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Showing posts from March, 2018

Starting to {Un}dress - Montessori Young Toddler Week 17

I think the most common phrase this week around my house has been "where's your shoe?" Every time I've turned around this week, Gus is working on taking some part of his clothes off. Whether it's unzipping his coat, removing his shoes, pushing down his pants (in public - haha!), or pulling off his shirt, Gus has learned that he has the power to decide what's on his body! 

It's a fantastic phase that I remember loving with the older kids too. It's suddenly a burst of independent activity, and one that becomes really useful later on! So, even though it can sometimes be a little more work for me, I don't discourage his attempts. And, I allow for these important skills to develop. These are the building blocks that Gus will use to dress himself later on.

I do a few things to support these early attempts at dressing and undressing. If you have a young toddler, or any child interested in working on this important skill, you may consider:
Provide easy c…

Being a Montessori Parent on *Those* Days

Yesterday, I woke up in a horrible mood. It was 4:20 a.m. and Gus wanted to nurse. By the time he was done, my alarm was about to go off so I just had to start my day. I was just feeling off all day, short, no patience, and a bit angry. So when I had a child wake up feeling similarly, it was not a good start to the day. I was not being the parent I want to be. And, I had a day full of commitments that I had to face. Sigh. 

I put the call out for help - on Instagram - asking for some tips on how to turn my day around and get myself in a better mindset. And what I got was an overwhelming response of love, suggestions, support, and commiseration. It ended up being exactly what I needed in the moment. But, so many of the private messages I got were from people in the same boat looking for suggestions and asking me to share. So, here they are - some of the ideas that I got from lovely people on IG on how to turn it around on a bad day.  Owning Your Feelings Lots of people suggested this, …

In the Kitchen from 12 to 18 Months

Since Montessori emphasizes independence and the importance of practical life, Montessori toddlers are often exceedingly capable individuals. With the right access to opportunities, toddlers can do incredible things in the kitchen, in particular. And, I can list a bunch of skills that young toddlers may be able to do in the kitchen - you can see a list here. Or they may not be able to do all those things, and that's OK too. 

But even with all of these other kitchen activities that toddlers can engage in, I think it's important to remember the two things that young toddlers are often the most interested in - exploration and observation!  Exploration  I know I can't be the only parent that has tried to offer opportunities to a young toddler in the kitchen for them to only be interested in banging the tool on the counter or shoving food into their mouth. When this happens, it's always a good reminder for me that exploration is so important at this age. Babies and toddler…

What We're Reading - Personal Books

So, typically I share our library book finds from the month in these posts. But, I thought I would change it up a bit this time and share some of the books from our collection that we have been reading. While I try to be more minimal about the toys I purchase for my children, I may (most definitely do) have a harder time not buying ALL THE BOOKS. 
But, in all seriousness, I do try to limit my purchases to Montessori friendly books that are 1. super good and therefore in high demand at the library 2. vintage gems, or books that are otherwise unavailable at my library system 3. super loved by my children that we have rented previously 4. fit a deep interest in my children so that we will read a ton. 

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Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet EarthWhy Am I Me? | Hats of Faith | Over and Under the Snow | Whatever Happens to Baby Horses? {vintage book} | Tracks in the Snow |  Plants in Winter {vintage edition} | The Sun: Our Nearest St…

Making the Outdoors Accessible - Montessori Young Toddler 16

Over the last week or two, there have started to be signs here in Minnesota that spring is finally on the way. A larger variety of birds have been visiting our yard, and the squirrels and rabbits are "enjoying each other's company" so to speak! So, there is lots to see and hear, even in the city. Unfortunately, temperatures are still a bit cool and most of our world is still buried under 12+ inches of snow.

Augustus is all of a sudden acutely aware of the outdoors. He has started to notice the animals outside. He wants to be out exploring as much as possible. Sometimes it's possible, sometimes it's not. So, we have been making some changes to our environment to make the outdoors as accessible to Gus as possible. In the playroom, we have fairly low windows, so a simple lesson on how to carry his stool to the window was in order. This gives him the freedom to sit and watch the happenings in our backyard. 
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Here …

Our Shared Montessori Playroom

Our play spaces have undergone so many changes over the years. Part of this is because we keep having children and need to accommodate more people, and the other part is that I keep studying and learning Montessori. The more I learn, the more I have made little {or big} changes to make our environment as accessible, beautiful, and engaging as I can for my kids. 

Recently, I realized that I haven't shared an update on our play space in almost a year! There have been big changes in that time! We replaced the floors as part of our renovation, mostly because our elderly dog ruined the carpet. So when she passed, we needed to update. Another major change has been moving from IKEA Trofast shelving to IKEA Besta shelving. The Besta shelves are more flexible and open while still being at an affordable price range. They are hands down one of my favorite options for Montessori at home shelves!
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Rug | Shelves
We also no longer have a movem…

Language Work Lately

Nora is just 3 quick months away from turning 4-years-old! It's unbelievable how grown up she seems all of a sudden. It's like every tiny bit of baby has left her. She loves school, and thrives on all the learning she does there! And, we are careful to support that learning here at home! I wanted to share with you some of the ways we have been doing that lately. 

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First, at school, Nora has lots of different work available to her to directly and indirectly work on language (reading and writing) skills. These include:
Sound gamesSandpaper LettersMetal Insets Since she is in school so often, I don't want to duplicate this exact work here at home. So, we look to see her interests, the areas where she could use some more practice and the areas that she enjoys in order to choose some work at home that supports what she does at Children's House without just doing the exact same thing. 

For Nora, specifically, her interest la…

4 Reasons I Love the Topponcino

Have you ever heard of the topponcino? I know that a few years ago, I hadn't! The topponcino is a small mattress used to help transition a baby from womb into the world. The baby uses the topponcino when he/she is being held, or placed somewhere for the first few weeks of the baby's life. It becomes the baby's first environment, one that can move with the baby from place to place. A mom sleeps with the topponcino before the baby arrives so that it smells like her and provides a secure and comforting feeling to the baby. 

The topponcino itself is firm but flexible and soft. It feels as if you took a stiff quilt and folded it several times. It's typically oval and not particularly thick. Since I hadn't heard of them with Henry and Nora, I only used one with Augustus. And, I have to say if we ever have more children, the topponcino goes on my must-have list. It was fantastic, and I so wish I had one for my older kids too. Here are a few reasons I LOVED the topponcino…

An Interest in Reading -- Montessori Young Toddler Week 15

Reading is a big part of our family culture. From me and my husband, to our children, reading is something we do often. And, as I have mentioned before, we start reading with our children from birth. But in these early days, our babies are really passive participants in the process. They may sit on our laps and listen, or be near us as we read, but their actual engagement with the book itself may be limited. Eventually, the interest does come! And for Gus, it has finally hit, and it has hit hard! 

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Gus cannot get enough books right now. And, I don't mean carrying them around or chewing on them. I mean really sitting and reading them. He wants to read all the books, all the time. He is staring to show favorites. He's starting to empty the bookcase as he pages through each (before tossing it across the room, because toddler.) This week it has felt like Gus has done two things, run wild and read!

To make reading a success:  I tr…

Why choose Montessori at Home?

I've been thinking lately a lot about why we use Montessori at home. Why don't we just leave Montessori in the classroom? Why bother when the children leave their prepared environment at school? In a lot of ways it would be easier to just forget about it, wouldn't it? It would be easier to try not to fight the tide of commercialized products that seems to stream in from everywhere. Or, to not invite my children to participate in daily tasks. Or, even to parent with incentives. 

But, I still feel called to Montessori. And, in the end, I don't think any of these things would be easier. Or that my life as a parent would be more fulfilling. Here are some reasons I use Montessori at home, despite the short term challenges, and despite the fact that my children go to Montessori schools. Child Development Montessori is a method based on the scientific observation of children. The method is rooted in following the development of the child. And, a child's development does …

Montessori Home - Art Area Remodel

Art and creative expression has become more and more important to my children as they have gotten older. The older they get the more of their play revolves around creating something. Whether it is book making (a Henry favorite) or painting (a Nora favorite), much of the time my children spend after school at home is in our art area. 

I know I did a tour of this area last year, but then in the fall we did an extensive kitchen remodel and the art area got a major face lift. With the exception of one picture (which is clearly screaming for a picture of maybe-someday-if-we-are-totally-crazy baby number 4), the area is finally feeling like it's done. So, I wanted to share again. 
This time, the focus was much more on having the space for open ended art exploration. With the kids getting older, we needed less shelf space for prepared art trays, and more space for just storing art supplies. We also needed a larger table for collaborative projects and larger work. Here's a look at so…

Our Easter Baskets 2018

With Lent half-way done, I'm starting to think more about how we will celebrate Easter this year. As I have said in the past, we participate in both the secular "Easter Bunny" part of the holiday and the religious holiday. However, given the importance of the religious aspect of the holiday, we don't make a big deal about the bunny. My children know that it's just a funny story and a way for us to celebrate a joyous occasion. 
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Rain suit | Personalized Sticker Book | Edible Colors Board Book | Sunglasses |  Animals | Crayons | A Year Full of Stories | A Beetle is Shy

Anyway, since I always like to see what people are actually getting their kids for holidays, I thought I would share my plan for the children's baskets this year. Instead of using Easter grass to line the baskets, this year, my kids are each getting a rain suit. I have been inspired by There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather and we are going t…

Independent Stool Use - Montessori Young Toddler Week 14

One of the questions that I have been getting more often as Augustus gets older is, "how do you keep Gus off of the older kid's stool?" And, the short answer is always the same -- I don't. But, over the last couple weeks, it has become clear that Gus now realizes he can use the stool for more than a stationary climber. It has become his tool too. 

Gus has started to push the stool from its "spot" to where he would like to access. Usually, it's been one of two places -- right to the counter a quick push away to raid the fruit bowl or to the light switches in the kitchen. These aren't things that I have had to show him because he watches Henry and Nora use the stool as well. But, it's also not something I'm going to stop. I want him to feel like he can independently manipulate his environment. 
Maria Montessori was clear that children need to be able to move and act independently in their environment. Their development occurs because of their…

DIY {IKEA Hack} Wash Basin

This last fall we completed a large renovation in our kitchen, part of that renovation included a redesign of the eat-in nook that we use as an art area for my kids. We redesigned things to give the older kids a bit more access to open ended art supplies where they could create their own art projects. This led to a bit more need to clean up. Whether it was just paint/glue/marker whatever, I've been finding that Nora and Henry need a space to clean a bit. Eventually, I would also like to add art that includes the use of some water -- felting wool comes to mind.

Anyway, long story short, I've been looking for a way to upgrade our access to water in the art area. The previous system worked really well, it just didn't give us a space to work with the water. Well, the solution finally hit me while I was walking around IKEA. This bench! I confirmed with Morgan that he could cut away the slats and bought it! 
And, that's all we did! I used a 14" storage box that we alre…

A Children's Fridge + a Few Snack Ideas

A few months ago we did a big kitchen remodel and renovation where we changed pretty much everything in our existing kitchen. One of the biggest changes we made was adding a new refrigerator for our family. The old one was too small for our needs as a family of five. 

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When we were purchasing a fridge we specifically wanted one that was Montessori friendly. Basically we were looking for something that our children could 1. open on their own 2. access at least one shelf without the use of a stool. We finally settled on a Samsung 4-Door Flex fridge. On this model one of the bottom areas can be used as a fridge or a freezer. So, it essentially becomes a children sized refrigerator. 
After having this for a few months, I can say I really love it! It's so nice to let the kids have some place where they can just independently gather snacks or ingredients for meals has been really wonderful. 

Now, I don’t mean to tell anyone that they…