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A fun Montessori summer Break

As you might know from following my social media pages, I took a challenge this summer, I created a small Montessori inspired classroom for a 4 and 9 year old on a budget. Is been a challenge but the moment the offer was made I took it without a doubt, It’s been a work in progress since day 1 but the satisfaction and the excitement on the kids face is priceless.

At first i stated building the environment for little A (4yrs old), he needed a lot of structure and the main target areas were language, math and fine motor skills. I’m so proud of his work, so far we’re in week four of our summer break and he’s already learning his sounds and works independently. When he’s out in restaurants or at home he constantly ask for Rainbow writing ūüôā

Here’s a picture of his best piece of rainbow writing and cutting exercise

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In the other hand with miss K (9yrs old) it’s been an awesome experience. I used to teach middle and high school level before I started with Montessori. So far we’re working on mastering long division, and trying to get better with the multiplication tables, and dictionary skills.

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We’re now on our 1st month of summer classes and the improvement on both is notorious!! Little A. now knows 12 of his ABC sounds and is getting much better at rainbow writing, now were working hard on¬†recognizing¬†the numbers and quantities.

Miss K. is doing fantastic on long division, she’s doing 20 problems in 5 min and beats the clock ūüėÄ somethings she struggles to start but is part of the process. We also started addition of fractions and she’s grasping the concept super fast!

 

Montessori letter sound drawers

During my training I was not taught about sound drawers, never even heard about them! We met when I started working at the school I work now, the moment I saw them  we connected, it was like love at second sight, for me.

A Montessori classroom is divided by subject areas but the main areas are math, language, practical life and sensorial. In these areas you will find a lot of supplemental material, meaning not everything on the shelves is Montessori or made by a Montessori company, is mostly made by the teachers, and so are the sound drawers. They work so nicely and add a great amount of reinforcement to the language curriculum in the classroom.

In my classroom we have 2 drawer boxes, one like the picture below and another one with all the letters in the alphabet which we call the “Alphabet drawer box”. We start by using the alphabet drawer, the purpose is to teach and reinforce beginning sounds and vocabulary enrichment. In this lesson each drawer has about 5 picture cards with a specific beginning sound, for example “A-apple, arm, airplane, arrow, alligator”¬†and the letter “A” from the moveable alphabet. We grab 2 or 3 drawers at a time and sort out the pictures, for more details check out my post about Montessori Pink series lessons and games.

The other drawer box looks like this

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This drawer box is more specific and is mainly introduced with the Montessori Blue series because of the blends and the vowel combinations. Each drawer contains about 7 picture and word cards, and the purpose is for the student to match them correctly, I recommend not introducing this drawer until all the sounds have been mastered, along with the Montessori Pink Series.  The rows are color coded like instructed by Maria Montessori,  vowels are red, blends are blue, and digraphs are green. Is extremely important to take into consideration he readiness of the child before introducing this lesson.

You can find the drawer box for $20. Like I said, in my classroom we have 2 drawer boxes, one like the picture and another one with all the letters in the alphabet. Make your own labels based on your classroom needs and keep in mind that every lesson is the beginning and end of something new.

Montessori Pink series lessons and games

This is a continuation of the Montessori Inspired reading series post where I explained how to start the Montessori Pink reading series.

pink series

I have been asked lately, How come my child is not reading the blends properly, after we’ve¬†done all the pink series work? Well, blends and digraphs do come after the Montessori Pink Series, and are part of the Montessori Blue reading series, which is the second step in teaching a child how to read using the Montessori method. A blend is two letters together that create a new sound, like ch-chair, sh-shoe, pl-plane; so is very important to have mastered all the sounds and letter recognition before moving on to the Montessori Blue series.

Maria Montessori’s philosophy encouraged independence, order, and freedom within limits, to allow the child to make a choice of the material he/she wishes to use to enrich and provide a deeper level of development. If the child is not ready for such material it should not be introduced.

Throughout time I have found that rearranging of lessons and creativity allows for a deeper sense of exploration, which I have noticed, lets the child see things they have never seen before, so Is extremely important to observe and be aware of the needs of the child. With that being said, I like to add a few variations to my Montessori Pink series before we move on to the Blue series.

What I love about the Montessori Pink series is how versatile you can make it, using CVC words, picture cards, objects and the moveable alphabet. If you need help on how to start the Montessori Pink Series just go back to my previous post. Remember, in order for you to add variations and modifications the child must know all the ABC sounds and recognize the letters.

I like to start by grabbing a few¬†drawers from our ABC sound drawers, or to be more specific, you can work with vowels only. Mix all the pictures at the bottom of the rug, place the moveable alphabet letters on the top, and let the child match the picture with the beginning letter sound. And remember you can DIY your moveable alphabet ūüôā

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Another lesson I like to incorporate is what I call “Mystery word”. In a container I make 5 words and add a blindfold. The point of the lesson is for the child to explore the letters only using the tactile sense, and to try to make words out of the letters. After a while, change the words or maybe add miniature objects. I got the letter from an old Melissa & dough game I had laying around.

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My kids and I love glue and scissors, so I made this booklet for them. The idea is to identify the name of the pictures, cut out the letters and glue them to build words. Im not very computer savvy so I’m still trying to¬†figure out a way to make the file downloadable and share it in my TPT account, any tips and advise will be greatly appreciated it.

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Everything that involves a tactile experience is a hit in my class, so I made this sand writing box for under $6. I have seen a lot of different styles so just get creative, the kids will love it.

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Here are few more lessons to reinforce beginning sounds and letter recognition. The purpose of a Montessori environment is to let the child be free and happy with his work; so if you already introduced pink series and your child is not getting the concept of Montessori blends then is simply because he/she is not ready. Get creative with the Montessori Pink series and spend a few more time on it.

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Montessori 3 period lesson

In the Montessori classroom we introduce new lessons to children when we have assessed their knowledge and readiness to move on the next lesson, and the best way to introduce and “test” the child’s knowledge¬†is by doing a 3 period lesson.

Always do a 3 period lesson when introducing new material, is the Montessori way to introduce a new lesson and engage the child in the acquiring of new concepts. The 3 period lesson is very simple to preform but you most follow all the steps to make it successful. I usually start the lesson with just a few items or picture cards, like the “Geometric solid” lesson, only start with 5 shapes at a time. If is something like “Household items” lessons, then add a few more than 5 because the child is more likely to be familiar with a few of the items; the point of the lesson is to introduce new material and make it challenging.

Before you start the lesson be sure to have all the materials required ready, and always consider the readiness of the child. The 3 period lesson involves 3 easy steps:

The first step is called the¬†Naming period. This period is short and simple, just give a name to each object or picture card you are working with and point at it. Start with the first one Ex: the picture of a dog, say: “Dog, and point to the dog” be sure to repeat it several times slowly and clear. Once you have named all the objects or picture cards one at a time, review them one last time by saying each name and pointing at it.

Over time I have read that we tend to remember items at the beginning and end of lists, I have tested this theory and is true :D, so I recommend to place the objects or picture cards you think your child is familiar with at the beginning or end, and the new ones in the middle.

The second period is called¬†Recognition and Association.¬†This period is much longer than the first one because of the rearranging of the objects or picture cards. The involvement of movement helps to solidify the child’s recognition and makes the lesson more interactive which will make it succesful for the child. Let’s pretend we are talking about a lesson with animal cards:

  1. ¬†rearrange the cards and ask the child to show you¬†a specific card “Please show me the dog”
    • Repeat this step until you have asked the child for all the animal cards.

Get creative! Ask the child to grab the object or picture card for you, to make the sound of the animal, or to place it somewhere else in the rug.

The third period is called¬†Recall.¬†This is the “testing” period where you have a chance to know if the child successfully learn and achieved the objective of the lesson. ¬†Place the objects or picture cards in front of the child and ask “what is this?” and repeat with all of them.

If the child cannot recall the names just say them again and very casually end the lesson, ask the child to help you clean up, or put it back in the shelf. Be sure to not let the child know he wan’t successful or that you just preformed a test.¬†¬†Also, practice by yourself giving a 3 period lesson before you do it with a child, and remember the child will do everything you showed, so placing of objects/lesson and wording are extremely important.

DIY wedding signs

Planning a great wedding on a budget is tough but thank God for weekends, family and friends, good drinks and awesome food. Our wedding date is approaching fast for all the things we want to DIY like seating charts, chandeliers, save the dates, signs, favors … the list goes on and on, so we get together one weekend a month to accomplish a few projects. This past weekend we got started on the chandelier that we found last time we got together, finished the wedding signs, and assembled our save the dates, is all starting to come along and I’m secretly counting down the days.

The last time we got together we were able to assembled the pallets to make 2 signs, we started with 3 pieces of wood from a pallet, sanded them down, stained them, and cut them in half. For the support in the back and standing stick (pic 3) we used small wood pieces we had laying around, Ive seen then at home depot for about $2.00. The cost of buying a sign like this is roughly $20-30 dollars and I’m glad to say we made 2 signs for free.

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To stain them we used a dark wood mahogany stain we had at home, I believe we got it from Home Depot. For the color of the letters I had a Martha Stuart multi-surface satin paint wedding cake color. I would say between stain and paint you can spend $10.

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They signs will stand with a few white helium balloons attached to guide our guest over to the reception. I’m so excited…

We also started working on the chandelier. we decided to DIY because the prices are outrageous, the cheapest one we found was $175 and we didn’t think it was worth that much money. Here’s a sneak peak … can’t wait to share the finished product.

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Montessori inspired reading series – Pink series

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I absolutely love the approach Maria Montessori took on language development, the method is absolutely genius and allows you and the child to play around with it as the need emerges. Coming to USA from a non-English speaking country has very difficult for me, and I wished I was thought English using phonics the way Maria Montessori did, it would’ve been so much easier for me to learn a second language.

The method is the same everywhere, what varies is the way is divided and presented to the child. I‚Äôve seen some people use ‚Äúfamily boxes‚ÄĚ and others ‚Äúreading series‚ÄĚ both are different from each other but have the same purpose. I was taught with ‚ÄúReading series‚ÄĚ and I have made some adjustments to mine over time.

The Montessori Reading Series is composed of 3 categories: Pink, Blue, and Green. Pink is the first one and it includes CVC words (Constant Vowel Consonant), beginning sounds, ending sounds, and rhyming. Blue series has the all the blends and digraphs split into subcategories, and the green series has long vowels or CVCV (E) words, (Consonant Vowel Consonant Vowel or silent e), and sight words. It sounds like a lot but don’t worry, I’ll walk you thru it.

The first step to teaching a child to read is to introduce the alphabet phonetically and allow them to discover different words with a particular sound. In my class we use the ABC board with picture cards, I wrote about in my previous post.

Pink Series

Once most of the letter sounds have been mastered, introduce the Montessori Pink Series. My pink series is divided into 5 small boxes:

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  1. t, m, b, f, a.
  2. h, g, r, c, l.
  3. l, s, d, k, u.
  4. w, p, j, n, o.
  5. q, v, x, y, z, e.

 

 

I start with the first box which contains letters t, m, b, f, a.¬†I like to start using sand paper letters, I ask the child to trace it and tell me the sound, and we play Knock knock game, which consist of grabbing one set of sand paper letters and flipping them upside down; Have the child knock on one letter saying “Knock knock” and you will reply “who’s there” and the child will flip the letter and say the name and sound of the letter. Remember to alway do a 3 period lesson as an assessment of the lesson.

In our next sitting with the lesson I add objects (at least 2-3 objects per letter) so the child can match the beginning sound of the object to the sand paper letter, the tactile experience helps a lot with the recognition of letter sounds; Sit back and let them sound out the name of the object and just watch them match it, is like magic.

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¬†Switch the objects to picture cards, it allows for vocabulary enrichment and use of imagination. Is just as important to review ending sound, you’ll see how is a lot easier to find the ending sound of a word as opposed to the beginning sound, but is normal, the ending sound of a word is the last thing a child says and that’s why is the easiest to remember.¬†Just practice and emphasize in vocalizing the first sound.

The next step is to put together each letter sound to make a word. Here is when you introduce CVC words (Consonant Vowel Consonant) like “hat, pup, dog, wig …” I like to add the moveable alphabet at this point because it provides a great¬†visual to the learning experience. Feel free to add objects or picture cards to match to the words. Using the tactile sense is very important in following the¬†Montessori philosophy.

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During my training we used this lesson called the vowel tree, is meant to be used with the Montessori pink and green series. I love it and so do the kids, is perfect practice for forming words, blending sounds and reading words, but most importantly reinforcing left to right progression in reading. Feel free to incorporate the moveable alphabet, objects and picture cards.

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Towards the end of the pink series introduce some rhyming cards and sentence cards, is a great way to help with reading and giving confidence to the child. Play games like Mystery word, hide and seek, flash cards, or spelling. get creative and have fun!

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Learning about fish and birds

I was invited to share my knowledge and ideas about Birds and fish for Christian Montessori Network, and they have put together a great series to share hands-on Montessori inspired activities.  Here is my post, Learning about birds and fish

I put my heart in it and had a great time writing it, I hope you guys enjoy it and make the best out of it for your little ones.

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I Relay for …

Every year we participate in the walk of¬†Relay for Life¬†to show our support to survivors, and to the families who lost or are battling against cancer.¬† My fianc√©’s father past away about 9 years ago from cancer and¬†it has¬†been¬†very difficult¬†for¬†his family ever since; everyone talks so highly about him and what a good man he was.¬† Unfortunately I never had the pleasure to meet him, but I wish I could have.

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I lost my grandfather to cancer this past September and it has hit me really hard, so this year our Relay walk will be extra special. If you have never been to a Relay for Life event, let me tell you… you’re missing out big time; there’s tents with delicious food, games, music¬†and activities for the entire family, and the best part is gathering with friends and family to have a good time, and¬†to walk around for a great cause.

Here’s the¬†to link to our¬†team’s website “I Relay for those who can’t” ¬†if you wish to donate¬†and help us reach our goal from the comfort of your home … no worries¬†we’ll do the walk for you ūüėČ

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Saving lives from cancer starts with one team, one participant, and one dollar at a time, we appreciate your help from the bottom of our hearts.

Creative Inexpensive ideas

I’m always in the search of creative¬†and inexpensive ideas¬†to add to my set of ¬†lessons. The materials¬†have to be durable and reusable,¬†bright and fun in order for my kids to¬†enjoy them, so when I’m in the hunt of materials first think I have in mind is “for how many lesson activities can I use this?” think of materials like an orange, you want to squeeze them out to the last drop. Materials¬†need to act as a whole and cohesively with other materials you have at home, and before you buy think of¬† the multiple things you can make/use with it,

A lot of people buy just because¬†it looks nice and¬†cute, or just because …¬†they¬†might use it for something someday. Try to schedule ahead and think of the need of the child. you might find this really cute puzzle but you already have 10+ puzzles at home that don’t even use. Always keep the child in mind and where he might be going next.

Another important thing is to always recycle, if you have broken pieces from a lesson don’t throw the whole thing away. you will be surprised how many of those¬†things you will end up using in other areas.¬† Don’t be afraid of creativity, if didn’t worked for others doesn’t mean it won’t work for you and your child, here are some of my own creations .. Enjoy!

  • Flyting through addition¬†ūüėÄ

Placing of quantities are a great way to introduced odd and even. tweezers are great for working on fine motor skills and strength which are needed for writing.

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patterns pom poms

Oh dear wedding …

Thank God for presidents day! I’m exhausted but excited to share all the cool things¬†we did¬†for¬†our DIY rustic wedding!

We hit the road Friday night to spend the weekend at my parent’s house with family and friends to work on what seemed an endless list of DIY wedding ideas, let me tell you, the list was really long ….

DIY wedding to do list

We started with the twine lanterns. After searching all over the internet and not getting an exact response on how to make them I decided to make them my own way! I based my idea from hers

Twine lanterns

Materials:

  • Twine (I used yarn)
  • Round balloons
  • Vaseline or petroleum jelly
  • Glue
  • Corn starch
  • Marker (we didn’t use it :/ )
  • Something¬†to cover the floor
  • A big area to hang the lanterns
  • Mixing bowl
  • Lots of patience ūüėÄ

Steps:

1. Cover the floor and gather the materials. we used a big space because we read the project was messy, and it sure was!

Materials

2.¬†Blow up the balloon to desired size. Cut a good amount of twine or yarn and attach the tip to the balloon’s tip, smile like a weirdo and say Cheese!!¬†ūüôā

 

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3. In the bowl mix 1/4 cup of water, 1/2 cup of cornstarch and glue (we used about 1/2 bottle). mix well until all the cornstarch has dissolved and the mixture is smooth. We were so excited we forgot to take pictures :/

4. Apply the Vaseline or petroleum jelly to the balloon, we did it to the top, bottom and side parts to allow the yarn to stick.

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5. Make sure you untangle the yarn/twine before you dip it in the cornstarch. Dip it in and let it soak for a few seconds. Now is when the messy part begins .. slowly start rotating the balloon in all directions and wrap the yarn/twine hard around it.

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  • this step was really hard because the string kept falling off so we decided to do it little by little, so we hanged it in the sun to dry every 30 minutes until it looked how we wanted.ballon 1

    6. We hanged it to dry in the sun for a whole day and here it is …

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    we also worked on some signs to guide our guest over to the¬†ranch as well as finding the¬†lamp that will turn into a chandelier.¬†Here is a sneak peak¬†ūüėČ but be sure to come back to see the finish product¬†hubby