Writing in the Sand

April begins our new study of plants, flowers and things that grow!  Carter caught me switching out materials last night, so he woke up ready to go this morning.  I did manage to get him to finish half of his breakfast before we dove into the first activity.

He first chose the sand tray.  I can’t say that I blame him.  Though it was so simple to make, the feeling of drawing in the sand is such a peaceful and relaxing one. I had to play with it for a bit last night.  I used an aluminum baking tray (the size meant for toaster ovens) and some superfine craft sand that I had laying around from my artsy crafty days.

I introduced the sand tray to Carter by showing him that letters can be formed in the sand using our fingers.  I watched him draw letters and make up words: CEET=SEAT.  When his finger turned into a racecar and began to make roads through the sand, I took that as my cue that he was ready to move forward.

Next, I used some leftover card stock from my cutting adventures (which you will see the results of throughout the month in various activities) to make some short words and simple pictures for him to use with the sand tray.  Be sure to stick with short words, unless you have a BIG tray.  And, I am a fan of computer generated ANYTHING, but it’s also important that you model drawing and writing for your child often.  This is one way.

And, I wanted to share something from yesterday evening.  While I was making dinner, Carter pulled out an activity from the past.  As you can see, I had already began to reuse the construction paper for other things, so I’d marked the place setting paper off his interests.  But last night he brought it back out for the purpose of a snack party with some of his fluffy friends.

But then, sometimes walking around with a cool box on your head is more fun than anything!  I couldn’t help but think about the movie Parenthood with Steve Martin.  (They made fun of his child for walking around with a box on his head.)

Enjoy and thanks for your comments!

This activity can also be seen on One Hook Wonder’s Montessori Monday.


March Language and Pre-Writing Materials

Water Cycle Mini-Book

I love this little book for Carter!  It follows the journey of a raindrop throughout the water cycle.  We started reading it once a day this past Saturday.  When it began raining yesterday he made the connection and said, “I guess the water got too heavy to stay in the cloud.”  That one innocent sentence out of my son’s mouth is just a small example of what makes all this worth it to me.  It’s the “thanks” that he would never think to say on his own.

I printed this book from the weather unit on KidsSoup, cut it apart, made a front and a back cover out of construction paper, got it laminated, punched holes and used book rings to hold it all together.  |Let me just insert here a little promo for KidsSoup – yes, it requires a membership fee.  But, it’s $25/year, which boils down to just over $2/month.  That is peanuts for all you get: printable activities, mini-books, art ideas, book ideas, poetry.  If I were to put Carter in Montessori school, it would cost $400/month.  For that, I can do a lot for a lot less (considering I work for free!).|


Pre-Writing Sheets

Before children can write, they must first build the muscles in their fingers.  They do this through coloring, tracing, gripping a writing tool and manipulating small objects.  These weather-themed sheets were printed from KidsSoup and ask Carter to trace the raindrops and umbrellas in the first one and to trace the letters of the color words in the second (in the correct color, which Carter didn’t do the first time, as you can see).  Rather than printing multiples copies for repeat use, I had them laminated.  Carter can write on them and then wipe it off to do again later.


Matching - Weather and Clothing

These Matching cards were printed from KidsSoup, but I later found a free version based on the seasons from Montessori for Everyone that I like even better.  I love that they always use photographs of real images rather than illustrations.  Many of their materials are on my Wish List!

Enjoy and thank you for your comments!

The Daily Message

The Daily Message is something that I have incorporated from my years of public school teaching.  This is not a Montessori-based practice, but I have had a lot of success in teaching children so many pre-reading and reading skills through this simple and easy part of the day.

There are several different ways to incorporate a Daily Message.  I have mine written in letter format for Carter when he wakes up each morning on a small white board easel in our living room.  It’s not necessary to always have it written ahead of time.  Children need to see us write.  Watching us is one of the most valuable ways they learn.  It is close to where he eats breakfast, so we easily flow from breakfast to message to our work cycle.  Young children like to and need to know what to expect in a given day.  Keeping a predictable daily routine is not just for school, it is important for all aspects of their lives.  As they are able to predict and prepare for their days, children are more relaxed and adjusted.  (More on the schedule to come)

Using the Daily Message, you can teach:

reading from left to right

days of the week

capital and lowercase letters

proper names

name recognition

letter identification

letter sounds


number words

number identification


following directions

The message seen here:

Dear Carter,

Good morning! Today we will dust the furniture. Your great-grandparents will come over for lunch.



I read the message to him, point to each word as I read it.  From this, I asked him:

Can you find your name?  How do you know that is your name?

Can you find my name? How do you know that is my name?

Can you underline our names?

Can you find an exclamation point?

Can you find the letter p?  Can you draw a circle around it?

Can you think of another word that begins with the “p” sound?

Then I asked him if he would like to read the message.  The first time, we read it together. I held his hand while he pointed to each word. Then, he did it on his own.

(Notice the tongue of concentration in this picture.  I love that!)

What’s next:

As he progresses, I will begin leaving out letters in words and asking him to help me discover the missing letter by sound and I will write it in.  Next, I will ask him to write it.  Then, I will move to leaving out entire words that he will write in.  Ultimately, I would love for him to be able to read the messages himself.