Monday, November 21, 2016

Rainbow I-Spy Printable for Toddlers

Toddlers are smack dab in the middle of the sensitive period for small objects. They have an incredible ability to pick out the smallest details in room or picture. Things that many adults simply glance over or ignore. They are also intensely focused on language acquisition. They want to know the name of everything they see and encounter. This makes activities like I-Spy ideal material for toddlers. We can help them get the language they crave and tap into their amazing detail power! 


While Nora has been very interested in colors for awhile, I made her some color-themed rainbow I-Spy work! I used small objects from around my house to create the images. Some of the materials are common for her, while others are new. Then, I used the images to create a small book which we love! The book itself has been popular for many months, so I wanted to make a version that I could easily share with all of you! 


I settled on these small printable cards! You can print, cut and laminate to make your own version of this popular I-spy work! The printable is totally free and includes the colors of the rainbow, plus pink, white, black, brown and grey! Hopefully, they are as big of a hit at your house as they have been here!




Interested in making your own book with the images? Email me at thekavanaughreport {at} gmail {dot} com! For $5 USD, I will send you the files for all the images and you can use to make whatever you would like! 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Ultimate Montessori Non-Toy Gift Guide

When you are a Montessori parent, it can sometimes be difficult to decide what products make their way into your home. This problem can be compounded by a desire to keep toys -- especially many mainstream products -- to a minimum. Yet, it can feel like there is always something happening where a gift may be needed. 

I know that I personally struggle with this. It feels like every couple months it's a birthday, holiday or special occasion. And, before we know it, there are just too many toys. So, I wanted to create a list of some non-toy gift options for families who just have plenty of toys. Or, for families who may just be starting on their Montessori journey who are looking to equip their environment. 



When I call this an "ultimate" list, I in no way want to imply that this is an all inclusive list. I hope that I have included a nice selection of products from across the board. But, it would be virtually impossible to include every possible item that could be used in a Montessori home. So, if you love something and it's not on this list that doesn't mean it doesn't fit wonderfully into a Montessori home.

I also want to clarify that I created this list specifically for home use. These are just products that you may want to consider to prepare your environment to meet the needs of your child. It's so difficult to break these things down by age, so the most important thing to keep in mind is that you need to follow your child in making purchasing decisions! 

Babies  

There's just not much you need for a Montessori baby! I've really come to learn that less is more. But, here are a few things that we have loved, or that can help make an environment more welcoming for an infant. Many of these things can be used well beyond baby-hood. 


Sleeping and Living 

Muslin Blankets
Sheepskin Rug
Mirror -- this is a shatterproof one, but a glass mirror hung at the child's height will also work in a movement area
Topponcino

Self-Care

Small Potty
Wooden Brush Set -- we love our set, perfect for little babies
Small Toothbrush
Training Pants

Practical Life 

Weaning Table -- I love that this table can grow with your child
Weaning Chair
Small silverware
Small glasses -- these are the glasses we used with Nora and will use again with Augustus
Small mug

Extras

Black and White Images
Movement Mat
Tripp Trapp High Chair -- this is one where I go back and forth, its great to have, but we choose to sit at the weaning table instead

Montessori Beginner Basics 

Here are some basic products for Montessori homes. Don't take the word "beginner" too seriously, anyone can use these products but they are some of what I would consider most essential for preparing a home. Some can be introduced to young toddlers, where others may be more suitable for older kids. Again, follow your child their abilities and their interests when choosing. 




Kitchen

Spreader Knives
Crinkle cutter Knife
Nylon knives -- these are perfect for older children who are just starting to use knives as well as toddlers that have more knife experience.
Egg Slicer
Tongs -- Their small size makes them perfect for practical transferring for toddlers
Mini Colander
Small Metal Pitcher
Small Glass Pitcher
Large Glass Pitcher -- My absolute favorite pitcher, used daily by my children. We've had ours for years.
Cutting Boards
Apron -- there are so many beautiful handmade and commercial options, this is just one example
Small Plates
Table Linens -- any small linens can work, placemats and napkins come to mind
Masher
Whisk
Apple Cutter

Self-Care

Nail Brush
Potty Seat
Umbrella
Hand Mirror
Soap Dispensers -- These could be used for hand washing soap, shampoo, lotion, or other personal care items.
Faucet Extender
Dressing Chair Toddler -- very well made chair for the price, works great for Nora and Henry
Dressing Chair Preschooler
Full Length Mirror

Care of the Environment

Swiffer -- just remove one of the handles to make this child sized
Mop
Broom -- an adult broom or mop cut to size will also work, height will vary on the child's age
Carpet Sweeper Vacuum
Cleaning Caddy
Hand Broom -- a personal family favorite, the adults and children love this one here
RagsDish Brush
Squeegee
Duster
Laundry Bucket
Spray Bottle -- can be used for cleaning, or watering plants
Dish Rack
Scrub Brush

General Living

Forward facing bookcase -- these are so great for displaying books, from babyhood all the way through childhood
Open Shelving
Cozy Chair
Rocking Chair
Learning Tower -- I go back and forth on this one, its one of those things that might be nice to have, but not a necessity
Stool -- I can't say enough good things about this step stool, this is what we use daily in our home
Work Table
Coat Tree
Light Switch Extender

Outdoor

Watering Can
Plant -- pick one that fits your space, your environment and can withstand treatment by your child
Small Gardening Tools
Large Gardening Tools
Push Broom
Snow Shovel


Experienced Montessori Families

Don't be afraid of the "experienced" language here. These products are for everyone! But, many of these may work for families that already have a lot of the basics and want something extra. There is, however, nothing about these products that wouldn't work for people who are new to Montessori! 


Kitchen

Toaster Oven -- for independent baking
Mini-Fridge
Sifter
Juicer
Cookie Cutters
Paring Knives
Serrated Knife -- a variety of small knives can be introduced starting in toddlerhood, depending on the child's experience
Funnel
Mortal and Pestle
Peeler
Mini Cooking Utensils -- I love that these look just like the larger ones I use 
Oven Mits
Apple Peeler
Kitchen Scale -- I want this for myself

Self-Care

Washing Board
Drying Rack
Washing Basin
Wardrobe -- for real clothes, accessible to the child
Hand Washing Set
Safety Glasses

Care of the Environment 

Water Canister
Vacuum -- both my kids absolutely love using a hand vacuum to help around the house
Iron
Bud Vase -- perfect for flower arrangements and nature finds
Tool Set
Sewing Machine
Mopping Bucket

I'm sure there are so many great products that are missing from this list! If you have others you would add, I would love for you to leave a comment below! 


Are you looking for Montessori friendly toys? Don't miss my Ultimate Montessori Toy List

This post is part of a large group of kid blogger gift guides! If you are looking for a gift this holiday season, don't miss these!


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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Handmade Montessori Material Finds

Maria Montessori believed that children were attracted to beauty. And, I think that any child placed in a room with beautiful objects quickly comes to agree with her. There is so much beauty in this world and giving a bit to children can be so rewarding, especially when you make it with your own hands. 

I love making materials for my children. They are often some of our most beloved materials. So, today I wanted to share some of my favorite handmade Montessori and Montessori-friendly material finds. I have such great respect for the artisans that create materials for children like this. It's just so amazing to me. 


{from left to right, top to bottom}


Just as an aside, I wanted to clarify that none of these shops have any idea I am featuring them. They are just beautiful pieces that give me inspiration. I hope you find them as inspirational! And, I hope that you make materials for your children!

Do you find handmade materials inspirational? What are some of your favorites? 

Looking for other Montessori-friendly materials for home? Don't miss -- The Ultimate Montessori Toy List -- Birth to Five

12 Months of Montessori

This post was brought to you as part of the 12 Months of Montessori series. This month's theme is favorite Montessori materials. Check out these other great blogs for other material inspiration. 

Handmade Montessori Material Finds | The Kavanaugh Report
Highly Recommended Montessori Materials | The Pinay Homeschooler
Favorite Montessori-ish Resources | Grace and Green Pastures

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Preparing for Winter with a Montessori Toddler

I don't know if you have ever noticed this, but the more you try to rush a toddler, the slower and slower they move. It's like a law of nature. Like, when you are trying to get out of the door for something.

Trying to get a toddler to be independent and learn new skills in these moments can be some of the most incredibly frustrating moments in parenthood. But, there are still times when you want your toddler to learn new skills and be as independent as possible. The trick I have found is to try to give these opportunities for independence outside of the stressful moments. When the pressure is off. That way the skills are ingrained when the pressure is on. 


For me, this has been especially true teaching practical life skills -- like self dressing. The more I push when I'm under a deadline, the more resistance I face. And, the more naturally frustrated I am, just because "WE HAVE TO GO!" 

So, we've been taking a different approach with Nora and taking the pressure off by giving her time and space to practice these skills on her schedule. In particular, all the new little skills she has to learn as the weather turns into deep winter. Suddenly, it's not just a coat we need, but gloves/mittens, boots, hat and scarfs. 


For a Montessori toddler, or any toddler, the strong desire to be independent is there. By creating a simple shelf with winter themed practical life, she can practice whenever she feels like it. She can perfect the skills she needs, when she needs. No pressure, no stress, no need to worry about mistakes or if she will be warm enough. 


To create this little corner, I simply added some baskets and her REAL winter gear. I started with gloves, since that is our fall time staple, but will eventually change over to her winter mittens. I'll also add a scarf and her snowpants as we get closer to deep winter. These real objects are naturally attractive to her, but then it's also as practical as possible.


I placed on a low shelf right near our entry way where we already have independent access to shoes/coats and a small dressing chair. It's exactly where she will be getting dressed and undressed all season. This is similar to what I have done with her shoes, socks and underwear in the past as well.


Then, I set her free! Practical life exploration at it's finest. I have helped if she asked, but mostly she has been content to sit and try on her own. Hopefully, this simple practical life set up will make our winter days just that much more relaxed, independent and joyful! 

What kind of practical life does your 2-year-old enjoy? How do you encourage independence, like self-dressing? 


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