Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Gift of Time for Montessori Children

"What should I buy my child? What are your favorite wooden toys? We are buying more Montessori toys, what should I get? My child's birthday is coming up..."

I see these types of questions in Montessori circles all the time. And, I'm asked these questions all the time. The emphasis placed on things in our culture can sometimes make these the easy questions to ask. And, honestly, the easy question to answer. But, there is SO much more to being a Montessori parent than wooden toys and tiny furniture. But, this "stuff" is harder to "get."  

There are so many other things that Montessori parents can give their children, and for me one of the most important -- yet, hardest -- is time. There is so little time in all of our lives. So many distractions, so many activities, so many things, so many expectations. Time is scarce. 

But, time, is essential.


They need time to explore freely. As babies and toddlers to explore their environment and the natural world. Then, as young children the time to explore their own interests, desires and continue their exploration of the world around them. 

They need time to play. In the famous words of Maria Montessori -- "Play is the work of the child." They need time to play, and really play. Uninterrupted by the schedule, the demands of adulthood or life. But, don't confuse play with entertainment -- let them lead. 

They need time to try. Children need to try things for their own. They need time to try to put their shoes on, or coat. They need time to try and set the table. To pick their own outfit. I know for me, its so much quicker and easier to do these things myself, but this serves only me. 

They need time to struggle. Adults often see "struggle" as a bad word. But, children are taught to avoid the struggle when we jump in for them. Giving them time to struggle to complete a task lets them feel the joy of accomplishment -- something we can never give them, they have to earn that themselves. I'm not saying we should leave children in distress, but give them time before we step in. 


So, next time you want to make your home "more Montessori" or you want to give something to your child, think about time! How can you give more time to your children? Do they have their own time? Are they free to play, explore, and struggle? 

If you liked this post, don't miss: A Montessori Moment 

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Simple Nature Table

"A child, more than anyone else, is a spontaneous observer of nature." - Maria Montessori 

We live in an inner-ring suburb of a major metropolitan area, so "nature" may not be the first thing that comes to mind when in our home. Nevertheless, nature is all around us. And, I'm determined to make it a part of our children's lives. I recently set out to create a very simple nature table in our home to bring a little slice of nature a little bit closer to home. 


The table itself is very simple! It's just the top of an existing shelf in our toddler play area. I started with a glass vase {a pretty old pop bottle that is both sturdy and replaceable} with some fresh flower clippings from our yard. Then, I added our new discovery boxes. These simple boxes can be opened and closed to contain a variety of treasures. I asked the kids to look for things they wanted to place in the boxes. So far they have found a dead beetle, a feather and a rock. 


Next I added a large turkey feather, and a basket of rocks. The rocks were each hand picked by the kids during our last trip up to Lake Superior. To finish, I added one of our favorite nature books "A Seed is Sleepy." 


And that's it! There are no real rules or expectations at the table. Just exploration and wonder. I often find the flowers have been picked apart or the rocks carefully lined up. On several occasions our magnifying glass or pocket microscope have also found their way to the table. I hope to make changes to the table as the children find treasures and as the seasons change. But, otherwise, this simple table serves as a reminder of the beauty that surrounds us.   


Do you have a nature table in your home? How do you keep your children connected to nature? 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Thick and Thin Sensory Bottles for Toddlers

Development of the senses is an important part of Montessori learning. Through a variety of sensorial work, children in a Montessori classroom are given the incredible opportunity to refine their senses. The sensorial work is pure genius and, I think, is really lacking in other educational environments. Whether its the pink tower, pressure cylinders or tasting work, children are given the opportunity to isolate and focus on their senses. They are given the space to figure out how the natural world works in relation to their body -- seriously incredible stuff.  


I'm a big believer that this wonder and amazement does not need to be left only to the classroom. And, therefore, sensory play is a big part of our lives -- starting when my children are young. I'm always looking for interesting and engaging ways to incorporate new sensory play into our routine. Even for infants and toddlers, these experiences can be very rewarding. 

Sensory bottles are one way that I like to engage a certain part of their senses. They are simple, they're easy, they're cheap! And, for toddlers, they are safe. Recently, I created these fun thick and thin sensory bottles for Nora. They help to work on visual discrimination skills while having fun! 


To make these sensory bottles, I just filled my favorite bottles with gems and pony beads. Then, I filled the one with pony beads up with water and the one with gems up with clear liquid soap. Finally, some hot glue to seal the caps and these were done! 


These have been on our shelves for a few weeks now and Henry and Nora both really seem to enjoy them. Nora (2) seems to really enjoy the challenge of shaking the thick bottle to see if she can get the gems to move around. While, Henry (5) was determined to shake the thin beads hard enough to get them to stay suspended in the water. I wasn't expecting Henry to really enjoy these, but I was pleasantly surprised that he has shown interest. It has led to interesting conversations and questions about the differences and why that might be. 


Plus, it's been down right fun! Do your kids enjoy sensory play? What are some Montessori inspired ways you incorporate sensory learning and play into your home? 

12 Months of Montessori

This post was brought to you as part of the 12 Months of Montessori series! This month's theme is sensorial! For other great Montessori and Montessori inspired posts, don't miss these great blogs! 

Pink Tower Power | Grace and Green Pastures
DIY Texture Pattern Sticks | Christian Montessori Network


This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

17 weeks with 3.0

Wow, somehow I'm already 15 weeks 16 weeks 17 weeks pregnant. I started writing this when I was nearly 16 weeks and now I'm more than 17 weeks, I guess time flies when you have 2 children, a couple dogs and a million things to do. Sorry about your 12 week update 3.0, missed that one completely. 

Thankfully, life is starting to get better after the fog and awfulness that was my 1st trimester. I was really sick until about 12 weeks when I could finally stop taking the progesterone. But, it's still been a slow return back to feeling good. I had good days and bad ones until about 14 weeks when I think I finally turned the corner for good. 

Right now I'm still waiting for that magical 2nd trimester energy to return. I'm not quite as tired as I was but still life is a struggle to stay awake. Otherwise, I'm feeling pretty good. Heartburn is starting to creep in and so is the swelling in the heat.


One unusual thing has been the baby's movement. With both Henry and Nora I was feeling a lot of movement by now. This time, not so much. I FINALLY felt real baby kicks this past week at 16w6d, the absolute latest I've felt real baby movements with any of my pregnancies. Still, movements are few and far between -- so different from the other two.

This baby also gave me quite the scare at my 16 week doctor appointment. When it came time to find the heartbeat on the doppler, the doctor had to really, really search. It took nearly an entire minute and I was completely freaking out. Had Hen and Nora not been in the room I'm pretty sure I would have had a full blown panic attack. Thankfully, the baby was just being sneaky and all was well with a heartbeat of 152. 

Only a few more weeks until my anatomy scan. I can't wait to see the baby again and find out if its a boy/girl. We already have names picked out so once we know things will feel much more real. But, for some reason anatomy scans can't be scheduled before 22 weeks now  with my OB{it was much earlier with the other two} so I'm getting anxious. Anyone else have to wait this long?

So that's it for now about 3.0. Hopefully, I can get my act together and update more frequently now!  

If you liked this don't miss: 16 weeks with Henry; 16 weeks with Nora 

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Moving on from Homeschooling -- A Final Look at our Classroom

A couple of months ago, we received the most wonderful letter in the mail. Henry had won a lottery spot at a public Montessori school near our home. The school had been a struggling traditional elementary school that is converting to all Montessori starting last year. When we first heard about the switch we were elated but knew it was going to be tough to win a spot since, although it is close to our house, it is technically a different school district. With no Montessori options in our district, this was our only chance at Montessori through elementary school.  


Thankfully, with the relative newness of the school they had funds available to open multiple Children's House level rooms (grades pre-K and kindergarten equivalents). And, with some luck Henry got a spot. So he will officially start at a Montessori school this fall and can stay there until 5th grade (or two years into upper elementary in Montessori terms). It also means that all of our children will have an automatic spot at this school for the future! 


Toddler {From Left to Right}: DIY ball drop; animal cards; object-to-picture matching; DIY size discrimination; color basket; sensory bottles; stick drop; open close basket; pom-pom drop


Geography: Continent globe; DIY Flag Maps; Watercolor Solar System cards; DIY continent map; United States Puzzle; Solar System mat; Space or Earth Cards; Labels for continent map; landmarks and animals for continent map; landform cards; continent boxes

But, with this awesome news comes some changes at home. Most notably, then end of homeschooling. We won't have {many} duplicate materials out at home so there is no need to have a classroom dedicated to Montessori materials anymore. So, in preparation for school, I'm slowly packing away materials and emptying out the room.


Sensorial: Dressing frames; pink tower, knobbed cylinders; knobbless cylinders; brown stairs, DIY weighted cylinders; pressure cylinders; color tablets; DIY smelling jars; sound matching


Language: Sandpaper double letters; pink series materials and language objects; sandpaper letters; toddler classification cards; more pink series work; sandpaper name; bird name matching; art appreciation cards


It's sad to move on from this beautiful space and I will miss our time together. But, I'm so excited for all the possibilities that lie ahead for him {and for the room!} He is going to be getting so much more from a school than I can give him here. I'm so grateful we live where we do and have Montessori options available. 


Corner Shelf: Fraction Skittles; constructive triangles; DIY language/object box 


Small Mixed: Metal Insets; DIY Living/Non-Living Basket; DIY rock clock; Lined Chalkboard; Movable Alphabet 


Math/Science: Discovery Boxes; Magnifying glass with basket of treasures {currently rocks}; Montessori botany puzzles; DIY teen boards; 1-9,000 number tablets; Addition/Subtraction numbers with symbols; bead stair; various golden beads 

For now, I'm planning on making this a space for Nora and Baby 3.0 to share. I'll be sure to update as we make this transition. Especially as we become a family with a child in a public Montessori elementary!


This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

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