Wednesday, February 17, 2016: Drawing and Categorizing Reptiles and Amphibians

Hello, Everyone!  Below is a summary of the busy day my little ones had this past Wednesday: 

This week, we have been learning about reptiles and amphibians, and we began our week's lesson with a categorizing activity that we completed as a group during circle time.  As we all placed our animals in the right groups, we discovered that there are clear differences between amphibians and reptiles: 

  • Reptiles have scaly, dry skin while amphibians have smooth, moist skin. 
  • Reptiles live on land only while amphibians live on land and water.

Later, my students learned, step by step, how to draw both a frog and a snake.  I then gave them the opportunity to add details to their pictures, such as assorted shapes and colors on their snakes' scaly skin to all background essentials (sun, clouds, water, etc).  

I absolutely love all of my students' froggy and snake masterpieces!  Even at the preschool level, they are each developing their own unique artistic styles!  

Another successful school day is now in the books for Mitchell Montessori School! 


Tuesday, February 16, 2016: The Day After President's Day

Hello, Everyone!  My students and I hope that you had a wonderful 3-day weekend!  

Now, my students already knew that they had a day off of school on Monday in observance of Presidents Day, but many did not know what that actually meant.

So, yesterday, we completed activities that helped my little ones become familiar with the most notable United States presidents (and the presidents we most see associated with this special holiday): George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  Below are snapshots of just a few of our activities that filled our busy day!

During our morning circle time, I showed my students that both Lincoln and Washington are featured on our coins!  My little ones were very intrigued...they wondered how Lincoln's and Washington's pictures can be made on something sooooo small!  

They each received a penny and a quarter, and then they each took turns matching their coins to the right profile/ silhouette. 

Later, my students completed a coloring/ cutting/ gluing activity that put our 1st and 16th presidents center-stage!  

Though we celebrate Washington and Lincoln on this special day because both of their birthdays are in February (15th and 12th, respectively), my students now know that Presidents Day is also a day to celebrate the accomplishments of all of our presidents!  

And as we are all currently in the throws of election season, it will be interesting to see how receptive my students will be to this important time in American history! 

Have a great day, Everyone! 

Thursday, February 4, 2016: Vertebrate Animals...What is a Backbone?

My little ones completed another well-rounded day of school yesterday! Our Thursday centered around the topic of vertebrate animals.  

But before that, my students took part in a round of storytime, lead by one of my early readers!   He chose to read Green Eggs and of my favorites!  I was so happy to see him point as he read, a technique that helps my students practice directional movement: the idea that blending letter sounds to form words and then reading the words cohesively as one sentence is ALWAYS from left to right. 

Later, during circle time, we dove into the topic of vertebrate animals, or animals with backbones.  I first encouraged each of my students to twist and turn as they tried to feel their own backbones.  It was actually pretty tough for some of them!  

So, in order to help them understand what a backbone actually is, I used a tactile set of something that all of my students are deeply fascinated by: DINOSAUR BONES!  My students worked together as a team to assemble our Triceratops! 

I then introduced the idea of comparing vertebrate animals to invertebrate animals (or, animals without backbones).  We then talked about an assortment of different animals and in which group we would place each animal.  

We then transitioned to Step 1 of our Vertebrate/ Invertebrate Classification project: coloring our animals! 

{They completed Steps 2, 3, and 4 today: cutting, classifying, and gluing....I'll be sure to post their progress ASAP!}

Yesterday's lunch consisted of foods from each of the four food groups (I typically serve milk a few minutes after the food is served).  My students love all kinds of fruit, but I was pleasantly surprised to see some of my little ones eat their romaine lettuce...without any request for dressing!

I hope your Thursday was great as well!  

Wednesday, February 3, 2016: "What are Non-Living Things?"

Yesterday, my students were busy bees, as you can see!  This time, our focus was on the concept of non-living things.  In fact, during circle time, they gave me very insightful explanations as to why something would be called "non-living": 

"They don't talk." 

"We use them." 

"They don't need oxygen." 

"They don't breathe." 

"They don't drink water." 

"They don't need sun, rain, and water." 

"They don't move by themselves." 

"They don't eat." 

"They don't play or carry things." 

"They don't color." 

"They don't grow."

We followed this discussion with some gross motor activities that addressed what non-living things, in fact, can NOT do!  We ran in place, marched, stretched, ....we even tried to stand on one foot!   ;-) 

We then played a round of "I Spy", where each answer was a non-living thing! 

Now, earlier in the morning, my little ones completed a color, cut, and glue activity where they had to categorize pictures of both non-living and living things.  I am proud to say that all of my students are 100% independent with their cutting skills! 


My students seem to be enjoying my animal-themed books this week!  Below is a picture that I took during Storytime, which was led by one of my early readers! 

Thanks, Everyone!  Hope to see you again tomorrow! 


Tuesday, February 2, 2016: Welcoming February with Little Ones, Living Things, and Legos!

Happy Tuesday, Everyone!  I can't believe February is already here!  This month, my little ones will be diving into all topics related to animals.  For instance, this week we are learning about living and non-living things as well as vertebrates and invertebrates.  Today, during circle time, we talked about the clear characteristics that make something "living": 

  1. "Something that is growing."
  2. "Something that needs food."
  3. "Something that needs water." 
  4. "Something that breathes."
  5. "Something that needs sunshine."
  6. "Something that moves on its own."

We then capped off our circle time with a fun game that got us all "moving": Simon Says!

Of course, my students were given some free play time as well, both inside and outside of the classroom.  The sun peaked out after a morning filled with rain...thank goodness!  ;-) 

I also chose two of my early readers to head Storytime today, and they both did exceptionally well!  And I love that they both chose to read books by Dr. Suess!


My students and I hope that you have a great Tuesday! 

{PS: Don't forget- you can find Mitchell Montessori School on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.  You can find the links on the top of your screen!}

December 14, 2015: The Holidays Have Arrived at Mitchell Montessori School!

Yesterday was the official start of the holiday season here at Mitchell Montessori School!  Our Christmas tree is up, and my little ones immediately gravitated to it as soon as they arrived in the morning! 

Everyone that visits our tree will find my collection of teacher-themed ornaments that I have recieved as gifts since the beginning of my teaching career!

They will also find ornaments from my now-grown children...yes, parents DO save all the ornaments their children make at school!  

Lastly...did you know that Ms. Lucy is a HUGE football fan?!  ;-) 

My little ones completed their first holiday project of 2015: a snowflake ornament!  They were each given four popsicle sticks, which they colored using traditional markers.

As soon as they finished, they discovered that popsicle sticks can be used to make soooooo much more than just snowflakes!  Many of my students spent as much as 30 minutes making different creations with them!  

Step 2 for our snowflake ornaments called for snowflakes, sparkles, and swirls! 

Finally, while some of my students dove into holiday arts and crafts, others successfully completed some Montessori jobs...including this number job that addresses the essential preschool milestones of counting and number quantity.  

Yesterday was a busy day, indeed!  For the remainder of the week, my students have more holiday art fun, some tree trimming, and a Book Gift Exchange to look forward to!  Stay tuned! 

We're Going On A Nature Hunt!

The theme for this week at my school is CAMPING, and today I extended the lesson by initiating a Nature Hunt with my students.  For this activity, each participant only needs two things: a bag to place their treasures in and a new-found appreciation for the beauty that nature gives us!

nature hunt 1

I instructed my little ones to search for whatever they found "pretty" or "interesting" in our immediate natural backyard!

It was really neat to observe my students as they picked up and looked at their discoveries with a brand new set of eyes!  They stared at with so much excitement the very same rocks, leaves, and sticks that they walked passed just one hour earlier during their outside playtime!

A Nature Hunt can provide students with opportunities to practice/ discuss many important concepts, such as:

  • Colors~ Example: brown, green, red, and yellow/orange leaves
  • Sizes~ Example: small, medium, and large flower petals
  • Weight~ Example: comparing and contrasting the different sizes of rocks
  • Verbal Communication~ Example: spontaneous discussions about each other's Nature Hunt discoveries

A Nature Hunt is an activity can be recreated year-round because as the seasons change, so will the discoveries your little ones will find!

Have you facilitated a Nature Hunt with your little ones?  How did it go?  I would love to hear about it in the comments below!


3 Reasons Why I Include Yoga in My Preschool Curriculum (Plus 2 Invaluable Yoga Tools for Children and Teachers)

For years, I have believed in the benefits of yoga for children.   I have witnessed first-hand its positive affects within a child's physical and mental state of being...even at the preschool level! 

Yoga means union in Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language.  The word conveys the actual purpose of a yoga practice: the coming together of body and mind. 

I make it a purpose to include yoga in my school schedule a few times a week, often as an end-of-the-day practice to help my little ones unwind after a long, activity-filled day of school.  The purpose is to have a relaxed group of students before pick-up time!  ;-)

Below are three reasons why I feel yoga should have a special place in every preschool curriculum, based on my observations:

#1: Yoga Develops Focus and Concentration

In yoga, the child encourages himself to utilize his energy towards to purpose of completing his poses.  As a result, the child develops the skill to focus on the task at hand, a skill that will eventually help him in a classroom setting as well as when he communicates with peers. 

#2:  Yoga Promotes Body Awareness

With yoga, children discover muscles they never knew they had as well as movements they never knew that their bodies could do!  They also discover the importance of breathing deeply throughout the yoga practice, which brings energy to the body, but in a peaceful and purposeful way.  Complete body awareness develops as a result, which could transition towards improved spatial awareness as well.

#3: Yoga Increases Self-Esteem and Confidence

A child will soon discover through her yoga practice that with patience, emotional flexibility, and determination, she can achieve her goals!  A child can not rely on rote memorization to master her poses.  It is practicing, practicing...and practicing some more that will help her succeed!  That is why, once a pose is fully mastered, the child experiences a major increase in confidence and self-esteem! 

Now, you do not have to be an experienced yoga teacher to incorporate it into your preschool program.  I have always relied on two interactive products that have helped me to show my students that yoga can be for everyone...not just for grown-ups!


This fabulous video features yoga instructor Marsha Wening, who has the unique talent of using her friendly and lively personality to help make yoga easily relatable for children, especially for those who have never stepped foot on a yoga mat.  She combines gross motor pretend play with traditional yoga poses, which makes for a highly engaging yoga practice!  I love how she teaches her viewers that it is equally important to be silly as well as calm, but there is a right time and place for both.


Below is a preview of this amazing DVD that now has a permanent home in my classroom:

Yoga Pretzels

Yoga Pretzels is an amazing collection of bright and beautiful cards that serve as yoga tutorials for 50 activities.  This is a wonderful interactive tool that inspires verbal communication that will empower your students.  For instance, when guiding your students in the Mountain pose, Yoga Pretzels encourages the students to proclaim "I am strong and stable" and "I am a majestic mountain"...words that create a connection between your students and their world around them.  Many of the activities also require a partner, which further promotes communication skills as well as team work.

Yoga is a practice that provides so many benefits for children of all ages without the added element of competition that some children might find intimidating.  And with the help of the two products mentioned above, it can easily be implemented into your classroom curriculum. 






Two Wonderful Preschool Storytime Channels You Can Find on YouTube!

A few weeks ago, my family and I hosted our fourth Parent's Night Out Fundraiser for The Alzheimer's Association, and it was a great success!  The theme for the night was inspired by a beautiful storybook written by one of my favorite children's book authors, Eric Carle, titled Dream Snow

Dream Snow

Now, when organizing a big event like Parent's Night Out, one often stumbles upon a few planning snafus...including yours truly!  Unfortunately, I was not able to acquire a copy of Dream Snow in time for my planned storytime with the little ones, so I decided to do the next best thing: use YouTube!  With the help of my Samsung Smart LED TV, I was able to access one of the many talented preschool storytellers that currently have YouTube channels...the lovely Ms. Christine Slaughter Of Niagara Elementary School in Henderson, Kentucky!  I just love her pleasant tone of voice!  She gained the attention of even my oldest former students who attended the fundraiser, who claim to be "too old for storytime".  ;-)

So, after arts and crafts, my students enjoyed Ms. Christine's storytime with Dream Snow as my daughter and I prepped their dinner:

After discovering Ms. Christine, I also came across another fabulous YouTube storyteller, the wonderful Arwen Sharp!  I love her enthusiastic storytelling!  I also like that she makes her storytimes interactive by adding some commentary as well as open-ended questions that the viewers can answer.

After my students watched Ms. Christine's storytime, they enjoyed one of Arwen's charming videos featuring another adorable snow-themed book: There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow:

untitled (5).png

Who knew that in addition to celebrity video clips and art tutorials, you can also find storytime aficionados on YouTube?  It was quite a wonderful discovery in the midst of a Parent's Night Out planning boo-boo!  ;-)

So, do you have favorite YouTube channels specifically geared for preschoolers?  I would love to hear about them in the comments below! 



My Personal Connection to The Alzheimer's Association

Hello, Everyone!  I hope you are having a wonderful day so far!  This week, my students are getting excited for our upcoming monthly Parent's Night Out fundraiser, which is tomorrow, January 23rd!  My family and I will be hosting the event, and I will make sure to take lots of pictures so that I can share with you some highlights soon!

As I stated in my past Parent's Night Out posts, every cent that is earned from the fundraisers goes to a wonderful organization called The Alzheimer's Association.  Since 1980, they have worked tirelessly to provide both financial as well as emotional assistance to both Alzheimer's patients and their families.  Money that The Alzheimer's Association raises yearly also goes toward research so that we can learn more about this disease, which is currently the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, and it's a disease that does not have a cure. 

Back in 2009, my family and I began a very close relationship with The Alzheimer's Association soon after my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.  Before The Alzheimer's Association, family life was, admittedly, very tough.  My mom was my dad's primary caregiver, and she (along with my husband and I) tackled Alzheimer's research, medical bills, and emotional highs and lows all at once.  We were overwhelmed instantly.  So, after months of trudging through all the hurdles ourselves, we turned to The Alzheimer's Association for help.  There, we found emotional support and guidance.  We found resources that improved my dad's quality of life.  We found financial support as well as support for my mom.  Volunteer caregivers came to my parents' house at least once a week so that my mom could have time for herself, because (as many past and present caregivers know firsthand) taking care of a loved one with a serious illness can often mean compromising your own health and wellbeing. 

My dad, Robert J. Latta

My dad, Robert J. Latta

My dad with his great granddaughter, J

My dad with his great granddaughter, J

Overall, after months of feeling like we were all alone, The Alzheimer's Association worked tirelessly for us so we knew that we were, in fact, NOT alone. 

My dad passed away in September of 2011, and the following year my family and I made the easy decision to honor his memory the best way we knew how: to begin a fundraising team for The Alzheimer's give back to an organization that helped us tremendously.  Since 2012, we have raised almost $2,800, and we are thankful for all of my students' parents (past and present) who have contributed to our cause through our Parent's Night Out fundraisers and through personal donations. 

Every year since 2012, my family and I take part in The Alzheimer's Association's annual nationwide event called The Walk to End Alzheimer's, which takes place every October.  We love these events because it brings together family members and caregivers of Alzheimer's patients as well as those directly affected by the disease.  It is a rally cry to continue research and to spread the knowledge about Alzheimer's let people know that it is not just an "old person"'s disease. 

My family and I at The 2013 Walk to End Alzheimer's, located in San Jose, California

My family and I at The 2013 Walk to End Alzheimer's, located in San Jose, California

Walkers above and down below.  Alzheimer's Disease impacts million of people every year. 

Walkers above and down below.  Alzheimer's Disease impacts million of people every year. 

So, as my family and I host this month's Parent's Night Out fundraiser tomorrow night, we will do so with a ton of motivation and optimism, knowing that the work we do will benefit families affected by Alzheimer's Disease...families like us. 

Paying it forward is a wonderful thing!


3 Books That Can Help Answer Your Montessori Questions: For Both Teachers and Parents

Hello, my fellow Parents/Educators!  I hope you are having a fabulous week so far! 

I want to thank you for letting me delve further into my preschool teaching career last week...particularly, why I chose to become a Montessori teacher almost 30 years ago.  Over the years, I have met many parents who dive into the world of Montessori Education because they are aware of the benefits it provides for their children...yet they are slightly intimidated by the knowledge and history behind it.  For them (and for brand new Montessori teachers as well), I recommend the following three books that, after all these years, remain a staple on my school reference shelf: (Note: This post contains affiliate links.)

The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori

The Absorbent Mind

The Absorbent Mind is a phrase coined by Dr. Maria Montessori herself as a way to describe the all too important first six years of a child's life...because, as we all know too well, a child's mind seems to soak up knowledge like a sponge!  This iconic book describes all of your child's pivotal life stages.  I love this book because it gives us a great understanding that every observed behavior that we see in our children is, in fact, purposeful.

The Discovery of the Child by Maria Montessori

The Discovery of the Child

In The Discovery of the Child, Dr. Maria Montessori explains the Montessori Method in detail, highlighting its philosophy of teaching children based on their current developmental levels and natural curiosities.  The book clarifies all of the unanswered questions many parents and prospective Montessori teachers have about an educational philosophy that has been known worldwide for over 100 years. 

How to Raise an Amazing Child The Montessori Way by Tim Seldin

How to Raise an Amazing Child

Written by the President and CEO of The Montessori Foundation, Tim Seldin gives readers an in depth guide on how to apply the Montessori principles into a loving home environment.  It is an invaluable parenting guide that is also perfect for Montessori teachers in training!  The activities featured in How To Raise An Amazing Child the Montessori Way can serve as a great supplement to a child's Montessori educationIt is also a wonderful tool for parents who want their children to reap the benefits of a Montessori Education as well as a other educational philosophies.

If you have always been curious about the Montessori Method but were not sure on where to begin in your research, I highly recommend the three books mentioned above.  They will help turn what many consider a rather abstract concept into one that is sound, concrete, and possibly something that one can gain inspiration from, either as a teacher or parent. 

If you have any questions about the books I recommend, or if you have additional resources that you would like to share, please feel free to do so in the comments below!

I hope you have a wonderful day! 

Love,  Ms. Lucy




3 Reasons Why I Became a Montessori Teacher

Many of my fellow preschool teachers would agree that as we continue our education and move up the ranks in our teaching careers, we tend to gravitate towards a certain teaching method/philosophy.  For me, it is The Montessori Method, and it has been my chosen method of teaching for the majority of my career...almost 30 years.

A snapshot of my little ones and I during a job demonstration

A snapshot of my little ones and I during a job demonstration

As with my preschool teaching career in general, my love for The Montessori Method came to fruition as a happy accident.  It all began soon after I was hired at a local Montessori School as a head teacher back in 1988.  I was immediately drawn to The Montessori Method's concept of observing and supporting the natural growth of a child's mind and as well as his natural curiosity.  I bought and read every single Montessori book I could find.  I attended The Montessori Education Center (San Francisco/Bay Area).  And in the end, I have confirmed three solid reasons why The Montessori Method has been and always will be my chosen preschool teaching philosophy:

(Note: Check back with me this weekend for a list of books all about Montessori Education that I highly recommend for all parents and educators.)

Montessori Education Emphasizes Freedom of Choice

The creator of Montessori Education, Dr. Maria Montessori, understood that our children have an overwhelming level of natural curiosity from infancy to the age of 7-8.  That's why children can learn their native language without formal education.  That's why you see gestural pointing towards random objects with toddlers.  And that's why every other question our older children ask begins with the word "Why?".  The Montessori Method takes full advantage of this natural curiosity by providing students opportunities to nurture their own curiosities with hands-on and eye-catching materials in a classroom environment that encourages sustained exploration of all subjects at a level that is comfortable for the child. 

The Montessori Teacher is an Observer

I enjoy the fact that the Montessori teacher (or Directress, as named by Dr. Maria Montessori herself) is an observer in every sense of the word.  The Montessori teacher knows her students' interests, academic levels, and developmental needs, and prepares her classroom in such a way that it can best cater to the needs of the child, not the needs of some classroom standard.  The Montessori teacher knows when to step in to help a student, when to just observe, and when to challenge the student.  This method of teaching allows students to walk into their classroom with enthusiasm, not intimidation.  This method also lets students walk away with an overall love of learning, a love that will last way beyond their years in the classroom. 

The Montessori Method is How I Would Teach My Own Children

As I was progressing in my own Montessori education, I was also a mom of three children 10 years of age and younger.  As I realized how much a child's natural curiosity is embraced- not looked down upon- in Montessori Education, it hit me... this is how I would teach my own children!  As a mom of three daughters (at the last child didn't arrived until 1993!), I have always wanted to give them an environment where their successes would be celebrated and their mistakes would still be appreciated...and a Montessori Education provides just that! 

Now, I am not writing this as a Pro-Montessori/Anti-Everything Else post.  I love the fact that there are many, many teaching methodologies out there that all children can benefit from!  I am writing this to hopefully give you the opportunity to get to know me further as both a devoted preschool teacher and mother.  My hope is that, as you read my future teaching and parenting tips, you can rest assure that every bit of information is backed up with years of experience. 

And on that note, what are your thoughts about Montessori Education?  Feel free to express your opinions/questions in the comments below!

Hope you have a wonderful Friday!