The Obligatory 1st Day of School Pic



This morning, my facebook feed was filled with cute kids with oversized backpacks, funny back to school videos, and touching accounts of kiddos off to their first days of school.  And I cried at every. single. one. Shoot me.

Although we’ve done a few activities this week, today was our first “official” day, too. With lesson plans and every thing. So yes, I made Matthew pose for the obligatory pictures (not that he minded).

“Take a picture of me jumping!”

“Take a picture of me ticklin’ you!”

“Take a picture of my butt!!”

Ok, Buddy. Whatever you want. Just keep being this agreeable–we’ve got lots of learnin’ to do.


Our Home School Room

Montessori Inspired home school room for preschool

While house shopping, one of the things we kept on our must-have list was ample space for a school room. Eventually I’d like to add a couple of kids to our routine, so it was important that we have a large, safe space. In the new house, it turns out that the perfect space is the living room. We have a separate family room, as well as a man cave/playroom in the basement, so we didn’t really need this formal space.

The walls were already painted this color, and the curtains were left by the previous owner. Both turned out to work really well, saving me a lot of time and effort! A quick “shopping trip” around the house for unused furniture and a not-so-quick trip to IKEA left me with one cute school room and one very happy little boy!

montessori home school room

Since we’re doing Montessori, I wanted to have various spaces to delineate materials (math, language arts, practical life, etc.). The bookcases we already had in our old living room and don’t fit in the new house, and they work really well to hold trays and other materials.  I still have some organizing to do because I just put every thing on the shelves as they came out of the moving boxes.

montessori home school room for preschool. ikea billy bookcase

The baskets in the Expedit Kallax hold music instruments and unused materials (and cats, apparently).

Montessori home school room for preschool

In front of the window is another small workstation for explorations. Right now he’s growing aloe vera and a cactus. Every time he gets a scrape he loves to come in and break off some aloe to wipe on.

Montessori home school room for preschool

We also have a little writing area. He has pencils and note cards in the desk drawer, along with chalk for the chalkboard. Both the desk and vintage chalkboard with garage sale finds!

montessori home school room for preschool

I wasn’t using this old scrapbooking storage anymore, so I put it here to hold craft supplies and miscellaneous stuff. And that’s exactly what it’s doing–acquiring stuff. I’m on the hunt for something better here, but it works for now.

I left the larger wall open for pocket charts, calendar, and display boards.  This is all stuff I already had from teaching, including the bulletin boards, with the exception of the cute weather set. I still have some work to do on the makeshift calendar, but I’m sure as we delve deeper into learning things will move around quite a bit anyway.

home school room

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the work table situation. I wanted to something big enough to do crafts and for possible multiple kids, but small enough to leave some floor space for sensory boxes and circle time.  The IKEA Sansad finally won out. I bought two of them and put them together. It leaves flexibility to move them around later  as well. I also like that it has additional leg pieces to extend the height as Matthew gets bigger, so this table should last a long while. It’s really, really sturdy and wipes clean well.

montessori homeschool room preschool

I love how much natural light is in the room, and the fact that it’s separate but not so far away that Matthew doesn’t want to work in there. In fact, he LOVES it in there.

DIY Montessori Sandpaper Letters

montessori sandpaper letters diy wood preschool alphabet

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but we’re planning on homeschooling. Gasp, I know! There’s lots of reasons for that, which is a post onto itself, but needless to say I’ve spent this last month or so prepping for the start of our school year.  I’m planning on doing the Montessori approach at home (which starts at 3), and one of the staples of the Montessori method for literacy is the sandpaper letters.

These are basically a tactile tool for learning the correct shape and form of the letters.  There’s plenty (well, more than plenty probably) tutorials for making your own and even beautiful options you can buy (like these and these), but I found a few different issues:

1. They were the incorrect font (I wanted D’nelian, but didn’t want the ‘”fancy k”)
2. They were wooden and large, but expensive
3. They were inexpensive, but too small
4. They were DIY, but didn’t seem durable enough for my high-energy boy

(yes, those are underwear…the same ones that are supposed to be on his bum)

I really liked the idea of them having weight and being made out of wood to make them feel like a high-end material.  My initial thought was cutting down plywood, but yeah, no. That requires actually using a saw and sanding. So I went on a craft-store hunt and found these wood plaques at WalMart for $.97 each.

diy montessori sandpaper letters preschool alphabet

I bought 35 of these–26 for lower case letters and extras for digraphs later on (i.e. au, ow, ch). I also grabbed red and blue craft paint (to delineate vowels from consonants), a pack of sandpaper, and was out the door for about $42.  Not too bad since they were still cheaper than smaller, less durable options, and I have plenty of paint and sandpaper left. Not to mention I get a set of digraphs which can run $40-$100 on their own!

Only one coat of paint was needed and it dried super-fast. The store hanger was stapled to the top, and after some deliberation, I decided to leave it as an indicator to Matthew which way the letters go. My next dilemma was which font to use. That’s when I stumbled upon the Montessori Script font. It’s a free true-type download! I’ve been using it for all of the activities I’m creating for our curriculum and love the consistency. I also love that while it creates the letters with connectors to prepare for cursive, it doesn’t change some of the letters too much into cursive–like “fancy k”.

diy montessori sandpaper letters wood preschool alphabet

If you’re creating 5×7 sandpaper letters, there’s a free download of lowercase alphabet letters to save you a bit of work at the end of this post. You’re welcome. :) After cutting, tracing them on sandpaper, cutting again (gaaaah!), and a little Elmer’s glue, we were left with one beautiful set of sandpaper letters.

diy montessori sandpaper letters wood preschool alphabet

And while I had every intention of starting our school year September 2, someone couldn’t wait to get started…sneak peak alert!

montessori sandpaper letter printable