Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Shelf at 23 Months

I'm deep into my 1st trimester with 3.0 and days are feeling long and slow and hard. Nora has been feeling it too as the usual flurry of activity has ground to a halt. Non-essentials have fallen to the side as I struggle to find the energy to just do the basics. 


But, the end is in sight, because some days I feel alright, even a little more than alright. Tired, but not nauseous, sleepy but not pure exhaustion. And, today I took advantage of that and switched over one of Nora's shelves. She has three main shelves in our home for her to use each with three or four toys just for her -- one in our kitchen play area, one in her bedroom and this one. So, even a few changes have been a welcomed sight! 


The new offerings called to her immediately as she examined them. When I watch her play, I'm always so shocked by how big she is becoming, how mature her movements are, how gentle she can be. 

Shelf holds:  Vintage Small Knobbed Vehicle Puzzle {similar to this or this}; 4 piece shape sorter {similar}; Animal Finger Puppets 


A tower that would have fallen over a few short months ago, stands tall. And, just a small smile crawls across her face as she completes a new puzzle. Work is returned to the shelf when completed. She still has some signs of baby in her. Lots of wandering and seeking opportunities for reaching maximum effort. Her favorite thing to do still seems to be just crawl all over me and getting cuddles. And of course, the marker marks she scribbled on her feet. 

Nora plays with this stacking pyramid


Its hard to believe that in just a few short weeks, Nora will be 2. And in a few months, she will be the big sister. I'll enjoy the small glimpses of babyhood and the amazing changes that independence, skill and maturity of 2 bring.

What does your older 1-year-old enjoy? Have you seen an increase in interest in toys/work or is it all gross motor? 

If you liked this post, don't miss: Let's Stop Rushing Toddlers; 5 Trays for Toddlers that Love to Peel

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

20 Ways For Toddlers to Reach Maximum Effort

Over and over again, I have seen parents complain about their toddlers not wanting to sit still or play with toys. Many lament the fact that they seem too busy to focus on much of anything. And, over and over again I remind them that toddlers are meant to move! 

We cannot underestimate the need to exert maximum effort for toddlers. They are working so hard to develop all their muscles that they often can't stop. Their inner drive to move just overpowers them. I still see this with Nora now, even though she's rapidly closing in on 2-years-old. She still needs opportunities to reach maximum effort and just do heavy work in general.



So, what are some ways that toddlers can exert maximum effort? Here are a few easy ones -- 
  1. Carrying around large purse or backpack
  2. Using large foam blocks
  3. Walking over pillows 
  4. Move a bucket of water 
  5. Pushing a loaded laundry basket 
  6. Small weights 
  7. Carrying couch cushions or large pillows 
  8. Catch with a super large ball 
  9. Pushing/Pulling a weighted wagon 
  10. Dumping a bucket of sand
  11. Scooping gravel 
  12. Carrying a cardboard box 
  13. Climbing a slide 
  14. Weighted Jugs
  15. Loading books in and out of basket or box 
  16. Over-sized Pouring -- large watering can or ball drop 
  17. Climbing a Pickler Triangle 
  18. Carrying objects up stairs 
  19. Using a pulley 
  20. Loading larger rocks into container -- dump truck, bucket, wagon or wheel barrow 

Have you noticed that your toddler just has to have this kind of work? What types of work to do you have so your child can reach maximum effort? 

If you liked this post, don't miss: Montessori Toddlers and Maximum Effort

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Baby K 3.0!

You may have noticed things have ground to a halt around here. Well, there's been a good/big reason for that! 


I'm pregnant. 7w5d pregnant to be exact. Due December 10th. Given my history with recurrent pregnancy loss, being pregnant is a pretty nerve wracking thing so a lot of my normal activities have been pushed aside. 

There's also the fact that I'm on progesterone to support the pregnancy and that makes me feel like crap.


So, things are probably going to stay slow for awhile, at least until I'm out of the first trimester. I'll check in when I can! 

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Montessori Silliness and Joy

Not too long ago, someone in a Montessori group I'm in asked if Montessori children ever smile. At first thought, I was kind of taken aback by the question. Of course Montessori children smile! But, then I thought about it. I think Montessori children are often pictured in those moments of intense concentration and work. They often have that stoic look that accompanies their work. 


But that really is unfair to these children. Because after that concentration, there is great joy. The joy that is seen when a child makes a discovery on their own with work that has been freely chosen is contagious. It can literally light up a room. 


So know that there is room for silliness in Montessori. There is room for imagination. There is room for smiles and joy! Even if its not shown all the time, it is there all the time. These flashes of wonderfulness that show you just how engaged and invested these children are. You just need to sit back and watch. Let those discoveries come. And the joy will follow. 


Nora explores play silks. These are handmade by my lovely friend Amy at Midwest Montessori.


Have you ever seen this joy? Have you seen the silly? 

If you liked this post, don't miss: A Montessori Moment; A Toddler at Work 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Montessori Inspired Space or Earth Sorting with Printable

Henry, like a lot of little kids his age, loves space. I'm sure it has something to do with his love of star wars, but also, its just so cool! There are so many great ways to learn about space, astronomy and our place in it. 


We have studied space many times before and some of our space work has become a stable in our classroom. In particular, our DIY Solar System mat is a constant hit! And, I'm shocked how much knowledge Henry has acquired using it! Many of our other space themed trays have also come back on many occasions! 


Recently, I made a set of sorting cards for  him. These cards included a bunch of images of either objects in space or on Earth. It was then his job to sort which belonged to which. Henry very much enjoyed this task, but the sorting was not a challenge for him. And, I was shocked how many objects in space he could name with surprising accuracy. 

Still, he used this work several times in a row before sitting back to admire it. At this point, I asked some open ended questions to engage him in a new way.


"I wonder how the things on Earth are the same as the things in space? I wonder how things are different? What are some things you see on Earth? Do you see them in space? I wonder why." 

Ultimately, he led himself to the conclusion that only Earth contained life and only Earth contained water. Despite our previous studies, this was a very new and very mind blowing idea. The open ended nature of the cards will allow us to have a variety of interesting conversations about space and our role in it. They really can lead us in so many different directions. 


The cards themselves are essentially classification cards. I made them without words so even younger kids can sort them. I think as young as 3-year-olds could do this work with a bit of context. 

To make these cards, I simply printed the images, cut and glued to card stock. Then, I laminated and punched the corners. 



I hope you enjoy these cards as much as we have! They are an easy way to explore both life on Earth and space. They are just one of so many cool space themed materials that you could have at home! These figures are also awesome! And how cool do these solar system magnets looks? And this model?! Pretty much the sky is the limit! 

Do your children like space? What aspects have you studied together? 


12 Months of Montessori 

This post was brought to you as part of the 12 Months of Montessori Series! This month's theme is astronomy. To see more Montessori inspired astronomy themed ideas, don't miss these great blog posts. 

Space Yoga for Kids | Sugar, Spice & Glitter
Gearing up for Astronomy | Grace and Green Pastures
Astronomy for Christian Children | Christian Montessori Network

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

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