Matching Cards in Action

sports equipment matching cards

Okay, it's true, I'm always giving the children in my life Maitri Learning materials as gifts. This Thanksgiving, when 18 of us gathered at my sister's house, I gave my great-nephew Edison the Sports Equipment Matching cards lovingly housed in our cerulean blue two-pocket cloth pouch (yes, blue is his favorite color). And, of course, we played with them a lot!

Edison is 4-years-old and is very interested in learning the names of everything. He was really curious when I first gave these cards to him. He immediately opened the pouch and started taking them out. Then he became 100% focused on trying to remember the names of the ones he knew and learn the names of the ones he didn't. And that, just as Dr. Montessori taught us, is the first step: vocabulary comes before the matching work. 

February 13, 2023 by Maitri Sales

All the ways to teach vocabulary

all the ways to teach vocabulary in Montessori

There is a long history of research looking into the importance of spoken language as foundational for learning to read and write. But, this isn't just about reading literacy, it's also about social cognition and connection. This is backed up both by science of reading research and by neurobiological research (Hong et al., 2018; Marks et al., 2019; McBride-Chang, et al., 2005; Romeo, et al., 2018; Rueckla et al., 2015; Zoll, Feinberg, & Saylor, 2023). 

So, it is a clear priority of all of us who work with young children to intentionally focus on developing their vocabulary, background knowledge, and spoken language capacity. But, outside of Montessori environments and the world of specialists (like speech language pathologists), there is very little explicit work done with children to develop vocabulary. 

This is a vast oversight that we can rectify quite simply. Here is some guidance from our Language Teacher Education Album⁠ on what we can do.

February 05, 2023 by Julia Volkman

THE Interview (part 2): Paula Lillard Preschlack on The Montessori Potential

Here it is, the second video recording my amazing interview with author Paula Lillard Preschlack! In this second in the series video, we talk about:

montessori interview paula lillard preschlack
  • The Eight Character Traits that we are striving to develop in our children.
  • How we can help children RE-engage and deal with the overwhelming sense of helplessness they feel as the burden of the future is placed on their shoulders
  • How do we tell the difference between when a child is repeating something and we're not sure if it's skillful or unskillful? How does it come into play with our work with families?
February 01, 2023 by Julia Volkman

Podcast: How Current Brain Research Shapes Our Work in the Montessori Classroom

greenspring center for lifelong learning

Julia was absolutely thrilled to chat with her old friend and inspiring Montessori leader, Tamara Balis. They recorded another episode for the Greenspring Center for Lifelong Learning's podcast.

This podcast takes some of the everyday experiences we have with young children and connects them with neurodevelopment. We speak about:

January 19, 2023 by Julia Volkman

THE Interview (part 1): Paula Lillard Preschlack on The Montessori Potential

julia volkman interview with paula lillard preschlack

What is it like to grow up in a famous Montessori family and then work in a best-in-class Montessori school for 25 years? You can learn all the ins and outs in Paula's new book, The Montessori Potential, which is coming out in a few weeks.

Paula and I had a fantastic talk recently getting into what Montessori theory looks like in real life both at home (parenting) and in schools (teaching). This video is the first in the series recording that conversation. In this first in the series video, we talk about:

  • Growing up as a Lillard (yes, she's Angelline's baby sister and Paula Polk Lillard's daughter)
  • What does it really mean to be "Montessori" and do we have a branding problem?
  • How did she evolve as a Montessori leader and author?
  • How does observation influence our work as parents and educators?
  • Common mistakes that parents make in understanding what our children are really showing us
January 17, 2023 by Julia Volkman

The Montessori/Dwyer Language Approach for Early Childhood

Montessori Dwyer language program

Dr. Montessori originally developed her method for helping children learn Italian, a completely phonetic language. But it was Muriel Dwyer who used that method to tackle the complexities of non-phonetic languages like English and Swahili. Muriel Dwyer was a brilliant AMI Teacher Trainer who worked extensively in both London and Africa (in the Swahili language). 

The Dwyer approach is founded in the traditional AMI language approach but has a few key adjustments. Here are the big ones: 

January 03, 2023 by Maitri Sales

How to give a Montessori Lesson

montessori lesson

Teaching a child how to use a new material or do a new activity is a sacred event. We treat it like a tea ceremony that includes precise steps to follow at the beginning, in the middle, and in the end. 

While each activity has it's own precise presentation, the general way we introduce and complete lessons is fairly consistent for everything we do in early childhood. Here's an overview of how that looks.

January 03, 2023 by Julia Volkman

3-Period Lesson

how to teach vocabulary with the montessori 3-period lesson

You've all heard about it, this radical and elegantly simple way to teach vocabulary to anyone at any age. Really, if you're working with toddlers or teaching a new language, the Montessori 3-period lesson is THE go to strategy to help build vocabulary. 

Once you've learned it, it is incredibly easy to use. Here's the big picture. The teacher follows the following three steps to teach new words:

  • Period 1: This is the... [name the object]
  • Period 2: Show me the... [name the object but let the child interact]
  • Period 3: What is this?

The key points to remember are that:

  1. Most of the learning happens in period 2
  2. Never go to the third period until you are 100% certain the child can produce the vocabulary

Why? First, because receptive language (understanding what a thing is called) is much easier than expressive language (being able to produce the name of a thing). That's why we do a lot of work in the second period, especially movement. 

Read the full article for details,...

December 08, 2022 by Julia Volkman

Neuroscience of Mindfulness

neuroscience of mindfulness youtube video

I presented this talk at the Montessori Foundation conference in St. Petersburg and participants were asking for my slides. So, I decided to post a video and slides in case they might help.

The big takeaways from the talk are,...

November 16, 2022 by Julia Volkman

Art in the Classroom

art in the montessori classroom

When we go to Montessori teacher school we are taught to have gorgeous examples of art throughout our prepared environment. But it's not just meant to look pretty on the walls! It's means to actually bring culture alive for us and our children. And, I think most importantly, it gives the children inspiration and motives for conversation. Young children are just becoming masters of our language. They need opportunities to organize their thoughts and express themselves aloud. With art, this is easy to do because whatever they think or say about art, they can't be wrong,... it's art!


November 11, 2022 by Julia Volkman