Room 2 (Renee’s) Classroom Wishlist 2017

It’s the end of the year again! With that in mind, I asked the teachers at MSO to give me their wish lists to feature here on the blog. Today I’m showing you Renee’s wish list. It’s short and sweet–she’s a teacher who knows what she wants!

 ~~All wishlist items are linked through the images~~

Insta-Learn by Step Math Board

Renee would like the Math Step Board from Insta-Learn, pictured above. Since the Step Boards come in three different options (blank, imprinted with dots, and imprinted with numbers), the numbers are purchased separately:

Insta-Learn Math Numbers 0-25

And for use with the Step Board are problem strips of all shapes and sizes. They focus on counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, place value, money and time math and number sequencing.

Renee would like an assortment of these!

Tree of Life Mat from Waseca

What Montessori teacher doesn’t love Waseca?

Tree of Life

The Tree of Life from Waseca is a gorgeous, tangible way for students to explore the five kingdoms of living things. It’s easy to see how all life is connected with this work–and easy to appreciate, too!

The Montessori Services Gift Certificate speaks for itself! I think most of us would love a blank check from this wonderful Montessori supplier.

Gift Card from Montessori123

Montessori123 is another Montessori supplier! They create math, reading, physical and cultural geography material made with realistic images, a rarity¬†among elementary material-makers. It would be difficult to choose from among the materials available from this site. I have the Math Word Problem Cards from Montessori123 in my classroom–check out my review!


SumBlox was one of the exhibitors at the AMS Conference this year. As I understand it, the blocks have infinite use. The blocks are used in conjunction with games and activities in order to teach math concepts.



Peace Corner Wish List

This wish list is quite specific. Most Montessori classrooms have Peace Tables or Peace Corners and mine is one that’s still in development. I’ve been slowly adding pieces to it, like the Buddha Board I finally splurged on, and the Zen rock garden I made myself. We keep our World Wildlife Animals in the Peace Corner, along with the yoga cards and Thich Nhat Hanh’s A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles¬†and Eline Snel’s¬†Sitting Still Like a Frog.

Yet, I’m always on the search for those things that make a Peace Corner special. I want it to be, in Thich Nhat Hanh’s words, an Embassy of the Kingdom of Peace. And as such, it needs as many resources as it can get. To that end, I keep on looking. Recently, I found the following chart on the Pinterest board of Montessori educator Victoria deLilla:

Montessori Peace ~ Creating A Culture of Peace (click on the image to visit the Pinterest Board)

I have been using this chart to think about the areas to enhance my Peace Corner. Here’s what I’ve found:

The Children’s Peace Dance Flag from the Peace Company is my favorite among the many Peace Flag options out there. I like that it¬†has images of children from around the world, and includes an image of the Earth.

I spotted these wooden two-handed labyrinths on someone else’s Peace Table and immediately scoured the internet to source them out. Unfortunately, they’re prohibitively expensive, even in the less attractive plastic versions (not pictured here). However, I love the idea of two children doing a labyrinth together, or connecting the right and left brains by trying to trace them with both hands. I think my students would get a kick out it too.

These cards combine a number of different practices for calming the mind. I already have yoga cards on my shelf:

Room 8 Yogis

But this card deck encourages other mindful practices, such as breathing, Brain Gym activities, and emotional intelligence.

Sand Pendulum from Amazon

Pendulums are fascinating in the way they seem to move without movement. By their very existence, they encourage stillness, and stillness encourages focus. I would love to have a tabletop pendulum like this in the classroom. My students would have to fight me for a spot in front of it!

I spotted this sweet little gem¬†at a used book store and I regret that I didn’t snap it up. Thinking back on it, this book, along with a collection of heart stones would be a lovely addition to my Peace Corner.

The final item I’d like is small, CD-playing boombox so that students can listen to the guided meditations in Sitting Still Like a Frog¬†or audiobooks like¬†Zen Shorts, books with a mindful bent.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this foray into my developing Peace Corner. I’d like to close with a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh’s¬†Peace Is Every Step:

“We have a room for everything–eating sleeping, watching TV–but we have no room for mindfulness. I recommend that we set up a small room in our homes and call it a ‘breathing room,’ where we can be alone and practice just breathing and smiling, at least in difficult moments. That little room should be regarded as an Embassy of the Kingdom of Peace. It should be respected, and not violated by anger, shouting, or things like that…she is safe within the grounds of the Embassy.”

Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh, p. 45


Flexible Seating: Students Get Comfy While They Work

I’ve been exploring “flexible seating” options lately, which I’ve learned is not a phrase meaning my students get to move from seat to seat like a teacher’s nightmare of work-time somehow devolving into an uncontrollable game of musical chairs. I have precisely three options for flexible “seating” in my classroom at the moment and they are:

  • a carpet
  • a dish chair¬†from Target
  • one “Wiggle Seat“, a two-sided inflatable seat cushion that the students either love or hate

There are many options for students who either have difficulty working at a desk or just prefer to have more choices. As much as possible, I allow my students to work at the carpet, outside, in our dish chair or hanging upside down so long as it helps them concentrate. In certain cases, work requires certain posture. Handwriting, for example, is always done at a desk, as posture and the position of the arm and the hand are part of the work of the child.

This post is a roundup of some of the flexible seating options I’d like to be able to offer in my classroom, and why they’re attractive to me. You could say it’s a wishlist of sorts, but it’s more my findings after researching the various options online, seeing what’s offered in other Montessori classrooms, and my own personal experiences as a student. Please share any feedback!

Wiggle Seat Inflatable Sensory Chair Cushion for Kids in Red by Sensory Solutions

Along with my classroom, I inherited one Wiggle Seat. Through the years, it’s served me well. I’ve gone through a number of systems for having my students share it, but I’m ready to add to my collection. The funny thing about the Wiggle Seat is how some students ADORE it and some CANNOT STAND it, and it’s never the students I expect. It’s also customizable–you can inflate or deflate it to the right amount of air and put the bumpy or “less bumpy” side up.

Kids Stay-N-Play Balance Ball in Grey by Gaiam

I know there are classrooms with ordinary balance balls in them–my classroom will never be one of them. This five-footed adaptation is the perfect compromise. It’s bouncy, but it doesn’t roll around like its footless cousin. I imagine there’d be stiff competition over this beauty.

17 Inch Glow Stool in Red by Regency

You know those kids who lean back in their chairs no matter how many times you tell them not to? This stool is for them. It gives them 360 degree tipping power without you worrying about their heads meeting solid ground. Go ahead, Bobby. Tip away.

Back Jack Floor Chair in Standard Size in Black

I love Back Jacks. They’re absolutely perfect for floor work, especially if you need to sit for a long time. I’m someone who needs the support for their back. I personally hate stools and always sit against the wall when I teach at the carpet. Plus, having a few of them would be a great way to instantly form a small group for a lesson.

And to go with those Back Jacks? These red lap desks:

Lap Tray in Red by Romanoff

Last up is these plastic rockers:

Plastic Scoop Rocker (Pack of 6) by Kid’s Kraft

As soon as I saw these rockers, I immediately pictured my students using them. Unfortunately, it appears that my older students wouldn’t fit them, so I’m looking for a larger alternative (hopefully not made of plastic). But can’t you just picture a slew of students happily rocking away in them? Yeah, me too.

The opportunities don’t end there. You can include tall desks for students who prefer to stand while they work, bean bag chairs for those who want to be completely enveloped, laundry baskets and¬†other plastic tubs for “book boats” or my personal favorite, Kinesthetic Pedal Desks. Yes, that’s right. Your students can pedal while they work.

In the meantime, please make sure you stop by Room 6. Lizzy’s been hard at work making her room fit the Flexible Seating model. She has incorporated some of the ideas you see here, plus some ideas of her own!

Mixed Bag Fundraiser Book Wish List

Mixed Bag catalogs went home last week! For those of you left in this world that don’t know about the¬†Mixed Bag Fundraiser, I do it to¬†raise money for books for the classrooms. Every year new and exciting books are published and I believe classroom libraries should be living and growing things, especially as we teachers work to create children who grow in to adults who love books.

Just to get you excited about some of the books you can help us add to our classrooms, I thought I’d show you some of the exciting titles we’d love to share with your children.


Botanicum¬†is the latest addition to Big Picture Press’ Welcome to the Museum series. Last year’s Mixed Bag fundraiser allowed us¬†to purchase¬†Historium, Maps, and¬†Animalium, all of which are equally gorgeous and fabulously illustrated.¬†Maps is particularly wonderful and I can’t wait until¬†The Story of Life is published in the United States.

Writer’s Toolbox Series

The Writer’s Toolbox series introduces writing to children in language they can understand, with appealing illustrations and step-by-step instructions. The books don’t take the place of the lessons we give, but enhance them. They can even inspire students to explore new areas of writing in their free time.

On Earth

A sweetly illustrated discussion of our planet,¬†On Earth discusses some of our planet’s most difficult to grasp¬†concepts in simple, easy-to-understand ways. I particularly enjoy the dichotomous illustration of night and day:

Feathers: Not Just for Flying

If you have ever explored the natural world with a young child, you probably have experienced their fascination with feathers. Feathers: Not Just for Flying explores the many functions these gorgeous appendages offer the avian world, and does it with words and illustrations:

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes is actually a book I saw at a Montessori Conference. It’s an introduction to all those tiny organisms we can’t see with the naked eye–which can engender curiosity about microscopes. It also discusses how things that appear to happen invisibly are only really invisible to the naked eye–like microbes breaking food down into compost and turning milk into yogurt.

Somewhere in the World Right Now

It was actually the endpaper that caught my eye with¬†Somewhere in the World Right Now. It features a time zone map of the entire world, and it’s a good thing it does, because that’s the topic of the book. It explores what’s happening at the same exact moment around the world.

National Geographic Kids World Atlas

I’m also hoping for two more of the National Geographic Kids World Atlases. We have a few others in the room, but this is the one I like best. It continually proves to be the best resource for us. I’d love to have a few more on hand!

But maybe you should ask your children. What books would they like to see in the classroom?

Don’t forget!

Mixed Bag orders are due this Friday, September 30.

If you prefer to shop online or have out-of-town friends or family, MSO also gets 40% of your online purchase at Mixed Bag!¬†Visit the Friends and Family Fundraising Page and enter MSO’s fundraising code:


Room 2 (Renee’s) Classroom Wishlist II

Classroom Wishlist

All teachers have wishlists, so when it was suggested that I post some of my colleagues’ (and not just my own), I jumped at the chance. It’s not just an opportunity to peek into the needs of each classroom, but it’s a fun way to learn about awesome new materials.

 ~~All wishlist items are linked through the images~~

Large Outdoor Blackboard Daisies from Nasco

These outdoor blackboard daisies hail from England (although, don’t worry, the link takes you to a retailer in the United States). I have to agree with Renee that they would be adorable and fun in her yard. Chalk art is one of those consistently enjoyable childhood past times, and the petals provide a perfect frame for their temporary yard art masterpieces.

Music Wall from Sam Houston Elementary School

If you’ve never visited a playground with an outdoor music station, you’re missing out. I love this homemade version that Renee provided, but I do know that some playground equipment companies, like Schoolscapes, Nature’s Instruments,¬†and Meyer Design make prefabricated versions.

Outdoor Balance Scale from ABC Does

As soon as I saw this weighing (or balancing) station, I could picture Renee’s students using it! It has a simple design but is capable of providing endless fascination in the form of experimentation, especially for those exploring the world. If Renee gets nothing else on her list, I hope she gets this.

Colored Bead Chains with Rack from Pink Montessori

The Colored Bead Chains are an essential Montessori material. We use them to:

  • Reinforce linear counting
  • Introduce skip counting
  • Introduce multiples
  • Teach squares and cubes

This is some of the foundational work that prepares our students for understanding the more complex mathematical concepts they’ll face in their Upper Elementary, Middle and High School years.

Gift Certificate from Montessori Print Shop

Gift Certificate from Montessori Outlet

Of course, a teacher’s work is never finished, which is why gift certificates to Montessori Print Shop and Montessori Outlet are also on Renee’s wish list.

Happy last week of school!

End-of-2016 Classroom Wishlist for Room 9 (Middle School!)

End-of-Year Classroom Wishlist

The Middle School’s wishlist is, perhaps, a little different¬†for those of you who are looking for the traditional Montessori items. The classroom has an entirely different flavor from any Early Childhood room and, of course, their needs are different. Take a look at some of the items showing up on their end-of-year wishlist:

Timeline of American History Research Cards

ETC Montessori, as I’ve mentioned before, is an excellent resource for those working with the upper grades. When we visited their booth at the conference in the spring, my Middle School colleague was excited to hear that they would be expanding their M/S emphasis¬†and publishing some of their work as iBooks. The American History Research Cards pictured above are one such item. I love the idea! It makes the material more affordable and easily accessible. Of course, you can’t go wrong with a manipulative like the working Timeline of American History:

or the American Presidents nomenclature cards:

One of the hardest parts of teaching the writing process is teaching students how to outline. Once the thoughts start flowing, the next step is organizing them. Reading Manipulatives has created a work designed to help students develop this skill, first by practicing with provided thoughts, and then moving, step by step, toward creating an outline using the framework.

Outlining Manipulatives

Clocca Concepts is a small company I discovered at the annual Montessori Conference the year before last, when I purchased their Punctuation Boxes. They make a few other materials for very specific skills, one of which has caught our Middle School Math teacher’s eye–their Coordinate Graph Curriculum:

The Coordinate Graph Curriculum includes a 19‚ÄĚx19‚ÄĚ coordinate graph, 2-colored wooden markers, 3-level command cards, and nomenclature cards. This curriculum provides students and teachers with a hands-on approach to understand and practice those concepts.

That’s it for Middle School. Their needs are few (and many)! Look out for more end-of-year wishlist posts from my fellow MSO teachers.

See anything that strikes your fancy?

End-of-2016 Classroom Wishlist for Room 8

End-of-Year Classroom Wishlist

One last wish list before summer! In my continual quest to improve my classroom and my teaching, I’m always on the lookout for inspiring new material. In March, you may recall, I went to the American Montessori¬†¬†Society Conference in Chicago. I purchased a few items and added three (four? five?!) times that¬†many to my wishlist. This year, I also finally invested in a personal laminator. BEST DECISION EVER!

Original Buddha Board

I’ve wanted a Buddha Board in my classroom since forever, but because I’m doing Japan for Summer Camp, this really seems like the time to invest. The board allows the user to paint with water, which means the image will disappear once it dries. It’s a practice in letting go, impermanence and all of those life skills which are challenging for children¬†and adults.

Complete Set of Control Charts for the Biome Puzzles

This year, I was able to invest in Waseca’s new Biome Stencils and, while I’d love to get the accompanying Puzzle Map Cabinet, it clocks in at around $600. That’s just¬†slightly outside of my budget. In the meantime, I’d like these control charts for the Biome Puzzles. They’ll just bring us one step closer to completing our collection.

3-Part Card Pouches from Montessori Materials by Request

I recently made a set of 3-Part Cards for the California Missions and I’d love to have a set of these pouches to keep all of my nomenclature material. I actually saw them at the conference and really liked them. (Of course, mine would be all red!) The woman who makes these is actually AMI trained and she does special orders. I’d also love the pouches for my Maitri Learning Land and Water cards.

Number Line Extensions from ETC Montessori

As the work itself explains, we’re learning more every day about the¬†important role¬†the¬†imaginary number line plays in¬†math, especially when students¬†are making the leap from concrete to abstract. And since¬†many of¬†my Upper Elementary students are focusing on just that transition, I was very excited to see this new Number Line Extension work from ETC Montessori at the Conference this year. Even better, the number lines work with both whole numbers and fractions.

It’s been a wonderful school year. I’m always sad¬†and excited to see a year end, but I know I’ll see most of you after the summer! Look out for more end-of-year wishlist posts from my fellow MSO teachers.

See anything that strikes your fancy?