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September 2017

October 2017

๐Ÿ’™ BLUE Series /St/ Blending (Montessori 101 Language)

In a Montessori "PBG" Language scheme (Pink-Blue-Green series approach), the child progresses very gradually as s/he is first introduced to three letter words in๐Ÿ’— PINK Series, then blends (/st/, /bl/, /pr/...) in ๐Ÿ’™ BLUE Series, and finally digraphs (/sh/, /th/, /ch/, /oi/...) in ๐Ÿ’š GREEN series.

If you think about it, letters of the alphabet are merely written codes for spoken sounds in words. As such, actual language is, according to Dr. Maria Montessori, an "abstract instrument" -  a "complex cultural achievement." So, letters, being actual codes,  represent something a child first experiences in real life, something s/he encounters in an everyday environment. So, the road to literacy would always start with the spoken language: with sounds and familiar objects that begin with that sound, and only introducing symbols once the child exhibits proficiency with the sound recognition.

The process of learning how to read can be as simple and painless as the process of learning how to speak or how to walk. In a Montessori language curriculum, hands-on phonetic approach is used, which helps young children to form a clear understanding of how written words encode the spoken sounds of the language into the symbolic letters of the alphabet. Using this technique, children master the sounds made by each letter, as well as the letter represented by each sound, one letter at a time until the entire alphabet has been mastered. 

With Montessori "PBG" Language scheme, once the child masters the ๐Ÿ’— PINK Series, you would gradually move on to BLUE ๐Ÿ’™ Series, which introduces blends. A consonant blend or a cluster is a group of consonants that are next to each other in a word. So today (after having explored the letter "S" during our Letter Hunt/see the link below), we are moving on to the first blend:  /st/ blend, which is two consonants that go together, while you can hear both letters e.g. "s-t" in a word "star." )    
 A consonant cluster, consonant sequence or consonant compound, in linguistics, is a group of consonants which have no intervening vowel.
 /St/  is a consonant cluster in the words: stone, starfish, straw, stamp, stick, sticker.
Incorporating hands-on approach, in my opinion, facilitates a better absorption of the information presented. So, I offered Adrian four different activities to practice our /st/ blend.
  • stamp with a  star stamp and these amazing colorful ink pad stamps; also stamp with a star-puncher;
  • stain the shaving foam with different colors and use pegs (clothespins) to stain the paper;
  • stick  the star stickers;
  • strain confetti stars from the sand with a small metal strainer.


As a result of these hands-on practical life activities, Adrian had fun practicing the /st/ blend.

See here "Letter 'S' (Letter ๐Ÿ”  Series). See "Montessori ๐Ÿ’— Pink Series  "e" sound (Language 101 ๐ŸŽฅ Series ๐ŸŽ‡ Curriculum)" here

For more on our Language curriculum and phonetical order sets, read here the introductory post: "Montessori Phonetical Order of presenting ABCs Alphabet letters." For individual letters, read here our ๐Ÿ”  Letter Series (Montessori Language) post.

Letter "S" (Letter ๐Ÿ”  Series)

Although Adrian knows his ABCs, "letter hunts" where he gets to walk around the house with a basket collecting objects that begin with a particular sounds are still one of his favorite activities. Today, we are exploring letter "S" before moving on to blends such as /st/sh/sr/ etc. 


"S" is for Stitch, sock, stars, sponge, sword, soap, stamp, snake, spinach, Swiss chard, scorpion, seahorse, squirrel, seagull, sailboat, slide & SnowWhite, starfish, scarecrow, skeleton, seal, snowy owl, sea turtle, sand tracing tray, sandpaper letter S, stone, snowmen. (Also, you can add: six, screwdriver, spoon, snow, sun, swing, sidewalk, sprinkler, seesaw, seaweed, sandbox, streetlight, stop sign.)  

DSC_0270We are using Discovery Windows (buy here) to store fragile starfish my Mom had collected for us while in Malaysia.
DSC_0270 DSC_0276

DSC_0263S is for sticks, ๐Ÿ”ด๐Ÿ”ทโ—ฝ๏ธshapes like a square, โญ๏ธstars & ๐Ÿ—กswords.
For more on pin-poking, see "Letter V" post here. 


"S" is for sand. See here how to make tactile "DIY Sandpaper Letters."

For more on our Language curriculum and phonetical order sets, read here the introductory post: "Montessori Phonetical Order of presenting ABCs Alphabet letters." For individual letters, read here our ๐Ÿ”  Letter Series (Montessori Language) post. For beginning blending, see here "๐Ÿ’™ BLUE Series /St/ Blending (Montessori 101 Language)."

DIY Sandpaper Letter "S" (Montessori ๐Ÿ”  101 Language)

Montessori Sandpaper letters are a traditional language material used to introduce a child to letters and their sounds, but with a twist: besides visual stimulation of perceiving the symbol (seeing the shape commonly agreed upon to represent a particular sound), a child is also able to sensorily feel the shape of the letter as he/she enunciates the name of the letter and the sound it makes.

Although you can purchase sandpaper letters (buy the upper case here or a bundle here or here), they are very easy to make at home. According to Montessori language curriculum guidelines, pink color represents a consonant, while blue - a vowel.

DSC_0210What you will need to make this tactile sandpaper letter:

  • pink cardstock since we are making a consonant letter (you would use blue cardstock for a vowel);
  • sand (you can also use salt, sugar, polenta, Amaranth, or any other tiny grain);
  • and glue.

DSC_0211First, offer a child to squeeze glue following the letter's template. 
DSC_0211Next, pour sand over the glue and let it dry.   DSC_0229

Since we could control how much glue and sand to apply to the template, our tactile sandpaper letter "S" came out even thicker than a traditional one you would purchase, offering a child a more intense sensory experience. 
See here a โœ‚๏ธDIY ๐Ÿ“ฝ video on how we made sandpaper ๐Ÿ”ข numbers. Also, see here "Letter "S" (๐Ÿ”  Letter Series)" post. 

For more on our Language curriculum and the Phonetical order sets, read here the introductory post: "Montessori Phonetical Order of presenting ABCs Alphabet letters." For individual letters, read here our ๐Ÿ”  Letter Series (Montessori Language) post.

4th (of 6)ย Phonetical Order Set: : h ย j ย u ย l (Montessori ๐Ÿ”ค 101 Language)

In a Montessori language curriculum, alphabet letters are not first presented to a child in an alphabetical order like A, B, C, D, etc. The idea is to introduce letters phonetically (the way they sound) rather than by their name. Phonetical grouping of certain consonants and vowels had proven to be very effective in allowing children to form as many words as possiblequickly. 

There are few Montessori phonetical grouping orders suggested, and we are following the one suggested in How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin (buy the book here, which is a Montessori -beginner must-have book.)

First set:          c  m  a  t          (see here)

Second set:     s  r  i  p           (see here)

Third set:        b  f  o  g         (see here)

Fourth set:     h  j  u  l

Fifth set:       d  w  e  n

Sixth set:      k  q  v  x  y  z. 

 Today, we are replicating the fourth set:  h  j  u  l. 


We are using a traditional Montessori wooden Movable Alphabet (buy here) with vowels represented by blue color, while consonants by red color. You can also use Sandpaper letters (buy the upper case here or a bundle here or here). Sandpaper letters are very easy to make at home too (see here a โœ‚๏ธDIY ๐Ÿ“ฝ on how we made sandpaper ๐Ÿ”ข numbers). Lastly, you may use any letters: foam, paper or wooden ones you have on hand to introduce these phonetical sets: no specialized Montessori materials are required. DSC_0042

Horse, hen, and a hat for "h"


 Jam/jar, jug and a Jaguar for "j"

DSC_0045Unicorn, umbrella, and underwear for "u"

DSC_0047Lion, leaf and a lamp for "l"

DSC_0054Tracing letters sensorially on the sand-tray (we are using polenta) allows the child to perceive alphabet letters not only visually, but also through the sense of touch, stimulating the tactile association. The more senses the child triggers during the learning process, the better is the absorption rate of the information perceived.

DSC_0054To make it more interesting, I lined the tray with red cardstock to give tracing a color-pop. 
DSC_0054You can see here a video-post "How ๐ŸŽฅ to Make Montessori Sensorial โœ๏ธTracing Tray."

For more on our Language curriculum and the Phonetical order sets, read here the introductory post: "Montessori Phonetical Order of presenting ABCs Alphabet letters." For individual letters, read here our Letter Series post.

๐Ÿ›Bugs ๐ŸœInsects and other ๐Ÿž๐Ÿ๐Ÿ•ท๏ธArthropods

While most adults do not have a deep affection for bugs, children, on the other hand, spend hours in a backyard flipping over rocks and inspecting blades of grass in search of the coolest caterpillars and tiny crawlers. And little ones are smart to befriend bugs since without little creature our entire ecosystem would shut down. Animals such as fish, bats, and amphibians would have nothing to eat; rivers and lakes would be overrun with algae, and flowers would remain unpollinated. Teaching children about insects is a great way for them to learn about nature in general since everything in our world is interconnected. Also, bugs are the most accessible of all creatures since children can most closely approach them. So, suppress your squeamishness and delve into the wonderful world of bugs and other insects!


To explore bugs and insects in a fun hands-on sensorial play, I set up an Autumn-Inspired sensory bin with fresh leaves and acorns children found during nature walks, shredded paper, this bug loupe and these insects. 

DSC_0426 An ant, besides being able to lift 50 times its weigh, has the biggest brain relative to its size amongst the insect kingdom!

DSC_0426Entomology is the study of insects, including their relationship with other animals, their environments, and human beings; making Adrian an entomologist for a time being.

Insects are creatures with three body sections, six legs, and usually four wings and two antennae. Although some people use the words "bug" and "insect" interchangeably, a bug is a certain type of insect such as boxelder bug, milkweed bug, assassin bug, and stink bug. True bugs have a stylet (a mouth shaped like a straw) that they use to suck juices from plants. That is all bugs are insects, but not all insects are bugs. Scientists have discovered already over one million species of insects: also called arthropods, and every day they are discovering new species.


Some insects have wings, and some do not, but there are few characteristics that all insects have in common:

  • Insects do not have bones or a backbone like humans do, and thus are invertebrates, meaning that they have a hard exoskeleton or shell on the outside of their bodies which protects them.
  • All insects have three parts: the head, the thorax (the middle part), and the abdomen (the end part).
  • Insects have two antennae and six legs.
  • All insects hatch from eggs, and the babies are called larva.
  • All insects go through the same lifecycle: beginning as an egg. The egg hatches and larva emerge. Larvae usually look nothing like the adult insect. The larvae enter a pupa, chrysalis or cocoon. An adult insect emerges from the pupa.
  • Note: spiders are not insects. Spiders have eight legs, and they are related to scorpions and belong to the arachnid family. ๐ŸŒ Snails, on the other hand, are gastropods. 


Bugs A-Z book (in the middle) is a perfect book for any child fascinated with bugs! A simple text from A to Z provides interesting and concise buggy facts in addition to reinforcing the first letter association: A is for Ant, B is for Bee, C for Caterpillar etc. Larger than life full-color photographs of creepy crawlies include locusts, caterpillars, beetles, flies, grasshoppers, ants, praying mantis, and more! Also, the facts provided under each insect are fascinating and engaging enough even for a three-year-old. At the end of the book, there is a glossary review, which I use to reinforce the concepts learned. 

DSC_0003Scorpions are not insects! They are arachnid, with eight legs, instead of six.

Scorpions can be found on all continents except Alaska (and Antarctica). They are predatory animals of the class Arachnida (having eight legs) making them cousins to spiders, mites, and ticks. Insects, on the other hand, are Arthropods with six legs, two antennae, and three-parts segmented body.


Tarantulas are the largest known arachnids (spider family) measuring seven to ten cm in length, capable, however, of exceeding 30 cm (that is twelve inches: the size of a regular laptop). Besides their size, tarantulas are known for their dense and hairy body. Also, they are night-time (nocturnal) hunters who will pounce on their prey, such as insects, beetles, and grasshoppers. Interestingly, although not spinning traditional webs, tarantulas are capable of producing silk and can use it for similar purposes, depending on species. Many of the arboreal tarantulas make silken homes in tree holes or other crevices. Even the burrowing terrestrial species use silk to line their burrows, and some use silk to create door-like entrances to their burrows. The tarantulaโ€™s silk acts as an alarm system, alerting the arachnid to the presence of threat or prey outside its home. If the intruder is potential prey, the tarantula will capture and subdue it.

DSC_0006The cladogram below shows the relationship between the arthropod's groups:


Chelicerata (sea spiders, horseshoe crabs, and ๐Ÿ•ท๏ธarachnids: 8 legs)


Pancrustacea (crustaceans and ๐Ÿžinsects: 6 legs)


Myriapoda (centipedes, millipedes, and allies)




To examine tiny creatures up close, children like to use this bug loupe, which provides a 5X view of whatโ€™s underneath! The above-shown Bugs collection (buy here) comes with twelve insects in clear acrylic blocks for up-close examination. A mini-guide that comes with it provides a concise description of the species included as well as interesting details. This set is a perfect starter collection of insects for any entomologist!  DSC_0003
Little Explorer Insects book (on the left - buy here) provides further insight into these buzzing, stinging, and creepy crawlers: where they live, what they eat, and why they are so important.

DSC_0074 bee copyDid you know that a bee has five eyes, none of which can see the color red!

Honey bees are very important pollinators of flowers, fruits, and vegetables, transferring pollen between the male and female parts of the plant, thus allowing plants to grow seeds and fruit. Honey bees live in hives (or colonies) everywhere except Antarctica. The members of the hive are divided into three types:

  •  Queen: One queen runs the whole hive. Her job is to lay the eggs which will spawn the hiveโ€™s next generation of bees. The queen also produces chemicals that guide the behavior of the other bees.
  • Workers are all sterile female and their roles are to forage for food (pollen and nectar from flowers), build and protect the hive, and clean and circulate air by beating their wings. Workers would be the only bees we ever see flying around outside the hive.
  • Drones are the male bees, and their purpose is to mate with the Queen. Several hundred live in each hive during the spring and summer. But come winter, when the hive goes into survival mode, the drones are kicked out! 

DSC_0003Lastly, National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Bugs (top right - buy here) explores backyard favorite bugs, such as ladybugs and lightning bugs, and also introduces more exotic species which inhabit rain forests and deserts around the world. Colorful photos are paired with profiles of each insect, along with facts about the creatures' sizes, diets, homes, and more. "Little Kids First BIG Book of" series is my children's favorite non-fiction series. 

To put all this knowledge to use, seek out ways together with your child to get to know just how amazing Earth's little inhabitants are! Parks, local playgrounds, and forests are great places to introduce children to the wonders of the local insect population. Go outside and explore by examining dead wood, banks of streams, and the underside of rocks and leaves. Backyard bugs can usually be found under potted plants, rocks or deck furniture. On forest trails, look for bugs in flowers, on trees or near water.


During nature walks, explore the world of bugs, insects and other creatures, first hand by doing a scavenger hunt. (Do not forget a bug container, bug tweezers, and a magnifying glass.)


Do not rush and stay close to the ground as bugs are easy to miss. Most are small and many camouflages, making them tough to spot at first glance. 

Take it slow and let your eyes roam the area for anything that moves.

DSC_0394.JPGLook under moss, rocks, leaves or underturned trees. 

DSC_0038With close observation, you will find that local fauna is full of surprises!


"There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them, in a real forest. Something emanates from those trees that speaks to the soul, something no book, no museum is capable of giving." Dr. Maria Montessori.

DSC_0038If you find a caterpillar feeding on a plant and wish to bring it home, be sure to include that exact plant it was eating since many insects can only digest one type of plant and will starve without it.

DSC_0394.JPGDr. Maria Montessori strongly believed that the intelligence was a result of joyful learning and not a mere memorization. So learning need not take place inside of a classroom: there is nothing more inviting than a forest school!


Invite your child to be a naturalist! Zoos, botanical gardens and even local parks might offer classes which introduce children to the wonders of the local insect population.

DSC_0399 Fall Bokeh Printed
Having contact with nature will allow children to understand and appreciate its natural order, the harmony and the beauty in it. Such contact will allow them to be friends with animals: big and small, creeping and crawling, scary and beautiful. All Earth's inhabitants are necessary for the equilibrium of life: all life form is precious. So, let's explore, go outside and be with nature!