Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Montessori Moment

Sometimes it's in the smallest moments that I remember why I love Montessori so much. Through all the challenges that parenting presents, its really these remarkable moments that make you take pause about how awesome these little beings truly are. 


This morning was like any other, I was working in my office before Morgan left for work. He had gotten the children fed and dressed before we switched roles -- him off to work and me off to parenting. Henry and Nora were playing happily when I returned from my office. 


Shortly after I came up, Nora started getting a bit crabby. Sometimes my presence reminds her that she would like to nurse. Except she wasn't signing to nurse. She was making large sweeping motions with her arms, similar to signing all done. I asked her "all done with what?" but that just made her crankier. 


She just kept looking to me and sweeping her arms. Finally, I said "show me Nora." She stopped suddenly walked over to Henry and pointed at his face. Sure, enough some of his breakfast was still on his face! 

It all clicked! The motion was the same as how she "wipes up" her table after meals. "Oh! Brother needs to wipe up!" She instantly smiled and shook her head yes. We walked to the sink, got a rag and helped Henry wipe his face. Henry and I were equally amused and impressed. 



See that's the thing about Montessori. It teaches us to respect even what the smallest children are saying to us. It helps us remember to stop and listen. They have a voice and they often have something very important to say! 

Had I ignored her pleas and attempts at communication, I wouldn't have missed much. Henry's face would have eventually been cleaned. But, I would have missed Nora. I would have missed something that was important to her. An opportunity to make her a whole {heard} member of our family. I'm so happy I didn't miss this moment, this opportunity. She's valued, she's loved, she's respected -- even if she's little.

{I hope you enjoy this sneak peak at our new playroom! More to come on that!}

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Peace Day 2015

Today is International Day of Peace! One of the most beautiful parts of Montessori education is it's focus on peace.


Teaching peace and conflict resolution from the youngest age -- sitting together and working out a solution, is in important part of every Montessori classroom. At home, even the youngest children are respected, listened to and loved. Teaching these qualities to children can help make the world a better place.

Over on Montessori 101 we are discussing peace and Montessori education all day long! Come join us for lovely conversations and peace resources! 

One thing I would really love to incorporate in my home is a peace table. It's a small table where children can sit to contemplate peace or to work out conflicts. I need to start gathering some supplies! A small table with a book or zen garden, or earth puzzle, just lovely!

What are you going for Peace Day!?

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

When Your Montessori Child Won't Do Math

I've been wracking my brain for the past several weeks trying to come up with a math related activity to share for the 12 Months of Montessori series this month. I've truly been stressing about it! But, it finally occurred to me, that I just can't share an "activity" with you, but that I need to be honest. 


Henry is not interested in math right now. And, that's O.K.! I mean, he knows how to count from 1 to 20ish. He can skip count by 10 up to 100 -- sometimes. He knows how to tell time, and basic shapes. And, that's O.K.! 

I think a lot of people think about Montessori and assume excellence in math. I mean, have you seen the beautiful math materials?! I'm drooling over here. 



The young children are adding, subtracting, counting to 10,000, doing division, understanding fractions. It's simply amazing. And, Henry has no interest. And, that's O.K.!

Montessori is so much more than beautiful materials. At it's heart it is about following the child, its about meeting the child where the child is and accepting that. Your interests, don't need to be their interests. It's also about trust. Trusting that your child will eventually learn basic math skills and that their pace is more important than yours.


Sometimes you just need to put your own desires aside and know that children are programmed to learn. As Maria Montessori said: 


“We must clearly understand that when we give the child freedom and independence, we are giving freedom to a worker already braced for action, who cannot live without working and being active.” ~ Maria Montessori, Absorbent Mind


For now, I'm trusting that Henry knows what he wants to learn and what he has to learn. He's motivated and driven to learn everything he can about his interests -- which right now is geography and reading. Those are the things that make him tick. The things that get his wheels turning. And, that's O.K.! 


So, what do I do in the mean time about math? Because, obviously math is important. He needs to understand mathematical ideas and principals -- eventually. 

  • I don't push it, but I will suggest it. I never force him to choose a work he is uninterested in. Sometimes, Henry just needs a gentle reminder of all the work in the classroom. And will choose math.  
  • Entice him -- move the math materials around. And provide beautiful materials for him to use if the mood strikes. 
  • Sneak it in! I use his interests to sneak some math in! "How many states are there?" "You've finished 2 words, how many words are left on this sheet?" "You ate a cookie, how many do we have now?" By making it conversational, he's absorbing concepts without directly focusing on the subject. Works every time! 

Do you have a child that is reluctant to learn a subject? How do you handle it?

12 Months of Montessori Learning!

This post is part of the 12 Months of Montessori Series! Our topic this month is mathematics! Visit these wonderful bloggers for Montessori and Montessori-inspired math topics!


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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Favorite Rainbow Inspired Toys

Nora is going through a major sleep regression right now. She's never been a great sleeper and has yet to consistently sleep through the night, but over the past week or so, we've been lucky if we get two hours of sleep in a row. She's up constantly wanting to nurse, or sometimes wanting to play. Throw a dirty diaper and some screeching in for fun. 

This morning, Nora was up well before the sun, despite having been awake from 2:30 to 3:30 and several other times through the night. As she toddles around, it' easy for me to forget about what a miracle she is -- how lucky we are to have her here. Sleep or no sleep, she is truly our amazing rainbow baby! Instead of getting cranky or frustrated, I'm going to choose to celebrate her today, to remember just how lucky we are to not be getting any sleep. 

So in honor of my rainbow baby, here are some of my favorite Montessori-friendly rainbow themed toys! 






There! I don't know how you can look at these beautiful toys and materials and not be happy. Off to guzzle some coffee and snuggle my rainbow! 

Do you have any rainbow materials that you or your children love? I'd love to see them! 


This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.

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Monday, September 14, 2015

DIY Wooden Balance Beam

Nora is a mover. Like most young toddlers, she's just on the move. Busy, busy, busy. 


Finding ways to keep her satisfied can be difficult and expensive. She constantly needs to reach maximum effort right now. So, when I came across the idea of a DIY balance beam from one of my favorite bloggers Amy from Midwest Montessori, I knew we had to make one of our own! 


This project is so simple! It's just some 2x4s and some screws. We bought two small boards. We cut into two 12 inches long and one 47 inch long pieces. After sanding down all the pieces to avoid splinters, the supports were screwed into place. And, that's it! 


It's the perfect way to provide a cheap, gross motor challenge to Nora {and even Henry.} 

Nora was a bit apprehensive at first, but she's coming around to it! Henry loved it right away and spent the whole morning testing it out. 


Do you have any great gross motor DIYs in your home? 



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Thursday, September 10, 2015

DIY Montessori I-Spy Game

Henry is very interested in learning to read. So, we're slowly making progress in that direction. The first step is knowing what sound each letter makes. In a Montessori environment, this is actually how letters are first introduced-- not by name, but by sound.

Over the last couple years, Henry has spent lots of time learning about each letter and it's sound. He's fairly fluent if just asked. But, it's a bit harder to put that skill into practice. To do that, we've been playing the I-Spy game! 

DIY Montessori I-Spy Game with Language Objects

This gives Henry the chance to match a letter's sound with an object. Which is harder then just naming the sound. 

To play you'll need: 
First, start by placing all the language objects out on the mat. We just randomly scatter them about. 


We get our language objects from a variety of places. Some are these mini animals, some are meant for fairy gardens and dollhouses, others are mini erasers and similar household objects, some are DIYed. It's taken me awhile to gather all of the objects I need. You can also purchase them in bundles, which might be a little more expensive but time saving! 


Once the objects are placed on the mat, the first player picks a random sandpaper letter. The player looks at the card and says "I spy with my little eye, something that begins with //letter-sound//"

The second player then tries to find an object that starts with that sound. Once the object is found, the person matches the object to the card. 


Player 2 then picks a random card and the process is repeated. We do this until all the letters have been chosen. Taking turns back and forth. There's no winner or loser, just sound-matching fun! 


Do you play I-Spy games? How do you use language objects? 


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Friday, September 4, 2015

Our {Makeshift} Block Area

I love building blocks! I think they are such a great material for children of all ages. They are open ended, natural, and often down right beautiful. I could build with them all day. Last year, our basement got some water and we lost our larger play area until the renovations are complete. Since then, we've been making smaller spaces work for us. 


The block area is one that we've had to make do. Right now, it consists of a shelf in our front entry. We have several different types of blocks out right now. I like to give lots of different choices because it leads to much more wonderful play! I love watching how Henry combines things to make his creations. 


Top Shelf -- Sound Blocks; Mini Unit Blocks; Castle Blocks; thrifted red blocks; peg people 

Although, right now, he pretty much sticks to building churches and cities. His imagination is just amazing. Nora is starting to stack a bit, but really she is all about the destruction at this point {much to Henry's frustration}! 



Middle Shelf -- thrifted architectural block accessories; alphabet blocks

I wish we were able to have some more loose parts out with our blocks. Right now, we are limited to a small bucket of hand-painted peg people. In a few weeks, we will {finally!} be moving back to our basement play area and I'm excited to add some more loose parts!


Bottom shelf -- handmade unit blocks {similar to these}; colored blocks 

Do your children like block play? What's on your block shelves?

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Montessori Resources

When I was first discovering Montessori, I spent hours reading anything and everything I could about the method. And, honestly that's never stopped. I crave all things Montessori and read as much as I can. If I could take the training to become a guide, I would in a heartbeat. But, for home use, there are so many great resources available for parents, grandparents and anyone interested in the Montessori way of life. 

Books



I have read several of these books, and I think I've learned something each time! The Joyful Child in particular is amazing if you have a baby and are just starting out. 

Blogs and Websites 

There are so many great blogs, websites and other online resources for Montessori learning! I cannot create an exhaustive list here, but I will name some of my favorites!

Babies 0-3 -- Aid to Life; Nduoma Blog; Midwest Montessori Blog; Michael Olaf 

Montessori at Home -- How we Montessori; Montessori 101 Blog

Teaching Montessori/Information about Work -- NAMC Montessori Teacher Training Blog; Montessori Album; Living Montessori Now 

Activities -- There are so many amazing blogs that I read for activity ideas! Way too many to list here. I will say that Pinterest is always a source of inspiration, as is Instagram

Videos -- Montessori Guide

Community -- If you are interested in joining a Montessori community to talk about Montessori and Montessori-related issues, you need to join Montessori 101 Facebook Group! I'm a co-admin and there are so many wonderful people to get to know. 


Materials

While many of my materials are homemade, many are not. There are excellent resources for Montessori materials. Sometimes, just searching these places is an excellent way to get ideas for things you would like to make. 


In Person {mostly for practical life, trays or storage solutions} -- Goodwill, thrift stores, Target Dollar Spot, Dollar Stores, craft stores 

I'm sure I'm missing some amazing resources, because there are just so many! Are there other Montessori resources that you use? Do you have a specific resources question? Let me know in the comments and I would love to update this post! 

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