Friday, February 26, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Solids on Steroids!

Wow! I came across the most amazing set of geometric
solids from a man who hand carves them in Japan.
He does actually sell these to schools in Japan. I am
saving up for a set...
Montessori World has a presentation on geo solids

Paper models of solids would be fun to make either from
cut outs or oragami.  Check these resources out from Dover Book:

A Freebee site with printable geo solids is:
My son printed these on colored paper and made
quite a few models. We store them in a big clear plastic box.

Polydron is the plastic polyhedra model set that we used in my
Montessori training.  The sets can be found here:

George Hart's art using geo forms is amazing:
This would make a great tie in to how forms can be used to
produce beautiful art.  Have fun enjoying these sculptures!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Nature and Nurture

I admit it! I have a serious case of SPRING FEVER!
So, today's post will be all about nature study in
the Montessori environment. There is the the
Nature Table which I was introduced to in my
training...this is common to Waldorf classrooms
as well. The idea is to have a variety of materials
in a basket placed on a table, usually seasonal
or around a theme. If your children collect items
themselves I believe it would be more meaningful.
Ideas for nature tables follow:

Here is a great resource for creating nature nomentclature
cards or three part cards to add to  your botany or
biology materials.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine Activities

Happy Valentine's Day.
There are so many cute ideas
being posted for Montessori
activities on a Valentine theme.
Check out my blog list to the right
for some great ideas!
Have a Happy!!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Music and Montessori

What is the Montessori Music program?
To a parent this might be a confusing question
based on the various approaches taking place
in Montessori schools in America. Many schools
create their own cirriculum or hire teachers
trained in a specific method like Orff, Kodaly,
Kindermusik, Dalcroze or such.  Sometimes
it is a combination of several methods or something
learned in an ECE program or Montessori
training program. But, is there an official
music cirriculum that is authentic to the
Montessori Method?? The answer is yes...
but I do not believe many schools have invested
in the proper training or materials for their school.
The complete set of materials is available
through three companies that I am aware of:
Nienhuis, Gonzagarredi (Juliana Group) and Kaybee.
Kaybee Montessori carries the full line of materials
plus the training (the only training I can find in
the US).  I was introduced to the Montessori
bells through my European Montessori trainer and
was fascinated to learn more. Both materials
and training are expensive, however the
books and support materials I think are
rather affordable. Here are the links: (online demo of bells)

The book describing Montessori's approach to music:

"Primary teachers need to remember that the bells are an essential piece of material designed to take advantage of the child's sensitive period for pitch (2 1/2 - 3 1/2) years of age," said Perez. "Teachers need to focus on the sensorial work with the bells first, which should be a part of everyone's training. The wonderful bonus is that all of this sensorial work leads directly into symbols/notation, reading and writing of music. All the history, listening, singing, movement and science experiments flow from this essential sensorial work."

From Jola Publications

Note: A company in Canada also sells the bell material.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Natural Montessori Materials

Today's finds are all thing Montessori a' Naturel...
(montessori materials in the buff!)
Some children actually struggle with colors and
processing or seeing correctly especially with the
number rods. A few companies have addressed this
issue by producing low contrasting colored rods
or brown stained rods as well as other non-colored
traditional montessori materials. I tried to represent
several companies in this post, but I am aware that
many of the materials may be available from more
than one company. ( I am a non-commercial blog
and am not trying to advocate one business over
another, so if you find something else exciting
along these lines, feel free to comment!!)
I think many of the natural or stained materials
are really beautiful... have fun!

Montessori N Such Natural Tower and Stand (aka Pink Tower of Cubes)

Hello Wood Red and Natural Rods

Montessori Stores Blue and Natural Teak Wood Numeral Rods
Montessori Stores Natural Teak Wood Counting Rods
E and O Montessori Natural Geometric Solids

Montessori Stores Teak Knobless Cylinders
Montessori Aids Natural Binomial and Trinomial Cubes
IFIT Montessori Wooden Golden Beads

Materials Company of Boston Natural Broad Stairs (aka Brown Stairs)
Three Beautiful Bees Natural Beeswax Polish
from Urthchild

Math duh!

Using the golden beads to represent four-digit numbers.
Hi All,
 I found this great article on Montessori Matters blog at
Word Press...she's great!

News Flash: Pre-Schoolers Can Understand Math Concepts (no duh)

December 22, 2009 in following the child, math, on being a guide, parent education, social issues
Tags: children, early childhood education, education, mathematics, montessori, neurocognitive research, new york times, school, schools, science, teaching

Yesterday, the most popular article on the New York Times website discussed a recent finding in the field of cognitive neuroscience.

Brace yourselves Montessorians!!! Contrary to long-held beliefs in the highest echelons of scientific research, the cognitive neuroscience community has discovered that children as young as four can grasp fundamental math concepts.

*pause for effect*

Uh, we could’ve told them that.

So, maybe we should!

Dear cognitive neuroscientists,

Congratulations on your ground-breaking discoveries in the field of pedagogy. You must have been quite pleased when you found out that young children can understand basic math concepts before the age of six. I’m so glad you finally put your expensive Harvard Ph.Ds to good use!

I hate to burst your bubble (actually, I quite enjoy it), but I thought you might want to know that a woman named Maria Montessori figured this out 100 years ago. Talk about arriving late to the party!

It is my pleasure to introduce you to the Primary Montessori classroom, where pre-schoolers have been actively working with math concepts – from numbers and quantities to long division and fractions – for over a century.

Maria Montessori believed that children have a natural curiosity for mathematical concepts, and look for order and patterns in the world around them. She called it the “mathematical mind”. However, because the concepts of math (the value of numbers, arithmetical operations, geometry, etc.) are not instantly recognizable to the untrained eye, Dr. Montessori deemed it necessary to create a curriculum where children could use concrete representations to discover these mathematical abstractions.

In other words, for children to understand what a number represents, what addition is about, or why we need to borrow during subtraction, they need to involve their senses, and we need to isolate the concept being introduced. These are two of the (many) reasons why traditional math education has never worked, and why so-called experts thought that young children were incapable of learning math.
Traditional approaches to teaching math have been truly uninspired and frankly insulting to a child’s intelligence. Using a pizza slice to illustrate the concept of a triangle is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read about, and yet according to the NYT article, this technique is used in many children’s books (among many other equally idiotic tactics). And speaking of dumb techniques, why should pre-schoolers be using books to learn math, in the first place???

In Montessori, children start working with mathematical concepts around the age of three, when they are exposed to fractions, geometry, algebra, equivalences, and base-ten from a sensorial perspective (this means they’re using their senses to explore mathematically-precise materials without knowing they’re learning about math). By the time they’re 3 1/2, if they’ve been in the Montessori environment for at least six months, many are ready to begin their formal math education.

Yes, 3 1/2. I’ll give you a moment to pick yourself off the floor and climb back into your ergonomically-correct office chair. Ready? Let’s continue.

Associating symbols and quantities through the use of the number rods.

Montessori students move at their own pace through the math curriculum, first exploring quantities through the use of the number rods, then learning to identify symbols (aka, numbers 0-9), and then associating the symbol with the quantity.

Guide a child through this process, and voila! She can clearly understand that “5″ is not just a hard-to-write squiggle named “five”, but is an actual quantity she has carried, counted, and compared to other quantities. Deny a child the right to understand this concept clearly, and you’re setting her up for a lifetime of struggle and confusion.

Within a few weeks of commencing their formal math education, Montessori children will have learned about quantities, odds & evens, and the concept of zero as an empty space. Then it’s on to the decimal system, where – hold on to your lab coats! – children who just turned four learn how to work with four-digit numbers.

I bet you’ve never witnessed a four-year old who sees the number 8,657, says “eight thousand, six hundred, and fifty-seven”, AND represents the quantity accurately using golden beads. I know you’ve never seen this because, in the article, you were excited about children who could touch their nose seven times. You guys sure do have low standards for what children are capable of.

At the same time our students are discovering the joys of arithmetic, they’re also developing a clear understanding of what the numbers 11-99 represent, through the use of several beautiful, precise, and engaging materials. Skip-counting is also introduced, and the concepts of carrying and borrowing are practiced extensively.

As before, we follow a specific method of presenting the information to the children: first the quantity, then the symbol, and finally the association of the quantity and the symbol.

Yes, you mention this ground-breaking process in your article… Guess it’s not so ground-breaking after all.

Throughout this entire time, the children are free to move at their own pace, revisiting concepts as they see fit and staying with a particular material as long as necessary. If we, as guides, see that a particular concept has not been clearly understood by a child, we have the ability to bring him back to the appropriate material. We’ll gladly spend quality time re-presenting the concept and encouraging repetition through one-on-one games and small group activities.

Only when the above-mentioned concepts are clearly established in the child’s mind, will we guide her towards the memorization of tables. After all, what good is it to regurgitate 3+4=7, 3+5=8, etc. if there’s no understanding of what the concept means, and thus no way of applying it to daily life?

Oh, wait, I forgot. Traditional schools educate children to succeed on tests, so regurgitation is not only sufficient, it is required.

Well, here’s the thing: we, as Montessorians, would rather prepare children to succeed in life.

And speaking about preparing a child for life… If a child is fortunate enough to remain in the Montessori environment for her Kindergarten year, she will continue learning the arithmetic tables (always through the use of materials she can manipulate). Little by little, she will wean herself off the materials, as her brain matures and she learns to apply the knowledge she acquired in the first two years in the classroom. Upon solving an arithmetic problem without the use of the materials, it is not unusual for a five-year old Montessori child to remark: “I don’t know why I know, but I know.” If that doesn’t build self-esteem, I don’t know what does!

After reading the NYT article, it sounds to me like you guys are just re-inventing the wheel. Fortunately, you are starting to discover that you under-estimated children’s abilities (and over-estimated your own). Stop wasting time pretending your theories are ground-breaking, do some real research, and use your soapbox to give children the type of education they really deserve and are desperate for.

Welcome to Montessori. It matters more than you think.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fantastic Felt!

Looking for real wool felt objects
suitable for a Montessori language or
practical life activites?
I found some cute veggies and fruit...
(must be Spring Fever ;)

Becky M.'s felt food on Etsy is really cute too!
check her out at:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More Freebees

Here are a few more freebees:

Happy Thoughts!

The child passes little by little from the unconscious to the conscious, treading always in the paths of joy and love.

More Freebee a whole language program!!

Scroll down the page after clicking the link
(after the seasonal things.) There is an intire
pink, blue, and green reading scheme here
with pix and how to's! Wowee...!

Italian Cards Now Translated to English

Translated Fruit and Veggie Cards
Here's the link...they look great!
Thanks Again Cuoredimamma !

Monday, February 8, 2010

Innovative Montessori Materials

I've found some interesting twists on the
usual materials that I'd like to share with
you! How about a set of colored cylinders
in matching boxes? These are nifty because
you can match them to the holes inside the 
boxes and the pictures on the lids.
(they do list US Prices on their website as well)
...and here are some control cards for the cylinders too!

Fruit and Veggie Cards in Italian!

Here are some nice sequencing cards
for the growth of fruit and veggies in
She has a translator on her site to English, but
you need to arrow back to the original language to download
the pdf cards properly. I think the pictures and idea are really 
nice! The blog looks really great, btw...clean graphics...
the Italians do such a nice job of supporting the
Mammas in their culture.  Oh ya...
Montessori WAS ITALIAN~~

Saturday, February 6, 2010


On my old blog I had a list of freebees for
download...wasn't able to recover it so
here it is again! Many of these sites are
commercial, but offer free downloads as
part of their materials. I've collected many
cards as pdf files over time. Much of the
Montessori apparatus is in available in
a printable file form as well...
like the math boards, movable alphabets
etc. I really like the things through an
Austrian supplier which I will post here.
  They are so beautifully printed
and thought out. Have fun downloading!

More Chinese

Wow, I am surprised by all the interest in the Chinese
materials! I found a freebee website  with lots of
flash cards Montessori-like with pictures, in English
and Chinese! These look promising. I downloaded
a bunch. (I just ignore the  ads
bar to the left)

For Montessori materials in Chinese
Maitri Learning has collaborated with a Chinese teacher
to produce card materials in Chinese (no translation here,
but the materials are familiar nomenclature and 3 part
cards etc.)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fun with templates

Hi All,
 I guess I had to give up my beautiful template...I was getting
really strange formatting on my home computer so that
I could not read my own blog. I'll find something else
exciting soon...any suggestions?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Montessori Chinese!

This laser cut Montessori Map of China is availabe
from Montessori Materials of Boston:

Today's excitment will be to share all things
Chinese and Montessori! I have been looking
for things that tie in with the Montessori cirriculum
which are about China or teach Chinese language
or culture ala Montessori.
Ok here goes:
This site has many downloadable materials
teaching to write chinese. Her traditional
Montessori areas are interesting as well...
Have fun exploring here. (Please scroll down the
page once you go to the site.)

Another place to look for
Chinese Montessori materials is:
She has block and tiles, an album, and downloadable Chinese/English pdf files for 3 part cards.

United Montessori also has some Chinese
culture cards available.  I am linked to her
blog on the side bar, but here is a direct
link to the cards:

Montessori and Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences | Montessori Life | Find Articles at BNET

Montessori and Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences Montessori Life 

Although working in different cultures and different times, Montessori and Gardner came to many of the same conclusions regarding human development. First, both Montessori and Gardner derived their theories based upon daily, firsthand observation and experience working with people, both normal and with exceptionalities. Montessori worked first with retarded, then urban, deprived children. Gardner focused his attention upon adults with various forms of brain damage, as well as normal and gifted children. These experiences enabled them both to understand and appreciate the wide range of abilities and capacities found in human nature and to challenge rigid and narrow beliefs about human potential.

Second, as a result of their shared understanding and appreciation of human nature, both Montessori and Gardner noted the uniqueness of each individual. They observed that individual differences begin to be revealed in the earliest years of life, and that individual strengths in one area of ability do not necessarily ensure or predict strengths in other areas. Montessori writes, "little children soon reveal profound individual differences which call for very different kinds of help from the teacher" (1964, p. 23 1). Gardner ( 1997, 1999) states that in the area of intelligence, no two people have exactly the same intelligences, nor in the same combination, and that understanding and valuing these uniquenesses and differences and utilizing them for the benefit of society is of utmost importance. He states, in fact, that taking human differences seriously lies at the heart of Multiple Intelligence Theory.

Natural Beads!

Wow! I found this wonderful company that sells all natural beads.
I was thinking how nice these would feel made into math materials
or used for counting, sorting or spooning activities.
Check them out at
They have many different kinds and colours of beads
all grown from nature...woopee!