Montessori Links

Better late than never! A friend asked about these a while ago…

A good general introduction to Montessori Home education as I use it is Micheal Olaf company’s websites. As I put this link in today I discovered they have added a lot of information and links I haven’t looked through yet. The catalogues contain a lot of interesting developmental information and are very useful.

This style of Montessori home education is fairly close to natural learning, and does not try to replicate the Montessori classroom in the home, a task that would be impossible even if you thought it was desirable. And I don’t!

The  environment

Online albums

Online/Email Groups

  • playschool6 – Catholic general Montessori homeschool discussion. Although I am not Catholic, I do not find the religious content overwhelming. It is usually clearly marked and can be skipped.
  • montessorimakers – Low volume list, files and archives on how to make montessori materials
  • montessoribyhand – Another discussion, lower volume, and archive of material

I hope there is enough there to keep you busy for a while. If you have any other favourites, please let me know!

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Our “Pink” Tower

I have been inspired!

I haven’t done very much in the way of making Montessori materials lately. I was overwhelmed. There seemed so much to do! Then I was reading “The Brain that Changes Itself” and thought how much Montessori style learning really suits this research, and in one of those weird coincidences that happens sometimes, someone else posted on a forum I use about Montessori homeschooling. Plus we have been spending a lot more time at home lately and we all need to do something new.

So I needed to I start somewhere. I needed something small and something I could actually accomplish, and something that could be used by both the children. So I sat down with my computer and trawled some email lists and albums and Montessori catalogs, and decided to start with the iconic pink tower. I didn’t have pink card, so I made a Green Tower. Yes, there probably is a reason it is pink, but with the effort involved in getting out of the house lately I figured something was better than nothing.

The pink tower is a set of ten wooden cubes, ranging in size from 1 centimeter cubed through to 10 centimeter cubed. They are designed to help the child develop sensory discrimination.

The Green Tower is made of green card, printed from a yahoo group I belong to. In order to simulate the ‘real’ pink tower, where weight is a factor, the Green Tower cubes are filled with rolled oats. (I needed something not too heavy and not too light). As soon as the glue dries, I think I will need to sure up the edges with some thick, clear tape. This is a method I can’t take credit for, I borrowed it.

And the results? I love the elegant simplicity of them. They will never be exceptionally strong, but I actually thought this might be a bonus for a few reasons. First, I didn’t think it would hurt the children to have something that they had to handle very carefully, and secondly I thought we wouldn’t be tempted to use them as simply another set of building blocks.

Tomorrow I will introduce the to the boys. I’m hoping my pride in my accomplishment will spill over into at least a little enthusiasm from them!  There is a little bit of information about how use the tower in this online Montessori album. (A Montessori album is an outline of the plan of lessons, materials etc that might take place in a Montessori setting.)

I am already planning to make some Brown Stairs using the same method soon. As soon as I get some brown card. In the meantime, I’m planning some rough and smooth tablets and some fabric matching.

Kitchen Gadgets for Children

I’ve already told you about my mortar and pestle, last week we bought a new gadget, and I wanted to share. The melon baller! Of course we had to buy a melon to try it out. Yes, it will be the last one of the season.

I use kitchen gadgets with kids because they are fun, they let the boys do things they otherwise couldn’t, they help them prepare their own snacks (and sometimes eat new things), and they are great for fine motor skills. I got the idea for introducing them from the Micheal Olaf catalogue. I keep an eye out for good ones everywhere, and I’ve had a lot of luck at Ikea. The main thing to look for is that they are real tools, not just toys and that they are small enough for them to be used comfortably.

The favourites in our house are:

  • Melon baller – apparently you can use them for making butter balls too, though I haven’t tried it – yet!
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Biscuit cutters – use with sandwiches and playdough too.
  • Apple cutter – We got this at Ikea but I can’t find it online now. I’ve seen similar in Kitchen shops
  • Tongs – My children love dishing up their own salad or whatever at the dinner table.
  • Small ‘creamer’ jug – perfect for pouring practise.

I really want to get some children’s chopsticks I’ve seen. We use chopsticks sometimes, and I know the boys would like to learn. Many years ago, a Cantonese friend made a training pair for another friend by linking to tops of them with a rubber band, but I’ve never got it to work. I think these would be the next best thing. So if you see them, let me know! It just doesn’t seem worth paying more for postage than the actual thing!

Do you have any favourite kitchen gadgets your children use?

Practical Life Activities

Set up on a kitchen chair, this helps keep the boys busy!

My boys love practical life activities. Montessori uses them to develop skills to be used in real life, as well as hand-eye co-ordination, left-to-right association and finger strength.

This particular setup was for A. –  C. could do it very easily, so I would probably give him some tongs or something! The objective is to transfer the nuts from the left bowl to the right using the spoon. A. had fun, until he mastered it, then he just tipped the nuts from one bowl to the other!