Internet Based Homeschool Resources from (Membership Review)

How’s your homeschool year going so far?  Everything on track exactly how you planned?  It’s not?  Me either!  We’ve had both expected and unexpected challenges this year, with the most problematic being that several parts of our curriculum are too easy for Bebop.  Wouldn’t it be nice if you bought a curriculum package and could jump up or down a level mid year with no additional cost?  That’s possible with the internet based homeschool resources from Review

I’ve been asked to join the Schoolhouse Review Crew for 2015.  Periodically throughout the next year, I will be given homeschool products and resources to review.  As a welcome to the crew gift and first review assignment, I was provided with a Yearly Membership to  Both the Schoolhouse Review Crew and are divisions of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  I’m very excited for the opportunities this will bring and the resources I will be able to share with you.

About is a web based vault of homeschool resources.  There is really no other way to describe it!  The site has full lesson plans by grade and subject ranging from toddlers through high school.  My exploration of the site is mostly in the elementary classes and I found enough to build a complete core curriculum for Bebop if needed.  I’m not as familiar with all required subjects in middle and high school, but it appears as if you could do the same for older children.  There are also mini-units and family focused multi-age activities that could be used to supplement your existing curriculum.

What We’ve Used So Far

I’ve only had my membership to for two weeks, so I have not used many resources yet.  The site is a bit overwhelming at first.  After receiving my login information, I spent about an hour exploring the various sections of the site.  Then I sat down with my plan from the beginning of the school year and picked apart what wasn’t working for us.  When I went back to the website, I found a solution for every challenge I had.  The big ones:  new math curriculum for Bebop, suggested reading lists (in the elementary planner), & quiet time ideas for all three boys.

SchoolhouseTeachers Review - Hands on History printables

Doodad is “helping” Bebop color William the Conqueror

The Hands-On History figures line up pretty close with our history curriculum so I printed off William the Conqueror stand up figure and word search for Bebop.  He enjoyed both and I was able to give a quick enrichment lesson with no planning on my part!  I expect we will continue to use these when they line up with our Story of the World chapters.

What I Plan to Use Next Year

I’ve really struggled with selecting curriculum for Bebop.  His is an asynchronous learner meaning his abilities are uneven and out-of-sync compared to his peers.  (Thank you Colleen @ Raising Lifelong Learners for that definition.  Go read her blog is this sounds like your kid!)

Math by far has been the struggle on my end.  Bebop quickly learns anything I put in front of him and I often feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time preparing lessons that weren’t necessary.  I really like how the elementary math lessons come with multi age assignments, so I can easily increase the complexity when needed.  I also like that for one price I can jump up or down a level as needed in all subjects.

In addition to the math lessons I also plan to use the family fitness and/or nutrition units.  In New York State we are required to have some kind of health and physical education every year.  My original plan was to take some classes locally to fulfill the requirement, but those options fell through.  I’m really happy to have these units to use!

I have no doubt the list of resources we use will grow over the next year!  There is a great deal of encouraging articles and back-issues of the Old Schoolhouse Magazine that I didn’t even look through yet.  There is a wealth of homeschool resources at

What I Think of the Subscription…

When this review was announced, I did not expect to get so excited about it.  A full price membership is $12.95 per month or $139 if you pay for a full year.  That is a big ticket item!  We get a large curriculum package through our local homeschool co-op program, so I usually look for supplements in a much (much) lower price range.  However after spending time exploring the site, I can see how valuable this resource can be for homeschool families.  It’s something I will be considering in our future homeschool budgets.

Currently there is a sale on the membership!  Between now and midnight on Christmas Day, you can buy a yearly membership at a 50% discount ($64.26) or a monthly membership at a 40% discount ($7.77/month).  Visit for all the details!


I would very much recommend this for families new to homeschooling or those looking to explore multiple homeschooling approaches. Still need a Christmas gift for your favorite homeschool mom or dad?  Consider a subscription! Review


Photo Gifts for the Holidays From

This post is sponsored by

For last few years the grandparents have told us they don’t want anything for Christmas.  While my minimalist side agrees and completely supports this attitude, my gift giving side wants to give something anyway.  I’ve tried very hard to find things that are personal, affordable, and quality for all the grandparents.  Out of this began our tradition of giving photo gifts to most of our extended family.

My brother told me a few years ago, before my beautiful niece was born, that I had an unfair advantage when it came to giving gifts.  I could just send a photo 0f the boys and Nana would be happy.  That’s such a true statement!  It seems nothing makes a grandma happier than a little brag book of photos and a kid drawn card.  So Grandmas, if you don’t want to know what you’re getting for Christmas stop reading this post!

Holiday Gifts from Minted asked me to review their holiday card designs, and I have to say I was blown away with the options.  I’ve never been into the fancy holiday cards because I usually don’t find a design that I love.  Minted has a network of independent designers who submit not only holiday cards designs, but a wide variety of gifts and printed artwork.  While I don’t love every single design, I love the variety.  There is truly something for everyone!  I found designs that reflect all the recent graphic design trends.  After spending an hour browsing the site, I found gifts for everyone on my list, including our family!  Below are a few of my favorite products.

Minibook and Booklette Cards

I’m not normally one who orders a lot of really fancy holiday cards.  They have never been in the budget for us.  While browsing designs, I found the minibook and booklette cards within the holiday card section.  These are basically 8 page mini books.  With an option to order as few as 15, this is perfect to send to Grandparents and extended family.


I love the hand drawn pine leaves on this minibook design!  A few of the designs have collage pages, but most feature one picture and a section to journal on each interior page.


The minibooks fit in a standard envelope (included!) and can be mailed with regular postage.


Booklette cards also fit in a standard envelope and use regular postage.  I really like the design of this collage card.  It would let me put in all my favorite photos from this past year!


Every year I think I will finally make scrapbooks for everyone.  And it never happens!  With the most expensive option still being under $6 each, this is a great option for us to create brag books. (Some are under $3 each)

Calendars and Notebooks

In the past we have also given calendars and notebooks as gifts.  The prices as are similar to what we’ve paid in the past, but I LOVE the designs so much more.


This is my favorite calendar design!  I really like how clean and simple it is.


Most of the designs I looked at have an option for multiple photos on the monthly pages.  This is a huge plus for me!  You can also add custom text to specific days for birthdays, anniversaries, or just to add special notes throughout the year.


My mom is a big journal keeper.  It would be fun to create a prayer journal for her with photos of all the grand kids.


Minted does have non-photo gifts.  As I went through all the favorites I saved, I noticed all the designs were collage style on white backgrounds.  Did you catch onto that too?   This design caught my eye because I have a friend Madeline here who my boys just love.

Gifts for Our Home

Bebop has been working very hard on handwriting this year and finally at an age where he understands how the mail system works.  It would be fun to get him personal stationary.


I like this stationary set because it has subtle lines.


I like this set for the same reason!  All the sets come with envelopes and have an options for a pre-printed return address.


Last one!  There is a whole line of map prints.  I absolutely fell in love with this idea!  We have lived in so many states as a family.  It would be fun to start collecting state prints with photos of the time we spent there.

What’s your tradition?  Do you send holiday cards?  Do you send photo gifts?

Be sure to stop by and check out their products!

Fly Guy Soup: A Poppins Book Nook Adventure

Have you ever wondered what kind of soup a fly would make?  After reading There’s a Fly Guy in my Soup, the boys and I began to wonder.  This month the Poppins Book Nook is headed to the kitchen as we explore books.  I love to cook and the boys love to help.  Usually at least one of the boys is helping me in the kitchen, so today I’ve giving you a few of my tips for cooking with kids.

Fly Guy Soup - A Poppins Book Nook Adventure

affiliate links are used below

After reading There’s a Fly Guy in my Soup by Tedd Arnold, we started brainstorming the kind of soup Fly Guy would enjoy the most.  Bebop proposed making a soup of rotten tomatoes, water and worms.  I vetoed that idea.  (Which lead to a discussion of the concept of a veto.  The boys don’t like that parents have veto power and they don’t.)

We finally settled on making corn chowder with bacon.  We will just pretend the bacon is garbage like in the book.

Fly Guy Soup - Setting up the kitchen for kids to help

I set up the kitchen so the boys could work on opposite sids of the counter.  If I put them next to each other, then there is usually bickering.  The red bowl is for vegetable scraps and the stock pot is for our chopped vegetables.

Fly Guy Soup - Magoo cutting carrots

Magoo cut the carrots with a large chef knife.  He started helping me very young using a butter knife to cut bananas.  I teach the boys to put one hand flat on top of the knife to keep their fingers out of the way.  This is the same way I cut things so they are used to seeing me work this way.

Fly Guy Soup - Doodad cutting celery

Doodad uses a plastic lettuce knife.  I bought this thinking we would just use it for soft fruits but it cuts a surprising amount of things. After chopping celery, Doodad also cut some potatoes using the plastic knife.

Fly Guy Soup - Kid cut vegetables

I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so when I chop vegetables I try to get them in small, uniform sizes.  The boys didn’t quite understand this concept, so we ended up with tiny carrots and large chunks of celery.  Most of the big chunks I left, but really big ones did get chopped into smaller pieces.

Fly Guy Soup - Saute vegetables at stove

Magoo helped me stir the pot of vegetables.  All three boys are used to helping me at the stove.  They stand on our folding stool and usually help stir or add ingredients to the pot.  I started teaching them about hot and cold at a very young age.  Now when I’m cooking, Doodad likes to remind me, “Mommy.  Hot.  Mommy.  Hot.”

Fly Guy Soup - Setting the timer

I have been working hard on number recognition with Magoo.  I let him set the timer while the soup simmered.  He was so excited to push the buttons!

Fly Guy Soup - Also known as corn chowder

Our Yummy Fly Guy Soup!

mini rainbow color bar

Poppins Book Nook main image 2014 - 2015

For more book based activities, stop by this month’s co-hosts:

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God’s Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual Mayhem~ Preschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~ Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ Kathy’s Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~ Hopkins Homeschool†~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ Laugh and Learn ~ A Mommy’s Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~†Ever After in the Woods ~ Golden Grasses ~ Our Simple Kinda Life ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Simplicity Breeds Happiness ~ Raventhreads ~ Water on the Floor ~ Learning Fundamentals ~ Tots and Me ~ As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~ Where Imagination Grows ~ Lextin Academy ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ Mom’s Heart ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ Suncoast Momma ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A “Peace” of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am ~ eLeMeNo-P Kids†~ Simple Living Mama

Clip Art by Melon Headz

For more Poppins Book Nook fun join us at Enchanted Homeschooling Mom, on Facebook, or on Pinterest

Get in the Holiday Spirit With Cranberry Christmas (Book Review)

Get in the Holiday Spirit with Cranberry Christmas - A Book Review

Today we have the first flakes of snow falling and our family back together after a long separation this summer. It’s starting to feel a bit like Christmas is almost here! Last week I received a copy of Cranberry Christmas from the Old Schoolhouse Magazine to review. In our house cranberries are normally a part of thanksgiving, so it was a lot of fun for us to learn about other families cranberry traditions at Christmas time.

About the Book

Cranberry Christmas is a multi-author e-book containing poems, recipes, craft ideas, and stories all related to cranberries and holiday traditions.


Did you know cranberries are one of the few fruits native to North America? Cranberry Christmas contains a wonderful article on the history and uses of cranberries. The pages are beautiful full color, formatted in a PDF for easy reading on our tablet or computer. Each article has at least one photo to help tell the story. We enjoyed seeing the various cranberry products and even a picture of harvesting cranberries in a bog. There is also a crossword and word search with answer keys.

Cranberry Taste Test

As suggested by the poem on the first page, fresh cranberries are very tart and usually not a favorite. I really wanted to do a taste test with fresh (or frozen) unsweetened cranberries to compare to sweetened cranberry sauce. I was not able to find any unsweetened cranberries at the store, so we just tasted the sauce. I expect to see fresh and frozen cranberries all over stores in another week or two when the Thanksgiving food sales start.

Cranberry Christmas - Taste Test

All three boys have had cranberry sauce before, but don’t really remember it. It was fun to see the reactions. Magoo was the funniest, “This is really yummy mommy. Can we make more of it?” I showed the boys the recipes in the book for various cranberry treats and we picked out some to make in a few weeks when we prepare our Thanksgiving dinner.

Decorating for the Holidays

The book has templates for place holders and napkin rings as well as a guide for dying paper with homemade cranberry dye. We talked about why and how to use place holders and napkin rings when setting the table for a formal meal. Bebop really got into the idea and is very excited to have a formal table set up for our holiday meals.

Cranberry Christmas Review - Holiday Decorations

Cranberries are often used in decorations. Fresh cranberries can be strung with popcorn to make garland for the Christmas tree (We are going to try it this year!). I went through our holiday box and I think we have a lot of fake cranberries among the decorations. I’m not totally sure if these are cranberries of another type of holiday berry. What do you think?

My Thoughts on the Book

I normally don’t like ebooks all that much, but this one is a definite exception. The formatting is done very nicely and the full color pages feel almost like reading a real book. I was able to sit down with the boys and read with out them being distracted by the tablet itself. I think the use of so many color pictures helped keep their attention.

We didn’t use the crossword because I didn’t want to use up ink printing a full color (or full black and white) page. I think its a bit advanced for Bebop anyway (he’s in first grade). I didn’t think we would do the crossword either but Bebop loved searching for words on the tablet. It was by far his favorite page of the book!

This book has reminded me of so many holiday traditions that it definitely sparked excitement for the upcoming holiday season. I’m really glad we read it now with time to plan for many of the activities over the next month or two. I’m sure will will pick up this book to read several more times before Christmas!

Cranberry Christmas - Eating the Photo Props

Doodad was so excited to eat the leftovers off the “fancy” plate after I finished taking photos.

Full price the book is $12.45. I would probably not pay full price for this book, as its priced higher than I tend to spend on ebooks. It does contain enough material to easily be a full unit study during the holiday season and is the type of book that can be used for many years. On sale, I would definitely get this book. Right now the book is available for FREE! I’m not sure how long this promotion will last, so go grab your copy now!

This is a Schoolhouse Review Crew post.  Visit their website for more homeschool related reviews from other bloggers.


Our Reunion – The Start of My Deployment Journal

I feel like I’ve been keeping a big secret from my blog readers because I never talk about being a military family. Some is intentional, as there are parts of our family life I choose to not blog about. For the most part our every day life is just like everyone else, so I had no reason to talk about military issues. That all changed about a year ago when we received notification that Jared would deploy. For most of the last year (204 days to be exact) he was deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan.

Deployment Journal - The Reunion, Signs for Dad

From the beginning I have kept a journal, knowing one day I would tell our deployment story. I kept the deployment a secret in all public spaces because I felt very vulnerable being home alone. Close family and friends in the area knew, but otherwise I didn’t really tell anyone. I know not everyone makes this same choice, but it was right for our family.

I have so much I want to share, its almost hard to know where to start. I’m going to jump right into the middle, where we are right now: The Reunion Phase. Jared came home last week and we are still very much on the honeymoon high. It is wonderful to watch the boys bond with their daddy again. Soon we will be headed into the Reintegration Phase, which is very, very different than the reunion. I will explain the difference and the struggles in a few weeks, but today I give you our reunion story:

Alternate Title: The Most Anti-Climatic Reunion Ever

There is a lot of mystery and unknown surrounding reunions because the dates change up until the absolute last minute. I wasn’t even sure what day and time Jared would be returning until 6 hours before his flight landed. I told the boys dad was coming home soon, but didn’t tell them any specifics. Because of this, there wasn’t much time to build up the idea of reunion.

Deployment Journal - The Reunion, Waiting for the Plane

Jared returned on a commercial flight, so we went to meet him at the airport about an hour before his flight was scheduled to land. We were treated very well: a reserved parking space, gate passes, and a personal escort through security. With all the uncertainty of travel, it was so nice to have help getting the boys to the gate.

Once through security, it was very strange. I have not gone to meet a flight at the gate in over a decade. To my knowledge only military families and those picking up unaccompanied minors get to go to the gate. There are not arrival monitors, so I didn’t have any way of checking if the flight was on time or at the gate I had been told.

When it was time we went to the gate and watched the plane pull up. I wasn’t sure if it was the right plane, so I didn’t make a big deal to the boys. They had made posters for Jared and were patiently waiting. We were in a strange place with a lot of strange people, so they were pretty wide-eyed and surprisingly quiet.

Jared was in just about the last seat on the plane, so we waited and waited. As more and more strangers, not Daddy, filed by, the boys got anxious. As soon as I saw Jared, I started crying. It’s what I do. The boys were not really sure how to react. I was holding Doodad with Bebop and Magoo clinging to my legs. When Jared finally stepped through the gate, he was welcomed with very reserved hugs from all. Not really the kind of thing that makes a splash on youtube.

Deployment Journal - The Reunion

We are so thankful Daddy is home.

More of this story to come.

Homemade Constellation Viewers: Exploring the Night Sky

Homemade Constellation Viewers - Our guide to the night sky

Last year in our homeschool co-op we studied astronomy.  All year I though it would be fun to make homemade constellation viewers, but we never got around to it.  When I saw this month’s theme for the Poppins Book Nook is Beyond Our Plant, I knew it was the perfect time to finally make a set of constellation viewers.

Homemade Constellation Viewers - Reading the Book

This summer we were given a huge stack of books including Constellations: A Glow in the Dark Guide to the Night Sky by Chris Sasaki.  Its easy to tell when a book has become a favorite of the boys because it’s the one always laying in the middle of the floor!  Magoo has not put this book down in weeks.  The illustrations are beautiful and incorporate the star patters of the constellations with the stories that give them their names.  I love to listen to Bebop read the stories to his younger brothers is his best dramatic voice.

Homemade Constellation Viewers - Doodad Coloring

I found a constellation template along with several other starry night projects at The Crafty Crow.  The circles printed out much smaller than I expected, but before I could try to adjust the size the boys were already coloring.

Homemade Constellation Viewers - Coloring the templates

We pulled out all the color pencils that reminded us of the night sky.  Bebop though dark purple was the best.

Homemade Constellation Viewers - Reinforcing the template with cardboard

At this point, the project rapidly devolved into a what not to do experience!  I thought using toilet paper rolls would simplify this project, but as you can see above the template is way too small.  I cut out cardboard circles and taped on the template.  We used a push pin to poke holes through the cardboard to make the constellations.  If we repeat this project, I’ll enlarge the template and print on cardstock.

Homemade Constellation Viewers - The Final Product

Despite the engineering issues along the way, our homemade constellation viewers work perfectly!

Homemade Constellation Viewers - Bebop Looking at the Stars

Bebop was the first to test them out!

Homemade Constellation Viewers - Magoo Looking at the Stars

Magoo also enjoyed seeing the constellations.

Homemade Constellation Viewers - Doodad Looking at the Stars

Poor Doodad didn’t understand what we were doing.  Apparently these viewers also make great crowns!

mini rainbow color bar

Poppins Book Nook main image 2014 - 2015

For more book based activities, stop by this month’s co-hosts:

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God’s Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual Mayhem~ Preschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~ Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ Kathy’s Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~ Hopkins Homeschool†~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ Laugh and Learn ~ A Mommy’s Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~†Ever After in the Woods ~ Golden Grasses ~ Our Simple Kinda Life ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Simplicity Breeds Happiness ~ Raventhreads ~ Water on the Floor ~ Learning Fundamentals ~ Tots and Me ~ As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~ Where Imagination Grows ~ Lextin Academy ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ Mom’s Heart ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ Suncoast Momma ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A “Peace” of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am ~ eLeMeNo-P Kids†~ Simple Living Mama

Clip Art by Melon Headz

For more Poppins Book Nook fun join us at Enchanted Homeschooling Mom, on Facebook, or on Piterest

Montessori Basics: Recognizing the Sensitive Periods in Your Child

Sensitive periods are a time in a child’s life when their mental abilities and interests allow for developing a particular skill or ability. You are probably more familiar with the terms developmental milestones or windows of opportunity. Dr. Montessori placed an emphasis on recognizing when a child begins a particular phase so you can adapt the environment to support their development.

Montessori Basics - Recognizing Sensitive Periods in Your Children

Sensitive periods are unique to the first plane of development from birth to age six. There are 4 planes of development, each lasting about 6 years. I decided not to write a full post on the planes of development because my experience is only within the first phase.

The OCD Toddler Phase

Sometime between 15 and 18 months children enter the sensitive period of order. I like to call this the OCD toddler phase because children are more interested in putting things in order and putting things away than just playing with toys. At home this is a great opportunity to teach you child to clean up after themselves. The first “chore” I taught the younger two boys was helping sort laundry into the correct piles.

Montessori Basics - Sensitive Period for Order

 Trays are popular in Montessori environments because it allows a child to get materials and return them independently.  

The sensitive period for order is also the time when children seek routine and repetition. With both Bebop and Doodad, my oldest and youngest, this was a fun phase where I saw (and am seeing) their personalities emerge as they settle into the routine of our family life. When Magoo was 18 months old, we moved and lived in temporary housing for 3 months. It was awful! As soon as we settled into our house and everything had a place again, Magoo also settled down. More often than not, a two year old tantrum is due to someone not following the toddler’s expected routine.

Case in Point: As I type this my oldest turned on his light to read, which is NOT the bedtime routine. Now 2 year old Doodad is having an absolute fit and wants to start  our bedtime routine all over again with his special blanket, a sippy cup of ice water, and kisses from everyone in the house.

The ABC’s and 123’s

Sensitivity for language begins at birth, but tends to peak around 4 years old. I noticed with Bebop that his interest in learning to read and write exploded at about 4 and a half years old. Magoo is about to turn 4 and after months of not caring about “school”, he is finally interested in learning letters and numbers.

Montessori Basics - Sensivite Period for Language

Before kids, I thought math was all about numbers. My mom, the elementary school teacher, laughs when I say that! Math involves a great deal of vocabulary and is a language to itself. While math and language are taught separately, the interest in both has emerged in parallel in my boys.

Refinement of the Senses

In the later half of the first phase of development, from 3 to 6 years of age, children begin to refine their senses. As I wrote a few months ago, sensory input is more than just hands on tactile manipulation. It also includes taste, smell, movement and hearing. This is a great period to introduce a variety of sensory play experiences to children.

Montessori Basics - Sensitive Period for Sensory Input

Around 3 years of age is when my two older boys became very interested in music and dancing. Sensory play is the area where I tend to do the least planning. I keep a large stash of crafting supplies in the basement and allow the boys to chose many of our daily activities.

Recognizing the Sensitive Periods in Your Children

I think recognizing the beginning of a sensitive period depends partly on the parent’s (or teacher’s) knowledge of what is typical at particular ages. The other part is simply observing a child. Allow your child to enter a room and start playing without any intervention or direction. I’ve found my boys are attracted to the materials that will help them master the next step in development. Recognizing the sensitive periods in your child is about being a sensitive observer yourself.

The Top 7 Montessori Inspired Blogs That I read Daily

A large part of my understanding of the Montessori method has come from other bloggers who share their ideas and experience.  Today I’m sharing 7 of my favorite blogs.  All of these are blogs I’ve read for years and I consider all the ladies behind these blogs to be mentors and friends.  I hope you enjoy their blogs as much as I do.

The Top Montessori Blogs That I Read Daily  – This is the first blog I started reading many years ago and is my all time favorite.  Carisa has a background in early childhood education and now is homeschooling her three kids.  Over the years that I’ve been a blog reader, Carisa has written several different curriculums for preschoolers, including the Raising Rockstars Preschool program I am using with Magoo this year.

Counting Coconuts – Mari-Ann is a homeschooling mom to two precious little ones living in Bermuda.  She is currently on a break from blogging, but Couting Coconuts remains up as an archive of amazing Montessori ideas.  Its absolutely worth your time to read some of her old posts.

Golden Reflections Blog – Heather is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant raising her little girl the Montessori Way.  A few months ago I reviewed Heather’s book, Basic Shapes for Beginners.  I use her ideas both from the book and on her blog almost daily.

The Kavanaugh Report - Nicole is a Montessori mom, attorney, and blogger.  We started tot school with our little boys around the same time, and I think we both started blogging around the same time as well.  It has been fun to see Nicole stick very closely to the traditional Montessori scope and sequence and see Henry thrive with all the activities she has prepared.  With the addition of their precious baby girl this summer, Nicole has been implementing the Montessori approach with a newborn.

Little Bins for Little Hands – Sarah is a stay at home mom trying to navigate her son’s unique way of processing sensory input.  Sarah does not write about the Montessori method directly, but through her writing I have gained a deeper understand of the senses and their effect on a child’s ability to learn.

Living Montessori Now – Deb is a former Montessori teacher who homeschooled her kids through high school.  She now writes extensively about Montessori activities and parenting in general.  Her blog is the best place to gather ideas for any theme or holiday.

Stir The Wonder – Samantha is a stay at home mom discovering how the Montessori method fits with her natural parenting instincts.  She views her job as the primary educator to be the one who stirs things up and encourages wonder in children.

Vocabulary and Common Terms in the Montessori Method

The Montessori approach has its own unique vocabulary. When I first started studying this approach and began reading some of Dr. Montessori’s writing, I found myself lost among many terms I didn’t understand. Today’s post is to highlight some of the most common phrases and give a brief explanation. Each of these terms will be getting its own post later in this series.

Common Terms of the Montessori Method

Absorbent Mind – From birth through approximately age 6, children have periods of intense brain activity that allows them to effortlessly absorb knowledge from their environment. It is also the title of one of Dr. Montessori’s books, a compilation of her writing and lectures.

Casa dei Bambini or Children’s House – Casa dei Bambini was the name of Dr Montessori’s first school in Rome. Many modern Montessori schools call the preschool classroom, intended for ages 2 or 3 through 6, the Children’s House.

Control of Error – The idea that a child should receive instant feedback as he or she works, allowing for corrections without interference from an adult. Control of error is built into many Montessori activities in various ways including placing colored dots to indicate correct pairs or using a control set when matching nomenclature cards.

Grace and Courtesy – Social skills and manners are taught in formal ways to children and then put into practice in the Montessori classroom. Children are taught and expected to say “please” and “thank you”, respect each other’s working space, and great each other and guests warmly.

Planes of Development – Four distinct periods of growth exist from birth to age 24. Each phase is 6 years long and has changes to reflect the way a human brain changes throughout a lifetime. Each phase will be discussed individually later in this series.

Practical Life – I like to say practical life skills are also known as chores! Practical life activities are specific lessons and opportunities for children to practice the skills they need to take care of themselves and their environment. Practical life skills are a primary focus for toddlers and preschoolers as they help build independence, concentration, and prepare a child to start learning reading and math.

Prepared Environment – The idea that a child’s environment should be prepared with carefully selected objects and learning materials that will engage a child and encourage learning. A few months ago I posted a tour of our house highlighting areas with a Montessori influence.

Sensitive Period – A specific and critical time in development when a child is ready to acquire a specific skill or ability. Recognizing the beginning of a sensitive period and preparing the environment to help a child learn is one of the main goals of a Montessori teacher.

The 3-Part Lesson – A 3 step technique for presenting formation to a child. First a object or term is introduced or named. Then in the second part, the teacher asks the child to identify what was just introduce. In the third part, the teacher points to an object and asks a child to recall the name.

This is not intended to be an exhausted list of terms. I’m sure as soon as I hit publish I will remember something I should add. If you have questions about any of these or something not on this list, please ask in the comments below. I have no doubt there will be a common terms part 2 in the future!

This is the third post in a series on Montessori at Home.  The rest of the topics are available in the first post, here.

Bringing Montessori Home

Yesterday I wrote a brief introduction to Dr. Montessori and her methods. A large portion of Dr. Montessori’s career was spent in Casa Dei Bambini working with young children in a multiage setting. Through observation and experimentation, Dr. Montessori created her own materials for children to use. The community nature of the school environment is central to many of the modern Montessori activities. Bringing those activities home poses some unique challenges.

Bringing Montessori Home

Before I get any further I want to address Montessori schools specifically. I think they are amazing places for children. If circumstances were different and I didn’t homeschool, Montessori schools would be among my first choices for the boys. A lot of what I have to say over the next few days might sound like I disagree with how Montessori school function. I don’t. The truth is any program developed and intended for use in a large classroom setting will not function the same way in a one-on-one setting at home. Adaptations need to be made when bringing Montessori home.

The first two “subjects” presented in Montessori schools are usually sensorial exploration and practical life skills. Sensorial exploration is based on the idea that a child’s brain grows when exposed to various sensory input. In a Montessori preschool this concept is often put into practice in the way a classroom is set up. There are low shelves with engaging materials that encourage students to explore through touch, sound, and smell.

In a classroom setting, you can create a variety of options and each child will find a few that capture their interest. At home you can pour your creative energy into a fabulous sensory tray and your child many not be interested in it… at all! In our first year of doing preschool at home, I recreated many wonderful ideas shared online by other Montessori moms only to feel discouraged by Bebop’s complete lack of interest. I was following the sequence of activities suggested by Dr. Montessori and it just wasn’t working! It took me a while to understand and appreciate the art of following a child’s lead. I still prepare activities, but they are more tailored to each of the boy’s unique interests and sensitive periods (we’ll talk about that term in a few days).

Practical life skills on the other hand have translated beautifully into our home. Practical life is just another term for chores. Its the practical things everyone does to go about their daily life: sweeping the floor, folding laundry, cleaning bathrooms, etc. With each successive child, I have introduced practical life exercises at a younger and younger age because it has become such a natural part of how we parent our children. I spend a good portion of my day training and practicing these skills with my boys. The desire for independence, both mine for my boys and their internal drive, is my favorite part of the Montessori approach.

To those of you new to using the Montessori method at home, this series is for you. Your home will not look like a Montessori classroom, it will simply look like a home. I believe Dr. Montessori would encourage parents to use whatever everyday objects were around to teach children through discovery-based learning. That’s what Montessori looks like in our home.


Linking up with Hip Homeschool Moms.