Sleeping queens and beads



We love playing Sleeping Queens. To help Sade with counting in 10s and 5s, I thought why not use our Montessori golden beads.  I taught her how to use the golden beads to keep track of her Queens points. This was perfect timing in firstly finally getting this game for ourselves and then using the beads for something practical in her world.

She is getting better at exchanging the 5s as she needs. I love it.

Sleeping Queens

Sleeping Queens is fantastic from age 5. Today my friends teenager begged her mum for a copy for her next birthday, when we took it over for a visit. Because there are gorgeous Cat or Rose or Pancake, and so on, queens, there are also kings, knights and dragons, jesters, potions and wands. So it’s a game that both boys and girls love equally. The graphics are so beautifully engaging. I love that it was originally designed by a 6 year old.  Aspects of the game are so innocent, that I believe only a young person would have thought of these fun little quirky rules.

Last year this was my number one birthday gift we gave to friends (even though we had not yet bought it for ourselves!)

DIY Elementary Iron Material – Part I


The Montessori elementary Iron Materials can be very expensive to purchase.  I searched everywhere to try find someone who could provide the files.  Eventually I asked Abbie from montessorischoolathome, and she carefully traced all the insets for me.  From these I’ve created these files using Autocad.

Now you can print them off and make them yourself.  Many homeschoolers just use simple cardboard.  But I wanted the kids to be able to trace them.  So I use framers board, which I get for free from my local framer. I purchased magnetic paper which I stuck behind the board to magnetize the boards.  This also allows for us to work with these on a baking tray or whiteboard and they will stay still.

The frames are made from framers board again, painted with magnetic paint.  Then the frame I cut from foam board.  Our little insets sit snug inside the foam board and it looks so neat.

I will document this process soon, so that you can see the photo’s as I’ve done each step.

In the next part, I’ll explain just how I made these.  But for now, I just wanted to offer the files, so that if anyone needed them, they could immediately go ahead.

Fraction square and triangles
Triangle insets

I have now a completed file of all the Iron Material.  I’ve only made the Fraction Squares and Triangles, as the rest of the work goes way after so much other geometry work, I’ll only need them much later.

Please download Dreambefore DIY Iron Material.

One thing you will notice is, as much as possible, that I’ve drawn the shapes along one cutting line, instead of as shown in the inset frame.  This I found helped with better cutting accuracy.

I really struggled with how to organise the insets, as I don’t have a lot of space and wanted it confined.  I found a perfect solution for us, was to use these simple drawers.


Starting Kindy for Sade

'a' on your mouth
‘a’ on your mouth

My 5 1/2 year old Possum hasn’t until now showed much interest in letters.  A little in numbers.  But she is so much more the one who wants to play continuously, a total social butterfly.  I haven’t wanted to stop this need to play with starting academic work, unless it came more from her.  We do half homeschool, where my son attends a local Christian school, a day and half a week.  It is just wonderful.  Sade should have started Kindy this year.  But because she is an October child, she is 6 months younger than her peers and I didn’t want her exposed to the competitiveness of a class environment so early.  Izaac only started attending in Year 1, which gave him time to learn to read without hindrance or competitiveness.  You can read about that journey here.

Also, as a person who loves Montessori, I didn’t want my children to be sitting for such long extended time.

After many, many thoughts about the direction to start Sade in, I think we’ve found a good little balance to just start slowly.  She is happy to go off and play, once she has done a bit of school.  She only has to do a few of these activities a day and they are so short.

Sade can blend and hear any sound, but doesn’t recognise the letters.  I made little folders of pictures and building words, but I’ve realised we really need to go back to learning each letter and sorting first sounds.  So I’m busy colouring in some great picture that I found from

So, for my social butterfly this is our little schedule we’re starting with.

Figure 8
Figure of 8 writing

A bit of brain gym, to get the left-over-right reflex going.  To start our school time, I put a huge figure 8 on the window each week, which she needs to trace over a few times. I give her small pieces of oil pastels to work with, to help correct her grip.

This week, I’ll turn it into an infinity sign, sideways. Then we’ll work our morning through:

Our simple number game.
Our simple number game.

Number work – we’ve done Montessori odd and even numbers. I so love how this work makes it so simple in seeing these numbers.   Then I made up this game, for simple number recognition.  Even Izaac couldn’t resist to be left out.  I write 0 – 9 on the bottom edges of a little white board, in two different colours.  We use a 0 – 9 dice, each having a turn.

As we throw each number, we cross it off our list.  We then race to see who can cross off all their numbers first and we have to say the number we throw.20150318_101029

letter recognition
Sade has a letter on her head

Letter recognition.  I realise with Sade she really needs a lot of movement.  So I need to make our 3-period lessons into fun activities where she puts ‘a’ on her head, ‘b’ on her nose, etc.  Or Sade putting letters on one side of the room and me calling a letter that she needs to retrieve, seeing if it matches with what I have on the table (simple control of error).

She really struggles remembering these sounds.  I mainly think because the interest level is still so low.  But as mentions, she can work out any word being sounded out.

Rainbow letters

Rainbow letters:

I use our metal inset paper and carefully show Sade how to write each letter she is learning.  I bought the “Write without tears” book and adapted it using the jingles from it and other resources.  Because we are doing cursive first, I had to change these.  So for example with the ‘d’ we’ll say, “magic C, up like a helicopter, higher, down the pole and big smile”.

From the Karen Tyler albums I got the idea of the Rainbow letters.  The child selects say 5 pencils.  I show her how to write the letter, using our jingle and put a circle at the start spot.  Then she has to repeat these letters with her 5 pencils, over and over again.  Sade has always favoured her middle finger, pointing with it and she will hold her pencil with the middle finger protruding, resting the pencil on it.  So I will have to rethink her rainbow letter pencils, thinking to sharpen one cheap tri-pencil set I have down to a small size to work with.  Any suggestions????

Metal insets
Metal insets

Metal insets:  Look at my little girl going over her hand so beautifully.  This week I had my friends children over and got us all doing metal insets.  I was surprised to see that the 11 year old loved this work the most.  And we got to talk about angles.  We’re going to work through a lot more metal inset work, even with Izaac.  More on this later.

Write from the Start
Write from the Start

Write from the Start: I wrote about this quite a while ago.  Izaac is on book 8.  I found it did such amazing work for his perception, but he still needs loads more work. Sade isn’t too impressed with this work, but I’ve seen the amazing benefits already with Izaac, so we will persist.


wpid-20150325_101539.jpg At the moment, Sade needs to do the work that I request, but it will be interesting to see as I start giving her more choices, what work she will choose.



Starting a new year

We’re 7 weeks into our new year and it baffles me that one hasn’t got it altogether yet.

My area where we have work is still totally disorganised. I can’t have things open on shelves, or the 1 year old gets totally into them. I still have no rhythm for my little K girl.

Izaac has started his half homeschool journey with our gorgeous Christian school and the most beautiful teacher – and being challenged with where his peers are and how to combine our efforts.

It’s all felt a bit daunting this year – but if I remember, it feels daunting every year.  With the adding of our little Sade being 5 and also needing to join the official schooling day – I can just feel lost.  Even though I’ve studied the Muriel Dwyer – I still feel so lost and how to go forward, when both my kids didn’t have that GREAT interest in letters and numbers and feel compelled to WANT to read.  It’s quite daunting, when you know peers are being pushed if they too are not so interested, when their peers in traditional classrooms are joyfully loving finally learning.

Phew, what a blaaah!  But just so you know and can be however encouraged – sometimes we are just a mess and wading through this journey of teaching our children and trying to balance a joyful, non-pressured home and also where the peers are.

Just on Friday, poor Izaac (grade 2) was challenged in his writing class to write smaller, because this is what is expected for grade 3.  I was so grateful to have witnessed this and have a quiet chat to his teacher about what to do.  He only learnt to write last year, in his gorgeous cursive, which I’m so proud of.  But once again the pressure of peers comes along and trying to find the balance to manage it and how it weighs on ones shoulders.

When one needs strength

Victory necklaceBecause I come across mainly as extroverted, people might think I’m always strong. But sometimes I know where I can feel totally weak and I have to remind myself that my strength lies in my God and He will give me His victory.

But lately I knew I needed something tangible to remind me of this.  I was about to embark on a journey I knew was going to take a lot of strength, work, decision making, along with my total commitment to homeschooling and hoping to stay focused.  I knew I needed something to help me.  Unknown at that time, but a person very dear to me was about to be arrested.  I needed strength to support, visit and love Billy through his dark journey, too.

My best friend has felt daunted by a new life change. When she was feeling low and afraid I knew I needed to encourage and remind her that her new change would bring her such joy and to just trust her God that this was true, even though she didn’t feel it.

This year I read “Kisses from Katie“- a wonderful story about a 18 year old who goes off to Uganda and adopts 13 girls.  Along with this she sets up a ministry called Amazina Ministries and starts a school, medical help and feeds and falls in love with her new community.  She also helps a small group of desolate women to form their own business in making paper necklaces.

In my facebook feeds I get this offer to buy necklaces.  My best friends birthday is coming up and I see there is a necklace called “joy”.  Oh I have to get that for her.  As I look through the others, I find one called “victory” – in purple – umm not my favourite colour.  If anything it needs to be a more grey tone of purple.  But I know I need “victory” for the next few months.

Oh when it arrived they were perfect.  Mine is just the right colour.  I was pretty envious about the Joy necklace, so bright and joyful!

Sades 5th birthdayWhat a thing to have something tangible to remind oneself of the direction you need to go in.  On days when I need to push through, homeschool, finish projects, help in areas God has called me to at the moment, I put on my necklace and remind and pray that today I have Victory.

I imagine this wonderful lady praying for victory for whoever finds this necklace she is making.  We share a bond.

So if you are struggling to just get through whatever your journey is, to make it through one more day – find something to help you remember who you are in Jesus and to press through.  If you like, and pop over to Amazina Store and buy one of these necklaces – and help someone in their journey too.  I always believe that in giving, we receive more.


Drawing with block crayons

I’ve been preparing for ages to start Waldorf drawing with block crayons with Izaac.

I bought this amazing book and dvd by Sieglinde de Francesca called Coloring with Block CrayonsFor Non-USA clients, like myself, please see this link.

And if you are looking for something a bit cheaper, I haven’t seen this, but you can download a video here.

Such a wonderful book and DVD.  And buying from Sieglinde was such joy!

I believe that this form of drawing will open a whole new world for the children.  And also, will develop their hands for writing so beautifully.

Today we attempted again to draw the rainbow.   We did it last week and worked on some techniques. wpid-20141029_120305.jpgI love how you can explain primary and secondary colours so well doing this exercise, because you are only using the 3 primary colours to do all your drawings (for Year 1).

Following the DVD, Sigi has this peaceful, calm voice and gently instructs you how to do these gorgeous Waldorf drawings.  Initially, I did just sit with Izaac and watch the video.  I felt too intimidated to do it on my own.  But in hindsight, now that I’ve done my first drawing with him, I think I can do it on my own.  Owning both the DVD and the book, I’d recommend.  There are many little tips that Sigi gives you along the way, as she is drawing.  But then I find having the book, I can quickly recap some tips and techniques that I need to remember.

I’m hoping to incorporate the drawings into drawing scenes from fairy tales.

I need to blog on doing Waldorf wet-on-wet painting.  We have loved that too (and need to get back into it again)!  Something my 4 year old (and then 3 year old) loves to do too.  She actually does the best paintings!

Observing and need to work

My first post about Josie. She is now 15 months and oh so cute.  She is up early most mornings.  This morning I have been busily making my kefir water and yogurt, while it is just her and I. Josie busily keeps herself occupied with many things. And I love that sense of me just being around and her finding contentment in just herself.

But a toddler has such a need to work. Josie found the bottle tops and found a tray to transfer into. She sat doing that for ages as I worked besides her.  Then I gave her a plastic wide rimmed container, she transferred into this. Then I have her a bottle and onto her next endeavor. I love how Montessori observed that children loved all type of work. And here Josie is transferring.  I love seeing this happen naturally.  Whenever I find her fussing, I try to find something work-wise for her to engage in.

And now top clean up the mess.

New work journal

There is nothing to get you acting quickly, than an inspection.  We have our homeschool inspection next week.  I had to keep a journal for this week to show the Department.  But I had nothing.

Whatdidwedoallday – my all time favourite inspiration Montessori website posted about her journal and I knew this was exactly what I had to do.

imageSo in a quick afternoon, I examined her journal intently and came up with this Word Document – click here to download this template.




wpid-20141016_103315.jpgThis is a view of both pages – so I needed to print the pages on both sides, to make the open book.



Here is a detail of each page – very much like Whatdidwedoallday – because our boys are at similar stages.

Journal Page 1

Journal Page 2

So each week, I plan to write the top headers, as I see fit. What I love about this, from just starting to work out what we did all day – I can see the progress we are making. Sometimes I feel so helpless, like “have we done enough??”.  Now I can see that yes, all is going OK.

I also love how I can see where we need to focus, or are missing out, just by the blank sections.

I also love how I can document natural learning, where Izaac teases me he wants 100 pieces of fruit toast when I ask him how many he wants for breakfast.  So you’ll see under “word problems”, I’ve documented that I asked him to work out how many bags of fruit toast he was wanting to eat.  It made 100 pieces seem a lot more real!  He definitely didn’t want that.

Thank you Andrea once again for helping me along our homeschool journey!

If you are wondering what some of the codes mean, we have

LEM – read this post

B2B – Back to basics series.  Read this post.  We are on the multiplication book.  I so need to give a new update on how well this is going.  I just love the strategies.  Read here for a bit more info.

WFS – Write from the Start – read this post.  We’re back to continuing these books as Izaac’s perception still needs loads of work.

MA – Moveable alphabet.  You can see my handmade on in the LEM post above

CW – Copy work

Once again – please click here to download my Word document copy of this work journal that you can edit and change as you wish.

Holiday practical life


During lazy holidays, why not extend our practical life that kids help with cleaning the car. They help to mess it. I was becoming so irritated at how messy the car is.

It must be a magical 7, but Izaac is so easy going and will do as I ask. He enjoyed the loud music playing, working away on his own.


With Sade at almost 5 and being so much more social, needed to have me close. So I wiped everything down as she worked. Would happily work at first, but then getting really irate. I didn’t expect perfection, only a willingness to work.

Car looks beautiful now.

LEM phonics and Montessori and how we are doing it. Part 2

As I mentioned in Part 1, I had to think about how to incorporate Montessori self-directed techniques into our LEM programme.

This is how I’ve started to achieve this for our homeschool. Initially, when working with a new Lesson, this is something we need to work on together.

LEM Main Lesson

Lesson cards

The first thing I did was to put the lessons onto these cards in cursive, our font of choice.  I didn’t do all the words from the Word List book, only those that I needed to explain rules, as simple words would just bore Izaac.

LEM divides the Word List books in Sections and Lessons/Days. We’re in Section A, Lesson 5, which I put at the top of the card.


To add self-direction, for this lesson, I get Izaac to build the words using our two small moveable alphabet.  I love this part, because I can add letters, remove letters and generally show the rules.

Just to explain a bit about these lessons, for example the word ‘school’, LEM gets you to break the words into syllables.  And you put the dash between. Izaac and I broke down the word.  We looked at the phonogram ‘ch’ and tried to work out which number it was.  So for ‘ch’ it’s, ch-k-sh – this one is ‘k’, number 2 (oops we have the wrong number).  Then we look at the ‘oo’ sound.  The previous lesson (4) was explaining how you have a double ‘l’ after a short vowel.  So here, I put a double ‘l’ at the end of school and we worked out why this was not accepted, because the ‘oo’ phonogram is 2 vowels.

When we worked with the ‘wor’ phonogram, it was good to be able to remove the ‘w’ and explain the rule or ‘w’ in-front of the ‘or’ phonogram, makes the ‘wer’ sound.  I love how the Moveable alphabet cements this work.

So this is a lesson, that is very hands on, called ‘Lesson time’ – so Izaac should know to call me to do this lesson.

Rule cards

Rules card front

Rule card backEach of the rules I’ve made into Rule cards, so that we can review them as we go through the lessons.  At the back of each Word List book is a list of the rules and which Section/Day these rules are in.  So it was easy for me to work these out.

Self work

After a lesson, Izaac then works through the different lessons.

In this lesson, he reviews the Rule cards, he will need to ask me for the Dictation he needs to build.  I just look in the Word List book, as I’ve basically put these lessons onto these cards.  Then he goes to the BOB time (Back of Book) that I got from ‘Back to Basics’ and he self checks his work – just a card at the end of the work with the answers on.


I haven’t got this perfect yet. We still need to work out how to practice these word’s and then writing them into his Word List book. But at least for the new term we have something to go with that he can feel independent to work on.



And this is where it is all stored, with the Phonogram cards at the back.  I love how neatly this turned out.