Friday, February 24, 2017

What We're Reading -- February

I love books, and especially children's books, but it can be so hard to find picture books that fit Montessori ideals. Specifically, books that are realistic, beautiful and light on fantasy. When I find books like this, I want to just shout them from the roof tops! So, here's a look at what we're reading this month. 

Montessori friendly books for toddlers and early readers. Including realistic, non-fantasy, fiction books!


* denotes some elements of fantasy 

My favorite was How To! Nora loved Grandma's House and Henry couldn't get enough of Goggles!

What have you been reading to your children lately?

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Discovering the Hand -- Montessori Baby Week 12

There are several "firsts" that, I think, parents eagerly await with their babies. The first time the baby rolls, the first word, the first time they sleep all night, and their first step. But, I think there is one that should be placed above them all -- the first time a baby reaches for another object! 


The hand is so incredibly important to human existence. It's with their hands that children discover their full potential. It's how humans have created tools and technology. It's allowed for written language and art. It truly is amazing. For the infant, it's through discovery of the hand that a child can change and manipulate his or her environment. It's truly a spectacular moment. Therefore, in the words of Maria Montessori: 

"The first movements of his small hand toward external objects should thus be eagerly awaited." 

The exact moment that this discovery occurs will be different for every baby, of course! And once, it happens it opens a whole new world of exploration. Suddenly, we need to provide new experiences for our babies to exercise their new found tools. For Montessori babies, this comes in a couple of different forms -- tactile mobiles and toys. 


There is a whole series of tactile mobiles that can be introduced to a Montessori baby. The first is generally a bell on a ribbon. This beautifully simple mobile allows even small infants to make a sound as they hit the bell. Then, they can track its movements and try again.


I introduced the bell to Augustus at 11 weeks after I noticed him starting to stretch toward his Octahedron mobile. I chose to wait until his movements were intentional, others choose to introduce earlier when more unintentional movement starts. Gus absolutely loves this mobile and flails wildly and smiles hugely when he sees it. He quickly has become adept at hitting the bell. I think it's even passed the beloved Octahedron as his favorite.


Next, have been some simple toys. Right now, I'm focused on toys that are simple to grab and not too overstimulating. Things that interest him enough to really work to grab. So far this has meant rotating through 4 small objects -- a wooden ring, metal interlocking rings, heavy fabric, and a gnome lovey {not pictured due to an unfortunate incident involving our puppy, thankfully a replacement was quickly procured}.


With these, we have done a combination of leaving them in Augustus' play area near him and placing them into his hands. Gus has torticollis (a neck/head issue) that has caused some weakness on one side. His PT has recommended placing in his hands. Otherwise I may have waited for him to completely grasp on his own.


The fabric is placed in a little "tent" shape for him to grab as he plays. It provides an interesting natural challenge. His favorite so far have been metal rings.

For me signs that he was ready for grasping and tactile materials included:
  • Batting at his visual mobiles
  • Grabbing my hair/clothes as he nursed
  • Grabbing the edge of the blanket he lays on
  • Opening his hand when objects come near

Remember these are just signs that I saw in my baby. Your baby may be different! Always observe and follow your own child!


Do you eagerly await the discovery of the hand? When did you introduce simple grasping toys and tactile mobiles?

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

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Monday, February 20, 2017

DIY Montessori Color Sorting Crayon Storage

Art is an important part of our daily routine here. I don't consider myself to be all that creative of a person, but I so love watching children create. In particular, I love the way that art combines so many different and important skills for children. It's practical life, it's fine motor, it's sequencing, it's color theory, it's sorting, and so much more.


Henry was never big into art projects as a toddler, and I honestly think because we never had a very conducive art area or open ended exploration. I got very sucked into Pinterest inspired art projects that he couldn't care less about. Anyway, different story with Nora. She loves art and is engaged in the creative process almost daily.


One way that we keep our art supplies neat, organized, and accessible for both Nora and Henry is through our DIY crayon sorter! I actually made this back when Henry was a toddler and it has been working well for our family for several years. Not only is it beautiful, it helps to enforce the sensitive period for order.


To make this Montessori inspired crayon storage, you'll need: 

First, you'll need to clean the cups of the fruit, paper and adhesive in hot soapy water. Once the cups are clean you can begin to paint. Then use acrylic paint to paint the inside and outside of each cup to whatever your desired colors are. If I were to redo this project, I would have included another cup for brown -- young toddlers do not believe you when you say that brown is a shade of orange.


It took several layers of paint to fully cover the cup. Make sure to let the paint dry fully between each layer or it will just peel the layers of paint right off.  Once the cup is completely covered with paint, you can seal the inside and outside with modge podge. This will give the cups a glossy look and make crayon marks easier to clean. 

When all the cups are sealed and dried, then you can arrange on your board. We used 1x2 board, in a straight line in rainbow-ish order. But, this could be done in any arrangement that suited your space. Once your arrangement is set, simply screw the cups into the board. One screw per cup has kept our cups securely in place for years. And, that's it! Add some crayons and let your child create!


Not Interested in a DIY? There are great commercial options too! 



How do you store your art supplies? Have you found sorting crayons by color helps to keep things neat? 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Toddler Butterfly Theme for Spring

We have officially entered the part of winter where I can do nothing but wish for spring to come. For many of you, spring probably is right around the corner, not so much for us. But, we can dream away our cold days with butterflies. 


In the depths of the winter grey, butterflies are a welcome burst of color! A couple of beautiful trays are the perfect way to introduce these wonderful insects to Nora. 


First, picture to picture matching! I made these simple cards from stickers that I found at Target. I simply placed the stickers on paper, laminated them, and cut around. Easy! Nora always loves this work. 


The second tray is a wonderful little matching work by Eltern Vom Mars. These lovely images of real butterflies are cut in half and matched. This was a really interesting challenge for her and I think this work will remain on her shelves for awhile. 


Finally, we have been exploring these beautiful laminated butterflies. We have simply been enjoying them and doing simple 2 part lessons with their names. These will be great for many years, and I can't wait to explore them further as we officially move into spring and summer. 


These gorgeous butterfly stickers have also been fun to work with! Stickers are amazing fine motor work! 


And finally, we've been enjoying some vintage butterfly prints around her play area. They have been the perfect backdrop against the cold, icy yard! 


While this is what we are working on, there are so many other beautiful Montessori friendly materials that can be used to study butterflies! Here are a few favorites: 


12 Months of Montessori

This post is brought to you as part of the 12 Months of Montessori series! The theme this month is spring! Don't miss these Montessori and Montessori Inspired spring themed posts! 

Montessori-Inspired Skip Counting for Kids {Spring Printables} | The Natural Homeschool

Toddler Butterfly Theme for Spring | The Kavanaugh Report
PB&J Bird Seed Ornaments | Sugar, Spice & Glitter

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.


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Monday, February 13, 2017

The Gobbi Mobile -- Montessori Baby Week 11

The Gobbi mobile is  quintessential Montessori. It's easily one of the most recognizable Montessori infant materials. These beautiful, airy mobiles are made from a single color spheres in varying shades. They are then hung at a 45 degree angle, with the darkest color hung the lowest and the lightest color in the highest position. 


This mobile helps babies work on their visual discrimination skills. The slight change in color is both intriguing and beautiful. And, it has grabbed Augustus' attention in a big way. The Gobbi mobile is the third in the Montessori visual mobile series. It is often introduced between six and eight weeks, sometimes a bit later. 


Gus was so interested in his Octahedron Mobile, that I delayed the Gobbi a bit. So, we introduced around 9.5-weeks and he was skeptical at best. Then, he got super sick and didn't spend much time in his movement area or with the mobiles at all. But, finally feeling better these last few days, Gus has been very into the Gobbi. 

You could really introduce it as soon as you see that interest in the Octahedron mobile starting to fade. It may be, like Gus, that you have to introduce it a few times before you see a lot of interest. But, you don't need to wait as long as we have now! Always follow your own child. 


He has spent upwards of 30 minutes happily cooing and smiling at the mobile. Following it with his head and eyes. This mobile was the same that I made when I was pregnant with Nora. It was a time consuming but rewarding process, and is, my personal favorite mobile. It was made by stringing embroidery floss around a styrofoam ball until the ball was completely covered. 



For more specifics about making the Gobbi mobile, see this tutorial at The Full Montessori
If you're interested in buying a Gobbi, check here or here

Have you made a Gobbi Mobile? Did your baby enjoy it? 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

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