Thursday, December 31, 2009

Winter Work

I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas. I know I certainly did. Loved having that family time.
I wanted to write about the work I am planning for the month of January, in case anyone wants to take advantage of the after-Christmas sales as I did. Here is the work that I am planning on putting out for January:

Last Snowman Standing Math Game-I am using these snowmen from Oriental Trading. Get the gameboards and directions from

Snowflake Patterning-I found these stamps on clearance from Oriental.

Penguin and Polar Bear Patterns-Using these stamps, I couldn't pass these up at this price.

Animal Track 3 part cards-My dear friend Danielle from made these for me. I don't know if she will offer them for sale or not, I'm trying to talk her into an instant download.

Snowman Adding and Subtracting-using these cute guys.

Snowball Addition and Subtraction-using these gameboards and these poms. Poms are not on sale but my Wal-mart is so horrible about carrying craft items, I wasn't sure if I would find any. You can use cotton balls, but I like the glitter.

Winter words letter tiles cards made by Stephanie in the

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hope for the Holidays-Hope for American Education

I found out about an unique opportunity to write about an event or experience that gave me hope for the future of American Education so here goes:
I had the opportunity to visit the Ron Clark Academy in November (not Montessori) but please keep reading. This is one of the latest "buzzes" in education right now. I was very hyped up, told I would be amazed and so on. So when I got there and saw it, I was actually a little "let down" and kept thinking "What am I going to take back to my school from this experience?".
Finally, I decided that the one thing that I could take back was the "team work" and "family experience".
Now for the amazing part, I was so impressed to see how each one of the educators who went, whether greatly inspired or not by the experience, put into practice some kind of change in their classroom. This got me thinking to a more global standpoint of how ed bloggers and webringers work together every day to try to help other educators and make things a little better for their kids. I know that I have received advice and resources from many wonderful educators as I have tried to implement a "Montessori approach" in my classroom.
So my hope for the future of American education is the inspiration I get daily from my "web friends" who gain nothing financially but continue to log on, upload, download, share, share, share and help each other like a big cyber family. Teachers who walk into their classroom daily and are willing to make changes to help kids are my hope for the future of American education. So let's continue to inspire one another and be willing to make changes when we find that change could help our kids. A big cyber hug to all my webfriends out there and Merry Christmas!

This post is part of the MAT@USC Hope for the holidays event. Did you have an experience or witness something in 2009 which gave you hope for the future of American education? If so, please see this post for more information on how to share it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Tasks

Sorry it's been a while since I last posted. I always do a Thanksgiving play in November so it was a crazy month!

Here are a few descriptions of the work I've put out for December. A little late for some of you, but you can file it away for next year, if you like them.

Trim a Tree Subtraction: My kids are always so excited about the Christmas tree and I wanted to make it something that went along with what we are learning. So I created this task. The students choose any number of ornaments they want to work with. They put some on the tree, take some off, and see how many are left. I have slips of paper for them to record their equations on.

Star Equations: I have 4 sets of these out for my kids. I found these cool trays as well as the stars which were garland at Dollar General after Christmas for 90% off so I paid $.10 each. The kids use the I put stars in the bottom 2 points for them to use. They use the top three for addition or subtraction and record their equations on a slip of paper.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Life cycle of a Pumpkin

This is a task that I got from www.Montessoriforeveryone. It is in their cultural files as a free download. I love free and needed some language/thematic things so I put these 3 part cards out in the language center.

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf

If you follow Montessori Journey, you will find that this is similar to her leaf post. Purely, coincidental we both added leaf rubbings to our classrooms yesterday!
A few weeks ago at a festival in our area, I found these glass leaf bowls at an antique store for 50 cents each. I bought 4 of them. 2 have dividers and 2 are open. The divided bowl is for sorting the leaves into attributes of their choosing. I read Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf to the class yesterday as an enticement for this work. The leaf book is teacher made for identifying the type of leaf. I have a sample leaf rubbing with a label for the type of leaf. In the pumpkin are crayons for the rubbings.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Math Struggles

I have asked my principal for permission to not use the math workbooks and to just try using the Montessori materials and lessons. I was granted permission with the condition that if I saw it wasn't working to go back to the traditional material. So I am giving the chapter tests and trying to use my Montessori materials to teach the material covered in each chapter in addition to the sequence of Montessori lessons and individual work time.
I gave a pre-test of chapter 2 hoping I could move on but many children did not understand the concepts. So I have been doing partner work and lessons on making quanities.
I have one group (maybe half) that "get it". The others I am a little frustrated with as they are still having to count the 3 bead units and don't "see" that 1 bead and 2 beads make 3. Even though we have been writing number sentences with sets, they still don't get that their first number has to be how much is in their first set. Am I just expecting too much? I know they didn't have Montessori preschool or Kindergarten but I really thought that being 6 and 7 this would come much faster for them. Any thoughts?

We are Working!

I finally have work time going for all my class now. I started it slowly by having the ones who finished their traditional classwork choosing work to do from the shelves. I have run out of shelf room (I ordered the teen and tens board set from Sue at Montessori Steps). Really nice sets that came with cards you can use as 3 part cards. I'm going to have to figure out how to rearrange some things to get more room. I am in the process of making my traditional tasks from the past two years more Montesssori-ish by adding control cards. For these items I am using my drawers from last year as I am out of space. It works pretty well. Each child has a colored folder and the folder corresponds to a drawer. In their folder are the response sheets for tasks I want them to do. They match the sheet to a miniature version of it on the manipulative/hands-on material it goes with. For example, for pink series word work I put the pink word work book in the child's folder. They go to their drawer and in it, they will find a pink book attached to a ziplock bag that contain the picture and word cards, a control chart, and photographed instructions for what to do. They take the ziplock bag and word book to their choice of work space and do the activity.
I am using a folder system right now, to ensure that all students are working on something on their level. I have a checklist of their "have to's" that I check off when they complete. I use a 3 "have to's" and then choices system. This also keeps the children from fighting over the most popular choices as they finish at different rates.
I would love to eventually go to an all choice work system, but as this is all new for me, I feel the need to take baby steps.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Getting Started and Materials

We have been in school for 3 full weeks and 2 days so far. I have been very pleased with my start. I am chomping at the bit to get into "work time", but I know I MUST get work routines and classroom expectations down before I let them go or I will be crazy! So far I have done the pink tower presentation and everyone had a chance to build it once, the geometric solid presentation, intro to the decimal system parts 1,2, and 3 with beads only (teaching ones, tens, hundreds, thousands), the bead stair (in small groups), and pink/blue words with moveable alphabet (with 2 students). I realized this evening (while in the car on my way to pick up dinner) that I need to develop a checklist that I can keep on a clipboard with the tasks I am using a place to date when I observe the introduction, practice, and mastery. I think this will keep me up to date on everyone's needs. So if anyone is interested I will be happy to share when I get this finished.
The materials I ordered from Caliber Montessori and Alison's. I was very happy with the prices and quality from Caliber. I am not as thrilled wih Alison's. I have written to them and will post their response when I receive it.

***I did receive a reply from Alison's. They offered to allow me to return the bead stair for a refund. I didn't. I wanted them to send me the holder for the bead stair instead of me returning it and reordering. I felt this would be the fair thing since they misrepresented the product by showing it in the picture and not indicating that it was NOT included in the description. Oh, well I only ordered from them to get the introduction to the decimal system set that was on clearance. I won't be using them anymore.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tasks I've Created So Far

I've printed, laminated, cut, gathered, ordered new things and these are the tasks I have so far for my work time. I finally thought to take pictures so I could post them.
We have had 5 days of school so far. We are finishing our first week today!
I am loving using these Montessori lesson presentations.
I started with the pink tower presentation. I did it to the large group and let them come up one at a time and practice making the tower. Next I did a geometric solid lesson whole group and passed around the solids so they could see them and touch them.
I have broken my children up into small groups so I could do a bead stair presentation (numbers 1-9) to each group and better get a grasp on their needs. In a very unMontessori like fashion, I put 6-7 children at the DVD center to watch Chrysanthemum (a story we had read) and then a sight word DVD, 4-5 at the computer center, and then I did a quick presentation of a play doh name task to 3-4 students, so I was able to pull 4 for bead stair. I have 19 children and do not have an assistant at any time so this was the best I can do for small group work. When I get children working, I hope to be able to work individually with them.

On my math shelf I have the pink tower ( I ordered), geometric solids (I had these just had to make the cards), 2 pocket charts for hundred boards and number cards 1-100 and 101-200, introduction to the decimal system set x2 (I ordered these), number cards and counters (made the cards, I had the counters), bead stair and number cards to 9, seguin board and tens board (Imade these), extra bead stairs (I ordered), and put back for later bead cubes that I ordered. Overall I spent around $100 for these materials.

My language shelf seems a little lacking to me and I did realize that I don't have any 3 part cards for word study or sentence/picture match cards. So back to the laminator I go. On the shelf I have the play doh names task, pink and blue series short a magnetic cards with magnetic letters, 2 magnetic short a word family tasks, some other pictures of short a words for building with magnetic letters, and 2 trays with different levels of yes/no question cards (from they are like pink and blue series levels) that they can use in the pocket charts if they wish to sort by yes or no.

My little divided trays are childrens trays I picked up a few at a time at Dollar General this summer, the tiny baskets are at Dollar General now, the larger basket trays I ordered from Oriental Trading.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Golden Bead Work

When I started looking for materials that I wanted to use this year and I saw the possibilites with the Bead Stair and Golden Bead Work, I knew these were things I had to have. I originally thought I would make them all myself, but after pricing beads, I discovered I could order the bead stair sets cheaper than I could buy all those colored beads and make them. The Golden Bead work however is another story.
This I wanted to purchase one small set and make the rest myself. I started looking into materials and it is so frustrating. Trying to find inexpensive gold beads online was ridiculous! So I headed to Wal-Mart. I live in a small town so Wal-Mart's craft section is no hidiously small-no gold beads. One Wal-Mart did have a large pack of clear beads and gold pipe cleaners so I decided to start with those. I made some 10 bars that I was pretty happy with.
Yesterday, I had the chance to go to Hobby Lobby. They had lots of packs of silver beads, pearl beads but NO GOLD BEADS in large packs. I did find some 6mm gold beads in packs of 20 in the clearance section so I bought all they had as well as some packs of gold and silver pony beads. I really wanted to use round beads instead but for the cost difference I will settle!
Has anyone else had this problem trying to find cheap gold beads?!??

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Where to put their work???

My next planning task is deciding where to put the work for them to choose from when I have enough work for work time. I saw that at 1+1+1 she is using the workbox system which is really a cool idea but I have 20 little lovelies so that will not work space wise for me. I found the most adorable little trays at Dollar General and couldn't resist. Will post a picture soon. They are the perfect size for most of the work. I bought every one that I could find at all the area stores and they come in four different colors that almost match my group colors. They have blue, pink, red, and green and my group colors and blue, purple, red and green. My room is organized into activity centers versus subject centers so this is going to be the challenge. I currently have a magnetic center, a drama center, a pocket chart center, a DVD center, and a computer center, all other tasks are done on the carpet or at tables. I am thinking of just placing the work for now on top of my bookcases and changing out between language and math work times for now.

August Planning

Here is what I am planning for my classroom this August with Montessori materials/lessons and my other stuff I love. During work time the first few weeks, I will present a lesson to a small group while the other kids are doing something else. The something else at this time, includes DVD center, computer center, listening center, and then maybe some cut and paste things. I may introduce cutting strips to the whole class. Many of the lessons I will be doing at first are the ones for 4 year olds and I teach first grade. However, since my students have no Montessori experience prior to now and some are developmentally delayed, I think it will work well to get the foundation started.
At first I am going to hold a Language/reading work time in the morning and a Math work time in the afternoon. These may evenually mesh as the tasks get longer and students will need more time to complete activities.
I plan on doing the pink tower presentation as well as presentations on getting work, setting up work, work rules to the entire group as our first lesson and then break up into small groups. This way I can focus on student's individual needs for lessons.


I love summer because my mind gets relieved of all the every day stress and starts to get creative again. Of course I leave school every year with a list a mile long of new things I want to make for my kiddos next year.
This coming August I am really going to be implementing more and more Montessori items and activities into the classroom. I will still keep my favorite non-Montessori things that I love too such as the listening center and DVD center. In a very non-Montessori way I am going to mesh my listening center with some of the pink word activities I have planned. I will record myself giving directions to the students and have them practice building words or stamping words with CVC patterns. Because I am still tied to my Reading Series: Reading Street and I do really love it, I am going to introduce the CVC words with the sequence of the stories so that the first week they will only work with short a words, then i, then o, then u, then e, then a review of all.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Eye Droppers

I found some eye droppers that I had in my cabinet so my first graders got a new center last week: practical living. Even though they are 6-8 year olds some still need fine motor work so, they had a transfer task. I colored the water blue to make it more fun. I presented the center to them showing them how to transfer the water. The first few days went pretty well. However, on Friday, I let two students work together and one kept getting blue water on the other's sleeve. I was not a happy teacher. I had even reviewed the presentation with them after the first time this happened.

I did get a kick out them "discovering" that the water dried up over the weekend.

This week we are going to use the droppers again (with clear water). But I am going to do science explorations with them.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bucket Games or You could call them Basket Games!

One area where my first graders need work is on nonsense word fluency as well as fluency in other areas according to the Aimsweb testing we do. So, I have created what I call "Bucket Games". I found some little Valentine buckets at Big Lots right before Valentine's Day. I printed and laminated the pink, blue, and green word cards (will add link later). These are not nonsense words but most are words my students are not familiar with so they will work! I cut the words apart and put one sheet of words into each bucket. To play the game, I divide my students into groups of three/four at the most but 3 is best! The child in the middle holds the bucket of words at his/her level. The other children are the checkers. They sort the words into correct/incorrect as the bucket child lays them down. I start the timer for one minute and say "Go". The bucket child pulls word cards from the bucket and reads them and drops them on the floor. The checkers sort the cards. If a word is unknown, the child should put it back in the bucket and keep going. At the end of the minute, the child counts his/her correct words. I stress that we are competing against themselves, trying to get more words each time and not to worry how many someone else got.
Now, I need to find some Easter buckets or baskets and make cards for missing numbers, addition, subtraction, quanitative differences
I am not sure how Montessorish this is, but my kids really enjoy it. It could be an individual game by putting the bucket and timer on a tray for the child to use in his/her own area. Will post pictures as soon as possible.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Beginning

The other day I gave Collier my first presentation: The Addition Strip Board. It went pretty well. However, as typical Collierish behavior, he was not happy just making 2 digit equations. First he wanted to see how many ways he could get to make 18. Then he arranged the strips as shown in the photo.

I downloaded the materials from Montessori Materials. You can get them here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My Beginning

I am starting this blog for other moms and teachers who want to ponder into Montessori methods with their children and students.
I am a teacher with a specialist degree in reading. In college I discovered Montessori and fell in love with it. I did a lot of self study and wanted to open my own school upon finishing college. However, my dreams soon became sqashed with the need for employment that included benefits such as health insurance.
I fell in love with the school where I did my student teaching and became employed there.
I have been very happy with my classroom teaching and methods until I started searching for ways to challenge my son who is in kindergarten and stimulate my one year old who was a preemie. During my internet search, I have rediscovered Montessori and my love of it.