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Montessori Lessons, Ideas and More…

The Three R’s for Autumn Lesson Planning

Reading, writing and arithmetic are the building blocks of our children’s education, so it’s always worth spending a little extra energy in finding fresh and engaging materials on those subjects.  It is especially appropriate as we start the traditional school year to provide extra review and practice to make sure students are “tuned-up” and ready to work after the summer holidays.

Check out the links below.

General lesson plan ideas

Ten Things to Remember When Presenting Montessori Activities.

Point your browsesr to Montessori Classroom: Activity Ideas for the First Day of School

Check out this round-up of lesson plans and activities on a variety of subjects.

Only Passionate Curiosity has compiled an extensive list of free homeschool curriculum resources, including pre-K through grade 12.

HomeschoolViews links to a wide variety of free unit studies, administrative helpers, activities and fun items to print out for homeschool and other educational uses.

EverythingHomeschooling has another large listing of free homeschool lessons.

Autumn-themed unit studies/academic lessons

HotChalk’s Lesson Plans Page provides an extensive array of links to lesson plans, videos and other resources related to the seasons.  Check them now for autumn ideas, and bookmark them for later in the year.

You’ll find seasonally-themed ideas and much more at the Activity Idea Place.

Hands-On Autumn Adventures gives ideas for autumn weekend and school day outings, as well as other related activities.

Free reading resources

Need some new book adventures?  Here are several good lists of K-3 reading books (and some higher grades, too).

The Lord Equipment Company’s Simple Steps Reading Series combines phonics and sight word practice with an opportunity to create your own book as a student project or gift for a child.

Montessorian Cathie Perolman offers her HANDS-ON PHONICS program from Joyful Noise Prodcutions.

Writing resources

Montessori Mom shares instructions for making and using a Montessori Movable Alphabet.

Access a free Montessori blue line paper PDF here.

Find out more about  the Barchowsky Fluid Handwriting technique.

You’ll find lots of free handwriting practice sheets at these links.

Draw Your World combines art with writing and spelling practice.

For older students, here are some free typing resources. and

Word puzzles and games (Grown-ups will enjoy some of these, too!)

Enjoy these free Montessori educational bingo games. and

Word search, crosswords, hang-man and more make it fun to practice spelling and comprehension. (Math puzzles here, too.)

Try out Alan Stillson’s Middle School Word Puzzles here: and here:

Math practice and puzzles

You will find a variety of mathematics lesson ideas for K-5 students at lists resources from kindergarten all the way through high school.’s “Teaching Math at Home” listings concentrate on inspirations and ideas and on-line courses.

Check out math curriculum ideas listed by grade level.

Enjoy some free samples of Dr. Henry Borenson’s Hands-On Equations.

Try out this math sequencing exercise from Conceptual Learning.

If math seems difficult or stressful for your students, perhaps you will find some inspiration in this interesting blogpost on “unschooling” math.

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Whatever strategies you implement, here’s hoping that your students get a great start on their academics this year!

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Savoring the Second Half of Summer

It seems like, for many people, summer and other vacations speed by so quickly that we can hardly remember where the time went.  If that is the case for you– or even if you have started to get a bit of the mid-summer doldrums, and run out of fun and educational ideas– this is a great time to refocus and come up with a few more ways to make the most of the rest of the summer.

Free game and practice worksheets

Fun, free worksheets like these can be a great thing to take along on a driving trip, a lazy day at the beach, or just for a quiet hour under the trees in the backyard.

And here are some great ESL worksheets, too!


Free video lessons

When it’s just too hot to go out and play, and kids are restless, remember that your computer can connect you with a wide variety of free and fresh educational opportunities.  Here are a few links to get you started.

Cool food for hot weather

When the summer sun starts to take its toll on everyone’s energy and patience, check out some quick and easy recipes which don’t require you heating up the kitchen by firing up the stove or oven.  Many are both kid-pleasing and kid-friendly to assemble, so you can share the kitchen duties to speed up and/or socialize the process and make meals truly a family affair.

Try these great recipes for children to help prepare–  Summer Fruit, Cheese and Meat Kabobs from Dianne at Conceptual Learning and Watermelon Blueberry Banana Split from the late Kathy O’Reilly’s “Cooking With Children Can Be Easy”.


Here are a variety of other listings of hot weather meals your family might enjoy. Some are also useful for short-term power outages and other disaster situations, when you might go oven-free by necessity, rather than by choice.  Perhaps you could also discuss these scenarios with your students as you plan and prepare the recipes.


Farmers’ Markets

Many of the tastiest no-cook or quick-to-cook summer recipes involve enjoying the bounty of local summer fruits and vegetables in a fairly natural state. This is a wonderful opportunity to encourage our children (and whole families) to both eat healthily and learn or remember where these delicious foods come from. 

In summer, even a trip to the supermarket is usually a feast for the eyes, but perhaps you and your students would enjoy a visit to a local farmers’ market. 

There is something extra-enticing about produce that hasn’t traveled hundreds of miles or been sitting in cold storage for months (though we love those fruits and vegetables, too.) Small farmers are able to grow more-perishable and often more-unusual varieties than big commercial farmers do, so the variety of colors, shapes and sizes of fruits and vegetables can be nearly amazing.  Since the produce is often fresher and riper, it also tends to have a richer aroma, which is certainly an important element of both the anticipation and enjoyment of good food. 

Since many small farmers often consider education a part of their business, they are often a font of interesting information about the origin, history, and growth habits of the produce they sell.  What a delicious way to blend lessons in both nutrition and botanical science!

If you’re not familiar with any local markets in your area, these search engines might help you find one.  If there are none nearby, a drive to one in a neighboring area could be a fun family outing. Just remember to bring an ice chest to protect your enticing purchases from heat and damage on the ride home.


Find out more about fish

If your favorite summer adventures include a visit to the ocean, a lake or pond, or a river or stream, you may see some fish while you are recreating.  Why not bone-up on your fish facts before you go?  The following sites give lots of good information, as well as lesson ideas.

For more fish lessons, plus many more fun outdoor activities, check out the National Wildlife Federation’s “Connect Kids and Nature” pages.

Here are some cute books about fish. Look for more at your local library.


Want to get creative? Check out these neat fish art ideas.


If you like to get outdoors (and sometimes get wet), you might enjoy sport fishing.  It is a sport which allows children to practice both hand-eye coordination and patience.  It can also allow adults and children to enjoy some leisurely quiet conversation, as well as lots of excitement if and when the fish are biting.

It’s late in the summer for some of the organized free-fishing programs around the United States (many are held in June or near Independence Day). However, there is still a lot of interesting fishing information available from public parks, state and local fish and wildlife or natural resource organizations, and private associations like those below.  Check with your own local recreational agencies for more specific information and advice about your nearby opportunities.

Since we aren’t naturally equipped like fish, anytime you’re around water, it’s important to be very careful.  Here are some good tips for staying safe in and around the water.


Understanding wildfires and wildfire safety

Many children in rural areas grow up with fire safety practices and fire season preparations an integral part of their normal lives.  However, in years like this year and last, when devastating wildfires have been big news all across North America, children from all areas are more likely to be aware of wildland fire dangers.

Although we try our best to protect especially our young children from subjects that will cause them sadness or fear beyond their maturity level, some such events will affect children despite our best efforts.  In that case, sometimes information and a plan of action can provide important comfort and perspective to help children cope.

The Smokey Bear site offers information, games, and safety tips. It even has a map of active fires around the U.S., which might be interesting to older students.  Understanding your own local wildfire risks, and including children in fire safety practices in age-appropriate ways, can help them focus their energies into something positive and pro-active. 

You will also find a lot of good information at the educational links on this page.

For young children who are distressed by the apparent devastation of wildfire, you might help them find comfort and perspective through a book like,Fire! By Celia Godkin, (or for older pre-teen students,  Fire: Friend or Foe by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, both available from Childsake and other booksellers.) These books explain the important beneficial effects of wildland fires, of which many people are not aware.

You might also consider making a visit to your local fire station.  Most fire departments welcome young visitors; and a face-to-face visit with firefighters can be both educational and comforting.  Children can learn more about fire safety (at home and in wild areas), see the safety equipment and apparatus that help fire personnel do their job safely, and even thank them for the important job that they do.  Call ahead to your local station to see if they have any specific rules about visitations.

For more wildfire information and photos, check out these interesting sites, as well.


Museums and other tours

If you haven’t taken advantage of summer leisure and weather to visit a museum, historical site, or other nearby educational site, you still have time. It is amazing how much interesting perspective and knowledge a child can gain from an outing of just a few hours.  It may become a favorite family memory, as well.  Another potential benefit is that indoor sites like museums are usually air conditioned, so they could be a pleasant place to linger on a hot summer day.

If you cannot travel and/or you do not live in a big city, you can still probably find somewhere interesting to tour. Even small towns often have at least one small historical society or art museum.  Older towns may have a district of historic buildings and/or homes you could enjoy on a walking tour.  Local parks sometimes are built on historic sites, endowed by famous local residents, or have some other interesting story behind them.  So, if, like many of us this year, you are having a “stay-cation”, don’t forget to look “in your own backyard” for interesting and educational local opportunities you might have missed.

Rae from The Creative Process has compiled some interesting links which may provide ideas or additional enrichment.

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Last, if you haven’t read Summer Fun Makes for Summer Memories, our round-up of summer reminiscences and fun ideas from the American Montessori Consulting Resource Partners, don’t miss it.

There is plenty of summer enjoyment and enrichment left to savor, so get out and make the most of it!  Be safe and have fun!

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Summer Reading Ideas for 3rd and 4th Graders

The following is from Modern Montessori at Home by Heidi Anne Spietz.  Coypright 2007.  All rights reserved.

            “Now that your child has become more proficient in reading and writing, more avenues than ever are open to him. If your child is a reluctant reader, you may try scheduling a few field trips to whet his appetite for wanting to know more about a given subject. For example, if you live in the Southern California area plan a visit to the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles. This large museum houses an exquisite rock, mineral, and gem collection, Americana memorabilia, a dinosaur exhibit, marine life exhibit and a botany exhibit to name a few. Luckily, the California Museum of Science and Industry is housed next door and many people go to both museums during one visit.

            People living in the eastern part of the United States have a plethora of museums to see. In the state of Massachusetts your family can visit the Berkshire Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Boston and Museum of Science to name a few. If you live in the Washington, D.C. area, you and your child are in for a real treat. This city is full of history, and even the reluctant reader is bound to leave this city with a thirst for more knowledge about our forefathers or American history in general.

 Virtually every state in the union has something magnificent to offer. If you live in the Midwest and plan to visit another part of the country, write for a tourist’s guide or do a quick Google search.  Once you get the guide, make a note of sites that you know that your child would enjoy seeing. If you will be traveling by car or by train you may want to obtain information about the states that you will be passing through on the way to your destination.

              If you live on the east or west coast and are planning a vacation to one of the midwestern states, the preceding suggestions may be of benefit to you as well. Besides prestigious universities and a plentiful amount of museums, the midwestern states have something special to offer. These states are rich with information about agriculture and livestock. Visit the county fair and, talk with the exhibitors. This field trip can be complete, as your child talks with the experts and members of 4-H groups,  and spends time seeing and touching the farm animals. Be sure to allocate enough time for driving through the towns so that your child will see the beauty of the countryside. It is one thing to envision what the countryside is like by reading a book about it, and quite another to actually experience it.

         Whether your child is a reluctant reader or has an insatiable appetite for reading, you will soon see that these educational experiences have a profound effect upon him. Often, when he reads a story or does some research for a project on a topic that he is familiar with, he can readily identify with it. Why?  You have opened up a new world and taken him out of own little microcosm.  In so doing, you have given him the tools to help him eventually become a self-actualized human being.”

 For some selections on books to read please visit the following websites: Farm Country General Store Excellence in Education

Heidi Anne Spietz

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