Tag Archives: Florida

Home-Made Portable Classroom Sink

When I was starting my home-based Montessori program I knew I really wanted a child sized sink available for the children to maximize their independence in preparing water lessons (like water color) and other classroom activities.

Installing plumbing into my classroom just was not feasible. I happened to spy an ad in Montessori Life Magazine for portable classroom sinks. I was immediately interested in these types of sinks but they were not affordable for my start-up budget.

My father in law is a skilled woodworker and I asked him to make a single basin portable sink for my classroom. Our sink only provides cold water and our water pump does make a audible humming sound, but the kids are fine with that. I change out the fresh water and empty the drainage/used water daily.  Here is the result:


My son early on a Saturday morning. 🙂

If you plan to make your own sink, here are some materials you will need to purchase. Please continue to read this whole post, I provided some links to various materials.

  • Wood for cabinet and counter top
  • Formica for exterior of cabinet (optional)
  • Varnish (I vanished the inside of my cabinet to protect the wood from water leaks or spills)
  • Hinges and handles for cabinet doors
  • Stainless steel sink 6″ deep and faucet
  • (2) 5 or 7 gallon jug containers for fresh water and drainage
  • Water pump with an automatic shut-off (most expensive but crucial material)
  • Fittings and tubing to accommodate drain and water pump.

Here are the dimensions of our classroom sink (click on pictures to enlarge):

Total height including cabinet base and counter top.

Total height including cabinet base and counter top.

Your cabinet will need to be large enough to fit the water pump and “drop” of the sink basin as well as,  (2) square 5 gallon or 7 gallon sized containers. One container is for fresh water and the other container is for drainage/used water. We purchased our containers from Target.  The brand is called Aqua-Tainer and the ones we used were food-grade, 7 gallon jugs. However, when posting this blog I found some other possible container options:






Dimensions of cabinet side excluding counter top.

Dimensions and top view of counter and sink.

Dimensions and top view of counter top and sink.

The type of sink we used is a stainless steel “bar” sink. The depth of the sink is 6″. You can find these sinks at Lowes and Home Depot. We are bargain hunters so we also checked Craigslist and Ebay for deals on these types of items. Here is a link from Lowes to give you an idea of price and sink dimensions:


The most expensive part of the sink was the water pump. Here is a link to the types of pump you will need to pump the water from the fresh water container up through the faucet:

Note: This  type of sink only provides cold water. You will need to cap off the hot water connection on the faucet. Otherwise, the water will leak out of the hot water inlet when you turn on the cold water.



View of water pump and drainage.

Here are some links to suppliers of portable sinks or you can simply Google “portable classroom sink”:



If you are creative and resourceful, you may be able to find an existing cabinet and modify it  to suit the needs of your portable sink. Here are some ideas of people taking an old cabinet and transforming it into something wonderful:



I hope this post was helpful. 🙂








Practical Life and More: Fall

In November we began studying fall related themes such as:

  • Scarecrows
  • Thanksgiving
  • Native Americans

We also cover the United States, USA landmarks, the American flag, volcanoes, the digestive system and the artist Georgia O’Keeffe.

Here are some photos of lessons and shelf work that related to our fall theme:

Fall Leaf Clothespins

Fall Leaf Clothespins

Transfer Lesson: Spooning Leaves

Transfer Lesson: Spooning Leaves

Acorn Transfer Lesson

Acorn Transfer Lesson

Basting Lesson

Basting Lesson

We used the peanuts from the peanut shelling lesson and the corn kernels from the tweezing corn kernel lesson to feed the squirrels outside the classroom.

Shelling Peanuts (Caution: Allergies)

Shelling Peanuts (Caution: Allergies)

Tweezing Corn Kernels

Tweezing Corn Kernels

Sifting Lesson

Sifting Lesson

Pumpkin Sorting

Pumpkin Sorting


I found this idea for a pumpkin scrubbing lesson at http://www.justmontessori.com

Pumpkin Washing

Pumpkin Washing

Fall Stamping

Fall Stamping

Peanut Butter Spreading (Caution: Allergies)

Peanut Butter Spreading (Caution: Allergies)

USA Floor Puzzle

USA Floor Puzzle

Scarecrow Gluing (Found at http://kidssoup.com)

Scarecrow Gluing (Found at http://kidssoup.com)

Lincoln Log Cabin

Lincoln Log Cabin

When we cover the United States, we also talked about the American flag. We discuss what the stars represent and why there are 50 of them on our flag. We also talked about why our flag has 13 stripes. Montessori for Everyone has great Parts of a Flag cards and we use them for our lesson and then the kids can create their own Parts of a Flag Booklet.

Parts of a Flag

Parts of a Flag


Florida Theme: Summer Session

We wrapped up our first week of summer session 2 (the summer sessions are held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) Our theme for this session is the state we live in: Florida. My initial plan was to talk about plants and animals in that live in Florida, but I realized that was a bit too broad. I decided to spend the first week talking about how to locate Florida on a map, the different land forms associated with Florida (peninsula, gulf, lake, island) and the differences in salt water and fresh water. For the weeks that follow we would discuss common animals and plants found living around salt water and those living near bodies of fresh water. We will also spend time talking about land animals, the different types of palm trees and hurricanes.

Here are a few links to my videos on YouTube, describing the lessons that I presented during our first week of the summer session.

Part 1: http://youtu.be/oSlB4XzEOjg

Part 2: http://youtu.be/u6fDFNuTnLk


Sink the Boat: Practical Life Lesson

As part of my Montessori internship I was required to chose a theme or topic to present to the children over the course of a three week period. This assignment was know as, “the year end project.” This project included circle (or group) time activities, songs, books, etc., as well as shelf lessons for all areas of the classroom. The theme for my year end project was transportation.

One shelf lesson that I created for practical life was particularly popular with the children. I called it the “Sink the Boat” lesson. I felt that this lesson complimented our transportation theme as well as the sink and float experiments that are part of the Montessori science curriculum. This lesson also combines skills such as tweezing (fine motor) and straining.

Here is a picture of the shelf lesson:








Here is my write-up on how to present this lesson. Please remember that this is my original write-up and to my knowledge, my own unique idea (although I have seen a variation of it elsewhere) :

Sink the Boat

Transfer Using Tweezers


  1. One bowl (filled with water to “fill” line)
  2. One small condiment cup filled with shells
  3. One small, shallow boat
  4. Tweezers
  5. Small strainer
  6. Small sponge
  7. Small hand towel
  8. Tray

Invitation: “I would like to give you a lesson in the practical life area. I am going to give you a lesson on transferring shells with tweezers.”


  1. Select a mat and place it on table.
  2. Select the lesson from the shelf and carry it to the table.
  3. Remove the small hand towel from the tray and place it on mat.
  4. Pick up tweezers with your dominate hand.
  5. Using the tweezers, select one shell from the condiment cup and place the shell into the boat.
  6. Using the tweezers, continue to pick up shells, one at a time, until the boat floating in the bowl of water sinks to the bottom of the bowl.
  7. Once the boat has sunk, place tweezers on the tray to the right of the condiment cup.
  8. Reach your hand into the bowl of water and carefully remove the boat (be sure not to spill the shells) and place the boat on the sponge that is located on your tray.
  9. You may dry your hands on the small hand towel that you placed on your mat earlier. After drying your hands, place the towel back on the mat for the time being.
  10. Pick up the strainer with your dominate hand and place it over the bowl of water (The strainer handle should rest on one side of the bowl and the curved tip of the strainer should rest of the opposite side of the bowl so that that strainer remains in place on its own).
  11. Pick up the boat that has been resting on the sponge and gently pour the shells from the boat into the strainer.
  12. Place the boat back onto the sponge.
  13. With your dominate hand, grab the handle of the strainer and pour the shells back into the condiment cup (Place two fingers from your sub-dominate hand near the rim of strainer to help steady the strainer as you pour.
  14. Return the strainer to the tray.
  15. Pick up the boat that has been resting on the sponge and carefully return it to the bowl of water.
  16. If there are any splashes of water on mat or table, use the small hand towel to gently wipe up the spills.
  17. Stand up, push in your chair and toss the small hand towel in laundry basket.
  18. Replenish lesson by getting a new hand towel and place it on tray above the sponge.
  19. Return lesson to the shelf and put away mat.

Note: If at any time there is water in the boat, you may strain out the shells as indicated above and use the small hand towel to dry out the boat.

Control of Error:

  1. Shells in bowl of water instead of inside the boat.
  2. Shells spilled on table or surrounding area.

Points of Interest:

  1. The sound of shells dropping into the boat.
  2. Watching the boat sink.
  3. The sound of pouring the shells into the strainer.
  4. The sound of pouring the shells back into the condiment cup.
  5. The strainer itself.
  6. The water itself.



  1. Develop coordination, order, concentration and independence.
  2. Development of self-esteem and confidence.
  3. Develop hand/eye coordination.
  4. Development of the pincer grasp.


  1. Develop the ability to use a pair of tweezers.
  2. Develop the ability to use a strainer.


  1. Change the size of the boat.
  2. Use a strawberry huller instead of tweezers.
  3. Change the type of material uses to sink the boat (instead of shells use beads or marbles).



The Scarecrow’s Hat

Back when I was working on my AMS credential, I had a literary assignment where I was required to create props to reenact the story with the children (This is a simplified explanation of the assignment). I chose the story The Scarecrow’s Hat by Ken Brown. It’s a wonderful fictional story about a scarecrow who wants to trade his hat for a walking stick to rest his tired arms. Chicken would love to have scarecrow’s hat, but she doesn’t have a walking stick so she visits badger. Badger has a walking stick that he would like to trade for some ribbon. Chicken then visits a series of animals who are all willing to trade something they have for something they want. Chicken finally meets a donkey and is able to make a trade with him. Then she re-visits all the other animals, making a series of trades that meet everyone’s needs. In the end, she gets the scarecrow’s hat and the scarecrow gets his walking stick.

To make my props, I traced each animal in the story as best as I could. I then cut each animal out of felt. The birds in the story took the longest to make. I remember being up past two in the morning hot gluing feathers to felt.

The end product:

The animals that kept me awake most of the night.

The animals that kept me awake most of the night.




Doll glasses from Micheal’s Craft Store

Tonight I was browsing a few Montessori blogs and I found that in 2008 http://mymontessorijourney.typepad.com posted their prop idea to go along with The Scarecrow’s Hat. Here is a picture from their blog:



I thought that their prop idea was simply delightful. The idea of using pictures to represent the animals never even dawned on me! (I tend to over-think a lot of things) So, if you are interested in presenting The Scarecrow’s Hat to your class it may be easier to follow their example rather than to sit up hot gluing feathers until the middle of the night. 🙂