Tag Archives: Montessori – Practical Life

Book Review :: Sewing School

In an effort to utilize my librarian background, I am embarking on a series of book reviews, to be published on Fridays. These reviews will cover science education books for and about children, as well as reality-based children’s books for a Montessori lifestyle.

A fabulous resource for teaching sewing to kids, aged 5 - 12.

A fabulous resource for teaching sewing to kids, ages 5 – 13.

Ages: Adult readers, but projects are directed at kids, ages 5- 13.
Plumley, Amie Petronis & Andria Lisle. Sewing School: 21 Projects Kids Will Love to Make.
Photography by Justin Fox Burks. Storey Publishing: North Adams, MA, 2010.

Sewing School

First, let me say how much I love the books that come from Storey Publishing. They are true to their mission of “serving their customers by publishing practical information that encourages personal independence in harmony with the environment.” No, I don’t work for them (and have not been paid by them), but I can always tell that they were the publishers of a book due to how much I like it. And, I really like this book.

I like that the authors specifically mention Montessori and Waldorf influences. I like that the purpose of the book doesn’t focus solely on transferring sewing skills, but rather encourages independence and free choice. It’s about using sewing techniques to increase creative expression and self-sufficiency. There is also a strong focus on having a prepared environment. The authors recommend having stations for fabrics, notions, pattern cutting and adult (or teen) monitors to run these stations so that a child can get help or move on to another project when ready. These are all Montessori principles and I love that they emphasize them in their “sewing school.”

The photography is brilliant – lots of colorful photographs and numerous step-by-step examples for the layers of each project. This is especially useful when trying to help a child learn the steps of tying a knot, which in my opinion, is much harder than getting them to thread the needle. The full-color, step-by-step pictures are spot-on and great for a new sewing teacher, or an expert one, as they figure out how to help the children help themselves. The pages on the various stitches (running and whipstitch) are especially nice.

The first few projects in this book utilize felt (with a special emphasis on wool felt), which does not fray and is very forgiving for a young child. My six-year-old easily made the “needle case” all on his own – from tracing the pattern in chalk to sewing on the button. The only help I gave was to tie the knot at the end of his embroidery floss.


My six-year-old traced the cardboard pattern and cut the fabric by himself.

In addition to the well-thought out projects, there’s a lot of room for older children to go further and “make it their own.” Without any prompting on my part, my oldest son decided that he wanted to embroider his first initial on the front part of his needle case (he’s been embroidering for years). Then, he decided that he didn’t want to see all of the threads and we brainstormed a way to cover them up (extra felt and hot glue).

My 10-year-old is embroidering his initial on the front of his needle case.

My 10-year-old is embroidering his initial on the front of his needle case. He drew the letter “R” with chalk first.

The book continues with more projects to help a young child develop their sewing skills. Many of these have a creative element and allow for lots of choice. This practical guide has been very useful as it begins with easy projects and moves to more advanced ones, such as sewing cotton fabric right sides together to make a a skirt. While most of the projects are focused on hand-sewing, a few suggest sewing machine use.

In preparation for a kids’ summer class on sewing, I have been poring over numerous sewing books aimed at children. This one is, by far, the best that I have found. These two authors obviously have a lot of experience running a sewing school and I’m grateful they committed their techniques to paper.

Between myself and my two boys, I have lots of example needle cases for my sewing class this summer.

Between myself and my two boys, I have a lot of sample needle cases for my sewing class this summer.

Montessori Sewing for Preschool

This book has projects for children who are at least 5-years-old, but you do not need to wait that long to introduce them to sewing concepts. The practical life area of a 3-6-year-old Montessori classroom should have “sewing” materials on the shelves. These materials can be for the young 3-and-4-year-old, such as large bead stringing and lacing cards. Or, for older children, there may be activities such as simple button sewing, advanced button sewing,and practicing the running stitch.

To see some of my recommended reality-based children’s books on sewing, check out my post on fiber arts in a Montessori classroom.


Book Reviews :: a parent’s guide to the montessori classroom

In an effort to utilize my librarian background, I am embarking on a series of book reviews, to be published every Friday. These reviews will cover science education books for and about children, as well as reality-based children’s books for a Montessori lifestyle.

A brief description of the learning that occurs in a Montessori classroom. By Aline Wolf.

A brief description of the learning that occurs in a Montessori classroom by Aline Wolf.

This little booklet was ‘one of many’ lifesavers during my first year as a new Montessori teacher. I was still learning how to facilitate, guide and present the materials to my students and there were days when I found the effort to be futile. Looking back, I still had a lot to internalize – both as a parent and as a teacher. This guide was a short, easy way to reinforce my Montessori purpose – and a great recommendation for parents who were considering the question, “why Montessori?”

Although I love the clear information it gives, prospective parents in today’s landscape might question the seemingly strong focus on “academics.” And, I will admit that I believe unstructured play to be very, very important for young children. Fortunately, I like to think that Dr. Montessori might have felt the same way. She just felt children should do that sort of free play at home – not at school.

The children she “honed her skills with” were poor children who were left to their own devices because their parents worked, in a reckless version of the free-range movement. Slightly older children teaching younger children to roam the streets. Yet Dr. Montessori found that they were craving this intellectual knowledge. They had gotten their fill of free play and were looking for other intellectual outlets. Of course, she did reject those children who could not settle down after a set amount of time, so we can’t exactly trust the ethos that Montessori is for everyone.*

Practical Life activities are an important part of a Montessori primary classroom.

Practical Life activities are an important part of a Montessori primary classroom.

Wolf’s slim book presents such compelling arguments for the practical life and sensorial “works” in a classroom that many parents will happily pay the high price tag of private school to let their children learn how to carefully pour water! The focus and lengthy concentration that three and four year-olds devote to these activities lend themselves to other pursuits. If anything, I think this extreme focus is the value of a Montessori education. The ability to lose oneself in a task – and to repeat it for the sheer joy of learning – is one of most beautiful things a teacher (or parent) can witness.

The focus of this book is the primary classroom, ages three to six, but Wolf briefly mentions the value of a Montessori education for both elementary-aged students and toddlers. She focuses on many of the different aspects of a Montessori primary classroom and to an uninitiated parent, it would seem as if your child will master all of these skills – geography, botany, reading, writing and advanced mathematics. That does set the bar rather high and I would caution perspective parents to view it more as a buffet of choices for your child.

If they are interested in botany, there are a number of materials to support a child’s interest, but most children will not delve deeply into that area. Parents need to understand that there is only so much time in the day and these materials are intended for a 3-year cycle of education. If your child only comes to Montessori at age three and leaves at age four, their education will look different. If they need an extra year to “settle” down, then they will need extra time to cover the other materials.

If you are considering a Montessori education for your child, grab a copy of this book and peruse the aspects of a good Montessori classroom. Not all schools that call themselves “Montessori” are true to her vision or even her philosophy. The very beautiful Montessori school near our area is only a “true” Montessori school through kindergarten. At that point, the children are given homework and the didactic materials disappear by second grade. That’s not to say that it isn’t a high-quality school, just that it succumbs to the pressure of being compatible with the local public schools.

Hopefully, this book can help you to determine if your prospective school is truly a Montessori school – and if you actually want your child to receive a Montessori education.

* If you have the time, check out the “unauthorized” biography by Rita Kramer for a more neutral take on Dr. Montessori and her method of education.

The teacher plays an important role - not for disseminating information, but for guiding a child has they follow their interests.

The teacher plays an important role – not for disseminating information, but for guiding a child as they follow their interests.


Books :: Montessori Practical Life Review

In an effort to utilize my librarian background, I am embarking on a series of book reviews, to be published every Friday. These reviews will cover computer programming books aimed at children, as well as reality-based children’s books.

For the past six years, I have been keeping an annotated list of reality-based children’s books in a file on my computer. As I come across a new one that meets my criteria (good story, based in reality, enjoyed by kids and adults), I add it to my list. This is the list I wish I had when I was starting out as a Montessori teacher. At that time, I was too overwhelmed by parenthood (my two-year-old was quite active) and learning a new teaching style and philosophy. I just didn’t have a lot of time to spend seeking out books to reinforce the lessons I was teaching in the classroom. I hope these posts find an audience with those who have the same need that I did.

I will be continuing my book review series. The next set of reviews will discuss books that cover topics usually associated with the “Sensorial” section of the Montessori classroom. In the meantime, I have gathered all of the past “Practical Life” posts.

Practical Life Reality-Based Children’s Books (categories):
1. “I can do it myself!”
2. Care of Self, Care of Stuff
3. Handwork and Fiber Arts
4. Character Development
5. Using Real Tools
6. Building Self-Confidence
7. Thinking of Others
8. New School & New Routines


Book Reviews :: Montessori Practical Life :: New School & Routines

 In an effort to utilize my librarian background, I am embarking on a series of book reviews, to be published every Friday. These reviews will cover computer programming books aimed at children, as well as reality-based children’s books.

From Stephanie Boden's book, Elizabeti's School.

From Stephanie Boden’s book, Elizabeti’s School.

As a new Montessori teacher, I was unsure how to welcome all of the children into our classroom on that first day. I wanted to let them know that our space was a welcoming space, but they didn’t know me, weren’t comfortable with me (yet) and for some, this was their first foray into a school setting. So, I turned to the thing that brings me comfort – books.

I read stories about the first day of school, but I also made it a point to share books and stories with them everyday. My assistant was completely on board with this idea – she loved children’s books as much as I did. While the children were washing their hands and getting ready for lunch – we read stories. While they were washing their hands after lunch and we were waiting for everyone to finish up – we read stories. Below, you will find some books that may help ease a child when they find themselves in a new situation.

Ages 2.5 and up
Mackall, Dandi Daley. First Day. Illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke. Silver Whistle & Harcourt, Inc.: San Diego, 2003.

With rhyming text and child-like pictures, this book follows a young girl through the excitement of her first day of school. On the way to school, she notices some of the other kids and notes how much bigger they seem and wonders if her parents could stay for that first day. The bell rings and she bids them farewell and starts to learn about her new classroom. She and her classmates engage in some typical American preschool activities (coloring, making block towers, and playing on the playground). At the end of the first day, she is happy to see her parents, but excited to return to school the next day.


Elizabeti’s School

Ages 4 and up
Boden, Stephanie. Elizabeti’s School. Illustrated by Christy Hale. Lee & Low Books, Inc.: New York, 2002.

The author spent time in Tanzania during her youth and the Elizabeti series of books are the results of her experiences. In this story, Elizabeti has reached the age where she gets to go to school (about 7 or 8, based on the illustrations). The night before her first day, she prepares her uniform and her new shoes. She and her older sister, Pendo, walk to school where Elizabeti enjoys learning how to count to five and playing with her new friends. She misses her family at home, but loves learning at school. A pronunciation guide is provided at the back of the book.

The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Jester and Chris Raschka.

The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Jester and Chris Raschka.

Ages 3.5 and up
Juster, Norton. The Hello Goodbye Window. Illustrated by Chris Raschka. Hyperion Books for Children: New York, 2005.

Raschka’s unique illustrations won the Caldecott Award for this book, a nice reflection on interracial marriage and family life . A young preschool girl spends the weekdays with her Nanna and Poppy, who live in a big house in the middle of town. Together they work on projects together, pretend a dinosaur is outside and take afternoon naps. The girl and her grandparents enjoy their time together and when her parents come to pick her up, she is sad, but happy too and so they make a big deal of saying goodbye at the window by the front door (the hello, goodbye window). A lovely story about spending time with loved ones and enjoying all of the people in your life. But, really, it’s a story about being a preschooler and pretending a window is something more…

The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Jester and Chris Raschka.

The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Jester and Chris Raschka.

Book Reviews :: Montessori Practical Life – Building Self-Confidence

 In an effort to utilize my librarian background, I am embarking on a series of book reviews, to be published every Friday. These reviews will cover computer programming books aimed at children, as well as reality-based children’s books.


Although there are a number of books where the characters face a problem, many of these books depict talking animals, or worse, are so filled with conflict that the resolution comes at the end of the book. Therefore, much of the story is about the conflict, not the resolution (see the book, NurtureShock for a good explanation as to why this matters).  In addition, since many of these “moral lessons” are lost on children younger than age eight, as parents we need to talk to them about the story (not every book, or every story, but occasionally parents can point out the lesson in the story).

The following books are great for an in-class (or at-home) discussion with an elementary audience. I wouldn’t necessarily read these books to a child younger than five, unless you have the time to discuss how the characters might be feeling.

Ages 6 and up
Lovell, Patty. Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon. Illustrated by David Catrow. Scholastic, Inc. : New York, 2001.
This story features Molly Lou Melon, an exceptionally short girl with buck teeth and a “bullfrog” voice. But, she doesn’t mind her flaws. After all, her grandmother told her to love herself and everyone else will love her too. When she moves to a new school, she has to put her self-esteem to the test as she works on winning over the school bully. Best of all – she does it just by being herself (i.e. showing how she can stack pennies on her buck teeth, etc.) Parent’s note: there is some example name calling, such as shrimpo and  bucky-tooth beaver, hence the advanced age range for this book.

Molly Lou Melon's "bullfrog" voice scares the bullfrogs!

Molly Lou Melon’s “bullfrog” voice scares the bullfrogs!

Ages 5 and up
Beaumont, Karen. I Like Myself! Illustrated by David Catrow. Harcourt: Orlando, 2004.
David Catrow is the same illustrator for the book, Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon, and so this book has a similar look and feel. However, rather than tell a story, the author’s rhyming text supports a child’s self-esteem. For example, her opening words are “I’m glad I’m me” and the readers continue to watch as the main character, a little girl, proclaims a love of herself – even if she has tusks that come out of her nose! This is a cute story that emphasizes the idea that no one should make you feel bad about about yourself. Appropriate for elementary-aged audiences.

Ages 6 and up
London, Jonathan. Where the Big Fish Are. Illustrated by Adam Gustavson. Candlewich Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2001.
Two boys are spending the summer (free from school) by their local lake. Each morning they cast their fishing polls, but they catch no fish. Finally, they decide to build a raft so they can go into the middle of the lake – where the big fish are. They work and work and eventually make a raft. Unfortunately, a huge storm comes through and wrecks the little raft. One of the boys doesn’t want to rebuild since it would be too much work, but the other boy helps him to be resilient and try again. A good story for showcasing “grit” and helping to persevere despite setbacks.


Book Reviews :: Montessori Practical Life :: Using Real Tools

In an effort to utilize my librarian background, I am embarking on a series of book reviews, to be published every Friday. These reviews will cover computer programming books aimed at children, as well as reality-based children’s books.

My young four-year-old using scissors to open a box

My young four-year-old using scissors to open a box

This last month, I have been focusing on books that reflect the practical life skills of young children. Part 1 focused on the young three-year-old, whereas Part 2 offered books for a slightly older audience. Part 3 reflected the role handwork plays in a Montessori curriculum and Part 4 covered character development. In this installment of “Practical Life” book reviews, I’ve chosen to focus on tools.

In my Montessori training, I was taught that children need to be shown how to use real tools…and that they can handle the responsibility. So, we give real knives, sharp needles and live animals (and I have done my best to mimic this at home). There are no pretend kitchens in a Montessori classroom, but snack time is a key component of the day in a primary classroom. Children are taught to prepare their own snack from the provided materials for that day. They feel confident because they are actually being helpful (as opposed to just pretending to do work). They are retaining their dignity in this work. While Dr. Montessori saw little value in fantasy play during the school day, I’m not entirely certain she wouldn’t have valued this type of play at home. I do feel there is a lot value in pretend play, but that is another post entirely!

Ages 2 and up
Sturges, Philemon. I Love Tools! Illustrations by Shari Halpern. HarperCollins: New York, 2006.
This simple book has cartoon-like pictures, but is quite firmly based in reality. A young family works together to build a birdhouse, naming each tool as it goes. The two kids work with mom and dad and each page is limited to a few sentences. A great introductory book for your budding builder.

Ages 3 and up
Gibbons, Gail. How a House is Built. Holiday House: New York, 1990.
As with most of Gibbon’s work, this story book reads less like a story and more like an interesting non-fiction read. She takes us through the concept of a house. Houses and homes mean many things to different people and Gibbons makes note of that fact. Eventually, she settles on a typical American house and we follow the development of the house from architect to completion. For curious kids who want to know exactly how a house is put together, this book meets those needs (without becoming too tedious or boring for the adult who is reading it to them).

Ages: 2 and up
Sobel, June. B is for Bulldozer. Ills. By Melissa Iwai. San Diego: Gulliver Books, 2003.
This alphabet concept book follows a work crew as they set-up an amusement park. The story flows very well and capital letters are highlighted on each page. A, E, O, U sounds are all short vowels (asphalt, excavator, operator, underpass). This is a great book for the construction-obsessed child who is starting to recognize capital letters – or who just wants to know the names of the equipment (and mom and dad are tired of the DK books).

Ages 3 and up
Crews, Nina. Below. Henry Holt and Company: New York, 2006.
The author-illustrator uses photographs with overlay drawings to tell the story of Jack, an approximately seven-year-old boy and his small, plastic figurine named Guy. Jack has a flight of wooden stairs in his home and he and Guy do lots of pretending on these stairs (they can become mountains, cities and occasionally, a forest). One day Guy goes under the stairs and Jack needs his plastic construction equipment to get him out. This story is cute, realistic and short, making it a perfect read-aloud for circle time.

I didn’t have a chance to review The Toolbox by Anne and Harlow Rockwell, but you may want to check that one out too!

Added 4/8/2016
Ages 3 and up
Bean, Jonathan. Building Our House. Farrar, Straus, Giroux: New York, 2013.
While the story itself is simple, the book is quite long. Thankfully, each page only contains one or two sentences. Therefore, there are a lot of pictures for your young one to look at if the story gets too lengthy. This story is loosely based on Bean’s own parents and their desire to build a homestead home out in the country (and homeschool). The two parents and two young children (told from Bean’s older sister’s point of view) travel to a plot of land in the country where they will live in a Airstream trailer while building their 2-story home. Each day, the dad goes to work in the city, but in the evenings and on the weekends, the whole family pitches in and builds the home. Workers bring in some heavy equipment for digging the well and basement, but mom and dad use a small hand mixer to pour the concrete for the basement. The story takes place over a year and a half, but the author’s note mentions that it actually took his family almost 5 years to complete their home. This is a great book for all of those construction-loving children out there and would pair quite nicely with a safe trip to see how new houses are made.



Books :: Montessori Practical Life Sewing and Knitting

In an effort to utilize my librarian background, I am embarking on a series of book reviews, to be published every Friday. These reviews will cover computer programming books aimed at children, as well as reality-based children’s books.


Sailboat was selected and embroidered by Calum at age 4.5

Montessori Practical Life Sewing and Knitting

Recently, I have been focusing on books that support a child’s development of practical life skills (see part 1 and part 2). This week the focus is on fiber arts, including those items made entirely by hand from natural materials. In a Montessori classroom, sewing is taught in the primary classroom.  It is also featured quite prominently in the Waldorf educational experience.  In a Montessori primary classroom, the young three-year-old may start with lacing cards and progress from learning how to tie a knot to doing hand embroidery with a design of their choosing. Both of my boys have really enjoyed sewing as part of our “unofficial” homeschool curriculum. One of our past projects can be found here .

Montessori Practical Life sewing - practicing cross-stitch

Calum, age 4, sewing an “x” in the squares of fabric.

Ages 3 and up
Beskow, Ella. Pelle’s New Suit. Floris Books: Edinburgh: 2007.
This picture book is quite old, comes from Sweden and was originally published in the early 1900s. It has recently been reproduced and the colorful pictures are gorgeous. This is an easy-to-read, simple story which explains how wool can become a piece of clothing. Pelle (pronounced Pell-uh) has outgrown his clothes and needs a new suit, except there are no stores that he can buy one from. He must enlist the help of his sheep, his grandmothers, his mother, and the tailor to get a new suit to wear. This book is perfect for your eager three-year-old who wants to know how everything in the world works. For storytime, be sure and get the extra large lap edition. This is one of my favorite books to share with children.

Ages: 3 and up
Roth, Julie Jerslid. Knitting Nell. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Boston, 2006.
This is a sweet, simple story about Nell, an upper elementary student who likes to knit. A lot. She knits all the time and takes her knitting everywhere and while a lot of her friends do not understand why she knits all the time, they accept her for who she is and eventually discover the good deeds she has accomplished (making handknits for the children’s home and war-torn countries). Then, everyone wants to knit. Great, clear illustrations, a perfect introduction to craftivism.


Book Reviews :: Practical Life, Part 2

In an effort to utilize my librarian background, I am embarking on a series of book reviews, to be published every Friday. These reviews will cover computer programming books aimed at children, as well as reality-based children’s books.

IMG_0277As the title of this post indicates, this is the second part of a series where I focus on children’s stories that cover practical life skills. All of the books I recommend are ones that my children have enjoyed and I would use in my own classroom. These books are based in reality, thus children are learning key vocabulary without having to discover if something is fantasy or not. Check out my post on reading for a more in-depth explanation.

I focused on the younger child in the first part of this series, so I have chosen two books that are more appropriate for a slightly older child.  These books will have your children giggling at the silly antics of the characters, while still imparting a valuable lesson.

Ages 4 and up
Redmond, E.S. Felicity Floo Visits the Zoo. Candlewick Press: Somerville, Massachusetts, 2009.
This rhyming story will have children (and parents) feeling sorry for the poor zoo animals as a sniffling Felicty Floo visits the zoo. She brings her runny nose and subsequent illness to all of the zoo animals. Throughout the short text, we see Felicity’s handprints (and thus, her germs) spread throughout the various zoo enclosures. Although the animals do not speak in this story, there may need to be some discussion about how children are not typically allowed into the zoo enclosures with the animals. A sophisticated preschooler should be able to reference their own zoo visits with Felicity’s up-close encounters and recognize the author’s literary license. At the end of the book, there is a catchy little rhyme about how one needs to cough into their elbow and use a tissue to prevent spreading the “floo!”

Ages 4 and up
Pearson, Tracey Campbell. The Purple Hat. Farrar, Strauss, Giroux: New York, 1997.
Our story follows Annie, a young elementary girl who loves the color purple. One day, a catalog comes into the mail and Annie finds a beautiful purple hat. She leaves hints for her family that she would like the hat and after a bit, a package comes to her door and it’s the purple hat. She is so excited that she decides to wear it the next day to school. During a walk in the woods, she loses the hat and is distraught for weeks until the townspeople decide to bring her various purple hats. At the end of the book, her hat is found, but some local birds have been using it as a nest. Annie is thrilled. This is a great book for talking about taking care of items and the importance of community.


Book Reviews :: Practical Life Skills – Independence

In an effort to utilize my librarian background, I am embarking on a series of book reviews, to be published every Friday. These reviews will cover computer programming books aimed at children, as well as reality-based children’s books.

In a Montessori classroom, the guide or teacher, welcomes the young three-year-old into the classroom. It is her mission to guide this young child through the practical life and sensorial lessons during this first year in school. The purpose of these activities is to help the young child to develop concentration and fine motor skills. It seems obvious, but by increasing a child’s concentration with practical life activities, this extended focus will carry over to more “academic pursuits” as they get older. I have found that the home Montessori environment differs greatly from a classroom setting, but a young child is still attracted to the practical life materials. You can find some of our past practical life activities here, here and here.

In the spirit of the practical life curriculum, I have found and reviewed the following two books. Both of these stories will resonate with the young child as they struggle to find their place in the world.

Ages 2 and up
Nakawaki, Hatsue. Wait! Wait! Ills. By Komako Sakai. Enchanted Lion Books: New York, 2013.
This sweet book follows a young toddler girl who desperately wants to interact with a butterfly, a chicken, and a skink. Unfortunately, as is the way of toddlers, the animals all get away from her since her actions she scare them. The very short words emphasize the concept of “waiting” and observing. A great story for youngsters, but an even better story to begin a discussion with preschoolers about the powers of silent observation and self-control.

Ages 2.5 and above
Raschka, Chris. Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle. Schwartz & Wade Books: New York, 2013.
This two-time Calecott Medal winning artist brings his style to a new book for kids who may be a little apprehensive about riding a bike. His paintings are a bit abstract, but the premise is clear. A little girl wants to learn to ride her bike, and so she progresses from using training wheels to lifting them “up a smidge,” and then taking them off and falling down. The short and encouraging words show that the girl is determined to learn how to ride a bike. My favorite page shows the little girl falling and having to “find the courage to try it again, and again, and again…” Short and simple and perfect for young listeners.

New Books Added – 4/8/2016
Ages 2.5 and up
Carluccio, Maria. I’m 3! Look What I Can Do. Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt & Company: New York, 2010.

This isn’t really a story, but rather a listing of all the things various 3-year-olds can do. “I can sleep in my bed. I can eat with my fork and spoon, and I can drink from a cup.” The simple painted pictures show various 3-year-olds accomplishing these tasks. Obviously, each child will reach these milestones at different times, so be cautious if you have some sensitive children who are concerned that they can’t put on their own pajamas yet. Otherwise, this book will offer confidence to those children who are excited that they can “hang up their coat,” but might still need some help trying new foods.

addition and sewing

I love that as part of my homeschool "curriculum" for Ronan, I can include both addition and sewing and they both are equally loved by this child. These activities were on the schedule for the week and he chose when and where to do them.

Addition with Objects (red is the preferred color that AMS Montessorians choose for addition work):


The second time he did this work (on Saturday, no less), he turned to me and said, "Mom, this is boring. I already know this stuff." Ha ha. And, he's right, sort of. Adding numbers to make ten or less is a simple concept for him, But, I told him that once he could look at one of those problems and know the answer, then he would be truly finished with it. (He's done it with the plus 1 problems). However, it was a good thing for him to hear the words: addition and plus and equals. So, after he decided he had mastered addition, he went to work some more on his embroidery work.

Earlier in the week, I had introduced him to the concept of an embroidery hoop — complete with a requested car drawing. He finished it within an hour and only got stuck a few times. (Of course, I did tie a knot so the thread wouldn't slip out and we did talk about making knots – a work for another day, I think).


And, while I am completely impressed with his skills and interest in this project, it was his next initiative that I think is the most important. Immediately after finishing the car, he wanted to do another one (or make a small pillow). I asked him what he wanted next – maybe a tractor or a fire engine? I would find a line drawing and set it up for him the next day. Well, in the morning, I awoke to him presenting me with his very own drawing of a semi-truck. And, with only some minor alterations, his next project was born.


So far, we are both liking this homeschool thing.