Almost Montessori – All About Spelling

My boys are hands-on learners all the way! All of my boys attended a Montessori School for at least a couple of years before we started homeschooling. My oldest son was in the Montessori school for six years! And when we brought them home to homeschool, we continued with the Montessori education. As they have completed and grown out of their Montessori materials and have moved to more abstract thinking, we are moving into a more traditional education formula… but we still migrate towards the hands-on curriculum. That is what made me start the series Almost Montessori to begin with. We were finding all these materials that were not traditional Montessori works, but close and certainly kept with the Montessori educational philosophy. Which brings us to today’s article: Almost Montessori – All About Spelling.

Almost Montessori - All About Spelling

For students who learn to read phonetically, spelling seems to be a struggle, at least early on.  My boys read early and are voracious readers now. Spelling was a challenge… until we started using All About Spelling!  This pigeon-toed perfectly with my boys coming from a Montessori background!  The Montessori Method itself is a multi-sensory approach to learning. Children are encouraged to manipulate and explore the materials in the environment. In the same way, All About Spelling’s letter tiles and Phonogram Sounds app provide multi-sensory (sight, sound and touch) learning tools so your child learns more quickly and retains what they learn.

Recently, they have even created another level of sensory learning… taste!  If you sign up for their free newsletter, you will receive a free cookbook! And anyone that has been in a Montessori classroom knows, we encourage our children to be involved in the preparation of food early on… so, from that aspect, even this cookbook is Montessori too 🙂


We started in the first book (even though my oldest was already in fourth grade). I’ll explain why… I wanted him to hear the rules and the rule breakers that AAS covers. In the beginning, we used our movable alphabet instead of the magnetic tiles to help this work feel familiar.  So let me give you some more detailed information about All About Spelling and some of the reasons I chose to use this product for the Almost Montessori series.


It is a seven level program that teaches encoding skills, reliable spelling rules, via multi-sensory strategies to help your student become a proficient speller for life. This program has won so many awards, see for yourself!

These are some of the reasons I love AAS:

  • Multi-sensory approach makes it easy for kids to understand
  • Can easily use the movable alphabet instead of the magnetic letter tiles especially for the first book
  • Very quick lessons, most are less than 15 minutes
  • At the beginning of most lessons is a quick review providing a built-in review system which is part of the spiral approach
  • Just like Montessori, it is focused on mastery of the skill 
  • Easy to teach because all lessons are already planned out!
  • It comes with Free LIFETIME Support!
  • Can be used with multiple children at one time
  • By Level 7, my boys will be spelling at the high school level.
  • It is VERY affordable!!!
  • Finally… they provide a ONE YEAR guarantee! They are that confident that their products work.

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I hope this series is a blessing to your homeschool and classroom!  Please share and pin these articles if they are beneficial!  It will help us get the word out about our blog and the Almost Montessori series!


Montessori Made Affordable December 30th

As I scoured the internet today looking for a great deal for the Montessori Made Affordable 12.30.13 edition, it really dawned on my how much I love Montessori materials. My children have grown to the point of being abstract thinkers so we don’t have as many concrete materials left in our homeschool…. but I just love them. So much so, I actually wrote an article about my Montessori Love Affair 🙂

Anyway, I found a couple deals but don’t want to start adding too much so I’m focusing on one. Today’s deal is from Alison’s Montessori also. I’ve already mentioned how much of my own materials were from Alison’s and how impressed I’ve always been with their customer service, so I won’t go into great detail about their reputation… I’ll just get to the deal!

I love Zoology! My boys love zoology! We had every single puzzle (both botany and zoology) and every set of nomenclature cards to match! So, when I find good deals on the puzzles, you will always hear about them! Today’s deal is Parts of a Turtle Puzzle and it is 66% off!!

Parts of a Turtle


I always partnered three-part cards with my puzzles.  You can print these cards from Montessori Services.  There are some free ones from Montessori Materials too.

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There are a ton of resources for turtles that will compliment this puzzle and function as strike the imagination morsels… here are a few I found:

Lesson Plans:

Unit study: and

My favorite Strike the Imagination books on Turtles:

I’ll Follow the Moon.  I love having the strike the imagination books in hardback books, but if that is not in your budget, this one is free for Kindle.  You don’t have to have a kindle to read it either.  You can download kindle software for your PC.  Google it.

I'll follow the moon

Minn of the Mississippi.  This is one of our favorite books ever!

Minn of the Mississippi

Until our next post on Montessori Made Affordable, I’ll leave you with a Montessori quote about …

“Imagination does not become great until human beings, given the courage and the strength, use it to create.”   ~Maria Montessori



Montessori Made Affordable December 29th

Montessori materials are expensive which makes many of the items out of reach for homeschoolers. Because I really believe in the Montessori method, I am starting a new feature for 2014 – Montessori Made Affordable.

Montessori Made Affordable 12.29.13

I am a huge fan of Alison’s Montessori. Many, if not most, of our materials came from this Montessori online store.  I have had a couple of situations where items where not what I wanted or expected, and they corrected the issues, no questions asked.

Today, I found a great deal on the Short Bead Chain in Alison’s bargain basement center… it is more than 50% off!

If you are enjoying this post and want to see more, please sign up for our newsletter, join us on Facebook and Google+, follow us on Twitter and Pinterest or sign up on the right to follow our blog.

Are you unsure how to use the short bead chain in your Montessori Classroom?  You need to visit Teaching from a Tackle Box… she has absolutely beautiful materials AND she shows you where to find the lessons as well.


Until next time, I’ll leave you with a Montessori quote…

“The first essential for the child’s development is concentration. The child who concentrates is immensely happy.” ~Maria Montessori


New Feature for 2014 – Montessori Made Affordable

We are a Montessori homeschooling family.  I have been homeschooling for five years and prior to that, I was the Chairman of the Board for a local Montessori School for three years.  We LOVE the Montessori pedagogy and believe it is one of the reasons our boys are so advanced in their education… Montessori created a strong foundation to build on.  However, Montessori materials are expensive which makes many of the items out of reach for homeschoolers. Because I really believe in the Montessori method, I want to help you by creating a new feature for 2014 – Montessori Made Affordable.

Montessori Made Affordable

As I find items that are either a less expensive version of a traditional Montessori work or material or a deal I’ve stumbled upon, I’ll post them here on our blog and on our Facebook page.  It may be an article on how to make the item, it may be a link to a sale, it may be a used item… but any and all will be opportunities to help you implement Montessori concepts in your homeschool more economically.

This blog is actually part of our upper level Montessori homeschool curriculum.  We teach creative writing via Institute for Excellence in Writing and part of my boys’ creative writing curriculum is to blog here at Live and Learn Farm. (Note:  We are starting a link up for tweens and teens in 2014 for other homeschoolers to have an outlet for their children to blog as part of their writing curriculum too!)

In addition to the blog being part of our boys’ creative writing curriculum, it is also part of their Montessori practical life studies. Maria Montessori suggested an Erdkinder environment for children in upper level grades.  We have created our version of an Erdkinder here at Live and Learn Farm… we call it farmschooling.  All of our boys have farm businesses, and they will also be blogging about their businesses.  In this plane of development, Montessori encouraged teaching our children a means to financial independence.

Maria Montessori Four Planes of Development

Along that line, and in the interest of full disclosure… we are an affiliate with some organizations (Amazon, for instance) and are paid a commission if you purchase due to our recommendation.  We will ALWAYS be honest in our recommendation and only recommend items we have used or would use in our homeschool. There is ZERO additional cost to you and it is a tiny (and I mean tiny) amount to us.  That is part of teaching the boys how to earn a living by doing something they LOVE to do (and me too) … writing.

If you are enjoying this post and want to see more, please sign up for our newsletter, join us on Facebook and Google+, follow us on Twitter and Pinterest or sign up on the right to follow our blog.

We hope by showing you how we are continuing to use the Montessori educational philosophy to teach our boys in the upper grades, sharing what is working, how we are implementing it and being genuine in our failures, that you will be blessed by our blog and that it will help you continue to Montessori homeschool into the upper grades.  If we succeed, we hope you will consider our efforts to share our experiences worthwhile and will help – by not only using our links when we introduce the items if they make sense for your homeschool – but also by sharing them with your friends.  We will learn together and help each other!

Thank you for being part of our community and we look forward to presenting Montessori Made Affordable in 2014!






Fowl pox in the Pen


Good Afternoon! Sorry I have not posted in a while.  But I am going to be catching up and starting to write every Tuesday, so be watching for my posts.  Five weeks ago when I fed my chickens I noticed one of my frizzled red roosters standing out in the middle of the walkway not going after the food. This was strange since when I feed them they normally go straight for it.  As I approached him to see why his behavior was not normal, he turned his head to look at me, and I noticed a bunch of odd lesions on his comb and wattle.  Oh no, it looks like we have Fowl pox in the pen again.

Fowl Pox in the Pen

I immediately went to create a “sick pen” for him in the garage.  I reformed the small pen out of book cases and feed sacks that we made months ago.  I filled the floor of my makeshift pen with the normal pine shavings then I added a small roost, food and water feeders and a door. Then I worked with my brothers to catch him. I gingerly put him In the temporary pen and put the wire covers on top.

Chicken Sick Pen

I had been researching this virus and it is transmitted through mosquitoes which have the disease, the only other way it is transmitted is by getting in contact with another bird with the disease. Although it is not transmittable to anything but other birds it is still reasonable to to wear safety gloves when touching or treating the bird. At first my research brought up “If you leave it alone in about 1-2 weeks it will go away” after two and a half weeks I knew that my big boy had caught a severe case of it. By then it had covered both of his eyes and he could not see to drink or eat.  We regularly set him on a plastic bowl similar to what he regularly ate out of so he just knew what was in the bowl so he pecked down and ate food. But after it had come to three and a half weeks he mostly slept.

But then I discovered something scary… if his eyes stayed closed for too long, he could go blind.  The only treatment for the pox was to put drops of Saline solution on the pox via q-tips (being very careful not to get it in or around his eye) and Triple Antibiotic ointment for his eye.  I also started spoon feeding him yogurt. After about a week his pox started shrinking!  

Then we started the wait to see if his eyes would open.  In three days one of his eyes opened and he could see out of it!  Then the lesion fell off his other eye, but the eye had remained closed. Today when I went out to check on him, his closed eye is cracked (as in cracked open, barely)!!  Hallelujah!  So he might not go blind after all! He only has a few more lesions but it is still there so he will stay in his temporary pen a bit longer. Please pray for my rooster to get better 🙂

Update:  ~~A week later~~ Les is now free of fowl pox! Another small issue arose when we put him back in the pen.  All the other chickens wanted to pick fights with him. After being around him for a few hours, everything seemed to calm down, and was able to be around them without being picked on. Then 2 days ago, I went out to find him with a bloody comb and acting very shy toward the other chickens. He was all by himself standing in the chicken house door instead of out with them. I dropped what I was doing, grabbed my baby and ran back to the garage (where his makeshift brooder pen was) I gave him clean water and more food immediately. Then, when all was taken care of, I had to sit down and think of what to do, he could not stay in the sick pen in the garage, nor could he stay in the big chicken pen because Rocky our rooster didn’t want him in there. Nor could he stay in the little chicken pen with the newly nicknamed “rooster attack force”.  Then yesterday my answer came as our oldest rooster who was in the big chicken pen passed away.  He was over 6 years old!  Now my big boy Les can move in and take his spot as “the boss”. Thank you all for praying for my big boy!!!

I decided to name him Les because of a man named Les Stroud who is best known for his television series Survivorman.

Survivor Man / Rooster named Les


See ya soon!

My Precious Cooker


DisclosureI’m not sure when it happened exactly, but yesterday I suddenly realized my nine-year old son is no longer just a “kid inchef hat the kitchen”, you know… being my assistant. Blake has been interested in cooking with me for years! He has always wanted to be in the kitchen helping me make anything and everything that is on the stove or in the oven! When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, for years now he has stated a “cooker”.  

This week Blake and I were cooking a Broccoli and Chicken Stir-Fry recipe (which turned out fabulous I might add)… anyway, we were in the kitchen getting everything ready. We regularly double or triple recipes because we love leftovers in our house and we have three growing boys to feed, so besides learning a life skill, Blake gets a great fraction and measurement review every time he cooks with me.  But as I was watching him gathering the ingredients, I realized he not only knew exactly where to get the ingredients from, but  he knew the tools he needed to use and how to use them and he knew how to follow the recipe.  

I watched as he gathered the cloves of garlic from the garlic/onion bin, and as he moved to pull out a cutting board and knife and proceeded to cut the ends off and slice the garlic to fit inside the mincer.  And as he leans over and re-reads the recipe to be sure that the garlic goes in at this point, my eyes follow him to the stove where he minces the garlic into the skillet and uses a knife to scrape the mincer clean! He read the recipe, knew exactly what to do, where to find everything, how to use it and without any assistance whatsoever from me! None. 

Being Montessori homeschoolers, we have always put an emphasis on practical life skills from an early age so seeing him in the kitchen is not particularly surprising… realizing he could do it without me, WAS!! I was so proud of him expertly navigating the kitchen, putting his ingredients in at the right time, and in the right amounts. Yet, to be honest it was a tiny bit bittersweet! We have now morphed into being cooking partners where we both have our own roles when working together in the kitchen! 

So, it’s official… Blake is now a cooker, my “precious” cooker!!  I am so very thankful for the opportunity to homeschool, for these times that I am fully here, in the moment, engaged and am really able to savor these experiences with my children! What an amazing blessing!! God is so good to us! Thank you Abba for these precious blessing you have given us!  

My Precious Cooker

The Great Chicken Migration

The Great Chicken Migration

Good Morning! Sorry I have not posted in a while. I am finishing up my Apologia General Science class, and I’ve been getting a little lazy this summer :P. Anyway, I’m trying to get back to blogging. But I have been working with the chicks, I just haven’t been writing about it!  Last Thursday we decided that it was time for the Great Chicken Migration, to move all 30 “babies” to our second chicken pen where the teenage chicks have been.  

The first two chicks were chosen:  Nipper (a barred rock cochin bantam) and Foghorn (a white frizzle) were placed in the coop. Nipper just walked out through the chicken Foghorndoor (see picture above), but Foghorn just looked out the door and there is where the problems started.  As we (Mom and my brothers) continued placing the chicks in the coop, they just piled up in there at the chicken door. We got one more chick to go out, Cuddles, a deep black Barred Rock Cochin Bantam girl… but all the rest just hung around inside the coop and at the door. Cuddles just trotted around the pen and ate some food and drank water.  So we started taking them out of the coop, dipping their beaks in the new water source and showing them the food. We got about half out when we started noticing the second problem.  

The teenage chicks were bullying the “babies”.  That was not going to work, so we moved the teenagers into the grown chickens’ pen where they are enjoying their new jungle. That night we had to corral half of the chicks back in the coop.  Why only half?  Because half of the chicks never even left the coop to begin with that day.  The chicks had no experience being put up at night, so we had to help them all learn to go in at night and come out during the day.  We had to pull two out of the little dog house we have in their pen.  I guess they were using it for shade or because it was not as crowded at the door to get in!  When we went out in the morning to let the chicks out, we found we had left one out all night long.  But thank God it was okay!!!!

SupermoonNow the chicks know the routine, they know where the food and water live, when to come out in the morning, when to put themselves up at night and how to get in the rafters!  They have not experienced any weather other than normal sunny days and moonlit nights so it will be a new experience when it rains!  And tonight may be the night… the forecast shows rain and a storm.  They did get to see the International Space Station fly over and they got to see the Super Moon too!!!

Well… I will keep you updated and I will keep posting pictures!!!  See Ya Soon!

Roots, Fruits and Shoots Business


Hello, my name is Blake and I’m nine years old.  We are a homeschooling family and I have just started an organic produce business.  I named it Roots, Fruits and Shoots. We have been busy planting a garden this spring.  It is our first time to use wood mulch.  My mom has been posting about it until now.  I’ll be posting about the garden now.

We were not sure about the wood mulch at first, but once we saw the weeds flourishing under the mulch we thought our plants might do well.  We have been weeding the garden and the roots were big, but most were so easy to pull up.  I have only watered the garden once this year.  The wood mulch stores the moisture for the plants.  

We have quite a lot of things coming up like nasturtium, strawberries, potatoes, blueberries, carrots, and radish.  And we also have horseradish and blackberries in our front yard.  Our first crop is starting to come in, guess what it is?  Strawberries!!!  We harvested our first strawberries today!!!  


We have a green house where we planted tomatoes and peppers in pots.  We will move them out when they have matured and its warm enough.  I will be planting beans, corn, zucchini, squash, watermelon, pumpkins, cantaloupe, honey dew, Okra, and cucumbers very soon.  

Four years ago we planted blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, apples, grapes, peaches, and pears.  They are really starting to flourish and produce lots of fruit now.  Especially our blackberries and strawberries.



Happy for Honey

Nex, the new teenage chick


Good Afternoon!  I know I haven’t posted in a while, I’ve been catching up and finishing up our school year.  So, my update will be a little old, actually about a month old.  Almost a month ago, my mom called me to come look at her computer for something. It was a message from Ms. Pamela asking if I would want another chicken. I was thrilled and of course, I want another “Surprise Baby Chick”!! But, now it’s more like a “Surprise Teenage Chick.”  I had been wondering if Miss Pamela would want to give away her third chick because she told us she only wanted two chickens. But I was concerned about how our teenage chicks would treat the new one!  I had also wondered how Honey, our only Red Sex Link, felt.  Does she feel different or like the odd ball? Well, when mom and dad agreed that we could have the other Red Sex Link, I was so happy for Honey.

When Sunday evening came, the day we agreed to get the chick, I grabbed the cat carrier and me and dad were off to see Ms. Pamela!  Upon arriving I had the same question come back, will the other Teenage chicks treat him or her well?  Will they accept him or her into the group?  When I saw her three chicks I thought… Wow they have grown! They were triple the size they were when we got our first surprise chicks.  I had not realized how much our teenage chicks had grown.  We thanked Ms. Pamela for another friend and brought him home (I think it is a rooster)!

When we got home I carefully carried the cat carrier with our new teenage chick in it and put it up against the teenage chicks’ playpen. My teenage chicks seemed to like the new chick.  I sat and watched them together and I decided on his name, Nex.  I opened the playpen and put Nex in and they had a great family reunion! Now all the teenage chicks are out in our large spare chicken pen and they are LOVING it!!! They love to stretch their wings, run, fly and play. When they get old enough, they will be able to stay in the big coop at night but for now they are brought back into our garage every night.

Nex and Honey

I’ll post more soon!  

Homeschooling on the Beach Part 2


Homeschooling on the Beach Part Two



In Homeschooling on the Beach Part 1, we spent some time laying the foundation of geography and travel prior to taking your vacation.  In Part 2, I’m picking up once you are at the beach.  If you have not read part 1, you can find it here.

Blue Crab Exploring Nature

One creature you will most likely find on any beach any where, is the crab.  Crabs are crustaceans as are shrimp and  lobsters.  Crustaceans have exoskeletons… “Exo” refers to outside, so an exoskeleton is a skeleton on the outside of their body.  But did you know barnacles are crustaceans too?  Heck, I’m not sure I even knew they were alive until we did this study!  Montessori Materials has a free download of nomenclature cards for Crustaceans.  Science Teachers has some cards as well (not 3 part cards).  Exploring Nature has some great coloring pages and labeling pages for Crustaceans as well.  If you have never gone crabbing, now is the time!  You can either crab off a salt water dock or do what we like to do… get a net, a flash light and a bucket and catch them at night by catching them on the beach in the dark!  It is so much fun!  This is one of our pictures from years ago of two of our little ones examining the crabs after we have been crabbing.  I love those little faces!!!  


Beach 4 edited


Seashell Nomenclature by Desert CrafterI’m from the coast of North Carolina and I remember the first time I went to a beach on the Gulf of Mexico, I was shocked to not find any shells!  I am a sheller, big time!  I was completely lost that vacation not being able to shell hunt!  This is a great study, and for a sheller like me, a MUST do!  There are primarily two kinds of shells, Bi-valves and gastropods (sometimes called uni-valves).  Here is a Shell Sheet I saved when we took our trip a couple of years ago.  I’ve hunted online to find where I got it so I can give credit with no luck.  If you happen to know, send me an email so I can give credit!  I found these 3 part cards for sea shells and couldn’t wait to share them!  These were made by Desert Crafter who has a ton of other wonderful Shell works!   Montessori Print Shop has a beautiful free set as well!  


Be sure to pick up lots of shells to bring back with you (and maybe even a bucket of sand and a bottle of salt water)!  You can use the shells for various sorting works, for identification, for counting, and for matching to the 3 part cards above.  Here is a great site to help with the identification of shells.  


Seashell frame insructionsOr you can use them to make a frame to put your favorite vacation picture in!  Here is a lesson on doing that!  Confession:  I still have all the shells and picture frames to make our frames from three years ago and haven’t yet!!  Maybe if we can’t go to the beach this year, we can at least do that!  If I do, I’ll be sure to post the how to’s and the final pictures when we are through!  

Once you are at the beach, always look for the tide pools!  They are brimming with all kinds of life and other interesting items that got trapped from the ocean!  Look for living creatures first… and try to identify them.  


Have you ever wondered what the secret is to those fabulous sand castles you sometimes see on the beach?  Here is your answer!  

There are several videos in this series, so be sure to watch them all!  Now, after learning how to build these fabulous sand castles, it seems appropriate to study why the water and sand work together this way.  Here are a couple of interesting links on sandcastle physics and thermodynamics!

There may be one more post in this series.  I’ll try to get it posted before summer, LOL!!!!  Have a great trip to the beach with your little ones! Our goal is for school and life to blend into an indistinguishable blur of fun, challenge and education!  I hope you guys can find that balance!  

Until next time…

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