Montessori Essentials

Montessori Essentials~ Metal Insets

Today I am going to talk a bit about my favorite Montessori work~ the metal insets! I love this work! There is so much good that happens when the kids use them, and they are so much fun! The metal insets are metal stencil like shapes. These stencil shapes have a solid metal inset that fits like a puzzle. There are 10 different shapes: square, triangle, circle, rectangle, oval, trapezoid, pentagon, curvilinear triangle, and quatrefoil.  There is an optional frame that allows the child steady the frame as they trace the shape. I don’t have it, but it useful since it is frustrating for smaller hands to concentrate on the shape and drawing while trying to hold on to the inset too!  Now, all kids like stencils, but these are special. They are large and they are simple shapes that allow the child to really master control of a pencil. The goal of this work is to help introduce the child to master the pincher grip, to help them master pencil control, to reinforce a work cycle, and introduce geometry. Not, not only can the child trace the inside of the of the stencil, they can also hold the inset and trace the outside of the shape. This gives them a different hold on the pencil and helps them master all the different ways to use a pencil!  The other thing that is really wonderful about this work is that it is an easy one to present to a child as they are getting started with Montessori work. When Bug first started working with us she had a hard time working with a pencil, and after she spent some time working on the Cylinder blocks, she tried the insets. It took her a while, but when she finally was able to make a shape, her pride was so awesome! I love how much confidence they get when they are creating and succeeding!
 The children are encouraged to use different colors as they draw to give them a new point of interest. They trace the inset and then they practice long continuous strokes to fill the shape in with color! Now, as fun as that is, I also love to help them use the inset to draw a picture. 🙂 We made a bird out of the oval, a house out of the triangle, a cupcake out of the pentagon, etc! The possibilities are endless and it is such great preparation for drawing classes! Another really wonderful extension that Bunny has done is to make one shape, then to draw another one over the top of it, then another! This make a really interesting design as the shapes overlap.
Like I said these are some of my favorite works! I really love playing with them and so do the girls! Here are a few pictures of the girls working with the insets and some of the creations that we have come up with.

We have a ton of fun with this work! I hope that you do to. If you have other ideas or some other blog posts about the insets! Let me know and I will start a list at the end of this blog! Happy Schooling!

Montessori Essentials~ The Apron (AND a Givaway)!

In the a Montessori class room as well as in a home aprons play an important part in the prepared environment. Not only do they keep a child’s clothes clean during a messy project, they also help to reinforce the steps in a work cycle. A child is going to get messy! Not matter what, they need to be free to explore and learn without the worry of upsetting mom with dusty, dirty, and ruined clothes! So when a child is selecting a work that has the potential to get messy, all you need to do is ask that they choose an apron first! Then after they finish their work, and clean it up, they can complete the work cycle by putting the apron in its place. Much like the rug, it allows the child to feel the beginning and the completion and the end of a work. In a school setting there is often aprons set aside for certain tasks, one for color mixing, one for painting, one for gardening, ect. However, at home you just need one for each child! In fact, both of my girls had a wonderful time choosing the material that they wanted for the apron I made them! It was a great chance for to make some sweet memories together. They have their own apron and cant wait for a painting or baking project so that they can wear them! One of the best features of a Montessori apron is the ease of which a child can put it on and take it off. There are no ties, or snaps, just an elastic neck band and a Velcro waist strap the goes around and fastens in the front! This gives them such a wonderful feeling of pride that they are able to do it themselves!
I, and many other Montessori moms out there, have sewed aprons for our kiddos. They are an easy project and alot of fun to make! So if you are wanting to try your hand at it, there is a free pattern offered by Meg McEleew at Sew Liberated. She designed this pattern herself when she was teaching in a Montessori school in Mexico (if you want to read more about how she came up with the patter, you can read it here.) If however, you are not much of a seamstress, you can always buy them on Etsy from other moms who are making them with love! There are a ton of sellers out there who make the perfect aprons. There were quite a few cute ones that I found here, here, and here! There are a ton more!

Now for the part that you have all been waiting for…..a little giveaway for you all! I have an apron here that I made (and Bunny so kindly is modeling above) and I am giving it to one lucky reader! This apron is perfect for baking, painting, and any other messy fun your little one will explore! 🙂 It is also just the thing to wrap up for Christmas! I made in a nice primary colored pattern so that it is good for both boys and girls! So if you want to win all you need to do is:

1. Leave me a comment telling me how your kiddo would use this
2. Follow my blog
3.Follow me on Facebook
4. Follow me on twitter
5. And share this giveaway on your blog (worth 2 entries)
Please be sure to leave me a separate comment for each entry (do it twice if you blog about it)! The giveaway will be open until Dec.5 and will be shipped as soon as I can get it out! Please make sure that there is a way to contact you! I wish you all luck!!!!! Happy Schooling!

Montessori Essentials~ Cylinder Blocks!

I want to start a new series of posts about the essential Montessori material that are used in Montessori classrooms all over the world! Now there are quite a few things that you can make or you can adapt something else to achieve the same goals and I am all for this! However sometime there are things you just need to buy and that is something that only you can decide! I have bought quite a few materials and most of them have gotten quite a bit of use! The cylinder blocks are one of my more expensive purchases, but it is also one that I am glad I made! Bunny, Pup, Bug and even Tadpole have all used them all. Not only are they great puzzles to play with, but they teach so many great things. They teach visual discrimination of sizes and diameter, they prepare for writing by the use of the pincher grip, and they also will help prepare for reading with their left to right order! So many things that can be taught through so much fun! In fact, when Bug started coming to work with us, she had a hard time holding a pencil. So I encouraged her to use the cylinder blocks and it really helped!
My other favorite part of these works is that there are so many extensions that can be used once they master all four blocks! They can use two of them in a “v” formation. They can use three in a triangle formation. Or they can use all four in a square! Plus to add to the challenge, they can do it blindfolded! The children also take great delight it finding the right knobless cylinder color and using the the colored cylinders in the blocks! I love this work. It is simple, beautiful, sturdy and so very Montessori.
Now, many people just cant afford the $100 or more that the set costs. So there are a great many things that you can use to teach size discrimination. You can use blocks, balls, puzzles, or, as John Bowman who wrote Montessori At Home! suggests, socket set! They aren’t as expensive and they are fairly similar! There are a lot of great ideas out there!
Here a few pictures of my kiddos using the cylinder block material!

I know that I have more pictures of the girls using the extensions, but I couldn’t find them! 🙂 When I do I will put them up! If you have any thoughts on this work, I would love to hear it! Happy Schooling to everyone out there making Montessori a reality in their homes!
For more really great information, check out Leptir’s blog here: