Friday, December 5, 2008

A change of direction

Yet again I have left this blog too long, everylife seems to have rudely gotten in the way!

Anyway, over the next few months this blog will probably start to become more proactive (hoorah!) as we are changing our journey in life at least for the short term.

Currently, as you know, we are living in the US and the children are attending a wonderful 0 -14 years AMI Montessori School, so this blog has been talking about how we maintain the Montessori principles and philosophies in the home, education aside. We have just found out however, we are moving again. This time the Crags of Bonnie Scotland are calling (well, strictly that's not true as we're going to Edinburgh and it's.......well, not so craggy!)

I have been looking into the transfer for the children in the hopes there is something they can attend that is following Montessori but to no avail, not for the boys at any rate. The wee miss is going to be attending a Montessori nursery in the afternoons but the boys are going to be staying home and we are going to home educate in Montessori style.

So the blog will now follow our journey as we venture into this area. Both boys are now elementary age so our curriculum will be within this plane of development. I am a trained state/public school teacher and naturally have those traditional teaching methods ingrained in my head, I am not Montessori trained (yet!) and so I will be learning new ways too.

To date all I have done is trawl through the types of Montessori equipment that I think I will really need and that are probably hard to make and the rest I will make or adapt or improvise as need arises.

I don't want to follow a rigid timetable, but do intend to follow a daily pattern or routine, just as Montessori would have done. The boys will be free to do whatever the work they need to do from their assignment book which I'll plan the week before and then we'll discuss any visits or outside activities on a Monday morning meeting that might need to be fitted in and take up space they were expecting to have to work in. I am still working through the early thoughts right now but the areas I wish to have daily are a quick mental math each day and then within the course of the week, handwriting, spelling and journalling. The rest of the week I hope to go more with the flow (hard for a traditional teacher, the lure of a text book and lesson planner are just too great).

I have chosen at this point to break down the areas of maths and language that I feel they probably should cover or know at this point and get these covered throughout the weeks using the tactile materials that Montessori made, history, geography, science, botany and zoology I intend to work into our "curriculum" more from a "go-see-expand" idea; we'll visit somewhere perhaps or use something poignant in the news and then expand the topics from that for the week, or we may use the five great lessons to inspire our direction.

Added into this equation is the Little Miss who will be with us in the mornings, so I may also incorporate some practical life, sensorial, maths and language based on her development too.

My current tool kit is looking quite plush and I'm feeling pretty inspired right now.
I bought much of the stuff from Montessori Outlet which sells the stuff at cheap as chips prices and it is pretty good quality too (not pure Nienhaus natch!) but their selection of what I really feel I need at Elementary level is limited, that said, I am envisaging that gradually as the mind works more abstractly the boys will use less materials anyway and will be able to immediately work out on paper.

Currently I have:
cursive sandpaper letters and sandpaper phonograms
a multiplication board
a division board
a power of two board
grammar symbols and advanced grammar symbols
tens board

I think for now, that will work for us. I am hoping to be able to make other resources as we go along.

There are a plethora of great sites that have printable Montessori resources that I will download and use.

One of my immediate issues is the need to learn to use the materials myself and all their developments otherwise Master Beehive the elder will be teaching me, which, actually isn't a bad thing as it'd reinforce it for him, but it makes it hard for me to use them for extension work if needs arise.

So, I hope you'll stay with us and follow the ups and downs we come across as we all learn new things from this.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


"A Parent's Guide" is a well worthy dvd to purchase if you don't know where to start. It is a great visual tool showing three families with their rooms set up and devoted to the child at their relevant age.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


It has been brought to my attention that I have yet to make a blog entry that talks about foods and snacks in the Montessori environment. Coincedentally, this week at school has been a week where snack has been fore front of my mind.

Our school now has a nut free policy as well as the natural healthy eating policy. This hasn't been an issue in the past as there has been a rota for providing snacks from a pre-set list, however, this year, in the lower elementary classrooms, snacks are to be provided daily from home. Naturally, this is the year my "difficult eater" is in this environment, so providing nut free snacks that disguise any element of fruit or veg and maintain healthy eating status is my quest for this year.

Naturally, foods and snacks for any child need to be slow releasing energy. High sugar content, of course, releases a rush, and then the down side can be lethargy or lack of concentration.

My favourite book for snack ideas is Lunchboxes by Annabel Karmel.

Listed below I have shared ideas for snacks that are nut free and low sugar. There are also ideas for other school morning breakfasts and lunches. Please feel free to add to this via the comments as it would be great to share thoughts and ideas.

School Morning breakfasts (the theme is healthy and QUICK!!)

Oatmeal - always a favourite

Natural Yoghurt and honey

Poached or Boiled egg and wholemeal toast or muffin

Toaster waffles with fresh fruits

fruit salad with granola (you can make your own if you want nut free and just use rolled oats)

Breakfast bars - I will dig out a link to the recipe for this later

Banana (or any other fruit) smoothies

Snack ideas for school



Hummus to dip veg in

Plain crackers

Hard boiled egg

Cheese cubes

Raisins or dried fruit (my kids love apple rings and mango pieces)

Dehydrated fruit - you can either do this yourself or buy all kinds of exotic fruits that have been deydrated. My middle child (the self assigned "vegandfruitaphobe" will happily consume these on the premise they "taste like candy"!!)

Bagel chips

Bagel halves


Mini pitas (with dips or spread)

Healthy O's (cereal without the added sugar - think cheerios without the crap!)

Yoghurt (I send in a little pot with natural yoghurt and honey on the top - half the price and half the sugar!)

Fruit purees/sauces

Dried banana chips

Healthy valley's oatmeal bars (there are no nuts in these as far as I am aware)

Tofu (Whole foods and trader joe's do lovely flavoured tofu that can be sliced)

Soy butter is a great, nut free alternative to peanut butter and can be a great dip

Obviously as with all these items, if there is a child with a nut allergy in the class, always check how severe, because even if an item doesn't have nuts in it, it may be made in a factory that produces nuts and this can sometimes be enough to set off an allergic reaction. Also, always ensure your child washes their hands after eating any nut product if they are going into school and into contact with children who may be allergic!

Lunch ideas:

We tend to use any of the following as the "outer"

tortilla flour wraps
Pita breads

Wholemeal bread






cream cheese

roasted vegetables

egg and mayo (you can add corn and chives if your child isn't picky!!)

tuna fish, cucumber, mayo

Tomato and cheese

grated celery, mayo and grated cheese (my fav!!)

Other ideas:

mini muffin pizzas

pasta salads made with hidden veggie sauce (I will post a link for a recipe later)

mini potato skins with home made salsa

bean salad


homemade soups and oyster crackers - great way to get the reluctant veggie eater to eat some!!

noodles and homemade sauces

Occasionally as a treat my kids love pot stickers and shimu or veggie sushi (they would eat the regular raw fish sushi, but I have a feeling that nut allergies tend to go hand in hand with seafood allergies too.)

any leftovers that you know your child will eat !!!

I do encourage my children to pack their own lunchbags with my help and they make choices from the foods I have bought in for the purpose.

At school I know the children all eat together. In the primary programmes this is a beautiful occasion that is prepared by the children. All the tables are set for lunch with silver and glassware, a candle and the lights are dimmed and music is played. The lunchtime is a revered occasion that the children and teacher enjoy together.

At home, we manage to replicate that as often as we can. It is hard in a working family environment to all find time to eat together due to work schedules. In the Beehive we try, wherever possible to eat together, occasionally that may be me enjoying a cup of tea at the dinner table whilst the children eat if I am waiting for my husband to come in later from work on a Friday.

We set the table appropriately with silver and glassware and use china plates rather than plastic. The reason behind this is that children want their table to look nice and there is a reason to take care with things otherwise they will break. If you carry a plastic item, there is not the same need for care.

We use cloth napkins and jugs for water, milk or juice as often as possible. The only thing I don't tend to do at home is the candle, primarily because there is a side of me that is just damn forgetful and also, no matter what you are lead to believe, kids will behave differently at home than school, thus at school the candle is respected, at home......the respect somewhat forgotten!! *sigh*

I hope this has been of some help. Please feel free to add your own thoughts and comments.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Still a work in progress here.
Now worked on the "home area"

We have added hooks for cups, pans etc and a clothes line as well as this gorgeous screen from Marmalade Trees on Etsy to create walls!

I also bought this set of cubing for MB the younger's room to help organise his stash of stuff a little better. He is thrilled he now has a plant to care for too!

And finally I attempted some needlefelting this week - I am almost too ashamed to put it up here, but still, it relieved some stress for a while lol and hopefully I may get better!

This is my gnome who has a very badly proportioned body!!

This is the "fall" picture.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Changing of the seasons..

Just like nature, our life at home is continually evolving and changing with the seasons. Here are some updated photos of the playroom and LMB's bedroom.

Here are our open shelves allowing access to the toys. Emphasis here is on wood and natural and also toys that are allow for open ended play.

Reading corner. Much as I really, really want to purge the books and have a small selection out at a time so as not to over stimulate; coming from a home where we had wall to wall libraries I find this task breaks me out in a cold sweat, hence there are still a plethora of books everywhere you look. I have tried hard to cull a bit. The picture on the wall is one that Master Beehive the elder did at school last year - fortunately fitting beautifully with the colour scheme!!

The "home corner".

Our somewhat depleted nature table (I have taken some of it into school!) and also geography area. The tall boxes house our growing lego collection. It is actually hard to find something just right to store the lego so it is accessible and easy to reach as well as tidy!

Moving onto the Little Miss's room:

One side of her home corner. I do believe Master Beehive the younger can be seen poking his head out!

This is the front entrance! As well as having her "home" toys in there, there are also bean bags, playsilks, manipulative toys as well as a growing herd of My Little Ponies!!

Her "care of the self" area, not too different, only we have now placed some hooks beside the mirror to hang her alice bands. I dont know where she has moved her little basket with her brush and hair accessories - one of the delights of trying to keep neat a home that houses a small tasmanian devil lol!

Hmmm....the ironing board doesn't normally live centre stage. Master Beehive the elder decided that it needed a higher vantage point!

Oh and finally, today's creation. Master Beehive the younger sporting his new apron for his chore this week as "Chef's helper"!! Craftily made out of a tea towel. This is the project I have for the class over the next few weeks so it was useful to have a willing guinea pig!