Friday, June 17, 2016

2-year-old Birthday Gifts

I can't believe how fast time has gone since we have welcomed our wonderful rainbow baby Nora. And, I can't believe that in just a day she will be turning 2-years-old. It feels like she was just born but has always been part of our family all at the same time. I'm sure this is a familiar feeling to all parents as they watch their helpless newborns turn into these amazing little beings. 

With Nora's birthday fast approaching, I thought I would share the Montessori-friendly items we have chosen to get for her to celebrate! I know I often share lists of toys I like, but here are the choices that actually made the cut for Nora! 




It can often be difficult to decide exactly what materials you should get for your child when you are purchasing new things. For me, I look at my child's own interests, her current developmental skills and sensitive periods and work from there. There are so many cool Montessori friendly products available, but you want something that your child will actually love and use! 

Hopefully, I made some good choices for Nora and I can't wait to see her start to explore them soon! 

What is your 2-year-old interested in? What's on his/her birthday list? 

If you liked this post, don't miss: The Ultimate Montessori Toy List -- Birth to Five

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Practical Life at 2-years-old

Sometimes when people think about practical life work for toddlers they think about tiny little cups or pitchers where toddlers are sitting quietly and transferring beans/rice/water/whatever. In reality these works often end up all over the floor with the toddler and the parent frustrated. This work is often designed for older children, specifically for 3-6-year-olds in a Children's House. 

So, what does practical life work look like for toddlers? What does practical life look like at 2-years-old? 


Well, in a word, it's practical. It's really doing work. It's pouring your own glass of water. It's helping with the laundry.

It is practical.

It's moving chairs and sweeping the floor. It's swiffering. It's feeling needed and respected. It's being an important member of the family. 

It is practical.


It's washing and slicing your own snack, then serving it to your family. It's feeding yourself that snack and then returning to clean up the mess. It's spontaneously wiping, and pouring and cleaning and concentrating in the same way you see the adults in your life wiping, pouring, cleaning and concentrating. 

It is practical. 


It's returning things to their proper place. It's spraying windows and wiping them clean.

There are many things that practical life at 2-years-old is not. It is not about sitting still. It is not about being perfect. It is not about the end goal. It's not always clean or efficient or done the way adults do it. It is not shelf work. It is not hard to prepare. It is not expensive.


It is practical.


So prepare your environment, give them the tools and give them the space. Set your 2-year-old free. Forget a million pouring works and get practical! 

What does practical life look like for your 2-year-old? 


12 Months of Montessori 

This post is brought to you as part of the 12 Months of Montessori series. The theme this month is practical life. For great Montessori and Montessori inspired practical life posts, check out these great blogs! 

Montessori Practical Life Checklist | Sugar, Glitter & Spice
Practical Life for an Older Child | Grace and Green Pastures
10 Ways to Encourage Family Chores this Summer | Christian Montessori Network
Practical Life at 2-Years-Old | The Kavanaugh Report

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.

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Friday, June 10, 2016

Montessori Friendly Shelving -- Some Options

One of the ways  that Montessori environments are different from other types of children's environments is that things are accessible as possible for the children. One way that this is done is through the use of open shelving. On these shelves work and materials are carefully organized to meet the specific needs of the children using this space. 


However, there are so many children's shelving options on the market that it can be difficult to know what to look for when you are trying to find Montessori friendly options. Here are some tips that I try to keep in mind when looking for shelving: 
  • Accessible: You want something that is going to be accessible for your child. Infant shelves will need to be lower, for example, than a shelf for older children.
  • Lightly Colored: I've seen Montessorians go both ways on this one. Many argue, and I agree, that lightly colored shelving allows the materials to stand out in a way that's harder with darker woods/shades. I have seen beautiful Montessori spaces with darker wood, so I think it can be pulled off, its just harder.
  • Sturdy: You want something that can withstand a child or two using the furniture. It needs to be heavy enough not to fall over (or to be safely anchored) while in use. 

These attributes can be found in a variety of shelving choices that are commercially available. Here are some of my favorites in a variety of prices and styles: 


  1. ECR4Kids Open Shelving: Upside: available in a variety of sizes, corners rounded and heavy. Since this is specifically designed for children it can withstand some destruction. Downside: the price.

  2. Open Backed Shelving: Upside: specifically designed with kids in mind, can use from both sides. Downside: a bit small for the price

  3. Small Bookcase: Upside: great price, adjustable shelving; Downside: probably not the best quality, a little small

  4. Wide Bookcase: Upside: really great price and larger size, adjustable shelves; Downside: again, cheaper quality

  5. Custom Open Shelving: Upside: looks like they can make it to the exact size you want; Downside: price, time to make and shipping costs

  6. IKEA Besta Shelf: Upside: nice quality for the price, comes in a lot of sizes, wide and deep enough for bigger materials; Downside: you have to be near an IKEA or pay huge shipping costs, you have to put it together on your own, you might spend your whole life savings on all the Montessori friendly awesomeness at IKEA, not solid wood meant to last forever
  7. IKEA Kallax Shelving: Upside: nice quality for the price, these are flexible and can be used in a lot of ways/spaces, come in a lot of sizes; Downside: cube shelving can limit the size of materials -- I personally think they work great for infants/toddlers then become much harder to use for older children
  8. IKEA Lack Wall Shelving; Upside: really great price, very flexible in how you use them; Downside: you have to drill significant holes into your walls
  9. Modern Shelving: Upside: great look that can fit nicely into adult spaces, tall enough for older kids to use and grow into; Downside: price and have to be close to store/pay shipping
  10. Shelf and Book Storage: Upside: not a horrible price, solid wood and kid friendly, includes book storage; Downside: a bit small 

Of all these choices, the IKEA Besta shelving is by far my favorite choice. It is my number 1 recommendation and if I had the resources I would replace all of my shelving with it. It makes for a great accessible and uniform space that I just love. But purchasing expensive shelves are not the only option for families. Thrift stores often have great pieces that can be used in Montessori spaces. Often with a little searching and a little TLC, thrift store shelves can look just as nice. 


For our crafty friends, there are also great tutorials and ideas online for DIY versions, likes these: 


Do you have a favorite Montessori friendly shelf? Anything I missed that should be added to this list? 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 


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