From the Montessori Room: Calendars, Decorations, and the Golden Beads!


Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

The New Year is always exciting and full of wonder...just what young children enjoy most. However, time and its passing, is an abstract concept that young children often don't understand until they've had a little more of life's experiences. 

A calendar can offer a somewhat concrete experience for children to mark the passage of time and show the quantity of days leading up to a special occasion. 

In the Montessori Preschool classroom, I have found that having a "Leader" each day works really well. The "Leader" makes sure that all the little daily procedures are carried out and being the "calendar person" is an important one of those procedures.  And, when the New Year rolls around, everyone is really thinking about the calendar!

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

Calendar activities can offer children not only experiences with the concept of time, but also math, language, and creative thinking skills development.
By observing a pattern in the calendar number cards, children can practice recognizing patterns and making predictions. These skills are important in the development of mathematical and creative thinking.
During the first months of school, simple patterns help the children succeed at recognizing and predicting patterns. In the Montessori approach, one variable changes as in the calendar pictured below: red flower-yellow flower-red flower-yellow flower, etc.

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

As the year passes and the children gain skills in pattern recognition, the calendar cards can offer progressively more complex patterns for the children. 

The photo below shows a calendar pattern for January. Since our group was really fascinated with the Continents of the World, I created pattern cards that reflected the seven continents in the order they occur in the song our class sang daily: North America-South America-Europe-Asia-Africa-Australia-Antarctica-North America-South America...etc. 

 Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

I like the pocket style classroom calendars. (Click here for the link: Pocket calendar at Amazon.) The pockets are the right size for pattern cards, both commercially made and your own handmade ones. They also hold the Montessori colored beads that can be added each day to show the quantity for the numeral of that day of the month! For example, on the 14th of January, the Leader puts one ten bar and four units into that pocket.

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

At the end of each month, the children can remove the pattern cards and then attach them in numerical order on a long strip of paper. We have always used adding machine tape and this little activity was a big favorite of the 4 and 5 yr olds in our group. When it was all done, we would hang it along the edge of the ceiling like a decorative "trim". As the months went by,  the progression of pattern cards of this lovely "calendar wall trim" created a beautiful timeline that further re-inforced the children's growing understanding of time.  

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

An exciting Montessori Math Activity that happens only once a year is the fun golden bead arrangement that represents the quantities of the numerals in the New Year. 

The Montessori golden bead materials offer concrete experiences with  the decimal system: units, tens, hundreds, and thousands. 

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

Making the year 2016 with the golden beads brings up the importance of zero as a place holder. The zero in the hundred's place shows that there aren't any hundreds in the numeral 2016, but we still need to put a number in the hundred's place. Yay, for zero!  With golden beads, the number 2016 reads: 

  • 2 thousand cubes
  • 0 hundred squares
  • 1 ten bar
  • 6 unit beads
Sorry, but I just don't have a photo to show this year's quantities laid out with the golden bead materials! But,  I found this darling video from The Pinay Homeschooler's site that is a very clear and accurate lesson in the Montessori golden beads. Here's their fabulous  Youtube Channel link: here, as well.

Many cultures of the world recognize the Chinese Zodiac and I think children especially like the idea of the animals that symbolize each year. 2016 is a year of the monkey! In my Preschool classroom, I  always set up a "glitter letter" table where children create the letter of the week using glue sticks and glitter. During January, the glitter activity is replaced by a new "station" where the children can use a Chinese style paint brush and black paint to create the character that represents the animal of the year. Wow, the calligraphy for monkey has lots of interesting lines!

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

A fun learning experience for young children is to "read" the new year in numbers. You can create what I call "number puppets" (numbers mounted on sticks) and one child, or four different children standing in a line, can hold the numerals in the correct order to represent the new year.

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

The classic Montessori activity of taping or gluing pre-cut strips of colorful paper together to create a paper chain is a very popular activity for decorating for the New Year or simply to cheer up the surroundings on wintry days. 

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

The four year olds in our group have often gotten quite elaborate with the chains by adding feathers, paper flowers, sparkly beads, glitter...the list goes on!

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

Once you have your decorations up, it's fun to put on your favorite lively music and dance! Including confetti, ribbons and noise makers adds to the festive mood. 

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

I like to collect noise makers, hats, and paper sparkly ribbons from past New Year's Eve celebrations and bring them in for the Preschoolers when classes resume after Winter Break. Then, I place them on a rug  in the middle of our circle---enough objects so that each child gets something to hold, make noise, wear, or toss in the air. The little children really enjoy choosing something to ring in the New Year.  We have our own kid-friendly New Year's celebration right in our classroom!

Advertising Disclosure: This Blog contains affiliate links. (At no cost to you) If/when you make a purchase at one of my links, I receive compensation. Thanks for your support!
View Post

Musically Montessori! A Music Toolbox for the Preschool: My Stand-by Favorites!


Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

I love seeing young children singing, playing instruments and moving to music EVERYDAY! Bringing purposeful music experiences to these children has always been an important part of early childhood education, and the right music "tools" can make all the difference.

The "Butterfly Dance" in Carolyn's Music Class


If you use an iPOD or PHONE for the music you play for the children in your group, then you can create play lists for your everyday music class. Just about every favorite childhood song is downloadable these days and iPods can hold a large amount of cp3 songs! Also, you can transfer songs from cd s onto your iPod (via computer) and have the songs you've enjoyed for years right at your finger tips & stored compactly on your iPod.


  • Movement Activities 
  • Focused Listening Activities 
  • Listening to Authentic Renditions from the Various Cultural Genres of Music. 

I've been using my iPhone as an iPod for years. Recently, when I upgraded to a new phone, I kept my old phone and now it is officially my iPod for music class. I REALLY LIKE APPLE PRODUCTS and highly recommend them. I love that I can transfer recordings between all my devices and I can even make recordings in Garage Band and send it over to one of my iTunes play lists. This means you can record the children singing (or playing instruments) and put them on your iPod or even make a cd for the parents!

Regardless of which mp3 product you use, I have so enjoyed HAVING PLAYLISTS FOR MUSIC CLASS.
My play list is like my lesson plan!


I also use a BLUETOOTH SPEAKER that can be placed anywhere in a room (or even outdoors). No need to locate electrical outlets or to have cords running across the floor. I really like the bluetooth speakers from Jawbone. I have had mine for over 4 years now and it is still going full blast! In my opinion, these have a true sound and they are sturdier than other brands, especially around children. On the top of the box, there are controls and you can even control the volume & the song selection from these controls, if you like. It also works just fine using the controls on your iPod. I have the BIG JAMBOX because I sometimes work with large groups in large rooms for training programs. For a normal size classroom, the MINI JAMBOX should work just fine.

There's a GREAT SALE on this BIG JAMBOX right now!(see link below)

If you prefer plugging in your mp3 device into a stationery speaker, I look for a set-up that is sturdy and not easy for children to knock over. This one from iHome works nicely and has a remote, too.


In the Montessori environment, CHILDREN CLASSICALLY BEGIN ACTIVITIES "ON THE LINE" when they are as young as two! I find that "the line" or the edge of the rug is a great place for movement such as marching and circle dancing.
Here are some Montessori-style movement songs that even the youngest children enjoy.

 "The Line" 
"Warming Up the Body"
"Dancing for Little Kids"
"Just Plain Fun!"
Several of the songs cited above are available on cd only...but they are well worth the purchase of the entire cd since there are many fun music activities on each. I download the cd to my computer and then put individual songs on my playlist to transfer to iPod or iPhone.


You can check out my FAVORITE HUNDRED SONGS FROM THE MONTESSORI MUSIC ROOM at the following link. Just scroll down to the 5 articles titled: Musically Montessori! A Hundred Songs.


DEVELOPING LISTENING SKILLS is a GREAT BENEFIT OF MUSIC  with young children. Practicing focused listening can be a really fun activity for children.

You can offer listening activities with:
  • EVERYDAY SOUNDS the children are familiar with (ex: birds, car horn, popcorn popping, etc) 
  • Eventually children enjoy listening to FAMOUS PIECES OF MUSIC (ex: Beethoven's fifth)

Here are some sources for focused listening experiences for young children:


I think that young children really enjoy learning about some of the classic composers in Western Music.
Here are some of the very favorites of the children I have worked with over the years:

Mozart at this link:Mozart on Amazon. 

Beethoven at this link:Beethoven At Amazon.  

Vivaldi at this link:Vivaldi at Amazon.

 Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint Saens and more! at this link:Saint Saens & More at Amazon.

The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky  and more! 


In the Montessori early childhood setting, we traditionally introduce the continents of the world to the children throughout the school year. 

Playing the Rainstick from South America Study Unit

Typically, we also like to explore the countries of the children's family heritages and music is a wonderful way to do this! 


A very important part of music for young children is the actual MAKING OF MUSIC! 
RHYTHM INSTRUMENTS AND PITCHED PERCUSSION are always engaging for the children and should be a part of music class, at least weekly.

Playing the Castanets in the Montessori Music Room

Here is a LIST OF THE INSTRUMENTS I RECOMMEND for early childhood settings with links of where they can be viewed/ purchased:
   Rhythm sticks (a set for each child in the group)
   Maracas (a set for each child in the group)
   Single Bells (a set for each child in the group)
   Sand Blocks (a set for each child in the group)
   Triangles (a triangle & striker for each child in the group)
   Finger cymbals ( a set for each child in the group)
   Tambourines (one for each child in the group)
   Glockenspiel (just one that has a true tone)
   Hand drum (just one that is easy for a child to handle)
   Cymbals (just one set that is child-sized)
~ Wonderful RHYTHM INSTRUMENTS that DIRECTLY EXERCISE THE PINCER GRASP for the young child are the CASTANETS, but a bit challenging for the youngest children!

A RULE OF THUMB is that when the children have an INSTRUMENT THAT REQUIRES THE USE OF BOTH HANDS, they stay engaged more fully. (Ex: rhythm sticks, finger cymbals, tambourines)

I prefer to start the children out with everyone playing the same instrument, so a set of RHYTHM STICKS for each child is usually affordable. These can be used in so many, many ways! I consider them to be a "must have!"

Next, I would invest in FINGER CYMBALS, which is another instrument that is inexpensive and played with both hands.

I think it is worth it to purchase some SMALL, PLASTIC TAMBOURINES because these can also be played like a drum.

Then, if need be, each child can play one maraca. Likewise, the single bell can be limited to one for each child rather than two. 

YOU WILL NEED some kind of PITCHED INSTRUMENT for SOLFEGE WORK and if the Glockenspiel is out of your range, then a set of resonator bars can be substituted. Here's a good set from Amazon: Basic Beat Resonator Bars.

If your classroom has a set of the MONTESSORI BRASS BELLS, then you have a fabulous pitched instrument for a great many activities! 


Some PROPS in music class are AIDS for the TEACHER TO ILLUSTRATE MUSIC CONCEPTS, like puppets for loud and quiet. Other PROPS are for the CHILDREN TO USE FOR MOVEMENT, individually or all together as a group.(ex: Stretchy Band)

Montessori Music Room with the links to view/ purchase:
   Scarves (one or two for each child)
   Rainbow Ribbons (one for each child)
   Stretchy Band (Choose a size appropriate for the number of children in your group. You will need the extra large size for a group of 24-36 children)
   Finger Puppets (one for each child)
   "Music Babies" (one for each child)
   Hand Puppets (for the teacher to illustrate music concepts)
Here are 2 examples of puppets for games with fast and slow music:

Music that is fast (like a rabbit) is called "Presto"

 View rabbit puppet at this link: Folkmanis Rabbit Puppet.

Music that is slow (like a turtle) is called "Largo"

View Turtle Puppet at this link: Folkmanis turtle puppet.

More examples: 

  • Bird for high pitch
  • Frog for low pitch
  • Lion for loud  (or "Forte") in music
  • Mouse for quiet (or "Piano") in music

Check out my favorite music resources at my Amazon Store by clicking this link:Magical Movement A Store. 

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club 

You can find more activities & information at my past posts by clicking on the links below:

I am so delighted to have you visiting my Blog and I hope you found lots of ideas for music experiences with your group!

Advertising Disclosure: This Blog contains affiliate links. (At no cost to you) If/when you make a purchase at one of my links, I receive compensation. Thanks for your support!
View Post

Merry, Magical, Musical Christmas Wishes To All You Montessori Educators!

AND, THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR JOINING ME HERE AT MY BLOG THROUGHOUT THIS HOLIDAY SEASON AND DURING ALL OF 2015. It is really exciting for me to have so many new subscribers and fellow bloggers to exchange ideas with!

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

I've truly enjoyed getting to know so many of you wonderful Montessorians from all over the world. Your lovely comments and invitations to participate in Blog Hops, write Guest Posts and join Link-ups have been an incredible boost for me, as a blogger who recently got serious about it!

I feel like we are old friends having tea together while we share all our ideas with enthusiasm, creativity and a sprinkling of humor here & there....looking forward to lots more, too!

Here's hoping your holiday is cozy and filled with family, friends, & lots of music.

Advertising Disclosure: This blog contains affiliate links. (At no cost to you) If/when you make a purchase at one of my links, I receive compensation. Thanks for your support!

View Post

MusicallyMontessori100 Songs: "Ten in the Bed" Let's Sing, Play, Read, Count & Dramatize!

ARE YOU ONE OF THOSE EDUCATORS WHO LIKES TO MAKE A WHOLE UNIT OUT OF AN ACTIVITY THAT THE CHILDREN LOVE? You can take this old favorite song and create lots of really fun learning moments with your children... Montessori-style. 

Extend, extend, extend the learning!

A FAVORITE SONG is just one of the BEST ways to engage the children in activities that involve ALL THE MAJOR AREAS OF CURRICULUM. 

For children, singing the words to even a silly song like Ten in the Bed is an exercise in:

  • Language: Vocabulary, Speech, & Memory Development 
  • Music: Keeping a Steady Beat 
  • Arithmetic: Add the ingredient of Subtracting Quantities to the song and you've introduced Mathematics in a really fun way
  • Science: If the children act out the story and actually  "pretend to fall off the pretend bed", there is a little lesson in Momentum and Gravity!  
You've probably heard the song, "There Were Ten in the Bed" a gazillion times. Generation after generation of children greatly enjoy this traditional favorite and there may be a gazillion ways they enjoy it, too!

One of the first & BEST ways young children LEARN is through MOVEMENT. I found this darling little video on youtube that shows a group of preschoolers having a grand time singing, playing and acting out this funny little song. 

Did you know how very much these little ones are "learning through the art of play" when they enact the song in this way?!

The funny little story of the song and the "ACTUAL EXPERIENCE OF SUBTRACTING" turns out to be very popular with little children. There are a lot of MEMORY SKILLS  involved with singing the lyrics of the song, and it's repetitive structure helps the young child learn the words quickly. 

When they actually move along "the bed" (using chairs as seen in the video) and then roll off when it's their turn, the children ABSORB a lot of MATHEMATICAL INFORMATION about one-to-one correspondence and taking a quantity away while having a hilarious time of it!

Probably the most engaging part of this activity for the child is the "rolling off the bed"! Actually, young children seem to love "ROLLING & SPINNING" as well as "FALLING" and these activities are IMPORTANT to the DEVELOPMENT OF THE BRAIN. You can read more about what scientists say about movement and healthy brain development at these links:
here, and more here, and also here.

There are many recordings of the song, and one of my very favorites is from this wonderful album from the Australian group, Sugar Kane: "200 of the Greatest Nursery Rhymes Ever."  You can download the song or the whole album (well worth it!) by clicking this link: 200 Greatest Nursery Rhymes cd on Amazon

I really like the accurate, beautiful, and simple renditions of the songs from Sugar Kane's huge collection of children's favorites. In my opinion, this cd is a "must have" for early childhood teachers as a resource for so many beautiful songs of childhood. 

Many of the recordings are very short (half a minute or less!) and mainly serve as a resource for the teacher to learn and then teach it to the children. The children usually want to sing a song over and over or add verses or dynamics (loud/quiet, etc) and so the cd recordings are not really meant as sing-alongs for the group.  Rather, they are more of a guide to the melodies for the teacher to hear, learn, and then teach to the children.

Fortunately, this classic song, Ten in the Bed, has been made into picture books over and over again, too! For an early childhood environment, especially in Montessori, we like to offer the children developmentally appropriate experiences in literature that reflect real rather than make-believe least for the very youngest children. For that reason, I still use the Childsplay version of the story/song that is pictured below. Here's that link: Ten in the Bed Picture Book by ChildsPlay.

Of course, a very fun way to introduce the song is by reading/singing it to the children at story time. The children will quickly join in on the chorus: "Roll over...Roll over." And, if they don't do this spontaneously, then you can simply stop when it is time to say those words and wait for the children to respond by saying or singing them! This works well for the counting down in the story, too.

Later, it's important to place the picture book in the book corner for easy access so that each child can pick up the book and have a personal experience enjoying it in depth.

One thing I always love about books that depict a favorite childhood song, is that the child can quickly begin to "read" the book him/herself! (S/he has memorized the words to the song and so knows the words in the book.) 

Here's the youtube link for an adorable toddler "reading" (actually singing) the story as she turns each of the pages! 
Ella Reads There Were Ten in the Bed Book.

You can also set up the following Montessori style shelf work (or individualized activity) for the children that is most enjoyable and very language & mathematically rich! 

You can create a very engaging individualized activity that the children will love finding on the Math OR Language shelf in your environment!

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

Here's how I have set up this activity for individual children.

A tray or basket to hold:

  • A copy of the book
  • A container with exactly ten plastic baby miniatures
  • A doll bed that can accommodate all ten of the miniatures lined up next to each other
The child (or adult) "reads" the book and then arranges the plastic baby miniatures on the doll bed according to the words on each page of the book. The children enjoy rolling the babies and then rolling each one off the bed as the story/song progresses. You can enrich the experience by having the child tell the number of babies left as each rolls off the bed.

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

I used to find those little plastic baby miniatures at toy stores and craft shops, but nowadays you can purchase them on-line at Amazon and other sites.

I particularly like this set of plastic baby miniatures (pictured below) that I found at this link:

Likewise, if you don't happen to have a small doll bed in your collection of objects, you can purchase one on-line, too. I like the doll beds for Barbie because they are long enough to hold all ten baby miniatures (and that is important to the success of the activity for the child!) If you like thrifting, I am sure a Barbie doll bed will show up in your hunting excursions sooner or later!

The Barbie doll bed pictured below is available at Amazon at this link: Barbie doll bed on Amazon. 

As a prop for the teacher to show at circle, while singing the song, I find that a felt board story is really fun and can be interactive, too. 

Here's a beautiful Felt Board Set from Storytelling Fun available on Etsy at this link: StoryTelling Fun

You can extend the learning even further by providing a puppet activity that you can put together from this kit I discovered at Roylco. Here's that link: Roylco Store Blog with free downloads.

I really like the "cozy" quality of the materials in this kit, especially the pajama fabric craft sticks for each little creature in the bed! When I discovered this activity, I was delighted to find that there is a free download for the bed in the project. In fact, that is the bed I used in the header photo collage on this Blog post!

I thought of actually substituting pictures of children's faces for the animal faces in this project. In the past, I have even used photos of the children in our class...just cut each photo to the size of your craft stick and laminate the picture so it is child-friendly and lasts. The children love to find their own photo, of course, and then line up their favorite classmates in this interactive shelf work!

There are also very cute craft stick puppets that are in the shape of boys & girls. The children can decorate their own and place them on the freebie download bed at Roylco.(see above)

These puppet sticks are available at Amazon at this link:  Wooden puppet sticks at Amazon.


After the children have had a variety of experiences with this silly song, you can introduce a little musical ensemble for dramatizing the story.

For a group of 24 children and 2 teachers, you will need:
****I have included links to my favorite maracas, bells, and drum. Just click on the instrument in the above list.

Preliminary: I introduce this activity after the children have had some experiences with rhythm instruments in a group setting. In the prior experiences, the children have all played the same instrument and only that instrument at a time (ex: rhythm sticks, or maracas, or single bells, etc) You can learn more about introducing instruments to children at my past post here: Montessori Music with rhythm instruments: Ding, Tap-tap, Click!

The Activity: The children are divided into 4 sections (similar to the orchestra or a band) in which the people playing the maracas will sit together and the people playing the bells will sit together in another area. Likewise, the child who will sing the "Roll over..." part, will sit a little ways from the others. Lastly, the child who plays the drum will be in his/her own area. ****I often play the drum myself the first time we do this activity so that the children hear when it is to be played. Then, you will need 12 of each instrument outlined above...that way, every child has something to play. 

Preparation/ Practice: I explain that we will not all be playing our instruments at the same time. That's the challenging part! Sometimes, only the maracas will play. Sometimes, only the bells will play. Sometimes, only the drum will play. And, sometimes, no one will play when the child is singing, "Roll over, roll over." I invite the maraca players to practice playing all together AND the other children DON'T play. (Very challenging!) Then, I invite the bell players to practice playing all together AND the other children DON'T play. Likewise, the drummer only...and lastly, we ALL practice NOT PLAYING while one child sings the "Roll over" part.

The "Maraca Section" of our "Band" only plays on the first two lines of the song:

"There were ten in the bed"

I remind the maraca players to practice playing all together AND the other children DON'T play. (Very challenging!)

"And the little one said... (signal for musicians STOP)

Next, nobody plays, while the designated child sings:

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

Then, it is the "Bell Section" of the Band's turn to play (no maracas playing!) on these lines:

"So they all rolled over..."

"And one fell out!" (signal for musicians STOP)

Everyone stops playing after the word "out" and ONLY the drummer plays a little boom!

Since this song has 10 verses (!) the children will have lots of practice at getting their parts correctly. This may even be your next little performance in your classroom show! You might enjoy reading my other posts featuring favorite songs from the Montessori Music Room. Just click this link to my Musically Montessori: A Hundred Favorite Songs Series.

I want to thank you again for visiting my blog and I really hope you got lots of ideas for expanding your child's learning through the art of play!

Advertising Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. (At no cost to you) If/when you make a purchase at one of my links, I receive compensation. Thanks for your support!

View Post
Next PostNewer Posts Previous PostOlder Posts Home