The AMS Conference is something we look forward to attending each year. This year was different. This year Holly and I attended as exhibitors and not as conference participants. This was the first time we placed our work in front of large masses of Montessorians. To say we were nervous about feedback would be an understatement. We were worried that our fellow Montessorians would say we missed the mark or that our work just wouldn't appeal to the very population we were trying to serve. Well, after four days of exhibiting, we can say without a doubt that we had nothing to worry about. The feedback we received ranged from compliments on the design of our cards to our use of quality images to represent science terms. Our passion for creating Montessori works is now in overdrive!
We made so many new friends too! Now we are heading home and going to get busy on all the requests we received!
Here's a small list of those requests we will be working on adding to our site:
-Animals of the continents
-Science cards for primary
-Additional language works for upper elementary
-Science experiments and research to match science cards
-More shirts!!! (Those are all ordered and on the way!)
Thank you to all who came by to see us and say hello! We truly enjoyed meeting everyone and having the opportunity to showcase our works. Be sure to check the website for new works that will be added. Also, feel free to email us with any feedback or requests. We love hearing from you!
MONTESSORI ELEMENTARY LANGUAGE- Magical Montessori Language curriculum adds what's been missing in historical albums
There are so many things we love about Montessori language. Maria Montessori was brilliant at the use of the objects and pictures to have children sound out words. However, as we worked in the elementary classrooms, we noticed a lack of materials for many skills. We created our Language Curriculum based on direct work with children, and what we needed in our classrooms.
The Language Curriculum includes:
Language Cards and Lesson Plans (23 sets of cards! Over 85 days of lesson plans! )
-Adages and Proverbs Bundle (3 sets)
-Alliteration, Consonance, and Assonance Bundle (3 sets)
-Complete Sentences, Fragments, and Run-ons Bundle (3 sets)
-Correlative Conjunctions Bundle (3 sets)
-Personification and Hyperbole Bundle (2 sets)
-Similes and Metaphors Bundle (3 sets)
-Similes, Metaphors, and Idioms Bundle (3 sets)
-Greek and Latin Root Words Level 1
-Greek and Latin Root Words Level 2
Each bundle of cards has very explicit lesson plans included so anyone can teach the lessons easily. The lessons, as the card levels, go from more concrete, to more abstract. Most lessons include extensions such as readings, poetry, writing, and even include optional extra book lists suggestions for further study. These cards are designed to be used for elementary ages and can be repeated for more in depth study in multiple years.
One of our goals has always been to allow students to truly develop a love of language. We want them to love reading. We want them to love writing. We have found once students explore these topics it becomes second nature for them to find similes and metaphors, for example, as they are reading, and they love to share them. As they develop deeper understanding of these topics, they should be encouraged to attempt to use them in their own writing. Be creative with your exploration of language- explore different genres, read aloud to each other, write to each other and share your writing. Most of all- embrace the joy of language.
Similes and Metaphors Pack: Card Work and Lesson Plans
This pack includes our Simile and Metaphors card work and lesson plans to accompany card work. Card work includes three levels, progressing from recall to synthesis, and four days of lesson plans for each card work level.
Complete Sentences, Fragments, and Run-Ons Bundle Digital PDF
About This Set
This work includes:
Complete Sentences, Fragments, and Run-ons- Three sets
Level 1 sort
Level 2 sort
Level 3 write complete sentences from fragments/run-ons
Common Core L.5.3a
Alliteration, Consonance, and Assonance Bundle Digital PDF
About This Set
This work includes:
Alliteration, Consonance, and Assonance- Four sets
Level 1 sort
Level 2 sort
Level 3 sortLevel 4 sort and write
Common Core L.5.5
Greek and Latin Root Words Level 1 Digital PDF
Ideas for use:
1. Introduce root. Introduce each word and have student separate root from other parts of word (prefixes, suffixes). 2. Have student read sentence with underline root word. Use context clues to define the word. Challenge students to identify clues they used to figure out word meaning. 3. Have student read sentences with blanks. Match the word cards to sentences as a control. There is one sentence for each word. Write sentences with correct word. 4. Have student lay out sentence cards for each word. Have student create a new sentence using the word. 5. Advanced students may want to research the etymology of the words and find additional words for the root. They may want to create a book of roots.
LAFS: LAFS.4.L.3.4; LAFS.5.L.3.4
CCSS: CCSS.ELA.L.4.4B; CCSS.L.5.4B
All the students are in the opening and closing numbers. The show opens with the beautiful snowflake dance and powerful soldier dance (in which the children are bedecked with tinfoil covered swords). Then different groups come on and off stage for various dances. How cute is it to watch tiny 3 year olds, even when they just stand there and look around and wave?
Because the classes perform the Nutcracker every year, the students get to try each dance depending on their level. It is a right of passage for Kindergarten girls to finally get to be the Sugarplum fairies. True to Montessori, the older students are so familiar with all the dances, they easily help teach the younger students and have even had to fill in on stage last minute due to emergency absences.
Backstage at the Nutcracker is the craziest, most stressful, frenzy-filled 90 minutes you will ever experience. Trying to seamlessly get 40 children on and off stage at the correct times with lots of quick costume changes involves a lot of organization and volunteers. Dress rehearsal is usually a disaster every year. Teachers are panicked. Somehow it all comes together the day of the show. By the time is over, everyone is thrilled. The parents love it. The teachers are exhausted. And most importantly, the students are proud of themselves. They love being in the Nutcracker. Now let's get Nutcrackering!
Last night, deep into Edutwitter (the Twitter sub-universe consisting of educators debating over daily topics), I came across a tweet that made me think. It was a conversation started by Benjamin Riley, (@benjaminriley); Riley was discussing Jack Schneider's conversation (@Edu-Historian) regarding zillow using Greatschools' ratings to guide people to pick the best areas for home buying. This is the tweet from Riley that made me FULL PAUSE:
"This is an important thread about education, data, and inequality in a world of limited information. What do we mean by “great school”? For many, we mean white rich kids." (@benjaminriley).
So what does this specifically have to do with Montessori?
A LOT of people associate Montessori with rich, white kids. Why? Montessori schools are primarily private. Many Montessori schools are located in affluent neighborhoods.
When I researched the private Montessori schools in our area, some schools have a student population with only 5% students of color. Most of them had between 15% and 35%. By comparison, for the entire city, 34% of all private school attendees are students of color. 63% of public schools students in the entire city are students of color. So private Montessori schools in the city are grossly under representing minorities.
What about public Montessori schools? In our city, there are 2 public Montessori schools. One is in an urban area, and has a 91% minority population. The other is in an affluent suburb and has a 45% minority population. The average of these 2 schools is a 68% minority population, which is more aligned to the entire student population percentages.
According to the American Montessori Society, there are currently over 4000 Montessori schools operating in the United States. Only about 10% of these, or 400 of these schools, are public or charter schools.
There is good news! "In 2012, AMS launched the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector (NCMPS) to assist with the growth and sustainability of Montessori programs in magnet, charter, and district schools across the country." (https://amshq.org/Montessori-Education/Introduction-to-Montessori/Montessori-Schools). AMS and other organizations, homeschool groups, and charter groups have begun campaigning for Montessori options for all students. Hopefully, we will continue to see more minorities given the choice of Montessori, so we can change the Montessori stereotype of being a program only for rich, white kids!
The scientific method....one of the toughest concepts to teach children and yet it is the foundation of science. A firm grasp of the scientific method helps all children understand the process of science investigations and build towards a complete analysis of inquiry. Year after year, children should be taught the scientific method, building in complexity from recall to analysis and synthesis. As classroom teachers, we know and understand the difficulties educators face each year (and parents) when the dreaded time of the year comes when all students must complete a science fair project. With this knowledge, we created our scientific method 3-part cards. We recognized the need for children to first gain the academic vocabulary and understanding of the process before they started a scientific investigation. The card work includes each step in the process with detailed definitions for students to match and record. Controls are also included for children to independently check their work.
We have included a brief video explanation on how to use the card work. We hope you find this as useful as we do for teaching children the complex task of the scientific method.
The Scientific Method Ready-to-Ship Card Set
About This Set:The Scientific Method- 3 part cards
This Ready-to-Ship Printed Card Set includes:
FL Standard: SC.4.N.1.3
Next Generation Standard:
The Scientific Method-Digital PDF
About This Set: The Scientific Method - 3 part cards
This Digital PDF Downloadable includes:
FL Standard: SC.4.N.1.3
Next Generation Standard: 3-5-ETS1
Early childhood education is the key to the betterment of society. -Maria Montessori
Teaching children to read is tough! Let's face it, it's one of the toughest responsibilities facing our PreK-2nd grade educators and parents in terms of content. We know from continuous research that a child's ability to decode and read fluently is a strong indicator of future academic success. So what's the problem? Why are so many of our children matriculating through grade level after grade level without the ability to quickly recognize words and read fluently? The simple answer is: children are not receiving systematic, explicit phonics instruction in PreK-2nd grade. This results in children entering grades that demand reading complex text to learn new information, but are stuck in still learning to read.
Maria Montessori began the work of phonics instruction through her development of sandpaper letters. When the Montessori philosophy came to the states, the pink, blue, and green series were created in order to meet the demands of our complex English language. The creation of the pink, blue, and green series was based on knowing that students, especially students with learning disabilities, needed to receive systematic phonics instruction. Not only was phonics instruction designed to be taught in a specific order, there was still the foundation of knowing that students needed to experience instruction from concrete to abstract, resulting in the sequence of instruction being: object/word, picture/word, and word/word. Let's take a deeper look.
The Pink Series:
Pink series introduces students to CVC words with short vowel sounds. Examples include: cat, pen, pit, mop, pup. Students first begin decoding words with the CVC pattern beginning with short /a/. As students move through the pink series phonics boxes from concrete to abstract, they should also be practicing decoding words in context in a decodable reader. I know many Montessorians who love using Bob books for this because they follow the sequence of phonics instruction in the pink series. Students will move through all vowels, in order, each time decoding the words in and out of context (/a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/).
The Blue Series:
After students have mastered the pink series (CVC words) in and out of context, they move to the blue series where they begin decoding consonant blends. Blends can come at the beginning or end or the word, or sometimes both, and all words still contain short vowel sounds. Examples include: block, clip, frog, spin. Again, students move from concrete to abstract and should be decoding words they are learning in context as well.
The Green Series:
After students master the blue series, they move to the green series (phonograms). Examples include words with ai, ar, au, ch, ee, er, i.e., oa, oo, or, ou, oy, qu, sh, th, and ue. Once students are in the green series, you should see fluency building, as well as automaticity in decoding words. This is where the reading explosion occurs (I love seeing this in action!). Again, students work from concrete to abstract and are decoding words in and out of context.
While students are working in the phonics boxes, they should still be learning high frequency words (words that appear in every day language). Examples include: the, are, in, am. Teaching both phonics and high frequency words simultaneously provides opportunities for students to read decodable readers and build fluency.
To end, I would like to touch on the word explicit. In Montessori words, this means the key experience lesson. Students should not simply be assigned a phonics box, as we know that students don't magically learn to read. Students should receive instruction in the phonics box first, through the three period lesson, and then it can be added to their workplan. As a student moves through the boxes, they should continue receiving lessons. Lessons should also include, segmenting, blending, substituting, and isolating sounds to help build word recognition and analysis.
So let's build some rockstar readers! If you don't have the pink, blue, and green series, don't worry! There are tons of free resources. All you need is a color printer, laminator, and some scissors!
Montessori for Everyone
Pure magic. That's the experience of Montessori's First Great Lesson. This is the perfect time to set the impression that will drive your science, math, reading, and social studies lessons. The focus from macro to micro not only helps students to understand the big picture, but also creates humility.
The prep work that goes into this lesson takes some time. Be sure to gather the materials (making the volcano takes some time) before you present this lesson to your students or child. We have included a sheet with all of the science experiments for the Great Lesson. This will also help you to know what materials you will need.
Don't forget your script! Over the years, we have used Miss Barbara's script from www.missbarbara.net. In time, you will learn to modify the script to make it your own. Another great addition is to have moon music playing in the background. There's a 1-hour moon sounds on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2ZelCLDuy4.
The next day, since this lesson is filled with incredibly rich content, we like to follow-up with the Cosmic Rhyme and begin reading "Born with a Bang" by Jennifer Morgan. This is also a great day to add in journal writing and art activities (make a moon drawing using black paper and white crayons). Remember this lesson is repeated from lower to upper elementary. With each presentation, the students gain a deeper experience and meaning.
Once you complete the lesson, it is time to add the first five science experiments to the science shelf. Students should begin exploring the scientific method as they conduct each experiment.
We hope you enjoy watching the faces of all your sweet angels and they experience the joy and magic of the Creation Story. We would love to see your pictures!
I survived the first week of school...again. You know how mothers always say you forget what labor is like after you have had your kids for a while which is the only reason you agree to do it again? Teachers are the same way about the first week of school. If teachers remembered the insanity of the first week of school, they would never repeat it.
Monday- get all students off the bus, signed in. Walk Kindergarteners and new 1st graders to class. There seem to be about 400 parents in the Preprimary hallway with their littles. Some parents are crying. You can't even walk down the hall. New parents are ushered off to the "Boo Hoo Breakfast". I teasingly tell some returning parents to go to Starbucks because they are standing in the middle of the hall gossiping after class starts. Then run around the school making sure every teacher knows how every child is getting home.
Finally sit at my desk and look out the window. A teacher assistant is carrying a 3 year old, who is crying. It is no doubt the child's first introduction to school. Then I see a second assistant carrying another 3 year old, also crying. I ask the librarian for some stuffed animals. I spend the next half hour handing out beanie babies to crying 3 year olds. Satisfied, I try to go to my desk again. A coworker exclaims as we both see a 3 year old run out the back door of his classroom (right in front of my window). We both go running out to get him, but the child did not get far. 2 other teachers had seen him. 4 of us had descended upon him all within a minute, all from opposite directions, like we were in some kind of cartoon. Next thing I know, it's time to send all the PreK students home, then soon after, go back to buses and load all the students onto their buses.
Tuesday- I promise myself I will get a lot accomplished. I promise myself I will take pictures of the kids working today! Nope. There is an endless stream of support service personnel that need to coordinate schedules with me. End up talking to people all day in between answering questions about new students.
Wednesday- Today is the day! I will get pretests done on some of my students! Nope. Car speeding runs into our school bus at the end of the drive. We run off to retrieve the kids from the bus. Takes an hour for us to return. We are sweaty and sticky. Then, the internet goes down. Can't even print. Manage to do a pretest on one of my new students who is an English Language Learner. Find out one of my other students has been tardy the past two days and is absent today! Means I will probably have to redo my entire schedule.
Thursday- When I try to walk down the Preprimary hallway, I am flagged down by a teacher who has a question about a student. I go back to my office to look up the student's information and it opens a puzzle box of questions to be answered. I attempt to do my pretests for my students but every time I start, the internet goes back down. Everyone seems annoyed today. I can tell all the teachers are exhausted. It is a frustrating day.
Friday- I try to actually finish some of the testing. I finish one student. ONE. She is a slow reader, and she has dyslexia, but she perseveres. She says it is the most she has ever read. She scores a lot higher than we expected so we are all (including the student) thrilled! It was my high note for the week.
By the end of the day, my mind is racing with the endless images of little faces from this week. I help clean up peepee when a 3 year old doesn't quite make it to the bathroom and guide another one to learn some new English phrases as she won't let go of my finger. My face is sore from smiling and greeting all the students in the hallway. I help get all the kids on the bus one last time for the week. Then I rush back to my office to help get testing groups ready for Monday.
On my phone, I keep track of my steps. I have logged almost 25,000 this week! Just at school.
By 6 PM- I am face down, clothes still on, bra still on, stretched out across my bed, snoring. This is why we forget what the first week of school is like.
It's almost that time! Time for classrooms to be filled with littles full of sweet laughter and excitement. As many teachers are busy prepping for back to school, we wanted to share a couple of ideas and insight.
A great way to start the new school year is to involve students in making the classroom rules. This helps create ownership while also having a voice in their own learning environment. We love this super cute example of the classroom rules posted around a heart with the smiling faces that fill the classroom. This is a creative way to exhibit the classroom rules daily without a negative connotation.
Teachers often enjoy starting the year with a writing prompt of, "Write about something fun or interesting you did over the summer." A caution for this writing prompt is that some of your students may not have had an opportunity to experience anything fun or exciting this summer. A fun twist on this prompt to ensure equity of voice would be to write about what they want to achieve this school year and to create an actionable goal plan.
Another super fun activity is to create peace jars filled with affirmations to place on the peace shelf. Students can choose an affirmation throughout the week when they need a little encouragement. Be sure to use a day of the week to fill the jars with more affirmations as needed.
Here's a super cute link to a freebie for the classroom affirmation jars:
Share with us! What are some fun and creative ways you welcome your sweet angels at the start of the new school year?
Animal Adaptations 4-Part Cards
While at the FPEA Convention, we had many homeschool parents ask us how to use the 4-part cards they purchased. This is an understandable question, so we have decided to follow-up with a blog detailing how to use 4-part cards with your child.
Introducing the Cards
When first introducing the cards to your child (Animal Adaptations is pictured above), you will conduct what is called a 3-period lesson.
If you get to the third period and the child is having difficulties remembering, you should go back to the second period for review. The child should have multiple exposures to the lesson since most 4-part cards introduce complex vocabulary.
After the 3-period lesson, you can choose to have your child respond as appropriate. They can copy the lesson into a copybook, draw a picture, or write about what term interests them the most. You can also choose to have the child simply put the lesson away for the day.
Now that your child has been introduced to the 4-part cards through the 3-period lesson, it is time for them to practice on their own. 4-part cards consist of: picture, definition, label, and control. Your child will match the picture, definition, and label, and use the control card to check their answer. If any of their answers are not correct, they simply fix them and then record in their copybook. Your child should do this multiple times until they are fluent with the terms. Once they feel like they have mastered the content, you should conduct the third period of the 3-period lesson to check understanding.
4-part card: control, picture, definition, label
Recording the 4-part cards can take multiple forms. Some children like recording in their copybooks by drawing the picture and writing the definitions with the label. Some children enjoy making booklets. Booklets are easy to create and a fun way to give a variation to traditional work. Simply cut small sheets of construction paper and staple together. The first page should be the title page with the name of the card work. Inside the booklet, the child draws the picture, writes the definition and term for each card in the set.
After your child has mastered the new terms and definitions, it is appropriate to offer an extension activity. Most often, the extension activity is conducting research on the topic of the 4-part cards or a specific term in the card set. For example, if your child just finished animal adaptations, they could choose to research a specific animal and the adaptation they use in their environment. How they choose to research and present the material can also take multiple forms. We suggest varying the research activities to keep interest. Research can be presented in paper format, posters, PowerPoint, or a fun newspaper article.
We have many Science 4-part cards available for download or already printed and mailed straight to you!
Behavioral Adaptions-Digital PDF
This Digital PDF downloadable includes:
FL Standard: SC.5.L.15.1
Next Generation Standard: 3-LS4-2
Stephanie Stephens and Holly Fitzharris are both Montessori educators- collectively with over 30 years of experience in education.