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Don't Miss Our Primary Workshop

On the weekend of October 10-12, Ginni Sackett, MNW Director of Primary Training, will be presenting a workshop entitled: Self-Discipline and Joyful Learning: Normalization in the 21st Century Montessori Children's House at Montessori Northwest. We asked her a few questions about what participants can expect from the weekend:                                                                                                        

What excites you about the workshop?

I am most excited about the opportunity to work with a great group of dedicated Montessori practitioners in a focused, interactive, and engaging format; empowering each participant to take their work with children to new levels of success.   

Describe the workshop's format?

There will be various types of participant engagement, including: power point presentations, demonstrations, small group breakouts with specific tasks, full group de-briefing sessions, targeted readings, and exploring participant scenarios as the basis for the creative application of Montessori principles in challenging circumstances. 

What will participants gain from attending the workshop?

Participants will leave with practical, creative strategies based in Montessori principles to support positive, pro-social behaviors and intellectual achievement in young children, and increased understanding of how teachers use conditions in the environment to transform challenges into successes and guide children to achieve the developmental purposes of all the Montessori materials.

Register now! Space is filling up for this workshop. Early Bird rates available through Thursday, September 25. Registration deadline is Wednesday, October 8. Click here for all the details and to register.

Posted on September 17, 2014 and filed under From our Trainers, Primary, Workshops.

Specimens in the Elementary Environment

From her recent post on EAA-Talk, Elise Huneke-Stone, Director of Elementary Training at Montessori Northwest, shares her thoughts on how to keep the teacher's and children's specimens and sharing from overwhelming the prepared environment. 

In the elementary practice classroom at the training center, I've instituted a practice borrowed from my tenure in the classroom for displaying specimens. In each 'area,' (math, history, geometry, language, etc.) there is a large tray on the top of a shelf. I use identical big rattan serving trays. That's the "sharing tray" where the children or I can display specimens or artifacts or things brought from home or even their work as relates to that aspect of Cosmic Education. I keep a general supply of small baskets and book stands to group or display things. Children (and students in the training) are encouraged to write a little display card and/or share with the group in a gathering.  

There are two trays for biology (one for botany, one for zoology) because that's where the most specimens showed up! Additionally, I have a little extra biology display space that's teacher-managed: A series of 5-6 crocheted doilies across the top of the biology shelves, each housing one particular specimen or small collection (e.g., 3 sand dollars). Most of these specimens rotate, either seasonally or more often.  

This way of preparing the environment has had so many benefits: reducing clutter, increasing order, controlling my own collector impulses, keeping things fresh for the children through rotation of objects, making it easier for the children to clean and put things back, etc. There was the added benefit of the grace and courtesy that was possible when the children were involved. The child who brought the artifact or specimen shared with the group how it was to be treated, handled, observed, etc. Additionally, the rule was that if the tray was full and you wanted to bring something new, you had to make space for your object by politely informing someone else that it was time for their object to go home. The process became entirely managed by the children.  

One other thought: My favorite book as a child was Little Men by Louisa May Alcott. It's the story of Jo from Little Women all grown up and running a boarding school for boys (and a few girls). In it there's a description of the "natural history museum" that the children built in an old barn, with a glass-doored curio cabinet with many drawers for the housing and display of their treasures. I'm still searching for that cabinet, decades later.  

There is nothing like a single isolated rock, shell, branch, feather, leaf, or bone to spark the imagination of the elementary children...

Warm regards,

Get more great insights from Elise by attending our upcoming Elementary Workshop: Stories & Self-Construction, October 10-12. Click here to learn more and sign up.

Posted on September 15, 2014 and filed under Elementary, From our Trainers, Materials.

Explore Our Library

Did you know that Montessori Northwest has built one of the largest Montessori libraries in the world? Did you also know that it's open to the public? You can search through over 900 titles, including:

- Books that are no longer in print or accessible. Some, especially a few foreign language titles (Spanish and Italian), can only be found elsewhere at the Library of Congress or in Italy.

- Rare translations, like the Kalakshetra versions, which you cannot find on Amazon. In fact, after searching local library websites, we discovered that most don’t even have the Clio Series or the Montessori-Pierson versions in their holdings. We are the keepers of the knowledge!

- Many practical texts for parents, from how to set up the home environment to sensory integration to dyslexia. We also have the latest psychological, sociological, and neuroscience literature.

- A huge repository of periodicals, including: the NAEYC Journal, the NAMTA Journal, AMI Communications, EAA Newsletters, and Forza Vitale! Our AMI & NAMTA periodicals go all the way back to the 60’s! 

- A special Assistants to Infancy section in honor of and memory of Karin Salzmann (1934-2013), with books from her own library and donated by her family.

The MNW library is open to teachers, students, parents, and the general public, from 8am-4pm, Monday through Friday. Most books can be checked out for up to three weeks. If you have any questions about our library or are interested in donating books, please contact us at


Posted on September 10, 2014 and filed under From MNW Staff, Resources.

Simple Uplift for Math Memorization Tables

Here’s a brief how-to from Primary Course Assistant, Corinne Stastny, for creating sturdy petite folders for Memorization tables, that are ready to be used, or perhaps set aside for a child to finish another day. Nothing like adding a little pizzazz to this otherwise rather staid looking area of the Casa!

Materials: Double stick tape, practice paper, final paper (card stock works well and/or something with a different color on front and back), color printer, and a corner rounder, if you like.

1) Practice with some simple paper first so you can create a template that works well for your materials. Basically, I use a template similar to this one: envelope. Play with the dimensions a little so it will hold a full set of papers nicely (not too tight/narrow). I like to have a high enough back that the papers are supported and don’t curl.

2) Print the cover with the words if you like and cut to size.

3) When ready, cut out your shape from your good paper. I like double stick tape to secure everything. And also delight in using the crafty corner-rounding tool MNW’s buddy Sally C. brought back from Japan.


4) As a final touch that ensures durability, laminate the whole thing when you’re done. Then, use an exacto knife to basically surgically reopen the mouth of the packet (see photo right). Many thanks to Shannon W. for this tip! When using laminate, trim close, but not too close to the edge of the paper. Slightly round the corners as these can be quite sharp.

Looking for ways to enrich your Elementary environment? Check this out: Elementary Material Making Workshop with Gloria.

Posted on September 9, 2014 and filed under From MNW Staff, Primary, Resources, Materials.

Welcome Students of Primary Course 39

Our academic year students convened for their first day on Tuesday Sept. 2. So far, we’ve had a great time getting to know each other and enjoying this time “at the beginning”. This year’s students represent an eclectic group – with a variety of academic backgrounds and personal interests united by their emergent passion for Montessori education. They are a well-traveled group, and a number arrived here from outside North America. For balance, three are actually native Oregonians. During this first week, we are smiling our way through the intricacies of orientation, exploring the joys of collaborative learning, and learning our first songs; all while plunging directly into the wonders of Human Tendencies and stages of development as well as identifying the elements of a positive learning environment for adults. It is indeed “a good place to be” – here at the start of a great journey together!

Click here to learn more about our Primary Training Course.


Posted on September 5, 2014 .

Public School Standards for the Elementary Classroom


As elementary guides know, part of our job in the classroom is to help the children balance freedom to choose their work with responsibility for choosing wisely, and one of the tools we have at our disposal is the local School Standards. We are obliged to provide these standards for the children to use, but any guide who has taken a look at recent iterations of these standards will realize that they require a great deal of modification before they can be understood and used by the children. In fact, my experience is that each iteration of standards is longer, more specific, and more difficult for the children to understand!

In order to meet this need in my own classroom, I worked hard this spring to adapt my local standards into a form that the children can use. As it would be silly to ask every guide to duplicate this work, they are now publicly available at The Montessori Gardener. These documents are based on the school standards in Washington state, but my hope is that guides will find them easy to adapt to their local standards. Use them well!

Alexa Mater is a mathematician and the elementary guide at The Eastside Montessori School in Bellevue, Washington. She is a native of Portland, OR, and a former Upper Elementary student of MNW’s own Elise Huneke-Stone.

Click here to learn about our Elementary Training course.

Posted on September 3, 2014 .

Elementary Material Making with Gloria

If you have ever admired a teacher-made material in MNW's Elementary model environment, then you’ve probably been admiring Gloria’s work. Gloria Singh, having been a guide at both the Elementary and Toddler levels, has had lots of experience making beautiful materials for her classrooms. By providing time & space to focus on material making, we want to help you make your classroom even more beautiful.

In this first workshop, Gloria will be offering her expertise with the Body Functions of Vertebrates material, also known as the 5 Classes of Vertebrate nomenclature. Gloria will have all the materials prepared & printed; all you have to do is show up! When our time is done, you’ll walk away with a brand new material, ready to be laminated! 

Connect with other guides, share tips you’ve learned, and have fun while working to elevate your classroom community. All skill levels are welcome from pros to first-year teachers. Let’s make something together!

When:  Saturday, September 27, 2014  (registration closes 9/19)
Where:  Montessori Northwest 622 SE Grand Ave, Portland, OR
Time:   9am – 1pm
Who:  Elementary Teachers & Assistants
Cost:  $50 fee – covers registration and materials

Future Material Making Workshops: October (verb packets) & January (fraction charts). Dates and Times TBD.

Click here to view and print a flyer for this event.

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Posted on September 2, 2014 .

Elementary Students Explore the Sensorial Materials

Yesterday, as part of the Foundations Course, our elementary students had the opportunity to explore with the sensorial materials from the Primary Prepared Environment. The aim of this exercise was to familiarize the students with the Primary materials, to deepen each student's understanding of the child's experiences prior to entering an elementary classroom, and to orient them for what lies ahead in their training. Trainers were on hand to answer any questions, or provide guidance about how to use the materials. As you can see from the photos above, many students chose to do sensorial activities with blindfolds.

Posted on August 29, 2014 .

Supporting Inclusion in Montessori Communities

“A child is mysterious and powerful and contains within himself the secret of human life.”    -Maria Montessori

Montessori schools now have an unprecedented opportunity to serve an even wider swath of children with an ever-expanding range of abilities. We are revisiting the Montessori materials and practices with these special children in mind.

“Helping Hands” is designed to bring together Montessori educators and special education professionals to discuss strategies and ideas for supporting children with special needs.  These informal discussions will help participants create a network with each another, and use our combined expertise to strategize effective modifications that work within a Montessori structure, in order to set reasonable goals and evaluate interventions.

Facilitating the discussion will be Sarah Werner Andrews, Director of Primary Training at Montessori Northwest; Dave Andrews, speech-language pathologist, and supervisor for David Douglas Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education Program;  and Tim Andrews, special education teacher and Positive Behavior Intervention and Support Specialist.

When:  Thursday, September 25, 2014
Where:  Montessori Northwest 622 SE Grand Ave, Portland, OR
Time:  4:30-6:00pm – Light refreshments provided
Who:  Open to All
Cost:  Free

Please RSVP to MNW Community Outreach Director, Braden Pemberton, at 503.963.8992 or

Click here to view and print a flyer for this event.

Posted on August 27, 2014 .

MNW Introduces Pints of Interest


Pints of Interest is your chance to informally come together and connect with others in the Portland Montessori community; discussing some of the most relevant topics of our craft.
You are invited to catch up with friends and make new connections. Pints of Interest is a great venue to talk with others and share what's working in your classrooms, ask/give input, and think about “big picture” ideas. The topics for the evening will be pre-announced and appropriate for all Montessorians working at all levels.  Your host for the evening will loosely facilitate the conversation.

Come out, order a pint, and plug in--We'll see you there!

The first POI will take place @ rontoms, on Thursday, September 18, 2014. Socializing begins @ 4:30pm, discussion goes from 5-6:30pm.

The facilitator will be Braden Pemberton. Braden holds both his primary and elementary AMI diplomas from Montessori Northwest. Currently he is the director of community education at MNW. When not facilitating he likes to play board games, collect vinyl, and cook.

Future Pints of Interest: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 and Tuesday, April 21, 2015. Venues and facilitators TBD.

Click here to view and print a flyer for this event.


Posted on August 20, 2014 .

Welcome Students of Elementary Course #3!

Yesterday, students from Ireland, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Canada, as well as, Hawaii, Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, arrived in Portland, joining several local students, for the start of Montessori Northwest's Elementary Course #3.

Together they explored our prepared environments, learned about MNW systems, met MNW staff, started to get to know each other, and most importantly, began orienting to the Montessori principles that will guide their training year and their future work with children.  

Students collaborated with each other and with the staff about what makes for a positive learning experience, discussed how to make sure that each student's needs are met, and that learning is joyful, focused, and productive.

The day culminated with elementary trainer, Elise Huneke Stone, sharing the story of Maria Montessori with the students--a MNW tradition. We look forward to the days ahead, but for now, welcome students of Elementary Course #3!

Click here to learn more about teacher training at MNW.

Posted on August 19, 2014 and filed under Elementary.

5 Reasons to Take AMI Teacher Training at MNW

Facilities 10.jpg

Since 1979, Montessori Northwest (MNW) has offered rigorous, practical, and in-depth Montessori teacher preparation. The quality of our graduates reflects the quality of our training: knowledgeable and compassionate, with a teaching practice grounded in a thorough understanding of Montessori principles and child development. 

1. RECOGNIZED AROUND THE GLOBE. MNW’s training courses are affiliated with The Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), which was founded by Maria Montessori in 1929. Today, AMI champions the spirit of her discoveries through its affiliated training centers. An AMI diploma from MNW is recognized in over 110 countries as a mark of teacher training excellence.

2. VARIETY OF COURSES. MNW offers training courses at three different levels: Assistants to Infancy, (0-3), Primary (3-6), and Elementary (6-12). All courses are conducted by AMI trainers, master teachers with a profound understanding of Montessori theory and practice.

3. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. Our bright and spacious facility is located in Portland, OR, a city characterized by its dedication to individuality, award-winning public transportation, and easy access to everything from trendy cafés to snow-covered mountains.  Come see for yourself why we consistently get voted “Most Livable City in the US.”

4. CHANGING THE FACE OF EDUCATION. Dr. Montessori said, “The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind. If we therefore mind this embryo as our most precious treasure, we will be working for the greatness of humanity.” This powerful statement lies at the heart of Montessori education as an aid to life. MNW graduates empower children to take responsibility for themselves and others, to seek solutions, and to work together for the common good.  

5. ICNING ON THE CAKE. “It’s a transformation for many people of they way that they think of themselves in the world. In the way that they think about themselves in relation to children.” We hear this sentiment consistently from our graduates upon completing their training. The work begun at Montessori Northwest has the power to change lives for the better.

Click here to learn more Montessori Northwest’s Teacher Training.

Posted on August 7, 2014 and filed under Primary, Elementary, A-to-I.

Excuse me, have you ever heard of Nice School?


Recently, we heard form Laura Piskor, a graduate of MNW and former administrative assistant at the training center. After teaching in New Zealand, working as pie baker, and a yoga instructor, she's back to guiding a classroom in Chicago. Laura was kind enough to share the following experience with us:

I introduced the poem, 'Nasty School' by Shel Silverstein a few weeks ago. We all thought it was very silly. Afterward, the children and I had a short discussion about how we were in a nice school, not a nasty school. Then, my assistant, Ben Harris, took it a step further. During our afternoon program, he sat down with some of the children and they went through Nasty School line by line. They brainstormed what a nice school would be like and tried to come up with the opposite idea or the nice version for each line. With the children's suggestions in hand, Ben then put it all together and made it into a poem. I was really impressed with their creativity throughout the entire process.

Excuse me, have you heard of Nice School?
They teach nice things, and have nice rules.
They only take the nice and polite,
And never accept children who fight.
— excerpt from 'Nice School'
Posted on August 6, 2014 .

How to Organize a Glass Classroom Event

Next week, for the second time in two years, MNW will be hosting, Montessori in the Square, a public glass classroom event in the the heart of downtown Portland. While it may seem like a tremendous undertaking, we feel it is one of the best and most unique ways to raise awareness about Montessori.

In response to numerous requests following the 2013 International Montessori Congress, MNW published a document entitled, "Organize a Glass Classroom Event of Your Own!" This resource includes tips about creating an event timeline, developing  floor plan, how to publicize the event, what promotional items to create, and more.

Click on the photo above to download a free copy!

Click on the photo above to download a free copy!

So, if you've been considering organizing a glass classroom event in your community, click on the photo to the right to get started. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

Posted on July 23, 2014 and filed under A-to-I, Elementary, Portland, Primary, Public Event.

MNW in the U.P.

In case you don't know, UP stands for Upper Peninsula (the part of Michigan that is like Wisconsin's hat), which is where MNW Director of Elementary Training, Elise Huneke-Stone, recently presented a two day workshop called "An Exploration of Writing" as part of the Elementary Alumni Association (AMI-EAA) Annual Summer Conference. Elise's workshop had participants playing a variety of writing games designed to inspire elementary children to experiment with writing--so that they will discover that writing is creative, enjoyable, safe, and interesting. “In my experience,” says Elise, “adults need this assurance more than children do, but an adult who is uncomfortable with writing is less able to inspire children to take pleasure in it.” 

When asked what she learned at the this energetic and hands on workshop, EAA member, Marty Shepard, summed it up, "Think outside the box! Do activities to generate ideas and writing topics. Writing is recording life. Give them life experiences so they can write with ease, enthusiasm, expression, and energy. Writing is fun!"

To learn about Elementary and other teacher training programs and Montessori Northwest, CLICK HERE! 

Left & Top Right: Participants learning writing games. Bottom Right: The PNW contingent attending the conference.

Left & Top Right: Participants learning writing games. Bottom Right: The PNW contingent attending the conference.

Posted on July 21, 2014 and filed under Elementary, From MNW Staff, From our Trainers.

Cleaning Day--More than Soap and Water

Today was Cleaning Day for our primary students. Cleaning Day is a treasured celebration held on the very last day of each course at Montessori Northwest. The students dust, polish, and infuse every bead, box, and basket with love and positive energy. They spend the morning laughing, cleaning, singing, and remembering happy moments as they get everything ready for oral examinations. We wish Course 38 good luck tomorrow and remind them that oral exams are a "celebration of what you know!"

Posted on July 16, 2014 and filed under Primary, Cleaning Day.

A to I Students Practice their Craft with Real Children

Observation is a foundational practice at all levels of Montessori education; for Assistants to Infancy, the babies and toddlers come to us!  Students have the opportunity to observe and take turns working with the children in our prepared environment. 

This time is especially enjoyed by parents, who accompany their children each day, and thoroughly delight in being able to sit back and observe their own children, picking up tips and ideas about how to support their children's development.

Interested in learning more about our Assistants to Infancy training?  Click here to find out more!

Posted on July 14, 2014 and filed under A-to-I.

Why You Need to Know About OMA's Sub List

Maybe an illness is working its way through your teaching staff, leaving a handful of them home ill, and you don’t have enough coverage. Or, you enjoy the rush of an early morning phone call and the anticipation of spending the day with a group of children you've never met before.

If you’ve found yourself in either of the above situations, you might be interested to know that the Oregon Montessori Association (OMA) maintains a list of substitute Montessori teachers. All OMA member schools receive a copy of list. And, individuals who are looking for work as a substitute can have their name added to the list. 

OMA works to increase the vital presence of Montessori education in the Pacific Northwest through workshops, lectures, e-mail newsletters, community outreach, strategic relationships, and more.

To learn about the how you can tap into this great resource for substitutes, please contact OMA at or call 503.688.0526.

Posted on July 10, 2014 and filed under A-to-I, Elementary, Primary, Resources.