Category Archives: Montessori

Montessori Monday–Knobbed Cylinders and Water Transferring With an Eyedropper

Montessori Knobbed Cylinders at Homeschool Mo 1

This week, Dora actually decided all on her own to work with the knobbed cylinders! She really seems to have an aversion to a lot of the sensorial materials, so I was quite excited by this. I am trying to follow her lead, but am feeling unsure about whether or not she will ever be interested in them. Maybe some kids never take to Montessori materials? I would like to believe that this isn’t the case and that I just need to be more patient. Anyway, Dora did really well with the knobbed cylinders when we removed them and set them down on the table in order. So I suggested that we mix them up and that did not go over so well (can we say understatement here?). At first she was just putting the cylinders in the holes without even realizing that they weren’t in the correct holes.

Montessori Knobbed Cylinders at Homeschool Mo 3

Then she put a short one where a long one should be and it just fell in and she was completely flabbergasted. Control of error at work! Remembering that she hadn’t used these materials and months, I gently said, “Hmmm, something doesn’t look quite right, does it?” She concurred and spent quite a bit of time trying to get the cylinders in the correct order. Finally, she reached her frustration threshold and fell apart (it didn’t help that she was starting to come down with a cold at that point).

Montessori Knobbed Cylinders at Homeschool Mo 2

We also did some water transferring using eye dropper bottles and colored water. The colors were made with Stockmar’s primary colored watercolor paint, so when she transferred the colored water into the glasses that I had set out, she could make true secondary colors.

Transferring Colored Water with Eye Droppers to Make Secondary Colors at Homeschool Mo 2

Dora then became completely obsessed with making secondary, but just couldn’t seem to remember which colors made which. I didn’t realize she was coming down with a cold at this point, so was getting pretty frustrated with having to repeat myself a bazillion times. So I tried making a couple of resources to help her remember how to make secondary colors. First I made a chart with addition and equal signs (for a child who has no idea what “plus” and “equals” means – not my smartest move).

Mixing Primary Colors to Make secondary Colors at Homeschool Mo 1

Then I tried showing her how to make a color wheel and though we managed to successfully make one, it just seemed to confuse her more. I think that the ten year age-gap between children, has made me forget what is reasonable to expect of a child of a certain age. For me, I think this compounded by the fact that I have four children between the ages of 14-21. Mixing primary colors seems so simplistic when my other children are doing things like learning to drive, trying to get jobs, move out of state, and so forth. I need to remember that they didn’t know how to make secondary colors at this age either. In fact, some kids that are Dora’s age don’t even know the names of all the colors yet. By the way, she accidentally added red to her green, which is why it doesn’t look like a true green, Stockmar paints are wonderful for making true colors (and no, I am not affiliated with them in any way).

Mixing Primary Colors to Make secondary Colors at Homeschool Mo 2

Anyway, I guess I can say that this wasn’t one of my more stellar homeschooling weeks and I am keenly feeling my lack of formal Montessori training (I’ve taken one class online that was wonderful, but it doesn’t even begin to compare to all the training a certified Montessori teacher goes through). In fact, I’ll be honest and say that this was such an un-stellar week, I even began to consider sending Dora to school. “What is with such blasphemy?!?!” you ask. Well, I am finding it very difficult to meet her needs since she has no siblings. I know that sounds backwards, but when I four little ones, I hadn’t realized how big a role siblings filled in our homeschool and how much time they played together. Dora has no kids in her age group to model skills for her (a big part of Montessori). Also, Dora only has me to play with, unless we arrange a playdate or go somewhere and I can only stand to play so much “My Little Pony” before I start developing eye twitches. In the long run, I am still 100% 95% 90% 85% 82% committed to homeschooling Dora and using the Montessori method, but this was a week that really put my belief system to the test.

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Labels: Montessori, Summer, This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Assembling a Flashlight, Paper Punching, and Spindles, Oh My!

Assembling a Flashlight 2

This week, Dora and I started her preschool work officially. She really loves having a room just for her homeschooling work. She was very enthusiastic about the trays I had set out and even did some other work that had been out all summer, but she was never interested in. Our first project of the week was a flashlight tray. To mix things up I put out two flashlights, one that uses “D” batteries and one that uses “AA” batteries. I am really glad that I set out both flashlights! I had thought that the smaller flashlight would appeal to Dora more, which was true, but I had not realized how much harder that flashlight was to assemble. The spring on the top was very springy and she just couldn’t master pushing down on it, while turning it at the same time. You can see in the above photos that she was very determined to master this and tried a variety of approaches. What you don’t get to see, is her falling apart, because she just couldn’t put the top on, no matter how hard she tried (I did not take pictures of this, as I was trying to help and comfort her). She was eventually able to assemble the “DD” flashlight, but it was just a consolation prize, as far as she was concerned. In the photo below, you can see how I laid out he tray.

Assembling a Flashlight 1

We also tackled paper punching. Dora was not able to use the regular hole puncher, but fortunately I had set out some scrapbooking paper punches also. She spent hours on this activity. She would punch out a whole bunch of shapes and then glue them onto another piece of cardstock. I even promised to buy some more punches soon.

Paper Punching 1

For math, she did some spindle box work. She pretty much has this work down pat and I will probably be retiring this from our shelves soon, which makes me feel a bit melancholy.

Spindle Box Work 1

She also worked with the red rods. She got them lined up, but not quite in order. I asked her if something didn’t look quite right and she said, “Oh yeah”. She then proceeded to take one of the smaller rods and add it to a longer rod to make the longer rod the right length for the slot she had put it in. It was a creative solution and a great introduction to addition, if not quite the intention of the activity!

Red Rods Work 1
She worked with the graded nuts and bolts board and I was surprised by how much her fine motor skills have improved since spring!

Nuts and Bolts Board

Finally, she brought out the sound cubes, which really surprised me as she usually is very resistant to all of the auditory, tactile, and olfactory sensorial work.

Sound Cubes

This is another item that I will probably retire soon as it really is rather easy for her. Sigh… I know all to well how quickly kids grow up, given that Primo is turning 21 this week, and I am actually looking forward to Dora becoming more independent, but still it makes me a bit sad to be finished with any of her preschool supplies.

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Labels: Math, Montessori, Summer, This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Care of the Environment

Practical Life Skills - Care of Environment - Dusting

I find that one of the easiest areas to teach Dora is care of the environment. In fact, I think that in this one area, it is easier to teach the skills in a homeschool than a Montessori school. Dora loves to follow me and do almost every chore that I do. It makes me wonder if my older kids would be more helpful now if I had used the Montessori method with them. Only time will tell if Dora still likes to help around the house in ten years.

Practical Life Skills - Care of Environment - Cleaning Tile Grout with a Toothbrush

Last week, as we finished our summer break, Dora and I did some cleaning chores that were on my summer bucket list and I had left until the last week. (BTW, the Dawn dishwashing soap/hydrogen peroxide combination that I read about on Pinterest did not clean our bathroom tile grout at all, but it did an awesome job of getting a black stain out of the carpet!).

Practical Life Skills - Care of Environment - Mopping Floors

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Labels: Montessori
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday – Face Painting

Face Painting 1
I would have never though to face painting as being a Montessori activity, but my mind was changed by Dora’s recent exploration of the activity. Last month, Dora was introduced to face painting at our local children’s museum. Up until this point, I had  managed to divert her attention from the face paints there. I honestly did not feel comfortable with her using face paints from a communal set and I worried that she might be allergic to the paint, as my children tend to have sensitive skin. She did not break out from the face paint, but I still could not get over my aversion to using a communal set of face paints. So I purchased a set for our home. I had hoped to find the same brand of face paint sticks that the museum uses, but couldn’t find any without wrappers (perhaps they peel them before setting them out?). So after a lot of research, I purchased the Klutz Face Painting Kit, because it uses Wolfe Brothers brand face paints and from my research, this seemed like the best brand. As soon as it arrived, I separated the paints from the book, as I wanted Dora to be able to feel free to explore her face and how she could alter her appearance and not feel constrained to doing more traditional face painting designs, such as the ones shown in the book. She has been using the paints every day since they arrived and I am going to need to order more soon. I am going to try the Wolfe Brothers’ brand sticks this time though.
The one thing that I not appreciated about face painting, was how much sensory input and fine motor skills are involved in painting your own face. Dora was mesmerized by trying to figure out how to paint what she wanted on her face by looking at her reflection. Face painting requires the child to use the visual and tactile senses in tandem and in an unique manner. For the most part, Dora has been painting her face in dark colors, in an effort to be a “scary dragon” and “scare” everyone in the household. One day, she painted her face with a more exotic design. It made her look really freaky, but kind of cool at the same time.
Face Painting 2
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Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Montessori, Summer, This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

The Chowki in Our New Homeschool Room

Homeschool Room - Chowki - Montessori Floor Table - B

In January, I posted about our new homeschool space. It worked really well, until Dora started  having other children over to play and I quickly realized that our expensive Montessori materials would not last long if I left them out in the playroom. Coinciding with this realization, Secunda moved out of the house to attend college. This freed up one large room, which Mr. Mo now uses as his office. So we confiscated his old, tiny office. It has been a challenge to make that tiny space work as an office, sewing room, and Montessori homeschool room, but I’m almost done with it.I had hoped to do it cheaply, but ended spending quite a bit of money on specialized storage shelves for some of our Montessori supplies. One other purchase I made was for a chowki. A chowki is essentially a floor table. Montessori discovered chowkis when she went to visit India. Chowkis were used as low wooden seats or stools in India. When I first saw these chowkis in the Montessori Services catalog, I immediately wanted one, because Dora and I had been having a hard time with doing several of the sensorial activities on the carpeted floor of our new homeschool room. The floor table gave a stable surface for the pink tower, knobless cylinders, etc. while allowing Dora to sit comfortably on the floor.

Montessori Math 1

Little did I realize how much Dora would go on to use our chowki. She prefers to write and draw on it, rather than any other table in the house. Its height is perfect for her to be able to do the bead bars with the beads at eye level. Also since we acquired our table, she has suddenly become interested in working with the metal insets. I’m sure we will find many more uses for it, but the homeschool room has been in such disarray this summer, due to my remodeling, we haven’t had as much time as I would have liked, to work in it.

Homeschool Room - Sensorial Materials

Another purchase I made, was for a stand for the knobbed and knobless cylinders, which freed up a lot of shelf space and has made the cylinders much more appealing to Dora. You can see in the photo above, that they are stored in our sensorial materials corner.

Homeschool Room - Language Arts Metal Insets

I also bought a metal inset stand, once again to free up precious shelf space. I’m going to be using the shelf for all of Dora’s language arts work. (The number rods are actually not supposed to be there, but I still haven’t figured out how to store them with the math materials.)

Homeschool Room - Montessori Map Cabinet and Geography and Science Materials

I had purchased this map cabinet some time ago, but am now putting it to use to store all currently-being-used social studies materials on the bottom and science materials on the top (obviously, it is not fully set up, as we’re a month away from “school” starting).

Homeschool Materials

Finally, we have our three poor, overstuffed bookcases. Dora is only using the bottom two rows of these bookcases, the rest is being used as storage. On the left bookcase is her practical life  materials, the middle bookcase holds her math materials, and the right bookcase houses the rest of the sensorial corner materials.

What about you? Have you done and rearranging for the new “school” year?

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Labels: Montessori
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Two Handed Coordination

Sharpening Pencils

Dora is definitely in sensitive period for learning to coordinate both hands together to get tasks done. This week, I introduced her to pencil sharpening. For this exercise, we used Dora’s Stabilo Woody set, which we just love! These pencil/crayons/watercolors are the single best art product purchase that I have made in my 21 years of homeschooling! I should note, however, that they are very expensive crayons, though I feel they are worth their price. They are wrapped in wood, so function like a pencil, but the center is actually crayon. These also function as watercolor crayons, so a child can use water and a paint brush on a drawing to achieve a watercolor effect (unlike other brands of watercolor crayons, if a child just wants to color and not go the watercolor route, they still look beautiful and do not come off on hands). You can even color on black or other colored paper with them! Since they are so thick, they are an excellent choice for a child’s first set of crayons/pencils. Additionally, their thickness makes them perfect for learning to use a handheld pencil sharpener, which is included in the Woody set. Dora was fascinated with pencil sharpening and spent a good portion of the week sharpening pencils, that didn’t need to be sharpened.

Nuts and Bolts Work

We also did some more work with nuts and bolts, though Dora struggled some with this particular set, which requires that the child reach over to the other side of the wood to hold the bolt steady, while loosening the nut. Of course, as this set is graded (meaning the nuts and bolts go from large to small), she also got in some sensorial work.

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Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Labels: Montessori
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Beginning Counting Practice With Montessori Bead Bars

Montessori Math 1

Dora’s counting skills have been getting stronger and stronger, but her ability to recognize numerals is not at the same level. I have had the sandpaper numbers, counting chips/number card set, and spindle box out for quite some time and she has expressed no interest in working with those items. So I finally brought down the color bead stair hanger. She immediately took to it and insisted I also get down the teen bead hanger. She was able to do the teen bead hanger with some help from me, but since that first day, has only worked with the color bead stair hanger. To do this work, she hangs a bead bar on the hook below the corresponding number. Ideally, she would also put all of the numbers in the slot on top of the hanger, but right now she won’t even try to do this (there is a control strip below in the form of a long wooden strip that shows the numbers in order). I’m just happy to see her making the connection between the numerals and quantity at this point in time and have no problem with just leaving the number symbol wooden chips up on top, in the correct order, for her. In addition (no pun intended!), when the bead bars are put in the tray below, they make a triangle.Montessori Math 2

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Labels: Math, Montessori
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday – Figure Tack Zap

Figure Geo Shape Tack Zap 3

This week, I brought out a hammering set that I had bought quite some time ago, but didn’t want to introduce to Dora until she seemed ready for it. It is the Figure Tack Zap set by Haba. I know a lot of people like the Geo Shape Tack Zap set, but I thought that Dora would prefer having animals and people in her set since she usually likes to animate most playthings. She was so focused on hammering, however, that she didn’t do any storytelling, role playing, or animating. While verifying the name of the set for this post, I did notice that Haba has now added an “On Duty”/Construction set and a “Springtime Butterflies” set to their Tack Zap line of products (which is now leaving me feeling stressed that I chose the wrong set, these aren’t cheap, so it’s not like I am going to buy them all!). I also noticed that you can by a figure tacks add-on set to supplement the shape set and shape tacks add-on set to supplement the figures set. I hope they will come out with add-on sets for the construction and butterfly sets. Dora did quite well with the set. The only problem that she had was actually inserting the small nail into the hole of the wooden pieces. She was perfectly able to hold the piece with one hand, while hammering with the other, which made me very happy as I have been trying to teach her to hold her paper with her left hand, while drawing/writing with her right hand in preparation for learning to write. It is also nice to know that she will continue to develop more fine motor skills as she learns to master picking up the tiny nails and inserting them in the holes. I think that she will be very motivated to do this, just because she has to wait for me to help her make her design otherwise.

Figure Geo Shape Tack Zap 4

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Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Labels: Montessori
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Transferring Water With a Sponge

Transferring Water with a SpongeAs we were discussing the states of matter, using water as an example, this week, I thought it would be fun for Dora to do some transferring with water. She really has done a lot of pouring activities recently, however, and I was trying to come up with something new. That was when I remembered I had seen posts about people using sponges for water transferring practice (sorry I don’t have a particular post I can link to). Thus far, our experiments with sponges hadn’t been too successful. She tended to just stick the sponge in the water and not understand how or when to squeeze the sponge. This week, however, she mastered the activity. She spent about 1/2 hour just transferring water from a tub to a bowl, using sponges. Then she decided to use the sponges to wash various things, such as our porch, our car, etc. We’re actually not allowed to wash our cars in our driveways here, due to water pollution run off killing the endangered salmon, but Dora wasn’t getting the car wet enough to create run off. She was very proud of how “shiny” she made the car though!

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Labels: Montessori
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday – Another Fun Game for Tactile Sense Work

Months ago, I posted about Ruff’s House, a great game that we have found works better for us for working on tactile skills than the traditional Montessori materials do (i.e. Ruff’s House can work as a much cheaper alternative to the fabric boxes, grading tablets, and baric tablets) . We now have found a second, more challenging game, called Laundry Jumble Game. In this game, the child draws a card that shows them (no reading required) which laundry item they need to find in the “washing machine”. Since many of the fabrics feel very similar, one really needs to use one’s hands to explore each item’s shape. If the player retrieves the correct laundry item, he gets to keep the card. He then puts the laundry item back in to the “washing machine”, the next player draws a card, and so on. 

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Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Labels: Montessori, Summer, This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff