Monday, February 20, 2017

DIY Montessori Color Sorting Crayon Storage

Art is an important part of our daily routine here. I don't consider myself to be all that creative of a person, but I so love watching children create. In particular, I love the way that art combines so many different and important skills for children. It's practical life, it's fine motor, it's sequencing, it's color theory, it's sorting, and so much more.


Henry was never big into art projects as a toddler, and I honestly think because we never had a very conducive art area or open ended exploration. I got very sucked into Pinterest inspired art projects that he couldn't care less about. Anyway, different story with Nora. She loves art and is engaged in the creative process almost daily.


One way that we keep our art supplies neat, organized, and accessible for both Nora and Henry is through our DIY crayon sorter! I actually made this back when Henry was a toddler and it has been working well for our family for several years. Not only is it beautiful, it helps to enforce the sensitive period for order.


To make this Montessori inspired crayon storage, you'll need: 

First, you'll need to clean the cups of the fruit, paper and adhesive in hot soapy water. Once the cups are clean you can begin to paint. Then use acrylic paint to paint the inside and outside of each cup to whatever your desired colors are. If I were to redo this project, I would have included another cup for brown -- young toddlers do not believe you when you say that brown is a shade of orange.


It took several layers of paint to fully cover the cup. Make sure to let the paint dry fully between each layer or it will just peel the layers of paint right off.  Once the cup is completely covered with paint, you can seal the inside and outside with modge podge. This will give the cups a glossy look and make crayon marks easier to clean. 

When all the cups are sealed and dried, then you can arrange on your board. We used 1x2 board, in a straight line in rainbow-ish order. But, this could be done in any arrangement that suited your space. Once your arrangement is set, simply screw the cups into the board. One screw per cup has kept our cups securely in place for years. And, that's it! Add some crayons and let your child create!


Not Interested in a DIY? There are great commercial options too! 



How do you store your art supplies? Have you found sorting crayons by color helps to keep things neat? 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Toddler Butterfly Theme for Spring

We have officially entered the part of winter where I can do nothing but wish for spring to come. For many of you, spring probably is right around the corner, not so much for us. But, we can dream away our cold days with butterflies. 


In the depths of the winter grey, butterflies are a welcome burst of color! A couple of beautiful trays are the perfect way to introduce these wonderful insects to Nora. 


First, picture to picture matching! I made these simple cards from stickers that I found at Target. I simply placed the stickers on paper, laminated them, and cut around. Easy! Nora always loves this work. 


The second tray is a wonderful little matching work by Eltern Vom Mars. These lovely images of real butterflies are cut in half and matched. This was a really interesting challenge for her and I think this work will remain on her shelves for awhile. 


Finally, we have been exploring these beautiful laminated butterflies. We have simply been enjoying them and doing simple 2 part lessons with their names. These will be great for many years, and I can't wait to explore them further as we officially move into spring and summer. 


These gorgeous butterfly stickers have also been fun to work with! Stickers are amazing fine motor work! 


And finally, we've been enjoying some vintage butterfly prints around her play area. They have been the perfect backdrop against the cold, icy yard! 


While this is what we are working on, there are so many other beautiful Montessori friendly materials that can be used to study butterflies! Here are a few favorites: 


12 Months of Montessori

This post is brought to you as part of the 12 Months of Montessori series! The theme this month is spring! Don't miss these Montessori and Montessori Inspired spring themed posts! 

Montessori-Inspired Skip Counting for Kids {Spring Printables} | The Natural Homeschool

Toddler Butterfly Theme for Spring | The Kavanaugh Report
PB&J Bird Seed Ornaments | Sugar, Spice & Glitter

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.


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Monday, February 13, 2017

The Gobbi Mobile -- Montessori Baby Week 11

The Gobbi mobile is  quintessential Montessori. It's easily one of the most recognizable Montessori infant materials. These beautiful, airy mobiles are made from a single color spheres in varying shades. They are then hung at a 45 degree angle, with the darkest color hung the lowest and the lightest color in the highest position. 


This mobile helps babies work on their visual discrimination skills. The slight change in color is both intriguing and beautiful. And, it has grabbed Augustus' attention in a big way. The Gobbi mobile is the third in the Montessori visual mobile series. It is often introduced between six and eight weeks, sometimes a bit later. 


Gus was so interested in his Octahedron Mobile, that I delayed the Gobbi a bit. So, we introduced around 9.5-weeks and he was skeptical at best. Then, he got super sick and didn't spend much time in his movement area or with the mobiles at all. But, finally feeling better these last few days, Gus has been very into the Gobbi. 

You could really introduce it as soon as you see that interest in the Octahedron mobile starting to fade. It may be, like Gus, that you have to introduce it a few times before you see a lot of interest. But, you don't need to wait as long as we have now! Always follow your own child. 


He has spent upwards of 30 minutes happily cooing and smiling at the mobile. Following it with his head and eyes. This mobile was the same that I made when I was pregnant with Nora. It was a time consuming but rewarding process, and is, my personal favorite mobile. It was made by stringing embroidery floss around a styrofoam ball until the ball was completely covered. 



For more specifics about making the Gobbi mobile, see this tutorial at The Full Montessori
If you're interested in buying a Gobbi, check here or here

Have you made a Gobbi Mobile? Did your baby enjoy it? 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Favorite Montessori Friendly Toys -- 24 to 30 Months

I feel like it was yesterday that Nora was born. But, somehow, my tiny little rainbow baby is this vibrant, bouncy, smart, independent 2.5-year-old. And with this realization that she is no longer a little baby, I realized that it's been awhile since I've shared what she's been interested in over the past several months. 

You may notice that many of these products have been featured before. That's the beautiful thing about quality, open ended Montessori friendly materials they really do last. 


With these toys, only a select few were out at any given time. Maybe 6 to 10 depending on the other Montessori work I had made. During this time, I was pregnant with Gus, so I think I relied more on toys (as opposed to making some work for her ) than I had in the past. Also, there may have been other things she used during this time, but these were the highlights, and the things she really did love. 


Fine Motor and Logic Toys 

These Montessori friendly toys have been well loved for many months. These are Montessori friendly for many reasons including their beauty, they isolate concepts, many are self correcting and they all help to promote independence and concentration while building fine motor skills. 

Lacing Sheep -- I love this one!
Stacking Pegs
Rainbow Marble Tree
Button Pegs
Stacking Cone -- another one of my favorites
Shape Sorter
Wooden Story Shape Sorter
Stacking Rings
Balancing Scale


Open Ended Building Toys 

These are materials that allow a child to stretch his or her imagination. Blocks and open ended toys allow for kids to work on so many skills as they create. While I wouldn't expect to see these types of materials in most Montessori classrooms, they are a perfect addition for a home. 

Grimms Rainbow
Better Builders
Stacking Window Blocks
Water Blocks
Grimms Pyramid -- this is one of the most used things in our home


Favorite Pretend Play

It's a common misconception that Montessori does not allow pretend play. However, you'll find pretend play in Montessori environments everywhere! We try to stick to reality based pretend play and let the child lead in how that play looks. 

Anatomically correct doll
Play Silks
Barn {Terra Brand from Target} and animals -- absolutely, hands down, the most used toy in our home
Playmobil 123
Schleich Animals
Pocket Babies {Similar}


Favorite Puzzles

Nora also went through a huge puzzle phase during this time. You can read more about her puzzles, here and here

And, that's it! Just some favorites, many of which still grace our shelves now. What did your children enjoy between 2-years-old and 2.5-years-old? Any of these toys a hit?

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Montessori Baby Week 10 -- Sick Baby Essentials

Little sick babies are just the worst. Not for you, but for them. They are just so sad. And, it can be downright scary in some situations.


I had a different post I was going to write for this week, but then Gus got super sick so this seemed more appropriate. Poor Augustus is only 10 weeks old, but has already had two bad colds and a stomach bug. Yuck. This may only be a problem for poor little babies with eager older siblings that lick carts at Target and then come and give all the kisses and cough in their faces. 

From a Montessori perspective, specifically, I think there are also a few things to keep in mind. One, it's alright to make adjustments. For example, we typically avoid propping Augustus up. This means we don't use pillows to help him sit, or place him in swings/bouncers/etc. But, when he is sick, we do what we have to do, and we know its fine.


Two, we acknowledge feelings and explain whats happening to him. "That cough hurts," "I see you're not feeling well," or "the doctor is going to look in your ears. Are you ready?" These simple questions acknowledge his dignity and recognize the difficult situation he is in. We also avoid using phrases like "it's ok," or shhhhing him while he's crying.

Three, I also try to keep the baby's routine the same as much as possible. This past weekend when Gus had his stomach bug it was almost impossible for him to lay flat on his back because he would puke. He was just the saddest. But, when I placed him in his movement area, he actually smiled for the first time all weekend. His sense of order had been restored. This normalcy was just what he needed.


And finally, don't forget about self-care. That laundry can wait, those dishes might not get done. Get a snack, get a drink and snuggle up that baby on the couch. I know how hard that can be with older children. So, grab a stack of books, cuddle up and make the best of it. 


Thankfully, we've avoided serious illness with all of our children. And, I hope that continues! But, I'm sure that we have not seen the end of cold and flu season this year.

How do you deal with illness with your baby? What are your essentials? 

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