DIY Jumbo Montessori Bead Stair and Hanger

This JUMBO Montessori bead hanger was inspired by the traditional bead hanger used in primary mathematics.

It’s a wonderful way to introduce toddlers to the Montessori bead stair; a material they will be formally introduced to within the next year or two. The beads are perfect size for toddler hands to grasp and count. This material can be used to explore colors, numbers, and begin simple number talks (example: “Look, if we have the red bead (1) and the dark blue beads next to each other (9) they are as long as the gold beads (10).”) The addition of the shelf provides an opportunity for developing concentration through the fine motor skill of hanging the string of beads on and taking them off.

Jenna @montessori.homeschool.mama had the awesome idea to glue the regular sized bead bars on the shelf to provide a control of error.

To make your own set you’ll need:

The Process:

  1. First I seperated my beads into groups so I wouldn’t paint too many or too few a certain color. You’ll paint:
    • 1 bead red
    • 2 beads green
    • 3 beads pink
    • 4 beads yellow
    • 5 beads light blue
    • 6 beads purple
    • 7 beads white
    • 8 beads brown
    • 9 beads dark blue
    • 10 beads gold
  2. Next step is to paint your beads. Some of the lighter colors required multiple coats. How many coats you do depends on wheather or not you’d like to see the wood grain of the bead underneath the color. I painted the beads using the technique shown in THIS video, using the skewers to hold the beads so you can get full coverage.
  3. After your beads are fully dried you can string them on the macrame cotton cord. I put a piece of tape on the end of the cord to prevent it from fraying as I strung the beads. The top and the bottom of the cord is secured using the hangman’s knot. For the single red bead I needed about 26 inches of cord and increased the amount by 2 inches for each subsequent bead.

4. The shelf is up next! I made 10 evenly spaced pencils marks for where I wanted to drill.

***If you’d prefer not to make a shelf but still want the “hanger” effect, try 10 small command hooks lined up!

5. After you drill your holes, manually twist in the cup hooks.

6. Add the picture hangers to the back of the shelf and find a low place to hang.

Feel free to ask me any questions about the process. I can’t wait to see your creations! 🤩

Resources for Teaching Fetal Development to Primary Age Learners.

Compilation of resources we’ve been using to aid my son (primary age) in learning about our growing baby’s development.

FREE fetal development and fruit comparison PDF book!

PLUS a free novena printable for expectant mamas!

Our eldest son (4.5) had taken great interest in learning about his baby sister while she was in utero. These are the resources that we had been using over the past few months that go over fetal development at an age appropriate level:

Angel in the Waters: This book is my son’s favorite. It tells of a baby and an angel in utero. It has sparked some wonderful family conversations about guardian angels.

Nine Months: Before a Baby is Born: The text to this story is simple yet informative. In the back of the book each small blurb of text has a paragraph that elaborates upon the details given preiviously in the story, making this a wonderful choice if you have children of varying ages. The illustrations are extremely detailed and drawn to actual size.

Parts of the Womb and Baby Development Cards: This site has FREE 3-part cards detailing  “parts of the womb” and sequencing cards for baby development. 

Pregnancy Labeling Poster: After laminating, I added some velcro to this pregnancy anatomy poster to create more of a puzzle.

Fetal Development and Fruit Comparison Book: FREE PDF downloadable book I created for my son using beautiful medically accurate images by Laura Maaske, MSc.BMC, Medical Illustrator & Medical Animator. Here site can be found HERE.

And for the expectant mamas: FREE Pregnancy Novena Prayer Cards

I came across this beautifully written novena via this blog while pregnant with my second and I ended up delivering him the same day I finished the novena! This time around I decided to type it up and add some photos. Enjoy!

Breakdown of The Waseca Biomes Curriculum

The Waseca Biomes Curriculum is something special. It is so different than any other science, geography, cultural curriculum I’ve ever seen.

The aim of this curriculum is to teach children that all things in the web of life are interconnected and about the concept of adaption through experimental, hands-on lessons.

The curriculum, Montessori in nature, is filled with hands-on lessons suitable for children ages 3-12! Perfect for whole-family learning. The sections are broken down by systems and subsystems of the natural world. For example, one of the units are ” Elements that Support Life on Earth” then the following 4 units are “Energy”, “Air”, “Water”, and “Soil”.

I’ve created this free chart to help parents utilize the curriculum by organizing the lessons by age group to see where instruction can overlap.

Many lessons suggest purchasing their company’s materials, but they can be easily adapted to DIY them or just use whatever you have on hand, etc. Waseca Biomes also offers many free resources in their A-Z PDF library.

If this is the first you’ve heard of Waseca Biomes, I highly encourage you to check them out! I’d recommend purchasing their Introduction to Biomes set first as well as a single 3-part card tray. This set includes the curriculum book and a HUGE set of 3-part cards that’ll keep you busy for a while! Waseca Biomes recently published these cards as a PDF download if you’d prefer to print them yourself. If you’d like to just purchase the curriculum book it can be found on Amazon.

This post was not sponsored by Waseca Biomes, just wanted to share a well-rounded science/geography/culture curriculum we love!

Click HERE for $15 off your Waseca Biomes order!

For a scope and sequence of their curriculum click HERE.

Where’s the Curriculum for Montessori Homeschooling!?

This was one of my biggest questions when I began my obsessive research on the Montessori method. 🤓

I became frustrated finding programs that appeared to be “Montessori”, but were not authentic. All too often just slapping the name on their program for marketing purposes. I finally found the clear cut answer through conversations with with Montessorian homeschoolers – there is NO Montessori “curriculum”.

*que gasps*

Montessori guides (teachers) in a classroom use what is called an album for each subject. The albums are essentially the curriculum.

In a primary classroom, (ages 3-6) the subjects are practical life, sensorial, language, mathematics, and cultural. An album contains:

  • The instructions on how to present the various lessons.
  • What materials are needed for each lesson.
  • The purpose (direct aim and indirect aim) of each lesson.
  • What the control of error for each material is (Montessori materials are self correcting).
  • Often they also contain extensions (exercises to do beyond the inital lesson).

As my friend Bree @kindlingkids_montessori puts it: “The album is the guide’s, guide.”

The album that was first recommended to me for the primary years is called

The best part about it is that it’s FREE! It’s thorough and well put together. Check out this blog post if you’re searching for more album recommendations for primary and elementary.
If you already clicked the link to check out the Info Montessori Album, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. There’s a lot of info! So many lessons!! Keep in mind this album contains 3 years worth of lessons. Most traditional curriculums for other educational methods only contains one school year’s worth of instruction at a time.

Even after months of research, what finally made me feel like I could successfully implement Montessori homeschooling was finding a scope and sequence. If only I had found this first! The scope and sequence ties everything together. It allows you to see the big picture as well as what lesson comes next.
Viola Montessori has a lovely timeline styled scope and sequence.
Here is a list of various scope and sequences that are availble:
**You don’t need all of these different ones, just figure out which one works best for your brain!
Another option is to make your own via the table of contents of whichever Montessori albums you pick to use.
I personally enjoy having Viola Montessori’s scope and sequence displayed in our home classroom. On a clipboard I have a checklist style scope and sequence that I use and markup while planning.

Stay tuned for the next post this series “Essential Montessori Materials”!

Previous posts in the Montessori Homeschooling Series:

Bited-Sized Montessori

Getting Started with Montessori Homeschooling

Getting Started with Montessori Homeschooling

For the overwhelmed, tired, and confused parent.

So you’ve fallen head over heels with the Montessori method, you know THIS truly is the way kids learn best, you want to go all in immediately but you’re not sure where to start? This was ME!

While I was completing my BA in Educational Studies, I developed a loathing of the public school system; where was I suppose to send my kids now!? One of our research paper topics was to discuss trends in education. This is when I first learned about Montessori. I was totally overwhelmed by all the information, but absolutely intrigued! I reached out to my professor and convinced her to let me change my topic to write about why Montessori education was NOT simply a trend.

Long story short – I LOVE Montessori! I knew this was the type of education all children deserved and I wanted to provide my own children with it. This will be the beginning of a series sharing what I’ve learned and how we are implementing Montessori into our home. I hope this will ultimately save you time, peace of mind, and give you the confidence you need to get started!

First things first: If you haven’t already, read The Absorbent Mind by Dr. Maria Montessori! You’ll be blown away and develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of her philosophy. If you’re totally new to Montessori, check out this post that breaks down the philosophy into bite sized chunks.


This is so, SO, SO important (and it happens to be the first mistake I made🤦🏽‍♀️).
Perhaps you’ve heard this before from other Montessorians, but it’s worth repeating: “IT’S NOT ABOUT THE MATERIALS, IT’S ABOUT THE PHILOSOPHY.” (Repeat 10x, print and hang up somewhere you’ll see, if you’re addict to buying learning materials like me. 🤪) Don’t worry, I’ll get to discussing materials in a later post. Also an important note, don’t feel like you need to wait to have alllllll the materials before you can get started. You can get started as soon as you’re done reading this article. Yes, there is great importance in a prepared environment but Montessori homeschooling is rooted in the attitude of the guide, in this case that is you.

Third: Begin taking a deep interest in observing your children. Encourage their independence. This is KEY to homeschooling successfully. You are their guide. In a child-friendly, prepared environment, the children will teach themselves.

Fourth: Actively learn and put into practice respectful parenting methods. Respect for the child is the most important part of the Montessori philosophy. Even if you do already practice respectful parenting, there is always more to learn. Check out Janet Lansbury, Kristin Mariella, and L.R. Knost. They have so much wisdom to offer! If you’re looking for more peer support in this area, I have loved being apart of the “Gentle Parenting Catholics” group on Facebook.

Fifth: Evaluate your home environment. Can our children easily help themselves in everyday tasks due to materials being made accessible? Such as dressing themselves, putting away their belongings, helping with house hold chores, etc. A quick google search will provide you with TONS of lists with examples of practical life skills to work on with your children.

In my next post we’ll talk about Montessori homeschool “curriculum” (albums). Click here to read my previous post about the Montessori philosophy.

Lent 2020 (FREE beautiful prayer cards!)

I’ve always had a tough time sticking to my Lenten practices, so this year I taped up some visual reminders and used Jenna’s printable to organize my thoughts. You can find this worksheet in Jenna’s Etsy shop: “callherhappy”

Here are the links to the prayer cards I’ve made to aid in putting my Lenten practices into place.

The Regina Calei prayer is said in place of the Angelus during the Easter season. So I’ve included that one as well.

Angelus & Regina Calei

Psalm 23

Bite-Sized Montessori

Unraveling the complex web of the Montessori Method.

Montessori’s principles are actually very basic when boiled down to the core – so don’t worry, I’ll keep this short! There is a lot of info out there between books and blogs; it can feel overwhelming to sift through it all. If you do have time to read just one book I’d recommend The Absorbent Mind by Dr. Maria Montessori.

Let’s dive in!

What is “Montessori”?

“Montessori” is the last name of the world- renowned Italian Doctor, Maria Montessori (1870-1952). Based on her scientific observations from birth to adulthood, she developed the novel idea to educate the whole child from birth. Her methods have been popular for over 100 years and have been shown through short and long term studies to be successful in every cultural they’ve been implemented.

The 3 main points of the Montessori Method:
1. Creating a child-centered educational approach.
2. Views the child as a natural learner who is capable of initiating learning and acquiring knowledge when provided with a prepared environment.
3. Values the development of the whole child: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

That’s really it! 3 simply points.

To expand upon that, University of Virginia Professor, Angeline S. Lillard, Ph.D. has made know that there are 8 Fundamental Principles of Montessori education that provide children with superior educational outcomes. You can read more about those here.

If you’d like to get even more into the details of the Montessori philosophy see my compilation below.

The Montessori philosophy:

  • The Montessori materials are secondary to the Montessori philosophy
  • Respect of the child
  • Individually of each child
  • Freedom of choice
  • “Freedom within limits”
  • Children participate in the making of rules
  • Self-disciple
  • Children learn through hands on experiences
  • Montessori work is child-directed and self-correcting
  • The child possesses an “absorbent mind” with an inner motivation to learn
  • Children teach themselves
  • Children learn by observing others
  • Opportunities for self-discovery rather than being told
  • Once a work has been demonstrated the child is free to use it without correction from the teacher unless the child is abusing the work or harming others
  • The teacher’s role to observe the child and follow the child’s lead
  • The Montessori teacher thinks of themselves to be a guide or a director rather than a teacher
  • A “prepared environment” of carefully prepared shelves with materials for the child to direct their own learning
  • The teacher/guide/director is a link or a catalyst between the child and the prepared environment
  • Independence of the child from the teacher
  • Children possess a natural desire to care for themselves and their environment and typically prefer not to have things done for them
  • The child develops a sense of responsibility and caring for the environment
  • Mixed ages where the younger children learn by emulating older children and older children learn by helping younger children
  • Each child learns at their own pace and is allowed to progress at their own pace
  • Every child has an inner need to grow physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually
  • The child has a natural love of order
  • Children learn by a natural desire of repetition
  • Children go through various “sensitive periods” where they are drawn to a material with a window of opportunity to easily absorb certain information
  • Education of the whole child
  • Non-competitiveness
  • Work from the whole to the parts
  • The wonder of discovery of the natural world with an overview of the whole universe

Phew! So maybe I didn’t keep it all that short- but hopefully breaking it down into these smaller chunks will make it easier to process.

Further Recommended Reading:

Basic Montessori Philosophy-

The Absorbent Mind by Dr. Maria Montessori

Discovery of the Child by Dr. Maria Montessori

The Secret of Childhood by Dr. Maria Montessori

Dr. Montessori’s own Handbook: A Short Guide to Her Ideas and Materials by Dr. Maria Montessori

Spiritual Formation using the Montessori Methods-

The Child and The Church by Dr. Maria Montessori

The Religious Potential of the Child: Experiencing Scripture and Liturgy With Young Children by Sofia Cavalletti

Listening to God with Children by Gianna Gobbi

The Good Shepherd and the Child: A Joyful Journey by Sofia Cavalletti and others

The Religious Potential of the Child: 6 to 12 years old by Sofia Cavalletti

The Mass Explained to Children by Dr. Maria Montessori (Explains The Traditional Latin Mass)

Advanced Montessori-

The Advanced Montessori Method I by Dr. Maria Montessori

The Advanced Montessori Method II by Dr. Maria Montessori

Education for a New World by Dr. Maria Montessori

Peace and Education by Dr. Maria Montessori

DIY Montessori Phonics Boxes

Learning Beginning Letter Sounds

To learn letter sounds we’ve been using:

+ DIY Montessori phonics boxes

+ ABC See, Hear, Do

The phonics boxes aid in making the abstract topic of letter sounds more concrete. The ABC see, hear, do book combines visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning for phonemic awareness. Both resources are very easy to implement and have been tons of fun to use.

**Note: The Montessori approach calls for teaching letter sounds before letter names…. but I didn’t know about Montessori before I started teaching my son the names of letters. 🙈🤷‍♀️

How to make:

  • Purchase a hardware storage box
    • (I found Lowe’s to have the cheapest option but you can find the same one Amazon as well)
  • Print, cut, and attach labels with tape to the fronts of the drawers
  • Fill each drawer with various items that represent the letter and items that begin with the letter

Here’s a peek inside what’s in some of our drawers.

In every drawer I included an upper and lower case magnet, tiny animals , picture cards, and any other little odds and ends I could find around the house.

To print the picture cards small enough to fit into the drawers listed above: under the “Scale” option, select “Custom” in the print preview. Type “75” to shrink the pictures to scale.

***Since this material’s focus is for the child to learn beginning letter sounds, it’s important to make sure you only include objects that “say” the letter’s most common letter sound. For example I found a little plastic cheetah that I was going to include in the letter C drawer, but realized it wouldn’t work because the word “cheetah” says “ch” rather then “c”.

We chose not to purchase anything extra to fill the boxes since we already had so many tiny toys on hand. If you rather purchase a complete set of miniatures that can be found here ($),here ($$)and here ($$$).

There are SO many ways you can use this fun learning tool. Here are a couple of ideas:

•as an adjunct to a preschool “letter of the week” curriculum
•as a review tool for a child who’s mastered letter names and sounds but isn’t quite ready for reading
•simply as an invitation to learn and play

My son has learned much more then just letter sounds from this tool.

+ His vocabulary has grown.

Playing with the items provides opportunity to introduce even more words that begin with that letter! For example: playing with the tiny starfish while learning about the letter “s” may lead to discussion of seahorses, seals, sailboats, etc.

For each item we discuss the letter sound first and foremost but we also describe what it looks like, how it feels, what we can do with it, etc.

+ He’s learned how to clean up after himself and stay organized.

We make sure to put the items back in the correct drawers and that the drawers are in the right alphabetical order.

Be sure to tag me if you make one! I’d love to see how it turns out 🙂

Free ABC Saint Flash Cards

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So… I forgot to schedule in any type of Saint study this year! I wasn’t keen on purchasing something extra and couldn’t find anything for free that stood out to me, till I stumbled upon features millions of books, movies, music, and more- for FREE!

There I found “An Alphabet of Saints” by Robert Hugh Benson. This book is a British classic from 1905! I re-formatted the pages to be 5×7 flash cards for easy print and use purposes.

Each card features:

+ vintage sketch of a scene from the life of a saint with the corresponding letter

+ a short biographical summary of the saint’s life, mission, and feast day

+ sweet rhythmic poem about the saint

We’ll be studying 1 Saint per unit (every 2 weeks).

Download your free flash cards HERE!

You can find the ABC scripture verse cards pictured on the right HERE.

If you’d prefer a hard copy of “An Alphabet of Saints” that can be found HERE

Or check out the free version online HERE

I recommend printing the Saint flash cards single-sided on card stock and laminating for longevity.

Disclaimer: This book is in the public domain thus it is free to use for personal and commercial use. Some words may be faded and difficult to read due to the book being over 100 years old.