The Classroom 

I am a firm believer in offering children a prepared environment. Over the course of 35 months our home and classrooms have gone from simple to what I am currently calling my son’s Preschool Rooms. Yes you heard me correctly we have  2 classrooms and half of a room area that is Lil J “quiet area”. 

If you have followed my post you will know that I didn’t always know what I was doing or how to even begin to set up a room. With a lots of guidance from other veteran moms and trial error I almost have it together. 

I am always changing things around based on monthly themes and observation of classroom flow and his interest. I think Lil J appreciates having a prepared environment because everything is easily accessible to him and he can do things independatly. 

One of the core principles in Montessori learning is preparing an environment that is inviting to the child as well as every thing has its on place. Now let me just tell you if you take a look at my earlier blog “Seriously Montessori ” you will see my first set up for my then 7 month old son was no where even close to a prepared environment. I can honestly say we have come a long way since that period.  Let me also say that my sons classrooms are “Montessori inspired” and therefore reflect philosophies of Montessori, as well as our own style.     

 

So what is the point of me writing this post? I wanted to share with other parents who are trying to create their childrens areas. A loving classroom takes time and organzation. When I visit learning areas of my clients and friends  I see that overwhelmed feeling in their  faces, but I also see the love and good intentions of these parents. Trust me I have been there and sometimes I still have those moments.  I know they want the best for their little ones but just don’t know where to start and I am so happy I can share with them my journey and help where I can.

The above picture is one of his set up for two of his classroom areas when he was 1.5 years old. As you can see the rooms were always a work in progress.  I can honestly say that at times I had a love hate relationship with his rooms. When I started to notice I was feeling overwhelmed I had to step back and just observe him to see if he was happy with his environments, because the reality is if he was happy and then I needed to be happy. 

So these are the 10 key things you need to remember when setting up:

  1. Decide on area you want use.
  2. Use furniture that is kid friendly and easily accessible.
  3. Use decor that is fun, warm and inviting, and include natural items.
  4. Decide on some sort of shelving system.
  5. Invest in baskets and trays. 
  6. Look for things around the house that you can add to your room.
  7. Become best friends with your local dollar stores, Target $1 spot and thrift stores.
  8. Amazon Prime is your friend.
  9. Observe your child or children and include an interest led area.
  10. Make sure you remember to include a quiet area.

Have fun setting up your classrooms. Pinterest has a wide assortment of pinners who pin their classrooms and others. One of my favorite pinners to follow is Natural Beach Living, her set up is beautiful and my other favorite is Living Montessori Now. 

To see our current set up check out our latest Youtube video October Room Tour.  

 

Until next time,

Mamamontessori and Lil J

Let’s talk curriculum!

I get asked all the time what curriculum or guidelines I follow with my son.  So I decided I would write about it and film a new video talking about my curriculum/guidelines I use.

  
There is no exact curriculum that I use I pull stuff from everywhere. I do set educational goals for him that I would like to cover over the year. I also follow along with my NAMC 2’s and primary manuals. 

Some of my favorite books for us to work out of is from the company Critical Thinking. We use the Mathematical Reasoning book and the Building Thinking Skills. I also like the What your Preschooler/Kindergartner needs to know series. We just started incorporating more science and foreign language and geography this year. You can find a lot of the books and materials I use on the Little Learning Tools check back often because I am always adding materials. 

 

We have started using a Workbox system, but we still have our shelfwork which is now Lil J uses it for independent work. 

 

Most of Lil J curriculum remains to be Montessori inspired and uses lots of hands on materials. I store away from worksheets that aren’t interactive and doesn’t appeal to one of the five senses or logic reasoning.  

 

I plan Lil J lessons on Sunday’s this is the best time for me to plan and pull things out. Through careful observations and note taking of the previous weeks activities I am able decide on what’s parts of the curriculum needs to be tweaked or more lessons planned. I make sure we are following the standards or goals I have set for the year as well as covering common core requirements for Pre-School and Kindergarten. 

Personally I am not of a fan of our states common core standards so I make sure I cover those standards as well as the standards of another state that I feel are a better fit for my sons current development and needs. It’s really up to the you the parents what standards you want to set, but I think it is very important that you do take a look at your states common core standards if you plan to eventually enroll your child in school or just need a guideline to help you get started homeschooling.

  
 So far we are enjoying the new school year and having loads of fun. I will be uploading a new video soon to go along with this post as well as I will be doing a homeschool room your video soon.

If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or come check us out on our Facebook page.

Until Next Time,

Mama Montessori and Lil J

  

We are still keeping busy!

It’s been a great few months. I finally took on a new venture of doing consulting for parents who are looking to begin early learning with their children.  I also have been loving being a stay at home mom over the last month and half. 

Lil J and I have really enjoyed ourselves. Some of the things I have always wanted to do with I couldn’t because I was working I took full advantage of these last few weeks. One of the biggest steps we took developing a school routine.  

Previously we only did learning time after I got home from work and on my off days. These times worked well for us and still felt confident he was getting a great amount of learning done.  Now since I have been home these last 6 weeks we have gotten into a real rhythmn. 

Our new routine:

  • Breakfast 7:15-7:45
  • Music/Free Play 8:00-8:50
  • Circle Time: 9:00-9:15
  • Logic/Memory 9:25-9:40
  • Snack 9:45-10:00
  • Math- 10:05-10:20
  • Handwriting- 10:25-10:35/40
  • Phonics/Literacy – 10:45-11:05
  • Science/Geography/Spanish 11:05-11:30 
  • Lunch/Free Play 11:45-12:15
  • Nap 12:50-3:30
  • Snack 3:30-3:45
  • Outside/Art/Free Play

If you notice in between each area I left transition time and what I like to call let loose time. Lil J loves music and so I crank up the iPod to one of his favorite songs and we let loose dancing, singing, playing like we are in a marching band or whatever he feels like doing! I feel like this keeps him interested in what we are doing and allows him to also to do things he likes.

Now that routine isn’t rigid because we go to Storytime on Wednesdays and we also run errands but on the days we are at home we typically follow this routine. We also don’t do Science, Geography and Spanish everyday we alternate and fit those on 3 days out of the week.

  
We also transitioned from doing traditional shelfwork to using a workbox system. We still have shelfwork and do montessori inspired learning. His shelf work has just become his own independent work.  You can check out more information about this on our new Little Learners University Youtube Channel also visit us at our Facebook page!

I am very happy how things have been going these last few weeks and I am looking forward to months to come. I am quite sure I will tweak things again. As always I follow his led and I make sure he has plenty of playtime and interested led learning. In the coming weeks look for more Vlog and blog post.

Until next time,

Mama Montessori and Lil J

Apple Unit Study

This is from an early  post I did last year when Lil J was almost 2!

Its that time of year again where summer has come to an end and everyone is back to their usual schedules of going back to school or homeschooling. We decided to kick our Totessori home school year off with an Apple Study Unit. My initial plan was to take a trip to the local apple orchard until I found out it was almost 2 hours away. So I decided that we would visit the pumpkin patch in October and we would get our apples from the local farmers market.

My son loves apples, well shall I say he loves saying the word apple and pointing to all things that are apple. To get us started I purchased apple die cuts from Wal-mart during the back to school sale and did a Pinterest search for apple activity ideas that would best work for a toddler.

Study Unit Words
apple
tree
basket
green
red
pick

Pinterest has been a wonderful resource for finding activities and supplements to his schema.

We have maintain Montessori activities during the month along with the study unit.  The unit study adds excitement and keeps things interesting for him.  This month I am also setting up many areas within his classrooms as invitations to play. So far he is loves this because I switch them out everyday and place them in different locations. If he doesn’t locate the invitation I will leave it out for him an extra day.
Montessori Inspired Activities 
 

 

I have also started making weekly busy boxes.  I will talk a little more about those in my next blog entry. We are testing them currently so stay tuned for an update.

So back to the Apple Unit. We covered the anatomy of the apple and how apples grow. We have tasted 3 different types of apples, baked an apple cake, applesauce pancakes, drank apple juice. I can’t believe I even let him play in applesauce as a sensory activity! HE LOVED THIS ( you must try this with your little one).  His love for everything apple has been everything he could have hoped for.  Who am I kidding? I have loved every minute of it myself.
 So as September has come to an end and Fall has officially blown in, we looked forward to October and the new things we will embark on at the Pumpkin Patch.

Until next time stay warm and have some Apple Cider on us!!

Resources 
Apple Alphabet Sheet
Apple Shape Matching

Mama Montessori!!

Happy New Year!!!!

It’s hard to believe it is 2015 already and it’s even harder to believe that we have a 2 year old now. I hope all our readers had a blessed and safe holiday season.

As the holidays approached we were a little more relaxed with classroom time and planning. I did manage to update the classroom with a winter theme and swap out shelf work.
We had a great time playing with cinnamon play doh and counting penguins using bells.
The month of December was spent  enjoying family time and traveling. It was also a time for me to make assessments on Lil J progress and areas that need further development.
This year we will continue to focous on early learning activites but will start to really concentrate on math, reading, science, art appreciation and interest led areas. We had a breakthrough the month of December J read Book 1 of the Bob Book Blue set. He has also shown an interest in learning more site words and blending.
Myself and my co writer will also be redeveloping the blog and starting a Facebook Group for our readers along with some other surprises along the way.
Thanks for reading and Happy New Year,
Mama Montessori 

Toddler Cooking

It’s no surprise that my little guy loves to cook. When he was a baby he was always in the kitchen with me watching me cook, you name it I will cook it or try to anyways.

 Since having my son my extensive cooking style has changed slightly. I focus more on the nutritional value of foods I am preparing for my family as well as the time it takes to make a meal. This has changed somewhat since I now invite my son to cook along side me.
Recently we purchased a Original Learning Tower from the Goodwill. Talk about a major score it was only $13! They usually retail for $125-$250 depending on the retailer or manufacturer.  Once we got it home our dilemma was where we were going to keep it because I don’t have a huge kitchen. Luckily we found a great location right near the kitchen.

Making pizza with his new tower!

Now I have cooked before with little ones so I know the biggest thing to do is prep EVERYTHING before you even think about inviting them into the kitchen. Seriously you will thank me for this advice  if you decide to just wing it. Okay let me back up and explain about prep everything.  In accordance to Montessori you want to make sure the children have a hand in the process because after all this is how they learn by doing. Now this momma is still struggling with this but I try to leave as much stuff I think my son can handle on his own with little or no guidance. So here is my checklist in no way do you have to follow this checklist you can make your own:
1. Have in mind what you want to prepare (I always right directions to a recipe on a large index card and place near us).
2. Get out all your ingredients, utensils, bowls etc…and decide which ones are age appropriate for little one to handle on their own.
3. Per measure ingredients and place in a prep bowl…(if you are working on pouring and math activities this is a good opportunity to practice)
4. Have paper towel/dish towel handy
5. Have a garbage bowl handy. I usually place a store shopping bag inside of a large bowl.
6. Remember that a 10 min meal prep for you can be a 45 min meal prep when cooking with your little one.
7. Have fun…use lots of language with your little when cooking together, let them use all their senses while doing the activity.

Everything prepped for him to make awesome Oatmeal Cookies!!

 
My checklist is just a small template to what you can do with yours. I also thought it would be a grand idea to invest in his own cooking utensils, some of these items I gathered from the Dollar Tree and Amazon.
Allowing your children to take part in meal preparations can help with pickers eaters. Studies have shown that some children who are picky eaters will eat better if they have had a hand in preparing their meals. It also helps to promote proper nutrition, as well as math, fine motor, science, cultural (if you are making an ethnic meal), language development and life skills.
Cooking with your children is a wonderful way to have fun, get messy and bond. So the next time you need a carrot chopped or a bowl mixed let your little one help you out, they will enjoy it and will boost their confidence.
 
 All done and delicious!!

Until next time sending blessings and peace to your family!!

 Mama Montessori and J