Friday, August 28, 2015

On Our Montessori Bookshelves

Reading has been an important part of our daily routine with both Henry and Nora since they were born. Lately, both of them will sit and read (or be read to) for long stretches of time. 


Instead of one reading nook, we have several reading areas throughout our home. In our living room, we have a large basket with books from both age groups. They each also have their own small shelf in our play area. Nora's room has a basket of books and Henry's an entire bookshelf.


Once our new playroom is finished, they will have a larger reading area, with a child-friendly bookshelf


The books we pick for each child for these areas, obviously, vary quite a bit since they are in such different places developmentally. 

Nora

At 14-months-old, we are looking for simple realistic books. We want something based in realty with clear consise language. We avoid fairy tales, talking animals and cartoons when pictures are available. 


Some current favorites -- One Little LambHush, Little Horsie; Look at Me! On the Farm; Smile!; Tom and Pippo's Day

This doesn't mean we completely avoid illustrations, but if real pictures are an option we lean toward that choice. The illustrations we do choose, however, are as lifelike and beautiful as possible. 


Hush, Little Horsie, for example, is her ultimate favorite right now. It's illustrated but you would hardly know it!


Henry

Henry, unlike Nora has a much wider range of books. We still try to avoid a lot of fantasy, but allow some. Star Wars {a love of his} is an obvious one. But, Henry is also right at the cusp of reading, and many early readers include themes {talking animals, character based} that might otherwise not be Montessori friendly.  


Current favorites -- Star Wars: The Story of Darth VaderAmazing YouThe Seven Continents; The Hippopotamus; The Book with No Pictures; Bob Books

Long story short, Henry has a mix of fiction and non-fiction, fantasy and reality. We follow his interests to cultivate a love for reading. But, we still prefer his books be as real as possible.


What are your children's favorite books? I'm linking up with How We Montessori to share our shelves today!

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Montessori Toddlers and Maximum Effort

Closely related to the need for gross motor play in toddlers is the need to reach maximum effort. While I knew nothing about Montessori when Henry was a toddler, I recognized this need in him, but just thought he was funny. He was always trying to carry and lift things that were way too big for him, or were too heavy.


Now, I recognize these same qualities in Nora. Except, this time, I know that she's trying to reach maximum effort. Montessori recognized that as toddlers grew, they looked for ways to develop their strength. They look for ways to challenge themselves in constructive ways.


Knowing this, I have looked for opportunities for Nora to exercise this internal drive to reach this maximum effort. Often, this means not reacting when Nora reaches for something that might not seem like its appropriate for her. Not only does this help to increase her concentration, its amazing when you see their own minds at work.


But, it also means providing Nora with heavy objects to safely haul, lift, drag and carry. These are things for her 

One easy way that I've done this has been with DIY water jugs. I filled small jugs {like these} from a craft store with varying amounts of water. They are perfect for lifting or just carrying around. Since they are plastic {unlike most of her materials}, I don't worry about her dropping them if she gets tired.


These have been a huge hit with Henry and Nora, actually. They can usually be found inside our walker wagon adding weight to be pushed, or being carried just carried around. 


Other common objects can also be used to meet the need to reach maximum effort. These include large pillows, large balls, unit blocks, foam blocks {pictured}, and other small heavy objects. 


Have you noticed your child trying to reach maximum effort? What do they like to do?

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

DIY Rainbow Rock Clock for Preschoolers

As I mentioned in my post on Montessori time telling, Henry is interested in learning how to tell time. I wanted to make a fun more-permanent extension for our classroom for him. 


I had seen a rock clock on Pinterest, and wanted to recreate something similar. In Montessori we try to take the abstract and make it as concrete as possible. We also strive for natural beauty. I thought this did a pretty good job fitting with those goals, even if it's not a traditional work.


To make the clock, I simply gathered 24 rocks. The larger rocks were from my sensory filler collection, and the smaller were from my garden. I painted each with acrylic paint. 


The larger rocks were for the hours, since that's the larger unit of time. I used rainbow order and color matching to make the clock self correcting. Henry knows rainbow order well, so he could spot if something was out of order.


I added a simple blank clock face to help add structure to the clock. Henry has returned to this basket regularly. And it is a simple DIY for any preschooler!


I hope you have as much fun with this as we have!

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Gross Motor for Young Toddlers

When you sit and watch a young toddler, you really can see just how busy they are. They are driven to move. Often, I've noticed that Nora is completely unable to sit even for something she loves. For parents, this can be extremely frustrating especially if you expect them to be still. 

Young toddlers {12 to 18 months} are right in the middle of the sensitive period for gross motor. They have an internal drive to move that they physically cannot control. They actually can't be still. Therefore, it's important to provide some outlet for them to move, to run, to climb, to jump, and to throw. Developing these gross motor skills is essential to their ability to focus on other skills later.


There are so many Montessori friendly things that can help toddlers meet this need to move. From a simple ball, to small bikes, this gross motor need can be met inside and outdoors. We don't have all of these things; and I don't think it's necessary to, as long as you provide opportunities for movement. My favorite, hands down, is the walker wagon. Nora has used this daily since she was six-months-old. 


Even without things, gross motor play can be easily achieved. Couch cushions on the floor! Opening and closing a door. A milk jug with some water to haul around. Or, even a cardboard box. Even simpler -- a walk outside! 


Even when its frustrating, remember that it's normal for a young toddler to never.stop.moving or to be more interested in climbing a shelf than using the materials on it. Feed that drive and the rest will come later!  

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Our Montessori Home {and tips to create your own}

A glimpse into our {completely not perfect} Montessori home. These spaces are in constant states of evolution. As we follow the child, the environment must change to meet their individual needs. So, today our lives look like this. But, your Montessori home could look very different.

How to create a Montessori Home

Kitchen



Choose authentic materials, and keep them accessible -- especially those things most frequently used by your children. Drinking glasses are a great place to start.



Our Essentials -- Juicer; Stainless Pitcher; Small Glasses; Dishware; Learning Tower 


Dining 


Here its all about comfort -- being able to sit in a chair and table that is made for their size. Pulling out the table, setting the table, and enjoying a meal. Then, a place to clean it all up. 


Our Essentials -- Weaning Table; Weaning Chairs 

Care of Self 


These areas are all about making independence possible. They don't need to ask for a toothbrush, or to comb their hair -- they just can. Putting shoes on or away is simple. These are the everyday things that adults take for granted, but may otherwise not be available to children. 


Our Essentials -- Large Basket; Natural Brushes

Bedrooms 


This space is about comfort and safety -- at their level.



Our Essentials -- Mirror; floor mat; floating shelves

Play Spaces 


These areas about about organization -- a space for everything and everything in its space. This keeps things from being overwhelming or chaotic.


Our Essentials -- Shelving; quality toys and materials

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12 Months of Montessori Learning!

This post is part of the 12 Months of Montessori Learning series. This month is focused on Montessori spaces! Take a peak at other Montessori spaces on these amazing blogs!  

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