diy montessori using catalogs

montessori tools can be quite an investment,
but the good thing about many of them
— especially the practical life and sensorial exercises —
is that, using inexpensive supplies, you can make them yourself.

one of the things i like to do
is browse catalogs like the one from montessori services.
i may not buy anything,
but i’ll go through with a highlighter
and circle exercises i can easily put together myself
or books to check out from my local library.

while it can often be convenient to let someone else do the running around for you,
i decided to put together this lacing exercise using inexpensive supplies from my local craft store.
montessori services - lacing exercise

another example, the description of this book, “the story of salt”,
looked so interesting that i searched my local library for it.
montessori services - the story of salt
i found out why this book was a part of the montessori services catalog:
it was an entertaining and informative read, even for me.

i have purchased from montessori services before.
they have quality products and excellent customer service.
request their free catalog,
but when you browse it
keep in mind that you can not only use it to purchase tools to
prepare and enrich your homeschool environment,
but also use it make some things with your own two hands.

images courtesy of montessori services.

making fitness a fun habit

while the girls regularly play outside with neighborhood kids,
and we frequent our local park — weather permitting —
they also participate in swim classes and west african dance.
theMan suggested that we do calisthenics at home
as a way of helping me to improve my fitness quotient
with a positive side effect of creating a fun habit of fitness at home.
we shouldn’t have to go somewhere to be able to stay fit.
with the winter settling in, this make a lot of sense.

so on a day when there is no swim or african dance,
we use a house music station i found on pandora
to get our calisthenic groove on.
an added benefit is that everyone can participate;
at 18 months, even prayerGirl does her thing.

here’s our work-out schedule for you to use with your own in-house family work-out session.


  • standing stretches: reach up, down, right and left
  • neck and shoulder stretches
  • convex and concave torso stretches
  • heel raises
  • standing leg stretches: bend your right leg back and hold your ankle for 8 counts; bring your right knee to your chest and hold for 8 counts. same with left leg.
  • march in place, get those knees up!
  • jumping jacks: use your imagination for all types of variations


  • leg lifts while laying on back, alternating right and left legs
  • leg lifts while laying on side, alternating sides
  • sit-ups
  • side sit-ups, alternating sides
  • plank
  • biceps arm curls
  • triceps arm lifts
  • push ups
  • squats
  • lunges
  • mountain climber
  • burpee


  • roll down slowly to touch your toes
  • standing with legs open wide, alternate stretching to left and right
  • seated stretches with feet together, touching head to feet — if you can
  • seated stretches with legs out, stretching to middle, right and left
  • pretzel stretch

at the end we have a circle
and take turns dancing or doing whatever comes to mind,
be it capoeira, samba, west african dance, hip hop, belly dance, ballet
or whatever the groove brings out.

what do you do to keep your homeschoolers physically active?

getting down to the nitty gritty in november

all through november,
(yeah, i know it’s december already)
as the neighborhood trees changed kaleidoscopic colors
and finally made their solitary trips to the ground,
we’ve been getting back into the homeschool room on a regular basis,
a gradual change from our get-up-and-get-out modus operandi this past summer and into early autumn.

this november coincided with dhul-hijjah, the time of hajj.
we read several stories from my first quran storybook and tell me about hajj, both from goodword books.
we kept track of the hujjaj during their journey with our hajj maps from islamic bulletin boards.

theMan put on his ihram for the girls and told the a few his personal hajj stories.
we also made a model kaba from projects bricks, scrap black fabric, tape, gold paint, and a black stone.
the girls made tawaf and a pretend hajj in the living room with their dolls.

it’s such a blessing to be homeschooling.
let me tell you why:

i have the opportunity to witness radianceGirl exercise self discipline
when she voluntarily set a personal schedule and then sticks with it
without any encouragement or prodding from me.
she wakes up and reads a chapter or two from each of her books
— usually four —
and additionally reads a chapter or two each from her books after she makes her daily salat.
not too long ago, she told me she didn’t like to read.
now she devours books — in print and audio format — series after series.
another things she has taken up is journaling
and actually on a daily basis.
while i don’t correct her journal,
i do make mental notes on what we need to focus on in our language and grammar studies.

my oldest two are doing the book it program
and they manage to read about 10 chapter books or more each every month.
i don’t even count the picture books they go through, although i do keep a record.

i’ve been able to share my love of math and science with them
and hear them exclaim after finishing binomials or 4-digit multiplication
that “this is easy!” and “i love math!”
alHamdullilah, the montessori curriculum and tools have been helpful and effective in solidifying concepts and skills.

multiplication factors with the bead bars
making conclusions as a part of the scientific process
four-digit multiplication with bead frame

i’ve been witness to big sisters giving lessons to younger sisters,
even the baby, with patience and care.
for example, miracleGirl hadn’t been memorizing her phonetic alphabet,
so i resolved to let that go for a minute and focus on her beginning math skills.

writing tray with sandpaper letters
less than and greater than with number rods

a few months later, i resurrected some magnetic alphabets
that stick with the blue-consonants and red-vowels montessori theme
and stuck the “a”, “b” and “c” on the fridge.
i asked radianceGirl and mercyGirl to help me teach miracleGirl her letters.
so far we’ve gotten all the way through “o” with some great retention,
and they even use the montessori method,
first teaching her the letter sound (e.g. “this is ‘ah’.”, for the letter “a”),
then asking her to find a specific letter (e.g., “can you show me “ah”?),
and finally asking the sound of a specific letter (e.g., “what letter is this?”).
it gratifying to watch them take on that role, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day.

radianceGirl has also taken it upon herself to help miracleGirl
trace the sandpaper numbers and then write them in a writing tray,
in addition to reviewing arabic letters.
less work for me!

big sis teaches a lesson with sandpaper numbers

in addition, they are improving on the skill of interrupting me while i’m working on a lesson with their sister.

they’re back to swim classes two times a week.
i can see their aquatic confidence growing.
radianceGirl is fast;
mercyGirl is very proficient;
and miracleGirl is putting her whole head in the water!
a big change from sitting at the side of the pool this summer,
being satisfied with a couple of half-way-done head bobs.

they are also back to their weekend arabic classes
and loving it.
i guess they don’t realize yet that they are going to “school” on the weekend
when most folks are just chillin!

they are getting more comfortable with performing
in bintu’s homeschool african dance class.

so i’m giving an overall view
and rambling a bit
just to make the point
that it feels sooooo good to be homeschooling these three now.

i’m putting this all on record so i can encourage myself
when i have “one of those days”.