Montessori at Home: Brainy Kit Review

Montessori at Home

Montessori at Home

A little while back, I got an email from Viktoria Altman, President of Brainy Kit. She asked if I’d be interested in receiving a complimentary kit of Montessori materials and lesson plans.

YES! Would I ever!!  I’ve only had two blogger offers that I was this excited about: Brainy Kit and Jamberry Nails. (Look for a Jamberry post soon.)

Now I know you’re wondering what in the world I’m talking about. Well, Montessori is a hands on method of preschool that I have always been intrigued by. To learn more about Montessori methods, read this:

What the Brainy Kit does is bring those Montessori materials into the home. It makes this method more attainable for the average family, for those who may not be able to afford to send their child to a Montessori School.

I received Brainy Kit #1: the Polar Kit. We are LOVING it.

Each item in the kit has provided DAYS of fun, not just one lesson of fun.

Here’s what came in the kit:

Brainy Kit #1: WE LOVED this!!!

1. A book of seven detailed lesson plans: Each lesson plan has tons of activity suggestions.

2. A Bag of miniature animal replicas, Eskimos, and an igloo

3. pretend snow

4. Amazing Arctic Animals book

5. a huge sheet of stickers

6. a glue stick

7. a pre-cut-out walrus craft

8. laminated animal cards

9. laminated Polar Animal learning chart

10. colorful Penguin puzzle

11. jigsaw puzzle


Daniel, JD, and Caleb have all enjoyed this penguin puzzle. I left it out on the coffee table after preschool time, and it saw lots of play time for days, and then JD hid all the pieces…..and well, I still haven’t found them all.

Daniel, learning about the North and South Poles.

I would have never thought to stop and teach Daniel about the Poles. Poor third kid….but it was in the lesson plan, so I got out the globe and did some explaining. 🙂

Another idea behind the Brainy Kit is that it will help children transition from the home environment to the school environment.

sorting the deck of laminated arctic animals and North Pole/South Pole cards Such a fun learning tool!


You can just see the wheels turning in his little head.

hard at work

It’s blurry, but I love the way this laminated mat details which animals live at which Poles, and which ones inhabit both.

This book of beautiful pictures and info comes in the kit too! Loved it.

This book of beautiful pictures and info comes in the kit too! Loved it.

Everything in the kit is so useful! This is a book we will keep in our library and reference for years. It’s a great read-aloud.

preschool polar lesson

This was by far the most popular item in the kit: tiny animals and fake snow. JD joined Daniel for this one. He just couldn’t resist. The great thing about this activity is that it needs very little help from Mom. They played with this for an hour the first day, an hour the second day, and believe it or not, it took them 3 or 4 days before they finally destroyed all of the snow.

I was able to teach the big boys their grammar lessons while the littles played with this. As you can imagine, I was thrilled!!
montessori learning

It had a walrus, a killer whale,  a beluga whale, Eskimos, an igloo, a wolf, and a polar bear. JD carried that walrus around ALLLLLLL day.

Later on, I whipped out the old Polar Bear documentary, and all four boys watched it, while JD clutched his toy walrus.

polar animal lesson

Adding ice to the polar scene provided even more fun!

The lesson suggested adding a little water or ice to the scene. The boys LOVED dragging ice cubes around in their snow. It made the fake snow a little fluffier too, just like the way real snow changes when it’s wet.

After a while, Daniel asked me, “Me have some juice, Mommy?”

I don’t remember what I said, but Daniel added, “Me thirsty from eating that snow.”

haaaaahahahaha  Well, of course, he ate it, really!

That was all just from last week. I haven’t even gotten to the walrus craft, the stickers, or the jigsaw puzzle yet!

I am giving this brainy kit a billion thumbs up. Huge hit here!

Anyone with a 2-6 year old child should definitely sign up for these kits!

Here’s the link to learn more or sign up. :


montessori at home


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12 Things I’ve Learned from Home Schooling

12 Things I learned

We have officially made it through our very first QUARTER of home-schooling!!!  To me, this is the biggest deal since accomplishing the cross-country move. Oy. What a year!

So here we go……12 things I want to remember from our FIRST quarter of 2nd grade, 3rd grade, and Preschool here at Pacific Christian Academy:

1. It’s really all about me.

No, you read that right. It is almost always the case that how well THEIR day goes depends very much on ME. If I’m in high-strung, sleep deprived, easily-alarmed, impatient April mode, no one will feel happy, successful, or productive. Our hardest week was our first week, as I was busting at the seams from the stress.

When I am chill, they are more chill. Every day, I just have to give it to God. I don’t have the calm personality that I need, to have patience with squirmy, fun-loving, Caleb or Joshua when he’s having an attitude, BUT God does. I have come to the end of myself here. I am in over my head, and I just have to depend on God to give me the resources and patience to teach and manage four little boys….

because a whole lot of the time, our house looks like this:

or this…..

And you know the last thing that they want to hear is….. “Everyone come to the school room!”

2. I need a bell.

3. Clothing really is optional, and that’s okay. Yes, it is. We are at home.

Boys. They are who they are.

4. Throwing them a few bones during the day, to break up the non-fun school aspect of it all, goes a long, long way.

My boys LOOOOOOOVE art, so paint day was a huge hit. It was messy too. Boys love messy. Messy activity = great activity.

That’s Chaos, of Skylanders, and yes, it is the creepiest thing any of my children have ever painted. He also did this one:

Don’t worry. Joshua is a very happy almost-nine-year-old. It’s just that boy art typically looks nothing at all like anything I would ever do myself.

I gave JD vanilla pudding to “paint” with, during this activity. Then I took him, touching as little of him as possible, and carried him upstairs, and gave him a bath.


I only recently discovered the power of “fun sheets”. I include this into their day now, and they love it. Any work sheet that includes something from a lesson in the form of word searches, connect-the-dots, coloring, or holidays is considered fun!

I’ve found great stuff on several websites, to include:

the Classical Conversations connected website

Google! For example, I just google “Kentucky dot to dot” and bam! Instant fun sheet. I make them label the capital, and I can’t tell you what a hit this has been!

Target! In the front of the store, I found a Halloween activity book, it included math problems written on ghosts, word searches, and stuff like that. They loved it.

6. Latin Game:  Best idea I’ve had in a while!

This provided days of Latin review work. First, I went to this website and printed out leaves:…abcteach.jpg

She has cut-outs of all different kinds, for different seasons and themes!!

Then I wrote Latin words and English definitions on the leaves:

Then I had the boys color them. I made like 10 sheets of these, each with different Latin words and definitions.

This was a big hit. After each boy colored a sheet, I put them through my new thermal laminator–so excited about this thing—and then I made the boys cut the leaves out.

Once all the leaves were cut out, I spread them out, and this is a Latin learning center. They just match the Latin word leaves to their definition leaves. We did this today, and I gotta say, they are getting really great at Latin!

7. Rewards, Rewards, Rewards

We have a treasure box. We hand out award certificates. We celebrate success! The harder someone had to work for a success (like Caleb and spelling tests), the more we celebrate! Kids are motivated by praise. They really are. I remember one time, several years ago, when Joshua was in K4, and he worked ahead of where I had instructed him, I said, “Joshua, no, no, no! That’s not how you are supposed to do that. Why did you do that? You weren’t even supposed to do that yet.”

My poor children. I am a perfectionist when it comes to academics.

Joshua, nearly in tears, said, “I just wanted to make you all excited!”

Bam! It felt like an arrow to the heart. I apologized profusely, and I finally understood. It was a great reminder. Children have young, young, young, tender, tender hearts, and they just love feeling like they’ve done something great.

sooooo I learned that:

8. Words of praise go way further than all the punishments I can dream up.

However, when kiddos are disobedient or disrespectful, there does have to be consequences. I have definitely had to punish boys for that this year too.

But when I set the tone of the day with positivity and have activities planned in advance, the kids are better behaved. It really goes back to that old phrase, we all love or hate, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”  😉

9. Preschool counts.

I treated this like an after-thought at the beginning. “I’m really schooling the big boys. I’ll just throw a few fun sheets at Daniel, and give the baby some toys…”


An uninvolved toddler + a bored preschooler = no school for anybody. They will take over the school, easy as pie.

Planning activities for this guy is of the UTMOST importance. Thank you, Aunt Amy, for this little wipe-off book. This has saved us many days, and he can now trace his entire alphabet. I was blown away. I didn’t realize he was ready to do that!

Thankfully, this one still sleeps through most of the real teaching hours.  🙂  Thank you, JD. Thank you, Lord!

10. We should really get out more.

I did drop one glass ball this quarter: signing the boys up for outside activities. We are isolated. Thankfully, there are enough of us that we are not bored or lonely. However, I do feel like we should be a little more connected to our community. How can you contribute to society, if you never even visit it?

11. My boys are definitely smarter than I realized.

I think their problem areas in school last year (Joshua in math, and Caleb in reading) had a lot more to do with their personalities than their brains. Joshua had to learn how to pay attention. Caleb needed motivation, confidence, and maturity. I can’t give him maturity, but I’m doing what I can for motivation and confidence.

For a first year CC student, I feel like Joshua is on FIRE. He is soaking his lessons up like a sponge. Just ask him the capital of any state, east of the Mississippi. He is a history/geography super star.

Caleb is a science and Latin fan. He actually helps Joshua through the science questions, and he beat his older brother on their science test this week. Best of all, he’s reading like an average 2nd grader now, so I am just as pleased as punch.

12. Believe it or not, we are actually having a lot of fun with this!

And for the moments when I have had all the “fun” I can take……Alan comes home, and I run away to the beach! 🙂 My happy place!

Yes, it’s overwhelming sometimes, but with a little elbow grease, and a whole lot of prayer, this is definitely doable.

Actually, I could think of a lot more than 12 lessons….maybe I’ll write another of these soon!

Roll Tide, ya’ll!  This weekend the Tide is going to stage a come back. Wait and see!  Have a great one!


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