Tag Archives: montessori lesson

Learning Letters: The Sound Game

27 Mar

Turtle, banana, jingle bell, pencil, fish.


Freestyle is becoming more interested in letters and words. I try to point out letters wherever we see them (every time she sees the box of Cheerios she always points and says, “A, B, C” now!). I’ve also been calling her attention to words in books by running my finger under them as I read and sometimes she does it too as she pretends to read by making up a story based on the picture!

In Montessori, letter sounds are introduced first. This is better preparation for reading and writing. Letter names are introduced later (and from what I’ve read/heard, most children do not have any trouble or confusion with this). Freestyle knows the alphabet song from the children’s programs that we’ve attended and from me singing it to her, but recently I’ve been trying to sing the sounds to her instead. (I remember being so impressed that my Montessori trainer could do it so quickly! Now I can too! Go me!)

So, I decided to introduce the Sound Game to her (note: this wasn’t in Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years. I found this exercise on infomontessori.com.). The Sound Games are a precursor to the Sandpaper Letters.



Freestyle asked, “Me eat b-b-nana?” 🙂


The Sound Game

(This is just what I did after some time of pointing out the first sounds of different things in our environment from time to time. A proper introduction and detailed description  of all six Sound Game presentations, including the purpose, age of child, and control of error, available here. )





Few objects around the home that begin with a single letter sound (blends such as shoe and stick are more complicated and should be introduced later)

What We Did:

1. I told Freestyle that we were going to play a game.

2. She unrolled her “work mat” and got a tray.

3. We went around the house and I asked her to look for specific objects that I already planned to use and knew where to find. We used a turtle figurine, banana, fish toy, pencil crayon, and a jingle bell.

4. Returning to the mat, we set down the tray and I asked Free to set out the objects in a row.

5. I asked Free to name all the objects and I repeated it, putting an emphasis on the first sound. “Yes, that’s a f-fish. Do you hear the first sound of the word ‘fish’? It’s ‘f’.” I was careful to say only the proper sound of the word (just the “f,” sounding like a quick puff of air) and not drag it out so that it sounded like “fuh” (incorrect).

6. After she heard all the first sounds of the objects, we started our game. I would ask her to give me the object that started with a specific sound. We went through all the objects.

7. She seemed ready to finish the game after we did it once (I could tell because she started rolling around on the ground and then wanted to ride on the work mat like a magic carpet!), so we stopped. Later, however, we did play again with different objects.


We’ll repeat this again and I plan on using the infomontessori site as a guide to continue with the rest of the Sound Games. It’s a great site and I added it to my list of Montessori resources.


Learning to Glue (Mess-free!)

24 Jan

Freestyle has recently been very interested in learning to use scissors and glue after using them at the drop-in school program that we attend. Since they were set out and ready to go, I didn’t do a sit-down formal lesson on scissor use (definitely not necessary to do this for everything a toddler needs to learn, I feel!). I just showed her quickly how to hold them: thumb in the smaller handle hole and her pointer and middle in the wider one (though she is using three fingers right now…is that normal because their fingers are so small? I wonder if I should correct it or let it be for now).

I also made sure she knew how to carry them if she needed to: close the scissors and cover the outside of the blades with your hand, keeping your arm stiff while pointing the handles of the scissors towards the ground. She still needs reminders with this one! It is unsettling to see her walking towards me with them open in her hands!

For gluing, I liked how the Casa students in one of my old schools were taught to use white glue and taught Freestyle that method. I liked how they did it because it was neat and efficient– the child doesn’t end up using gobs of glue and turning their work into a wet and wrinkly mess. I remember when I was a kid, I didn’t like using white glue because it would make the paper wrinkly. When I was in elementary we used  glue sticks more often and I liked how much neater it was, but I do think that white glue is easier (thought messier) for younger kids to use.

So, without much further ado…


How to Neatly Use White Glue for Preschoolers 


I don’t have any post-its at home right now, so I just used yellow construction paper and tape for show.


Purpose: To learn to glue neatly and efficiently. A skill that will be used over and over for crafts and school projects! Fine motor skills and precision in movement will be used.



White glue

Glue mat (an old placemat works well)

Post-it notes

Flat, rounded toothpicks (I couldn’t find any so picked up these bamboo cocktail forks to use for now. They’re large and easy for Freestyle to hold.)


Cloth (to wipe up glue mat)


What to do:

1. Have all materials ready on a tray . Ask your child bring it to the table.

2. Either have pre-cut paper (or other easy to glue items) ready, or have your child cut up some paper to glue (if she already knows how to use scissors).

3. Set out the glue mat and place the page that she will be gluing things onto on the mat. Stick a post-it onto the top right-hand corner of the mat (or left-hand if she is left-handed!).

4. Show her how to squeeze a small amount of glue onto the post-it. (That’s the beauty of using the post-it…your child will have to learn to only use up the small amount that can fit onto it!)


5. Show your child how to use the toothpick to take a small amount of glue and dab it onto the corners of the piece of paper that she wants to glue onto the page.

6. Turn the paper around and press the corners onto the page!

7. Repeat!

8. Dispose of toothpick and post-it after the activity. Wipe and dry glue mat before putting it away.


Go further:

Here’s a great post about using glue with preschoolers on the Teach Preschool blog.


Water Pouring Exercise

22 Nov

Water Pouring Exercise for Toddlers 

Age: Approx. 15 months + . As always, all children are different, so you can observe your child’s readiness. Initially, I introduced pouring to Freestyle using dry items when she was 20 months.

Purpose: This is a Practical Life exercise. The child is developing hand-eye coordination, concentration, practicing aiming for a target, and fine motor skills. If there are spills, she learns to clean up after herself. Once she is able to control her movements and pour accurately, she can pour her own water during meal and snack time, another step towards independence! She can also offer to pour a drink for others (Grace  & Courtesy).



2 small pitchers, ideally they will be identical

(I used two creamers that I found these two creamers at a thrift store…$0.99 each! They had shelves and shelves of old tea sets and other items that could be used for Practical Life activities)


Small cloth or sponge to wipe up spills



What to do:

1. Have your child carry the tray with all the materials to a table. She will sit in front of the tray and you should sit to her right if you are right-handed, to her left if you are left-handed.

2. Fill the pitcher on the right with a small amount of water. Demonstrate how to carefully pour the water from the right pitcher to the left, and then back again (more details in step 3).

3. Show her how to wrap the fingers of her right hand around the handle (her pointer and middle finger will be wrapped around the handle while her thumb rests on top of it). Have her support the other side of the pitcher with the pointer and middle fingers of her left hand.

4. Allow her to carefully pour the water from one pitcher to the next, and then back again.

5. If there is a spill, that’s okay! It’s just an opportunity for your child to learn that she will need to take more care next time and also to take responsibility in cleaning up after herself.

6. Let her repeat as many times as she’d like– which will probably be a lot!


Control of Error: No water will be spilled.

Vocabulary: pour/pouring, pitcher, handle, spout. Freestyle loved the spout and kept saying, “Spou…water come from!” 🙂


Freestyle really enjoyed this activity but during our second try she wasn’t able to control her excitement and was lifting up the pitcher in the air with one hand and cheering after she finished pouring. After I tried to gently remind her that we needed to be careful, showed her again how to hold the pitcher, and giving her a fair warning about what the natural consequence of this behaviour would be, I ended up having to stop the activity and take it away. While I’m glad she likes doing it, she will have to learn that there is an acceptable way to handle the pitcher and that wasn’t it! Of course she was very upset but…them’s the breaks, kid.


Go further:

  • When your child is ready, she can start pouring her own water from a small pitcher into a glass for snack time and meals! Later, she can do this for the rest of the family– imagine how proud your child will be to be able to do such an important job!


The Sweeping Square

23 Aug



Like many toddlers, Freestyle likes to help do “grown up” things. In the kitchen, she can help with basic food prep and has begun helping me set the table by bringing the utensils and smaller plates/bowls to the table. Recently, Freestyle has started bringing her own plates and cups back to the counter by the sink after she’s finished eating all on her own! When she first did it, I admit I was a bit scared that she’d drop it (I was in the other room and found the plate and glass by the sink) but she’s doing well!

She also likes to wipe spills and sweep the kitchen floors and walls (though we’re working on that!). I am thinking of setting up a dish washing station for her soon…just have to figure the details out first.

For sweeping, originally I got her this little broom:




However, she likes using the broom we use too. It’s not too tall, so it sort of works for her. Since she enjoys using it, I want to encourage this helpful behaviour!

She can sweep with this broom if I am helping her, but recently I’ve been trying to get her to sweep on her own. To make it easier, I used some brightly-coloured tape and make a rectangle outline on the floor (I was going to make a square, but the area I chose ended with rectangles).

I’m showing her now how to sweep into the rectangle. Then I help her hold the dustbin while she sweeps the dirt into it.

It’s a slow start so far, but that’s what practice is for, right? 🙂




Pincer Grip Activity

19 Jul


Wooden Peg Pincer Grip Activity 

Age: 12 months + (Again, all children develop differently, so you can introduce this to your child earlier or later, depending on their readiness.)

Purpose: The pincer grip (the ability to use the thumb and index finger to grasp an object) is an important fine motor skill development. Activities that exercise the pincer grip prepare the child to hold a pencil (muscle development and control, coordination, purposeful movement). Dr. Montessori believed that exercising these muscles would prevent the child from becoming fatigued when he started to write.


Wooden clothes pegs

Container (large enough to hold about 10 pegs with a lip that is narrow enough for the peg to be clipped upon)



What to do:

1. Place the wooden clothes pegs into the container and put it on a tray. Have child bring the tray to the table (or workspace on the floor) when ready.

2. Pour out the pegs onto the right side of the tray (or the left, if child is left-handed).

3. Show your child how to use her thumb and index finger to squeeze open the clothes peg and then clip it onto the container lip.

4. When she has clipped all the pegs onto the container, she can unclip and put them into the container one at a time.


Vocabulary introduced/used: clothes peg, clip. 


Go further:

  • Use tongs and tweezers to transfer small objects from one bowl to another. Objects could include: pom poms, cotton balls, sugar cubes, beads, etc.

Introducing Water Transfer Activities

5 Jul

Materials: 2 containers, 1 turkey baster, 1 towel.


Water Transferring Activity for Toddlers 

Age: 18 months + (As always, all children are different- for this activity they do need to have the dexterity to squeeze the turkey baster. Sponge option for younger children below.)

Purpose: This is a fun activity for toddlers since it involves water! Working with water is a great sensory experience and is good exercise for their hand muscles and fine motor skills. It is a Practical Life exercise because it teaches children how to control the movement of water.



2 containers

Turkey baster



What to do:

1. Lay out the towel and fill one container with a few inches of water. Place the two containers and turkey baster on the towel.

2. Show your child how to hold the baster by the bulb and draw up water by squeezing it and releasing the pressure on the bulb.

3. Move the full baster over the second container and squeeze the water out.

4. Repeat!

Freestyle decided to turn this into a pouring exercise too!

Vocabulary introduced/used: squeeze, baster, bulb.


Go further:

  • For younger children (even as young as 6 months!), you can simply show them how to use a sponge to absorb water and squeeze it back out again.
  • When they’re ready, you can show them how to use the sponge to soak up the water from one container and squeeze it into another.
  • Once your child has mastered this activity, they can begin learning to control their movements using an eye dropper and smaller containers. Place the materials on a tray and include a small sponge for clean up.

Aid to Life Website

1 Jul

I just discovered a new website that I would highly recommend to anyone interested in applying Montessori principles to their child’s upbringing.


Aid to Life

” Aid to Life offers clear, simple, straightforward advice that is easy to understand and most importantly easy to apply.”


They have a lot of information that is written clearly and organized into four groups: Movement, Communication, Independence, and Self Discipline. Currently the site is focused more on Birth – Age 3, but it looks like it will expand to older ages in the future.

Check it out!


Happy Canada’s Day, everyone! 

Good Food Box

30 Jun

Fresh from the farm!


Finally, finally I got around to ordering a Good Food Box.

“The Good Food Box is a project of FoodShare Toronto, a Toronto non-profit organization whose mission is to work with communities to improve access to affordable and healthy food. Working “from field to table,” FoodShare runs many programs that focus on the entire system that puts food on our tables: from the growing, processing and distribution of food to its purchasing, cooking and consumption.”

~ from the FoodShare brochure


Biker was making fun of how excited I was, but it’s such a great program. In our area, we only get the Box every two weeks. I go pick it up every other Thursday at the closest drop-off to me (about 15 mins. away). We decided to go for the Small Organic Box ($24) instead of the Small Good Food Box ($13) since it’s not every week. We’d just do what we regularly do on the off weeks and buy a mix of organic (especially for Freestyle) and regular produce at the store.



Here’s what we got in our box this week:

  • 1 Bunch Organic Bananas (Fair Trade)
  • 1 Bunch Organic Broccoli *
  • 1 Organic Cabbage *
  • 1 Bunch Organic Garlic Green *
  • 1 Bunch Organic Kale Green *
  • 1 Head Organic Lettuce *
  • 1 Bunch Organic Onion Fresh *
  • 4 Organic Oranges
  • 3 Organic Pears Packham
  • 1 lb Organic Zucchini *

The starred items are local produce, picked up directly from the farms (within 50KM from our location). All of that organic food for $24! It would have been so much more if I had bought it at the grocery store!


Eventually I would like to start a small garden in our little backyard. Growing our own fruits and vegetables would be a great learning experience for Freestyle. She would get to see the entire life cycle of plants and start gaining an understanding of the process of how we get our food. This is also an important step towards understanding nutrition and healthy eating.

In Montessori Elementary classes, there is a lesson called “What Does the Farmer Need?”  The purpose is to show the children how we get our food and also begin an appreciation about how many people work together to do this work.


Photo Credit


We have cards that depict the various people involved and lay them out as we discuss their involvement and the process of making bread. The people include: the Farmer, Transporter, Miller, Packager, Transporter, Baker, Oven Tender, Transporter, and Green Grocer. By the end, all the cards will be laid out in a long line and we look back and see how many people worked so hard to get our food to us.


Other ways to get children to involved and engaged:

  • Grow fruits and veggies in your home. If you have a small yard or no yard, consider container gardening. Talk to experienced gardeners about which are the easiest to grow!
  • Join a food box program. In the GTA we have Good Food Box, Front Door Organics, Fresh City Farms, and many more!
  • Visit a local farm.
  • Pick-your-own fruit.
  • Take them grocery shopping and take the time to talk to them about the food that you are purchasing. This will probably mean that you’ll have to give yourself a lot of extra time at the store! Then Involve them in meal preparation so that they see how whole foods become full meals.
  • If that is too much, teach your child to prepare his/her own snacks. Something simple like cutting up vegetables and fruit.
  • Farmer’s Markets.
  • (For older children) Teach them to read the Nutrition Facts on labels. Depending on their age, you can talk about how our bodies need a balance of different nutrients, minerals, healthy fats, etc. to keep healthy and look at the facts on the labels and ingredient list.
  • Also take a look at the PLU codes on produce:

Photo Credit


Any other ideas? 🙂

The Three Period Lesson

11 Jun



In the Montessori Casa (3-6 year olds) and Elementary (Gr. 1 +) classrooms, new vocabulary and concepts are introduced via the Three Period Lesson.

Here’s a brief explanation of the three periods, introducing geometric solids as an example (this lesson is generally introduced in Casa and I have also reviewed it in the beginning of the year for Grade 1 students).


Montessori Geometric Solid material. Made of wood and all painted blue so that the only difference between each object is the shape.

Photo Credit


First Period: Name it! 

“This is a…”

Introduce an object by isolating it for the child then pointing to it and giving its name. Objects may be introduced using concrete materials or nomenclature cards (pictures below), but of course it’s best to use the materials or real life objects for the initial presentation (a real live flower instead of a picture of one).

Example: You bring a tray of geometric solid materials to a mat and set it in front of the child. Take out the sphere solid and set it on the mat. Say to the child, “This is a SPHERE. Sphere. Can you say sphere?” Have child repeat the word and allow him or her to handle it, explaining the features at an appropriate level.


Second Period: Recognize it! 

“Show me the…”

Once the object/concept is introduced, the second step is recognition. This step is usually a separate lesson and will most likely last longer. The child may need review or more time working with the material and this is when the teacher would assess their progress and provide more time and support.

Montessori students also use Nomenclature Cards to learn new concepts. The cards consist of a picture card (a photo or a very simple drawing), a label/name card, and a story/description card (not pictured and usually used for older children who can read).


Montessori Nomenclature Cards: pictures & labels.

Photo Credit


Introducing the Nomenclature Cards after this initial presentation is useful because they can match the pictures to the correct labels. The Control of Error could either be the matching booklet that had all the cards in order or on the back of each card there were matching stickers (by number or colour, for example). The Control of Error allows the children to independently check their own work and correct themselves.


Nomenclature Cards (“Parts of the Fish”): The book is at the top and is used to check work. Below is the picture card, name label, and description. The pictures are purposely kept simple and are repeated on each card. The only difference between the pictures is the part of the fish that is being described is red, isolating the concept.

Photo Credit


In elementary, we used the story cards. The children read the information to learn more and then transcribed it into their notebooks.

The child is beginning to associate the name and the object, and noticing the different characteristics of the object.

Example: Point to the sphere and say, “Show me the sphere.” or “Put the sphere in front of you.” The child points to the sphere or follows your instruction correctly.


Third Period: Know it!

“What is this?”

By the third period lesson (a separate lesson once the second period is mastered), the child can name the object on her own. Formal testing does not align with Montessori philosophy. This Third Period is one way teachers will “test” for comprehension.

Example: Point to the sphere and ask, “What is this?” The child gives you the name, demonstrating her knowledge.


Three Period Lessons in Toddler Language Development: An Observation

As I talk to Freestyle and point out the names to different things around her, I noticed that I would naturally incorporate the Three Period Lesson when I taught her new words.

For example, when she first noticed dogs (she loves dogs!), I would say, “Look at the dog. That is a dog. Can you say ‘dog‘?” (First Period).

Then, if we ever saw dogs in other places, such as in picture books, I would point it out and say, “This is a dog, just like the one we saw outside! Dog. Can you say ‘dog‘?”

Later, if we were out for a walk and someone was walking their dog OR we were reading a book and there was a dog in the picture, I can ask Freestyle, “Where is the dog?” and she would be able to point to it and repeat the word “dog.” (Second Period)

Now when she sees a dog anywhere (in real life or in pictures), Freestyle will point to it and say, “Dog!” (Third Period). Or, if we asked her, “What is that?” she can answer correctly. The word dog is now set in her vocabulary and she can recognize dogs (even though there are various types, though she does not know the different breeds yet, of course!) in different contexts.


Dr. Maria Montessori

Photo Credit


When I realized that I was doing this, I laughed because I feel that the Montessori philosophy of education is so natural and makes so much sense!


If you have younger children, do you notice that you naturally use a version of the Three Period Lesson when teaching them language? 


And now for a very timely lesson…

25 May


Today we hit a record-breaking temperature of 30 degrees celsius! So of course I thought it would be a perfect day to post about how to teach your toddler to put on her own jacket. Ha ha…

In my own defense, I actually taught this to Freestyle a few weeks ago when the weather was still up and down and some days she did need a jacket. 🙂


How to Put On A Jacket! 

Age: 18 months + (an estimate only, use your own judgement because all children develop differently!)

Purpose: This is a Practical Life exercise– Care of Self. This helps build their independence and take pride in their appearance (and their ability to dress themselves!).

Materials: A jacket.


What to do:

I started by using my own jacket and showing Freestyle how to do it. Then I placed her jacket beside mine and we did it together!

1. Lay your child’s jacket flat on the floor in front of her, upside-down.

2. Show her how to put her hands into the sleeves and then lift the jacket up and over her head.

3. Help her finish stretch out her arms through the sleeves.


Go further:


  • I taught this separately to Freestyle when she was younger, when I still helped her with her jacket. I would insert the zipper for her and then hold the edge of the coat down (like in the photo) and tell her to pull the zipper up.