Life’s Three-Period Lesson

In the Montessori Three-Period Lesson, a child learns a new concept, then practices the concept, and finally shares their new knowledge.  I’ve been a Montessori guide for 12 years, a Montessori mom for eight, and a Montessori homeschooling parent for two.  During my “first period” I earned two AMI diplomas, a Master’s degree, and certifications in Positive Discipline and Orff Music.  During my “second period”, I honed my Montessori practice working with children and parents in schools and homes (including my own). I now find myself ready to embark on the “third period” of my journey: Sharing my hard-earned knowledge with others.

I’m up every morning at 5 A.M., coffee in hand, developing the new Mainly Montessori website. That’s where you’ll find my blog from now on, but you’ll also find The Montessori Homeschool Hub, an inspiring online membership community for homeschooling parents who want to understand and apply Montessori. I want to offer a clear roadmap that provides clarity and confidence for the homeschool journey.


I hope you’ll continue to follow my musings and experiences on my new website.  And if you’re a parent who’s interested in bringing Montessori into your home in simple yet powerful ways, then please join my waitlist so you can be the first to know when membership enrollment opens.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming this far with me; I look forward to the next phase of our journey.

6 - 12, Cosmic Education, Science

Worm Moon

Tomorrow we’ll have the first Supermoon of the year – the Worm Moon!  Do you know where the name comes from?  Here’s a short story I wrote (meant to be told orally).  I hope you can share it with your children, or at least enjoy its message.


Look up!  What do you notice?  Did you observe that the full moon is larger than usual?  We call it a Supermoon, and your eyes aren’t deceiving you… The moon IS larger than usual because it’s closer than usual, and that’s because the moon’s orbit around the Earth isn’t perfectly circular – it’s elliptical.

Every Supermoon has a special name, and today I want to tell you where this one’s name comes from.  Let’s go back five or even ten thousand years ago, to when the native people of this country lived in harmony with nature.  During Winter, the humans who lived between Lake Superior and New England in what is now the United States hunted, wore animal skins, made fires, and took shelter from the snow.  They waited patiently for Spring to come, but they didn’t have calendars like we do. Instead, they observed nature to know when the seasons were changing.

Every year, around this time, they noticed tiny, dark brown pellets on the cold, slowly-thawing ground.  These pellets – we call them castings – were a clue for them, a message from nature that warmer weather was ahead. When these castings appeared, so did something else: robins – grey birds with bright orange breast feathers.  The robins weren’t eating the castings, because castings is just a fancy word for poop! They were preying on the animals who left the castings. Can you guess which animals the birds were eating?

Yes, worms!  Earthworms! The appearance of worm castings told humans that warmer weather was on its way, because the ground was now soft enough for the worms to move through it.  The presence of worms also indicated that the land was almost ready for planting, since these animals do the important work of aerating the soil and their castings help plants absorb more nutrients. 

Earthworms came to signify the end of winter and the approach of the planting season, which meant fresh food and survival for another year.  And thus, this Supermoon became known as the Worm Moon.

Other human groups have given it different names, like Crow Moon, Crust Moon, and Sap Moon.  You can investigate the stories behind these names and let us know what you discover. But for now, when we look up at the Worm Moon, we can think back to those patient and resourceful people who didn’t need paper calendars, because they lived in harmony with the Earth.


6 - 12, Cosmic Education, Science

Story of Chemistry: Part I

I wrote this story a while back for the Upper Elementary group I inherited that hadn’t been exposed to chemistry.  I never got around to writing Part II but if you take on that challenge, let me know!


Pretty much all that we see or touch in our seemingly solid existence is made from an unimaginable number of tiny atoms, each a different type of element or building block. When you combine these atoms in different ways, they make up everything that we can see in the Universe.

Do you remember when we told the story of The Origin of the Universe? We talked about an enormous cloud of gases that swirled in Space. These particles started to come together as the Earth cooled. Some became solids, some turned into liquids, and some remained gases. The rain, the oceans, the rocks, and the air were all made from different combinations of elements, and later on, life also emerged from these same building blocks.

Humans have tried to understand elements since the dawn of recorded time. Copper, for example, has been used since at least 9000 BC. That’s more than 11,000 years ago! By the time of the Ancient Egyptians, around 5,000 years ago, seven metals had been discovered and were being used for everything from weapon-making to jewelry. The Egyptians had a strong connection between the metals, the cosmos, and their fertile land, and called this study Khem.

The ancient Chinese, around the same time period, thought that everything was made of five elements: water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. They used these ideas in their development of acupuncture. In India, they were also studying matter, and discovered how to use the color of fire to identify different types of metals.

When the Greeks conquered Egypt in 332BC, they became interested in the Egyptian theories of how matter was made. They turned the word Khem into Khemia , which became the Greek word for “Egypt.” Around that time, the Greek philosopher Aristotle decided that the building blocks of all matter should be called elements. According to him, there were five: earth, air, fire, water, and quintessence, which formed the heavens.


In the 7th century AD, Egypt was invaded by the Arabs, who added the prefix al- to Khemia. And thus, the science of alchemy was born. For centuries, Arab alchemists used what they knew about elements to try to discover a way to make a substance that would make humans immortal. They also wanted to turn ordinary metals – and other substances – into gold, the most valuable of metals.

When the Arabs invaded Spain, they brought their ideas of alchemy with them and kindled the curiosity of many scientific minds in the European continent. The search for a way to make gold, known as the “philosopher’s stone,” drove many scientists to try some very odd experiments indeed! A German alchemist, Hennig Brandt, tried boiling down urine, thinking he could find gold in the yellow liquid. What he discovered, quite by accident, was a new element: phosphorus!


Why was this so ground-breaking? Because phosphorus, rubbed the right way, would burst into fire (guide lights match). It went on to be used in the invention of matches. Brandt had proven, by accident, that substances commonly found in nature could be “turned” into something valuable. He hadn’t really turned urine into phosphorus; he’d just separated the phosphorus from all the other elements that combine to make urine.

Brandt’s discovery caused many alchemists to look around and wonder: What’s all of this made of? Have you ever wondered that, too? Think about air, for example. Humans have always felt air and they’ve seen its effects during hurricanes and tornadoes, but they never understood what it was.

In the late 1700’s, this all changed when an amateur British scientist named Joseph Priestly discovered several “new airs,” as he called them. Priestly wasn’t a scientist by trade; he was a teacher and writer. However, he loved to play around in his lab at home. One day, he poured acid on a powder, trapped the air it produced, and used it to to put out a flame. (guide performs “carbon dioxide extinguishes fire” experiment) He had discovered carbon dioxide, and later went on to discover eight other gases!

In 1767, Priestly lived next to a brewery – a place where they make beer. He noticed that over the vats where the beer was fermenting, there was a haze of carbon dioxide. He collected this gas, mixed it with drinking water, and invented carbonated water, which he called “windy water.” (guide opens bottle of carbonated water and serves to children)

Now, around that time, sailors in the British Navy were suffering from a deadly illness called scurvy. As you can imagine, a Navy full of sick or dead sailors can’t win any wars! Priestly thought that his windy water could be a cure for scurvy, so he wrote to the British Navy asking them to test his theory. The French Navy was also struggling with this malady, and Priestly’s potential secret remedy was stolen by a French spy! It made its way to the French Navy, who contacted one of France’s most intelligent scientists, a young man named Antoine Lavoisier.


It turned out that Priestly’s windy water, though refreshing, was useless against scurvy. However, it would help to transform alchemy into a serious science: chemistry. But that’s a story for another day…