Saturday, 28 June 2008

Phonic Reading Books

A while ago I did a search online for phonic reading books. I wanted to find something that went well with the Montessori reading series [Pink, blue, green]. It took me a while to find the information I was looking for. Here are a few suitable reading books I found:

  • Song Bird Phonics [Oxford reading tree]. I brought these, they're okay but get boring. Some of the pics are nice but others are not. The stories are not that interesting. However there are three levels and it works okay with the Montessori reading series. You can buy these from amazon.

  • Jelly and Bean: I haven't actually brought these books yet, but I have seen them used in Montessori schools and most teachers said the books are good and interesting. I like the pictures! You can buy these from

  • Bob Books: Some people liked these others said that the stories were boring! You can look through some books on their web site

  • The Phonic Farm books: We use these at school, the pictures are lovely and the characters are repeated. The series matches well with the Montessori materials and are colour coded pink, blue and green as with Montessori materials. You can buy them from amazon or

  • The Montessori Reading program: This is an old series of books written to go with the Montessori pink, blue, green series. However I cant find any links for them. We have them at school but I prefer the Phonic farm Series. Here is the ISBN if anyone is interested in finding them 0948496177.

I actually prefer to give the new reader a one page story with just one picture. It may sound boring, but I find it helps the child to focus on the words and develop their own imagination. I have made some for Little-N and he likes them. If you would like to see one of the stories I wrote click on this link

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Advanced Life Skills [Practical Life]

In a Montessori 6-9 years class, the practical life area serves a different purpose from that of an Early Childhood Class. The children are already independent and already know how to use most tools. The activities are not focused on developing the child's co-ordination or Independence but rather focused on enhancing the child's skills. The area is therefore re-named as the 'Advanced life skills'.
In the Advanced Life Skills area, the child will have the chance to develop and perfect many essential life skills that they will need to be good citizens of the world. The activities are laid out differently, there are no longer shelves with trays but instead instruction manuals that the children can read. The children have to gather the materials they need to carry out the activity. Also the teacher no longer presents the activities, but instead the child will follow step-by-step written instructions and only ask the teacher if s/he needs assistance.
The Advanced life skills area is divided as follows:
  • Care of Environment [ for example: Changing water in a fish tank, weeding, cleaning a cupboard, making recycled paper]
  • Grace, Courtesy and citizenship [for example: table manners, dealing with feelings, writing a postcard, making a thank you call]
  • Care of self, health and hygiene [ for example: Hand washing clothes, making a salad, dealing with a fire, changing laces on trainers]
  • Manual dexterity, design and construction skills [for example: Making photo frames, creating a story book, making a money box, knitting a scarf, tying a knot, packing a suitcase]

There are many activities that the child will work through and master throughout the next three years. Unfortunately I haven't set up my 6-9 class yet so i cant take pictures, I plan to set it up over the summer holiday. When its ready, I'll post some pics. I have made some Advanced Life skills instruction pages, but I cant post them until they have been marked by college.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Why Montessori for school aged children?

As I have mentioned before Montessori Education has always been in my life since I went to a montessori nursery as a child. As an adult I choose montessori as my career for many reasons as well as my strong belief that it is the way to facilitate children's learning. I wont go into my whys for Montessori, but instead whys for Montessori for school aged children.

I have been an Montessori teacher for the 2.5 - 6 yr olds since 2002. I have worked in the UK and in Egypt. I also used Montessori to homeschool Little-N and to give private lessons to various other children I knew. The children learn so much when using the montessori materials and as a parent/ teacher you know that through the materials every child will be laying down a solid foundation on which to base further knowledge. In the normal scenario your child will do very well working with the materials up to the age of 5 - 6 and then go to school and redo all the lovely learning you have already taught them. Its extremely frustrating for the child and a waste. In the UK we don't have many good Montessori schools that go up to the age of 12 and as Little-N is growing I feel the need to I further my training so that I can facilitate for his and other children's educational needs all the way up.

Recently I mapped the 5 year olds in my class to the Reception National curriculum, I found that all of them have completed the national curriculum and gone beyond it. Not Just the 5 year olds, but some of my 4 year olds who are due to start reception in September have already completed the curriculum. Its sad, to know that these children will spend a whole school year, re-learning what they already know. Imagine, a child who can read spending weeks and weeks learning letter sounds!! Or a child who can do addition learning 1, 2 ,3. Its a waste and its not fair for the child. So why? Why put your child through that when instead you can give your child the chance to reach their full potential?

Here are two online videos about Montessori for 6- 12 age, watch them and you will know what i am talking about.

In a normal school children are taught. In a Montessori school children learn!!

Monday, 23 June 2008

Funky Florals

Today has been an extremely busy day. I had college and on my way there the underground line was suspended and I had to change 3-4 times to get to London Bridge Station to catch the train to college. It took more than two hours to get there, exhausting!
This is our third session on the primary course [elementary if your from the US] we just finished the 'Great Lessons'. I'm hoping to post a summary of the lessons with a few links that I found online. But I can't do that tonight!
Little-N has been crafty most of the day and on my return surprised me with a lovely butterfly he made from muffin cases and white sticky labels. Apparently he made and designed it all by himself and it really did look like a butterfly. He said that the muffin cases were the butterflies skeleton!

For some reason my phone keeps switching off, I had it for two years and I guess it needs to rest. I was finding it tough to choose a new phone [I love my old one :( ] but today I fell inlove with this:

Its a Sony ericsson S500i. The floral print is real cute and the size and weight is just right for me. The only problem is that I'm used to Nokia Phones and now I'll have to reprogram my brain. Even the box was cute and it made me feel all special.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Keeping your child busy on a weekend: Cutting

I would like to share some ways in which I keep Little-N busy on the weekends or holidays. I'll try my best to post new ideas on a regular basis. To start off its important to choose the right toys or activities for your child. Most of little-N's toys are creative ones where he can build, make or create new things, each time he plays he is doing something new. He gets bored from the straight forward games where he can't go beyond its purpose. Here is a list of toys that Little-N has:

  • Building blocks: this is by far the best toy you can give a child, he builds and constructs amazing things. When he gets bored I asking him to build me things, like build me a boat, make a crocodile. Once your child is pretty good at building things you can give them pictures of real buildings and ask them to reconstruct them.

  • Play dough: Its easy to make at home [1 cup of flour, 1/2 salt, a few drops of oil, water] I add a few drops of an essential oil to keep it exciting and use food colourings so that he has different smells and colours to play with.Give your child some utensils to explore the dough with like a fork, rolling pin. Scissors are little-N's favourite, he rolls the play dough then chops and chops and chops.

  • Lego: Its not very Montessori, but it is very creative and can keep a child busy for hours. I have a little booklet that has pictures of things you can make with the lego. Sometimes Little-N would work through the booklet making things and other times he would reconstruct things that he sees around him. The other day he made a crane that he saw on our way to school.

  • A craft box: which should contain all sorts of bits and bobs for them to cut, stick, shape and make.

  • Animals: Little-N has always had pleasure playing with animals. He has different sets, farm animals, wild animals, insects etc. I prefer to keep them separated and he can play with them together but then sorts them into the categories. He has a set of wooden animals that go with his wooden ark. He loves to pair the animals, stand them up and make up stories. He got his first set before he was 1 yr, now he is 4 yrs and he still loves playing with them.

  • Dolls house: Boys love them too believe it or not! A dolls house gives children hours of fun especially when a friend is over. It is also great for expanding the child vocabulary and developing their understanding of the world around them.

That's the basics. Usually I would ask Little-N to choose what he would like to play with and leave him too it. He has a little mat the he puts on the floor so that all the lego [or blocks or whatever it is he is playing with] stays on the mat. This makes the tidying up a lot easier for him as well as reducing the spread of toys all over the house. He knows that he must tidy up before taking another thing out, but we still need to work on that.


This weekend Little-N has been busy with a pair of scissors. He has been cutting all sorts of things. Children love to cut different materials and textures. Sometimes I give Little-N cutting strips with drawn lines for him to cut on, he then puts all the cut pieces in a box and saves them for his gluing activities. Other times all he wants to do is just snip away. Keep a few bits and bobs in a box and give it to your child so s/he can cut them [ like odd bits of fabrics, sweet wrappers, pipe cleaners, strings, elastic bands, balloons, old socks, crisp bags]. Little-N will sit for hours working through the materials. Today I gave him an old magazine [ Early learning centre is a good one] and he cut out the picture of the things he liked.

Little-N cutting out pictures from a magazine.

Little-N gluing the pictures on a piece of paper.

Labeling the picture

If your child is learning letters get them to glue the pictures under the corresponding letters. If your child can read, type out words and get them to label the pictures. For children who can write ask them to label the pictures themselves. If your child is really good with writing then get them to write a story using all the pictures they have cut. Little-N has been cutting things since 10 am and is still cutting away 7 hours later [with a few brakes in the middle]. Mean while I have been working on school reports and preparing for college tomorrow.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Parts of the tree

One of my children at school has been working with the botany cabinet. After using the puzzles and working with the terminology cards, I asked him to collect things from the garden and make a tree. He collected lots of bark and many different leaves, then glued them on his paper to form a tree.
Placing the bark to form the trunk and branches.

Sticking on the leaves.

His own tree!! I think its so cute, he was really happy with his work!

Monday, 16 June 2008

Knitting a Bolero

Im knitting this:
From this:
I love the wool, full of different shades of blue. I don't usually knit myself things, I tend to knit for Little-N and enjoy watching him wear my work. It will take me ages to finish since I have 10000 things to do other than knit.
The pattern is free from Lion Brand at this link
but u do have to register!

Money Matters

Sorting the money

'Three Period Lesson'

Little-N got a money box for his birthday, since then he has been collecting all the change he can find. Today I taught him the names of the coins.

To start off the child need to match the coins, its essential that the child can see the differences in shape, size or colour before you start to name them. Allow the child to match coins or sort them in rows or into dishes. Its also good to get the child to polish the coins or make coin rubbings so that s/he becomes familiar with them.

Once you are sure the child can sort the coins properly, start teaching the names with the 'Three Period Lesson'. You can do 3 coins at a time, for example teaching 1p 2p and 5p.

Little-N is still on the naming stage, once he knows all the coins I will show him how to count them and use an activity similar to the 'changing / bank' of the Golden beads.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

A shirt

I wanted a nice plain longish purple shirt and didn't find any when i went shopping. So i decided to make it. The last time I made a shirt was in 2002 so I feel a bit rusty. I used one of my mother's shirts, its Indian style with side panels and a square under the arms. I made my own pattern and used measurements from one of my best fitting shirts. The neck line took so long to do and for a moment or two i thought I'd never get it done. But with help from my mum and the delight of working with purple fabric I managed to complete it. All that's left is to sew on the buttons and to add some embroidery detail around the neck.

Teaching writing

Now that Little-N is reading, he suddenly decided that he can write. It's important that children are taught to write with the correct letter formation. Luckily the Montessori materials already start them off with the correct movements but you do have to go a step further. What I have been doing for the last few years is teaching children to write using the letter families, starting with C then O then a and slowly moving on once each letter has been mastered.

I start my lesson by asking if s/he child would like to see how I write my letter [naming one that s/he wrote]. I then write the letter on a piece of paper and ask the child if they would like to practice writing the letter with me. If the answer is yes then I guide the child to get the sandpaper letter, we feel it as many times as the child wants and then I ask them to try and write it on paper [or on the sand tray or black board]. Usually that's all I need to do, I then get up and leave the child to practice. If i see the child struggling I will ask him/her to feel the sandpaper letter again and usually they succeed.
Sometimes I do get a few children who are getting older and are unable to write alone. If I see that they are frustrated as they want to write but can't, that is when I do get out the dotted writing. I found that the guidance of dotted letters help give the child a boost as well as making it an easier task.
Little-N saw older children writing on these sheets, he tried them and enjoyed himself. Sometimes [like this morning] I would give him a sheet to work on while I work on my assignments for my course.
Always remember that the important thing about teaching a child to write is that they enjoy it! If they do they will always love writing.

Pencil Holder

Little-N made a pencil holder for his table. This is what he used.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Montessori Principles 2

The next five principles we covered were:

  1. Children actively engage with materials that are designed from a developmental point of view and which lead them to successive levels of discovery about their world.
  2. Materials are displayed in and orderly way, well maintained and complete.
  3. Direct hands on contact with either real things or with concrete materials.
  4. Children select their own work most of the time and also continue to work with tasks, returning to continue their work over many weeks until finally the work is so easy for them that they can teach it to younger children.
  5. The classroom is set up to promote: Children's freedom to make spontaneous choices; to be independent; to complete cycles of work; to develop a sense of responsibility within a group; to use materials properly

These are just five points, yet they show how rich the Montessori philosophy and principles really are. The first point talks about how the teacher has to believe in the Montessori method. For me that's easy I went through Montessori as a child, I knew it worked for me and was sure it worked for others. I truly believe that there is no single mistake with the Montessori method, if understood properly the answer for every problem can be found, we just need to believe in it. The Montessori method is so perfect and can fit in any context, any culture and any religion. It works for everyone. BUT if the teacher doesn't believe in it, s/he will not be able to produce the fruits of the Montessori method.

Odds Farm

On Friday we had a school trip to the farm. We all had a great time. Here are some pics!

Little-N feeling the huge rabbit!

Little-N not sure if he is ready to feed the animals.

Little-N watching the sheep race. His sheep didn't win :(

Attempting to get over his fear of the wobbly bridge.

Golden beads : Bird Eye view

On Thursday I presented the 'Birds eye view' with the golden bead material. The activity took 55min, but YL [who is 5 years] concentrated the whole time and made sure she counted everything perfectly. It was such a pleasure to present this activity to such an enthusiastic child! Here are pictures I took in the process.Counting the units

Counting the tens.

Counting the hundreds.

The last few thousands [55 mins] and we were done with. Result: a master piece.

She was so proud of her achievements. She spent the rest of the work cycle relaxing!

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Snowflake Puncher

Little-N has been crafty again. He used a snow flake puncher to cut out these snowflakes. He did them in my favourite colours then glued them on black paper. He has a thing for black paper, loves to draw, cut or glue on it [he gets that from my mum]. It immediately went on the wall where i can see it every morning :). He cut the left over paper and put it in a box for his next project [ I get very fussy when it comes to wasting paper].

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Land and water forms

Today I presented the land and water forms to a child. He had already done this before but needed more practice as he could not remember. I got him to match them with the tactile land and water forms, he labeled them and then used gummy paper to make his own pictures of Island and Lake.
Tomorrow I plan to show him how to make play dough, then guide him to make his own land form.

Telling the time

Little-N has always had and interest in time. He learnt to tell the o'clock time ages ago but was not interested in half past. Luckily his interest has been brought back by making paper watches. He made one at school with his teacher and then four at home [one for me, one for my friend, on for his toy and another for himself]. He can not yet write all his numbers so someone had to help him write them.

Practical Life: Pouring

Yesterday we revisited the pouring activity. Its funny how most Montessori centers seem to do such a simple activity differently. After a lot of discussion we came up with the final and best presentation [the one I took at MCI London].
Materials needed: 2 glass jugs
Rice or beans
Presentation: Invite the child at the shelf, name the activity then ask the child to take it to the table. The teacher sits on the child's right side. Tell the child 'I will do it first then you can have a turn' or 'I will show you first then you can do it'. The teacher holds the right jug with her right hand using the pincer grip. As u reach out to hold the jug exaggerate the finger move movements. The teacher uses the other hand [left] to support the jug underneath the spout. Lift the jug and slowly pour the water into the left jug. When u have finished pouring, turn the tray around and ask the child to have a turn.
If the child is left handed, sit on the left side of the child and pour using the left hand and left jug!
Extensions :
Pouring Water
Pouring into equal containers
Pouring though a funnel
Pouring to a marked line
Pouring to a measurement

Monday, 9 June 2008


Little-N was bored with his blocks. I asked him to choose anything and try to make it. He made the dragon and didn't forget the wings. I am going to try and find other things that he can try to recreate using his blocks.
These are natural tree block from a company called 'Tree Blocks', the best I have ever seen!

Montessori Principles 1

Today we covered 5 of the Montessori principles and authentic practices, here is the list:
  1. Teachers are qualified and understand and believe in the Montessori philosophy in its entirety.
  2. Classes are vertically grouped
  3. A Child-Centered Environment: The focus of activity in the Montessori setting is on children’s learning, not on teachers’ teaching.
  4. Three hour work cycle
  5. Children have free access to a variety of well presented materials appropriate for their age.

With each point we had to answer yes or no. If yes how can we maintain this? If no how can we achieve this?

Some very important points were raised but over all the schools seems to be doing okay. Everything is there but it is as if a hurricane came along and disconnected everything, it needs some tidying up, reorganising and linking.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Sight word wall

Little-N is sailing through his reading. He has been blending for a long time, but couldn't really read whole sentences. Recently I decided to give the sight words another try. I am working through the 45 reception high frequency word list with a few additions at his request. I teach them using the '3 period lesson' then stick them on the wall where he can easily see them. I catch him every now and then reading the words to himself. When he knows them I move onto another 3 words and so on. As you can see his list has grown longer and longer. The fun thing about sight words is they don't have to blend and for some children blending is a burden. He loves that fact that he can find his words in all different books. The best bit however is discovering that he can read for himself.

Little-N's Origami

Little -N woke me up early in the morning to show me the origami envelope he made. I took the chance to give him a presentation and showed him how to make an origami boat. Surprisingly he did very well.

Modular Origami

Today I made an origami cube [1st pic] and then took it apart to make an octahedron [2nd pic]. Here is the link to make them .

Friday, 6 June 2008

Large Number cards

The best part of my day was the excitement on her face when she discovered she can make big numbers. She spent almost 45 mins making different numbers with the cards and asking all the adults in sight to give her a hard number to make for them. I love the Montessori Mathematics materials I get so much satisfaction out of presenting them!

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Sewing Activity

We have a 4.5 year old who is extremely talented in the craft/creative area. Today she had her first attempted at sewing on Binka. Of course it went well :)

Her friend was sitting beside her using a 'french knitter'.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Worms he says!!

'What are you doing?' I ask

'Digging for worms.' He says

'What will you do with them?' I ask

'I'm putting them in this box' he says

'ooh look' he says as he reaches into the mud ' a tiny worm, its so cute!' lifting it up so I can see Muddy hands with a wiggle worm.

The things boys enjoy! But that's the beauty of a Montessori school, he spent the morning digging out the worms.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008


A gift given to me, one that I will cherish forever : Little-N. With his curly brown hair and his cheeky smile, he has filled my life with JOY [and frustration at times].
Not long ago he proudly walked around the sun four times as the class celebrated his 4th Birthday.


Welcome everyone.

I have been meaning to start a blog for years, I am so excited that finally I will share my experiences in the Montessori and craft world with everyone.
I have been a Montessori Teacher since 2002, but entered the Montessori world at the age of 3. Everyone says I am Montessori Mad, and its true: Montessori Is My life!
Currently I am teaching in an Early Childhood classroom and I am taking the 6-9 years course.
I hope to capture here, my experiences as a Montessori Mother and a teachers who has embarked upon the LEARNING ARK.