The Red Corolla, Montessori Cosmic Education

New Book, “The Red Corolla, Montessori Cosmic Education”

Click HERE for details and ordering information

front cover lg

What I like about this book is the possibility that it will give to teachers who have not learned in their training this way of presenting the various cultural areas — art, music, geography, biology and physics — to young children. That is, how to offer it in such a way that the child freely chooses to absorb the material. However, I don’t think this is a book to cozy up with and read straight through. Its value is in the excellent information about how adults can prepare themselves to inspire children in the first place. Secondly the information on how to pass on the inspiration gives a valuable pattern to follow within that section. I think it is a book to take section by section according to ones interest. Although it is scattered throughout the book, there is information on approaching various ages of children, not just young ones. The book will require the adult to put in some effort, but the author enthusiastically proclaims that it is well worth the effort for both the adult and for the child.
—Rita Zener, AMI Montessori Teacher Trainer

I love all of your books and “The Red Corolla” is no exception. Whenever I read one of your books I feel like I have both my mom and a teacher guiding me (I lost my mom long before becoming a parent, so this is a precious feeling). Your writing style is therapeutic for me. This is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to deeply understand the Montessori approach.
—Claudia Dumitrascu, Romania and Canada

Note: a few of the color pictures here are in the book, but in black and white.

The culture lessons taught in an AMI primary teacher-training course—physics, biology, history and geography, and the arts—are presented here in great detail to lay the foundation before age six for the older child’s search for his Cosmic Task. Also included are personal “filling in the gaps” assignments for the parent or n teacher, and two republished AMI and NAMTA articles, one on Cosmic Education and the second on music for all ages.

class nature walk 2

From the chapter “The Work of the Adult— Gaps, Leaf Collection”

Recently I gave a presentation of leaves similar to what you find in this chapter and then led a nature walk with the students in the AMI primary course in Casablanca, in a beautiful garden in the home of my hosts. The students were hesitant at first, but very quickly found themselves as excited as children as they discovered the ways that the leaves were attached to the stems—alternately, oppositely, or whorled or in a group of leaves all attached at the same point. As we prepared to leave the garden and headed down the path toward the vehicles, I noticed several of the students walking slowly, looking carefully, and taking pictures. This is just the kind of involvement we will see in our children when we share the desire to explore and learn more with them.


From the chapter “The Work of the Child— Culture, Physics”

The reason we give this work to the young child is to give experience with isolated examples of the natural principles of physics in everyday life. Physical laws apply everywhere and every time. This is an introduction to real life, to truth, rather than opinion and belief. The experiments introduce experiences with buoyancy (an object sinking or floating), the movement of water, surface tension of water, movement of air, heat, sound, magnetism, electricity, gravity, weight combined with movement, and weight affected by shape.

mosaic 2a.jpg

From the chapter “The Work of the Child— Culture, Art”

The main work in the art area of the classroom is to give the child the tools to express his feelings and his ever-expanding interest in and understanding of the whole world. Of course it follows that, just as all of the other work in the Montessori primary environment, this work will give opportunity for deeper and longer periods of concentration, improved visual discrimination and eye-hand control, and more concepts and a richer vocabulary for verbal communication, and skills in writing and reading.

11 orchestra in ulaanbaatar

From the chapter “The Music Environment” (AMI Journal article The Music Environment from the Beginning to the End)

The natural urge to sing, dance, make and listen to music wells up from the depths of each person, from birth to death. It can be stamped out at an early age or it can be fostered to enrich all of life. This article describes how important music is to us at every time in our life, from birth to death.




Mind the Gaps Introduction
General Knowledge Album
Leaf Collection
Formal Language Album

Culture Album Introduction
Culture, Physics
Culture, Botany
Culture, Zoology
Culture, History and Geography
Culture, Music
Culture, Art
The Language of Culture




A must read for anyone in education looking towards moving away from the compartmentalising of education into “subjects”. Literacy and numeracy skills are important but they are a toolkit to access so much more and this books helps to illustrate how to do that. —Esma Al-Samarrai, Cardiff, Wales

I first lectured on these topics in 1971 after returning from a year in London earning my AMI primary (age 2.5-6) diploma. The last lectures were given in summer 2019 at the first AMI primary course in Morocco. For years I have been promising a book.

Please feel free to share to anyone for whom it will be interesting and perhaps helpful.




The Music Environment, from the Beginning to the End


It was an honor for me to be part of this publication on creativity. This article is shared with permission of AMI, The Association Montessori Internationale and NAMTA, The North American Montessori Teachers Organization.
It was published in  AMI Journal 2014-2015 Theme Issue: The Montessori Foundations for the Creative Personality.

This 237-page publication on creativity, imagination, self-expression, language, music, the Montessori creative view of childhood, art, and contemporary Montessori research and creativity,  can be ordered from NAMTA: AMI JOURNAL

Continue reading

“No Checkmate” Montessori Chess Book

No Checkmate, Montessori Chess Lessons for Age 3-90+
Book Reviews and Quotes from the Book

This book is not just about chess. It helps adults understand how to share their lives and loves with children in a way previously thought not possible. It explains Montessori philosophy and practice at the most fundamental and practical way.
Here are two reviews:

Chess without a headache! Susan covers every detail of making this game meaningful and fun for even the very young.

— Rita Zener, AMI Montessori teacher trainer, Washington DC

If you are looking for a book that will help you to introduce the game of chess to your child in a non-competitive, gradual, and fun way – you have found it!

Deep respect and understanding of human development in its formative stages is a common denominator of all Ms. Stephenson’s books. In NO CHECKMATE you will find a conceptual framework of developmental characteristics along with a practical guidance in form of preliminary games and activities, gradual introduction to the key rules of the game, and more… This book opened a new field of exploration and joy for me and my two daughters!

Dmitry Ostrovsky, Moravian Montessori teacher and dad, working in Moscow

1 grace and courtesy

(From page 21)
Graceful movement and balance of the whole body

At around 1.5 years of age a child, so glad to be in an upright position with hands free, wants to put forth as much effort as possible and delights in carrying heavy things. This practice solidifies the balance of walking, carrying something, and watching where one is going. One of the first things you might offer a child in the learning of chess might be the opportunity to carry the chess set to the table, placing it quietly on the table, and putting it away when the game, between two other people, is finished.

2 shaking hands

(From page 23-24)
The courtesy of shaking hands

When a child enters a Montessori class, at least in Western Cultures, the first thing he usually does is shake hands with the teacher who is sitting on a chair just inside the classroom so her face is at the child’s level. This marks the beginning of the child’s day at school; it sets the energy of mutual respect and focus on being in the moment. Similarly you can teach this in chess. Either person can offer to shake hands at the beginning of a game or lesson.

But the main reason for this is because the manners of chess require that at the end of a game the two people shake hands and say something along the lines of, “Thank you for playing chess with me,” or, “I enjoyed playing chess with you.” This may not seem like a very important step in the beginning of learning to play chess, but it is extremely helpful when, at the 3rd level of chess, both people are trying to win, and someone loses. Knowing that one is going to end the game in such a polite manner can prevent the frustration, anger, and ill manners that are sometimes displayed when a person (even adults) lose a game.

3 dusting chess pieces

(From page 41-42)
Dusting or polishing chess pieces

This brings up a point that is sometimes misunderstood in a Montessori class. When a child asks if he can work with materials that he is not prepared for, for example wanting to get his hands on the beautiful glass beads that teach squaring and cubing before he has begun the basic math work the reply should never be, “No, you are not ready for that.”  The child doesn’t understand that in time he will have the skills to work with more advanced materials, that someday he will be ready. He only hears the word, “NO!”  Instead the teacher says, “Yes, you will be able to work with those materials, as soon as you can do this, and this, and this” perhaps pointing to the beginning shelves of math materials. “This one comes first. Would you like a lesson on that now?”

Sometimes, if a child is not even ready to begin the first math lesson and still wants to “work with” the beautiful bead materials, the teacher can say, “Yes, do you see that these beads and the shelves are really dusty? Would you like a lesson on dusting them?”  Sometimes children have been able to practice their skill of wood polishing on materials in the Montessori classroom that they will not be using in the prescribed way until much later. This is all satisfying, important, real work.

6 mongolia

(From page 94-95)

In 2015, I was in Mongolia to give the first AMI Montessori public lectures and to consult with two schools. I was staying with a family who had a 5-year-old boy whose grandfather had taught him the chess moves. One evening that the boy and his father were playing chess in the living room, Ermuun suddenly exploded into anger, stomping and yelling and his father looked toward me with a puzzled look on his face. I asked what happened and the father said, rather sadly, “He doesn’t like to lose.” My reply was that winning and losing was not appropriate at this age, but the emphasis is better placed on spending fun time with one’s father, and learning more and more about chess. And, with his interest aroused I went on to explain the “Three Levels of Chess” that our family has developed over the years. Later I received news from Mongolia that the boy enjoys chess now much more than before.

7 oden game

(From page 115-117)
Creativity – Oden’s game

Chess has changed many times since its birth in India and it is still changing. The rules have changed and why cannot children continue to change them? Recently I was playing chess with my sister’s grandchildren. One the youngsters, already identified as a unique and creative thinker, decided to make up his own game. I had given them a combination chess and checkers set and he wanted to created a way to use all of the pieces of both sets in one game.

I explained that all games were the result of agreement between people about how the game is played. An example is the rules of Scrabble in our family. Scrabble is a word game in which two to four players score points by placing tiles, each bearing a single letter, onto a game board  which is divided into a 15×15 grid of squares. The tiles must form words which, in crossword fashion, flow left to right in rows or downwards in columns. The words must be defined in a standard dictionary . The game is played without access to a dictionary unless a word is being challenged.

But a year ago I suggested that this way of playing limits the players to words they already know, so our family began to play with the dictionary as our constant companion, accessible at any time. This was a cooperative way of playing, and it was so exciting for all of us to learn so many new words in one game that winning became secondary. It was still fun to find words that could score a lot of points and have a high score at the end of the game, but there was much more learning and enjoyment of Scrabble from then on.

So why not a game with chess pieces and checkers together? All I remember, as I heard him explain his new game to his brother and cousin, was “And the Queen has more power when she is standing on a checker!”

(From the back cover)
Benefits of chess

I once came across a list of 10 ways learning chess can benefit the brain. Here is the list:
– It increases creativity
– It improves memory
– It increases problem-solving skills
– It can raise an IQ
– It grows dendrites
– It can help prevent Alzheimer’s
– It exercises both sides of the brain
– It improves reading skills
– It improves concentration
– It teaches planning and foresight

These are all important results of learning chess. But in learning chess the Montessori way we can add to this list:
– It helps one learn patience
– It teaches body awareness and grace
– It teaches good manners
– It teaches cooperative problem solving
– It teaches how to help another
– It teaches one how to treat another person the way one would like to be treated
And maybe you can think of even more.

There are a few more quotes on the most recent Michael Olaf Montessori Newsletter, May, 2016. CLICK HERE: NO CHECKMATE

chess book front large

NO CHECKMATE, Montessori Chess Lessons for Age 3 to 90+
ISBN 1-879264-18-8
123 pages, black and white illustrations
Copyright © 2016 Susan Mayclin Stephenson

To order:
from the publisher CLICK HERE: Michael Olaf Montessori Books

from NAMTA (The North America Montessori Teachers’ Association) CLICK HERE: NAMTA

from Amazon USA CLICK HERE:  No Checkmate book