Tag Archives: home schooling

Learning to Write Montessori Style: Part 1 ~ Basically We Love Sound Catching Games!

I have found it really helpful to understand how children learn and how to support my littlie explore her world in a fun way that builds her confidence. I thought I’d expand a little on some of my other posts here and here that had Montessori leanings.

Time Archives Maria Montessori

I like the Montessori approach because it is child led. It seems to foster a sense of independence and confidence as the child progresses as their own speed. The skills are learnt in an order that benefits the child. For example the child is encouraged to write before read. They are able to use the sounds they have learnt to create their own messages, enjoy this process and have a sense of ownership rather than read someone else’s writing.

I do not claim to be a Montessori expert by any stretch of the imagination. I have read blogs, websites and a few books. So with that in mind, here we go…


A, B, C

Our English alphabet is a series of shapes that have no correlation to the sound. They are simply shapes ascribed to each letter. A child must learn that:

A) the words they say “mama I want milk” is made up of individual sounds.

B) They then must learn that these sounds have a shape.

C) And that these shapes can also make  different sounds when put together  – t & h = th.

D) and when these shapes are written down they can be read.

Ultimately they must recognise that visual shapes represent our verbal language.  They are linking verbal comprehension (understanding spoken language), verbal expression (talking) visual expression (writing) and visual comprehension (reading). Phew! It is a big conceptual leap for them to understand that the shapes around them represent the language they speak.

In Montessori learning children are taught sounds “ah = a” before they learn to recognise the name of the letter “Aay = A” and the shapes of letters (a, A). Lowercase seem to be introduced first. I am amazed by the number of alphabet books that mix up the sounds and names for letters – very confusing for a child. “a = an apple” and then “b = a bee” rather than “b = a ball” They need to be able to hear the sounds in words as this makes more sense.  We have been playing games with letters in a similar way to our number hunts.

Sound Games

Eye Spy Activity

On our car journeys we began with a very basic ‘Eye Spy’. Eye spy a coloured object – something red (red bus).

You can begin to emphasise the sounds. “Yes! Well done a red bus. Bus, buh, buh, buh..bus”

Once they have the hang of the game you can begin to introduce sounds more specifically.

Eye Spy something red that begins with ‘Buh’. Remember to use the sound of the letter “ah” not “aay”, “buh” not “bee”. “cuh” not “cee”.

Begin to link sounds for them. “mmmm, mama the mmmmm, monkey!” Any vague toilet related humour goes down well here so “Urghhh, ssssssss, smelly sssssss, sandwiches” would ensure a peel of laughter. Fun, fun, fun! Notice and ‘catch’ sounds together. If they hear a new word or ask about something new, repeat it a few times with the sound accentuated. We called these games our “Sound Catching Games” as she’s learning to ‘catch’ the sound in each word.

After playing these game A LOT! You can move onto the guessing game.

Guessing Game

Hold two items in each hand (they should have different sounds such as Buh (b) and Sss (s) not  Muh (m) and Nuh (n). Hold a bag and scissors in each hand. Say “this is a bag, it has a buh sound. Buh for buh, bag. These are scissors they have a sss sound. Sss for sssscissors. Which one begins with the sound “buh?” See if they can identify the right item. If they can, continue with this game changing the items and sounds. If not go back to the eye spy games.

Sound Hunts

You can go on sound hunts looking for items with the same sound. You may want to strategically place items with a particular sound in easy reach.

Sound Baskets

Find items with two/three different sounds and place them in a heap, see if you can both sort them into the right sound basket.

Introducing Letter Shapes

I will post part 2 on how we have introduced the letter shapes as that is a full post in itself!

Have fun sound catchers!

naomi x

Tchaikovsky & Degas…Music & Art for Little Artists

My musical taste I’m afraid isn’t too vast. I’m usually listening to Radio 4 otherwise it’s Capital for my pop fix, Radio 6 Music for Sundays and YouTube for everything in-between. However, dancing and music is a big part of life around here at the moment.

Little minou regularly slips on her ballet shoes, declares she needs to wear a dress, turns all the dials on various musical mobiles, toys and devices in her room and proceeds to perform a darling dance.

Today I had to join “the audience” on her bed to watch a show whilst affirming her ballet moves. “Splits” she would announce with one leg in a bent form behind her and her still chubby leg barely managing to balance in such a pose. “Plié!” , “pirouette!”, I would call out in vague memories of mirror walled rooms.

This audience participation all began with us watching Swan Lake as I tried to explain the music on one of her musical toys. We talked about different aspects of the performance from the emotion conveyed to the characters and plot line. She was transfixed. A princess! Who is that dragon?! Ohhh is she now the swan princess? Is she sad now? She was totally taken with the movement, music and outfits. We are seriously responsible for a lot of those views on YouTube!

This naturally led into an exploration of Degas! Hee hee writing that makes me laugh. It sounds so tenuous and random written down! Honestly there is a link! We looked through my A level art books (hoarding has its benefits!).

Degas' Ballerinas

We looked at the different drawings Degas had created of ballerinas. I got out my A level oil pastels (they are actually that old!) and she drew her own ballerina with a little help for the tutu. She wanted to add stickers to represent the flowers so we went all mixed-media.

Oil Pastel Degas and Swan Lake

We hunted out some old clothes pegs and made our own Odette and Prince Siegfried. We coloured their faces with pens and made outfits from fabric scraps. Pipe cleaners made some rather dubious limbs but she liked them as she could change them to “Splits!”

Clothes Peg and Pipe Cleaner Ballerinas

We may attempt a Van Gogh (without any lost ears), my favourite, Seurat or even a Pollock, I think his technique will lend itself to fun child friendly techniques-I’ll just have to find some dust sheets first!

So, if you see us walking around with extra layers of clothes i.e jumper, shorts and a dress, like at church today, you can safely assume there was a ballet performance at some point earlier.

Some lovely links to enjoy:

Go to the National Gallery on Sundays for a Magic Carpet Storytelling

Visit the MoMA Art Lab: People if you are the other side of the pond (and in NY!)

Enjoy a fabulous evening watching the glorious Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House 

with the Bolshoi Ballet

I’m a firm believer in Google and Wiki as my external knowledge sources so look at Degas paintings here if you don’t have quite the same hoarding tendencies as me.

Enjoy, naomi x

Quiet Time Boxes

These quiet time boxes are great for exactly that-quiet time!

A lot of these activities were played with by my daughter when she was about 20 months old but to be honest she may have got more out of it at a younger age. Some of the activities could be used for real wee ones. You know your child, you’ll judge it. If they’re not interested just wait a month or two.

The idea is that you fill the box with fun exploratory items to entertain in a calm and quiet way. These were great on ‘no nap’ days [and there have been plenty of those] or for when you have to ring the car insurance people, wash up, have a coffee break…

These quiet time boxes are easy to make as a lot of the activities can be made from items from your cupboards.

Discovery Jars

Discovery Jars
Fill up an old jam jar with rice or pulses then hunt around your house for fun objects to hide in the rice. [Note. Do not put in a favourite toy. My minou was a little distraught to find one of her Sylvanian babies trapped behind glass].
You can make this look much cuter by dying the rice different colours. I made another that had layered rainbow colours. Just plop the rice into some food colouring and then leave to dry.

The other one is an old vitamin tub filled with rice for a soft rain sound.

The glass bottles were coffee syrups in their former life. Originally there were 3 but they have been loved and played with so I can only locate 2 after much rummaging.

1 → food colouring water with oil, from your food cupboards. When shaken it forms bubbles and globules.

2 → food colouring water with glitter and a little glycerine so that the glitter slowly tumbles down, snow globe style.

3 → food colouring water with washing up liquid. When shaken it gives a little foamy top.

These are great for learning cause and effect. Without a doubt these were worth the effort.  They are still regularly played with over a year on as medicine, food and many other things I can’t decipher whilst watching her imaginative play.

Remember to superglue the lids down! Otherwise disaster and mess will ensue.

Colour Matching

Colour Matching Pegs
Raid your nearest DIY shop for paint sample cards and over a glass of wine, cut and stick onto pegs. Great for fine motor skills. As you can see these have been used quite a bit and as our quiet time boxes have evolved into general play only a few pegs remain.


Quiet Time Boxes

Again go on a rummage and find any old make up bags etc that you have no use for. I bought one at a £ shop and the other came with a magazine with a nail set. These are great as they can proudly master zips, buttons and poppers all in their own time. Plus they get to stuff them full with favourite collections and bits of fluff [?!, yes, vacuuming is low on my list of priorities].

Pasta and Shoelaces
Buy penne pasta and a pair of shoe laces. Minou spent ages threading pasta onto laces [make sure you tie a big knot or button on the end so it won’t fall straight off]. She would be SO proud of herself. She really delighted in it. fantastic for hand eye coordination and fine motor skills. The Early Learning Centre sell pots of big buttons and thread.

Little People

Quiet Time Boxes 2

I added a selection of wooden people. Some with different facial expressions and others plain so she could decide and change their feelings as she played.


Paint Pots & Pompoms/Tubs & Pipe Cleaners

Can you tell we love pompoms here!
These are great as there is a little hole for pushing all the pompoms into the pot. Another variation we had was a Pringles tub with holes in the lid [made with a hole punch] with a selection of pipe cleaners. Bliss. She loved this too. She found it so satisfying to pop each pipe cleaner into the hole. I even colour coded the hole with permanent pen around the edge with corresponding pipe cleaners.

Other Items
→ the Minou went through a phase of loving a pocket sized A-Z of London.  She would pour over the pages and become a little sat nav. Turning to the back, finding a street name and confidently turning to any map page to locate said road. She would read out all sorts of facts and fiction from those pages. Darling to watch and listen to.

→ A magnifying glass.  Endless fun. [Except when your face is being inspected at such close proximity]. Again I think I picked up a ready good one at the £ shop.

→ A mirror. A little pocket sized one. Great for exploring their own little face and discovering its reflective capabilities.

Story pebbles.

→Matching cards. Tiger always seem to have a selection.  Great for foundation English and maths skills.

→ Stacking solider. Our was a little solider made up of wooden blocks that had to be stacked onto a pole. She loved this. There is the plastic ring alternative.

→ A selection of wooden blocks to build cities and homes.

→ zoo animals.

→ small pad and crayon.

→ Every box had a book.

Some of the boxes had a theme such as animals.

Note. Mirrors, story pebbles and small parts should be monitored as you don’t want trips to A&E during ‘quiet time’!

She loved these boxes and sometimes would ask if it was ‘quiet time, box time’. My tip is to only get them out for quiet time that way they get a little play and stay exciting and interesting. In addition I had several boxes so that I could alternate them each day ensuring novelty.

Have you made any? What are in your quiet time boxes?