Monday, September 26, 2016

A Montessori Shelfie at 27 Months

Over the past couple weeks since Henry started school full time, Nora's independent play has really blossomed. She can frequently be found working quietly alone or asking me to join her in her work. Plus, she's really starting to enjoy new, interesting and challenging materials. 

Of course, I've discussed her love of puzzles, and language materials, but a lot of other work finds its way to our shelves. And, I thought I would share a "shelfie" of what our playroom shelf looks like today. 

Top Shelf {Left to Right}: DIY Continent Globe {just for decoration}; Vintage Puzzle; Dry Pouring; Interlox Builders; Ring Counter

Middle Shelf: Animal Language Cards from Michael Olaf; Vintage Puzzle, Stacking Cone; Wooden Train Track and Trains; Stacking Barrels; Vintage Buckle Toy

Bottom Shelf: Shape Sorting Work; Vintage Vehicle Language Cards

And we can't possibly forget the barn, one of the most used toys {by everyone} in our whole house! Nora's imagination has really blossomed lately and she can spend long periods of time caring for her farm. 

Top: Terra Barn from Target 

Middle: DIY Farm Play Mat and random blanket for the farmer's bed {added by Henry} 

I love sitting and observing Nora work. And, generally she likes when I join her. However, the death stare she gave me when she caught me taking pictures of her working was a good sign to take my leave! And, my "shelfie" session was over. 

Sidenote: If you are on Instagram, check out #montessorishelfie there is so much great inspiration to be found! And, post your own so I can stalk you! 

What does your 2-year-old enjoy working with? Have you noticed an increase in concentration? 


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Exploring Montessori Language Work from Ages 2 to 3

According to Maria Montessori children are in the sensitive period for language from birth until age 6. During this time they are making incredible leaps in not only oral, but written language acquisition. Most of the time this happens without any intervention on the part of the parent.

As I've talked about before, toddlers often need no formal introduction to academic concepts. This includes "typical" language activities such as the alphabet or reading programs. As Maria said "In our system little children acquire a hand which is practiced and ready to write. They are unconsciously preparing themselves for writing when in the course of the sense exercises they move the hand in various directions, constantly repeating the same actions though with different immediate ends in view."

Again, we are choosing to not teach Nora letter names or sounds at this time. This isn't always the easiest for us as parents to accept, especially in today's society. We want to we are giving the best to our children and that's totally understandable.

But, if we aren't doing letters, then what can we do? There are a variety of engaging and easy toddler work that indirectly prepares toddlers for reading and writing. By making sure we don't skip these steps prior to introducing letters then we will give toddlers the best foundation for reading and writing in the future. It will actually be significantly easier and more natural for them to learn when they are actually fully prepared and ready.


These are things that you can do to make your home as reading-friendly as possible. These don't have to be complicated. But, taking some time to make sure your child can read as comfortably as possible. Reading and writing should be a natural part of your day and life.

  • Create a literacy positive atmosphere -- read and write around your child 
  • Set up a reading corner or space for your child, make it easy to read 
  • Choose a wide variety of beautiful books for your child 
  • Make books accessible to children by using child-sized shelving


So much of learning to read comes from developing oral language skills. Before learning letter sounds, toddlers have to learn to recognize and distinguish sounds.

  • READ, READ, and READ some more
  • Play listening games: go outside and try to identify sounds or listen for specific sounds; sound lotto games
  • Make up rhyming games 
  • Read poetry aloud -- this collection is incredible 
  • Use real and descriptive language with your toddler
  • Introduce Sound Games with your child -- my lovely friend Amy at Midwest Montessori has excellent explanations on how to start this process

Fine Motor

It's super important that toddlers develop the fine motor skills necessary to begin to write and read. Many people want to skip to right to sandpaper letters with their young kids to teach them letter sounds. However, this requires a lot of fine motor skills in order to successfully complete. It also takes skills to hold a book, or a pencil. "The hands are the instruments of man's intelligence." - Maria Montessori
  • Practical Life skills 
  • Free art: water colors, chalk, coloring with crayons
  • Playdoh to strengthen hand muscles 
  • Sewing -- start with bead lacing and threading, moving to lacing and using blunt embroidery needles and thread
  • Pegging work and puzzles 
  • Finger painting 

Cognitive and Visual Discrimination 

There is some shelf work that can be helpful for toddlers. Many of these ideas can be made easily at home. Another helpful thing to do is make sure that all work in arranged from left to right. It helps children start to logically move from left to right as they put together words and read sentences.

  • Matching work to move children toward abstraction
  • Sorting work: sorting soft and hard objects, magnetic verses non-magnetic, etc.  
  • Classification work -- classifying cards {like those Nora is using}
  • Sequencing work -- putting cards in a logical order from beginning to end 
  • Naming objects and pictures using 2 and 3-part lessons

These are just some ideas to help people prepare their toddlers for reading and writing. If you want more information on Montessori language arts and the process of teaching reading and writing, don't miss this book: Montessori Read & Write: A Parents' Guide to Literacy for Children.

12 Months of Montessori 

This post is brought to you as part of the 12 Months of Montessori series. This month's theme is language arts. For more Montessori and Montessori inspired ideas, don't miss these great blog posts!

Learning the Montessori Way: Grammar | Every Star is Different
Our Favorite Language Arts Supplements | Grace and Green Pastures
My Church Montessori 3-Part Cards | Christian Montessori Network

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 


Thursday, September 8, 2016

And He's Off to Children's House

Today Henry officially begins his public Montessori journey! I don't know where the time went and how suddenly my little, pink screaming newborn is gone and this self-sufficient 5-year-old stands in his place. 

I'm going to miss him here with me, but I know he's going to be an excellent hands. He's having a hard time with this transition but is also excited. He is working through some struggles right now and he is just so brave. I'm incredibly grateful for all the time we've had together and I know things are only looking up! 

I asked him some questions before heading off to school, it was clear he was not in the mood: 

What is your favorite color? Yellow

What are you looking forward to today? "Learning new work" 

What do you want to be when you grow up? "A superhero"

What will you miss the most today? "My blankie. Stop asking questions." 

And, that's it. I'm a rambly incoherent mess. Up the big school stairs he went. I hope he learns kindness, and peace, and strength, and all the work he wants!