Category Archives: Making Books

a gift for his teacher

This year Ronan was enrolled in a local Montessori preschool. He went five mornings a week from 9-12, as part of Florida's Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program. He had a great experience – he enjoyed being there and it jumpstarted him with regards to combining letters to form words (CVC, for those Montessorians). It also allowed me some alone time with just Calum. It was wonderful to be able to give this time to Calum like I had given it to Ronan at that age. While I think there are some things that could use improvement (stricter adherence to the "snack" protocol and more Montessori materials), one of the things that we felt made his year a success was his teacher. She is patient and kind, but firm. She's always available to talk about concerns and she's genuinely excited about learning and that translates to the children. In short, I think she was a major contributor to his success this year. So, of course, we wanted to find a proper way to thank her.

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So, we made her a "thank you" book. While I would love to take credit for this lovely idea, I was merely the recipient of such a wonderfully crafted book when I was a Montessori teacher.  It made such a lasting impression on me, that three years later, I thought it would be the perfect gift to give to a wonderful teacher. A way to say thank you – in homemade fashion.

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Ronan and I both contributed to this book. I wanted to make sure she understood how important we felt her role was in Ronan's past year. It could have been a bad experience, but he excelled and enjoyed himself. (Plus, we tucked in some gift cards for good measure)!

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All of the artwork was done by Ronan (or me). We used sheets of cardboard (from the back of the construction paper collection) for the front and back pieces, which were then painted by Ronan. It was a quick project that we hope had a lasting impression.

 

ABCs

There's something about observing your child and watching for interest changes and ah-ha moments, well, it just makes this whole parent thing pretty darn good. A month or two ago, Ronan decided that he wanted to get books about letters from the library.

Me: "We're going to the library tomorrow. What would you like to study or learn about this week?"

Ronan: "Letters. I'd like to get books about letters."

Me: "Okay, sounds good."

Wait…until he leaves the room and jump up and down in anticipation. Now, it would be disingenuous to suggest that I haven't introduced letters to him before. (We started with sounds – Montessori-style). But, I have presented letters numerous times and he knew some, but for the most part they just haven't "stuck." He seemed interested in them, loved to trace them as a 3-year-old, but the lowercase sandpaper letters that I made him – they didn't really hold his interest. So, I waited. (Not something my natural Type-A personality likes to do). And, I thought about it.

I decided to go against my Montessori training and introduce both uppercase and lowercase ones at the same time. Alphabet books are in uppercase. So, rather than try to work against the system, maybe he would retain them if he knew the uppercase first. And, after a few weeks of reading these books – and discussing – and a few more repeat episodes of The Letter Factory (egads – it is TV cartoon, but a really, really useful one), and he knows almost all of them.

And what does a frugal, fun-loving mama-teacher do when we need to go to the next level? Cobble together an idea from a variety of sources (friends, family and traditional education) and a homemade alphabet book is born.

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A re-purposed binder, some printer paper, lots of stickers, and a collection of grocery store flyers – the perfect tools for a homemade book. We've started with Aa – a nice way to put that pesky alphabet song to good use. (In Montessori, we isolate the vowels in red and consonants in blue – whenever we write – at least for the first year. The rationale being that the vowels are much trickier to hear and notice when breaking down the letters in a word).

And, if you have no stickers or cutouts for your letter? What does your creative child do when you go to check on his younger brother?

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You draw a dinosaur, of course.