Skip to main content

Montessori Shape Work, by Bobby and June George, illustrated by Alyssa Nassner

Montessori Shape Work by Bobby and June George is yet another great book in their series of educational books as well as another superb book from AbramsAppleseed, an imprint dedicated to instilling a love of books in babies and toddlers by publishing books that will "foster development of its young readers and engage them and their adults in artful, beautifully conceived books." (For reviews of other AbramsAppleseed books, click here.) I reviewed the first two books in this series, Letter Work and Number Work, last year. Two of my three kids attended Montessori preschools and, especially after reading Wild Boy : The Real Life Savage of Aveyron and learning how the educational practices first developed in the early 1800s influenced Maria Montessori over one hundred years later, I have a growing appreciation for her methods.

As with Letter Work and Number Work, the Georges begin their book with a letter to parents describing the Montessori Method, which also clues you in as to how to get the most out of the book you may be about to put in your child's hands. With Montessori Shape Work by explaining that the focus is on the concrete over the abstract when teaching something new. Shape work should begin with tracing the shapes to understand the similarities and differences between, in this case, a triangle. To accommodate this, Montessori Shape Work has cut outs that allow your child to trace the shape, letter or number. Next, the shape is presented as part of real world object, like a roof, in the case of the triangle. Finally, the child experiences the shape along with its proper name. It sounds like a lot of steps to get to that moment, but when you think about it, a triangle or the letter "X" or the number "5" is a completely abstract thing to all children at some point. Circling around it while introducing it feels a bit more empathetic and intuitive and, as the George's assure parents, helps children to acquire "invaluable  spatial and mathematical skills, the Montessori way." Once again, Alyssa Nassner illustrates with a palette that is muted but pleasing, her images immediately recognizable but elegant.

                                             Letter Work and Number Work


Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…