Posts tagged Printable
This Is the Way We Wash a Wall: the montessori way!

An hand-crank eggbeater utensil, a bowl, and a drop of concentrated soap is an activity any toddler or preschooler will enjoy….and after the fun inside the bowl, why not have a cleaning frenzy?

Children love to clean, and when they get into it, sometimes they can't quite stop.

Let’s give them a huge canvas to explore possibilities.

All you need is a bowl of soapy water, a sponge, and a drying cloth.

I recommend very little actual water. You can always add more later. The sponge should be child sized. That means if you have a toddler, you may want to cut a regular sponge in thirds and give your child a third.

If your child is older, half a sponge may be quite appropriate. This way little hands can feel secure with the right sized tool. I also recommend that if you have more than one child, you give each child his own sponge and bowl so he can go where he likes to clean in his own space.

It is helpful if you give some boundaries. If you want your child to focus on a small section of wall that is especially dirty, you may consider putting some masking tape around the area that you want cleaned and asking the child to stay within the square.

I also recommend giving a lesson on how to wash the wall first.

The Lesson

  1. Carefully gather your supplies and put them right in front of the wall to wash. If in the classroom, this would include putting on an apron (children, too).

  2. Silently inspect the wall and use your fingers to point to dirty spots. You may even wrinkle your nose a little and say matter of factly, "This wall is dirty." 

  3. In exaggerated fashion, dip the sponge and squeeze out the water. Drip, drip, drip. Again. Dip. Squeeze. Drip, drip, drip. Say, "Now, I am ready to wash the wall." 

  4. Scrub. Smile and nod in satisfaction. Put the sponge back down. Use your drying cloth to dry the area.

  5. Say, "Now this part of the wall is clean. It's your turn."

Montessori Water Play PIN1

Ready. Set. Scrub!

Well, after this long lesson, the children are probably dying to jump in there, so go for it! Sing songs about washing like "This is the way we wash the walls" to the tune of "Here we go round the Mulberry Bush." 

Make a big soapy mess and then use your whole body to dry the soapy area. You can see in the pictures how my kids were loving this and dancing around. If you're dancing and having fun, they will, too.

Bonus: Your house gets cleaner, not messier! ;)

Print This Free Montessori Lesson

Download the printable version of this lesson and add it to your homeschooling binder or share with a friend.

Here’s what it looks like, except unfortunately, I will be unable to email you the soap & sponge! I know you’re disappointed, but at least you can get the lesson, right?

washing wall lesson photo.jpg

Download your free printable lesson.

  1. Download the lesson. You’ll get the lesson, plus gentle, compassionate parenting tips and information about educating your child at home.

  2. Print and add this lesson to your binder, share it with a friend, or use it with your Montessori homeschooling planner.

  3. Try this activity with your child! It’s a winner!

    Your Child Can LOVE Learning to Write…Just Start With Sand!

    Soft to the fingertips, not many can resist the temptation of playing with a pile of sand. Whether on the beach, in a box, or on a tray, sand provides an unforgettable tactile experience for all ages.

    This Montessori sand tray letter-writing activity is best for children older than age three. It comes after your child has been introduced to a few tactile, or sandpaper, letters, although the delight of drawing freeform in and generally playing with sand can be introduced in toddlerhood.

    What You Need

    • A medium-sized tray (the size of a piece of printer paper works well)

    • A good handful or two of sand or salt - enough to thoroughly coat the bottom of the tray

    What You’ll Do

    1. Immediately after reviewing the tactile or sandpaper letter you have already introduced, tell your child that you have prepared a special activity for the two of you.

    2. Sit in front of  the tray of sand and say, “This is sand.” Then, set clear expectations for use by telling your child, “The sand stays in the tray. It is not for the table or for the floor. It stays in the tray.”

    3. Now draw your child’s attention to your hands by rubbing them together and then extending only your index finger.

    4. Silently and slowly draw the letter in the sand as your child watches. Say the sound (not the name) of the letter.

    5. After a few seconds of gazing at the letter, shake the tray gently back and forth with both hands to smooth the sand.

    6. Say, “Now it’s your turn to draw the ______ [sound of the letter, such as /b/].

    girl writing in sand.jpg

    Tips for Success

    Make sure that your child can be trusted not to eat the sand and always provide adequate supervision. If you’re using salt, please note that ingesting too much salt can be toxic to children.

    Try This, Too

    Encourage your child to write in the sand at the beach or in her sandbox. You can also write letters, or even her own name for her to “read”. For another variation on this activity, try a dollop of shaving cream on a table.

    What Your Child is Learning

    When your child is learning how to write, her fingertips softly pressing and sliding into a tray of sand will bolster her muscle memory of letter formation. This activity also provides a pleasant sensory experience and aids fine motor skill development.

    Love Learning To Write Pin 1

    Print this free Montessori lesson

    Download the printable version of this lesson and add it to your homeschooling binder or share with a friend.

    sand tray printable photo.jpg

    Download your free printable lesson.

    1. Download the lesson. You’ll get the lesson, plus gentle, compassionate parenting tips and information about educating your child at home.

    2. Print and add this lesson to your binder, share it with a friend, or use it with your Montessori homeschooling planner.

    3. Try this activity with your child! It’s a winner!

      No Gadgets Needed: Your Old Favorite Toys Were As Awesome As You Remembered
      80's Flashback.png


      With your sparkly glam makeup, and guitar-smashing hair bands, you were really something to remember.

      I can instantly walk into any Claire’s and blink and I’m eleven again with a poodle-like hairdo pulled back in a scrunchie getting my ears pierced for the one and only time.

      I’m wearing jeans rolled tightly at the ankles and an oversized shirt tied in a knot at the side. I’m nervous but I’ve got my Dirty Dancing soundtrack in my walkman, and I’m channeling Baby as I take a step toward adulthood.

      1980s Kids Toys Pin 1


      But dear 80’s, just as iconic in my memory is your toy selection: Cabbage Patch Kids, Easy Bake Ovens, Barbie dolls, She-Ra figurines, Miniature Micro Machines, and Slap bracelets.

      The sheer number of hours we spent fiddling around with our tinker toys, army men, slinkies, and those silly wooden sticks that no one really liked picking up but pretended to.

      I’ll never get those hours back.

      Life presses on. But somewhere in my mother’s house I’m sure there is a box or drawer with a few remnants of that era of my life.

      We weren’t all obsessed about how educational these items were back then. At least, I don’t remember my mother talking about it. And yet in the past few decades, the emphasis in the overall toy industry has shifted from “good old fashioned fun” to “brain-based”.

      The problem is that a lot of toy companies are tricking us on purpose. The high-tech toys with the fancy labels aren’t actually so brain-based after all.

      Someone either hasn’t studied child development or is more interested in a fat check than helping parents provide a quality education.


      Fortunately, there are ethically-run toy companies that you can trust to have the needs of real children at heart (Monti Kids certainly comes to mind). There is also no end of DIY-obsessed parents sharing their tips, tricks, and hacks online through social media.

      Inspiration for true brain-based toys really does abound when you know where to look!

      As a mom and Montessori educator, I have always been interested in observing how children interact with their toys. Once you start watching, you’ll start to notice -- the toys with lots of buttons, the ones that spit out information and perform actions “on command” are played with very differently by children of all ages than, say, a simple wooden box and a ball.

      Plus, the research confirms it. Classic and simple wins over fancy & tech-infused.

      Maybe my 80’s nostalgia is well placed when it comes to toys, even though they were kind of silly when you look at them in retrospect.


      Deep breath here. Let’s see if we can make a brief case for Popples, as ridiculous as they were. (They were. Don’t argue!)

      1. They were cuddly. Can’t complain about that!

      2. They didn’t speak, flash, or sing when you pressed a button. At least my little furball didn’t!

      3. They could be “operated” entirely by a child’s hands.

      4. They could be used imaginatively by a child like any other plush toy, especially if there was no television-show connection to influence the play.

      Not bad. Not bad at all.

      Hey, are you Into Nostalgia Like I am?

      Get my free guide to today’s best toys for kids: modern alternatives to all of your old 80’s favorites!

      Here’s a sneak preview…

      favorite 80's toys.jpg

      Download your free printable toy guide.

      1. Download the guide. You’ll get all the fun of the 80’s with all the modern convenience of today’s most popular Montessori-friendly toys. Plus, when you join my community of readers, you’ll get gentle, compassionate parenting tips and information about educating your child at home.

      2. Keep it digitally, print, or share it with a friend.

      3. Add these toys, or toys like these, to your wish list for yourself or relatives. I can vouch for all of these personally!

      LOVE THE 80's?
      Get my FREE GUIDE to today's best toys for kids: modern alternatives to all of your old favorites!

      Learn how to meet your child's cognitive, social, and emotional needs with a reasonable selection of the most brain-boosting toys the modern world has to offer.

      And wallow with me - just a bit - in some well-deserved nostalgia.


        This is me in the 80’s: pigtails with those little hair ties with the balls on the ends, turtleneck stripes, and overalls. Nailed it!

        Making Music: Tips for Circle Time Success

        No one wants to sing a song with a group of squirmy, inattentive, interrupting children. It’s just plain frustrating! Good teachers set the bar high for good behavior, but excellent teachers engage the restless like Mary Poppins with her magic bag.

        While there’s no movie magic in real life, effective music strategies and an enthusiastic attitude can work like magic to command the attention of even the wiggliest child. Check out the article “Circle Time Singing Is More Important Than You Think” to learn more about the research behind the magic.

        Here are six tips and strategies to get you going. 

        1. Embrace the Fun

        To nurture a love of music in kids, we need to demonstrate our love. Pick a fun song and embrace the silliness. For example, “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” is nearly a surefire hit (See Printable). In the song, an old lady swallows a fly, of course, and then goes about swallowing ever larger creatures to catch whatever she ate last. As the creatures grow more and more absurd, so, too, does the hilarity.

        The song's simple fun has two hidden teaching objectives – ordering by size from smallest to largest and sequencing backwards. Plus, because it's a cumulative song it has a simple, repeatable structure that makes it great for playing with the lyrics. More on that in #6!

        2. Be Expressive

        To make the song more interesting, don’t forget to lead with dramatic facial expressions. Make sure to start out smiling and then raise your eyebrows, subtly shifting your face into greater expressions of surprise as the song moves from verse to verse. Peter, Paul, and Mary give a great example.

        3. Get Children Into the Action

        Adding body movements may strengthen memory and recall the order of the animals. It also calms the spirit. Instead of asking children to sit still while we sing, we should be asking them to sing with their whole bodies. You might make up your own movements (fluttering your hands for “fly” and wiggling your fingers for “spider”) or you might consider using sign language.

        4. Make It a Game

        If you are singing this as a group, consider choosing several children to represent each creature in the song. At the end of each verse, invite the child representing that verse’s creature to sit with the others in the middle of the circle.

        If you are a parent singing at home, consider playing the role of the lady gobbling up the creatures. Your child might squeal with joy as you capture the fly (your child) and, with a little tickle, pretend that it is now in your belly. Depending on the age of the children, you might feel more comfortable with changing the last line to “Perhaps she’ll cry” instead of “die.”

        5. Put It Out for Repetition

        Singing in a group can be inspiring, and some children may want to repeat the experience later on their own. Put pictures of the different creatures (See Printable) in a basket on the classroom shelf or, if you are a parent at home, in a spot of your child’s choosing.

        6. Write a Book

        Emergent writers often love scaffolded writing experiences where they are responsible for illustrating on paper and writing a simple word or phrase. Because it’s a cumulative song, “The Little Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” is a perfect compliment.

        Using the template (See Printable), have children either write the original song or make up their own lyrics (“There was an old lady who swallowed a…porcupine!” (Cue laughter.) If children cannot yet write, encourage the illustrations and do the writing yourself to model.

        After everyone who wants to has contributed (or if a child wants to make several pages), staple it into a book and sing it out loud. Because it’s a modified version, it won’t sound like the original, but don’t worry. Just make sure to giggle at each surprising ending.

        If you are creating a book with only one child, start with just a few pages and then offer more. Some children will want to create many pages of silly verses.

        Click here to download the printable kit.

        The Continent Song

        One of my favorite things about teaching the 3 - 6 age group using Montessori philosophy is the heavy focus on cultural studies, including geography.

        We want children to understand not only that they live on a planet called Earth but also that humans are just one piece of a complex web of life.

        Teaching them the names of the continents will open up their eyes to the entire world they live in. The new awareness will lead to questions about different climates, landforms, animals, and cultures.

        Click HERE to watch The Continent Song video on YouTube, or you can just watch below.

        Share your love for our planet Earth daily and act very interested in inspecting your map; your child will catch Continent Fever before you know it.


        You Can Make a Nearly Perfect Learning Tool For Pennies

        Playdough is great. It feels so good to kids because it stretches and strengthens their wrists, their hands, their fingers. But you know what's better? Real dough.

        First of all, dough is delightfully smellable. And, boy, does it smell wonderful, like something you would like to taste. So you do. Yummy! It's fresh and edible. The texture is dry and soft to the fingers and delightfully slimy to the mouth. It is infinitely moldable. When baked, the properties change dramatically, and the child uses all of his or her senses in observing this transformation.

        Repetition, Repetition, Repetition...

        It's not just about playing with the dough, either. The making is just as important...and fun! One of the keys to Montessori philosophy is understanding the child's need for repetition.

        Repetition is satisfying. It allows the child to hone the skills learned in the very first lesson with the work. Montessori believed that children have an inner guide that propels them toward repeating the actions that will lead to new developmental capabilities.

        The Perfect Dough

        This is partly why cooking, which naturally invites repetition, is excellent for kids. And simple yeasted dough is the perfect project.

        Making the Dough

        4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

        1 1/2 teaspoons salt

        1 tsp yeast

        1/4 cup olive oil

        1 3/4 cups water

        Mix the flour, salt and yeast together. Add the oil and water. Knead (by hand or in a mixer with a dough hook) until you have that perfect, classic, springy bread dough texture. In general, if you can pinch the dough between your fingers and it stays in that shape (like playdough), you've got it.

          Baking and storing

          You can eat the dough unbaked (many kids love to), or you can bake it into loaves, fun shapes or a pizza. Plop the dough lump onto a well floured cutting board and cut into shapes. Bake at 350 degrees or until it's crispy to your liking. 

          If you want to store the dough for later, cut it into fourths. Pat each with a little olive oil on your fingers then stick them into plastic baggies. Store them in a fridge. They will last a few days.

          Make It a Habit

          If you want kids to get comfortable working with dough - rolling, kneading, and using cookie cutters to make fun shapes - you can't put a lump of dough in front of the kiddos and expect magic. You have to model it yourself many times.

          And remember, acting is essential to good, enticing teachings. Snicker mischievously when you roll out some snakes and make the first letter of your kids' names. Take a bite out of the pizza with gusto, and even if you think the kids' Frankenpizza monster is disgusting, keep a smile on your face and spit it into the trash when they aren't looking. 

          If you act like dough is fun, your kids will think it is!

          Break the "Good Job" Habit with These 21 Alternatives

          Excess praise can be damaging to our children's intrinsic motivation (working just for the pure pleasure of it - not to please anyone else), but what should we do instead? Constant "good jobbing" is a habit, and habits can be hard to break. But it can be done!

          good job.jpg

          The easiest way to stop saying "good job" or "nice work" if you are committed is to simply start by swapping out the praise-heavy phrase with a more neutral one.

          Keep in mind that a child who is used to getting lots of praise will keep asking for it, so using more than one of these suggested phrases when your child keeps probing may help get both of you past the praise dependency. In my experience, most children (even the most persistent praise-seekers) become self-satisfied when there is a meaningful dialogue.

          Below are some phrases that might work for you in your home or classroom. None of them will fit in all situations, and if used without the intention of connecting more deeply with a child, they will definitely not work. Use them as a starting point, and before long, your automatic "good job" will become an automatic "something else."

          Praise PIN.png

          The List

          1. "Hmm!" Smile and nod. That's right. Bite your lip if you have to. Just don't say it! Smile and nod. Smile and nod. And then listen. What will the child say?

          Example: Child brings you a puzzle that has been completed. "Hmm!" Now look the child in the eyes, tune in, and listen. What does the child say about his puzzle?

          2. Tell me about this! 

          Example: Child has glued a yellow circle onto an orange piece of paper and comes to show you the big gluey mess of artwork. "Tell me about this!" What the child says may surprise you.

          3. I can see that you_____. (describe what you see)

          Example: Child has scribbled with chalk on the chalkboard with pink and blue chalk and brings you over to see. "I can see that you have been using pink and blue chalk."

          4. You look proud. Are you? I'm glad you_____. (describe the accomplishment)

          Example: Child chops strawberries into a bowl to serve herself and then invites you to look. "You look proud. Are you? I'm glad you know how to chop your own strawberries now. It's nice to serve yourself when you're hungry."

          5. Describe + How did you do it?

          Example: Child presents you with a handwritten, hand-drawn, haphazardly stapled book that you recognize is very similar to one of his favorite bedtime picture storybooks. "You made your own book. How did you do it?"

          6. Thank you! I appreciate_____.

          Example: Child gives you a love note in pictorial form - drawn for YOU. "Thank you. I appreciate you thinking of me." Never underestimate a simple thank you!

          7. Describe + I appreciate your hard work / effort.

          Example: Child loads dishwasher perfectly and looks to you for approval. "You loaded the dishwasher perfectly. I appreciate your hard work!"

          8. Your face looks happy! It feels so good to_____.

          Example: Child: asks you to watch him perform a physical trick on the playground. "Your face looks happy! It feels so good to stretch your muscles, doesn't it?"

          9. I am so happy for you because_____.

          Example: Child masters the monkey bars and she runs to you to celebrate. "I am so happy for you because I know you've been working on those monkey bars for a long time!"

          10. When you __________, I__________.

          Example: Child builds a very tall tower with blocks and asks you to look look look! "When you started that tower, I didn't have any idea how tall it was going to get! Super tall!"

          11. What was the hardest / easiest part?

          Example: Child learns to ride a bike up and down the block. "What was the hardest part about learning to ride? What was the easiest part?"

          12. When I was a child, sometimes I liked to_____. Do you like to_____ too? 

          Example: Child hands you a list she made of -at words. You read cat, hat, sat, mat... "When I was a child, sometimes I liked to sing a rhyming song. The caaaaat saaaat on the maaaat la-la-la... Do you also like to sing your rhyming words?"

          13. Wow! May I______?

          Example:Child constructs a crazy invention out of straws, paper towel rolls, masking tape, and paper clips. "Wow! May I try your invention? How do I use it? Would you show me?"

          14. Hmm... I wonder what you’ll come up with next.

          Example: Child makes dominoes topple over in an interesting pattern. "Hmm... I wonder what you'll come up with next."

          15. You did it! 

          Example: Child has been trying very hard to write his name and finally has written all of the letters correctly on the page. "You did it!"

          16. I've noticed that_____.

          Example: Child builds an airplane out of legos and comes to show you. "I've noticed that you've been working on your lego building skills and you are starting to make a lot of interesting things.")

          17. I love seeing you_____. Would you like to_____. 

          Example: Child sits and reads a book. When he gets to the end, he closes it and tells you he can read it. "I love seeing you teaching yourself how to read. Would you like to read this book to me? Or would you like for me to read it to you?"

          18. What did you learn from this? 

          Example: Child works hard to match all the pictures of animals that live in Africa to the continent of Africa. "What do you think you might have learned from this?"

          19. How did you come up with the idea for this?

          Example: Child has made a paper airplane and decorated it. "How did you come up with the idea for this?"

          20. You sure are growing! I remember when you weren't able to_____, and now you can_____.

          Example: Child has brushed her teeth, for the first time, by herself. "You sure are growing! I remember when you weren't able to brush your own teeth. I brushed them for you every day. But now you can brush them all by yourself!"

          21. A hug or a pat on the shoulder. As long as you are giving physical affection regularly and not tied to specific behaviors, feel free to connect with the little one without any words at all! A hug can sometimes say it all.

          Patience and Practice

          Like anything else, learning how and when to effectively use these phrases will take practice. Pick a few to try out and get familiar with those first before moving on to others. It's a guarantee you'll find opportunities to use all of these phrases within a single week of time spent with a child, but it will likely take much longer to solidify the new habit.

          Click here for a printable version of this list