Montessori Alliance

October/November 2011

October/November 2011 Newsletter pdf

October/November 2011

Hi Everyone and welcome to the October/November Newsletter.  This edition has been hard to put together because with going back to school & all that entails along with preparing for the seasonal highlight of Hallowe’en we’ve been hard pressed to pack all the information we’ve gathered into a realistically sized newsletter!

We’re sure you’re all well settled into the new school year and are eventually able to draw breath, but children never let you get too comfortable do they?  There’s always some new challenge just around the corner.

This issue follows a Hallowe’en theme…surprise, surprise!  We’ve got a lovely insight from an author of children’s craft & cookery books Sharon Bowers, who has kindly shared a couple of recipes with us.

With the Síolta standards still foremost in our minds we’ve given a brief synopsis of Standard 3 and some resources you may find useful as you implement it in your setting.

Our Facebook site has been red hot with loads of very generous people sharing their knowledge and skill. As usual we’ve included some of the discussions and links in this edition.  We’ve changed the format a bit so that it’ll be easier for you to click on what you’re interested in so let us know what you think.

We have a new section called ‘Stuff Every Early Years Practitioner Should Know’. We’re planning to include things you’re not taught but rather learn as you go along.  If you’d like to contribute please feel free to email us your ideas.

The Links section is growing (slowly) & we’d love to include a link to your setting so send it in.

We’ve also had a request from recent graduates regarding the availability of unpaid internships within Early Years Settings.  If you think you’d be interested in helping these new teachers out send us a quick email to

Regards, Lyn

Meet the Author

Meet the Author

Over the past couple of months we’ve added titles to our recommended books section of the site so we thought it was time that you actually got to meet author Sharon Bowers the person behind one of the most popular books for cooking with children, Ghoulish Goodies.

Sharon lives in New York, USA with her two boys and her husband.  As she has family in Ireland she crosses the Atlantic on a regular basis & has experienced both the Irish & America versions of Halloween. Like many parents she is inspired by her own children and their friends, watching, listening, learning and generally figuring out what makes them tick. Although as Sharon says ‘It’s tempting to put the children out of the kitchen so you can finish a recipe yourself, but the thing that motivated me when I wrote GHOULISH GOODIES, a Halloween cookbook for kids, is how much my boys enjoyed getting their fingers into a project and “helping” me. I realized it’s far more important to let them participate in what I’m doing and to let them make, usually, a bit more mess than I’d have made myself, than to end up with a row of prettily perfect goodies. Their crooked decorations and slightly lumpy biscuits represent time we spent talking and working together. At least, that’s my theory. When I look around at the flour on the floor and the icing sugar dusting every surface, sometimes I still think, “Oh NOO!” But then I look at how proud they are of what we made together and it’s well worth it.

These super-easy Halloween projects are a good way to get an autumn supper on the table AND spend some time with your kids. You make the shepherd’s pie and let the kids shape the ghosts. And once you melt the chocolate, leave them to it to make chocolate spiders. Will they be as perfect as if you’d done it yourself? Maybe not, but they won’t last long anyway. Happy Halloween!

Ghostly Shepherd’s Pie

Use your favourite shepherd’s pie recipe, but top it this way instead:

Sprinkle some shredded white cheese on top of the pie in its dish.

Spoon the mashed potatoes into a pastry bag fitted with a large,

round tip. If you don’t have a pastry bag, use a large ziplock plastic bag and cut 1.5 cm from the bottom corner of the bag. (If all this is too much fuss, just shape your ghosts with a teaspoon!)

Squeeze the mashed potatoes out of the pastry bag o

r plastic bag onto the top of the cheese, making cone-shaped, wide-bottomed ghosts.

Add 2 caraway seeds (or black sesame seeds) to each potato ghost for eyes.

Bake until the pie is bubbly and the ghosts are golden.

Chocolate Spiders


Melt 170 g of semisweet chocolate in the microwave on high for 1 minute.

Stir vigorously with a fork and let it melt for several moments. If you need more time, heat it in 10-second bursts and stir each time. Be careful not to overheat or it may seize up into a stiff mass.

Put 2 teacups full of crispy chow mein noodles in a large bowl and pour the chocolate over them.

Stir to coat the noodles well.

Use a dessertspoon to make large dollops of the chocolate covered noodles onto a lightly buttered baking sheet.

Press two red Smarties on top for eyes on each spider, and pull a few of the noodles out from each cluster to look like legs waving around!

Allow the chocolate to firm up for 30 minutes, or, if your kitchen is warm, put the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to chill the chocolate.


Newsletter Spotlight

Newsletter Spotlight

Aistear logo

Siolta Standard 3

Parents and Families provide an insight into the child’s life which can be utilised by the practitioner as follows

  • Practitioner should seek out opportunities for professional development and training in parental involvement.
  • Try to make parents feel welcome in the setting.
  • Learn about the different ethnic, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds of the children and know how to communicate with families from diverse backgrounds.
  • Facilitate parents’ work schedules when creating parental involvement opportunities.
  • Keep parents informed of their child’s performance and setting activities, by means of meetings, phone calls, notes, email, text etc.
  • Provide opportunities for parents to visit the setting observe activities and provide feedback.
  • Invite and encourage parents to participate on relevant committees.
  • Appreciate parents’ expert knowledge of their child’s development and learning.
  • Integrate parents’ knowledge and input into the planning and assessment of children’s learning and development.
  • Support parents in understanding their child’s learning and development.
  • Involve parents in the compilation of polices for the setting.
  • Ensure that parents have read and understood policies and procedures.
  • Ensure policy is translated into practice by using a clear documented Plan of Action.
  • Parents need to encourage children to participate and learn, engage with practitioners, volunteer to participate in setting activities.

Source: Síolta Handbook

Other Resources you may find useful

Barnardos have a multitude of publications that are available freely to the public and one that sheds light on how the childcare practitioner can involve parents is ‘Parental Involvement – A Handbook for Childcare Providers’

The Pathways to Parental Leadership project created by the Immigrant Council of Ireland, aims to foster migrant parents’ involvement in the school lives of their children. The overall objective of the project is to improve the quality of the education of migrant children and ultimately to strengthen the voice of migrants in the community. The toolkit is being aimed at schools and gives them advice on how to encourage parental involvement and meet the needs of a diverse society.



Topics discussed on our Facebook Page

Lots of great tips, advice and ideas were shared by our Facebook followers & as usually we’ve gathered a couple of them for you to experience too.  For this issue we’ve decided to organise this section into topic listings and hopefully this will make it easier for you to find something that’s of use to you.  Like a lot of things in the classroom some of the links and ideas could fit into several topic listings but we’ve tried to think about when and how you’d use them and have slotted them into where we think they’d fit.

Art & Craft featured enormously throughout September & October, with many contributors using cheap & readily available materials.

Red Ted Art has a clever take on the Jack O’ Lantern using satsumas; the idea is easy, cheap, you can make lots of them and you get to eat the insides!

Kinder Art has a plethora of seasonal art & craft ideas.  Each picture on the site links to detailed instructions on how to make or deliver the idea.

Play Resource shows how to use the indispensible black bin bag to make a witches’ familiar.

Make and Takes use leaves to make Leaf People Finger Puppets.

Craft Hands Pottery Studio provides a mobile service and can come to you! Susan covers the areas of East Cork, West Cork, parts of Kerry and Waterford.

Are you brave enough to try and make your own Porridge Oats Play Dough? If you want to give it a go have a look at The Imagination Tree.  And as we’re keeping it seasonal, why not try this recipe for Pumpkin Pie Play Dough from Moments of Mommyhood.

How many of you use pastels in your setting? If you think about it they’re a great medium for children because they just have to be rubbed and mixed up.  Have a look at Rockabye Butterfly for a beautiful pastel picture.

Making your own paint sounds tricky but Leeanne from Kreative Activities it’s well within our capabilities..have a try and let us know how you get on.  The Imagination Tree have included a link to a recipe that’s made without soap and is biodegradable!

Homemade Materials – We’re all trying to save money and although new materials in catalogues look beautiful we just can’t afford them.  We’ve had to become very inventive and use actually scour 2€ shops to source the raw products which we can turn into meaningful exercises for our children.  But the great thing is that we’re not alone! Many teachers & parents all over the world have tightened their purse strings and shared their creative ideas.

As we’ve been busy making new language material we decided to share the master sheet we created. We also added our own ideas about a simple polishing exercise.

Kids Activities have created a ‘play sight word ball’ which they use with their older children.

The Guardian have a fantastic photo section and if you register with them (free) you can clip the pictures ad save them to a folder to use later when making materials. The latest selection is called The Sea and contains some stunning pictures.

Teach Preschool shared their idea for promoting fine hand movement and writing skills by using Paint & Write Boards.

Setting a place at table is something Living Montessori Now says is a practical skill that can give children confidence and independence. Their Pumpkin inspired practical life exercises are a great way to extend and encourage children to continue developing their fine motor movements

Sonia Cole was very busy and sent us wonderful pictures of the lacing, sorting, counting and discovery bottles she created.

She also posted a link to Nature Detectives where she found great printables for all the seasons

Fatima Valiallah Bhyat posted a link to fabulous free photos on flickr that can be used to make 3 part cards.  She has already made the life cycle of the butterfly and was using it in her classroom.

Waterbeads were something we’d never heard before but they look like great fun & can be used to show science, or simply as a transferring exercise.  Home Learning from Birth has great pictures of children using these, so have a look and get a bit of inspiration. There are available from Amazon or from Waterbeads where you’ll find more information about them.

Play – According to the Growing up in Ireland survey, ‘traditional stereotypes of boys playing football and girls wearing princess dresses are as ingrained as ever’ Irish Times 24/9/11. Although looking at the feedback we got from this post you generally disagree.  The qualitative report makes interesting reading and gives a fantastic insight into the lives of 9 year olds.

Food – Growing your own food is in fashion and building your own knowledge about what you can do with the fresh produce from your garden is always a good thing.

If you’re looking for a seasonal activity to do with your children then you can’t get a more autumnal activity than jam making.  Have a look at our blog to find a step by step guide that’ll have you and the children in your setting making jam in no time.

GRUBZ UP! Set in an allotment, groups of young Irish children have fun showing how to make tasty and wholesome meals using fruit and vegetables they have grown themselves. ‘GRUBZ UP!’ actively shows and encourages children how to grow, prepare and eat healthy homemade food.

Policy – We all need to keep up to date with changes in Policy and find ways to bring them into our practice.

Children First Guidelines 2011 have been launched and whilst the full book is available to download from the HSE site you can click here to see the Key Messages.

Regulation 5 of the Childcare Act has undergone a few changes take a look at this handy PowerPoint presentation about observations and Regulation 5 from Galway Childcare Committee.

Unusual Preschools – Always on the lookout for the weird and wonderful we stumbled across the Ringaround Treehouse Kindergarden in Japan.

Green Schools – Take a look at the Co-operative website which has plenty of ideas to encourage children to think about how they use natural resources.  Unfortunately to access the full site you have to be within the UK but there are some free resources you can download.

Information for Parents – Communicating with parents and letting them know what their child is doing and how you expect them to progress throughout the year is important.  Parents are experts on their own children, they bring with them knowledge of their children that they alone possess.  Similarly you have expert knowledge of their child at school.  You expect parents to share their knowledge with you so why not reciprocate.

American Montessori Society produced a great video ‘Nurturing the Love of Learning’ which you may find useful to share with the parents of children in your setting.

Back to the Start is a short film which depicts the life of a farmer as he slowly turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before seeing the errors of his ways and opting for a more sustainable future. Both the film and the soundtrack were commissioned by Chipotle to emphasize the importance of developing a sustainable food system.

Books & Reading – We all love books and I think we love them even more than the children do.

The Little Big Book Club have lots of activity pages and lessons to complement popular book titles.

Flannel Stories were something we hadn’t heard of before but Leeanne from Kreative Activities showed us what could be done. Leenne also included a link to her blog showing how she made props for songs and finger plays.

Fun Felt produced a video which is really entertaining & will show you how to use flannel books to bring the story to life for the child.

Health – Coughs, Colds, Chickenpox, Measles..the list goes on and on. Have a look at this handy PDF from the Health Protection Agency in the UK for guidance on infection control in schools.


Cara Craft Supplies

Bakerross – great unusual arts & craft supplies

JK Art & Craft Supplies – see their Facebook site for ordering information.

Science – science is all around us so try and use everyday objects to highlight it in the classroom. Why not try this simple experiment with water from Not Just Cute.

Useful Stuff

Stuff Every Early Years Practitioner Should Know

So you’ve made your beautiful materials and are hunting high and low for a suitable box to house them and display on your shelf.  You search through old Christmas present boxes…those who know you well know that you prize the box nearly as high as the gift it contains.  At last you find a suitable box, carefully put your newly created material inside and place it proudly on the shelf.  A week later you decide to extend the material by adding another box in the same colour. You hunt high and low but can’t find a box to match the one you’ve already got on the shelf; they’re all either a different size, a different shade or a completely different colour!  Sound familiar?  If so then today is the start of a new era for you & your setting.  Follow the instructions below and you’ll never…well nearly never…have to search for a box again!

Most of the boxes we need for the language materials have a base of roughly 6.8cm and a lid of 7cm.  The rule of thumb is to multiply the size of the base by 3, so in this case if the base is 6.8cm then your sheet of card needs to be 20.5cm x 20.5cm.  The lid which is 7cm needs to be made of card measuring 21cm x 21cm which is conveniently the width of an A4 sheet but unfortunately not the length.  The box when completed doesn’t need to be glued but if you want extra security then by all means glue down the inside flaps.

Make & Do – Box

Songs Language Materials Games
Recommended Books Email Links 40 Ideas for Autumn

Web design at 100 Paces

©2011 Montessori Alliance. Drogheda, Co. Louth.

Telephone 041 9844745 or click here to email us