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An Advent Calendar Idea - A Book a Day

With Advent quickly approaching, I’m trying to get all of my Christmastime ducks in a row. I’ve spent far too much time during the past few years scrambling during December that the season becomes less fun and more stressed. This year, I’m hoping to have most of my chores done ahead of time so that I can soak in the peace, joy, and magic of the season.
One thing I’ve recently done is pulled all my Christmas books out of our book storage to get ready for our Advent calendar. For the second year in a row, we are going to do a book-a-day Advent calendar.


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To do this, I take all of the Christmas books we have and wrap them and write a number on the front. The kids then take turns opening the book that corresponds to the day.
Mostly the choices are random, but if I know we have something special happening then I will pick specific books for specific days. For example, we always buy and decorate our tree the third weekend of Advent, so t…
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Using a Capsule Wardrobe with a Newborn - Montessori Baby Week 8

In a Montessori environment we want to provide a child with the opportunity to participate in practical tasks as much as possible. Dressing is included in this area. But, in order for that to be successful the environment has to be prepared for success. This often means only have a limited amount of clothes available for a child at any given time. I've found that using a capsule wardrobe with my older kids help to meet this need in our environment. 
For many babies the opportunity to actively engage in the dressing process is one of the first practical life experiences they will do. So, to me it makes sense to offer a limited number of choices to babies as well. Plus, it saves money and hassle and all those other great things about a capsule wardrobe. For these reason, I decided that we would use a capsule with Theodore from birth. With the older kids, I wasn't all that intentional about the number of clothes we had. Many of their clothes were only worn a couple times before …

Montessori Aprons to Love

When you see pictures of Montessori children working on practical life work, they are almost always wearing an apron. For my kids, putting an apron on is one of the very first steps to a lot of the things they do around the house. Whether it's moping, cooking in the kitchen, painting, or indoor gardening, an apron is available to them to do the task. I love the aprons not only because they are so adorable, but it helps to keep their clothes clean. Plus, the apron helps to center their activity by signaling the start and end of a particular task. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  1. Beetles 2. Lemons 3. Nature 4. Oranges 5. Pizza 6. Flowers 7. Birds 8. Polka Dots 9. Sunflower
In a Montessori classroom many of the practical life works will have its own apron for a child to use while doing the task. In the classroom, these aprons often coordinate with the work to remind the children where to put it back or which apron to use while working. So, for example, the or…

Transitioning to a Montessori Floor Bed - Montessori Baby Week 7

One of the most iconic and well known parts of using Montessori at home has to be the floor bed. Maria Montessori was very clear that small babies and children should not be sleeping in a crib, but on a low small bed on the floor. This gives babies and toddlers much more freedom of movement than is typically seen. In our family, all of my kids have been in a floor bed by 2 years old. However, Augustus was our first baby to be in a floor bed from birth. We are following the same path for Theodore. 
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Just a reminder, I am sharing what works for my family. Sleep is a sensitive topic and you should do what feels safe and right for your family. 

Teddy is relaxing in his Sprout Kids Floor Bed
This week, Teddy will start to take daytime naps in his floor bed. Up until this point, he has kind of been sleeping everywhere. We have a moveable bassinet that he often would sleep in on the couch or outside. I also hold him sometimes for naps, or …

Top 5 Montessori Gifts for Every Age Group

There are so many amazing Montessori and Montessori friendly materials available for children. But, it can be kind of hard to narrow which will work for your family and will be worth the money in the long term. It can also just be overwhelming to look at ALL the choices. So, I decided it would be a fun game to play with myself to narrow it down to MY top 5 Montessori gifts for every age group through lower elementary. 
I decided these based on: 
my own kids' reactions to these materialsthe flexibility and longevity of the materialMontessori-friendly-ness - a word I just totally made up, but basically, how well does it fit with Montessori.  This was not the easiest of tasks! And, if you're looking for more choice, don't miss my Ultimate Montessori Gift Guide, which is being updated for 2019! 

Babies {Birth to 12 months}  Babies are a real challenge because there is so much growth and change over the course of just one year, but here are my top 5:
Object Permanence Box - all …

Why Use Montessori Mobiles? Montessori Baby Week 6

Montessori mobiles are some of the first materials that a baby will use in a Montessori home. They are a great way to engage a baby even before they have a ton of movement. Theodore is my third baby to use the Montessori mobiles from birth. At week 6 week have introduced three mobiles (one DIY and two traditional). For Teddy, here has been our timeline so far: 
Birth: Munari Inspired 2 Weeks: Traditional Munari 5 Weeks: Octahedron Mobile
This is just when we introduced each mobile. At this time (6 weeks) I am rotating between the mobiles at different times of the day. So his first time I might have the Octahedron out, and then later in the day use the Munari. I'm flexible about this and just follow his interests. As long as mobile is grabbing his attention then it stays in our rotation. 

So clearly I love the Montessori mobiles, but, why should you use them? Here are a few reasons I love them:  Visual Development Babies are born with under developed eyesight. The Montessori mobiles …

What is a Sensitive Period? 15+ Articles on Montessori Sensitive Periods

One of the most foundational parts of Montessori are sensitive periods. Maria Montessori identified that children pass in and out of sensitive periods throughout their childhood. By understanding sensitive periods, we can get a better idea of what our children might be attracted to in our environments. We can get a deeper understanding of their behavior and what they need from us.
Sensitive periods were a time during a child’s development where the child was particularly attracted to a certain developmental skills. Dr. Montessori found that during sensitive period a child can learn these skills with ease. Her materials were then crafted to meet the children's needs during these special times
I like to think of it this way — imagine a brightly lit room. In the room you can see all the things clearly and understand them without much effort. Everything is illuminated and attractive. Now, imagine the same room with the lights turned off. You can still discover the things inside the r…

IKEA Practical Life -- 4 Ways

I love IKEA! It has so many Montessori friendly items at great prices for families - especially practical life items. But there are so many options that it can be overwhelming to walk into the store and figure out what would work together for a specific purpose. 
So, I thought I would put together a few examples for practical life! These are just one possible combination that you could come up with for these areas.
Hand Washing Hand washing is a staple in a Montessori home. For older babies and toddlers, a small hand washing station can help children do it independently. Here's one way you could set it up in your home. 
Large bowl + pitcher + nonslip tray + table (cut to size) + sticky hook + washcloth = $48.44 {USD}
Flower Arranging Flower arranging is a favorite for toddlers and older children alike. It's so simple to put together with some fresh flowers and a small tray on a shelf! Here's what it could look like.

vase (vase, vase) + pitcher + funnel + tray = $29.95
Wind…

Inviting Participation in a Montessori Home

Since Theodore's birth, a little over a month ago, Augustus has been on a practical life strike. He just isn't interested or is outright refusing. He doesn't want to help wash windows, help with laundry, cook/bake, or help with other cleaning tasks. Things he enjoyed before the baby was born. Instead of an enthusiastic "yes!" all I hear is "no" or "mama, you do it!" 
Now, I love practical life. It's hard for me to see days and weeks go by without a ton a participation in daily tasks. I could force it, or ask again and again. It would fill our days with power struggles and strife. But at the end of the day, it's not my choice what Gus chooses to participate in or not. It's ultimately Gus' choice. 

Sometimes we can feel like our role as the adult is to require or force participation. We know these tiny children could do so much. We know they are capable. And, we want to cultivate independence within them. Whether it is getting d…

Movement Area Essentials - Montessori Baby Week 5

Play and exploration is so important for babies. It is through play that babies will learn and grow. As Maria Montessori made very clear, "play is the work of the child." In Montessori we call a baby's first play space a "movement area." I absolutely love that it's called a movement area because it highlights the most important aspect of a baby's play - movement.


When we get in to the habit of thinking of movement as play (and subsequently work) then, I think, it's easier to appreciate all the little and big work that babies (and toddlers!) are doing all of the time.  For Theodore at 5 weeks old, this work right now is moving his head, moving his eyes, starting to control those hands and feet. It's big stuff! Even if it look so little to us. The movement area facilitates this work, giving a baby space and time to perfect those movements and those that come after.

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Also, having a place to play/…