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2019 Christmas Presents

In the past, I've often shared what was on my kids' gift lists, but this year I thought I would actually share a few of the purchases I actually made since I got my shopping done earlier than I normally do. If you are looking for some Montessori friendly ideas, I hope this gives you some inspiration.  

Henry This year, Henry almost 9-years-old! (How did that happen?!) He was my easiest to shop for since he has some strong play preferences and interests. The fossil set will be perfect for his interest in rocks/gems/geography. I'm pairing with a book so he can research more on the subject. Lego is an all time favorite, and so are play silks! The castle was something he asked for specifically. The game is something I think he and Nora will both love! 
Fossil Set + Book | Guess Who | Lego Bases | Playmobil Castle | Black Play Silk 
Nora This year Nora is 5.5-years-old! She was by far my hardest to shop for! I 100% stole the treehouse and jewelry loom ideas from Free and Unfett…

Exploring with Feet - Montessori Baby Week 11

Following your baby's interests can seem like sort of a daunting task at times, especially when they can't talk to you or even move all that much. But there are subtle clues for us to pick up and offer experiences related to those clues. This is the power of observation in Montessori.

At his age (just under 3 months) we often talk about the importance of the hand. And, that should not be underestimated. But, this week, I've noticed a strong new interest for Teddy, and that's in moving and kicking his feet. By taking notice of this interest, I'm able to prepare his space and our materials to meet this need for him to move in this way. 
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Here were some signs that he was interested in moving his legs/feet around:  kicking in excitement when he sees someone/something noticing that during play he is literally wiggling right out of his pants his feet and legs kick up every time he is put down to sleep/waking up kicking…

5 Ways to Use a Movable Alphabet at Home

The moveable alphabet is one of my favorite Montessori materials for ages 3-6. It really is genius. Dr. Montessori found that children were able and interested in writing before they could read. So, in Montessori the act of writing is actually taught first, and it's through this writing that children start to read. Children often have so many thoughts and feelings that they want to get out, but often lack the motor control to physically write all of these things. This is where the moveable alphabet comes in. It takes away the need to physically write the letters while giving children the ability to write. It's one small adaptation that makes such a world of a difference to a child. 
READ MORE ABOUT THE MOVABLE ALPHABET HERE
I'm sure there are almost endless ways that your child can come up with to use the letters of the moveable alphabet but here are 5 ways that we have used the moveable alphabet here at home. 

1.  Language Objects/Cards
You'll need: language objects (…

Introducing a Toy - Montessori Baby Week 10

Over the 10 days or so Theodore has really started interacting with the world in a whole new way. He has been much more alert and active during his awake times, but more importantly he is discovering his hands in a new way. Suddenly, he is intentionally grabbing things around him and on occasion even bringing them to his mouth.
This is such a fun phase for me! This is a time when we can introduce some simple materials for him to explore in new ways.

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For Teddy we have a few options that we could have started with but I decided to try this simple crochet ring rattle from Monti Kids (this isn’t sponsored, Teddy just really likes it - if you are considering Monti Kids, use code NICOLE30 for a discount) and it’s been a big hit.
There are lots of similar options available online including: Crochet with ring | ring with bells. I’ve personally really liked this style of rattle to start with because it’s so lightweight that Teddy can easil…

Taking a Pause

We have a big bench at our dining room table instead of chairs on one side. While I love the bench, it can also be a bit tricky for toddlers to navigate since it has nothing to prevent them from falling forward or backward. Anyway, the point of this story isn't the bench, but the importance of "the pause."
Recently, I was watching Gus trying to sit at the kitchen table. He chose to sit on the bench and pulled it way out out away from the table. At that moment, my initial feeling was to jump in and say something. My gut was to remind him that he could fall off both sides while trying to reach the table. But, instead of jumping in, I took pause. Just for a moment to see what would happen. 

In that brief moment, Gus attempted to climb onto the bench, but then stopped himself. He looked at the bench and said, "no, this too far from the table, I will fall off and bump my head." Then, he moved the bench to an appropriate spot and sat safely at the table.

Taking those…

What We're Reading - Thankfulness

With so much talk about Christmas, it can be easy to gloss over Thanksgiving. But, for our family, we really do try to make November a time when we are taking pause to be thankful for the many blessings we have in our lives. While we try to go around the table and say one thing we are thankful for every day of the year, in November we make special effort to give thanks.  This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 
A part of that focus is bringing out some books that focus on family, thanksgiving, and community. These include:

In November  - I love that this book focuses on how the natural world prepares for winter but also how we as humans celebrate this change with a time of togetherness and thanks.

Before We Eat: From Farm to Table - This one isn't specifically Thanksgiving themed, but is an important reminder to give thanks to all the people who contribute to the food we eat on a daily basis. I find this especially important during a holiday that is so food focused.

Sha…

Observation - Montessori Baby Week 9

For any adult in a Montessori environment, observation is super important. It's through observation that we are going to learn exactly what skills a child is ready for, what interests our child, and where our child might be struggling. Without sitting back and observing our child, we really will struggle to understand what our child needs. Parents of newborn babies are not exempt from this need to observe. It might seem like newborns don't do a whole lot, but when you sit back and observe you'll make a lot of interesting discoveries. 
I've been making sure that I take a lot of time to observe Teddy since he has been born. These observations don't need to be formal or lengthy. Really, it's just taking note of the things he is doing during the everyday moments. It's observing him while he is nursing, while I change his diaper, while the big kids interact with him, and while he plays. All these little moments.


I wanted to share some tips and share my observat…

Gifts for Montessori Parents - A Peek at MY Gift List

Around this time of year there is always so much talk about what kids would love for holiday gifts but not as much talk about parents. So when my mom asked what I had on my Christmas list, I was a bit stumped. But, I gave it some thought and came up with a few ideas. 
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Home Accessories: The little details make a Montessori home and so often the things that are appealing to us as adults are still appealing to our children. A few examples that I personally love include:

New Plants - I'll always take a new plant baby! Letter Board - I love the round letter boardCandle - these candles are amazing and I love them and want all of them! Calendar  - I have this calendar but want some more of the holiday coins, everything about it is gorgeous
Clothing: Here's one thing I hate buying for myself, but there are some seriously cute Montessori options out there!

Montessori T-shirt - I love the indoor/outdoor shoes!Montessori Mama T-shirt - L…

An Advent Calendar Idea - A Book a Day

With Advent quickly approaching, I’m trying to get all of my Christmastime ducks in a row. I’ve spent far too much time during the past few years scrambling during December that the season becomes less fun and more stressed. This year, I’m hoping to have most of my chores done ahead of time so that I can soak in the peace, joy, and magic of the season.
One thing I’ve recently done is pulled all my Christmas books out of our book storage to get ready for our Advent calendar. For the second year in a row, we are going to do a book-a-day Advent calendar.


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To do this, I take all of the Christmas books we have and wrap them and write a number on the front. The kids then take turns opening the book that corresponds to the day.
Mostly the choices are random, but if I know we have something special happening then I will pick specific books for specific days. For example, we always buy and decorate our tree the third weekend of Advent, so t…

Using a Capsule Wardrobe with a Newborn - Montessori Baby Week 8

In a Montessori environment we want to provide a child with the opportunity to participate in practical tasks as much as possible. Dressing is included in this area. But, in order for that to be successful the environment has to be prepared for success. This often means only have a limited amount of clothes available for a child at any given time. I've found that using a capsule wardrobe with my older kids help to meet this need in our environment. 
For many babies the opportunity to actively engage in the dressing process is one of the first practical life experiences they will do. So, to me it makes sense to offer a limited number of choices to babies as well. Plus, it saves money and hassle and all those other great things about a capsule wardrobe. For these reason, I decided that we would use a capsule with Theodore from birth. With the older kids, I wasn't all that intentional about the number of clothes we had. Many of their clothes were only worn a couple times before …

Montessori Aprons to Love

When you see pictures of Montessori children working on practical life work, they are almost always wearing an apron. For my kids, putting an apron on is one of the very first steps to a lot of the things they do around the house. Whether it's moping, cooking in the kitchen, painting, or indoor gardening, an apron is available to them to do the task. I love the aprons not only because they are so adorable, but it helps to keep their clothes clean. Plus, the apron helps to center their activity by signaling the start and end of a particular task. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  1. Beetles 2. Lemons 3. Nature 4. Oranges 5. Pizza 6. Flowers 7. Birds 8. Polka Dots 9. Sunflower
In a Montessori classroom many of the practical life works will have its own apron for a child to use while doing the task. In the classroom, these aprons often coordinate with the work to remind the children where to put it back or which apron to use while working. So, for example, the or…

Transitioning to a Montessori Floor Bed - Montessori Baby Week 7

One of the most iconic and well known parts of using Montessori at home has to be the floor bed. Maria Montessori was very clear that small babies and children should not be sleeping in a crib, but on a low small bed on the floor. This gives babies and toddlers much more freedom of movement than is typically seen. In our family, all of my kids have been in a floor bed by 2 years old. However, Augustus was our first baby to be in a floor bed from birth. We are following the same path for Theodore. 
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Just a reminder, I am sharing what works for my family. Sleep is a sensitive topic and you should do what feels safe and right for your family. 

Teddy is relaxing in his Sprout Kids Floor Bed
This week, Teddy will start to take daytime naps in his floor bed. Up until this point, he has kind of been sleeping everywhere. We have a moveable bassinet that he often would sleep in on the couch or outside. I also hold him sometimes for naps, or …

Top 5 Montessori Gifts for Every Age Group

There are so many amazing Montessori and Montessori friendly materials available for children. But, it can be kind of hard to narrow which will work for your family and will be worth the money in the long term. It can also just be overwhelming to look at ALL the choices. So, I decided it would be a fun game to play with myself to narrow it down to MY top 5 Montessori gifts for every age group through lower elementary. 
I decided these based on: 
my own kids' reactions to these materialsthe flexibility and longevity of the materialMontessori-friendly-ness - a word I just totally made up, but basically, how well does it fit with Montessori.  This was not the easiest of tasks! And, if you're looking for more choice, don't miss my Ultimate Montessori Gift Guide, which is being updated for 2019! 

Babies {Birth to 12 months}  Babies are a real challenge because there is so much growth and change over the course of just one year, but here are my top 5:
Object Permanence Box - all …

Why Use Montessori Mobiles? Montessori Baby Week 6

Montessori mobiles are some of the first materials that a baby will use in a Montessori home. They are a great way to engage a baby even before they have a ton of movement. Theodore is my third baby to use the Montessori mobiles from birth. At week 6 week have introduced three mobiles (one DIY and two traditional). For Teddy, here has been our timeline so far: 
Birth: Munari Inspired 2 Weeks: Traditional Munari 5 Weeks: Octahedron Mobile
This is just when we introduced each mobile. At this time (6 weeks) I am rotating between the mobiles at different times of the day. So his first time I might have the Octahedron out, and then later in the day use the Munari. I'm flexible about this and just follow his interests. As long as mobile is grabbing his attention then it stays in our rotation. 

So clearly I love the Montessori mobiles, but, why should you use them? Here are a few reasons I love them:  Visual Development Babies are born with under developed eyesight. The Montessori mobiles …

What is a Sensitive Period? 15+ Articles on Montessori Sensitive Periods

One of the most foundational parts of Montessori are sensitive periods. Maria Montessori identified that children pass in and out of sensitive periods throughout their childhood. By understanding sensitive periods, we can get a better idea of what our children might be attracted to in our environments. We can get a deeper understanding of their behavior and what they need from us.
Sensitive periods were a time during a child’s development where the child was particularly attracted to a certain developmental skills. Dr. Montessori found that during sensitive period a child can learn these skills with ease. Her materials were then crafted to meet the children's needs during these special times
I like to think of it this way — imagine a brightly lit room. In the room you can see all the things clearly and understand them without much effort. Everything is illuminated and attractive. Now, imagine the same room with the lights turned off. You can still discover the things inside the r…