Silver polishing

Polishing tray Yes, I have FINALLY started Silver Polishing, after so long of thinking and reading about how to do this activity.

Amongst my albums and books, I found the Karen Tyler’s manual to be the most adaptable.  And then I worked out, easiest.  I loved Karen’s course.  It really gave me the support I needed when so young into Montessori.  And just such a great resource to have on board.  I use many other albums, but I do just love having hers to my collection.  She has homeschooled, so understands the needs of a homeschooler, as I discovered in this activity, namely the little paper towel, that none of the other albums mentioned.

One thing, I constantly have to remember, is not only how to present new work, but also how to put it all away.  Kids get so excited about doing the activity, they want to take over and it’s so hard to ‘whoa’ the excitement.  One then forgets about how to finish – and before you know it – you’ve actually lost a really important part of the work cycle.  So I was really friendly, smily, yet firm, about letting Mummy have a go first.

OK, the tray layout.

  • Flannel cloth (don’t forget to have somewhere for this to be thrown, ready for washing)
  • Paper towel (this was the best idea of all!)
  • Bowl with cut in half q-tips
  • Bowl with cotton swabs
  • Jar of Polish
  • Silver item

Metal Magic

The polish I used I researched to try find non-toxic.  Here in Australia, I found Metal Magic, that is only really sold through smaller stores, like IGA.  So I phoned my local IGA who was quite happy to order some in for me.

S Silver polishingPresentation: You are going to work on the Kitchen Towel.  Lay out the kitchen towel, putting on it from left to right, in order, the jar of polish, q-tip, cotton bud, flannel.

Dip the q-tip into the polish and then dab-dab-dab over the pot.  (Favourite part).  Then rub-rub with cotton ball – try get all the polish off.  Now scrunch up clothe in hands and rub-rub-rub – try to get your smily face reflection.

And they will go in, again and again, q-tipping, more cotton buds.  It’s just lovely to watch their concentration.

To put it away, put the lid back on the jar of polish, put the bowl onto the tray, throw the flannel into prepared basket.  Then the fun part, scrunch up the rest of the used goodies into paper towel and throw away.  Put it all back on shelf.

As they then put it back, don’t forget to quickly replace another flannel, q-tips and cotton balls.

I had to continually remind to work on the kitchen towel.

Remember to mention little things, like the interesting smell of the polish.  In the Margaret Homfray video, she even brings out the polish and reads what it is, that’s it toxic etc – details on the polish.

What I love about this presentation, is that between all the polishing activities, you can use the same format, except the item and polish changes.  In classes I’ve observed, there are a few items of each for the children to choose what they want to polish.  Even items around the room, like a wooden ornament.  I’m struggling with wood polishing, because I made beeswax polish, but it’s not as easy as a liquid to work with, and won’t work with a cotton ball.  So I might just use an oil.


What to do with children joining Montessori schooling, after 4 and a half?

I’ve had the great pleasure of reading Paula Polk Lillard book again, my second time.  It’s called ‘Montessori in the classroom‘,  She journals her one year, where she has 4/5 year olds and how she uses Montessori to teach and guide these children, even though they don’t have the essential 2 years before.

What I love about this book, is all the hints and tips.  Like how she finds she needs to discipline this age group, so that they slowly understand the responsibility of their freedom.  I was really surprised by this.  And it helps me to understand how the structure of freedom works better in an Montessori environment.  How she balances when to insist on work being done and when to let go.

Pace of teaching – What really surprised me was, she only has 9 months  – and as she is journalling you notice the dates and what is being achieved.  It’s incredible, such an eye-opener.

Within a month, in language, she is onto the phonetic objects, already having done the moveable alphabet with most of her children.  Even though sensorially beyond the sandpaper letters and moveable alphabet, she still uses these.  They are doing world maps in this first month, as in tracing, colouring and labelling them.

In maths, for the first two weeks, she goes through all the first materials, to assess their understanding of numbers – Numerical rods, spindle boxes, cards and counters, memory game.  Then she starts the golden beads.  After a month and half, she has started short chains and Bank game.  At this time of showing the chains, she emphasis’s that this is multiplication.

Within 2 months, in language – she is introducing phonograms, the children are writing them – so their writing is up to this level.  The noun is introduced.

In maths, the numerical rods are used extensively, as well as cuisenaire rods.

Within 3 months, the verb is introduced.  Some children are reading alone and to each other at this stage.  None of the children could read when they entered the class.  she also documents those who are struggling and just plain forget things, even though they knew it ages ago.

In maths, children have already started working on the strip boards!  I’ve taken so long to introduce this to my boy – should have started earlier.  I found I just take too long to introduce new items, but this is what keeps the momentum/interest going.  Multiplication has also been introduced.

At 5 months, she introduces the stamp game.

By 7 months, in language, there is a hubbub of grammar work happening and sight words.  They are doing the Grammar boxes.  Children are being introduced to realistic books that they can read, instead of just readers.  There is also a lot of story writing.

In maths, the multiplication board is introduced.

By 9 months, she introduces the Dot game, before she has to say goodbye.

Practical life – in homeschooling, I often read about how this is lacking.  But practical life is used quite a bit in her class, especially for when the children are feeling restless.  She instills in them that when they feel this way, go off and do work from this area.  This includes:

– Floor Cloth, Dust pan and Brush, Broom, Dust Mop, Wet mop and bucket

  • Cleanser Tray
  • Mirror Polish
  •  Wood Polish
  •  Silver Polish
  • Flower arranging
  • Plant care

I’ve been wanting to set up polishing for ages.  And with a 3year old approaching, I know I need to get this sorted out – find a place, reorganise the kitchen to facilitate this.  My 5 year old needs to also be introduced and encouraged.  If anyone knows how to set up a cleanser tray, I’d really like your ideas, please?

Art materials

It was lovely to read how the kids constantly were interested in the art materials.  These were:

  • The clay (wooden bowl with wooden cutting board and pallette knife) – so simple!
  • The markers
  • Color paddles (plastic paddles of the primary colors). No idea what this is?
  • Painting tray
  • Collage tray
  • Pasting tray

I would so have loved pictures of these.  I have ordered her next book, which explains a lot of the topics in the book, but sadly seems to reflect more on language and maths.

I loved how the collage was based on what she was teaching at the time, like planets, there was items to make the planets and labels.  I loved this idea!

Science material

Her list of science materials and reading through the book, I’m encouraged now to actually buy a microscope and start getting that interest going.


Sensorial is not forgotten and I believe it’s so good to have this guide on what sensorial to do, when you think you’ve missed this sensitive period.

She had the:

  • geometric solids
  • constructive triangles (please read my post where I explain how I make these, so gorgeously!)
  • binomial and trinomial cube
  • metal insets
  • solid cylinders (quite surprised by this one)!  I’m actually planning to miss it out for my almost 3yo due to cost).
  • knobless cylinders

Truly an amazing book.