Tag Archives: our projects

project 18: Make A Montessori Continent Map

This continent map from Montessori N’ Such had me drooling, but the price…not so much, so I began searching for alternatives. I’ve seen quite a few continent maps crafted out of felt, but I wanted something more tactile that was a bit more durable for little hands so I decided to make continent map out of foam. This map is intended to be used as a reference / control chart and as a play mat for miniatures since the continents are affixed to the board. However, after I cut out the first set of continents, I traced a second matching set to use with an additional blank board so she can build the world herself while looking at the control map. I chose foam colors to match the traditional Montessori continent colors.


One foam core board
Colored foam sheets:
          Large: orange, yellow, white and blue (2)
          Medium: pink, red, green brown
Sticky back velcro
Hot glue gun

Center the two blue foam sheets and glue them to the white board.
Visit Owl and Mouse  and print out the map titled “World 1” in the size, 2 x 2 (4 sheets). If you prefer larger maps, print out a larger size (obviously).Tape the map together so that all of the continents are in their proper place. Cut out each continent but DON’T cut it precisely along the lines. Leave some margin around the edges. This will make it easier to cut the final shape out of foam. Affix each cutout to the appropriate color foam sheet with a small piece of rolled transparent tape. Now cut out the shape out of foam, using the actual lines on the template as a guide. Glue the continents to the foam. Design your own continent labels. Use sticky back velcro to attach them to the side of the map so they can be removed easily and placed on the corresponding continent.

We’ll be using this map as we begin exploring the world with our continent boxes. If you’re looking for free continent box resources, visit this post for a collection of links to free resources.

linking up this post to:


project 17: family field guide

This time of year we seem to have a steady stream of visitors and she’s constantly asking, “What’s this?” I love her curiosity, but there are times (too many times) when I have to say, “Sweetie, I’m really not sure.” And at this age, suggesting that we’ll look it up later doesn’t cut it. Once we’re outside of the moment, she’s lost interest. So this year, when we were still cocooned indoors during bitter February I started to work on a family field journal – a nature guide at our fingertips. If it was going to be used, it had to be portable (small), interesting (good pictures) and durable (easy to clean / hard to destroy). Mission accomplished after much hard work!

I used a plastic three-ring folder for the cover (the kind with brads inside to hold pages) but I cut it down to a more manageable size for our outdoor adventures. It now measures only 6.75″ by 9.5″. Then I began gathering resources. This was the time-consuming part, particularly since I was trying to make it relevant to our region of the country. Our field guide includes:

(1) this guide to feeder birds from Project Feederwatch (Cornell)
(2) the  bug identification chart was pieced together from the images provided by UKY. I just copied and pasted them into a word document and got something useable. See the links under the heading for “Line Drawings” here.
(3) regional guide to butterflies (found a free download from a natural history museum nearby)
(4) regional guide to wildflowers (same as above)
(5) tree, leaf, fruit and nut silhouettes (I wish I could remember where I found this because I LOVE them. I’ll keep looking!)
(6) animal track guide found here.
(7) frog identification guide (I researched the frogs native to our area, and created my own id chart with images online)
(8) snake identification guide (found a free download from a nearby state park)
(9) cloud identification chart (not sure where I found it…)
(10) skywatcher’s guide to the moon
(11) moon phase schedule for 2011
(12) this rock classification chart found here

I resized each of the charts and guides to fit on half of a sheet of printer paper to fit into the folder we cut down. Then I laminated each page for durability, and used a three-hole punch to make holes for inserting them. Be careful with this part! You need to make sure the holes that you punch line up with the brads in your folder. It’s not hard. Just double-check it first. Of course, if you’re using a full-size folder, you don’t have to worry about resizing anything. We just wanted ours to be smaller for convenience. 

It’s so nice to have all of this information at my fingertips when we’re out and about and the size is not a bit cumbersome.


Happy adventuring!



project 16: Make Your Own Sandpaper Alphabet

We’ve begun incorporating some Montessori learning activities into our day and we are LOVING it but acquiring the necessary materials without breaking the bank can seem daunting at times. Thankfully, there are alternatives!  There are many methods for crafting your own tactile alphabet (felt, sprinkling sand over wet glue, etc) but after trying a few of those, I found this one to be the easiest, by far.

red and blue cardstock
150 grit sandpaper (found mine at the Dollar Store)

I cut out 5 blue rectangles and 21 red ones (for vowels and consonants).  My rectangles are 4-1/4″ by 5-3/4″ and that seems to be a good size for her little hands. Since she will be tracing the letters with her right hand, I left some extra space on the left side for her to hold the card. I recommend finding a good handwriting chart (there are plenty on Montessori websites around the web) to make sure that you sketch the letters correctly for teaching handwriting. I didn’t use any sort of stencils for my letters. I just free-handed them with a sharp pencil on the rough side of the sandpaper, and then cut them out with scrapbooking scissors. You’ll find that once you do a few letters, you can use them as templates for creating the others. For example, your lowercase “a” will serve as a template for letters “o”, “b”, “d, “p”, “q” etc. Once you begin, you’ll see how easy it is. Once your letters are cut, simply glue them onto the cards (paying attention to vowel and consonant colors), on the side corresponding to your child’s dominant hand.


project 15 | drop cloth floor pillow

When I started working on the playroom / learning space one of the things I wanted most to create was a reading nook. I wanted it to be comfy enough for her to take naps there as well, and large enough for us to sit with her for story times. I also knew that I didn’t want a big piece of furniture. After pricing jumbo floor pillows, I couldn’t find anything I liked for what I considered to be a reasonable price so I decided making one was probably the best option. My main criteria for the fabric to make the cover was that I wanted something durable and washable. Guess what! I already had the perfect thing right under my nose! A painter’s canvas drop cloth! I bought it a couple of years ago and I know I paid less than $10 for it. It was the PERFECT size! I had a large piece of unbleached muslin in my stash so I cut it just a tad smaller than the dimensions of the drop cloth, then sewed up up the sides leaving  little hole for stuffing. After it was stuffed, I made the pillow case out of the drop cloth. This really couldn’t have been easier. I folded it in half, stitched up two sides and put it on the pillow. The entire project took less than half an hour and it is PERFECT for our space. She has taken a couple of naps there already and it’s such a cozy, sunny spot for our storytime each day. I’m so thankful I didn’t fork out big bucks for a pillow that I wasn’t crazy about.

p.s. For those of you wondering, the framed blue rectangle is our flannel board. After setting up the space, I realized that we would get a lot more use out of it by framing and hanging it where we read.

project 14: rainbow wand

We added a touch of color and a merry jingle to our outdoor time last week. This little wand only took a couple of minutes to whip up and what fun it has been to watch her as she has danced and twirled her way through these windy April mornings. I won’t insult your intelligence with a step by step tutorial, except to say that she threaded the bells onto a pipe cleaner and I twisted it around the dowel and tucked the ends beneath one of the wooden caps to secure it. I’ve decided that when it comes to toys, simple certainly is better.

project 13 | board book recycling

With spring cleaning in full swing inside these walls, I’ve been continually faced with the decision to keep or toss.  I almost tossed these but I’m so glad I didn’t! This set of board books by Lucy Cousins was in sad shape but a few snips with the scissors and we have a sturdy stack of whimsical animal tiles…perfect for sorting, storytelling, and whatever else she dreams up. When she grows tired of them, chances are they’ll turn into wall art of some sort. They add a burst of color lined up on the top of the door and window frames. If you want to snag a set, check with your local used bookstore. Ours always has a stack of these.

project 12 | magnetic vintage paper dolls

When I first discovered these little beauties over at One Pearl Button, I knew we would be making them. She has a great tutorial for them but I didn’t have the magnetic sheets, only thin strips. To make them sturdier, I glued the clothes (but not the dolls) to thin sheets of cardboard (empty cereal boxes are perfect) before cutting them out, laminated them, and then attached my magnetic strips to the back. I have a feeling her grandmothers will be smitten. You can print the dolls here.

This morning I realized that I haven’t added the tabletop puppet theater to the Make + Do page either. Busy, busy. Maybe later today!