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Montessori Research

1 Apr

[EDIT: See? It’s been so crazy that I ended up posting this “March madness” post in April! Also, I am learning to let go and not be too precious about my writing on this blog. If it was for work or school, I’d be going over and over it obsessively, but these posts are just shot off bit by bit in between naps and when Freestyle is at the babysitter’s and I’m done my work (trying to keep to my resolutions!). I guess the most important thing is that I’m writing, which was one of the points of doing this blog in the first place!]


March madness indeed.

It’s been a busy month, but then, who does not claim to be always busy, busy, busy? Our month has been filled with generally good things, so I am not complaining. I’ve felt pretty featherbrained lately (though Biker would argue that it’s actually a chronic condition), with a lot of routine and event changes and rescheduling…it’s been a little  hectic and confusing, but I think things will settle in the next week or so.



“I find the term ‘featherbrained’ offensive and derogatory.”


I have been reading and researching Casa lessons recently. I found a Montessori wiki called Montessori Album that looks fantastic! It compiles all the Montessori lessons with photos and step-by-step instructions. It even includes extensions and other resources. I haven’t had a chance to browse through it, but so far I’m diggin’ it!


I’m also re-reading The Advanced Montessori Method I, a collection of Dr. Montessori’s writings about her educational philosophy and methods for children ages 3-6 years (translated from the original Italian to English in 1918!). I read it at the beginning of my Elementary training during our Casa crash course, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t remember a lot of it!

As this book is in the public domain you can read it free at Project Gutenberg or download the free Kindle version.


My other side interest is public Montessori education. When I first got into this, a concern of mine was that access to Montessori education was limited to those who could afford to pay private school tuition (my trainer once said that Montessori should be considered an alternative school rather than a private school). Although there are many wonderful Montessori blogs and other online resources for families to either homeschool or do some Montessori activities at home, that can also be limiting because there are families that may not have the time and resources to research, create materials, and present lessons to their children.

I only just started looking into this but so far I found that two public schools in Toronto have optional Montessori Casa and Grade 1 programs! I’m going to give them a call to get more details. A friend of mine remembers hearing of a French Montessori program in a public school but I haven’t looked into it. I don’t know what I’ll do with this information yet, but I’m just interested in how the Ministry of Education is incorporating Montessori into the public school system and if more Montessori programs in schools is even possible. How great would that be?!

Montessori Madmen, a Montessori advocacy group started by Montessori dads, is a great resource. Here’s their list of resources. Here’s one of their fun and informative  videos, Superwoman Was Already Here:



Happy New Year!

3 Jan

My Montessori-related Goals for 2013

  • Devote more time in researching, creating, and presenting Montessori lessons to Freestyle.
  • Research, create, and present Montessori Toddler lessons to Real Baby.
  • Continue reading up on Montessori, current educational best practices.
  • Make a list of materials that I will need for first year Casa work. Write a letter to send to my family and friends asking if they have any of these items to donate to the cause!
  • Look into a Casa albums to purchase.

Affordable Montessori at home WITHOUT the dollar store…

29 Mar

… is it possible?


These look just like the beautiful (but pricey!) Nienhuis Montessori materials boxes! But for just $5 each!


There are so many ways to make your own Montessori materials for the classroom or the home and it is possible to do so without spending too much money.

When I was teaching, the dollar store was my best friend! With a limited classroom budget (and I was lucky to have that, even!), I had to make those dollars stretch to buy things for the classroom, craft supplies, etc.  Not surprisingly, I ended up using some of my own money too- and we all know that that’s not unusual for teachers.

However, recently I’ve decided  to avoid shopping at dollar stores after asking myself some questions, including:

  • How do they sell ALL that stuff for so CHEAP? Well, I’ve read about the low wages paid to the dollar store workers (and long, long work shifts) and how they purchase wholesale items (or items that are unsellable at other stores)…but other than that, those super cheap items must be made in sweatshops if they can still make a profit on a $1 item, right?!
  • If the bottom line is, well, the bottom line, how likely are health and safety standards and regulations met for both the products and the workers? Especially for places churning out cheap items that they export for less than $1?
  • Plastic is not safe. A lot of chemicals and other toxins are used to make plastic. Yes, there are now BPA- and phthalate-free plastic options now, and it’s almost impossible to avoid all plastic. I just do my best to avoid having it in the house. Now, all these regulations for “safe” plastics…how strictly do you think they’re followed in other countries and in sweatshops?
  • The dollar stores now have such a wide selection of products that you could really kit out most of your classroom with their items. However, the quality of these products are most likely very low and Montessori materials should be beautiful and durable.
  • Montessori education teaches the child to consider the impact of his or her actions on the world around them by emphasizing the interconnection between the child and the world. If I believe that dollar store items are made in sweatshops, how can I then use those items as Montessori materials?

I’ve been trying to look up investigative articles on sweatshops and dollar stores online but haven’t found any useful ones yet. If I do, I’ll post it here.

I did find these tips on how to avoid sweatshop toys.


Here are some of the ways I’m going to try to do this (not very groundbreaking ideas, I admit, but it’s something at least!):

  • I just started doing Montessori activities at home, so I’ve been able to use a lot of what I already had at home.

I just realized that this bread cutting set that we got as a housewarming gift...

...had a tray that was perfect for carrying materials! Looks just like the wooden trays in the classroom!

  • Make a list of materials needed for future lessons & activities and beg, borrow, and steal from friends and family. I think I’ll send out a mass email once or twice a year with a list of items that I’m looking for and see what happens. Maybe even post a note on my mom & baby group forum if I think it will help. People love to help (especially if it involves them getting rid of old stuff that they don’t want!).
  • If I need to buy things, buy from other stores. I think it’s pretty hard to know where everything comes from (especially when companies get X item from company A that gets a part of that item from company B, which was put together in company C).
  • If I see things that are on crazy sale, I’ll buy it! Just the other day I found the boxes at the top of the post in the sale section at Chapter’s (I always take a look there!). They’re all a bit banged up, but usable. Original price was $30 and the green box was on sale for $5. The white boxes were $10 but I asked the manager if she would sell them to me all for $5 and she agreed! Woo hoo! I like them a lot because they look like the boxes that some Montessori materials are stored within (Grammar Boxes, Bead Bar Boxes).


So, my question still stands: Is it possible to run an affordable Montessori program at home without shopping at the dollar store? 

Answer: I don’t know yet…but I’m going to try!


Any other ideas on how to make affordable Montessori materials without shopping at the dollar store?

“Montessori Mornings”

28 Jan

Ooh, I’m excited.

Starting next week, a friend who has a toddler (close to Freestyle’s age) will come over once a week so that I can show them Montessori-inspired activities and games. I’m calling it “Montessori Mornings”! I think this new routine (in combination with this blog) will really help me get going!

So, this means that I’ll be making more Montessori-related updates (and less about my trips to the liquor store). I’ll write about making materials, how the activities work, how it all went down, and photos! Yay, everyone likes photos.

(Honestly, this may make me seem unsophisticated, but I find that I am more willing to read blog posts if there is at least one picture included. Don’t judge!)

* * *

I was rereading the first few posts that I’ve written and have realized that I have yet to find a proper blogging “voice.” Does that make sense? I guess I mean that while I know how to tailor my writing for essays, fiction, letters, etc., I haven’t figured out how I should write for a blog. Like, that one post I wrote about the First Plane of Development is just…ugh. Montessori philosophy is such an interesting topic and I sort of quickly threw in some old essay excerpts (and whatever else I could come up with during Freestyle’s nap that day) and it became a very long and not very interesting read, just so I would have something to post!

I’ll try harder to do better. Don’t leave me! I mean, it’s not like my entire self-worth is tied to the success of this blog and if it fails I will want to curl up in a ball and cry, stifling my wails with the back of my fist so that Freestyle and Biker don’t freak out and occasionally crying out, “Why me, Lord?!”

Wow, I think I just found my blogging voice: chirpy yet slightly neurotic.

Well, have a great (and snowy!) weekend, everyone*! 🙂 🙂 🙂


* And by “everyone,” I mean Miss E, because I’m not sure anyone else will be reading this on a regular basis other than you. Thanks, hon.

Where Does Time Go?

26 Jan

A lampshade on the head? I thought this behaviour wouldn't start until she was in high school at least!


How do bloggers with kids do it? I know people without kids have other responsibilities too, but I feel like there’s never time with Freestyle on the loose!

Luckily, when I was planning on starting this blog, I tried to write about 2 months worth of posts (I was planning to post once a week). I can only really write when Free’s sleeping. Today, nap time was a bit wonky, so no time there. Also, I usually want to do other things when she’s napping (and yes, sometimes I want to nap too!).

When it’s bedtime, there are still more things I need to do, times when I just want to veg out, and, I suppose spend time with Biker.

Well, I’ll give it a try on the weekend. I have my camera back too, so I can take some photos. I have a few activities that we’re going to try out over the next few days.

* * *

On another note, it’s the Year of the Dragon! You can click on the link to figure out which sign you or your child is by going using their calculator.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Hope this year is filled with good health, good fortune, and GOOD TIMES for us all!

A Late Start

4 Jan

My initial idea was to open a part-time Montessori program in my home. It would have been perfect!

However, since I live in a condo, there is a regulation that does not allow businesses to operate in the units. So, I couldn’t, in good conscious, go ahead with it (open a Montessori program illegally and then go on to teach children right from wrong?!).

I had begun planning and researching: planning the space (convert our dining room), making a list of materials to buy/make, reading books and writing up a curriculum (including themes), and looking at the different Toddler albums available for purchase (I’m trained for elementary). All this came to a grinding halt after the very disappointing news specified above.

Now that the new year has begun, it just hit me that Freestyle will be 18 months this month! Already? How did that happen (apparently, Freestyle will have to be taught time from someone else)?!

My hope is that this blog will help me get my butt in gear!