Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from January, 2019

Favorites at 25 Months - Art Supplies

As a very new 2, Gus is super into art and using art supplies. To be honest, he has more interest than any of my other kids did at this age. Now, this could be his personality, or just that Henry and (more so) Nora model the use of art supplies which increases his interest. Either way, Gus spends a good amount of his day engaged in creating. 

Just a quick note about setting up art trays for toddlers. Typically, I would make sure that everything for a toddler art tray was placed on one tray and easily accessible for the toddler. Toddlers' aren't often able to go gather all the supplies they need in order to use art material. But, here you'll see a combination of those two things - open ended supplies and prepared trays. Gus has taken a liking to some of the things prepared more for his brother and sister. That's the nature of having so many ages in one space. So, these will often require some adult intervention to make sure he can use the materials safely - I'll po…

5 Tips for Cleaning Up Open Ended Play

Open ended play is amazing right? Your child takes, for example, a bunch of blocks and builds an amazing city with them. Then, takes out toy cars and drives them around the town. Then, maybe some people figures, or some magnatiles. It's amazing, so creative and engaging for your child. But, let's be honest with ourselves here for a minute. It's also a huge mess. A beautiful, awesome, purposeful mess. And, that can be really hard for some children to clean up - I know it can be difficult for my own children. 
So, I wanted to share some tips that I have found the make the process of cleaning up open ended play a lot more pleasant for myself and the kids. Using these tips, over time my children have become more independent in tackling these larger messes. 

Before I get into the tips, I did want to make one comment about respecting "a mess" when your children aren't done. I know there are plenty of times when my children are engaged in awesome open ended play bu…

Favorite Board Game at 4-Years-Old

Being mostly screen free as a family means that games are really important to us. We play a lot of board games starting at a young age. They are the perfect way to connect with our kids and replace "movie night." Nora is finally getting to the age where games can be really fun. They involve a little strategy, cooperation, and a little more thinking. 
Recently, I asked Nora to pick her favorite games out of all the games we owned. And, here's a look at what she said. To be honest, I couldn't agree with her more. These are all fantastic choices! 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 
Her choices were: 
Tiny Polka Dot - A fantastic set of math/card games. The box includes games from about age 3 to ages 7/8 in a fun card game style. Some cooperative games, some win-lose. 
Zitternix - This game is a great fine motor challenge, along with one of the only "win-lose" non-cooperative games she likes. This is a game that Gus and Henry (7) both enjoy to…

Finishing Our Potty Learning Journey

If you follow me on Instagram, or even just read my posts regularly, you have probably noticed that Gus hangs out in his underwear A LOT. A few people have asked me lately if this means he is still toilet learning. I took that as my cue to update on his potty learning process. Last time, I updated Gus was still wearing diapers out and about, but in undies at home. 
Now, Gus is in underwear 100 percent of the time that he is awake. The answer to the underwear question is that he hates wearing clothes! But, I don't photograph him unless he is at least in undies (hence why he is always in just undies!) I would say he has mostly completed his potty learning journey. Using the toilet just became part of our everyday routine, at some point. It stopped being a conscious effort, and just became life. I really can't tell you when the switch occurred, but that's the beauty of potty learning. We created this new routine together, so it felt unrushed, stress-free, and natural. I didn…

Tips for Introducing a Wavy Chopper

A few days ago I posted a video of Gus using a wavy chopper to cut up some carrots for our dinner. Then, I got a bunch of questions on how we introduce the wavy chopper and have so much success with it. This is Gus' chosen knife at the moment, it helps him contribute to many of the meals we make together for the family. But, it has been a process to get him to the point where he can use it independently. With a few quick tips, any toddler can start to successfully use this useful kitchen tool. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

So, here are a few tips when introducing a wavy chopper to your toddler:
For the food: 
Start soft -- Start with softer foods, hard-boiled egg, fruits, soft cheese or meats. Or pre-boil/cook harder foods for a few moments. This will help your child become successful at holding and using the knife without needing as much strength. As your child gets more proficient at using the knife, introduce harder foods. Start Small -- Cut food a bit …

Montessori Friendly Play - A Visual Timeline 6 to 9 Months

Here is another part in my Montessori friendly play series! This has been so much fun to put together and I love these older baby toys!
SEE PART 1 - BIRTH TO 3 MONTHS HERE SEE PART 2 - 3 TO 6 MONTHS HERE
In this timeline, another shift has occurred, babies aren't just randomly grasping any more, but they are using that grasp to do something the object. They are making more and more purposeful movements, starting to get places, and starting to do things. This is one of my personal favorite ages. 
Remember, this is just one possible way to introduce Montessori materials to your baby. You do not need everything on this list, and your baby might not enjoy everything on these lists at the exact time listed. These are approximate and will change slightly based on each individual child! Use this as a guide and not a strict schedule. This is particularly true here, where your child's ability to sit independently might influence the time they are able to complete some of these tasks. 
T…

Some Favorites at 25 Months - Toys

At 25 months old, Gus has a lot of different interests. Toys are just one of them. He will sit and work with his materials for bits throughout the day. But, I would say he still spends the bulk of his day engaged in practical pursuits - doing things like helping me prepare meals, cleaning up dishes, sweeping, or folding laundry. Gus, also spends a lot of time engaged in art materials. I'll highlight his favorite art and practical life work soon, but today, I'll focus on toys. 

I don't honestly have that many toys out for Gus at one time, I've found the more I put out the move he ignores his shelves. So, a few of his favorites that I rotate is all I've found necessary. Here's a closer look. Language Materials  Now, I'm specifically calling these language materials, although everything on his shelves is used for language development. Gus is at the height of the sensitive period for language. He is so super interested in acquiring language and using it. So, i…

Play Silks and Why We Love Them

Yesterday was a pretty typical Minnesota winter day here. Cold, icy, grey. We had been outside, we had been inside but we were all still in need of some movement. So, we grabbed our play silks. And over the next hour Nora, Gus, and I giggled out faces off as we watched steaming colors fall from the sky. And as we played, I really started to think about how much I have come to appreciate and love play silks. They were the perfect, colorful, warm antidote to an otherwise dull day.

I didn't always understand the beauty of play silks. What were they for? Why did we need them? Couldn't the kids just use blankets to play? Aren't these just expensive pieces of fabric? But, I tried them because so many people said they were amazing. And, what do you know, I'm a believer now too! They actively engage my kids in all sorts of activities and are use so often here. And, they are one of those open ended toys that can be safely used by children of a bunch of different ages which I sup…

Dispenser Options for Child Water Access

A few days before Christmas our beloved water dispenser broke. Someone turned the spigot a little too hard and it snapped off. To be fair, it was several years old and had survived a couple of hard falls to the floor. This dispenser is used in our kitchen/art area as a way for Nora and Gus to get water that they may need for things like cleaning, painting, washing hands, and washing dishes. With the madness of the holiday season, we haven't gotten around to replacing the water dispenser yet. 
But, it's presence is sorely missed. Gus, especially, is having a hard time with the loss of freedom. I have tried to keep a larger pitcher of water available, but it's just not as effective and often he has had to look to me when he wants to engage in water work. So, it's time to get serious about replacing the dispenser and getting everyone back to independent work. I've been looking around for some options and here's what I've found.
OPTION 1: I like that this has a…

Do You Value Movement?

Fairly often, people will ask me "How do you get Gus to sit still and work?" or "do you have any tips for getting my child to stop moving around and work?" My answer is often the same or similar, a simple "I don't." I don't make my child or want my child to sit still. Sometimes he does - on his own. But, mostly he doesn't. AND THAT'S PERFECT! 
Movement is so underrated in our society. We want the littlest guys to sit still and work. We want our preschoolers to sit even longer. And, don't even get me started on the expectations for stillness that we have from our elementary aged children. Children are not meant to be still. In fact, it's just the opposite. Children are meant to move. And the younger they are, the more movement they need to absorb and learn from their environment. 

Let's look at what  Maria Montessori had to say on this topic: 
"Movement is the last part that completes the cycle of thought, and spiritual upl…

Observation and the Prepared Adult

Being a Montessori parent is so much more than making pretty spaces or having the right things. It's often about how we interact with our children, and how we prepare ourselves for our children's presence in our lives. Without the prepared adult, Montessori does not work as it should. But, how do we prepare ourselves? This is a question without one easy answer. But, an important part of preparing myself has been learning to observe.

Last night, Gus and I were folding laundry when suddenly he wandered off. I heard him in the playroom quietly working, so I didn't think much of it. I finished my work before slowly going to find him. He was sitting quietly working with his cars and track. It was a time when I could have gone in and played with him, or ushered him off to bed. But, instead, it was a wonderful moment to sit and observe. 
Observation is the key to answering and understanding so many questions:

what is your child interested in what skills is your child working onhow …

Pitchers for Every Age and Stage

For most children, water is something they are interacting with on a daily basis. It becomes a wonderful opportunity for independence even for the youngest of children. When it comes to water for drinking, children can be given the opportunity to participate in the process from a very young age. By offering the right tools, we can give children independence and help them to be successful. 

If a pitcher is too small, your child might become frustrated with needing to fill it so frequently. If a pitcher is too big, it may be too cumbersome for your child to use it correctly -- which can lead to a large mess. Here is a look at the pitchers we have introduced with Gus and Nora. 
First Pitcher - The first pitcher we introduced with both Gus and Nora was a very small pitcher. Nora had a slightly different metal creamer, and Gus had this glass creamer. In either case, I wanted to limit the amount of water available to something manageable. We introduced around 12/13 months for both of them. 
No…