Tonight I had the incredible opportunity to read (shhh…it is not officially launched) the latest book from Trevor Eissler. Yep, the super cool dad who had enough guts to put it all down in his previous book, “Montessori Madness: A Parent to Parent Argument for Montessori Education”. Tonight I could not help but feel a bit guilty as my two young Montessori children were asleep in their bed as I had a cup of tea and an inspiring read on my Ipad.

 At a first glance the beautiful, scenic pictures got my attention of a boy sitting under the moon. It was apparent that young Zachary was an intrinsic thinker.

The latest book, “4,962,571” (June Books) indirectly offers the unsuspected parent an observation of a boy who does not want a reward, but instead the opportunity to count to a number in his heart. Young Zachary was given the opportunity by his parents to move throughout his community. With a messenger bag across his body, he explores with his dog. He touches and experiences life in order to achieve the intrinsic reward for himself. I was inspired by how self-directed Zachary is while continuously asking questions.

He displays self-esteem, confidence and concentration.

As an administrator of a Montessori program I believe the book, “4,962,571“will serve a purpose for the prospective parent touring my school. I believe it will increase enrollment by offering a kind suggestion to take action and go out and observe a Montessori classroom in your community.

Why? Simply put, Mr. Eissler has written a childrens book that shows a young man who is not looking for praise or reward, but instead his goal is to reach a number! As a Montessorian I know that this was through the act of asking questions, movement (touch and experience!) and he just wanted to do what my students call, “hard work!”

I leave you with this thought, “How high can you count?”

Shelley Bevilacqua is a single mom of two inspiring Montessori students: Giuseppe (age 5) and Giuliana (age 4).

She resides in Delray Beach, Florida where she adores her 21 students in her Blended 3-6 classroom.

Shelley holds an AMS (3-6) Montessori Certification, a Director Credential for the school and is also a Licensed Practical Nurse.

Her newest venture is www.athomemontessori.com


Grace and Courtesy

An important part of a child’s development is learning social etiquette. A child will naturally gravitate toward grace and courtesy practical life exercises so that he can feel more at ease around his classmates and in the world at large. These lessons provide the child with the necessary vocabulary and actions so that the child can become aware of and courteous toward those around him.

Grace and courtesy lessons are generally given in a group, so that the child can practice these social niceties with others and receive their positive responses. Visitors to Montessori classrooms are often surprised by the polite, friendly students within! 

Taking Care of the Environment

Practical life skills also encompass taking care of the environment, and exercises in this category include sweeping the floor, dusting, and mopping. Engaging in these activities not only promotes the development of motor skills and development, but it encourages children to be active helpers, respecting the space around them and the others who inhabit it. 

The child will at first naturally be drawn to these new learning experiences, and having mastered them will start to do them without being told as a form of exhibiting responsibility and independence. Any routine household activity can become a learning experience for your child, as you will see in the following exercises!


Children love to listen to and move with music! They engage their whole body in dance, and experience not only joy and fun, but also the development of sensory motor activities. A child aged three to six is in an extraordinary sensitive period for motor activities, as well as singing. Hearing the music comes first for the child, and a gradual understanding of rhythm and the movement of the body follows. After this, the child enters a period of melody readiness!

Music activities are best introduced in the morning, but before you introduce your child to actual music, you must introduce him or her to different rhythms. You can do this by running and walking exercises (step to the beat!) so that your child can develop a sense of rhythm. You can also train your child’s ear to detect different “pulses” in music. Demonstrate this by having your child feel his or her heartbeat after they have been sitting versus when they have been engaging in physical activity, such as jumping up and down. Explain to them, “There is a fast pulse and a slow pulse.”

After your child is comfortable with rhythm, it’s time to introduce music! The first music listened to should be very simple and child-friendly. The Montessori bells are great for learning how to sing—you can demonstrate different notes and pitches and how they combine to create a melody.

Depending on the melody, a child may feel excited, sad, happy, or more! Music evokes emotion in all of us, and children are no different. Invite your child to listen to the melody and then express his or her feelings and emotions to the music through art, developing their emotional and social sensitivity. This activity makes use of logical sequencing, such as creating a beginning, middle, and end to a story, and stimulates imagination through plot and character creation.

Children may also be interested in identifying what instruments they hear, and this lesson goes perfectly with a three-period lesson about instruments and musical symbols. My favorite language lesson is to teacher the children names of instruments and composers on picture cards after the child has had the opportunity to listen to the music. You can also introduce singing to your child by singing lessons. This is an excellent way get information to your child, especially the continents!


Dust, Sweep, Fold – Practical Life Skills

If we would but think of it, the carrying out of a practical life affords an abundance of exercise, and the gymnasium for perfecting one’s actions is the very environment in which he lives.
—Dr. Maria Montessori

Let’s take a look at “Practical Life” so that you can get a better understanding of how these subject areas can be implemented to best enhance learning through self-direction. Historically, this area is broken into two sections, the care of the child’s own person and the care of the environment. Under such a curriculum’s guidance, children are able to take an everyday task, such as putting on a jacket, and gain more from the experience than an adult ever would. This is because an adult may put on a jacket for a purpose that has an end, such as going outside to get the mail on a snowy day. However, a child fulfills a strong desire within to copy the adult doing the task for the sake of doing it. Children are natural mimics, and this is because they have a biological need to learn new things through experience.

Maria Montessori once said, “The first thing to realize about these exercises of practical life is that their aim is not a practical one. Emphasis should be laid not on the word ‘practical’ but the word life. Their aim… is to assist development”. Once the child has put on the jacket (often over and over again!), it may be time to zip up the jacket. Here, a practical life lesson called the “zipper frame” was developed for the Montessori classroom to practice this common step. It is a small wooden frame with two panels of fabric fastened in the middle by a zipper. What the child does not know is that by doing this practical life lesson he is not only learning how to dress himself, but is also developing hand/eye coordination, order, and independence. When the child completes the task, then he is rewarded with self-esteem. This confidence aids in the building of concentration, which in turn lengthens the attention span of the individual. Finally, the pincer grasp is developed, which indirectly strengthens the muscles of the hand in preparation for holding a pencil. Just the one seemingly simple exercise has many purposes, all of which build upon one another.

Montessori goes on to say, “…no other occupations which could be undertaken by the children at this stage (3-5) could be more important for their whole development—physical, mental, and moral—than these ‘exercises of practical life’ as they are called.” This occupation should not contain any type of pretend tools or stand-ins. Under the Montessori philosophy, you must always show the student the “real” object and work your way to the abstract. For example, when introducing language, you would show a student a real apple, and then a fake apple, and then a picture of an apple. This allows him or her to connect the word with the item and helps develop abstract thinking. As a further example, in the kitchen one can find a knife that is appropriate in size for a child and not blunt. Instead it would function and allow the child to grow in experience as a picture would not.

While activities such as the zipper frame or washing hands go toward care of themselves as a person, the children are also encouraged to care for the environment. They engage in such activities such as washing a chalkboard, sweeping, or dusting. The child will eventually come to recognize when such activities need to be done and will engage in them independently, developing not only a sensitivity to the environment around them but also working on their motor skills and coordination.