Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Montessori Infant and Toddler Curriculum Part 2: Math and Language

This is part 2 in my Infant and Toddler Montessori Curriculum series.  I talked about sensorial in this post.
We are going to continue the series by discussing Math and Language.  Infants are always learning and it is exciting to watch and facilitate. 
From day one infants are surrounded by math.  We ask what time it is, how old they are, how many ect.  Math is a very abstract and small children can’t understand the concepts.  They need to experience real objects in their environment to make the concept much more concrete.  Math begins with the realization of one and then more than one.  To witness a child evolving in this area is an amazing discovery.  Math activities for infants and toddlers can include:  Stacking and nesting cubes, number and block cubes, sorting and counting materials, matching and grading and sandpaper numbers. 
From birth children are completely aware and are learning at an extremely rapid rate all about the human language.  Language is vital to the process of thinking.  The child needs to be spoken to, read to, sung to and listened to often.  Children need a broad exposure to language. 
Here are some song ideas:
Fuzzy Wuzzy Caterpillar Fuzzy, wuzzy caterpillar Into a corner will crawl. (squat and move to a corner) He’ll spin himself a blanket (move head in a spin) And then go fast asleep (pretend to sleep) Fuzzy, wuzzy caterpillar Wakes up by and by ( wake up, slowly move arms) To find he has wings of beauty Changed into a butterfly. (fly with arms)
Jack-in-the-Box Down in a box (squat to ground’ talk softly and slowly) There lives a little man. He waits and he waits, As quiet as he can Until I open the lid – POP!
Johnny Works With One Hammer Johnny works with one hammer, One hammer, one hammer, Johnny works with one hammer, Then he works with two. (repeat with 2, 3, 4) Johnny works with five hammers, Five hammers, five hammers, Johnny works with five hammers, Then he goes to sleep.
To aid the child in his language skill development the Montessori environment needs to be set up with literacy rich and language in mind.  Teachers and parents need to have books, pictures, picture labels, objects and matching pictures all thorough out the environment.
Click on the links below for book ideas for infants and toddlers:

You can find more infant toddler resources here:

 Thank you for visiting.  Let me know if you have any suggestions or comments. 
Rachel Supalla

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Montessori Infant Toddler Curriculum Part one: Sensorial

The ages and stages of children vary greatly between each child.  We are all unique and special individuals.  As teachers and caregivers we play an important role to prepare the environment, follow the child, give simple lessons, observe exploration, foster concentration, document and be mindful of the chosen activities and learning outcomes.  All in all this will result in happiness and compassion towards others as the children have the opportunity to grow and learn in a harmonious environment. 
The question remains as to how do we set up such a desirable environment and how do we implement the activities that are planned?  In order to accomplish our goal we must remain focused on the center of our purpose and that is the child.  Imagine yourself as an infant or toddler.  How would you want your room to look?  What activities and materials would be fascinating to you?
An Infant and Toddler Montessori classroom is planned out by experiences.  Those experiences make up the curriculum and care of the child.  They will also build upon these skills as stepping stones to different developmental levels.  The experiences in an infant/toddler Montessori environment are:  Sensorial, Language, Gross Motor, Art, math and practical life. 
Sensorial Work
Sensorial is rooted from the words sense or senses.  These activities allow the children to focus on the fine tuning of all his senses.  Using all five senses the children will have a rich and meaningful learning experience. 

The purpose of sensorial work is for the infant and toddler to begin classifying his environment.  Maria Montessori wrote that all sensorial experiences begin at birth.  The young child becomes a sensorial scientist and by exploring his senses begins to understand and appreciate his surroundings. 
As we follow the child and learn their individual likes, dislikes and interests we can set up the environment with a variety of sensorial activities and experiences.  A few examples of sensorial activities for infants are toddlers are:  Water table filled with various liquids mixed with solids and real items (funnels, strainers, scoops, whisks ect), fingerpainting and other squishy activities, texture play and exploring, nature baskets, real item treasure baskets, shiny and crinkle objects such as foil and emergency blankets, sound tubes, animal sounds, food tasting and play, smelling jars, flowers, pine cone activities. 
I hope you are inspired to learn with your infants and toddlers.  I will post more about infant curriculum over the next couple of days.  Please let me know any comments or questions that you may have.

Rachel :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Top 10 Tips for Potty Training (without frustration)

There comes a certain phase in every parent's life that will involve potty training.  Love it or hate it, this is a fact of life.  As a mother of 4 and preschool director with over 17 years of childcare experience I can tell you that no one is an expert in this area.  I will also tell you that no child will be going to college in diapers.  In this post I will give you my potty training tips along with a few other tips from fellow parents and teachers. 
  This unfortunately is a hard and disappointing fact for some.  I see this VERY often in preschool.  Parents will want their child potty trained to move them up to the next class, to save on tuition, save on diapers, to get them into school, to fit in with the rest of the kids his age ect.  Let's be honest, nobody loves buying and changing diapers.  However, if you attempt to potty train a child who isn't ready it will be a LONG and frustrating road for you and your child.  Your child will let you know when he is ready.  Readiness isn't something that is determined by age.  Some children will be ready at 18 months and some at 3.  Just as each child will learn to crawl, walk and read at their own pace they will also be potty trained when ready.  It is our job to catch those signs of readiness and act upon them. 
Independence, is the first sign of readiness.  If your child is beginning to dress himself, wash his hands and help clean up then it is a sign of independence.  Another sign is dry periods.  If you child wakes up from nap dry or goes a few hours and has a dry diaper it is a sign of strengthening bladder control.  Not wanting to be dirty and noticing the feeling of a dirty diaper is a strong sign of readiness and a good opportunity to gain vocabulary skills to help the child communicate potty words.  I believe that verbal skills also need to be present.  The child needs to be able to express when they have to go potty or that they are going potty.  The final and possibly most telling sign is when a child will hide or even go into the bathroom to go poop in his diaper.  This shows an awareness of what is going on and a need for privacy. 
  Potty training needs to be a team effort and something that all parties involved are totally prepared for.  If your child attends preschool or daycare you need to communicate with the teacher that you plan to begin potty training and work as a team with the teacher to come up with a plan.  Chelsea from my school told me "It is difficult if the parents don't tell us what's going on at home so we can't mimic it at school and work as a team."


Get your house, your car and your self ready.  Set up a designated potty area for consistency, buy ALOT of underwear.  I do not recommend pull ups other than nap time.  The child needs to feel wet and dirty.  If you have a lot of carpet or furniture that can easily stain I would suggest that you put the underware on then have a pull up over it.  That way the child will feel wet but it won't get all over the house.  I always packed a potty chair, plastic bags, wipes, Clorox wipes, changes of clothes and potty treats in my car because you never know when you may need it.  We used the car potty often in our potty training years.  Make sure you always have a watch, timer or clock to keep track of the last time he went potty. 

This will be frustrating and it WILL NOT happen over night!  Ashlee a mother of 4 and teacher said "potty training my children was the hardest part of parenting so far.  You constantly feel defeated!"  This is so true but trust me you are not alone and this too shall pass!  If your child feels rushed or belittled he will regress or rebel all together.  Melissa teacher and mother of 4 told me that she learned that it is ok to take a break and try at a later time to save her sanity and that of her family members. 
  A great way to start potty training is to stay home all weekend and set up an area that you will spend most of your time.  Put out tarps or mats if you don't have hard floors.  When I was potty training I put the potty chair in the living room on a mat and let my child stay bottomless for the entire weekend.  Set a timer, drink a lot of liquid and go potty every 45 min. 

 Read books about going potty, have your child go in the bathroom with you ect.  Jaymie a mother of 2 and teacher told me an experiment that she did to show her daughter what happens when she had a full bladder.  She filled up a cup all the way and walked quickly across the room.  Obviously, the cup spilled.  This is how she explained that if you wait too long the go potty your bladder would be full and leak or spill. 
  Sometimes boys are afraid that their parts will fall off in the potty.  It will help to show them pictures of their anatomy and that they are attached.  A few kids will not want to sit long enough.  It is a good idea to have a basket of books by the toilet, sing songs and make this time fun and special.  If it is a positive experience than kids will relate that to going potty. 

This is extremely important that you teach your child to wipe themselves and wash their hands themselves.  Parents think that their children simply "can't" wipe themselves so they do it for them.  When in reality this is crippling your child and will cause problems later in their preschool years.  As parents it is vital that we teach our children independent skills.  To teach a child to wipe you show the child by placing your hand on his and talk about what you are doing while you are modeling it.  The next time you allow them to do it while you supervise.  Encourage them to keep wiping on a clean part of the paper until their paper comes out clean.  Also, tell them to wipe from front to back. 
 You can reward but not too much.  You want your child to be proud and learn with out too many rewards.  More importantly, just be positive, encouraging and excited!  This is a huge step for your child and it deserves to be praised. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Finding Mommy...a quest to find myself

Finding Mommy....a quest to find myself

Over the last 5 years I have gone from being a stay at home supermom to a homeschooling mom, to a preschool teacher mom, to a business owner, to a career woman and entrepreneur.  My husband was the sole bread winner and I was his number one cheerleader.  This past year he quit his full time job to come be my partner and help build our business.  Don't get me wrong I love the journey my life has been on and it has been fast and exciting.  However, somewhere amongst all the chaos and the noise I lost myself.

I hadn't realized this until I was getting ready for a trip and was at a magazine stand with my dear friend Melissa.  I wanted to pick up a magazine for the plane ride.  I looked at every magazine on the rack and couldn't find one that I wanted to read.  This hit me like an avalanche.  It was at that moment that I discovered that I had become a person whom I didn't know.  I don't know what kind of magazine I want because these days all I have been doing is working and treading water at home barely staying afloat.  This made me sad and made me realize that I needed to use this year with God's help to go on a quest to find myself.  Find out who this new mommy was.  The one who didn't change diapers or run for PTA or sew Halloween costumes anymore.  It has been a bit of a grieving process for me because as much as I love my job and business I miss the mommy who stayed at home and made sure her family looked good, ate good and had fun all the time!

 I thrive in a creative environment.  When I stayed home I was always making projects with the kids and things for my home, when I was in the classroom full time I was always coming up with creative new ways to make learning fun and ways to enhance our school.  This year  I am mostly an administrator and with that comes a lot of rules, regulations, policies, procedures and RED TAPE!!!  Although I know these things are a necessary evil in business and life but I miss the days when I got to create and play all day.

I don't know where my path will lead me this year but I am excited to begin.  I feel somewhat like Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride where she needed to discover how she liked her eggs cooked and everything that went along with that.
I am happy to say that I am in a good place in my life.  I have a job that I love, I work with my best friends, my kids are happy and healthy and we are at a place where we can save some money for the future.
I wrote this post to let all the mommies out there know that change is OK and sometimes you need to take a timeout and with God's guidance rediscover yourselves again.  If you want to document this journey with me on instagram and facebook put a picture of yourself enjoying a new thing and your road to discovery with #findingmommy

Sunday, November 16, 2014

How to teach children to be thankful

How to teach preschoolers to be thankful.

What does it mean to be thankful?  That is a big word for preschoolers.  How do we teach them to say thank you, show thankfulness and mean it?  From the time that children can speak we teach them to say thank you.  It becomes expected and automatic but does it mean anything?
I think that in order to teach children to be grateful we have to model it.  Just like everything else in their world they have to see it to believe it.

November is a great time to teach gratefulness.  Here are a few practical steps to teach your young children.
1.  Give to others often.  Find out who is in need and what they need, involve your children in blessing a family.  Make cards and gifts that do not cost any money.  Allow your children to give the cards and gifts to the family.  Reflect with your children on how it made them feel to bless others and how they thought that family felt to receive those blessings.
2.  Model gratitude in your everyday life.  When you are at the grocery store, a restaurant, with your spouse.  Let your children hear your say thank you and why you are thankful.  Then talk about it with them.  Say things such as:  "wasn't that nice of the grocer to bag our groceries for us and help us load the cart?" or "Didn't that waitress have such nice manners when she brought us our food"  Remember our children are always watching and learning from us.  If we have an ungrateful attitude they will pick up on that.
3.  Teach them how to express their gratitude.  In the hustle of life I have failed to do this lately.  I haven't taught my own children the importance of thank you cards and notes.  I haven't taken the time to sit down and model being thankful in this way.  I think this is a skill that is slowly dying today and needs to be revisited.  Who doesn't love to receive a thank you note?  It makes what you did seem like that much more of a blessing.  Even small toddlers can draw a picture or scribble some lines to show their thanks.
4.  Talk about your blessings.  Sometimes children forget all that they have to be thankful for.  They are born very self centered and we need to teach them to look outside of themselves to see all that they have to be thankful for.  This is also an area that you can model for them.  We have a thankful tree every November and we write on leaves the things that we are thankful for.  It starts out
 generic but as the month goes on it becomes much more specific and thoughtful.  We also have love letters in February.  Each of my children has a mailbox by their door.  Through out the month we write love letters to each other and put it in their boxes.  The letters start out with I love you because.... It is a fun way to show why we appreciate each other.
5.  Honor and love your family!  This is a biggie for me.  I feel like today with our busy schedules and all of our activities that we forget to stop and honor our family.  We need to visit our loved ones, call them, skype, facetime.  Whatever you need to do and teach our children to do the same.  Our family is what makes us who we are and we need to remember that and stay in touch.

I hope these simple steps to gratitude will help you focus on what is important this year and maybe remember it for years to come.  Have a blessed holiday with your families and friends!

Rachel Supalla

Friday, April 18, 2014

Kid's Party Themes:Star Wars Black Light Party part one

I am sorry it has been awhile!  To make my blogging quest more fun and interesting I decided to do a series on kid's parties.  I have done so many that I am going to start showcasing one a week.  I am also going to use this as a platform for guest right?!  This week I am going to kick off my new series with a Star Wars Party.  I hope you can use some of these ideas for your kid's parties, I also used this same theme as one of our summer camp themes so double duty!

For the Birthday party I wanted to make the setting in the dark to have black light activities.  We bought our black light from and our lava lamp also.  I got a lot of my black light ideas from and my sister from Appleby Party Designs.  This part of the party was super fun to plan with my kids.  We did experiments to see what did and didn't glow before the party to make sure it was all going to work.  We made glow bottles, I will list what was in each bottle.
1. Tonic Water, snakes and marbles
2. yellow Glow water (see below for instructions)
3. Orange glow water with Marbles and pom poms
To make glow water you just take the inside ink compartment out of a highlighter and soak it in water.  Seriously it is that easy!  After you make glow water you can use it for all sorts of things!
We had a table set up for the kids to choose a Jedi Name and write it with a highlighter on white paper.  We tried black paper and that did not work.
We sprayed a HUGE bowl of mini marshmallows with glow paint and hid glow in the dark stars in it for a sensory box. I found florescent play dough that also glowed in the dark.  We made a water table with glow water, glow in the dark stars, marbles and glow in the dark beads from oriental trading.

 The kids were all asked to come dressed as a star wars character and we made each kid a light saber out of pool noodles, those things are so resourceful!  We cut them in thirds and added black and silver duct tape stripes and a red square for the button.  As soon as everyone arrived my husband was upstairs getting ready for the big surprise!!  My two girls and their cousins began Jedi training with the kids which is similar to the one they do at Disneyland.  They had it all choreographed.  When Jedi Training was just about done the music turned to the dark side and Darth Maul entered through fog (my awesome husband).
 The kids used their Jedi Training to fight Darth Maul!  It was amazing!  After we fought Darth Maul we had our Snacks, our cake and punch.  The kids ended by playing with all the black light centers.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Montessori Geography: Exploring Africa Part 1


There are many different areas in a Montessori Classroom.  This is one of the many reasons why I love the Montessori method.  It appeals to my ADHD, multitasking brain!  One of my favorite areas of the classroom is the Geography and science center.  We basically have a whole room dedicated to Geography and Science at our school.

 Over the course of three years we will visit all 7 continents and dive into an exciting theme unit on each continent.  Most of the time when we study a continent the unit goes in many different directions and takes on a life of it's own.  We add math, art and language extensions to our Continent studies and the children transform their works and personalize them to go along with their interests.


I often find that by studying geography and social studies the children are able to learn and absorb so much more based on the fact that their interest levels are so high!  It is exciting to be a part of.  Through out the year I will add our various continent studies and extension activities.  Our first continent study of the year is Africa.  We began the year by introducing all of the continents, learning the continent song and what the continents look like.

Here is our Continent map I purchased this map from along with several other Montessori supplies.  Then we studied the shape and landscapes of Africa.  We made a bubble map about Africa and we added more facts daily as we learned more.  We studied the African animals because the landscapes of Africa are so diverse we discussed the different landscapes first and the habitats of different animals that lived in Africa.

 We extended our African animal studies with math works, language works and art.
For language we talked about crocodiles and we had a drawing workshop to label the crocodile.  This is our Crocodile art project.
  Here are our different math works.  We made animal patterns, we sorted animal, we counted animals and we counted coconuts and palm trees.  
In our language center we had three part cards to label African animals.  
In Part 2 of our African Continent study I explain our ancient Egypt unit.  I have missed blogging and I can't promise I will be a regular blogger but I will try to sneak it in as I can!  Thanks for stopping by.
Rachel Supalla :)