Thursday, August 18, 2016

Montessori Toddler Work 15 to 20 months

This is a long overdue post! Nora is now 26-months-old, but somewhere along the way this post got lost. Here are some of the Montessori and Montessori inspired work that Nora was using at this time. 


I do feel like I should mention that at this time Nora wasn't super into shelf work. She would work in spurts but much of her time was focused on gross motor and maximum effort play. You will also notice many of these works aren't fancy or store bought, but many did the job just fine! 

These also weren't all out at one time. I maybe had one to three of these out at a time in addition to some of her Montessori friendly toys. This way her shelves were a good mix of many types of activities to fit her needs. 

1:1 Correspondence Work: We started with a small container like this and moved to larger containers and more objects.



Color Themed Treasure Baskets


Dry Pouring with Beans -- this was done sparingly when Nora seemed to need a dumping outlet. Typically pouring at this age should be done more naturally -- like pouring a glass of water to drink.


Dry Spooning: Again this was used rarely and under supervision. Most spooning was done in a more natural way this was just as a supplement from time to time.


Dot Painting


Object-to-Object Matching: Here using small Grimm's dolls


Shape Matching Open and Close Basket: Taking lids on and off small boxes where only difference is the shape 



Large Bead Lacing: using pipe cleaner which offers a bit more stability than string but less than a stick 


Simple Stickers


Zip Pouch: Placing and removing smallish objects (some times large wooden coins or large pom-poms) from a zippered pouch


Pin Pushing: Using floral or craft foam and toothpicks (sharp or blunt depending on your comfort level)


Simple Posting Work: made from this game.


I'm sure there were other things that graced Nora's shelves during this time period. And the time periods are pretty fluid. Some of these things Nora would be still interested in today. You really just need to follow your own child's interests, skills and abilities! 

What Montessori work does your 1-year-old likes to do? 

If you liked this post, don't miss: Montessori Work from 12 to 14 Months; Montessori Friendly Toys 16 to 19 Months  

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

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Monday, August 15, 2016

DIY Color Matching Pegs for Toddlers

I have noticed lately that Nora has been super into sorting by color. This makes total sense, of course, because she is still in the sensitive period for order and seeks opportunities to make her world as orderly as possible. She has also been very interested posting/pegging work for sometime. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I could easily make her something to fulfill both of these needs. 


To make this simple color matching activity, you need: 

  1. Old fashioned peg clothes pins 
  2. Pin holders 
  3. Craft wood
  4. Acrylic paint
  5. Super glue 
And, that's it! I happened to have each of these items around my house already and they were each purchased at a thrift sale for under $5 total. But, they can also be found online or pretty much in any craft store. 



The first thing I did was paint each piece -- two of each color. I choose to try to do a couple shades of each color but it doesn't really matter what shades you pick. For me it was just what looked pleasing together and would offer clear self-correction for Nora. 

I only chose to paint the tips of the pins/holders just to keep it simple. I liked the contrast between the natural wood and the bright colors. I also liked that the color matching had a bit of distance between the correct way to place the pin and the match, I felt like that added an interesting challenge. But, you could paint any way you like. 


Once the colors were dry, I arranged the holders on the craft wood. I'm obsessed with rainbow order so I loosely followed that as much as possible. Really I just wanted something beautiful and orderly, otherwise the exact order of the colors wasn't important to me.

After they were arranged, I placed a small amount of super glue around the bottom of each of the pin holders. I made sure to make a complete ring around each but not so much that it leaked all over the inside of the holders. I pressed firmly down and waited for it to dry. 


I waited for the glue to dry and placed the tray on one of Nora's shelves to discover. She has been in love with the tray ever since. The pegs provide a great challenge for her even if the color matching was relatively simple. It's been a great way to work on a pincer grip, since the pegs go in most easily when held and squeezed on the bottom. Plus, you can't been the simplicity or the price! 

This work could easily be adapted to a younger child, I would just skip the color matching in that case and have fewer pegs. Older children could have more pegs and more similar colors. The possibilities are really endless! 


We love colors and color matching and I'm happy to have this on our shelves now! Do your children seek opportunities to color match? What is their favorite work?

Don't miss our Colors Landing Page for lots of information on teaching colors and ideas for color matching! 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Evolution of Our Homeschool Classroom

Now that we are done with homeschooling, it's been fun to look back at the long road we took to get where we are. We started out in just this small corner of our guest bedroom/office and ended up in a beautiful room full of wonderful Montessori materials. It's been so interesting to look back and see how we have changed our lives to incorporate Montessori and how transformative that has been. 


But most importantly with this post, I want to emphasize a few points that I learned a long the way. One, everything does NOT have to be perfect all at once. Your child will learn even in a room that is not perfectly prepared. Yes, a prepared environment is important. But, I've found even if there are things that aren't "picture perfect" it can still attract a child. 

Two, the environment does not have to remain static. In fact, I would argue that it should not. It is an evolving entity in your home. Tweaks need to be made. Adjustments for your child's interests, age level, maturity and readiness. Don't be afraid to make those changes and see how your children respond. And, keep making those changes as necessary to keep your environment successful. 

Classroom 1 



I still love our first little classroom! I knew nothing about Montessori, but it set me on a path to a completely wonderful new life! I'm so proud of myself for jumping in and just doing it! And, I hope seeing where we started gives everyone the motivation to take control for themselves and know that they can do it too! 

You can read more about this space here.

Classroom 2 


This poor little room! It was never successful in this dark corner of our basement. Never under estimate the power of natural light! But, this was a short lived situation. So, this is a perfect example of letting your child lead not being afraid to make the changes you need to have success. 

You can read more about classroom 2 here.

Classrooms 3 and 4


Moving the classroom upstairs was one of the greatest changes that we ever made. You can see we started to seriously incorporate Montessori into our routine and we have been better everyday for it. We still had a long way to go, but this space was well loved while it was in use. 


You can read more about classroom 3 here. And, classroom 4 here.

Classrooms 5 and 6 




The last two spaces were 100 percent my favorites. But, they still weren't perfect. And, I'm not even sure that perfection is achievable. Or, at least for me. Looking back, I'm so glad I tried and I wouldn't change our experience for the world!  


You can read more about classroom 5 here. And classroom 6 here.

Do you homeschool? Have you seen a transformation in your homeschooling spaces throughout the years? 

12 Months of Montessori 

This post is part of the 12 Months of Montessori series! This month's theme is homeschool classrooms! Check out these other great rooms. 

Our 2016 Homeschool Room Tour | The Natural Homeschool
Montessori Homeschool Organization | Mama’s Happy Hive
Little Fish, BIG EMOTIONS | Every Star is Different
Start Your Homeschool Off Right  | Christian Montessori Network

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Monday, August 1, 2016

Montessori Friendly Push and Pull Toys

It seems like small children are always looking for a way to push something, load something, unload something or drag it along. Most of the time kids don't need special toys to fulfill these needs. They will find a basket to push, or a bucket to fill. They can frequently be seen trying to meet maximum effort by pushing chairs across the floor. 

While it's definitely an extra, I've always enjoyed having some push/pull toys around for my children so that my furniture stays put {well, mostly} and my floors are relatively unharmed by dragging non-wheeled objects around. 

Depending on their age, here are some of my favorites! 

Crawling/Pulling Up to Walking

Walker Wagon -- For the youngest babies and toddlers, hands down my favorite push/pull toy is the Radio Flyer Walker Wagon. It's sturdy, the sides come down, and it doesn't roll away as kids are pulling up. Plus, its got plenty of space to haul all sorts of things! The walker wagon is also one of those toys that is so long lasting that we have used it happily for years. 

Walker to 18 months 


Upright Walkers -- I know many people love these even for non-walking babies to pull-up on and push around. Personally, they just seem too tippy for me before walking. But, that's a judgment call every family has to make. There are so many great ones out there on the market! 



Personally, I look for one that is stable, pretty, simple and not too large! Some of my favorites: 

Toddler Wobbler by Brio; Walker Wagon by Haba; Natural Walker by Moover Baby; Block and Roll Cart by Hape; Toddler Wagon by IKEA

Push Toys -- These are always a classic! And, while kids can't haul stuff with these, young toddlers still seem to find hours of enjoyment. These include Plan Toys Walk and Roll; Hape Lawn Mower; Hape Rainbow Push Toy; Melissa and Doug Flapping Duck.

18 months to 3-years old 

Baby Stroller -- By 18-months, my kids have both loved to start pushing a doll around in a stroller. This has been a favorite in our home for a long, long time. We have this simple doll stroller and love it. This wooden pram from Haba also looks wonderful, if you wanted something sturdier. 

Doll Wagon -- We also have a tiny wagon for younger toddlers. This is one of those impulse purchases that I made at a consignment sale and have actually really liked. Its by no means necessary because its so so small, but Nora loves hauling things in it. 


Vacuum -- Another absolute favorite at our house! We just remove the center bar to make it child size! Then its useful and satisfying. Same goes for the swiffer

3-years-old plus 

Larger Wagon -- We love our large wagon, we have a plastic version, but I would love a sturdy metal version like this. The kids haul each other around and do all sorts of great gross motor and maximum effort activities with it!  

Wheel Barrow -- This is on my wish list! It adds a new dimension to push/pull and I think Henry would really enjoy it. Plus its just plain useful when working in the yard! 

Do you have any favorite push/pull toys that you would add to this list?

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 


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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Gift of Time for Montessori Children

"What should I buy my child? What are your favorite wooden toys? We are buying more Montessori toys, what should I get? My child's birthday is coming up..."

I see these types of questions in Montessori circles all the time. And, I'm asked these questions all the time. The emphasis placed on things in our culture can sometimes make these the easy questions to ask. And, honestly, the easy question to answer. But, there is SO much more to being a Montessori parent than wooden toys and tiny furniture. But, this "stuff" is harder to "get."  

There are so many other things that Montessori parents can give their children, and for me one of the most important -- yet, hardest -- is time. There is so little time in all of our lives. So many distractions, so many activities, so many things, so many expectations. Time is scarce. 

But, time, is essential.


They need time to explore freely. As babies and toddlers to explore their environment and the natural world. Then, as young children the time to explore their own interests, desires and continue their exploration of the world around them. 

They need time to play. In the famous words of Maria Montessori -- "Play is the work of the child." They need time to play, and really play. Uninterrupted by the schedule, the demands of adulthood or life. But, don't confuse play with entertainment -- let them lead. 

They need time to try. Children need to try things for their own. They need time to try to put their shoes on, or coat. They need time to try and set the table. To pick their own outfit. I know for me, its so much quicker and easier to do these things myself, but this serves only me. 

They need time to struggle. Adults often see "struggle" as a bad word. But, children are taught to avoid the struggle when we jump in for them. Giving them time to struggle to complete a task lets them feel the joy of accomplishment -- something we can never give them, they have to earn that themselves. I'm not saying we should leave children in distress, but give them time before we step in. 


So, next time you want to make your home "more Montessori" or you want to give something to your child, think about time! How can you give more time to your children? Do they have their own time? Are they free to play, explore, and struggle? 

If you liked this post, don't miss: A Montessori Moment 

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