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  • Independent Work?

    Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed. — Maria Montessori I don't usually assign homework in my class, for many reasons. My main reason is that it's never been proven to be effective at the elementary level. More here: According to Dr. Maria Montessori, "work" is a task that is "freely chosen" and helps a child develop according to their needs at a particular time. I do like to assign Habits. Daily reading should be a HABIT, just like brushing your teeth, getting dressed, daily writing etc. If your child IS interested in doing more Math or other Montessori work at home, there are many "Montessori like" apps that are available for free on your Apple/android device. Many are not very good. However, here are two that I know have been developed by Montessori teachers and very closely mirror the experience children have in the classroom: Large Bead Frame (For +, -, X, and Division) Checkerboard (mainly for multiplication) Can't think of your own BIG numbers for problems? Math Aids is a free website that I use to create custom Math worksheets for my students in grades K - 12. Even if you don't have a home printer, you or your child could design a custom set of problems, take a screenshot and work at home.

  • Babycake's Book Stack

    I love Babycake's Bookstack. I first walked into the magical world on a bus about 6 years ago. She's been driving her magical bus full of literary treasures to Farmer's Markets in Minneapolis for at least that long. Back then, I think this was the only Black owned bookstore in the Twin Cities. (Unless you count Mind's Eye comics which has great single issues and graphic novels. At a time when I was looking for better representation in picture and chapter books, Babycake's owner, Zsame' was the answer. You will find MANY treasures in her bookmobile, including the I Am Every Good Thing ( which I bought from Babycakes). If you are not lucky enough to find her bookmobile at a book fair or Farmer's Market near you, please consider ordering from her website! They deliver! If you want to gift a book to a child or to my classroom, please consider purchasing a gift certificate. Resources: We Need Diverse Books I Am Every Good Thing

  • The Daily Three

    Daily schedule and expectations Our daily schedule: 7:30 Breakfast / Morning Meeting 8:00 Lessons and Morning Work Cycle 10:00 clean up / prep for recess & Snack 10:15 - 10:45 Recess 10:45 Read aloud / Snack 11:25 Lunch 12:00 - 12:35pm Final Work cycle 12:55 - 1:45 Specialist (Art, Gym, Music, Social Studies, STEM) 1:55 Dismissal to Buses, Discovery Club, and Parent Pickup Freedom and Responsibility School begins at 7:30am. By 8:00am students should be choosing work. In any Montessori classroom, students have the freedom to choose which work to start with, where to sit, and whom to work with. This is limited by the responsibility to be kind, stay on task, and actually work. So what do students work on ? Our Daily 3 1. Reading 2. Writing 3. Math Reading can take many forms. We have students reading chapters books at the 5th grade level and students who are working on letter sounds and phonics with the Rainbow boxes. And students everywhere in between. The cool thing about multiage and Montessori is that students are generally more comfortable with their peers being “lower” or “higher” than them in a given skill. I try to tell the students that everybody is searching for the best work that is neither too hard or too easy but “just right.” Writing is deeply connected to writing. In fact in the Montessori curriculum, writing is introduced BEFORE reading. See the link below for more. For first graders and those new to reading and writing, I emphasize “invented spelling” and “sounding it out.” If a student spells the “I like to write “ as I “ I like too rat” then I commend them for including all the sounds. The first goal of the emergent reader/writer is to include all the sounds. By the end of third grade we get more into “traditional” or proper spelling. My goal as a teacher is that every student sees themselves as an author with the power to create meaning on the page through a combination of words and pictures. If every budding author had to wait until “they spelled it write” then we would never get Mo Willems, Langston Hughes, Nikki Grimes, or Dav Pilkey! Not all adults nor all authors are excellent spellers! That’s what proofreaders and copy editors are for. Surprisingly enough, not every strong reader is a strong speller. Math works can take many forms as well. More on this is coming soon....

  • Where in the World Are we?

    Do you like to travel? Have you ever thought about just how MANY, DIFFERENT places there are in the world? Well, then perhaps you love Geography as much as Mr. Peter. Geo= World Graph= Write down y= study of Geo + Graph + y = The study of writing down the world! Here are some sites to help you research Geography: Ducksters is a great website for so many things! Mr nussbaum is a geography teacher just like me! ....and his website has much MORE to offer you! For Parents: Blank Maps are available for free from this and MANY other websites.

  • Animals of the Continents

    Are you WILD about animals? Here are some websites that can help you learn more! National Geographic or NAT GEO KIDS is a great website. Their magazine and website has been around for decades and is the best place to find facts and photos of your favorite animals. Enchanted Learning is a great place to start your research. You can use the link to the left to learn ALL about MAMMALS or scroll down to learn about birds , fish , reptiles , amphibians and much more! kiddle is a kids search engine. It's like having the entire internet but just for KIDS! Use the link to the left to learn about animals. Science Kids is fun website out of New Zealand that has a lot to explore! Sciencing is a great site recommended recommended by a student, E, and its search engine will lead you to many adventures. Parents: Do you want to help your child learn more at home? There are some great websites designed for homeschoolers or just parents looking for a project: Living Montessori Now has ideas for animal activities. The link to the left is to the same activity that we have in the Axolotl classroom in 2022. This website has lots of printables and downloads that I use in the classroom. Gift of Curiosity has many ideas for fun activities to do with your young child. Check here for ideas on animals, landforms, geography, and much more. Enchanted Learning , mentioned above, has many simple research activities for kids. Also, you can print out fact sheets, quizzes, and much more. Their subscription site has cleaner printouts but the free version linked above has plenty for the occasional rainy afternoon. Here are 8 more sites from Scholastic !

  • What do you want to learn today?

    House of Wisdom, Bagdad, Iraq. Here are some resources for your first research project: The following apps are already linked to your account at SPPS. pebblego EPIC Ducksters This is a helpful website for history, geography and more! Math: IXL will let you practice with 10 free problems per day. A Maths Dictionary for Kids is a good reference for vocabulary.

  • Fall Down 7, Get up 8 Help! I just purchased a domain name and I don't even know how to add a page or section to my blog! But, the awesome thing about resilience and a growth mindset is this becomes an awesome opportunity for finding a workaround. So here's my emerging list of blogs I want to read and follow: And here's what I have to say on the topic of... Mistakes I love mistakes. I welcome failures. The road to success is paved with both. #ThomasEdison. There are so many tails of inventors or inventions that started with mistakes. Ken Robinson, rest his soul, made a career out of pointing out how conformity and fear of failure can ruin creativity. And Miles Davis probably said it best.... There are no 'mistakes' it's really just about choices. Don't like your choice? Choose differently next time. I mean, "Lose Yourself" by Eminem is a catchy tune with a passionate message but I don't really believe in Once in a Lifetime chances. And if you're really motivates, I feel you make your opportunities! Luck = Opportunity meets Preparation. As I say in my as yet unpublished MG novel, " being in the right place at the right time is overrated. Try to hang out in the right place as often as possible, and eventually the right time comes." This is both a samurai principle and good Chess strategy.

  • Eat This, Book!

    It all started with pupusas. My kid is back at his Montessori preschool for what might be his last hoorah! He starts kindergarten at a Spanish Immersion school in the fall. For summer session, Cosmos Montessori, likes to do a theme for every week. ( By the way, if you're looking for a Montessori school where kids and teachers are speaking Spanish, your child is loved, and independence is encouraged, I HIGHLY recommend this school for your 3 - 6 year old kid.) The theme this week is cooking and food. They're making pupusas! I would love to see an around the world global cook book focusing just on baked goods. Samosa, burrito, quieres comer conmigo? Fry it in a pan, Eat some flan? Every culture's got a wrap! a donut, or a calzone! Let's explore, kids! The whole world is your home! But, until, I write that book, this week I'm looking for the TOP TEN BOOKS ABOUT COOKING WITH CHILDREN! I'll be looking for books from my local Minneapolis- St.Paul libraries and bookstores that feature Picture books Cooking Children Culture Community & Family No easy readers for me. And we have plenty of books on the market that center Whiteness. What else you got? Here are some of the blogs & sites I consulted in my search:

  • Book Review: Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter

    Do you love animals? Like, are you obsessed with them? I love this graphic novel so much because of it's simple beauty that hits home for so many children, especially girls, grades 1-5. I know so many kids obsessed with dogs, cats, horses, spiders, tigers, #marinebiology. There is something about young children that they are instinctively drawn to animals. But what if your really wanted a pet? and you really couldn't have one? Because, y'know #allergies That is the central problem that this #GraphicNovel tackles. What else do I like about this book? Maggie feels like the odd one out. She really just wants something or someone of her own. Her brothers have each other. What does Maggie have? At the start of the book, she's still searching for that. She has and Indian mom and a white dad. The book takes place in Sacramento, California. Why you (or your child) should read this: If your kid, like my niece, is already obsessed with animals and already has about 3 - 9,000 pets or a small zoo in your home, this is the book for you. There's also a lot here about friendship, identity, relationships, siblings. Ultimately, my favorite part of the storyline is that it tackles the topic of allergies and how they can really impact our lives in big day - to- day ways. It's a fun "tour" of all the pets that one could get as a child, but in the end, what kind of pet does Maggie get? #nospoliers here. I'll just say the final answer is a lot more interesting than just adopting a pet. The answer has a lot more to do with adopting an identity. And that's why I love this book. Still think #graphicnovels are mostly about #superheroes or #anime. Well, you're wrong. #manga , at least in Japan, has ALWAYS been a diverse medium. Manga has never been about just one thing. Just like any book can be about anything and for anyone, #graphicnovels or #manga can really be used to tell any story. And why are #graphicnovels so much better at storytelling than other mediums? Well, for that, you'll have to #tuneinlater , true believers, because that is a story for another time. #nocatchphraseyet.

  • Naru Hodo, ne? I lived in Japan from 1997 - 1999. I was about 23 at the time. Now, looking back , as a trained Montessorian, I know that age 21 - 24 is the final developmental cycle as observed by Dr. Maria Montessori and that the brain and the soul of the "child" is not yet fully formed. ' During this time, the young adult discovers their place within the world and asks herself “What do I have to give to the world?” ' Funny that. I know a lot of adults who are becoming parents, starting careers, making huge decisions before the age of 24. Should I be surprised that a lot of my peers got a divorce or headed over to graduate school around that age? No disrespect or harm intended. What I'm trying to say is that life is hard, complicated, and we should all give ourselves credit for not having ever figured it all out. But especially for those of y'all who haven't reached your 24th birthday yet. We're all works in progress. Twenty-four year olds? You're still in the midst of your (shitty) first draft. When I moved to Japan right after college, I learned so much but especially because I was so young. Just like age 0 - 6 is a sensitive period for learning language, I feel there must be something about 16 - 24 that makes it the idea time to learn about other cultures, the world, and your place in it. I learned ALL of my Japanese language skills through immersion. Before I lived in Japan, I Could not find Japan on a world map. knew nothing of the country other than "tokyo" "Knew" I was bad at languages because I couldn't get into AP Spanish. Most of the Japanese I learned, came from the people I happened to spend time with in the small town of Nanbu (town), Yamanashi (prefecture) , on the main island of Honshu. I spent time with mostly women because, let's face it, most of my friends and role models have been women since I was about the age of 10. It wasn't until much later that I found other males that weren't complete jerks. #feminism Japanese, like many languages, is heavily gendered. I've been told that much of my vocabulary is "onna poi" or "girlie" but I wonder what else my word choice says about the people I hung out with. "Naru hodo" is one of my favorite phrases. I never found it in a dictionary or a grammar book but someone I knew at the time must have said it a lot. In 1997 I translated it into my head to mean "learned thing" because Naru reminds me of the Japanese verb "to become" and hodo sounds like "koto" which means thing. Oh yeah, "learned thing" ! " Axolotl's are actually Amphibians? I never knew that. Learned Thing! Naru hodo, ne?" Like that . I say stuff like that A LOT. In both English in Japanese. Other phrases that I learned back then and STILL have never bothered to look up until today? "hiro konpai". The gym teacher at the Junior High where I taught translated it as "very tired" which I took to mean "exhausted." His English was about as good as my Japanese at the time. I wonder what this slang REALLY means?

  • More Than a Single Story

    As a cis gender White Jewish Man, I do not have to "fight" to find reassuring images of myself and who I could be. I have a LOT of privilege: Everyday is my holiday, Every literature is my literature. I want to write books that show children a vision of how the world really is and how the world could be. I've spoken with a lot of white authors who struggle with the concept of writing about other races. I used to struggle with this too. White people have done a lot of harm by writing about "People of Color" or, to put it another way, "People of the Global Majority". I think there was a time when the only children's books about PGM were from White people because other voices were being excluded. But then I drew inspiration from Shonda Rhimes, in her book, "Year of Yes." Now, I'm not going to write a book, being who I am, about a Black family and no one else. But I am going to write from my lived experience without blinders on. "I have a different word: normalizing. I’m normalizing TV. I am making TV look like the world looks. Women, people of color, LGBTQ people equal way more than 50% of the population." I don't just want to write about white boys. How boring would that be? And that story has already "over saturated" the market to say the least. But I do want to center my story in my own lived experience. So, for example, the current manuscript I'm working on has a main character who is Jewish (like his dad) and Japanese (like his mom). I know a few people who are bicultural or "mixed" and I've read some books about how to show that in children's literature. Now, " I have a Black friend" is no guarantee that I'm going to do it well. In fact, if anything, I can guarantee that systemic racism is the "air we breathe" and the "water we swim in." That's why I think test readers and good editors are indispensable. Let's also mention that I lived in a small town in Japan for 2 years in my twenties, a very impressionable age, and it marked me. Living abroad at a young age ruined me in the best possible way. I was forever shaken from the idea that my lived experience was the default. Note to humans on this planet: Especially if you're White, Male, "American" or somehow think you occupy the dominant culture. GET OUT THERE! There is no better education than living in a foreign country at a young age. Never have I felt more "American" than when I lived in a place that is not. So, in my books, I want to write from a place where I've lived but I also want to write characters that I've experienced. Why shouldn't my books also have characters who are Black, Latino, poor, disabled, neurodivergent, or anything else that I've never lived. To paraphrase Shonda, I'm normalizing MG books. ".... I’m normalizing TV. I am making TV look like the world looks...." So, first of all, I want to start NORMALIZING the term, PGM. I first heard about People of the Global Majority from Tiffany Jewell in her awesome book, This Book is Anti-Racist. I came across her book because she's a Montessori teacher like me. And her book is an exciting blueprint on how to normalize conversations about race in the elementary (and younger) classroom. (If you're interested in talking with children age 0 - 6 about race and other difficult conversations, may I also recommend woke kindergarten.) "I am embracing the term ‘people of the global majority’ (acronym: PGM) as a much more affirming and inclusive alternative. I did not invent this term. I only learned of it recently and I instantly fell in love with it. Well, actually, I want the term to be ‘global majority people’ as it is grammatically easier to say and write, but that’s an argument I’ll push for another day." more:

  • "Welcome to Here"

    I'm a Triple Threat I'm a teacher, writer, father, and all around student of life. I made most of my life goals when I was still rocking underoos. (source: Wikipedia) When I was about 7 years old, I decided that I was going to be a teacher, a writer, and a father. My goals haven't changed much since then. What does that say about me? (My mom decided, before I was born, that I was going to be a visual artist. She named me Peter Max. ) (Google him. He was pretty psychedelic, even for the 70's.) She was half right. Anyway, this is my first blog post and it's likely to be pretty rambling because I haven't done this (a.k.a blogging) for awhile. But I'm trying to get serious about a very important goal. I NEED to publish my first children's book in the next 2 years. Why in the next two years? I've been a teacher since the 1990's so that means: I'm super awesome I've been a teacher since Michael Jordan dominated the NBA I was alive for the birth of Hip Hop I'm "old" ( I prefer the term experienced ) This is not my first Clown Car In 2016, I finally became a dad. I'm glad I waited. Twenty something Peter was NOT the intellectual juggernaut nor the mild mannered zen master you see before you. So, I made it through the pandemic, I'm a teacher I'm a father I've performed at the Minnesota Fringe Festival (about being a father) but I have not YET published a book. I've been writing stories since I was in second grade. (Check back here in the next few months to see some unpublished excerpts from my first opus of series, Risk Man ! He's a secret agent, he has a car, and Spy Gadget... Beware!) This, my first blog under my own domain name will be devoted to following Intentions: Intentions: This is a place for people to share their best stories. I will chronicle my life and ideas as a Montessori Teacher. I will share my progress towards publishing my first Children's Book. I will offer insight into what it means to Parent with Care. Spoiler Alert: I'll be talking mainly about books, babies, the Big Bang and many other topics related to being a Triple Threat but other stuff is going to come up. I'm sure I'll get into the fact that I love video games, comic books, chess and that I speak 4 languages, have taught in 5 Universes ( 3 states and 2 other countries). Also, I live with depression and anxiety. I don't always "suffer" from it but I do live with it. The more I talk to adults (especially writers, artists, teachers, and performers) I'm finding it hard to find a normal adult who DOESN'T do the dance with some sort of mental illness, so I'm just gonna get that out front from the top. And for the 3 of you reading this who have never visited a therapist, taken prescription medication, nor dealt personally with mental health challenges.... We should talk. You may need to take a closer look at few things.

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