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Shelf Help Ep. 14 - Summer Outdoor Play

The outdoor prepared environment is just as important as being important as being indoors. There are abundant opportunities to follow your child and learn a variety of skills. With a summer of play right around the corner Nicole and Amy discuss outdoor play with their Montessori families. From pools to nature, to bikes, gardening, and loose parts, in this episode we talk about how we are keeping busy outside this summer.  Show Notes...Bicycle basket Gathre Blanket IKEA toolsBackyard Splash PadHard plastic pool (baby/toddler pool)Collapsable pool  (bigger kid pool)Little Tykes Slide (Amy and Nicole recommend looking for these used since they are no longer made)Slip 'n SlideWater BlobScooterPlasma CarEaselOutdoor ShelfFlower ArrangingOutdoor storage containersPaintsGiant JengaDivided trayWater Tables 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.
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Montessori Language Fundamentals to Remember

Maria Montessori made so many amazing discoveries when it comes to the inner life of a child. And this includes some amazing insight into how children learn best. Even today, more than 100 years later, Dr. Montessori's method are being confirmed as best practices with current educational research. While I've often sung the praises of Montessori's approach to math, the approach to language is just as amazing. 

Before I dive into exactly what we've done at home to support writing and reading development in my children, I wanted to write about some Montessori language fundamentals that inform the work we do with Gus and Nora. So here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to the Montessori approach to learning to read and write. 
Read Part 1 of this language series: Pincer Grip - Preparing for Language Work It Comes Early, but not That Early In today's world there can be significant pressure to make sure toddler's are "learning" enough. It can lead …

Sensitive Periods from Birth to 6 - A Chart and Guide

Dr. Maria Montessori spent her life observing, studying, and writing about children. During her lifetime of work she discovered that young children move through a series of special times when they are particularly attracted to specific developmental needs and interests. She called these times, sensitive periods. During the sensitive period, children learn skills related to the sensitive period with ease. They don't tire of that work, but seek it, crave it and need it. When the sensitive period passes, this intense desire is gone, never to return. 

That doesn't mean the skill is lost forever once the sensitive period is over. Instead, it just means that it will take a more conscious effort to learn. As Dr. Montessori explains, 
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"A child learns to adjust himself and make acquisitions in his sensitive periods. These are like a beam that lights interiorly a battery that furnishes energy. It is this sensibility which enables a…

Shelf Help Ep. 13 - Bedtime Routines

What does bedtime look like in a Montessori family? The answer will vary for everyone as families follow their individual children and their own sleep needs. In this week’s episode Nicole and Amy answer one of your most commonly asked questions and share their bedtime routines and experiences with sleep. We chat about everything from balancing independence, to what we’re reading before bed and how we make it work with multiple kids.
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Show Notes...Strider BikeWoom BikesThe Children of Noisy VillageBetsy TacyTanglewood Animal ParkMontessori Speaks To ParentsEcho Dot
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Easy Sensory Exploration for Babies

For the last couple of the months Teddy has slowly been eating more and more solid food. As part of his meals Teddy gets water in his weaning cup. While spills are super common (and I think a necessary part of the learning process) I've noticed that Teddy gets a significant amount of joy from splashing in the water that spills all over the table. Almost more joy than he gets from eating food. 

In general, Teddy is also just a water baby. He loves the bath and getting wet. But, without solidly sitting the bath isn't a super easy place for him to just play with water. He can kick and splash, but just without a lot of freedom. 
So thinking about those two things, I wanted to create a sensory experience where Teddy could explore water in a safe way that allowed for a little more freedom. My ultimate hope is that he gets this exploration out in this way, and maybe feels slightly less compelled to splash all over the dinner table! 

To fill this need I simply put out a towel on our kitc…

Responding to the Big Feels

Sometimes it feels like my main job as a Montessori parent is responding to big feelings and emotions. Especially over the last couple of months when we've all been at home together for extended periods of time. It can be difficult to remember to respond (instead of react) in a calm, collected and helpful manner. In these difficult moments, it can be tempting to jump in and try to distract, solve or explain away a child's emotional response. But, in the end, that's not helpful to our children. By naming feelings and helping them to work through them, we normalize all feelings and help them to eventually handle them on their own.

I've found though that how we respond to a feeling really depends on the situation and the child. But, there are some general rules that I keep in mind depending on the type of emotion I am observing. I've made a couple of cheat sheets to help me explain how I approach emotion. First, is the sliding scale of emotions.  On the left side (happy…

Shelf Help Ep. 12 - Games!

Games are a fun way to connect with your child and teach new concepts. But, games are also a great way for children to practice a variety of social-emotional skills. From patience, and turn-taking to wining and losing, games gently introduce these concepts to children. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy talk about some of their favorite Montessori friendly games and how and when they introduce games in their families.  Show Notes...YahtzeeAggravationNumerals and Counters with Pennies18+ Months First OrchardRoll and Play Game2+ year olds  Shopping ListCreature MatchingSneaking, Snacky Squirrel3/4+ year olds Bed Bugs GameCandy LandHoot Owl HootMax the CatUno5+ year olds  OutfoxedCarcassonneGuess WhoShadows in the Forest {similar version}Walk in the WoodsAdditional Games Ideas Favorite Board Games at 4-Years10 Awesome Games for ToddlersGames We Love 5+Balancing Games

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Montessori Friendly Toys at 7 Months

Teddy is growing so quickly I can hardly believe it! The last couple months have been an explosion of movement for Teddy and an explosion of teeth! And those two things have really driven him to his favorite things. He is army crawling all over the place, rocking on his hands and knees, went from no teeth to 4, and can explore large parts of the house on his own. 

See a video of 7 minutes of play at 7 months here. 

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Here is a look at some of the things we included on his shelves at 7 months. Those marked with * were his favorites. 
Flip Fingers - I loved that it made him stretch and reach with one hand, he loves watching them spin 
Large OBall* - he love to shake
Como Tomo Teether* - The best teether ever 
Stacking Cups - I only included the smallest two which he liked to pull apart, but never got to the point in putting them back together 
Treasure Baskets* - absolute favorite, he just loved chewing on all the metal (and recently added br…

Montessori Friendly Finds I Wish I Could See at IKEA

You guys know how much I love IKEA, right? Well, it's been a hot minute since I've been able to go to IKEA with the Covid-19 crisis. Actually, it's been a minute since I've been to ANY store. I'm longing for the days of wandering around IKEA and exploring all that there is to see!
Well, it's starting to lead me to do a little more window shopping lately. And I decided I might as well share some of the cool looking Montessori friendly products I would love to be able to see in person. And, here are a few things I've found:

Gardening Tool Set - I immediately love the large ring they are on, it makes me wonder if these would be small enough to give to my children. The ring would make it so easy to store outside on the garden fence!
Watering Can - hands down my favorite kid sized watering cans, I don't actually need a new one I just love this color
Washcloths - I love the sweet little rabbits on these, I actually can't get enough washcloths not that Teddy i…

Our Approach to Technology in the Age of Covid-19

We have this weekly white board calendar in our kitchen which I use as a reminder to myself of the daily activities that are happening in a given week. It used to include things like doctor appointments, work calls, or playdates. But, now that we are officially two months into social distancing and shelter in place laws, something very new is filling my calendar - virtual conference calls. Suddenly, I feel like a big portion of my week is now managing who has a call and at what time. And, I'm guessing that for most of us are dealing with more and more virtual social interaction and increased use of technology. 
Before I go further I just want to say that this article is only meant to share my perspective, and our approach to technology right now. This isn't meant to be a judgment on anyone who uses technology more or less. It's also not meant to be one-size-fits-all Montessori approach. It's simply how we are surviving during this difficult time. 
Typically, we are nearl…