DIY Puffy Paint!

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!

Enjoy, and have a lovely weekend!

Adapting Montessori to Distance Learning

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.

  1. YouTube videos
  2. Printables, printables, printables
  3. The involved parent
  4. Virtual “face to face” communication

YouTube Videos

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.

Montessori Language: Rhyming

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.

Montessori Rhyming Picture Cards with Real Images
Montessori Rhyming Picture Cards with Real Images

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.

CLICK HERE TO BE LINKED TO THE RHYMING CARDS

Have a great day!

Blue Constructive Triangles

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.

DIY Montessori Cards and Counters + FREE Printable Number Cards

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 55 pebbles. 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.

Enjoy this free printable! Hopefully this will help aid in the development of your child’s Mathematical Mind at home! Home learning truly has never been more relevant than it is now.

Arts + Crafts Post: Montessori Planisphere Collage

Each week I send an art project to my students to do at home. I make sure to send any required materials to the parents the week before, and film all the instructions in a YouTube video to send them. Since we are celebrating Earth Day this week, I thought it would be fun to make a collage of Earth, Montessori-style!

Here are all the materials you will need:

The only items not pictured here are: a little container for the glue, and a piece of string or twine to turn this collage into a lovely ornament after completed.

We used torn construction paper pieces to make a collage on top of a planet Earth template. I had thought about just using blue and green, but decided using the continent colors from the Planisphere map would make this activity much more Montessori! This means you will need the following paper colors:

  • Orange – North America
  • Pink – South America
  • Yellow – Asia
  • Red – Europe
  • Green – Africa
  • White – Antarctica
  • Brown – Australia
  • Blue – for the oceans

And FYI, you won’t need very much of each color (except maybe blue), because the template is not very big. I found an excellent printable for this from The Helpful Garden’s blogspot. She has tons of amazing (and free!) materials. Click here to download the Planisphere template. I definitely recommend printing this template onto cardstock paper for this project. This template is great for pencil coloring or watercolor work, as well!

Before starting the collage, make sure you cut out each half of the world. I also opted to use liquid Elmer’s glue and apply it with a paintbrush for precision. I think using a glue stick with this activity would get a little too messy.

After you’ve filled in the world with construction paper, glue the two pieces together, back to back. Punch a hole in the top, loop a piece of twine through, and you have a super cute ornament just like this:

Even though the end product is beautiful, this is definitely more of a process-centered art project. There’s just something so cathartic about making a collage. And this activity provides lots of fine motor skill opportunities for little hands! Tearing, cutting, gluing, stringing. Plus, it gives an opportunity to refresh your little one on the Continent names! Hang this in your child’s room. It looks adorable, your child will feel proud of the artwork they’ve created, and it will give you an excuse to touch on geography every day!

Definitely make sure you check out my video instructions on this, and take a peek at the other videos on my YouTube channel!

Hope you all have a lovely day! Thanks for stopping by and getting creative with me!

First TpT Product – Earth Day Recycle Sorting!

Since today is Earth Day, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to upload the first product to my Teachers Pay Teachers store! I created some sorting cards for Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, to help introduce your child to these important Earth Day terms. I used these same cards for my own students to help them understand the differences between the three concepts.

Check out this video to see how I present these cards:

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Sorting Cards with Real Images

Included in this set are the following cards to help illustrate each concept:

Reduce

  • TV watching
  • Video Game playing
  • Computer use
  • Driving time
  • Electricity use
  • Water use
  • Waste

Reuse

  • Grocery bags
  • Fabric napkins
  • Water bottles
  • Gift bags
  • Toys
  • Clothing
  • Food storage containers

Recycle

  • Paper
  • Plastic
  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Cardboard

I worked really hard on these cards: a) because I am a perfectionist, and b) because I really wanted a good set of Earth Day themed cards to send to my students and could not find any that used real images. I would sincerely appreciate if you checked them out! I would also be eternally grateful if you check out my TpT store and gave it a follow 🙂

P.s. – please note that this material has been updated since I filmed this video. The cards available for download are only slightly different (but better!)

Happy Earth Day!

Why I Started This Site

I had only gone back to work in January, when the onset of this COVID-19 crisis threw the whole world off track. After three months, I had finally gotten adjusted to the routine of dropping baby off at daycare in the morning (sidenote – he won’t be old enough to attend my Montessori school until he is 18 months), going to work, and picking him up around 4:00. I liked our routine. I liked being with my primary students during the day, and disconnecting to be mommy in the afternoons and evenings.

But when all the schools began closing, I kind of found myself on both sides of the coin. I am still fulfilling that role as Montessori guide to my students (and their parents!) from a distance, while also finding myself responsible, again, for the full time care of my one-year-old. These dual responsibilities have become a delicate balancing act, as my husband is still working full time from home, occupied with phone/emails from about 8:30 am until 4:30 pm.

I have to fit my lesson planning, YouTube filming, email sending, around this schedule. In between I am navigating the world of integrating Montessori into my son’s life. He is just on the cusp of toddlerhood, still skirting the line between infancy and an ever-developing independence. I won’t lie, this is a fun and wholly adorable age. Just before his first birthday a week ago, I noticed he was bored with many of his toys, and began scrambling to create some Montessori-esque activities for him, on a budget and with limited resources available. (Post on this to come).

Anyways, I have had so much fun introducing him to Montessori activities, and I L-O-V-E to create materials for my primary students as well. This whole distance learning thing has forced me to get creative with lesson planning. I have had to get out of my comfort zone and onto the camera. I already have weeks worth of YouTube lessons that I have sent to my families. So I figured, why not merge these two Montessori lanes into one?

This site is my platform for sharing lessons, materials, and ideas for the 3 to 6 year old, as well as the Montessori activities that I am currently doing with my one-year-old.

So there you have it. The above statement is my reason for creating this site. Essentially I want to share my passions with the world, and possibly connect with others who share and appreciate those same passions. In this socially distant world in which we find ourselves living, the importance of connecting with others in the online realm has never been more important or relevant.

I hope you enjoy the content that I share here, and hope to inspire and be inspired by the others who visit this site.

All my Montessori Love,

Miss Claire xo