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Easy Math Games with Dice

I've said it before and I'll say it again, there is nothing like the genius that is the Montessori math materials. Nothing. If I can give my kids anything, it is the concrete understanding of the mathematical world that Montessori brings. That being said, I can't have all the math materials in my home. I just can't. I don't have that kind of space, experience, or money. What I can do is try to provide opportunities for concrete math experiences that support their learning at school - especially now when we find ourselves suddenly homeschooling for the foreseeable future. 
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One way that we have done this lately with Nora (5 years) and Henry (9 years) is with dice games. Both are at very different stages in their math journeys but can use this same material to meet their needs. It's a very simple set up including:  10 sided dice. These dice have number 0 to 9 on them so they work really well. Regular dice also …
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A Note on Baby Shelves

I'm a little bit behind on writing about Theodore as we transition to our temporary homeschool and quarantine life but he's still here! We're all adjusting to more humans at home, and that includes Teddy. Even as a baby you can just tell he knows that life is a bit different now. And with that has come a lot more play time at home for him. That's not a bad thing! 

At this age, Teddy just needs a few things - time on the floor, exposure to language, nursing, and sleep! Here, I want to talk about time on the floor. At home, that's all he has if he is outside of someone's arms. Time on the floor is essential to develop all of the new motor skills that he is so driven to learn. My job in all of this is to create a space where Teddy can play and explore. 
Sometimes, I feel like there is a pressure in the Montessori community to create beautiful and perfect classroom like spaces. And, I love a good infant shelf and movement area myself! But, with all this time at hom…

Summer Capsule Wardrobe Planner

Here in Minnesota we have had a pretty mild winter and early spring. After having record breaking snow and cold last year, this has been a welcome relief. It also makes me super motivated to get all our summer clothes in order and ready for warmer weather! Once again, I have will put together a capsule wardrobe for each of the kids.




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A capsule wardrobe is a small, intentional wardrobe with coordinating pieces. It has everything you need for the season. We have used one for awhile now and it is perfect for our Montessori home. Since sharing my winter capsule wardrobe planner, many of you have asked for me to share a summer planner as well. So, here it is! 


A few notes about this season! One, you might notice that there are a few more shirts than the winter capsule. I've just found that the kids go through a few more outfits in the summer than the winter. They are outside more, get wet more frequently, and are home more frequently…

Shelf Help Episode 5 - Toddler Classes, Sports, and Summer Activities

In today's world there are so many options for child-centered classes. From music classes, to art and sports, parents are inundated with choices for their children. In today's episode, Nicole and Amy discuss their experiences with classes for babies, toddlers, and older children as Montessori parents. We'll share some tips on what to look for when choosing classes and sports. We talk about how to decide if an activity is Montessori friendly and fits with your child and family. 
*This episode was recorded prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. Please practice social distancing and take this advice for a safer time.  Show NotesMusic TogetherSensitive Period for MovementAwesome Science Experiments for KidsHorme


Thanks for joining me for today's podcast! If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share and leave a review in your favorite podcast app.
If you are interested in finding Shelf Help in a podcast app, it is available on Apple | Spotify | Stitcher | Google.
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A Super Easy Math DIY for Preschoolers

Montessori has so many great traditional math works. In fact the entire mathematical curriculum is pure genius. I personally have such a complicated relationship with math that I often regret the fact that I wasn't able to learn the Montessori way. I wonder if that relationship would be different if I had the benefit of using Montessori materials in my own childhood. But, it's too late for me, so I focus on my children. 

But, that doesn't mean that we need every single math material in our homes. This is especially true if you send your child to a Montessori school. This is not only expensive but it just isn't necessary. Gus will eventually go to a Montessori children's house and have a formal introduction to the Montessori math curriculum. But, for now I'm introducing a few things here at home as he shows interest. 


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Recently, I made this super easy DIY. It is far from perfect but it's a really fun way …

Games We Love - 5+

We are a board game family. I love playing games, Morgan loves playing games, the kids love games. They are just such a great way to engage with them and each other. Finding games that are both engaging, fun, and developmentally appropriate can be a challenge. I am always on the hunt for new games that would be a good fit for my kids - especially as they get older. Today, I thought I would share a few of my favorites on my list for ages 5 and up. 
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At this age I like to have a mix of cooperative games (where you work together to solve a common problem) and competitive games (where there is a clear winner and loser.) I find that by the second plane of development (ages 6 to 12) that a lot of children really enjoy the competitive element of games and are really ready to explore the social rules around winning and losing. 
Carcassonne - this is probably the most advanced game we play with Henry in theme since it does involve "war&…

Shelf Help Episode 4 - Social Distancing and Montessori

As the Covid-19 pandemic reaches further into the United States, we encourage everyone to practice social distancing at this time. In this episode, Amy and Nicole give an update on their Montessori homes and a look at how they are dealing with the closures related to the spread of Covid-19. We also discuss Montessori ideas and activities for children from birth to age 9 to try when they are spending significant time at home.

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Show Notes
RhythmsOnline Museum/Zoo/Cultural OpportunitiesMaximum EffortIn and Out Work for Babies/ToddlersOpen and Close WorkBalance BikesIn the Town All Year Round In the Town All Year Round at NightSound GamesNumeral Cards and Counters InfoMontessori.comStencilsPencilsClayPlaydoughSandpaper Letters (printMovable Alphabet (print)Montessori PrintshopDash into LearningCosmic Kids YogaYahtzeeKids Maze BooksMad LibsFelt Timeline for Older KidsHand washing LessonToddler Hand washingAnimal Walking 


Thanks for joi…

Easter Basket Ideas 2020

With the social distancing, quarantine, and closures happening right now our life is pretty disrupted. At this point we are no longer able to attend religious services and our plans for Easter are very much up in the air. With all these changes, I do want to keep our celebration of Easter at home with the children as familiar to them as possible. So, I've been gathering some things for their Easter baskets and thought I would share. 

This year I tried to go with mostly indoor activities since we are stuck inside or in our yard for the foreseeable future. I will likely add some outdoor chalk and bubbles plus a couple small treats to each basket - depending on if and what I can find in our local stores. Here's a look at each child's basket. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. Henry - 9-years-oldBinoculars - Our old binoculars were lost last summer in a hiking trip and Henry has been talking about getting new ones since. Yellow, because it's his forever…

Sensitive Period for Order, Isolation, and Covid-19

There's a general feeling of different in my house right now. Because of other time off, Henry hasn't had school in over a week. Nora's been out of school for the last couple days. We haven't really left the house other than to walk in our neighborhood. It's really different for us. Yesterday we had to go to Henry's school and get materials to prepare for long term closure and distance learning. The situation is still unfolding and we don't really know how long Nora or Henry will be off of school. I'm sure many of you are facing similar situations.
All of this has been the long way of saying our normal order of things is super disrupted. And we all know how important order is for young children. During this time of uncertainty we cannot forget about the sensitive period for order. So many of us are trying to create a new rhythm and routine for our lives. Maybe you are suddenly working from home, or maybe your kids are out of school, or maybe older sibl…

Montessori "Areas" to Focus On at Home

As many parents are settling into a new reality around the world, we are all trying to find our balance. There are those that are used to being at home with their children but who are now completely confined to their homes. There are those who are trying to work from home without childcare. And there are some for whom those changes are coming soon. 
While we are all at home many parents are feeling an intense need to "homeschool" or teach their children. Others are feeling like this should just be a time for relaxation and connection. I'm sort of taking a middle ground here. Yes, we will have learning with Montessori and Montessori inspired materials we will also have lots of slow time to just be together in a relaxed and fun way. For the first couple of weeks our lives will be more about finding our rhythm together here at home, then we will add more and more academic work into the equation (especially for my 9yo Henry.) 

If you are feeling like you're in the same …