Our History

Nonna's Intergenerational Christian Montessori

began with the simple mission to 

engage children and elders

in meaningful community

while experiencing ordinary life

with extraordinary love



The name and concept of "Nonna's" has a special story, told from founder Michelle Thompson's perspective... 


"My Nonna, which is Italian for Grandmother, had the most welcoming, small, white house with yellow trim. I would spend many hours there when my mother was away at work - my home away from home.  The smell of dried basil, the site of homemade raviolis and their crimped edges, the taste of pears from her fruit tree in the backyard, the touch of her particularly soft shoulder, or sounds of stories and music on her small transistor radio are memories that fill my senses. If we were to offer something of value during the day, while children and elders were away from their families and homes, I wanted it to be as wonderful as being at my Nonna's."  


Knowing the need for quality daycare for infant through preschool  was in demand, realizing the lack of authentic Montessori Infant Nido environments, understanding the staggering numbers of those entering retirement age and facing challenges with cognitive retention and functioning, and desiring to explore the benefits of intergeneration interaction,

our families, the Thompsons and the TerHaars joined efforts to create a one of a kind offering.

We want this history, our story, to become your story, so you too, may experience a "home away from home" at Nonna's.


The Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant

and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments,

to a thousand generations. Deuteronomy 7:9

The History of Montessori

               Dr. Maria Montessori was one of the first female doctors in Italy. Although misunderstood by her contemporaries and some today, she was a pioneer in her thoughts and actions toward children. She did not work with the elite, as many people think, but the disadvantaged, the mentally and physically challenged, and the poor. She brought her theories of sensorial learning to life and began to create educational tools that would expedite and facilitate their love for learning. She was the first to create child-sized everything; instead of mini-adults, she respected children as children. She coined the phrase “a place for everything and everything in its place” as she recognized the child’s need for order and beauty, meaningful engagement, and purposeful work.



















             She further observed that children are different from each other and need to learn at their own pace and time of readiness. The first six years are the most sensitive and critical period of the child’s life. The child has the unique ability (one that is lost in adulthood) to absorb everything in their environment in an intuitive way. Dr, Montessori developed what she called the “prepared environment,” which has a certain order and allows children to develop at their own pace, according to their own capabilities, in a noncompetitive atmosphere. She said, “never let a child risk failure until he has a reasonable chance of success.” She also observed that children have an innate love and need for purposeful activities. The child receives pleasure in the “doing,” not just in the profit and completion of the task, as adults do. Specially trained adults referred to as “guides” inspire “learners” to become curious, natural learners.  These same concepts, when applied to elders living with dementia, have similar beneficial results as young children.

               The Montessori philosophy of education is that every child carries within themselves the person that they will become. To develop their physical, intellectual, emotional, linguistic and social and spiritual capacity that must have freedom—a freedom that is achieved through order and self-discipline, a freedom not to do what you want but to do what is right. A child’s world is full of sights and sounds that appear chaotic, and in this chaos they must create order, thus learning to master themselves in the world in which they live. Elders can benefit from this rediscovery.

               In each of our special prepared environments designed for multi-ages, there are materials on the shelves grouped by subjects or key curriculum components.  The shelves “read” from left to right, top to bottom, so children would be aware of a progression from easiest to most difficult.  Children and Elders can only touch a material if they have been shown the “lesson” as a measure of control and order in the classroom.  More than that, everyone desires repetition and become familiar with the work.   There are special materials designed to teach all aspects of faith, math, sensorial/geometry, language, science, history, geography, practical life, grace and courtesy, and peace education.  There are special areas for our materials of faith called “The Atrium.”

            Dr. Montessori used the term “Atrium,” derived from the gathering place for worship in the early Christian church, to describe the spiritual environment that is carefully set up and prepared for the children to proclaim the message of Jesus, teach the lessons Jesus taught, and focus on the Word and worship. Each of our environments houses an altar, religious work, and biblical lessons through which the children can express their faith in Christ. 


“The Montessori Method was furnished with a long-sought opportunity of penetrating deeper in the life of the {human} soul, and of thus fulfilling it’s true educational mission.” (E.M. Standing)

Dr. Maria Montessori who open the first Casa de Bambini in 1907

Our visit to the original Casa De Bambini in Rome, Italy 2017

Nonna's Intergenerational Christian Montessori

301 Promenade Avenue, Wayzata, Minnesota 55391

Email: info@nonnas.net             Call: 952-300-7860

Hours of operation: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm Monday-Friday