A Montessori field trip: An observation in the classroom of Diamond Montessori

As I’ve mentioned before in this post I love the opportunity to observe other Montessori Prepared Environments.

Ashley Speed, the founder of Diamond Montessori is not only a personal friend, she is an AMI trained 3-6 Montessori Guide and our leading resource for inclusive children’s resources such as books, card materials and community resources.

And so while I have been accessing her wealth of knowledge (found here on Instagram) I had yet to be able to observe in her own 3-6 classroom. It didn’t disappoint.

The lighting was soft but surprisingly well lit considering the amount of rain streaming down outside in Vancouver. The shelves were orderly and well planned.

However it was not the gorgeous set of bells nor the orderly shelves I had made the trip for.

You see Ashley is a regrettably rare form of Montessori Guide. She fills her environment with her own passions down to the smallest detail.

Her carefully crafted Museum full of rock, mineral and animal specimens calls to a child’s sense of awe and wonder.

Her handmade wooden calendar and cultural cards invite a child so effortlessly to learn new concepts.

Even the tiny porcelain drawers and handcrafted fabric pouches add colour and beauty to the space as well as practicality.

All of this pays off. I arrive before the morning class does and witness the ease in which each child comes into the class, transitions into their indoor shoes and sets to work. Many choose cursive writing practice. The transition is not a lengthy nor a noisy one, and the classroom has been set up to provide enough walking space between the work tables allowing for ease of movement.

One child chooses from the extensive Geography materials and sets to work finishing a local map. The hand felted solar system stored in the basket called to me and I wished I had longer to stay to work on it myself.

January is often the time when schools in the northern hemisphere are setting their classroom rosters for September, and welcoming observations. If you have yet to observe an authentic Montessori prepared environment in action, now is often the time.

Thanks to Ashley for allowing me to be part of her morning. I left very inspired.

Sunday Book Club: Strictly No Elephants

We wanted to start the new year of our Book Club off with a good one and so when The Book Report sent this over we new it would be the one.

The sweet and tear jerking story of a boy and an elephant who are in need of a friend. It’s about putting on your best red scarf to go to the party only to have your friend turned away.

And it’s the story of making those hard decisions when the time comes to be a friend, and stand up for those that are different, alone and excluded.

While some in the Montessori world may raise a fuss at the lack of realism in this book due to the miniature main character, we would like to suggest that the message of Peace Education is far greater than worrying about whether or not a child will be confused by the tiny pachyderm.

This is the message that is so very needed in today’s world. It is a must have book for any classroom and home and the discussions it starts will last through a lifetime.

Sunday Book Club: One last one for 2017

It’s hard to believe I started this little book club two years ago. There have been so many amazing books over the years and 2017 was no different.

One of our very favourites was Here We Are. We are madly in love with Oliver Jeffers children’s books.

The artwork asks the audience to stop and take a closer look, something that’s important to me. So many books miss this critical aspect of a good children’s book.

Then there’s the written message. Does it speak to you and the child who is absorbing the story? This book speaks to us very very much.

If you haven’t had a chance to read this one, go and see it out. You won’t be disappointed.

Thanks for joining us on this journey of seeking out well written, gorgeously illustrated, diverse books.

We will be back early in the new year with our latest finds.

Sunday Book Club: A Montessori compatible Christmas Book – A rare and beautiful thing

We have so many favourite Montessori compatible Winter books and were going to post them today, but we have been patiently waiting for someone (anyone really) in the Montessori social media world to post this book as it is one of the very few traditional Christmas themed books that is truly compatible with Montessori.

It’s not that it’s a new book, it’s just I suppose a little less popular than others.

We all have our favourites from our own childhoods or ones with beautiful art, but when we are looking for a truly Montessori compatible book for teaching the traditional message of Christmas, just as we do with all other books we seek for our children what are we looking for? What are we choosing?

Are we choosing books that are reality based or are we choosing books with a very whitewashed version of a humble family of Middle Eastern decent looking for shelter in Bethlehem?

Above all, are the books we choose broadcasting a strong message of inclusivity, love, hope, and peace for everyone?

This one does.

Originally read by Angelou herself at the White House Christmas tree lighting in 2005, it is a stunning book.

Focusing on the traditional message of Christmas, it brings together Christians, Muslim’s, Jews, Atheists and many more by acknowledging that whatever our differences, we can come together.

We can do what Maria Montessori asked of us.

We can build peace not only in ourselves but in the world.

The Gift of Experience: Give your time

We talk about this frequently on our Instagram account especially at this time of year when everyone’s “Best Stuff to Get Your Kids” Lists are cropping up. That although giving stuff to kids is fun for the adult, it’s not what they really want or need.

What they really need is your time.

So I thought I’d share one of our own recent experience gifts because it’s not enough to just say it is it? We must practice what we preach.

A day at the local Natural History Museum is one of his favourite outings.

As you can see, there’s a lot to see.

Quentin enjoys the the first floor the most because it focuses on the animals of our region from prehistoric times until now. Museums are the perfect space for children to explore. Lots to see and do and share with an adult.

This is the perfect time for a child to take the lead. When we are on an outing together we always remember to follow the child. Their path through an exhibit may not be the one you would have chosen. We return three times to look into this microscope to look at the small shoreline creatures that inhabit our local fresh water edges.

This takes a lot patience! There’s so much to see and the tendency of the adult is to keep moving to see everything. It’s not the same for the child. They may focus on one area, or they may rush through the entire building at break neck speed. But the success of the outing depends on how much they have enjoyed it. And so we follow the child.

An interesting thing to note is that the financial cost of the experience (in this case a year’s pass to the museum) is actually less expensive than the pile of stuff he could have been given.

If you are considering giving a gift of experience this year but are having trouble narrowing it down or knowing where to start consider this:

  • Follow the child. A trip to the water theme park, art gallery, museum or a walk in the forest are all perfect for different children. Choose an activity your own child would love.
  • Do your research. Places often offer season passes or yearly memberships. These can often be extremely inexpensive for the amount of times you will use it.
  • Think of your own needs. If roller coasters aren’t your thing, you are likely not going to be taking your child to the theme park that often. Even if you did buy the season’s pass.
  • Find something local and awesome. There are so many hidden community gems. Ask friends and family about their favourites.
  • Seek adventure. Sometimes the best experiences are when you travel. Consider taking your child to see something amazing, even if it is only in the next town over.

Looking back over the years it is the times I have spent out and about with my children that are some of my favourite. As the gifts pile up, it’s up to us to think about what we want to pass on to our children.

When they look back on their childhood, what do you want them to remember?l

Sunday Book Club: Montessori Peace Education

This is education, understood as a help to life; an education from birth, which feeds a peaceful revolution and unites all in a common aim, attracting them as to a single centre…This is the bright new hope for mankind.” – Maria Montessori

Montessori Peace Education is at the forefront of my approach to the pedagogy and so when I was asked on our Instagram account last weekend to host a theme on another site, Peace Education is what I chose.

These are some of the materials use at home and in my Montessori 3-6 classroom. It is a simple exercise kept in a basket or tray that children can choose freely in the same way they would choose any other work.

The Emotions and Mindfulness cards are from Diamond Montessori and can be found here.

They are 3 Part Cards so there is an accompanying set of solo picture cards and also a set of solo word cards to match. They can be used with even the youngest of toddlers by simply exploring the different faces each child is making and we love that there is a wide range of ethnic diversity in them.

Our Love Light house. Both in my classroom and at home we use the concept of a love light, an internal light that can either shine brightly from each person or can be extinguished with nothing more than a little hot air. The concept comes from this book and we adapt many activities found in it to suit our needs.

This little dish was a gift from a dear Montessori friend and teacher. It is a beautiful pottery piece made by a local First Nations artist. We keep it in our Peace Tray and we fill it with freshly ground lavender when Quentin wants to. Sitting with it on a work mat a child can choose to smell the sweet and calming smell.

This book is a new addition and couldn’t have arrived at a better time. We have been anxiously awaiting it as it is absolutely perfect for a 3-6 year old child to actively engage with.

The pictures are simple and so is the text but the message is a powerful one.

Each of these activities and many many more are so easy to take the time to do with children. The sense of calm they can invoke in a child is remarkable and will help a child with so many important social emotional aspects.

Montessori at home: Finding our Autumn rhythm


Autumn is such a busy time. A time of new beginnings, new classrooms, new friends. As it gets a little more crisp outside, we purposely try and step back and take a breath. This is not the time for extras here. So while others are shuffling off to new afternoon programming of teams and lessons we are snuggling down. 

Back to school, less daylight and colder mornings all make us treasure our downtime. School days are busy and filled with learning. Quentin will often ignore his Montessori home shelves at this time of year more than any other time. Instead we make extra effort to connect with each other. This includes long walks in the crisp air to the market. It does us all good to get out together. 

His basket (the Little Luggy by Olie and Ella) is a new addition. We searched and searched for a supplier in Canada. Finally I contacted Nineteen Ten in Vancouver. The staff was amazingly helpful. They offered to order one in for us, and then shipped it to our home. We are so thankful for all their help. It arrived quickly and Quentin has been smitten ever since. 

We love watching the seasons change and finding quiet activities to help each of us find calm and peacefulness. 

Some of our favourites include: 

  • Play dough with essential oils (ideas found here)
  • A stack of great books about the seasons to curl up with (our favourites listed here)
  • Baking some of our favourite homemade seasonal treats including home made apple cider from our orchard trees
  • Board games we can all sit and play together 
  • Long walks outside bundled up. 


If you are feeling like the approaching holiday craziness is getting a little too close, or the back to school madness is starting to take over, consider stepping back at home. Instead of restocking your Montessori shelves with new activities, stop and observe the child. This may not look like it, but this is one of the most important ways we teach Montessori Peace Education. By learning to slow down and be mindful of our bodies need for rest, we give the child the ability to self regulate. This is the first step in Peace Education. We ask ourselves are they wanting more to do on top of what they do at school each day?

Or are they just wanting us?