Top Five of 2016

To see out 2016 as we head into the new year, I thought I would countdown my top five posts from this year (i.e. most read posts published this year). I'm often surprised by which posts are more popular than others so putting this list together was a lot of fun and gave me an opportunity to reflect.

5. Fundamental Needs of People

4.Geology Round Up

3. Second Great Story

2. Grammar Mind Map

1. First Great Story

2016 Thank You's

As the year draws to an end I would like to give thanks to those who have shown support for me over the year. To my readers - from those quiet lurkers to those who email me regularly, I love you all - thank you for your inspiration and support. To my peers and colleagues, thank you for your helpful advice, constructive criticism, collaborations and ongoing support.

Some special thanks to the following blogs and sites:

The Learning Ark

I Believe In Montessori


Trillium Montessori

Suzie's Home Education Idea's

Living Montessori Now

Every Star Is Different

Our Montessori Life

The Wise Owl Factory 

A Life Sustained

Welcome to Mommyhood

Mamma's Happy Hive

The Natural Homeschool

The Pinay Homeschooler

Natural Beach Living

Our Montessori Home

Age of Montessori

Follow That Child

Free Homeschool Giveaways


Mi Escuelita Montessori Homeschool

Work and Play Day by Day

and as always everyone at the Montessori Bloggers Network.

If there is a name on that list you're not familiar with or haven't visited in a while I recommend having a look.

I look forward to seeing what 2017 brings my way and hope to continue sharing with you all.

Australian Christmas {It's Elementary! Link Up #5}

I have been discussing with some of my students what makes an Australian Christmas unique. Some of their observations and comments have led to great inquiry and conversations. We have also spoken about traditions and what their family's traditions are.

Initial conversations were often driven by the child's observations of what we don't have: snow, snowmen, reindeer, holly, mistletoe, etc. Which led to the question of what we have instead. Some of my students were quick to say "Australian Christmas tree" (Nuytsia - as seen in the title picture) which is one of my favourites.

The Nuytsia is native to the lower part of Western Australia and blooms between November and January. My older students were fascinated by the fact this plant is partly a root parasite, meaning it's roots attach to other plants around it and draw it's requirements from them. We also discussed other native plants that flowered at this time of year.

Another natural phenomenon we discussed was the Christmas spider. Again these spiders are most abundant during the summer months.

We talked about how certain plants and animals are more abundant at different times of the year and how our First Nations people observed these plants and animals to note the change in the season. In the part of Western Australia we reside in our First Nations people are Noongar, and they observed six seasons rather than the four we follow marked by the solstices. I hope this will be a spring board for further discussion next year.

We have also been discussing traditions and why our traditions are a lot different than those that are represented by television programs, Christmas cards, illustrated Christmas books, etc.

Here are some of the things children listed as part of their Christmas day traditions:
  • presents in the morning, baked ham and vegetables for lunch
  • beach in the morning, home for a barbecue lunch (with prawns and crayfish) then presents
  • presents on Christmas eve, Christmas day at the beach
  • traditional roast turkey and ham with all of the family at grandma's
  • poolside at a Bali resort 
  • presents in the morning, barbecue lunch and prawns with salads for lunch.
  • breakfast with the family consisting of fruit salad, pancakes, bacon, sausage and eggs, then presents and family dinner of roast turkey

If I was in a classroom setting, and had more time, I would ask my older children to research some aspects of their traditions to the various parts of Europe they originate.

What is unique about your Christmas?

Teacher Wishes

Teachers Pay Teachers is having a STORE WIDE SALE November 28th & 29th - a great time to grab a bargain or an item (or two) you have on your wish list. As part of the sales celebrations I am linking up to Daisy Designs with my Top Three Wish List Items from my store.

Although my materials are aimed for a Montessori classroom, many (most) would be equally useful in other educational settings, especially if your classroom uses centres or inquiry work.

Tied at #1 are the two Logical Agreement Games - these are usually purchased hand in hand, and why not they're a bargain even when not on sale!

Matching adjectives to nouns, or verbs to adverbs, can be tonnes of fun. It really appeals to the elementary child's sense of humour as they sort through the pairs as they inevitably mix them up on their path of discovery. You can see my blog post HERE.

At #2 is the Solar System Who Am I? Cards - these work best for small groups or pairs, but can be done with a larger group.

Just as the name suggests, the question cards have facts and clues for students to guess which planet the card is about. An engaging way for students to reinforce their knowledge. You can find my blog post about them HERE.

At #3 is my Collective Noun Cards - a set of 16 cards of image and label.

I use these with a copy of the cards made into a booklet for students to read and to act as a control if working independently. The blog post is HERE.

If you are buying during the sale be sure to use the code: CYBER2016 to save up to 28% off.

Christmas Themed Grammar

I have several tutoring students that attend Montessori schools, which is exciting for me as I can do what I love best and do specifically Montessori lessons and activities with them using materials and techniques that are familiar to them.

Something that I probably would not do in a Montessori classroom, and have been vocal in the past about, is themed work. Yet in the context of tutoring, limited time frames and keeping things a little fresh I have let a little of this creep into my planning.

So on my shelves this week I have prepared some simple sentences for symbolic grammar work, starting with simple article, adjective, noun sentences moving to article, adjective, noun and verb and then some with other grammar functions included as well.

I have an older student who is in upper elementary, with him I will use a variety of texts to practise the parts of speech such as a Christmas Carol, a poem and perhaps a passage from Dickens.

These sentence strips will be put into envelopes with the correct symbols included for the student to work with independently then discuss with me when they have completed their work.

For one of my ASD students I will probably use these as copy work as we are working on their hand writing. Too many words on a page is overwhelming for him, so to have small strips to work with will be perfect.

You can find the file for free HERE.

Featured Links:

New link-up on the first Wednesday of each month (next link-up is 7th December) and is open for three weeks. Link your posts relating to elementary age (6 - 12) hands-on, Montessori, Montessori-inspired learning and activities. 

Norwegian Language Series

I recently had a customer reach out and make a request for some of my materials be translated into her native language, Norwegian. With Ellen's help I now have the following materials available in Norwegian:
Coming in 2017: Solar System Who Am I? cards

Note: Any future Norwegian materials will be added to this post.

You can find other products at my TpT Store.

Elementary Narratives {It's Elementary! Link Up #4}

The child on the second plane of development is driven by their intellectual growth and the power of imagination. The child undergoes the transformation between 6 and 12 to become an abstract thinker, concrete materials are still used to assist this process but they are not for sensorial impressions like the previous plane of development. Rather than sensorial impressions the second plane child is most receptive to intellectual impressions.

Stories in the elementary class are not limited to the Great Lessons. There are many stories to accompany other lessons and concepts - some are variations of those created by Mario Montessori and the key Montessorians that cultivated Dr Montessori's concept of cosmic education. Some stories are handed down from trainers, some are original creations of individual teachers.

I have read (and heard!) several different versions of stories about the gift of plants, the piece of paper that speaks, the multitude, the black pyramid, the four strange brothers, the first counting, the story of tan, the triangles club, the three kings, and so many more. These stories capture and spark the child interest in concepts that are more abstract than what they have previously experienced.

My favourite resource for cosmic education and story telling is Children of the Universe by Michael and D'Neil Duffy.

I am looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of the newly released The Deep Well of Time (which is proving difficult here in Australia) by master story teller and Montessorian, Michael Dorer. There are already whispers of a follow up book.

It's Elementary!

An InLinkz Link-up

You may also like:

Decimal Breakthrough

As most of my tutoring students are from a non-Montessori background I do not always get an opportunity to introduce as many of the maths materials as I would like. Some materials are adaptable for any setting, others need that foundation from the start to give the child context. In all honesty I have been hesitant to introduce some (maybe most) of the math materials to these students for fear of muddying the waters.

Recently I had some success with the decimal board. Although I did not present this the same way I would for a Montessori student, I was surprised how quickly the student grasped the concept and logic of the colour coding found in Montessori maths. 

The student, who had previously struggled with decimal work, was quick to see the relationships and their confidence grew relatively fast. We worked with the board for several weeks, reviewing some questions from their school work and the student used the board independently to complete some homework. 

I was thrilled with the marked improvement and will not be so hesitant in the future to introduce more Montessori materials for my non-Montessori students. On reflection I think it is a matter of having more faith in the principles of Montessori for all students -observe, observe, observe and follow that child!

Featured Links

New link up opens on the first Wednesday of each month and is open for three weeks. Link your post relating to the child on the second plane of development (6 - 12) - whether it is a lesson, activity, practical life or home life.

Fundamental Needs {It's Elementary! Link Up #3}

Dr Montessori was captivated by how man's needs have remained constant through time and across cultures and how man has simply changed the way these universal needs are met.

The focus of the Fundamental Needs of People work is to bring to the consciousness of the child that all human being have the same needs from early man to now. This work provides the framework for exploring the history of humans.

There are two aspects to this work:

Horizontal Study - (usually 6-9) focuses on a specific time period e.g. Stone Age, Ancient Egyptian, Middle Ages, etc

FNOP - Ancient Egypt

Vertical  Study - (usually 9-12) the focus is on researching how one need has changed over time, the progress of civilisation.

FNOP - Food

This work can provide a spring board for many discussions, not just history - I have often used it to introduce topics such as nutrition and health.

This work ties in closely with People of Climatic Zones, Timeline of Humans, The Hand Timeline, Red and White Timeline (BCE/CE), Interdependencies Chart,  and leads into work with the Migration Charts.


- creating own chart, draw or cut out from magazines images for each of the fundamental needs
- allow children to explore their interests, e.g. the history of toys, computers or bicycles
- make mud bricks or model dwellings
- red and white timeline used in conjunction with cards of a particular need (vertical study)
- write a play to perform
- create own timelines (could include diagrams, images, data)
- the possibilities are endless as the charts are a blue print for researching all aspects of history and cultures.

It's Elementary!

Story of Life

I have to say this book has been a HUGE hit in my tutoring studio. Whilst many of my tutoring students are not from a Montessori background I still incorporate as many aspects and principles of Montessori as I can.

I had this book on my shelf to see if it would receive any attention. For many of my students it was a magnet and I am building some of my upcoming sessions around the geological eras and the plants animals featured within each. I hope to share some successes with you in the near future!

Featured Links:

Join me on the first Wednesday of each month to link up and discover other great posts...

It's Elementary!