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Paper Punched Valentine's Day Cards

With Valentine's Day right around the corner I've been trying to get ahead of the last minute rush that I face every year. See, Nora's school highly encourages handmade cards that can be passed out to her friends in the Children's House at their celebration. I love this tradition, it means that we don't have to buy anything and avoid getting candy or little junky toys that break or end up in the landfill within a few days. 

But, it also means that my small human needs to make 25 or so cards by February 14! And in a Montessori environment where I don't feel super comfortable requiring her to work on a project like this (at least not at her age) there have been some stressful last minute card making (by me) nights in the past. 


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So, this year, I thought we will do something a bit differently and we'll get all the kids involved! I set up a simple paper punching and gluing tray for the kids in their new play…
Recent posts

When Your Baby Concentrates -- Montessori Baby Week 18

There's a tendency to assume that small children - especially babies - are incapable of concentration. We can see that just by looking at the products that mainstream toy companies make and people buy for babies. They have lights, sounds, and artificial movement to the extreme. They are literally designed to distract and entertain a baby as if a baby is unable to entertain him/herself. But the truth is that baby's (and all young children) are able to deeply concentrate. And, they know how from birth. 
What to Look For?  A concentrating baby can look a lot of different ways. A concentrating baby may be still, or they might move a whole lot! I always look for a baby that is focused on whatever they are doing. So that focus might come from trying to pull up, roll over or reach something new. Or that focus might come from deeply staring at a mobile floating above them. Basically, don't be fooled by movement. 
A recent example comes from these pictures with Theodore this week.…

Pin Punching Work

As Gus is getting older, he is spending more time refining some of the skills he needs to move on to bigger work in Children's House. One thing that he has been super into lately has been pin punching work. This work is excellent for working on pincer grip and hand-eye coordination. 
The purpose of this work is for the child to punch little holes very close to one another and eventually punch out a shape from a piece of paper. This seems simple, but it take a great deal of control to get the punches close enough that the shape will come away from the paper easily and without ripping. 

For Gus, it's been a great source of concentration, and if you watch my stories on Instagram, then you know it has been very popular with him lately. To make this simple tray, you'll need: 
A puncher - we use this one which mimics a pencil, but I've also seen people use large push pins with success Punching surface - we use a thick piece of felt but cork or other protective surface would …

Using an Infant Shelf - Montessori Baby Week 17

I've noticed something in the past few days that I thought was very interesting and wanted to highlight it before my tired brain completely forgets about it! Teddy has discovered his infant shelf in his movement area. This seems like a little detail, but this means we are on the cusp of some really amazing discoveries. And, not only has he discovered his shelf, but he has been watching me restore the materials from his shelf more and more. 
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Ok, so why do I care? For a couple of reasons! One, with the discovery of his shelf, I suspect that Teddy will have some extra motivation to start moving toward objects in his environment. Right now, he sort of waits for us to offer him a choice, but if he knows where to make a choice he will want to do it himself. Gross motor movement and development are so fun to watch and I can now feel we are really close to some major changes. 

Another reason this is exciting is because Teddy will now …

Our Multi-Age, Multi-Use Montessori Playroom

As a new year begins, I am feeling an itch to move all the things around in my house. This desire has been brewing for awhile as I have been watching my children work in their old art area. The area was starting to feel just a little bit small for my rapidly growing children. So I decided to make some changes, incorporating more of our art materials into our general play area.


The conclusion has been a new multi-use, multi-age play and art space. This space has been crafted now so that all of the kids can work and play in the space together. I've made a video tour of the space but I wanted to provide some details here too. 
The room is broken down into four main areas. They are:  Baby Area This sweet this little movement area is Teddy's main play area. He is currently 4-months old.
Mirror: Bottom part is thrifted acrylic mirror and top part is from IKEA. Bar is a DIY. {Similar}Shelf - Infant shelf from SproutRugMobiles: a combination of DIY and purchased mobiles that rotate Pr…

4 Tips to Make it Montessori

Toys aren’t always designed and packaged to be the most convenient for children right out of the box. This can be frustrating as we strive to create our own Montessori prepared environment for our children. But it doesn’t have to be, a few simple adjustments are often all that is needed to make a toy accessible and ready for your Montessori space.
Before I get into the tips, just a friendly reminder that I’m talking about commonly available toys here, not traditional Montessori classroom materials.
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. Create/keep a control Control of error is an important part of a Montessori environment. If materials have a control for error, children are able to work more independently and don't need to depend on you to let them know if they have done work right or not. So when you're adapting a traditional toy, think about how you can add some sort of control. Can you add a picture of how the toy should look when completed? Or, make an exam…

Rotating Toys - Montessori Baby Week 16

I've mentioned this several times, but at this age Theodore is becoming more and more interested in manipulating his environment with his hands. This is done in a coupe of ways. One, through the use of tactile mobiles. Two, by introducing some simple toys - mostly rattles. Now, being a fourth baby, we have a lot of options for materials that Teddy *might* like at this age. Right now, I have a small selection of items that I can offer based on my observations of his skills and interests.


Even with a small selection of toys, I want to make sure we are not offering Teddy too much at one time. Therefore, just like with older kids, I rotate the choices available to him at any one time. I choose toy rotation for a few reasons including:
keeping his interest without overwhelming him - I want to offer a variety of textures, weights and sounds but not so much at once that he can't focus on each item. allows for concentration -With only a thing or two to concentrate on, Teddy can really …

Top 3 Grasping Toys at 3 Months - Montessori Baby Week 15

At 3 months old, Theodore is starting to grasp more and more of the items in his environment. With this development, I have begun to offer more opportunities to explore this skill by introducing a few toys. There are lots of options that you could introduce around this age (see some options for 3-6 months here) but here I'm just highlighting the Teddy's favorites. 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 
I generally try to make sure that we don't have more toys available than months my baby is old. So at 3 months old, Teddy has about 3 choices available at any given time. While I have been rotating from a few choices, it's clear that there are some favorites for Teddy. 

1. Mini Play Silk - I love this size of these for babies verses the regular ones! They are a great texture and so easy for Teddy to grab. The size is big enough to be functional but not so big that it is overwhelming for him.

2. Interlocking Metal Rings - I got these when Gus was a baby f…

Batting -- Montessori Baby Week 14

Teddy is getting to the age where new interests and skills seem to be popping up every day! He is becoming more coordinated, moving more intentionally, and is much more interested in changes to his environment. With these new skills, I have been observing him closely to see where his interests lie and how I can provide opportunities for him to explore these interests. 

His most recent interest seems to be batting at all the things! While just a couple of weeks ago, all his movement was based in his legs, he seems to be moving more and more toward constructive use of his hands. I noticed this interest in a few ways:  when excited his arms would start to swing wildly, where before he was only kicking his feetreaching more frequently to his visual mobiles batting at my hair while nursing 
In response to these observations, I decided to start offering some toys for him to bat at more intentionally. This has been some fun and easy changes, including:  Offering his bell mobile closer to his …

The Easiest Toddler Christmas Tree

'Tis the season for little hand to want to touch your Christmas tree! And, hey, I'm all for exploration of beautiful and real objects for children. Therefore, we let even our toddlers help to decorate our real tree. But, once that is over, the tree is only for exploring with our eyes (and noses!) We don't decorate and redecorate it but use it as an opportunity to practice patience, waiting and self control. 

This is no easy task for a younger child! Over the last couple years, it has been easier at our house with a toddler tree! I'm sure you have seen tons of versions of toddler trees on the internet, but this idea works so well here that I had to share. 
It's simple to set up! Just a small tree (you choose the size you want for the space) and a basket of pom-poms! We use a 24" prelighted tree and large poms for ours but really it can work at any scale. The poms stick to the branches so even the youngest toddler can put them on, and they can be removed super …