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Heather Dore & Linda Ploegert - Toddler Lead Teachers

Discovery Montessori School

Maria Montessori described The Secret of Childhood as the existence of powers and
potentialities within the child that previously were not known or were ignored by her
contemporaries. The task of the teacher, according to Montessori, is to observe the child's
pattern of development and to provide what is necessary for the secret to be revealed.
Montessori proposed the idea of the absorbent mind, meaning that a child's mind is like a
sponge, busily soaking in everything from the environment.
During a sensitive period children experience a special sensitivity to a particular impulse or
activity. During the first three years of life Montessori observed that children go through the
sensitive periods for language, order, movement, and attraction to small objects. The prepared
environment is central to Montessori philosophy. The environment (the classroom or the home,
as Montessori believed that education begins at birth) should be prepared to meet the needs of
the child at that time and attract the child to the world; it should provide for learning
opportunities that correspond to the sensitive periods. It should promote order and
concentration, and should be child-centered. Montessori strongly believed that all learning
comes through sensory exploration, and therefore she promoted a multi-sensory approach to
learning. She felt that children should have considerable freedom in developing according to
their own unique nature, and that they would reveal that nature to adults.
The DMS Toddler program is comprised of two Toddler classrooms: one provides a 5-day full
day program (8:30-3:00), and the other offers a 5-day, three-hour class (from 8:30-11:30 am)
with an optional lunch hour (from 11:30am-12:30 pm). The Montessori and Me program is also
offered for children from 18 months to 3 years of age, but children attend with a parent (or other
Heather Dore & Linda Ploegert - Toddler Lead Teachers

adult). We offer a prepared Montessori environment for children 18 months to three years of
age. We assist children toward independence, social awareness, respect, and the development of
motor skills and language skills. Maria Montessori asserted that human beings develop with the
greatest intensity during the first three years of life; therefore, Toddler classrooms are designed to
provide nurturance, security, and challenge in an orderly environment. The maximum number of
children in each Toddler class is twelve, with one American Montessori Society trained Lead
Teacher and one Associate teacher. The AMS Lead Teacher is also required to possess a
minimum of a Bachelors Degree.
In the beginning of the school year parents and children attend together until the child is ready
for a positive transition into the school environment on his or her own. This period of separation
is different for each child and parent, and our goal is to meet the individual needs of each pair.
This gradual process promotes trust between children, parents, and teachers.
Program description
The Toddler school day begins with independent work and play in both the indoor and outdoor
environments. Both environments are accessible for approximately two hours, with one teacher
managing the outdoor environment, and one teacher managing the indoor environment. Toddlers
choose to work independently, in small groups, or with a teacher who guides as necessary. Mid-
morning, all children come inside for snack, toileting, and circle time.
The children gather in small or large groups for snack time. They assist in the preparation of the
snack and table setting. They serve themselves and clean up after themselves. Grace, courtesy,
and table manners are modeled and encouraged by teachers. Parents take turns providing a
healthy snack each day for the entire class. A pitcher of fresh water and cups are available to the
children throughout the school day.
Music and circle time are an important part of the curriculum. At circle time we engage in
musical activities, often using tapes, CDs, and various musical instruments. Circle time
activities also include phonemic activities, movement and dance, stories, and songs.
For the last twenty minutes of the the day, the class moves outside for dismissal. Those children
who stay for lunch return to the classroom to eat a meal brought from home, followed by
toileting/diapering and additional independent work. The class then moves back outside for
lunch dismissal.
Lunch hour
The Toddler program includes a one-hour lunch. The children have lunch indoors or outdoors, as
weather permits. The children bring a home-prepared lunch in a container with an ice pack, and
we encourage parents to pack nutritious foods. The lunch hour is an optional program with a
maximum of eight children per class.
Heather Dore & Linda Ploegert - Toddler Lead Teachers

Curriculum Objectives
Children engage in the following curriculum objectives when they are developmentally ready to
do so. The teacher's role at this level is to follow the child and to take cues from the child's
interests and mental and physical development. This varies with each child.
Social Development
1. Slowly acclimating children into the environment through the use of a Separation
2. Promoting security and independence through clear and consistent boundaries and respect for
children and their needs
3. Developing social values, independence, follow-through, group acceptance, cooperation,
respect for self and others, and respect for the environment
4. Developing self-confidence and self-esteem in an environment that promotes independence
5. Providing opportunities to converse spontaneously with teachers and peers
6. Developing trust in the classroom community
7. Developing appropriate interactions with teachers and peers
8. Developing an awareness of the individual's contribution to the group

Language Development
1. Linguistic development
a. Promoting listening skills through stories, poems, nursery rhymes, songs, spoken social
graces, and conversation
b. Building communication skills through exposure to language and opportunities for
expressive speech
2. Auditory development
a. Auditory discrimination: loud/quiet, same/different sounds of nature, daily life, and
animals, etc.
b. Receptive language: recognizing sounds, following directions, following a sequence of
two different directions
c. Phonemic awareness: discriminating beginning sounds in words, rhyming words,
syllables, etc.
3. Visual development
a. Visual memory and discrimination: recognizing colors, shapes, sizes, patterns, parts of
a whole, and beginning letter and number recognition (symbols)
b. Visual motor skills: cutting, stringing large beads, catching a ball, etc.

Math Readiness
1. Exploring spatial relationships such as long/short, big/little, etc.
2. Recognizing quantity
3. Using fingerplays and songs involving math concepts
4. Matching of number symbols to objects
5. Recognizing that symbols represent quantities
6. Growing awareness of one to one correspondence
Heather Dore & Linda Ploegert - Toddler Lead Teachers

7. Working with manipulatives to explore concrete concepts

1. Real-world opportunities to become aware of the natural world
2. Hands-on experience with weather, animals, plants, seashells, etc.
3. Opportunities to care for (feed and water) plants and small animals
4. Experiences demonstrating our relationship to the natural environment (e.g., recycling,
composting, harvesting vegetables from the garden which may be consumed by children or
fed to pets)

Social Studies
1. Beginning awareness of community helpers
2. Beginning awareness of self and family
3. Celebration of holidays, seasons, cultures, and birthdays with songs, stories, etc.

Tactile development
1. Materials providing sensory experiences, for example:
a. Sand play
b. Water play
c. Texture
d. Temperature

1. Singing
2. Rhythmic activities
3. Musical games
4. Instruments
5. Music through body movement

Arts Development
1. Art appreciation experiences
2. Exposure to various media such as clay, paint, chalk, crayons, pencils
Heather Dore & Linda Ploegert - Toddler Lead Teachers

Physical Development
1. Gross motor exercise: free play and planned activities in running,
walking, climbing, jumping, rolling, and throwing
2. Fine motor exercise: pouring, spooning, bead-stringing, pasting,
3. Activities and language of body parts awareness
4. Discussions focused on health, nutrition, exercise, safety, etc.

Care of Self
1. Assisting with diapering and toileting skills, developing dressing skills
2. Body care such as blowing nose and washing hands
3. Storing and retrieving personal belongings in cubby
4. Respect for body and personal space of self and others
5. Body awareness
6. Appropriate methods of communication and defense of body, space and work

Care of the Environment

1. Completing the cycle of activity (e.g., replacing items from shelves, rolling rugs, cleaning
2. Care of outdoor environment: raking, gardening, etc.
3. Self-awareness of impact on the environment and ability for positive impact (e.g., use of
trash receptacles, recycling bins, turning off lights, etc.)
4. Becoming responsible for the consequences of ones own actions
In the Toddler program we establish clear and consistent boundaries which show respect for
children and their needs. Respect for self, others, and the environment are of utmost importance.
These values are modeled by teachers and discussed during group times. Children develop trust
in the classroom community through respectful and appropriate interactions with teachers and
peers, and moral and ethical behaviors develop naturally.
Toddler progress reports are completed four times per year, and Parent-Teacher conferences are
held twice per year (in conjunction with the first and third progress reports). Additional
conferences may be held as needed. Assessments are based on close observations by teachers
throughout the year. See attached Toddler Progress Report.
Heather Dore & Linda Ploegert - Toddler Lead Teachers


Teachers use anecdotal observations to monitor student progress. Based on these observations,
decisions regarding materials and curriculum are made. We make very individualized
educational decisions at the Toddler level, based on age and ability.
Goals and Objectives
Specific goals for the Toddler Program are as follows:
1. To assist the child in a positive separation from parents in order to facilitate individualization.
2. To provide an orderly environment in which Toddlers may explore and experience concepts
and skills through manipulation and the use of all of their senses.
3. To provide a language rich environment through precise nomenclature, music, materials, and
4. To give the child opportunities for practical life experiences, care of the self and
environment, so that the child understands that each person has an important function. This
encourages a positive self-concept and confidence.
5. To provide a social environment for the fostering of community and respect.
6. To create an aesthetically pleasing environment through artwork and objects from nature that
call to the child's love of beauty.
7. To provide a supportive community for parents through education and participation in the
school-wide community.
Heather Dore & Linda Ploegert - Toddler Lead Teachers


Montessori Toddler classrooms are foremost designed to promote independence, concentration,
and a sense of order. Toddlers at DMS have open access to the areas of the classroom they need
(e.g., the toilet, the sink) and the materials they need (e.g., a broom, a watering can) in order to
engage in daily activities in an autonomous fashion. They are able to access their personal
belongings in a low-lying cubby area, in order to change their clothes as needed (e.g., after a
toileting accident or a paint spill). Furniture is fit to the proper proportions for children to use
(e.g., tables and chairs, shelves). There is a place for everything, and everything has its place.
Young children, especially, need the reliability and consistency of knowing where materials are
located, and where to find what they need. They build a cognitive map of the environment as a
whole and the individual materials in particular, which guides their daily actions within the
The DMS Toddler environments, which are calm, simple, quiet, and safe, aid children in
developing focus and sustained attention. They are beautiful and encourage the child's
exploration. There is not an excess of materials, as these only serve as a distraction. There are a
variety of activities that interest and challenge children. The teachers carefully and frequently
observe the children in order to decide when materials need to be removed, replaced, or extended
upon. Materials increase in challenge as children become older and more capable. They need to
meet the child's needs, which change with each developmental stage. Less is more in a
Montessori classroom because repetition leads to the development of focus.
While Montessori did not specifically design materials for use by Toddlers, there are certain
types of materials which are key in a Toddler classroom. The materials move from concrete to
increasingly abstract and generally isolate one concept to be mastered at a time. For example,
Heather Dore & Linda Ploegert - Toddler Lead Teachers

Practical Life activities include such things as dressing and undressing, taking off and putting on
a coat, and using the toilet. Gross motor activities include sliding and riding toys (such as
tricycles). Fine motor activities include nesting objects, vertical and horizontal ring posts, and
hammering. Visual sensorimotor activities include geometric shape boxes and puzzles; auditory
sensorimotor activities include simple sound matching and a music box; tactile sensorimotor
activities include a mystery bag and geometric solids. Language activities include vocabulary
cards, singing and reading books.
Describe the classroom environment
Each Toddler classroom contains the following:
The art shelves hold clay work and other elements to explore, design, and experience basic
motor skills (cutting, gluing, painting, using stickers, etc.)
The manipulative shelves provide opportunities to explore shapes and textures and to
manipulate objects through posting, stringing, stacking, and sorting.
The language shelves contain materials designed to assist children in classifying and
identifying objects. They also provide opportunities for music, rhymes, and enhance language
The practical life shelves hold activities for the care of the classroom as well as activities to
practice daily living skills such as spooning and pouring.
The imaginary play shelves hold dress-up clothes, toy animals, dolls, etc.
All materials on the shelves are rotated regularly, according to the children's interests and
developmental needs. They are kept clean and safe by way of daily cleaning and checking for
broken or missing parts. Children are encouraged to carry activities either to tables with sturdy
chairs or to mats unrolled for use on the floor. Other inside areas include a puzzle shelf and a
snack area. There is also a screened patio in each classroom for additional lessons.
Heather Dore & Linda Ploegert - Toddler Lead Teachers

Each classroom has pillows for resting, reading, taking care of dolls, and a library area. An open
space in the middle of the classroom serves as space for group circle time and group lessons.
The kitchen area contains sink and counter space for the teachers' use, along with a small
refrigerator. The child-sized tables and chairs used for snack time and lunch are also located in
the kitchen area.
The bathroom is also set up to foster independence, with an
adult-size toilet, a child-size potty, a step stool to assist
children in reaching the sink, a low changing table which
allows the child to climb on and off unassisted for
diapering, and a diaper pail.
Describe the outdoor environment
The doors are kept open for the majority of the morning,
allowing the children to move freely between the indoor
and outdoor environments. The outdoor environment
invites the children to connect with the world of nature and
to practice their developing gross motor skills. The
environment contains flowers and herbs, a climbing slide,
and a teeter-totter. There are sunny and shady areas, as well
as an open space for free movement and group games.
There is a washstand which provides opportunities for water
activities, and a workbench for art activities. A wooden
bench with books nearby
allows for relaxation and
reading. Additional toys are
available and rotated
regularly, including balls, watering cans, binoculars, rakes and
brooms, bubbles, chalk, wheelbarrows, and riding cars. All
materials and equipment are kept clean and in working order.
Small equipment, such as sand box toys, is kept in larger
containers, and covered or stored inside on a daily basis.
The Toddler classes also have access to the school's playing field
and Edible Schoolyard, where gross motor activities and
exploration of the natural environment are available.
Additionally, they may use the school's larger playground, which
has swings and a play structure with stairs, a climbing wall, and
Heather Dore & Linda Ploegert - Toddler Lead Teachers

Practical life
This area of the classroom contains materials which provide tasks
the child sees in everyday life. Their familiarity draws the child to
work. All the tools are child-sized to aid the child in performing the
tasks successfully. Practical life exercises are designed to help the
child gain independence, self-confidence, coordination,
concentration, and a sense of order.
Care of animals is also an important aspect of the Toddler program.
Children gain experience from the feeding and care of animals such
as fish, parakeets, hamsters, and guinea pigs.
Some practical life activities include:
Window washing Preparing snack
Spooning Serving
Tonging Dish washing
Plant dusting Hand washing
Pouring Doll baby washing
Ladling Clothes washing
Scooping Toileting
Scrubbing Putting on shoes and socks
Putting on and hanging up jackets
Maria Montessori asserted that the growth of intelligence is
dependent on the young child's interaction with his
environment. Toddlers are encouraged to choose from
endless opportunities for both fine and gross motor
development in our supervised indoor and outdoor
environments. The psychological aspects of movement
include the growth of self-confidence and self-esteem, a
sense of independence and autonomy, social participation,
and a basic faith in oneself.
Movement activities inside include:
Sit and spin Circle time activities
Rocking horse Balance beam
Rocking boat/bridge
Heather Dore & Linda Ploegert - Toddler Lead Teachers

The outdoor environment encourages running, hopping, jumping, balancing, climbing, sliding,
digging, hauling, throwing, and catching. The specific activities available outdoors are:
Raking Sweeping
Loading the wheelbarrow Chalkboard
Sandbox Plant watering
Basket of assorted balls Bubbles
Water painting Sidewalk chalk
Reading books Digging for insects
Cognitive exploration
We see the growth of intelligence as Toddlers experience
causality through hands-on exploration of manipulatives,
such as:
Posting boxes Shapes
Nesting toys Blocks
Tracking activities Puzzles
Inclined planes
Puzzles aid in developing perceptual skills. We start with the simple and move to the more
complex to ensure success and challenge. There are opportunities for one-to-one classification,
matching, and sorting to aid the development of the mathematical mind.
The stereognostic sense is engaged with activities using the mystery bag. Children may design
with sand, clay, rubber bands, and art materials. All of these activities are grounded in order,
which means that the adults model, encourage, and assist children in completing the cycle of
choosing an activity, working on it as long as necessary, and finally returning it to the shelf.
Maria Montessori stated that the child must
be exposed to language during this sensitive
period or it will not develop (Montessori: A
Modern Approach). The Toddler community
offers diverse opportunities for clear, precise,
accurate, descriptive language modeled by
adults for the toddlers to absorb and express.
The adults are careful to model absolute
courtesy at all times.
The classroom is full of interesting objects
and activities which encourage expressive
language. In addition, the classrooms have
Heather Dore & Linda Ploegert - Toddler Lead Teachers

language areas and items are regularly rotated. At any given time one might find shell sorting
and matching, sea animal identification, song tickets, color recognition work, insect matching,
poetry cards, the mystery bag, and more on the shelves. Our daily circle time is an opportunity
to share music, finger plays, poetry books and rhymes, and language lessons. We play silence
games in order to differentiate silence from the sounds of the environment. Also, toileting is an
important one-on-one opportunity to model appropriate language: wet, dry, fresh, clean, urine,
bowel movement. It is also an opportune time to have the child follow simple directions. For
example, Please bring a fresh diaper from your cubby.
The purpose of this emphasis on language is to give the child an awareness of its power and an
appreciation of the beauty that language can express. We internalize Dr. Montessori's belief that
language is a window to the universe and to the soul. No one can teach language to the child, as
the ability to acquire language is innate. The classroom materials are designed to give order and
form to the experience necessary for language acquisition.