Friday, January 28, 2011

Hand Made Maps and Puzzles

I found these puzzle maps which are handmade and
available either in colors or woodtones. There are
also other nice puzzles from these suppliers which
would work nicely with the Montessori cirriculum.
(George Luck Animal Puzzle Maps...unique!)
 (click on George Luck on the left side bar.)

And for the Babies...there are teethers in the shape of states!
(Found these on Etsy)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

UPDATE! Beautiful Badges and Buttons

Calling all Montessori badges and buttons...
if you have a badge or button you'd like
to share on this blog, I'd be happy to post
it on the side bar. Please send
your html script in the comments.
(Update...just put your blog address in
the comments and I will upload your
html script from your site!)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Gears Gears Gears

Young Minds at Play has invented a puzzle with gears...
geared (pun) to the young child. There are several developmental
levels. Check them out on their home page at
scroll down to their new product launch.
I also love the new ring toys...better and more beautifully finished that
the usual toddler toys with rings. I ordered this one for Christmas
and it is a hit with my grandson. We also got the geometry blocks
and inset, which he plays with every day he's here. They are just
the right size to fit in the hand and the right thickness. I got the ones
without knobs and a set with knobs for later.
(And no, I don't work for Jeff...just love his materials. The quality
is really amazing. He and his wife are a young family hand making
these beautiful toddler materials! I offered to put a coupon up on my blog for him...

please feel free to spread the news!)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Company Eco Friendly


I was happy to come upon this great company.
Their card boxes are well designed and made
from recycled "fallen trees". The cards they
produce and sell are keyed to books and lead
into direct reading from well known and
beloved books. Check them out here:

Here's a blurb about this company from:
Jocelyn Scotty

Chicago Montessori Learning Examiner.
June 29th, 2010 2:25 pm CT.

Picture Book Extension activities for young children are available from Montessori Images

 Most young children love everything about picture books; listening to the spoken words, studying the illustrations, retelling the story and eventually reading the story aloud themselves. Language development in young children is achieved through a wealth of print-rich activities that practice the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Montessori Images, an innovative educational Montessori materials company, has created Picture Book Extensions that incorporate a child's love of picture books with high quality Montessori activities to encourage language development in young children.

A Montessori beginning
Montessorian Rita Akins along with her artist husband, Ronn are the creators of a new series of Picture Book Extension activities, just one of a variety of original Montessori materials and supplies available exclusively through their company Montessori Images. Like many upstart companies, Montessori Images has grown and evolved from a passion. Rita Akins shares how she first became interested in Montessori and creating materials.

I have a BA in Family Life Studies and Child Development, and considered a career in social work, until I came upon Montessori. I was so intrigued with the philosophy, and realized that I could assist family life in a very significant way by practicing this philosophy in a classroom setting and educating parents to its' benefits. So I set my sights on 3 -6 Montessori training with the St. Nicholas Montessori Training Centre; and, also, New Jersey state certification, while working full time so my husband could finish his second art degree. After certification, I went on to teach at the 3 - 6 level for two years before making the decision to open a Montessori school in my home county in South Jersey. It was 1985 and this would be the first Montessori school in our county. Running head on into a mountain of Montessori myths, I realized I had a lot to prove and disprove. Like any respectable Montessori teacher, I worked tirelessly. To beat the stress and "normalize" myself I discovered how much I enjoyed creating new materials. My husband, Ronn, was very supportive. He would draw . . . I would laminate!

Necessity is the "mother of invention"

The experience of starting a new Montessori school required Rita to think creatively in order to strike a balance between educating and introducing both parents and children to Montessori using traditional Montessori materials and a very familiar educational tool, children's picture books. Rita explains how her original idea of Picture Book Extensions began.

I was starting from scratch - everybody was new. While new parents " oooed and ahhhed" the didactic materials- very excited about the tactile element, etc.; the children, all 3‘s and young 4's, were drawn to the familiar- the "warm fuzzies" that they knew from home. Every picture book present in the environment was in and of itself a point of interest. I began to see that these picture books that the children loved and enjoyed so much could be a portal to specific areas of the language curriculum. Why not introduce size comparisons with a story children relate to? (I began with) Titch by Pat Hutchins, a story about the youngest sibling who always gets the littlest one while the older, bigger siblings get the biggest. As an extension, (I created) big and little comparison cards with illustrations of objects in the book. (This) offered the child a way to organize thinking within the context of the story and prompt discoveries of big and little objects in the classroom. Perfect! I continued to make more and more picture book extensions - sometimes using props, sometimes language cards, and keeping Ronn very busy.

What I discovered next was the real benefit of using extensions with picture books. By incorporating picture books and extensions neatly into the daily curriculum, my staff and I were reading aloud to individual children more often - responding to the child's interests, addressing the child's individual needs, and providing the "human contact" element so critical to literacy. Reading aloud was not being held to the perimeters of the program (group story time at the end of the morning); but, instead, teachers were modeling what good readers do and how good readers think throughout the day using authentic texts and extensions that built on language skills and concepts. I felt the success of this approach many times over watching teacher and child engage in a good read.

A new Montessori material company begins

After 20 years, Rita and her husband Ronn sold their school and moved to 23 acres of forested and protected land off the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland and began a new company, Montessori Images. Utilizing years of Montessori experience, they began to produce unique high-quality materials for Montessori teachers worldwide. Today, an extensive offering of Picture Book Extension materials include pre-reading card sets for matching, sequencing, comparison and lotto games all based upon a variety of beloved children's picture books including classics like Goodnight Moon, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Snowy Day, Frog and Toad and Seven Blind Mice.

Laminated card sets are durable with safe rounded corners and Cut and Laminate sets come with detailed directions, a black-line master for booklet making, informative teaching and classroom organizing tips and a brief summary of the picture book. Montessori Images also offers Picture Books Extensions of laminated Montessori three-part cards in both English and Spanish and Reading and Grammar sets that focus on reading, word study and word function.

Later this year, Montessori Images will be rolling out new Picture Book Extensions featuring wordless picture books, an often under utilized kind of picture book that helps to develop visual literacy skills in young children. Rita also is committed to the Montessori ideal to respect and appreciate nature and explains how she turned this value into another Montessori material now exclusive at Montessori Images.

We also make Fallen Tree wooden trays on our site here in Maryland. These are custom-sized to hold our extensions, and involve the woodworking skills of another member of my family - my brother, Jim. We hold true to sustainable practices as our land is in Forest Stewardship. It is a small part of our business, but a big deal for us because we want to draw attention to sustainable forest use, and the importance of every component of healthy forest structure, including the fallen tree.

Montessori Images products are available on-line and Rita and her husband will also be exhibiting at the American Montessori Society Annual Conference in Chicago in spring 2011.


Geo Puzzles

A Montessori find:

Like puzzle maps these puzzle pieces are by the states, provinces or countries,
not just jigsaw puzzles pieces. These would be a great addition to your geography area. These puzzles can be built on a floor or table top. They are stored in a box but a
"frame" could be constructed using a large tray or board.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Time Flies When You're Having Fun!

The title of this blog features my daughter...time goes so quickly by!
Now she has two children in a Montessori school! Just being a
bit nostalgic today...