Esther’s Montessori coat and shoe area

Esther has recently been interested in putting on shoes. She kept getting my shoes out of the shoe cupboard and proudly putting them on! I moved the children’s shoes to a lower drawer so that she could reach her own instead of mine, but it still wasn’t ideal as she would sometimes trap her fingers in the drawers. So I decided to create a little space for her coat and shoes to encourage independence. Our small entryway is already pretty full with our shoe cupboard, pushchair, hoover (we don’t really have anywhere else to store it) and Aaron and Tabitha’s coat pegs, but this doesn’t take up much space.

The wooden peg hooks came from Sainsburys. I first saw them in a post by Tales From a Happy House and knew they would be perfect for the job. The little rucksack contains Esther’s hat and mittens. The cube chair can be turned over to give three different seat heights, so it will last well as she grows.


The rope basket contains her wellie boots, shoes, socks and slippers. I bought the slippers in the hope of stopping her wearing shoes inside the house, but so far she has refused to wear them.


She can put the wellies on all by herself. Shoes are a bit harder but she can usually get her feet inside and just needs help with the zips.


She has a waterproof coat and a warm winter coat on her hooks. I haven’t hung her all-in-one rainsuit or snugglesuit there as she won’t be able to put those on independently for quite a while. We’ve started teaching her the same Montessori method for putting on a coat that we used with Aaron and Tabitha.


And just so you don’t go away thinking she’s a little darling, here’s a picture of her launching a shoe through the air in frustration! (She’s still a darling though… sometimes!)


Updated learning space

I’ve spent some time this week decluttering and reorganising our little home-ed area in the front room.



This used to be a boring corkboard with a wooden frame. I’ve never really liked it but rather than throwing it out I decided to have a go at upcyling it with some hessian. Much better!


I got rid of a lot of our art and craft stuff because it simply wasn’t being used. The bottom shelf is now home to books and workbooks for subjects other than maths and English. The magazine file contains posters and free resource packs from various organisations that we have collected over the years.


This shelf unit holds all our maths manipulatives, books and games. On the top we’ve made a little nature table area and will use the wooden dish to display our finds.


Our light panel loose parts were previously jumbled together in one big box, so I’ve sorted them into smaller containers to make them more accessible. We use them for English and maths as well as for play. The bottom two shelves of this shelf unit are for our English resources.


I stayed away from reward systems for a long time but Aaron seems to respond well to them. We’ve been using these mini jars for a few months to collect glass nuggets, which are awarded for completing work and for good behaviour. They can be exchanged for a treat when the jar is full.


At some point in the next few days I’ll be posting about our plan for the autumn term.

Curriculum and resources 2014/15

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I can’t believe it’s November already, this post has been in my drafts folder since August! I always enjoy reading about what resources other home educators are using, so I thought I would share some of our curriculum for this year.


We begin our morning by reading a lesson from Leading Little Ones to God. Each lesson includes a Bible story, questions to talk about, memory verse, suggested Bible reading, hymn and prayer. We are also using the free character lessons from Kids of Integrity.


We are still working through Scholastic Literacy Skills: Handwriting Reception-Year 2.  Tabitha loves writing her name and other words, so my focus for her will be learning the correct letter formations, whilst Aaron is showing an interest in joined up writing and needs to focus on neatness. Other handwriting resources include sandpaper letters, wipe-clean workbooks, pegboards and tablet apps.

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Aaron reads aloud to me either from Biff, Chip and Kipper books or from his Minecraft handbooks. He also uses an app to practise high frequency words. Tabitha knows most of her letter names and sounds, as I discovered a while ago at a visit to the optician. She is also starting to decode some CVC words, so we are using the level one Biff, Chip and Kipper books and Montessori pink series materials alongside other resources. I may resubscribe to Reading Eggs at some point, although I wish they did monthly subscriptions as the children tend to lose interest after a while.

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As usual, a lot of our maths learning is what I like to call “conversational maths”. We discuss mathematical concepts and problems as we come across them in everyday, real life situations. We also use the materials from our maths shelves for various activities, challenges and games. Aaron uses Komodo on the computer or tablet to practise mental arithmetic. Tabitha hasn’t done much formal maths yet but has a good grasp of numbers, so I have introduced some of the Montessori maths activities to her. She also enjoys doing maths workbooks. We will continue using Miquon Math with our Cuisenaire rods, although we haven’t done any for a while as our printer is playing up and I can’t print out the lab sheets. Aaron has lost interest in the orange book lab sheets, so I have decided to leave it and skip straight onto the red book which will hopefully be more challenging for him.



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Until now, we haven’t done much formal science. Plenty of time outside in nature and lots of inquisitive questions have allowed us to cover the basics informally. However, last week I decided to try out AIG’s God’s Design for Science curriculum, starting with The World of Plants, The World of Animals and The Human Body. We will be able to combine many of the lessons with nature study and additional hands-on activities.

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Other subjects

Colin usually has Fridays off, so we do a four day week and keep Fridays and Saturdays free for days out. Bible, handwriting, reading, maths and science doesn’t take much more than an hour or so each day, as many of our activities are only 5-10 minutes long. That leaves the rest of the day free for play, outings or other subjects such as art, music, French, geography and history. I have no formal plan for other subjects and we tend to cover them in blocks depending on what else is going on. For example, at the moment we are learning about Paris because my parents are on holiday there and the First World War because Remembrance Day is coming up.

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Art space tour

I’ve been rearranging our dining room, which has given me a small space to create a dedicated art area. Come and have a look around with me!

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Frequently used items such as pens, scissors, glue, string and tape are kept on top of the drawers where they are easily accessible. The top drawer contains many different sheet materials including plain paper, coloured paper, patterned paper, tissue paper, tracing paper, watercolour paper, card, craft foam and felt. Painting supplies are in the second drawer, whilst the third drawer is for any other medium such as chalk pastels, oil pastels, permanent markers, watercolour pencils and ink stamps. The bottom drawer contains air-drying clay, modelling clay and homemade playdough, along with some tools.


I love this cheerful rainbow of paint! We get through a lot of white paint as the children use it to mix their own colours.


This basket contains a variety of items for making and tinkering, such as cardboard boxes and tubes, bottle tops, clothes pegs, drinking straws, lollipop sticks, pipe cleaners, wire, magnets, suction cups and any interesting junk I find, as well as an assortment of small loose parts.

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Ice cube trays encourage the children to use small quantities of paint and are less prone to spillage than palettes. I do need to get a mat for underneath the easel to protect the carpet from spills though.


Aaron and Tabitha like to display their finished artwork on a length of string above the easel. We rent and this wall is hollow so I had to use command hooks, but it works well enough. We all enjoy looking at the art while we are eating our meals or working at the table.


Do you have any tips for organising and storing art supplies? What do your children use the most? I’d love to hear. 🙂