cards…North America Continent Box -3883

North America Continent Box -4003

Working on puzzles…

North America Continent Box -3906 North America Continent Box -3908

We will definitely be using the Continent Box Challenge in the future and I thought it might work for some of you too!  BUT, I knew your boxes would be different and you would need to be able to create your own tasks based on your boxes!  So, I asked my friend Jolanthe {who has the correct software} if she would make an editable PDF form for my readers to create your own challenges! She said yes!!!

The colors correspond with the colors used with Montessori geography, but you can just print in gray scale if you don’t need the colors!  Each box is editable and you can save the PDF file to use again too!

Click on graphic to download your printables!

Continent Box Challenge Editable Printables

 

Looking for more World Geography ResourcesContinent Boxes

Cats Unit Study ~ 1st Grade

My son, Krash, requested his summer learning to be focused on one of his favorites ~ CATS!  He collects little stuffed cats and has them with him almost all of the time!

Krash and his cats

Krash just completed 1st grade and since I know what I want him working on this summer, I created this unit study with my goals for him in mind.  I hope some of your cat loving kids might be able to use these printables also! 

{disclaimer: there are affiliate links in this post}Why Do Cats Meow

I created daily work for him based on the book, Why Do Cats Meow? which is at a good reading level for him to read aloud to me.  He will read the portion and we will work on the printable together each day. There are 17 different sections and printables to go along.

You can see some of the printables that go along with this book below.  Krash is learning cursive formation, which is why the tracing titles are on each page.  I added a print set at the end of the file for those of you who want to use these but have kids not working on cursive yet.  The little activities after the fill in the blanks and tracing are just quick ways to get in some skills.

{Download Printables Here}

Cat Unit Study Printables

I have the printables in a small 1/2” notebook for us to work through with the book.Cat Unit Study -5132


He is interested in different breeds of cats too, so I made him a set of 3-part cards to learn with. I got lots of my information from the Cats DK Pocket book.

{Download Here}

Cat Breed 3 Part Cards

I have these in our mini pocket chart on display, the kids love looking at them and especially giggling at the Cornish Rex and the Sphinx!Cat Unit Study -5128


Finally, I thought it would be fun to introduce him to classification by discussing the classification of a domestic cat.

{download here}

Classification of Cats


We have lots of cat books also, some are pictured below and in the widget…Cat Unit Study -5130


We will also be using a few resources I found while searching online! I love this cat study from Sandra’s Savvy Teaching Tips. The Cats Lapbook from Homeschool Share is great!  I will also be pulling out our Cats Preschool Pack in case Ladybug wants to join Krash!

9500ba3b2f3ca22053b689c77ca3550a cats_lapbook_complete Cats Preschool Pack

 

Looking for more Cat Fun?

image

Continent Box ~ North America

Continent Box North America

 

We enjoyed our Europe Continent Box and then I fell off the wagon.  I had grand plans for the year, but just got behind in prep time.  But finally, I added another box to our year, right at the end! 

{disclaimer~there are affiliate links in this post, also a giveaway!}

I have North America set up like this {see photo below}. I have a large puzzle of North America, and the board of North America from Where in the World {I added the cards into the box}. Our Little Passports goodies from Mexico are in the box too!

I pulled out some North American animals we had from our collection, our US Presidents and USA books {from Target}, and our big World Map Puzzle {similar to this one, couldn’t find mine online}.

Continent Box North America -3487

I bought my boxes from Walmart, in 2 different sizes {small 6.7qt, large 12.7qt} knowing I would need bigger ones for continents with more stuff! I made simple labels that color-coordinate with Montessori geography colors {free download here}. This box is the bigger of the 2 sizes I bought.

 

What’s Inside?

US Presidents {Target}, North American Landmarks ~ Rand McNally, North American Animals {Target}, States & Capitals Wrap Up.

Continent Box North America -3516

I currently have a few of the extras in these little blue bins from Ikea, hooked to the photo ledge from Ikea also.Continent Box North America -3489

 

We have a few materials from Montessori Print Shop! Thankfully I was given their bundle to review over a year ago year. Specifically I am using the North America Geography Folder {I made ours as a book in sheet protectors}, North American Animals,  & North American Landmarks. You can see I hung our 3 part cards up on metal rings and hooks. The shelf they are hanging on is a photo ledge from Ikea. Be sure to read to the end for a giveaway!

Continent Box North America -3492 

I created a few printables for the box which you can download for free on my Continent Boxes webpage in the North America section. I also used some printables from other sources. I will list out everything shown below with links, it is all laminated and in our box.

Continent Box North America -3506

Continent Box North America -3497

Continent Box North America -3513

 

There’s also the Continent Kids Coloring for North America {free download on the Continent Boxes webpage}…Continent Kids: North America


Here you can see us exploring together, there’s no real plan. The kids can explore the box on their own, and I also am taking time to explore together. It’s amazing what they absorb just from exploring and us talking about what they are doing!

Puzzles are a BIG favorite with all 3 kids!  Ladybug loves them the most!Continent Box North America -3529

Continent Box North America -3533

Krash is a builder, so I challenged him to build one of the North American Landmarks, he chose the Washington Monument!Continent Box North America -3534

You can download printables and see more on our Continent Boxes webpage!

Continent Boxes


Products…

Target Dollar Spot Geography Supplies {get ‘em when you can!}Geography Resources from Target

World Facts & Landmarks Flashcards {Rand McNally}World Landmark Cards

Where in the WorldWhere in the World

Geography Units North America {Evan Moor eBook}

North America Evan Moor ebook

 

Geo Puzzle ~ USA & CanadaGeo Puzzle North America

GeoDiceGeoDice Game


Books…

NA Rookie  NA True Books  NA Explore


Visit my Pinterest boards for even more ideas!

image image


Guess What?

One of you has the chance to win the North America Printables from Montessori Print Shop! Winner will receive PDF files of all printables listed here, your choice of either the color coded set or the blank set!

Use Rafflecopter below to enter to win! Open worldwide, ends 7/9/13

a Rafflecopter giveaway