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Easy Montessori Tray - Transferring with a Sponge

Older toddlers and preschoolers love to transfer things back and forth from one container to another. This repetition is one of the hallmarks of the Montessori method. Many of these transferring activities have a hidden purpose! That purpose is to work the muscles in the child's hand to prepare them for writing. These kinds of activities also help to extend a child's concentration and internalize order.

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Recently, I put together a small and super easy transferring tray for Gus! This tray has been a huge hit so I thought I would share some details. The outward purpose of this tray is to soak up all the water and transfer it to the next bowl. But, my hidden (or indirect) goals are 1) multiple step work which requires him to remember a sequence 2) whole hand movement that involves getting your hands wet/messy. 

Here's the sequence that he needs to work through:  fill the pitcherset out the two bowlspour the pitcher into the bow…
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Montessori Shelves - What to Look For

After months at home, I've realized that sometimes four kids is a lot of kids! With a lot of kids comes a lot of Montessori shelves. And the number of Montessori shelves here in the Kavanaugh house just increased as we learned that our public Montessori are not reopening in person for at least some (but probably all) of this fall. This means we will be doing some combination of homeschooling/distance learning for the foreseeable future - this time with 2 kids at the elementary level! 
That's a whole post of it's own, but it's got me thinking about our catalogue of Montessori shelves. So I wanted to share our shelves and what I look for when considering shelves for each age group. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Baby/Young ToddlerWhen looking for shelves for babies and young toddlers, I look for 2 qualities. One, it has to be something super low or resting on the ground. This is important so that even the youngest of babies can reach in and use the …

Sandpaper Work for 3-year-olds

Little kids love practical work! Gus is no exception. If we can make work for him that is real and practical, he will engage over and over again. Recently, I introduced some new sandpaper work for him that has been a huge hit. It's been a great introduction to wood working, and I'm guessing it will lead to some other work with real tools soon.

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This work was super easy to put together. I included:  a traya piece of scrap wood a variety of small pieces of sandpaper small work googles
To present this work, I first introduced the sandpaper. I showed how each was made of a rough and smooth side, we felt the different textures, and talked about how each texture worked. Then I showed Gus the motion of how to sand. I sanded for a minute, then gave him a turn. 

Then, we turned our attention to the wood, we noticed how it had changed. We felt it with our fingers, again noticing the different textures. I pointed out some imperfections in…

Shelf Help Ep. 21 - A Montessori Library

Montessori parents often take a different approach to the books that we choose for our homes. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy look at the qualities of Montessori friendly books and how they approach reading to their children at different ages. We dive into why we delay fantasy, including a brief discussion on Santa.
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Show Notes...Colors by NicoleLook Closer River LifeOur Reference Books and How we Use ThemMy First Discoveries BooksNatural History: The Ultimate Visual Guide to Everything on EarthThe Animal Book: A Visual Encyclopedia of Life on EarthThe Kavanaugh Report Book PostsIn The Town, All Year 'Round Tom and Pippo BooksCity MoonHow Does My Garden Grow?Get Dressed (Small World)Henry HugginsMilly Molly MandyDash into LearningBob BooksHenry and MudgeMr. Putter and TabbyFrog and Toad are Friends Thanks for joining me for today's podcast! If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share and leave a review in y…

Covid-19 Back to School Cards

If you're in the United States then you know that a lot of parents, myself included, face some difficult decisions when it comes to school this coming year. We have to decide how comfortable we are sending our kids to school, if that is even an option at all. We are grappling with those same questions (you can hear more about that here) and I think every family will have to make the decision that works best for them. 

There are, however, a lot of kids going back to school. And, school will look a bit different. If we send Gus back to school, that will be the case. His teachers will be in masks, his temperature will be taken, and there will be increased use of hand sanitizer and washing - in addition to other precautions. I wanted to create something that could prepare him for the changes in the most concrete way I could. So, I made this set of matching "go-together" cards. I have included a card for guide and for teacher depending on the language you use. 
In this set, the…

The Journey to Independence

I don't know what it is, but all of a sudden all of my kids feel very big and very old. Logically, I know that's not really the case, but it really feels that way. I don't know if it's just summertime, or if it's because we've been home and together so much, but whatever it is, it has me thinking about independence. 

I often get questions about how to make children become more independent. Or about how to encourage independence at home. And, it's true, independence is really important in Montessori. As parents we want to make sure we are giving children as much independence as possible, but we also don't want to force it. Maria Montessori never said children need to be independent at all costs, but she said, "never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed." We want to give them opportunities when they want them, but support them when they need it. 
I was recently reading of the the 1946 London Lectures again and I kept coming ba…

Object Permanence - 3 Ways

Object permanence toys are some of my absolute favorite Montessori infant/toddler materials. They are just so beautifully simple and different from anything I had known before I found Montessori. And, they speak so perfectly to the needs of older babies. It helps too that all of my Montessori babies have been obsessed with these types of toys. Right, now object permanence toys are Teddy's absolute favorite materials. 
These toys take an object (often a ball, but not always) and the baby places it in something. The object "disappears" and then the baby does something and the object returns. These toys reinforce the concept of object permanence - that just because we can't see something doesn't mean it no longer exists. Here's a look at 3 toys Teddy uses that incorporate object permanence. 1. Object Permanence BoxWith this classic Montessori baby toy, you place the ball in the hole in the top, and a hidden ramp inside the box returns the ball to the tray a moment…

Shelf Help Ep. 20 - What's Going To Happen in The Fall?

Parents all around the world are trying to figure out how Covid-19 will effect their lives as school starts this fall. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy discuss their plans for school and life this fall as their schools decide whether or not to open. We share our feelings, our plans, and some tips for homeschooling.  Show Notes...Shelf Help on InstagramNicole on InstagramAmy on InstagramAubrey Hargis - Child of the RedwoodsSprout-Kids Furniture
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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Role of Practical Life in the First Plane vs. Second Plane

Now that Nora is 6-years-old I've seen some interesting shifts in her behavior. These things didn't come all at once but slowly over time, but they are there. One big one is her relationship to practical life. I think this one is sticking out so much because she is in such a stark contrast to Gus and his relationship to practical activities. 
Gus, at 3, loves practical life work. He wants to help with dishes, he wants to move laundry, mop the floors, wipe down shelves and tables - he's all in. Working along side me, working with his hands, working with water! It's all very exciting. The same was true for Nora at his age. It was all exciting. But, now, it's not as exciting for her. She isn't interested in doing practical tasks for the sake of doing practical tasks. She wants something new - responsibility. 

Suddenly, Nora wants to do it alone. She wants to take over from start to finish. She's asking what chores she can do. In the second plane there is a great…

Chapter Books We Love

As my children get older I more often find myself reading longer chapter books instead of picture books. Nora and Henry, in particular, want to listen to longer stories and stick with books for a longer period of time. And, I have to say, I don't mind cuddling up to my big kids and reading for awhile! The tricky part is finding a book that I feel like I can read and that they like as well. Not every chapter book is created equally! 


Another tricky part is finding chapter books that don't include fantasy. We stick with realistic books until around age 6 when we introduce fantasy. So, while my kids have liked chapter books from about age 4.5 on, we stay clear of those including fantasy for awhile. 
Here are a few of the chapter books we enjoy in our Montessori home, and a few that are on our "to-read" list. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. Reality Based Tanglewood Animal Park - Book 1, Book 2, Book 3 - this is a major family favorite  The Children of N…