A study of Italy- pasta, flags and Opera!

Throughout the year, we study all of the continents.  We try to give the children a general feeling for different cultures via food, artifacts, money, visitors, songs, art etc..  For the past few weeks, we have been studying Europe.  We focused on Italy last week and had a great time.  In our food prep area, children were able to have pasta and used a tiny grater for parmesan cheese.



We also sewed our own Italian flags.  This required pre-cut felt and a straight stitch!



Some children chose to color the Italian flag on paper.



The highlight of our week was listening to Marlene Inman-Reilly!  We asked Marlene to perform a few short pieces for the children to expose them to the sound of Opera.  She told us about the origins of Opera and explained that we would not understand the words but to listen to see if songs were happy or sad.  She told us a little story before performing each piece so the children could listen and pick up clues about the stories.  When performing, Marlene is so expressive that the children were engrossed listening and watching.


Click on the audio links below to hear what the children heard:

Bel Piacere from Handel’s opera Agripinna

Lasciatemi Morire from L’Arianna by Monteverdi

O Mio Babbino Caro from Giani Schicci by Puccini

Marlene will sing with the Michigan Opera Theater to perform A View From the Bridge in April and Turandot in May.

Click here for tickets and more information:




Happy Valentine’s Day

card making 2

Happy Valentine’s Day!  We like to celebrate this holiday as it is not too overwhelming to children and it is very sweet!  This year we wanted to talk about mail and how it moves to get from one place to the other.  We decided it was a perfect time to make Valentine cards for our families.  We have a card making work on our shelves so the children were familiar with this activity.  First, they decorate the white paper with a stamp roller (to create a border) and various Valentine stamps.  They then glue into red cardstock.  Some of the children cut out a white heart and glued it on the front.

Mailing card

We then had the children put the cards in a red envelope.


We worked with the children to address their envelopes.  Long ago we bought a book about the Postal System and how it works.  Here is a link:  With email and other ways to communicate, many children do not know about addresses, zip codes, stamps and the postal system.  Many of the children were excited to see their special Valentine come in the mail in a few days!

heart pillow

We sewed heart pillows!  Many of the children are proficient sewers, especially with the whip stitch, and can do this almost independently.


We also made Valentine bags.

V bags

The children are excited to take the bags home and see what was inside.  There were many homemade Valentines and almost all had written their own names.

V Day Coffee

Yesterday the children made heart shaped scones to serve this morning at the parent coffee.  They were so happy to see their parents enjoying the scones.  Thank you to all of the parents who were able to stop by!

Finally, our amazing and extremely talented music teacher taught the children this song:

Enjoy and Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

Learning About our Seven Continents

continent map

The children have been very interested in the Continent puzzle map.  The Montessori cultural curriculum combines many subjects which connect children to their place in the universe.  Dr. Montessori believed that children become interested in concepts when they see the relationships between things.  The purpose of our cultural curriculum is to inspire an appreciation for the wonder of the universe and to encourage the students to come to realize their part in it.

We introduce the flat Continent map after the children have seen our Continent Globe.  The children learn the names of all of the continents in this process.  When we tell the children that we live in North America, at first (around 3) they may say, “I live in Ann Arbor” or “I live in Michigan.”  We point out how Michigan is in North America and by four, they usually are understanding their place on our continent.  We also talk about how Asia is “the biggest!” and how in Antarctica, “only scientists and penguins live there!”  Over the three year cycle, the children learn more and more about each continent and countries within each.

Continent song Click here to listen to the children singing the Continent Song.

Culture cannot be received from another, but only through the work and increased realization of oneself.  Nowadays, when we are aware of the powers of the absorbent mind during the period from three to six years, we know this possibility to take in culture at a very early age.”  Dr. Montessori




Egyptian Studies

Egypt Field Trip 1


We decided to take a small group of afternooners on a field trip to the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology as we have been studying Africa and most specifically, Ancient Egypt.
We hopped on the bus and headed into campus. Our stop was right by the cube so we decided it was necessary to give it a spin before the trip inside the museum.

Egypt Field Trip 2

Egypt Field Trip 3

First, we read the rules! When our Docent arrived, we were well prepared to answer her question of
“What are the rules of the museum?”

Egypt Field Trip 4

We saw many, many interesting artifacts. We even saw a child mummy! Jean our Docent helped to explain this in a very gently, age appropriate way!

Egypt Field Trip 5

We saw many masks that were put on people who had died as a way to identify them.

Egypt Field Trip 6

Here we were fascinated with a cat and hawk mummy!

Egypt Field Trip 7

Children in ancient Egypt played with many recognizable toys! After our tour, Jean read a book to the children called “Temple Cat.” The children enjoyed the story and the whole field trip!
Thank you Kelsey!

Egypt Pyramid

As part of our classroom study of Ancient Egypt, many children have decided to make pyramids out of sugar cubes!

Egypt Stamps

We also used hieroglyphic stamps to write names as well as various words.

Egypt Toob

The Study of Europe


We have been studying the continent of Europe and some countries for the past few weeks.


Besides the continent puzzle maps, many children like to complete the flag pinning work.


Some children are interested in making a flag book of all of the countries in Europe.


We also try to make and taste food from the various areas. On this day we made pizzas!


We also have many concrete objects and pictures from many of the countries in Europe. Here a child wears wooden shoes.


A goal is to have the child experience and absorb a little of the culture from each continent.

The Continent of Africa

In geography, we have moved on to the continent of Africa! Here are some things we have done so far.


The children have colored maps of Africa. The children can really see how many countries are in this big continent! They have also begun exploring our continent puzzle map.


Flag matching is always fun! Here the children can see all of the different flags, they are beautiful! Some children choose to make their own flags, and if you are at a Kindergarten level (or most afternooners) you may choose to make ALL the flags for a book!!!


One flag.


All of the flags! We will make these into a book. (Just like Asia- see previous post.)


We have played with beautiful African animals. The children love to manipulate these animals, they are soft and fuzzy.


We have some African beads and a beautiful bowl.

We have really been enjoying dancing to the Putumayo World Music from Africa too!

Asia studies – Japan

Japan items

We have had a lot of fun during our week studying Japan! Thank you to our two moms who came in and shared their culture! We had several items from Japan for the children to look at and experience.


We colored a map of Japan!


We colored different images from Japan.


We made sticky rice balls. This was made in a rice cooker which one Mom donated to the school! (THANK YOU- we will be using this a lot as we have discovered the children love sticky rice!) The children helped form them into a pyramid shape. We used our geometric solid shape as a model.


Wrap the rice ball in a piece of nori and eat. This way the rice does not stick to your fingers. Some of the children tried it and others preferred rice without the nori, sticky fingers and all!


One of our mothers wrote the children’s names in Hiragana. This is Japanese writing. Some of the sounds such as v and th are not present in Japanese. The writing is phonetic, not a direct translation. Here are a few names.


We also had origami making. This was so fun! The children loved to see how a piece of paper can become a dog, cat or even a ball!


After our craft activities, we shared our special snack, looked at pictures of Japan and the teachers tried on Kimono!


A BIG thank you to our mothers who came and spent the morning with us!!!