Thursday, April 28, 2016

Baby K 3.0!

You may have noticed things have ground to a halt around here. Well, there's been a good/big reason for that! 

I'm pregnant. 7w5d pregnant to be exact. Due December 10th. Given my history with recurrent pregnancy loss, being pregnant is a pretty nerve wracking thing so a lot of my normal activities have been pushed aside. 

There's also the fact that I'm on progesterone to support the pregnancy and that makes me feel like crap.

So, things are probably going to stay slow for awhile, at least until I'm out of the first trimester. I'll check in when I can! 


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Montessori Silliness and Joy

Not too long ago, someone in a Montessori group I'm in asked if Montessori children ever smile. At first thought, I was kind of taken aback by the question. Of course Montessori children smile! But, then I thought about it. I think Montessori children are often pictured in those moments of intense concentration and work. They often have that stoic look that accompanies their work. 

But that really is unfair to these children. Because after that concentration, there is great joy. The joy that is seen when a child makes a discovery on their own with work that has been freely chosen is contagious. It can literally light up a room. 

So know that there is room for silliness in Montessori. There is room for imagination. There is room for smiles and joy! Even if its not shown all the time, it is there all the time. These flashes of wonderfulness that show you just how engaged and invested these children are. You just need to sit back and watch. Let those discoveries come. And the joy will follow. 

Nora explores play silks. These are handmade by my lovely friend Amy at Midwest Montessori.

Have you ever seen this joy? Have you seen the silly? 

If you liked this post, don't miss: A Montessori Moment; A Toddler at Work 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Montessori Inspired Space or Earth Sorting with Printable

Henry, like a lot of little kids his age, loves space. I'm sure it has something to do with his love of star wars, but also, its just so cool! There are so many great ways to learn about space, astronomy and our place in it. 

We have studied space many times before and some of our space work has become a stable in our classroom. In particular, our DIY Solar System mat is a constant hit! And, I'm shocked how much knowledge Henry has acquired using it! Many of our other space themed trays have also come back on many occasions! 

Recently, I made a set of sorting cards for  him. These cards included a bunch of images of either objects in space or on Earth. It was then his job to sort which belonged to which. Henry very much enjoyed this task, but the sorting was not a challenge for him. And, I was shocked how many objects in space he could name with surprising accuracy. 

Still, he used this work several times in a row before sitting back to admire it. At this point, I asked some open ended questions to engage him in a new way.

"I wonder how the things on Earth are the same as the things in space? I wonder how things are different? What are some things you see on Earth? Do you see them in space? I wonder why." 

Ultimately, he led himself to the conclusion that only Earth contained life and only Earth contained water. Despite our previous studies, this was a very new and very mind blowing idea. The open ended nature of the cards will allow us to have a variety of interesting conversations about space and our role in it. They really can lead us in so many different directions. 

The cards themselves are essentially classification cards. I made them without words so even younger kids can sort them. I think as young as 3-year-olds could do this work with a bit of context. 

To make these cards, I simply printed the images, cut and glued to card stock. Then, I laminated and punched the corners. 

I hope you enjoy these cards as much as we have! They are an easy way to explore both life on Earth and space. They are just one of so many cool space themed materials that you could have at home! These figures are also awesome! And how cool do these solar system magnets looks? And this model?! Pretty much the sky is the limit! 

Do your children like space? What aspects have you studied together? 

12 Months of Montessori 

This post was brought to you as part of the 12 Months of Montessori Series! This month's theme is astronomy. To see more Montessori inspired astronomy themed ideas, don't miss these great blog posts. 

Space Yoga for Kids | Sugar, Spice & Glitter
Gearing up for Astronomy | Grace and Green Pastures
Astronomy for Christian Children | Christian Montessori Network

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Montessori Home -- The Bathroom

Having a Montessori home means having a home that is as accessible as possible for your children and respecting that they can act freely within that environment. Nora is officially potty learning (potty training in Montessori speak) and as she is using the bathroom more, we've been making some changes to make it as accessible as possible. 

This means we've been making a few changes from our last bathroom update. You'll noticed we ditched the glass since the kids now have access to those in the kitchen and have added lower features so they don't have to be dependent on the stool. 

Potty: Our potty is about the last object with eyes (that isn't meant to have them) in our house. But, it's one of those things that I don't want to replace for that reason, I just don't see the benefit for the cost. This one is more Montessori friendly. 

Books: Everyone Poops, Baby's Book of the Body, First Book of Clothes and Potty. Typically, Nora only reads on the potty, not the floor. But, for purposes of this post we obviously skipped the action shots

Mirror and Stool are from IKEA; Hooks also help to make towels lower and give the potty seat {for Hen's use} a handy spot. 

We also recently replaced the faucet in the bathroom to one that the Henry and Nora could more easily reach from our {now larger} stool. This way, they can independently wash hands, brush teeth and get water for cleaning. Not only does it look way better than the old one, the kids love it! 

We still use a tray in the cabinet to hold all the kids' bathroom stuff. Their brushes, lotion, and hair spray {a bottle of water.} This lets them access the things whenever they need them without having to ask. They can also easily put them away if they need to. 

Our bathroom is nothing fancy or special! It's not large and its not updated. I hope that shows you that you really can make a Montessori space for your children anywhere. Even making one or two changes so your children can be independent can make all the difference. None of these changes has been time consuming or expensive, but they work so well for even the littlest members of our family! 

Have you made Montessori changes in your bathroom? What has worked to help your children? 

If you like this post, don't miss: Montessori Toddler Bedroom; Mixed Age Montessori Play Shelves

 This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 


Monday, April 4, 2016

Picture-to-Picture Matching for Montessori Toddlers

Picture-to Picture matching is the last big category in the series of matching work for toddlers.

I've noticed that this type of matching is what a lot of people try to jump to right away with toddlers. For that reason, it's pretty easy to find cards that can be used for this type of matching work all over the internet. It's also attractive because it doesn't require any objects, only matching cards. But, just because it is easy to prepare doesn't mean young toddlers are ready for this. 

Like the other types of matching this work, this is a pre-reading skill that toddlers need. It helps toddlers learn to visually discriminate between objects, this time in a completely abstract way. There is no way to touch and feel the difference like with the other types of matching. This must be done entirely by sight. And, this really isn't an easy skill, if the child isn't ready and hasn't had the proper foundation.  

Nora (at 21 months) is not ready for this type of work. At all. I don't rush her nor do I feel any real need for her to be doing this type of work at this point. So, in these pictures, I've used some older toddlers, from my co-op. This guy is 33 months, and happily and successfully completed this work on his own -- repeating it several times. 

To present this work, I simply have a set of identical cards in a divided tray. These particular cards are from Michael Olaf, but any simple flash cards or images will work. I try to use images without text but that's not always possible. 

I start by laying one set out and then grabbing one of the pictures from the other pile. Moving left to right, I slowly place the card next to the cards that are placed on the table until I find the match. I repeat until all the matches are gone. Then, the toddler repeats. The toddler may move just how you did, or they may find their own groove. I let the exploration happen! Try not to direct the matching by naming the objects or pictures. As always, its process over product. 

Once toddlers have mastered picture-to-picture matching, there are so many great extensions that can be done with this work. You can use one image cut in half to match, you can match an image to its silhouette, invert colors, or play memory. All of these are great ways to increase those abstract visualization skills that are so important for reading one day! 

I hope you enjoyed this series on toddler matching and have a better idea about the order that matching work can be presented in. This is something that you can truly customize to your child's interests and can easily be put together!

What type of matching does your child enjoy? Have you tried picture-to-picture matching? 

If you enjoyed this post, check out: Montessori Toddler Classification Cards with Printable

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.