If you are a Montessorian, then you know we first teach the alphabet phonetically. Beginning at age 3, the child only learns the sound each letter makes, and is not yet introduced to the names of the letters. That is, not until they have mastered reading and writing short vowel words. Once this happens, it is time to begin introducing the child to words with long vowel sounds. Traditionally, this process is begun with introduction of the Silent E.
Now, before you just jump right into it, your child will need to know what the heck a vowel even is. Before teaching any new words, I first introduce the vowels through a Vowel Sorting Lesson. I use these cards that I created, which you can find HERE on my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
I always first point out that the child might have noticed some of the letters in the moveable alphabet are blue. Teach them that these are the five vowels, and then you tell their names – a, e, i, o, u. At this point, the child most likely already knows the names of these letters, but probably didn’t know they are vowels.
Then you introduce long vowel words, explaining that the vowels in some words sound like their name, such as in “rose”. Sort the picture cards by which long vowel sound is heard in each word, making sure to emphasize the long vowel sound. Once your child has lots of practice simply listening for the long vowel sound, they are ready to begin building their own long vowel words – starting with learning about the Silent E.
To introduce the Silent E, you will need a moveable alphabet and a set of picture cards. These cards have six pairs of words – one a short vowel word, and the other a corresponding silent E word. For example, a picture of “can” and then a “cane”. I have these picture cards that I made available on my TpT store, but I am actually going to link them to you here for FREE! You’ll find the link at the end of the post.
You first have the child build the short vowel word that goes with each picture. Then one by one, move through each short vowel word and show what happens when you add the Silent E.
Let’s look at “cap”. When you add the Silent E to the end of “cap” it makes the vowel before it say its name. Therefore, “cap” becomes “cape”. As you say this, dramatically switch out the picture of cap for the picture of cape, showing that the word has been transformed.
Continue moving through all the short vowel words in this way, showing how the word is transformed with the addition of the Silent E. At the end, read all of the transformed Silent E words to your child!
Chances are, your child will catch on fairly quickly and will begin trying to read Silent E words everywhere they see them. After this I generally will focus on silent E words within each vowel. These can also be called “CVCe” words – consonant vowel consonant with an “e” on the end, such as “game”. First start with “a-e” words, then “i-e”, then “o-e”, then “u-e”, finally mixing words with different vowels together.
I don’t mention “e-e” words because there’s really not many “e-e” words in the English language, and especially not any that your child will be familiar with (have you ever heard your 4 year old say “mete”??).
Without further ado, here are the FREE Silent E cards! Click the red “Download” below to get them for FREE. Or click the pic below to download them for $1.00 from my TeachersPayTeachers store if you so choose to support 🙂
Lately I’ve been obsessed with making my home a little more Montessori-friendly for my babe. He recently turned 15 months and I have realized how much his desire for independence has grown. He also recently began the toddler program at the Montessori school I teach at, and I want to provide him the opportunity to practice skills that he is working on at school.
He has shown quite a bit of interest in sitting on small stools and attempting to independently put on his socks and shoes. I didn’t already have a stool at home, so I did some research and found this amazing little bamboo stool on Amazon!
Many of the stools I found have a 12 inch seat height. But Noah is only 2 1/2 feet tall! This stool has a seat height of about 7 inches, so it’s perfect for his little legs. It cost $28.90, but was worth every penny because it is truly a quality stool. Durable and beautiful!
We live in a 1000ish square foot apartment, so space is limited. We’ve had to be very strategic about essential furniture pieces and arrangement. Right as you enter the apartment there is a coat closet, and next to that we had an empty stretch of wall that was perfect for creating a toddler-sized entry area.
When creating an entryway for your toddler, I think there are 3 essential aspects you will want to strive to include:
Child sized stool for sitting to put on/take off socks and shoes. 7-8 inch seat height is optimal for toddler’s little legs! 10-12 inches works better for preschool age.
Basket or tote for storing shoes. Your child will always know where to find his/her shoes. “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” Plus, helps to minimize tracking dirt into the house!
Hooks at your child’s level for school bags, lunch boxes, jackets, hats, etc. Nothing promotes the development of independence like being responsible for one’s own belongings. This allows your little one to get his own things on the way out the door, and put them back upon entry into the house.
You could also place a little rug under the stool for added warmth, or a little mirror on the wall. Personally, I did not have space for these items so I just went with the simplest set up possible. I am very happy with how it turned out 🙂
The basket was $8 from Big Lots (I’m all about the bargains, if you couldn’t tell). Target has great options too, maybe a tad bit pricier. I purchased the wall hooks from Walmart. It was an unfinished wood that I stained to match the rest of our living room furniture.
And YES I KNOW. All three pieces are different shades of brown. Unintentional. But I like to think it adds character. The items in this area serve their intended purpose, and that’s all that matters. My little guy has his own place to get ready to leave the house.
Consistency, routine, and the development of independence are crucial – especially during the toddler years – and having these little accessible areas around your house allow your toddler to develop his skills and be a contributing member of the family.
There are so many ways to create a beautiful and functional, Montessori-inspired toddler entryway, but I wanted to share with you how we implemented this in our home. Hope you enjoyed, and I wish you a beautiful day!
Painting is one of those awesome sensorial activities that I always want to incorporate into my one-year-old’s playtime. But being one year old, my guy is teething like crazy and still has a habit of putting his hands in his mouth quite a bit. Therein lies my hesitation with letting him use traditional finger paints. Even the “non-toxic” ones.
But did you know there’s a way you can let your little one paint, without having to worry about whether or not he eats the paint?! The solution is so simple, it’s ridiculous. And it only requires 2 ingredients:
Heavy whipping cream
Liquid food colors
Whip up the cream in a big bowl using a hand mixer. I usually add a few pinches of sugar to my whipped cream, but this time I didn’t. Divide the cream into smaller containers, depending on how many colors you want to make.
Squirt in a good amount of food coloring into each container – like 10 drops or more. I don’t even know, I didn’t count. The more drops of color, the more vivid the “paint” will be.
Mix the colors into the cream, making sure to thoroughly rinse the spoon after each color.
And there you have your beautifully bright, good enough to eat, finger paints!
Noah was SUPER cautious at first, but then he went all in. And then the inevitable happened 47 seconds later…
THE TASTE TEST.
Many bites followed the first. Safe to say this activity is toddler-approved.
Extra finger “paint” can be stored in airtight containers and kept in the fridge for up to two days, just like regular whipped cream.
Are you ready to have your socks blown off?! Well you better be, because I’m going to share a recipe for the coolest homemade puffy paint that only requires 3 ingredients!
shaving cream (the foaming kind!)
liquid school glue
liquid food colors
And that’s it! You’ll also need some supplemental materials to actually make the paint, such as:
Medium sized mixing bowl
Spatula or large spoon
Measuring cup (I started with 1/2 cup, but ended up using 1 cup of each ingredient)
4 small containers to separate out the paint for each color
A small spoon to mix each color
Please see below for a *beautifully stylized* layout of the materials you’ll need:
This recipe is SO SIMPLE. The first thing you have to do is measure out equal parts shaving cream and glue. I used 1 cup of each. Then mix them together until nice and fluffy. It should look like this:
Then you’ll need to carefully divide the white paint among the four containers.
I used 4 oz jars, and 3 drops of color in each jar. The colors turned out perfectly pastel. If you want darker, more vivid colors, simply use more drops of food coloring. I also used a small spoon to mix each color.
And that’s all there is to it! Now you’re ready to start painting!
I made a cute little rainbow, just to test the paints out. I left it overnight to dry, and guess what?! It was STILL puffy!! I’m fact, I hung it up on my son’s bedroom wall and he loves it!
This is actually the art project I sent out to my students this week. I had so much fun with it that I decided to share it with you, as well. Plus just look how beautiful those paints are. It provided the absolute perfect photo-taking-opportunity. I love a good art project photo shoot.
Here is the video I sent to my students with instructions on how to make the paint, in case you’d rather watch how to do it!
I hope you get a chance to try this fun and simple project out. It doesn’t take long, and is a great way to spend a spring rainy day indoors with your little ones!
I have seen this activity on Pinterest and on many other blogs, so I can in no way, shape, or form take credit for this. But I had always imagined it as an activity for older toddlers, at least 18 months or so.
My son will be 13 months in just a few days. I wouldn’t have even introduced this activity, but I already happened to be using masking tape for another activity in his room and he just seemed SO fascinated by it. I figured, why not?
The best part is that this took about 45 seconds to throw together. Yes, it was that fast! His hands were on it before I had even set the tray all the way down.
He didn’t really peel the tape off in a careful Montessori fashion, so much as pull it off with each little animal. But he did somewhat peel the tape off of the animals after removing them from the tray.
As a Montessori mom and teacher, I am allfor simple, quickly-put-together activities that promote engagement, concentration, and fine motor skill development. He liked this activity so much we did it again a second time!
This activity was a 10/10. Simple, fun and educational – which if you ask me, is the trifecta. The wide masking tape was perfect for his little 13-month-old fingers. To make it more challenging for older toddlers, you could use thinner, stickier tape, and smaller toys or figurines. The farm animals I used are pretty chunky and were easy for him to just pull right off.
If you’re looking for some fun toddler playtime activities, I definitely recommend that you try this out!
It is absolutely mind-boggling to me how twenty-something years from now, children will look back on this time we are living through and learn about it from a textbook. 2020 is the year the world (almost completely) shut down. Never in my life did I think we would be in a situation in which children would not even be able to go to school. Public schools and universities easily and quickly adapted to an online learning system in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis.
But how do you take a method so profoundly attached to its physical materials, and adapt it to a virtual learning format?
After two months of doing just this, here are the tools I have found to be the most valuable, each of which I will expand upon below.
Printables, printables, printables
The involved parent
Virtual “face to face” communication
Many of the teachers in my school elected to have weekly/biweekly Zoom meetings with their class. But here’s the thing – Zoom meetings are like having to be somewhere in person at a specific time. If you don’t make it, you miss the meeting! Zoom meetings are great for special meetings and communications, but I have personally found sending a YouTube video lesson each day of the week to be much more practical.
I have a one year old, which means my work schedule is very much dictated by his schedule. The director of my school is my boss, but my son is MY BOSS. There is no way I can commit to being available at exactly 9:30 am, uninterrupted, Monday-Friday for a virtual meeting. If I have this conflict, I 100% guarantee many of the parents in my class (who also have young children) feel exactly the same way.
I am an introvert. I have never been comfortable speaking on camera or in front of an audience, and this was a big hiccup I had to surmount in the first weeks of distance learning. I filmed and refilmed, and stopped and restarted my first few videos at least ten times each. But I adapted and got more comfortable with just talking to the camera as if it was one of my students.
My biggest trick in overcoming this is having the camera directed AT THE LESSON (instead of my face) during the actual presentation. This puts more focus on the materials and takes the pressure away from making sure my face doesn’t look weird during the presentation process. But then I make sure to film an intro/outro to each lesson. At the end of the day, the children just want to see you. They don’t care what you are wearing or if you have perfect makeup.
And my philosophy is that even if the parents aren’t able to actually print and complete the lessons, if the child at the very minimum watches the videos I send each day, they get to feel connected to me and at least have exposure to the concepts that I am teaching.
YouTube Tips At a Glance:
Direct camera at the materials while presenting lesson
Make sure that materials are all in the frame and not cut off at the top
Show your face, smile, and say hello during intro and outro of video
Make sure you wear an appropriate shirt (chest covered, no see-through, BEWARE OF WHITE)
Put on minimum makeup, at least blush and mascara to give your face some color. I promise it makes a huge difference on camera!
Film during the daytime for best lighting
Always film horizontally!
Keep videos less than 10 minutes
Printables, Printables, Printables
While parents won’t have access to the physical Montessori materials, the next best thing is to send them printable card materials to work with. Think: 3-part cards, nomenclature, vocabulary, cultural materials, rhyming, opposites, numerals, quantities. Consider anything that can be connected to the Montessori materials and taught with a printable material.
There are loads of great materials out there on the internet. If you search for something, you will find it. And if not, it is super easy to make your own cards on Microsoft Word. I have chosen to make many of my own materials, simply because I enjoy it and plan to use them in my classroom when this whole thing blows over and we are able to return to school. You can check out many of the materials I’ve made HERE! They are all under $2.00!
If you make your own printables on Microsoft Word, make sure to save them as a PDF and send them to the parents through email as a PDF. This prevents formatting errors when the parents print them.
The Involved Parent
I am going to be honest. This one is extremely important, and also extremely out of your control. Many of your parents (like me) are going to be busy working from home and will not have time to implement many of the materials you send. As I mentioned above, if their child is at the very least able to watch the videos you send, they will be exposed to the information.
However, if you are lucky (again, like me) and have a parent that is able to devote time to communicating with you and implementing the lessons and materials, that child is going to receive the best quality education possible under these circumstances. I have one parent that spends every morning working with her two children. She very closely mimics the Montessori work cycle schedule, and also implements a quiet work time for her older child in the afternoon while the toddler naps.
This mom is committed to bringing the Montessori method home and actually executes it very effectively. I think she enjoys creating materials almost as much as I do, and has made some beautiful lessons for her daughters!
Again, very few of your parents will be able to devote time to distance learning in this way. But if you do have an involved parent like this, it is extraordinarily fulfilling to be able to guide that parent, answer their questions, and know that you are both working together to continue to cultivate the child’s love of learning.
Virtual “Face to Face” Communication
As a teacher, one of your most powerful devices is the frequent, open, and face to face communication you share with the parents on a daily basis. The more this communication occurs, the more trust the parents place in you to care for and educate their children.
Even something as simple as, “Yesterday ____ really enjoyed practicing the short vowel words!” gives the parent information about what their child has been working on. It shows that you are tuned in to their child, and it shows that you take the initiative to let the parent know what is going on before they even have to ask.
The problem with distance learning is the complete lack of face to face communication. When all communication is done via email and YouTube videos, this personal connection can easily fall through the cracks. I have found that making the effort to find ways to connect “face to face” via FaceTime and Zoom has done wonders in reinforcing the trust and emotional bank accounts that had already been built up with my students and their families.
We conducted our Spring parent-teacher conferences via Zoom, about 5 weeks into the quarantine. It was a little awkward having not actually seen their children in the classroom for over a month, and challenging not to be able to reference the materials in regards to academic progress. But it worked. The parents’ questions and concerns were pacified, and we were able to make sure we were all on the same page in order to move forward as a team.
I do not have any kindergarteners this year, but my oldest student is 4.5 years old. As such, she is already beyond many of the lessons I send out at the class level. I have to make sure they are doable by all my students, even the younger ones, so I have worked with her mom to create individualized lesson plans tailored to her academic level. This mom also happens to be the involved parent I mentioned above. We have a FaceTime call every Tuesday morning and her mom has mentioned to me how much the daughter enjoys getting to speak with me.
I may not be able to teach her in person yet, but we are still working together to move forward in the curriculum as best we can. Her mom sees that I devote time specifically to create materials for her daughter, and that I take time to answer ALL of her email questions, no matter how long and multifaceted they are.
It truly is not feasible to create an online only Montessori educational system. But there certainly are many ways to continue to bring the Montessori spirit into the home for these parents and their children. More than ever, these parents need to know that we are here to support them. And at the end of the day, when all of this passes and life goes back to normal, we will still be there waiting for their children with open arms.
I have never had a great rhyming lesson in any of my Montessori classrooms. So in January, when I first started creating materials for my brand new classroom, a great set of rhyming cards are the first thing I decided to make.
The ability to recognize and produce rhyming words is such an important skill in early literacy development. Rhyming helps create phonemic awareness, specifically auditory discrimination of beginning and ending sounds. This phonemic awareness lays the groundwork for written language, and for reading. Most importantly, rhyming is fun! Practicing nursery rhymes, rhyming songs, and reading silly rhyming books makes literacy fun for young children. When children are engaged and having fun when learning, they become much more invested in the concepts they are practicing.
Rhyming is an essential Montessori pre-language activity, and therefore a good set of rhyming cards is an essential for your Montessori shelf. This set that I have created has TEN pairs of rhyming words, with beautiful, REAL images. They are available on my Teachers Pay Teachers store, and surprisingly, have so far been my best seller!
Here is the video I sent my students a few weeks ago, showing them how to work with these cards:
If you are looking for a good quality set of rhyming cards, I urge you to check them out on my Teachers Pay Teachers store. You can find them HERE. Or, click the preview images below to be linked to the store.
I hope you enjoy working with these cards as much as I have! I would sincerely appreciate you visiting my store and giving it a follow. Creating these materials to educate my students (and eventually my son when he’s old enough!) is my passion. I love educating just as much as I love to learn. There are so many amazing Montessori materials available out there, and I’m just hoping to be able to contribute to the Montessori community.
If you’re a Montessori teacher and you’re anything like me, there’s probably a little box sitting on your sensorial shelf that has remained untouched for quite some time. This little box might look something like this:
I have obviously always known this is the last box in the Constructive Triangle series, but never really knew what its purpose was or how to properly present it. However, I recently learned from another Montessori educator about a beautiful presentation of this lesson. I will give an overview of this presentation here, but also highly recommend that you watch the video lesson I sent out to my students this week:
This box contains 12 identical right angle triangles, painted the most magnificent shade of royal blue. What is beautiful about this lesson, is that it inspires the child to explore. The other constructive triangles have literal black guidelines painted on the edges, encouraging the child to construct specific geometric figures. The blue triangles are much more ambiguous, allowing for more creativity and exploration.
Here’s how I would present it.
First I would use only four triangles to show how you can make two very basic shapes: a rectangle, and a rhombus.
Now is where it starts to get a bit more complex with the introduction of right angles. Again, using only 4 triangles, you point out the right angles and connect the 4 right angles together. Once this shape is constructed, you can show the child how to slide two triangles at a time to create a shape with an open square in the middle, as well as around the outside!
You will need 6 triangles for this next shape. Point out the second most acute angle (i.e. the angle in between the right angle and the acute angle). You will make the next shape by putting this angle of each triangle together. Then again, you will carefully slide the triangles to reveal a new shape, with a hexagon in the middle and a hexagon on the outside.
Finally, you will need all 12 triangles. Point out the most acute (smallest) angle of each triangle, and put them together. Very carefully slide the outer corner of each triangle so that they are aligned, revealing a brand new amazing shape: a dodecagon!
This lesson is gorgeous. Because of the complexity of the shapes created, and the concepts of right and acute angles, this lesson is not intended for the younger child. I would say this is best for ages 4 1/2 – 6 years old. It definitely should be introduced after the child has worked with and mastered the previous constructive triangle boxes.
I have two reasons for sharing this blog post today.
First, simply to share this lesson presentation with you. I know in all classrooms there tend to be those lessons that are not presented frequently, because the teacher has not become familiar and comfortable with them. This was one of those lessons for me. But now that I have learned more about it, I cannot wait to share these beautiful patterns and concepts with my students.
Second, to emphasize that even as a teacher, I am eternally learning. Even 6 years after completing my training, I am always going back to my albums and seeking advice from more seasoned Montessori teachers. I will never be a perfect teacher, and neither will you. But it is this never-ending quest for improvement that enables you to continue growing spiritually. It is this fire burning inside – a deep, intrinsic love of learning – that shines through to your students and ignites in them the desire to seek knowledge as well.
Cards and Counters is an essential Montessori mathematics lesson. And unlike many other Montessori materials, this one is extremely easy (and CHEAP) to DIY at home. It also happens to be an excellent avenue for practicing quantities and their corresponding numerals. I literally made a version of this lesson to share with my students for FREE.
All you will need are my FREE printable numeral cards (see below for link) and 55pebbles. The reason I say pebbles, is because this version of Cards and Counters was intended to celebrate Earth Day. I had my students first go on a nature walk outside to gather the pebbles, and then use the pebbles as counters. If you want to use another object for the counters, go for it. You can use pretty much anything as a counter (pom poms, beads, beans), just make sure you have 55 total to be able to count out the quantities 1-10.
Here is the video I made for my students:
It is important to note the placement of the counters under each numeral. They are placed in pairs, with the odd counter placed in the middle, below the pair directly above it. The purpose of this is to teach the concepts of “odd” and “even” numbers. Pointing to the quantity below two, you ask the child “does this one have a friend to walk with?” When the child answers “yes”, you say “two is an even number”.
Moving on to three, “does this one have a friend to walk with?” (indicating the last lone counter under three). When the child answers “no”, you point out “three is an odd number”. You move through all the numbers in this way, pointing out which ones are odd and which are even.
Most children pick up on this concept very quickly. The counters simply provide a concrete, visual representation of the abstract concept of odd and even.
With the onset of this COVID-19 crisis, I found myself devoting a majority of my time to a young toddler with an ever-increasing capacity for concentration. His play has become much more explorative and in depth in nature. He will now sit with the same activity for 5-10 (and sometimes even more!) minutes at a time, where as even just a few weeks ago he would go from toy to toy, shaking objects and putting them in his mouth.
I needed to create some purposeful, engaging activities for him to explore. And with all the store closures and elongated delivery times, I decided to get a little creative with objects I already had around the house. Some of these objects are repurposed from household items, and some of them are available at very reasonable price from an “everything” store like Walmart or Target.
Here are 4 budget-friendly Montessori activities that I put together for my one year old to work with:
Five Ducks in a Basket – The inspiration behind this was actually the song “Five Little Ducks Went Swimming”. This activity serves several purposes. First and foremost, it is an introduction to the quantities 1-5. I count them for him, and put two and two together to make four, etc. Second, I use them as props to go along with the song. And third, Noah is going through a phase in which he loves to put things back into containers. He knows the ducks belong in the basket and will put them back inside when prompted.
I found the mini ducks in the baby shower section at Walmart. It was about $4 for a pack of 4, and I got 2 packs. The little basket was about $3 at Walmart as well, in the Easter decor section.
Hand Transfer – Eventually these little rubber, spiky balls could be used for color sorting, or transfer with tongs. But for now, I am showing him how to use his hand to transfer them into a mini muffin pan. The balls fit perfectly inside. Now if only I could get him to transfer all 12 without picking the pan up and flipping all the balls out everywhere…
The balls came in a pack of 12, and can be found in the party favor section of Walmart or Target for less than $5. They have other color schemes as well. I have had this mini muffin pan forever, but probably got it at Target. I found this one on their website for $8.99.
DIY Infant Coin Box – This is an idea I’ve seen all over the internet, but it was SO EASY to make. I just had to wait until my husband finished his giant tub of coffee and use a sharp knife to cut a rectangular slot in the top. (The plastic was surprisingly soft). It may not be as aesthetically pleasing as one from a Montessori retailer, but this was definitely much cheaper and he enjoys it just the same.
The plastic poker chips (which, by the way, I recommend supervising 110% while using the chips!!!) were about $4.99 for a 100-pack from Walmart. I only took out 6 blue chips and put the rest away. I store the chips inside the coffee container when not in use, as he hasn’t quite figured out how to remove the lid on his own yet.
TreasureBasket – This is another classic Montessori infant activity. I first introduced Noah to this as soon as he could sit up on his own at age 6 months. The treasure basket he has on the shelf now is Easter themed. The only reason I haven’t switched it out yet is because he adores the plastic Easter eggs. He loves to open them, stack them, put objects inside them, and he tries so hard to close them. He will easily concentrate on the eggs for 20+ minutes.
Treasure baskets are great for seasonal objects or themes. I’ve used kitchen objects – measuring cups, small tupperwares, spatulas, sponges, small whisks. You can use fruits and vegetables or objects from nature. You can use different types of fabrics (wool, felt, velvet, cotton, leather). The opportunities are endless.
When your baby is younger, the treasure basket is more of a sensory/exploratory experience. As he grows into toddlerhood, the treasure basket becomes a great way to introduce categories and vocabulary.
I hope you are inspired to create your own Montessori activities for your young child. There are so many ways to educate and engage your toddler without breaking the bank. Many of the objects in these activities are things that you probably already have around your house, and if not, can acquire very easily.
If you have any amazing suggestions to add to this list, I would love to hear them and incorporate them into my son’s playtime!