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This is what a four year old looks like…

Taking one of four symbolic trips around the 'sun'.

Taking one of four symbolic trips around the ‘sun’.

I have so much to write about this precious girl and what she’s been doing lately, and much already written about her brother, too. I’m facing the fact that it’s not going to publish this week,  but I can’t go to sleep tonight without some sort of acknowledgment of the big day it was. Today, my favorite girl turned four. It seems like an absolutely huge number when applied to a person I can still imagine at little more than 19 inches long. I am so grateful for all she has taught me in her four, incredibly four years, and I’m looking forward to many, many more. Continue reading

Pre-Language: Sequencing Cards

It’s a teacher work day today, and I’m making sequencing cards for our pre-language area. I took some photos at our snack table and thought I’d share in case you’d like to download and print them for your own use. Sequencing is a great pre-language activity, and can be tons of fun. You could use these as two separate sets with a young child, or put them together for more of a challenge.

Serving a Snack: Sequencing Cards

Serving a Snack: Sequencing Cards

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The Natural Development of Writing and Reading in Montessori

Annabelle takes a break from perfecting her ones and threes on the fridge -  to dance :)

Annabelle takes a break from perfecting her ones and threes on the fridge – to dance :)

Annabelle, my almost four year old, has loved books practically from birth. She has never tired of being read to. I have never pushed language learning on her. In fact, if you’ve been reading along for awhile, you might know that I sort of deliberately left toys depicting letters out of our environment. Books were all around, of course, but there were no alphabet blocks or other such things. Of course, like any toddler, she reached a point where she wanted a name for everything in her environment, and around age two she began pointing at letters in the world around her. License plates were a big one. “What is this, mommy?” “What sound is that?” In Montessori fashion, I answered with the letter in question’s phonetic sound, rather than its alphabetical name. And I left it at that. Over time she learned to recognize a number of different letters on her own, and several months ago, she began tracing the Montessori Sandpaper Letters. We have had formal three period lessons when requested, and she has traced and practiced on her own to master all 26 sounds. Continue reading

Oh, These Two: The Adventures of Annabelle and Elliot

I started to lose my patience at lunchtime today, when I came out of the bathroom to find Annabelle under the table and both her and Elliot’s bowls upside down on the floor. Peas and carrots and green beans were everywhere. My little sage stopped me right there, looking at me calmly and saying, “Mom, this will happen if you have children.” It was so matter-of-fact, as though she just wanted to remind me that they were simply being kids. How could I be upset after that? Not that there was a real need to be upset in the first place. A few minutes later, she was sweeping up peas with her little broom and dustpan, and Elliot was plopping them one by one back into the bowl while I washed the dishes. “I’m pretending that the bristles are all a bunch of little, tiny feet running across the floor,” Annabelle said as she swept.

[I have taken far too few photos this week, and none with my good camera, so apologies in advance for the phone photos. This is a good reminder to get out the camera this week!]

Annabelle cut out her very first heart and immediately decided, "This is going to be a surprise for daddy!"

Annabelle cut out her very first heart and immediately decided, “This is going to be a surprise for daddy!”

She’s always pretending something, but then that’s nothing new. Alongside all of the pretending, her latest interests have been writing and reading. I have a post queued up on the Montessori “explosion into language,” actually, because that’s just where she is right now. She has completed the whole pink series on our classroom shelves, which means she has built many a three letter phonetic word, and just recently read her very first books (she read her first last Friday, January 16th to be precise, and four or 5 five more immediately after). She has since been picking out words all over the place, and seems to love this new little window into the world she has opened. Of course she combines it with pretend play, too. Yesterday she wrote LEM on a piece of paper, brought it to me, and told me, “This says LEM.” “Ah, I see.” Before I could ask if lem meant something, or if perhaps it was a “silly word,” she went further. “A lem is a kind of forest. It’s a very special forest with a lot of different animals!” She has been making up and telling stories at bath time, too, which I tend to miss, but the husband reports that they’re pretty great. I keep meaning to ask him to record or write one down.  Continue reading

Incorporating an Infant or Toddler into a Montessori Primary Classroom

Both children were very enthusiastic about our first day of school photo shoot.

We had a few weeks of “homeschool” before our license came in and we were able to have friends come join us. This helped us work out some of the kinks for Elliot.

I’ve been talking with a lot of Montessori families lately, and I’m finding that the question of how to provide for a Montessori work period for an older child, while also keeping an infant or toddler happy, is not an uncommon one. My youngest, one-and-a-half year old Elliot, has been in our Montessori preschool classroom since he was five months old, so I’ve had a bit of experience with this and thought I’d share what has worked for us.

First, some of the back story. If you’re not interested in all of that, you can scroll straight down to the big text for some tips for working with an infant or toddler in a Montessori Primary Classroom.

I set out to start our little, home-based Montessori school for two reasons: I wanted to continue to be my children’s primary caregiver, and I wanted my children to be able to attend Montessori at least from age 3-6. Financially, these two things just did not go together. If I wanted to pay for Montessori for my preschooler, I was going to have to go back to work outside the home, and this would mean regularly leaving my infant in someone else’s care. Being a trained Montessori teacher, I saw a simple solution: if there’s not a school that works for our family, why not make one myself? Continue reading

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