Monday, December 28, 2015

Top 10 Posts from 2015


I can't believe another year has come and gone. This year has been a year of major transformation here on The Kavanaugh Report and in our personal lives. The growth this blog has seen over the last year really amazes me and I would like to personally thank all of my readers. I love hearing your stories and I'm so grateful that you follow along. 


At home, we have continued our Montessori journey and have deeply transformed our home. And it was one of the best years ever. My children are amazing, my husband is the best, and I literally couldn't ask for anything better. 

Before we look forward to 2016, I wanted to look back to my Top 10 posts from 2015! These are some of my absolute favorites and I hope you enjoy them too! 












I hope you have enjoyed these posts as much as I have! Thanks again to all my wonderful readers! I hope you have had a wonderful 2015, and an even better 2016.


What would you like to see going forward into next year? Is there any topic that you wish I had written about? Something you've wondered about? I'd love to hear from you! 

signature

Monday, December 21, 2015

5 Things Montessori Newbies Should Know

I'm I feel so lucky to have discovered Montessori, and even luckier that I've been able to incorporate it into our home while our children are still young. There's so much I've learned about Montessori and so much that I still have to learn. I'm not sure I'll ever feel like we have a perfect environment. I have, however, learned a thing or two over these years of study. And, I want to pass them on to anyone just discovering the joys of Montessori themselves. 


Montessori is not about the "things." One of the first things that attracted me to Montessori was all the beautiful little work trays. I was a bored mom with a bored kid looking for things to keep us busy and this seemed to fit the bill. The beauty of the materials and the quality of Montessori friendly toys really sucks you in, but it's not what is important. That is secondary to the shift in how you see children, how you treat children and how you educate your children. "Follow the child" is important. Observing and delaying your reaction is important. Treating the child as a whole being is important. The things come next. 

Following the child doesn't mean there are no limits. While Montessorians are famous for reminding the world that we must follow the child, this does not mean we need to follow the child as he or she runs off a cliff. In the words of Maria Montessori, "To let the child do as he likes when he has not developed any powers of control is to betray the idea of freedom." In other words, Montessori environments need limits, and those limits need to be set by you. 


It's not always about learning. But, it's a lifestyle. While Montessori started in an academic setting, it has become so much more than this. Montessori is not about having children that are constantly doing academic work. Again to quote Montessori, "Play is the work of the child." Montessori in a school is different than Montessori in a home. The attitude towards children is the same, but children need play as much as they need academics. Children should not be pushed to pursue academics at all times, especially before they are ready. 


Montessori children are {kinda} different, but not perfect. I think Montessori children can sometimes be more independent, detail orientated and observant. I think they also often have a beautiful cooperative nature to them. But, they are just like other children. Blogging and the internet has made it easy to just see snapshots of children at their best. But, remember Montessori children have energy, they can be wild, they make mistakes, they make messes and they throw fits. It's often how we as adults deal with these issues that sets Montessori apart. 


Little changes can go a long way. Montessori does not need to be an all or nothing transition. Just stopping yourself from intervening when your child is busying working -- even if it isn't perfect -- is a great place to start. There are changes that you can make without spending money, without changing your things, without waiting. We've spent years slowly changing our home, it doesn't have to happen over night to be a step in the right direction. 

I hope you take that step! Montessori has been an amazing journey for us, and I know it can be for you. 


signature

Thursday, December 17, 2015

DIY Art Cards for Montessori Learning

The world is a spectacularly beautiful place! And, I want to share that beauty with my children. Montessori living is all about introducing your children to real life experiences in the most concrete way possible. I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say that again -- concrete reality comes first, and the abstract comes later.


When it comes to learning about fine art, I think the best way to do this is to immerse children in a world where they see fine art. We are fortunate enough to live in a major metropolitan area where we have access to a wide variety of museums, and we take advantage of those when we can. However, I still wanted something more concrete in our home. 


So, I recently created these simple art cards to increase our exposure to a variety of popular famous artists. While nothing can replace actually seeing this wonderful art, these cards give us a glimpse at wonderful pieces of art. Plus, these cards were simple and easy to make! 


To make these art cards, you need: 



Then to make, I simply put the stickers on the paper and laminated them. I cut them into small cards and used the punch to round the corners. This turned them into beautiful little cards in the perfect size to attract both Nora and Henry. I had Henry look through the books and help me pick which stickers to make into cards. 


You can make larger cards and wall art in a similar manner using pictures from calendars. Or, I often use {as funny as it sounds} fancy coasters that I find at thrift stores as art. Many are extraordinarily beautiful and realistic, and can easily be hung on a wall with some picture hanging strips. 


While I made these more with Henry in mind, I've noticed that Nora is equally interested in the small cards. They are perfect for toddlers and can be used to create a variety of work. Babies and toddlers could use to: 
  • Simply appreciate the art and explore the cards 
  • Sort into the different artists 
  • Find and talk about common objects -- Nora particularly likes one painting with a cat
  • Picture to Picture matching -- if you had two sets of stickers 


For primary aged (3-6 preschoolers) you can have a deeper level of exploration. You could: 
  • Use them as a jumping off point for a deeper study of each artist
  • Sort them by artistic style -- impressionist verses modern, for example 
  • Talk about how each picture feels, what stands out -- we then sorted the cards by the color that "spoke" to us in each picture and ultimately made a rainbow of pictures
  • Recreate some of the art using different mediums 


One of my favorite things we've done with the cards so far has been creating an inspirational painting. Henry choose a card as inspiration, examined it with a magnifying glass and painted away! I even got into the painting fun -- although Henry said my rendition {below} of Renoir's painting looked more like a monkey then a boy! 


Have you studied fine art with your children? 

12 Months of Montessori! 

This post was brought to you as part of the 12 Months of Montessori series! This month's theme is fine art! Visit the blogs below for Montessori inspired fine art ideas, activities and thoughts! 


signature

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Montessori Christmas Trays for Toddlers

To get into the holiday spirit, I've made some themed work for Nora and Henry. They both seem to be getting excited for Christmas and these make it even greater. Most of these are simple twists on Montessori work that they may already have on their shelves. These simple trays are being used in addition to their other Montessori materials. By adding the theme, it sometimes draws them in where interest had been lacking.

So, here's what's on their shelves --

Jingle Bell Spooning -- a simple twist on spooning for toddlers


Christmas 1:1 -- an early introduction to counting and math


Ripping Wrapping Paper -- I've noticed that Nora loves to rip things lately, this will help her practice ripping paper to open presents too.


Stuffing a Stocking -- a fun twist on an open and close work


Christmas Sensory Bottle Matching


Object Permanence Tree -- Henry likes this too but for him it was about counting and color sorting. For Nora its about placing an object in each small box.


Window Clings -- these are fun, and they encourage a care of the environment.


I also have Nativity-themed work around our home for them. Including a simple creche with hand-painted peg dolls for Nora and 3-part Nativity cards for Henry. 


I hope these ideas have helped give you some simple ideas to get into the holiday spirit! 

If you liked this post, check out -- Montessori at Christmas -- Finding Joy and Wonder; Ultimate Montessori Toy List -- Birth to FiveFor more Montessori-inspired ideas, see my Montessori Christmas Pinterest Board!

Have you prepared any Christmas-themed work for your toddler?





signature

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Montessori at Christmas -- Finding Joy and Wonder

I'm a sucker for Christmas. I love the lights and the colors and the fanfare. I love the candles, the food, the music. The tree! Oh man, our house was made to have a Christmas tree. The only thing I could possibly love more at Christmas is watching my children experience Christmas. 


As a Montessori parent, I've tried to really teach myself to watch and observe before reacting. Sometimes, that's really hard because it looks like your child is ready to do something dangerous or destructive. Or, they are just doing something in a different way than you.

But, it is so important. If you sit back and let it happen, they often completely surprise you. Its through this observation that you can really see your child. See the spark of interest in their eyes and see what pulls them in. 


And sometimes, through this observation you find your children in awe, wondering about everything around them. It can be easy to jump right in with all the right answers. But, have you ever tried just wondering with them? Enjoying the beauty of things in their simplest form? If not, what better time than the holidays to try it!?

Wonder with them! Wonder yourself! It can take you to amazing places. Follow the child! Wonder to see something so ordinary in a completely new light -- to let go of all the constraints of adult life and to get a whole new view on something extraordinary. This is the essence of Montessori -- its not the stuff, its the attitude.


So, I wish for you all to sit back this holiday season! To observe the joys around you. To wonder and revel in the complete awesomeness of the season. Forget about all the stuff -- all the presents, and toys.

Wonder with your children about the magic. And, I'm not talking Santa-type magic. But the glowy, family love, the complete giving, the warmth -- those everyday moments of magic. Schedule some time to slow down and take in all the joy around you. 


Then, I hope you can share the magic! Share with your family, your friends, and your children. Share the beauty of the season! Share {our card is from Tiny Prints} all of its joy!



So, remember -- observe, wonder, share! Have a happy Montessori Christmas!

Will you take time to stop and wonder this holiday season? If you liked this post, check out: Easy Christmas Card Photos; Merry {Awkward} Christmas

signature