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9 Keys to writing effective progress reports for teachers

I find it helpful to think of progress reports as just one of the components in my overall parent relations strategy.  Building a strong connection with parents is an essential piece of running a successful classroom and school. Keeping this in mind, we can structure our progress reports in a way that meets our overall goals for developing parent partnerships.

Below are 9 keys that we incorporate into our semi-annual written progress reports.

1. Use a narrative format

Parents have a hunger to know what their children are doing when they are away from them. How are they getting on with other children? Are they happy? What do they love to do? Do the teachers love them? Do they see them?

A checklist will never fully serve this need. Neither will a few short comments. A thoughtfully written narrative is the best way to adequately convey the depth of knowledge you have about the child.

If you do use a checklist, make sure it is a minor part of the complete progress report package. To most parents, terms such as “constructive triangles- small hexagon box” or “golden bead static addition” are a mystery. Any list of materials should always indicate where a parent can get more information about the material and how it fits into the overall sequence.

2. Provide a holistic view of the child’s development rather than focusing only on academic progress

If describing the child’s choices and development in the various curriculum areas takes up more than 60% of your report, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board!

Children are holistic beings and a Montessori environment caters to the whole child. In addition to the academics, be sure to include information about social development, motor development, concentration, independence, work habits, you get the idea!

3. Make 5 positive comments for every negative comment

Stephen Covey, in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, explained the concept of an emotional bank account. Every positive interaction you have with a person makes “deposits” into that person’s emotional bank account. Every negative interaction makes a withdrawal from that account. The more deposits you make before you attempt to make a withdrawal, the stronger the account and the relationship.

It is, however, not quite as simple as that. Unfortunately, even mild negative interactions can pack quite a punch and quickly deplete the emotional bank account you have been building up. When writing progress reports, aim to provide 5-8 positive comments about the child for every single potentially negative comment you make.

4. Describe your observations; don’t make a diagnosis

Accurately describe your observations of challenging behaviors but refrain from making any diagnostic comments! It is appropriate to say, “Johnny often needs assistance to help him stay on task” but NOT “Johnny is hyperactive”

Accurate, detailed descriptions of a child’s behavior can be very effective in conveying the essence of a challenging issue. Labeling a child is not your job and can often create distance between you and the parent at a time when you most need to be working together.

5. Describe the strategies you are using to address any challenges mentioned in your report

Don’t leave parents hanging if you bring up a challenge their child is facing! It is very reassuring to parents when you follow up with a description of the strategies you have been using to address the issue, and the degree of success you have had with them. Whether or not the strategies have been effective, it demonstrates clearly to the parents that you are in control of the situation and that you are not about to abandon their child.

When you simply list a child’s challenges you may be perceived as a complainer but when you describe what you are doing to help, you become an ally in the parents’ quest for doing the best for their child.

This also opens up a dialog with the parents who will often start thinking of alternate strategies they have been using at home in similar situations.

Of course, detailed information of this type will be of immeasurable help if the parents decide to pursue any external support services as well.

6. Include memorable anecdotes

Don’t underestimate the value of the “warm and fuzzies”. Parents want to know that you love their child and are as moved by his special ways as they are.

Make it a point to note down one or two specific incidents that highlight the unique way the child would react to a situation. Don’t be afraid of writing down jokes the child has made up, something special he wrote for picture-story, kind words he said to a child who accidentally pushed him, or the day he spent 20 minutes staring out the window in awe at a bird building it’s nest.

Warm and fuzzies build up that emotional bank account faster than anything!

7. Refer to past challenges that have shown progress

Always check back to previous reports and the challenges the child had been facing. Make sure you celebrate the progress that has been made since then. Sometimes children grow so much over the course of a summer or semester that we forget that what seems so easy for them now was causing us concern before.

This is particularly important for a child who has many issues. Reassure yourself and the parent that the child is indeed making progress!

8. Never write about problems that you have not already discussed with the parent face-to-face

That would be the biggest progress report faux pas of all! There should be no unpleasant surprises in a written progress report. (Pleasant surprises are always welcome) Make sure you have a face-to- face meeting to discuss troubling issues prior to writing the report. Use your body language and tone of voice to be as reassuring as possible. In your report you can refer to the meeting and strategies discussed.

9. Start and end on a positive note

We tend to remember the things we encounter first and last in a sequence of items. Even if you have a lot of troubling issues to tackle in the report, you can still start and end on a positive note. Remember, you are providing a view of the whole child; this is not the time to emphasize one particular challenge- that is best done face to face. Use this opportunity to convey a well rounded portrait of the child.

If you are looking for more comprehensive training on how to improve your parent relations skills, I highly recommend this on-demand online workshop by Jonathan Wolff: Optimizing Parent Relations

Optimizing Parent Relations- a professional development online course with Jonathan Wolff for teachers and school leaders



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Today’s post comes to you from Lisa of Montessori Kiwi.  Lisa is a Montessori Elementary teacher from New Zealand.  She shares some simple and easy ideas to help you integrate the concept of Cosmic Education into your daily classrom practice. 

What Cosmic Education Isn’t

Cosmic education is not this

What it is

Cosmis education is this
Since it has been … necessary to give so much to the child, let us give him a vision of the whole universe. The universe is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions…. All things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity. The idea helps the mind of the child to become focused, to stop wandering in an aimless quest for knowledge. He is satisfied having found the universal centre of himself with all things.
– Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential
When I first heard about Cosmic Education in Montessori I was quite skeptical. Just hearing the words made me think Montessori was a weird educational paradigm that required me to change my belief system and get myself a cloak, frizzy hair and a crystal ball!
However after doing some reading and training as a Montessori teacher I soon found that Cosmic Education is just good common sense and is fundamental to Montessori education regardless of religious or cultural background. In fact Cosmic Education works alongside your worldview and does not replace it but amplifies it.


Yesterday I took my toddler out for a walk in our neighbourhood in his pushchair. Consider the following things I did or saw or interacted with

  • I walked on a path
  • I saw lots of autumnal trees and walked on leaves
  • I helped a couple of school children who had kicked their ball to the other side of the road
  • I saw some builders refurbishing a building
  • I went to the shop and bought myself a soft drink where I interacted with a shopkeeper who was from a different culture to me. I asked him how his day was and conversed with him about friendship and  he told me how it was difficult to have friends when you worked the hours he did.

The Cosmic Education of Montessori encourages me not just to think of myself, but of the people, places and environment I find myself in. For example, the soft drink I got from the shelf didn’t magically materialise in the fridge in the shop. It was manufactured, bottled, packaged, driven, delivered and put on a shelf. All by different people – who all hold equal worth in humanity, have different skills and who have lives and communities of their own. All this so I could get a caffeine hit (necessary with a 14 month old toddler!).

How would I share this experience with the children I currently interact with? How do I help them to see the connections in their world and integrate their knowledge so they can be respectful caring citizens of planet earth?



At the early childhood level, Cosmic Education isn’t as prominent in Montessori literature as in the 6-12 curriculum. However our classrooms and teaching require us to help students see the connections in their life and environment daily. It is not enough to have a ‘cultural day’ once a year or to have a classroom with all the ‘correct’ equipment. This comes back to Montessori’s idea of the ‘prepared adult’ which is just as important as the prepared environment. As a prepared adult we ensure that we ourselves are prepared by the words we say and how we act so as to help students make connections. We want  our learners to make connections and see the unity in their environment.  A couple of examples:

Cultural/Zoology- Parts of the frog

  • Non fiction books about frogs in the class that are read out loud to the child
  • Talking about local places that have frogs and if possible sharing pictures and inviting students to talk about their experiences with frogs
  • Making a list of different parts of speech to do with frogs such as adjectives and verbs

Sensorial: learning the words tall, taller, tallest with a specific piece of equipment

  • Making links to the people in the class. ‘You are tall, Sam is taller, I am the tallest’
  • That tree is the tallest tree I can see outside. I wonder why it is the tallest tree? Have you seen a tall tree before? Where?


At the elementary level, we have the Great Lessons. These by themselves are not the entire Cosmic Education Curriculum. You would have seen by my discussion so far that Cosmic Education is about making connections. We have to make it clear to students how their learning in one area connects with another area. This could be as simple as discussing how they could show the population of a certain country on the checkerboard. Our equipment and classrooms have connections built into them. However we cannot assume that a child will ‘get it’ just because they are sitting in our classroom. Here are just a couple of ways I have integrated Cosmic or ‘connecting’ education into my classroom:

Great Lesson on the ‘Coming of Humans’

  • Putting children into mixed age and ability groups and having them make a piece of clothing or type of shelter from a certain period.
  • Making links from the fundamental needs to current events such as the refugee crisis ‘What fundamental needs do these people need?’ ‘Who is helping them to get these?’ This is also a great journaling activity

A piece of purposely broken equipment

  • Discussion around how the piece of equipment got to our class.  Who has used it before us ? (as in previous classes or children?)  Who will use it after us? (our brothers and sisters and friends)  Who made it?  How did it get here?


For me, it is all about making the links to our connected universe naturally and speaking about them often. A great way of doing this is by talking naturally about yourself and things you have done or experienced. Here are just a few things I have talked about with my students:

  • a miscommunication at a Pizza delivery company meant a  single pizza order was delivered to me 3 times due to someone not reading the docket correctly (I linked this to the story of language)
  • visiting a zoo and looking at my favourite animal – the elephant and talking about how even though it seemed big to me I remembered that some dinosaurs were even bigger. I modeled my ‘wonderings’ out loud to the students: ‘I wonder why there aren’t more big animals around any more? 
  • I went on a field trip with some 2-5 year olds recently to an aquarium. When we got back, we did lots of art work about the sea animals they saw and talked about the animals as we worked. 


I believe all Montessori teachers have the capacity to be not only great teachers but great role models of how we can connect with our environment and each other in healthy respectful ways. You don’t have to be a super star teacher you just have to be a reflective teacher!

If you need more ideas you might be interested in my ‘Discussion guide for Elementary Students’. You can access it here: 

discussion and journal ideas pic



About Lisa

Lisa from Montessori Kiwi

Lisa is a Montessori Teacher who has experience teaching in Public Montessori and mainstream classes primarily with 5 year olds to 9 year olds. She is currently retraining to be a pre-school teacher with the aim of establishing her own Montessori preschool in her city which is a low socio-economic area. She met her husband at University but it took them 9 years to get together. Their first date is a matter of humorous contention. On the day in question Lisa thought  they were going out as two friends for dinner – at the end of the date her now husband said that the dinner had been for another reason to discuss whether they could ‘undertake the process of dating’ – Lisa said yes. The dinner is  something that they both now giggle about because of the language Nate used! Lisa fills in her spare time(!) by making Montessori and New Zealand teaching resources. You can find her huge range of Montessori materials here: 

If you have any questions, you can contact Lisa at  montessorikiwi @ gmail. com

Montessori Kiwi



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Here are some of the activities we have on our Montessori preschool shelves while we celebrate Earth Day!

Earth Day


On the Art Shelf

Cutting Strips

Cutting Strips

This is a great activity for who children who are just beginning to learn how to hold scissors properly.

(Source: Earth Day Preschool Pack )

Cutting on the Line

Cutting Lines

Cutting on the line offers a variety of line patterns for children to follow with their scissors. This takes very careful precision.

(Source: Earth Day Preschool Pack )


Pre Literacy Activities

Size Sorting

Size Sorting

Sorting by Size

This sorting by size activity is helpful for children in the early stages of visual discrimination. The Earth Day pictures make it educational and will invite fun discussion about trees, shovels and recycling.

(Source: Earth Day Preschool Pack )

Color Sorting

Sorting by Color

Sorting by Color is another good activity for practicing visual discrimination.

(Source: Earth Day Preschool Pack )

Question Cards

Question Cards

Oral Language Development: The Question Game

The Earth Day Question Game includes eight question cards with topics like recycling, compost, using your bicycle to save energy, and more!  This is fun to do in a small group.  We distribute the picture cards and talk about the photos.  Then the teacher reads the question cards and the children identify the correct picture based on the clues.

(Source: Earth Day Preschool Pack )

Following Directions

Following Directions

Oral Language Development: Following Directions 

Playing the Following Directions game is great for all ages. It can be played with just one friend or the entire class! It can be very helpful when your students need assistance with listening to the teacher, as well as listening to their friends.

(Source: Earth Day Preschool Pack )

Preposition Cards

Preposition Cards

Oral Development: Where is the Trash?  A Prepositions Game

Play the Preposition Game to help your students learn the concept of where an object is placed- such as above, beside, in front of, etc.  Best if you can get a real recycling bin and can!

(Source: Earth Day Preschool Pack )

Shadow Matching

Shadow Matching

Shadow Matching

This Shadow Matching activity is another great visual discrimination work. It requires the child to look at all the details of a shape in order to match it properly. Hopefully you will have some great Earth Day discussion with these fun pictures, too!

(Source: Earth Day Preschool Pack )

Picture Sorting

Picture Sorting

Sorting photos of Compost and Recycling

This sorting activity has the child sorting pictures of recycling and compost. This will lead to fun conversations about the difference between the two, as well as encourage the child to recycle at home!  Ideally you will have real recycling and compost bins in your class and do this as part of daily life in the classroom.

(Source: Earth Day Preschool Pack )



Number Cards

Number Cards

Number Clip Cards

The Number Clip Cards are excellent for practicing early one-to-one correspondence with children.  We usually use flat floral marbles instead of clips on these cards.

(Source: Earth Day Preschool Pack )

Numbers and Counters

Numbers and Counters

Number Cards

Number Cards are another great activity to help solidify the concept of one-to-one correspondence for your early counters.  

(Source: Earth Day Preschool Pack )


Get More Earth Day Ideas on our April Pinterest Board



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By Pamela Green


Disruptive Behavior In the Classroom

In my years of teaching I have had opportunities to be with children who seem to bring disruption to the classroom. These are the ones who tend to be louder in body and voice, take up more space, make themselves heard before being seen, and at times leave others quaking in their wake.

The parents of these children might sometimes be met at pick-up or drop-off time from the classroom with a litany of complaints from others of what their child has been up to during the day. All of this within earshot of the child and his/her peers. A theme that is central in this scenario is that the behavior of this child is the focus, yet I believe that many times the child him/herself, is missed.

How is it that this much discussed and exposed child has become the invisible one?

Perhaps it has to do with where we are pointing.

The act of pointing in itself is curious, because it directs everything away from ourselves. What we bring our attention to is separation, the idea that what affects us is out there.

What happens if we turn our hands open, in invitation? 

Pamela Green The Web


I have begun to gain a deeper and fuller sense of the potential for learning that such children and experiences bring through my own observation and contemplation of this and other questions.

Who is this child?

What happens inside me when this child acts; how do I feel?

Is this child a problem, or expressing what is alive in the entire group?

How can I best serve this child?

What is this child really asking for? 

To help bring these questions more into reality, I offer the following example:

A child is working quietly at a table with two other children. Another child is walking aimlessly around the room, and finally stops beside the table. This walking child then takes the work from the sitting child and runs away. The child at the table cries, other children run after the stealer of work and orders him/her to return it.

The crowd of children gather around the work-stealer, voicing demands, until he/she pushes them away and someone falls. Many of the children begin talking loudly at once to the pusher-stealer, who is quiet now, turned away.

It is at this time that I have begun to experiment with certain approaches. I go slowly and quietly to the group of children, making my way to the one who served as the instigator. This direction in itself causes interest in the group; why am I going to the one who hurts and not the other?

Once I get to the child, I sit or stand beside, sometimes taking their hand. I may say nothing, or I may ask, “How are you?” Many times when I ask this, the child bursts out sobbing.

This response brings about quiet in the room. If I were to give a feeling sense to what may be happening inside this child, I would say, hopelessness. Once again he/she has ended up in the same place, This is a familiar dark corner that feels tight and self-fulfilling. But is it? 

What I have experienced in this very alive moment is that there are, in fact, many doorways begging to be entered. One way to move is to simply sit together. I model this, and everyone follows. We are quiet. We look at this one crying, and it seems like veils are lifted and the person in front of us is not so one-dimensional.

Our breathing changes, we settle, we listen, and then someone says, “Are you hurt?” The child cries harder, bent over, not wanting to answer, or be seen. After a time, another says, “I didn’t know you felt anything.” After some time, another asks, “How can we help?”

It is then that a magical thing happens; we begin to untangle the web that we have woven together. In this loosening of our threads, through discussion and sharing, questions might arise. What was this child wanting when they took the work from another? How welcomed does this child feel when he/she enters our classroom? Have we ever been the one to feel outside of a group of friends, and what does that feel like?

All this time that we are talking, the crying child begins to quiet, to listen. Rather than being left alone after hurting someone and feeling the inevitable, a feeling of belonging begins to stir. 

Another part of our web that comes apart is the belief that the actions of the ‘difficult child’ stand alone. How can this be true when each thread of our web is connected to another? We begin to see the ways that we support each other in every instance, whether comfortable or not; that our non-acceptance is a foundation for hurt and misunderstanding.

We can take responsibility for the full circle of our relationships, without judgement. By entering newly opened doorways we start to know what is kind and unkind, and that we must experience both to have compassion for ourselves and each other.

In both the adult and child this leads to a freedom of spaciousness, trust and joy.


About Pamela Green

Pamela Green

Pamela Green, a mother, Montessori parent, educator and consultant in homes and in schools, continues to be taught and guided by the children and families she serves. She is Montessori certified from preschool through the eighth grade, and taught and served as Head of School in a private Montessori school for twenty years.

Along with being an educator for over 25 years, she has also attended births in homes and in hospitals as a birth doula and assistant midwife since 1990. She currently is Founder and Director of Ananda Montessori Children’s House, which serves families during pregnancy, and from birth through age three. She facilitates a Montessori Parent-Infant and Child Program in her home, as well as teaches Pre-birth education classes.

You can follow Pamela’s Facebook page for the Ananda Montessori Children’s House where she shares articles and tips for parents interested in Montessori.



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Preschool Activities for Easter

This week I’m honored to share with you some photos contributed by one of our long time readers, Dagmar Brumovska!  She has a lot fun ideas that you can try on your preschool shelves for Easter.  We also have photos of the printable cards included in the Trillium Montessori Easter Preschool Pack.  Between the two, your Easter classroom will be more than ready!

Easter and Spring Preschool Activities shelf

This is a photo of Dagmar’s shelf with many of her Easter themed activities

Easter and Spring Preschool Activity matching chick outlines

I love this simple activity for matching chick cutouts with outlines!

Easter and Spring Preschool Activity sorting and nesting eggs

This is another favorite of mine!  Sorting and nesting Matryoshka eggs!


Easter and Spring Preschool Activity chich counting clip cards

Chick counting clip cards.  Dagmar was kind enough to share this as a free printable in our Facebook group for File Share Friday.


Easter and Spring Preschool Activity matching wrapping paper egg patterns

Another simple activity that preschoolers love… matching!  Dagmar cut out these little eggs from wrapping paper.


Easter and Spring Preschool Activity sorting and scooping mini eggs

Sorting mini eggs


Easter and Spring Preschool Activity sorting and tonging eggs

Sorting and tonging eggs into spring watering cans.


Easter and Spring Preschool Activity matching easter egg halves

Matching easter egg halves


Easter and Spring Preschool Activity memory game with felt stickers glued in bottle caps

Memory game with felt stickers glued into bottle caps


Easter and Spring Preschool Activity shape matching with yellow buttons

Another easy-to-put-together shape matching activity


Easter and Spring Preschool Activity matching easter eggs

Matching felt easter eggs


Easter and Spring Preschool Activity matching little felt chicks

Matching felt chicks


Easter and Spring Preschool Activity counting felt eggs

Counting felt eggs


Easter and Spring Preschool Activity matching eggs with a magnifying glass

Add an extra point of interest to your matching work by using a magnifying glass!

From the Easter Preschool Pack

Cutting on the line

We have a set of Easter cutting lines in our printable pack

(Source: Easter Preschool Pack)


Pre Literacy Activities

Sorting by sizeSorting by size

Sorting by Size

(Source: Easter Preschool Pack)

Sorting by color

Sorting by color

Sorting by Color

(Source: Easter Preschool Pack)

Question cards

Oral Language Development: The Question Game

(Source: Easter Preschool Pack)

Following directions

Following directions

Oral Language Development: Following Directions 

(Source: Easter Preschool Pack)




Shadow Matching

Shadow Matching

Shadow Matching

(Source: Easter Preschool Pack)



Sorting photos of Peeps and Jellybeans

Do you have peeps in your country?  They are a very popular Easter marshmallow treat here in the US

(Source: Easter Preschool Pack)



Counting cards

Counting cards

Number Clip Cards

(Source: Easter Preschool Pack)




More Easter and Spring Activity Ideas

Check out our other Spring activities posts

Montessori Fine Motor Activities for Spring




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by Jo Ebisujima

How to make your home more Montessori by Jojoebi

One of the striking things about a Montessori School is the style of the classroom. One will often find beautiful objects upon the shelves, laid out in a clean and uncluttered environment.

The children are able to move freely and to access what they need. The environment is designed to promote independence. Montessori classrooms give off the energy of calmness yet are still buzzing with activity; it is a productive yet peaceful environment to be in.

If we are using Montessori at home, how can we replicate these important elements of a beautiful classroom environment?

1. Remove the Clutter and Show a Sense of Order

Making Your Home More Montessori 3

I know! Easier than it sounds and usually the clutter in our homes take years to accumulate, it doesn’t happen overnight. So start out small and choose one area to make beautiful and devoid of clutter. The best way to do this is first, set a timer, depending on the size of the area I recommend 30 minutes.

Remove everything except the furniture from the area, give it a quick clean and the as you put things back, think about what you are adding back to that space.

  • Do you really need it?
  • Is it beautiful?
  • Does it make you happy?
  • Is it in good repair?
  • Is this its ‘home’?

Ask yourself these questions with each item, by the time you are finished you should be left with only the items you truly need and the pieces that you absolutely love, the rest can go!

2. Make Space

Making Your Home More Montessori 2

Whenever you look at interior design magazines, the rooms are, of course beautiful. One of the common themes running through these pictures is the sense of space, they are styled to a minimum. Look around your room, is there furniture that you can live without (I kid you not, my gran had 4 small side tables in her living room and the place was tiny!) What else can you remove that will make more space?

If there is more space on the shelves, your child will find it easier to take off the work and the same applies to books. Children also find it easier to return work/books when the shelf has plenty of space to do so.

To achieve space you may need to take away some items and put them into rotation. Less is most definitely more, with less on the shelves your child will spend more time with each thing which in turn builds concentration skills.

3. Set an Example

Making Your Home More Montessori 4

You can hardly expect your children to keep their room tidy if your own looks like a bomb has hit it. If you are guilty of leaving piles of papers and mountains of “stuff” all over the house, then expect your children to follow suit.

Not only are they following your lead but the chaotic environment will rub off on them too. Now, I am not a naturally tidy person, (as my mother will testify) but when I discovered the Montessori way I wanted desperately for my son to have that kind of environment to grow up in so I trained myself to be tidier. I limited my piles of chaos to one small side table and set out on a mission to get rid of anything we really didn’t need. It is an ongoing process because there are always new things coming into the house. After a big declutter session the house always feels so much bigger, brighter and cleaner and I feel less stressed.  It is certainly worth the effort.

4. Find A Home For Everything

Yes, everything. My clients get used to be harping on about this but this is KEY to having a clutter free home.

It might be easier when you first set up your system to label drawers, cupboards and baskets until everyone in the family has got the hang of it. If something doesn’t have a  home it will become a vagrant in your home, being moved from place to place meaning you will never be able to find it when you need it and it will always be an eyesore, wherever it ends up. So, find it a home or show it the door.

This is a good time to pare things down, you really don’t need 17 pairs of scissors and 9 vegetable peelers do you?

Young children are fully capable of putting away their things IF the home is set up in such a way that it’s easy for them to do so. If you want them to tidy up after themselves then you must help them to succeed, does it make sense for an item to live there? Is it easy? Is it ordered and functional? All things to think about as you set up your home.

5. Showcase Something Beautiful

Making Your Home More Montessori

If you go to an art gallery, featured piece of art is put on show, for all to see. It is the centre of attention, the talking point.

You can easily create the same effect in your home. Pick a spot that has few distractions, a small table, a specific shelf, a blank wall for example and display something of interest. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it could be a souvenir from a holiday, a painting or sculpture, an interesting shell found at the beach. Something that will draw your child in, that will spark interest, get them asking questions, talking and expressing their ideas.
Change the item every now and then, don’t say anything, let the child discover it by themselves.

Another idea on the same lines is to have somewhere to showcase your child’s artwork, keep it down to one or two pieces, again, try and get that art gallery vibe going on. Your child will be filled with pride having his or her work on display and it is a talking point for visitors too.

Don’t Try And Do Everything At Once

I know you are a busy mama, we all are! And if your home is chaotic and cluttered, I am willing to bet it didn’t happen overnight, so don’t expect to declutter it overnight! Break it into baby steps and work a little magic on it every day and soon you will start to see a change.
If you need incentive to get your house under control then do it for your kids! I an untidy person like myself can do it, anyone can and now that my home is under control, I really don’t want to go back to being Messy Jo!

If you would like to get things started quickly then come and join the Free Ultimate Kitchen Bootcamp, a 7 day, declutter your kitchen frenzy. Now  I never thought I would hear myself say this but it is FUN! Yes, cleaning and decluttering can be fun – especially when you do it with a group of women all in the same boat. We start March 21st, sign up HERE.

About Jo Ebisujima


Jo Ebisujima is a Montessori mama and the author of Montessori Inspired Activities For Pre-schoolers.
She helps mamas like you get stuff done whether that be getting your home under control, or getting your business off the ground. You can find out more by visiting her site at 


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We have a new free printable on our subscriber page this week!  This is part of our life cycle series, and once again, I am using the fun and glittery illustrations made by Glitter Meets Glue Designs.  The blacklines are realistic, and the colored illustrations are glittery.  


Life Cycle of a Penguin Free Printable from Trillium Montessori



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Social Stories

February 7, 2016

in Practical Life

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I was introduced to the concept of Social Stories about 10 years ago by Pat Getz, the support services coordinator at the Montessori School of Syracuse.  The Social Stories technique, in my experience, works very well with Montessori Grace & Courtesy lessons.

What are Montessori Grace & Courtesy Lessons? 

Grace and courtesy how to welcome a new student

“Grace and Courtesy” is the term we use to describe manners and learning how to be polite.  It encompasses such basics as how to walk in the classroom, how to watch someone working, how to say please and thank you, etc.  See more examples here and here.

What are Social Stories?

Shaking Hands Grace and Courtesy

Social Stories were developed in the ’90s by Carol Gray and others to help children with Autism learn how to cope with social situations.  Read more about the The History of Social Stories.

The goal of a social story is to give the child accurate information in a simple, understandable and reassuring manner.  Social stories use specific sentence types to convey information.  You can read more about the sentence types on the Educate Autism website.

Grace & Courtesy and Social Stories

Examples of Social Stories

Using Social Stories to Ease Children’s Transitions is a great article by Jennifer Briody and Kathleen McGarry describing how a social story was used for a toddler in a Montessori classroom.

Patrick’s daddy is taking Patrick from the car. (Photo of Patrick leaving car)

Next, Patrick hangs up his coat. That is a good idea. (Photo of Patrick at coat hook)

Patrick’s daddy says good-bye with a hug. He will miss Patrick today, but he will see him again at home tonight. (Photo of Patrick and parent hugging)

This is a sample of a simple story, but combined with the photos, and the reassuring tone, it can be extremely helpful for a young child.

You can find more examples of Social Stories on Head Start and Teachers Pay Teachers.


Make Your Own Social Stories

If you are a Montessori teacher, you are probably using some variation of Social Stories in your lessons without realizing it.  They are such a great way to teach grace and courtesy lessons to young children and  they do not have to be reserved for children with special needs.  The idea is to keep the story simple, realistic, based on the child’s real-life experience, and give the child strategies he can use to handle certain situations.  Sometimes the strategies aren’t even necessary.  The most basic social stories will simply describe a routine or procedure, such as the drop-off story above, in a reassuring manner.

I create social stories on the fly all the time.  If I observe a situation that seems to be causing some sort of friction in the class, I tell a social story about it when we come to circle.  We then role play it together.  I can’t emphasize enough the importance of using simple and reassuring language.  The goal is to give the child tools for handling a social situation, not make him feel bad for having done it wrong.

If a young child is having particular difficulty with something, it can be very helpful to create a little book for the social story.  Take photos, or find generic photos online, and write simple text to go with it.

It is my goal to one day create a little library of classroom social stories for the many grace and courtesy lessons we do!


Helpful Materials

Free Manners Matching Cards by Wise Owl Factory

Free Social Story Downloads by Headstart

Social Stories printables on Teachers Pay Teachers

Social Stories for all kinds of occasions by One Place for Special Needs


More Resources

Grace & Courtesy Lessons on Montessori Primary Guide

Grace & Courtesy Lessons on Living Montessori Now

Montessori at Home or School: How to Teach Grace and Courtesy by Deb Chitwood Kindle eBook

Sharing vs. Grace & Courtesy by Teaching from a Tacklebox

The Magic of Grace & Courtesy on



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