New Montessori Cultural Materials from Waseca Biomes

It’s no secret we have loved materials from Waseca Biomes for years.

It started when Quentin was two with the Seasons Mat and Sun.

He loved carefully singing the Seasons Song and laying out the corresponding cards. Our collection of materials has grown quite a bit over the years, and so when Waseca Biomes released their new series of materials we couldn’t help but jump at the chance to see them.

It was incredibly fortunate that they happen to be a vendor at the 2018 American Montessori Association conference as I am also a attending.

Seeing their materials laid out in entirety gives you a true sense of how they are integrated into each of the 5 areas of a 3-6 Montessori programme and one can also see how the sequence of the materials easily carries onward into the Elementary.

The new Season’s Mat is amazing. Rounded with an extraordinary amount of detail, it clearly illustrates the subtleties in the changing of the seasons.

There is also an update to the Water Cycle Mat (which will will do a later post about) and a brand new edition of a Rock Cycle Mat.

This is going to be the perfect addition at our house and in my classroom as both have kids that are passionate about rocks. Finding materials that reflect your child’s passions help fuel future discussions and discovery.

If you want to see the complete Rock Cycle Mat you can find all the photos and information here.

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.

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

An Autumn book and activities for Thanksgiving Monday

The air was crisp and the skies sunny today. 

We spent it quietly together. 


We spent all Summer growing this sweet pie pumpkin in our garden and it was perfectly ready for harvesting this weekend. 


Scooping out a pumpkin whether for a jack o’ lantern or for a pie is a favourite Practical Life work around here. 


This process is so amazingly rewarding because the child is a part of it right from the beginning months ago. 


There have been many Nature walks in the forest lately but today was about leaf gathering to compliment our newest book on the bookshelf. 


We loved finding many of the leaves found in the gorgeous book Fall Walk

It is a beautiful poem of a family out enjoying an Autumn day and the information regarding so many different leaves is fascinating and easily could be used for many years to come both at home and in the school classroom. 
As we Canadians sit down with our extended families over a meal this holiday weekend we wish all of you much happiness and we are so extremely grateful to have you all following along here and our other media outlets. 

September Nature Study: Forest Floor

September is settling in nicely around here. We find ourselves wearing long sleeves and pants all of a sudden. 

Our September Nature Study is perfect for the cooler days and slower family rhythms. 

We have been using these gorgeous materials from Tanglewood Hollow to compliment our study. They are perfect with just enough information as well as being portable so we can actually take them out on hikes with us. 


Our time is the rainforest has proven to be exactly what we need. Giving us some time to energize ourselves after the first busy weeks back at school. Looking for different types of ferns, lichen and mushrooms has been a fascinating treasure hunt. 

A note of caution: We have poisonous mushrooms here and therefore we never touch them unless with a trained guide. We would recommend you do the same. 


We have also been talking about the importance of rotting logs. There are some beautiful examples of this where we live. New life growing from old and the continuation of the biome. 


There is so much see in the forest in Autumn. If you have yet to start a Nature Study, why not try a walk in the woods. 

Montessori Nature Study: Ecosystem of a pond

Our year long Nature Study begins again after a month off in July. 


The first week of August we explored pond dipping again. It is such a fun and easily prepared activity for kids of all ages. Dip a net into a pond and gently dump the contents into a clean container filled with the same pond water. You will be amazed at what you find. 

We recorded some of our findings in our Nature Journal. It’s interesting to observe how a child’s mind has grown and evolved in just one year. The different questions being asked and different observations made are fascinating. 

This year, observing the ecosystem of a pond has been particularly special. We are currently travelling and so the pond we are observing is the one from my childhood. 

There are so many things to share with Quentin. The holes dug by turtles and the remaining egg shells, the small minnows that swim past your toes. The smell of the water, and the crunch of the sand. A highlight for him was feeding the swan family and talking about their role in the ecoystem. 


Pond ecosystems are virtually endless with a wealth of information to satisfy children of all ages. Everything from naming different animals for toddlers, to life cycles to the microscope world. 

This particular pond has four generations worth of memories for my family and I’m glad I got to share it with Quentin today. 

Taking Art Outside

 “Let the be children free; encourage them; let them run outside when it is raining; let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water; and, when the grass of the meadows is damp with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet; let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath its shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning.” Dr Maria Montessori 

Process Art is not only important to us as a family and as a trained Montessori teacher, it is the only kind of art advocated for by the majority of those in the childhood social neurological development world for children under the age of 8 years. 

For us, it just makes sense to take Art outside. Art is all about the sensorial world and there’s no better Prepared Environment that plays to the senses than the outdoors. 


At the beach or in the forest, nature can inspire the child and spark their imagination. 


Art also helps us extend what we’ve been exploring as part of our monthly Montessori Nature Study

A little preparation can go along way. Here are some of our favourite things to bring outside:

  1. A thin, easy to carry watercolour palette
  2. mini clipboard to secure paper and provide a writing surface
  3. A large watercolour paper pad cut into quarters for easy transport
  4. This workbook is becoming a fast favourite.
  5. As is this one
  6. Nature Anatomy is our absolute favourite Nature Study book and the one we have been using for our own Nature Study for the past year. 
  7. Lyra pencil crayons are some of the best on the market. Vibrant true tones that spread like butter on the paper and the Ferby is the perfect size for little hands. 
  8. A well made, well fitting child sized backpack to keep all of it in. 

We also love adding audiobooks to our art times. Calm classics quietly read in the background help prepare a space for peaceful art. 


All this with a healthy homemade snack and water bottle and you are set to make art outside.

Even the youngest toddler will enjoy squishing fingerpaint onto paper while under a big tree or beside a quiet stream.  

If outdoor art is new to you take it slow and prepare in advance. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Think about your own child’s interests/abilities. Do they love crayons over watercolours?
  • Go at a peaceful time of day. Tired and hungry children are not happy artists. 
  • Process art is exactly that. Let the child lead. It’s about the scribbles and sensorial input, not about how much the finished product looks like you wanted it to look.
  • Art can be messy (and that’s a good thing). Prepare in advance with something to clean up spills, wipe fingers and pack wet things home in. 

Now go and enjoy. If you happen to try an outdoor art session we would love you to share it with us on social media either on our Facebook page or on Instagram by tagging us.