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Showing posts from 2020

Sandpaper Work for 3-year-olds

Little kids love practical work! Gus is no exception. If we can make work for him that is real and practical, he will engage over and over again. Recently, I introduced some new sandpaper work for him that has been a huge hit. It's been a great introduction to wood working, and I'm guessing it will lead to some other work with real tools soon.

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This work was super easy to put together. I included:  a traya piece of scrap wood a variety of small pieces of sandpaper small work googles
To present this work, I first introduced the sandpaper. I showed how each was made of a rough and smooth side, we felt the different textures, and talked about how each texture worked. Then I showed Gus the motion of how to sand. I sanded for a minute, then gave him a turn. 

Then, we turned our attention to the wood, we noticed how it had changed. We felt it with our fingers, again noticing the different textures. I pointed out some imperfections in…

Shelf Help Ep. 21 - A Montessori Library

Montessori parents often take a different approach to the books that we choose for our homes. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy look at the qualities of Montessori friendly books and how they approach reading to their children at different ages. We dive into why we delay fantasy, including a brief discussion on Santa.
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Show Notes...Colors by NicoleLook Closer River LifeOur Reference Books and How we Use ThemMy First Discoveries BooksNatural History: The Ultimate Visual Guide to Everything on EarthThe Animal Book: A Visual Encyclopedia of Life on EarthThe Kavanaugh Report Book PostsIn The Town, All Year 'Round Tom and Pippo BooksCity MoonHow Does My Garden Grow?Get Dressed (Small World)Henry HugginsMilly Molly MandyDash into LearningBob BooksHenry and MudgeMr. Putter and TabbyFrog and Toad are Friends Thanks for joining me for today's podcast! If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share and leave a review in y…

Covid-19 Back to School Cards

If you're in the United States then you know that a lot of parents, myself included, face some difficult decisions when it comes to school this coming year. We have to decide how comfortable we are sending our kids to school, if that is even an option at all. We are grappling with those same questions (you can hear more about that here) and I think every family will have to make the decision that works best for them. 

There are, however, a lot of kids going back to school. And, school will look a bit different. If we send Gus back to school, that will be the case. His teachers will be in masks, his temperature will be taken, and there will be increased use of hand sanitizer and washing - in addition to other precautions. I wanted to create something that could prepare him for the changes in the most concrete way I could. So, I made this set of matching "go-together" cards. I have included a card for guide and for teacher depending on the language you use. 
In this set, the…

The Journey to Independence

I don't know what it is, but all of a sudden all of my kids feel very big and very old. Logically, I know that's not really the case, but it really feels that way. I don't know if it's just summertime, or if it's because we've been home and together so much, but whatever it is, it has me thinking about independence. 

I often get questions about how to make children become more independent. Or about how to encourage independence at home. And, it's true, independence is really important in Montessori. As parents we want to make sure we are giving children as much independence as possible, but we also don't want to force it. Maria Montessori never said children need to be independent at all costs, but she said, "never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed." We want to give them opportunities when they want them, but support them when they need it. 
I was recently reading of the the 1946 London Lectures again and I kept coming ba…

Object Permanence - 3 Ways

Object permanence toys are some of my absolute favorite Montessori infant/toddler materials. They are just so beautifully simple and different from anything I had known before I found Montessori. And, they speak so perfectly to the needs of older babies. It helps too that all of my Montessori babies have been obsessed with these types of toys. Right, now object permanence toys are Teddy's absolute favorite materials. 
These toys take an object (often a ball, but not always) and the baby places it in something. The object "disappears" and then the baby does something and the object returns. These toys reinforce the concept of object permanence - that just because we can't see something doesn't mean it no longer exists. Here's a look at 3 toys Teddy uses that incorporate object permanence. 1. Object Permanence BoxWith this classic Montessori baby toy, you place the ball in the hole in the top, and a hidden ramp inside the box returns the ball to the tray a moment…

Shelf Help Ep. 20 - What's Going To Happen in The Fall?

Parents all around the world are trying to figure out how Covid-19 will effect their lives as school starts this fall. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy discuss their plans for school and life this fall as their schools decide whether or not to open. We share our feelings, our plans, and some tips for homeschooling.  Show Notes...Shelf Help on InstagramNicole on InstagramAmy on InstagramAubrey Hargis - Child of the RedwoodsSprout-Kids Furniture
Thanks for joining me for today's podcast! If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share and leave a review in your favorite podcast app.
If you are interested in finding Shelf Help in a podcast app, it is available on Apple | Spotify | Stitcher | Google.

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Role of Practical Life in the First Plane vs. Second Plane

Now that Nora is 6-years-old I've seen some interesting shifts in her behavior. These things didn't come all at once but slowly over time, but they are there. One big one is her relationship to practical life. I think this one is sticking out so much because she is in such a stark contrast to Gus and his relationship to practical activities. 
Gus, at 3, loves practical life work. He wants to help with dishes, he wants to move laundry, mop the floors, wipe down shelves and tables - he's all in. Working along side me, working with his hands, working with water! It's all very exciting. The same was true for Nora at his age. It was all exciting. But, now, it's not as exciting for her. She isn't interested in doing practical tasks for the sake of doing practical tasks. She wants something new - responsibility. 

Suddenly, Nora wants to do it alone. She wants to take over from start to finish. She's asking what chores she can do. In the second plane there is a great…

Chapter Books We Love

As my children get older I more often find myself reading longer chapter books instead of picture books. Nora and Henry, in particular, want to listen to longer stories and stick with books for a longer period of time. And, I have to say, I don't mind cuddling up to my big kids and reading for awhile! The tricky part is finding a book that I feel like I can read and that they like as well. Not every chapter book is created equally! 


Another tricky part is finding chapter books that don't include fantasy. We stick with realistic books until around age 6 when we introduce fantasy. So, while my kids have liked chapter books from about age 4.5 on, we stay clear of those including fantasy for awhile. 
Here are a few of the chapter books we enjoy in our Montessori home, and a few that are on our "to-read" list. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. Reality Based Tanglewood Animal Park - Book 1, Book 2, Book 3 - this is a major family favorite  The Children of N…

A Shared Montessori Bedroom

It's been awhile since I've shared our shared Montessori bedroom space. Before Teddy was born, Nora and Gus started sharing the room that Henry and Nora used to share together. At that time we converted my office into another bedroom for Henry. We've been in this arrangement for a year now and it works really well for our needs. Here's a look at the bedroom space.  Bed and Self CareWe use a bunk bed to save space in this room. Nora moved into this room when she turned 2 and into the top bunk at just over 4. I love that the bunk is very short and that the bottom bunk is a floor bed. Both have been perfect for our younger kids. Next to the bunk bed is a small self-care area. This includes the laundry basket, a mirror, and small shelf with hair care products. 
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 Sources:  Bed: Pottery Barn Kids Bedding: Target  Laundry Basket Wall Shelf + Mirror: IKEA 
Shelves and MaterialsWe choose to keep a few materials in their bedroom to w…

Shelf Help Ep. 19 - Building Sibling Relationships

Let's talk about siblings! From welcoming a new baby to managing conflict, having multiple children can be a challenge. This week, Amy and Nicole talk about their experiences with sibling relationships. We share our experiences with welcoming new babies, dealing with biting and conflict, and nurturing relationships between siblings in a Montessori home. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Show Notes:Losing Your Cool as a Montessori Parent EpisodeFrom the ABCs to Swearing EpisodeNo Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without ShameNicole's New Course: Montessori Baby Joy: The EssentialsAdjusting to a New Baby - Tips for Toddlers, Preschool, and ElementaryTHE MONTESSORI PEACE ROSE — HOW TO TEACH CONFLICT RESOLUTIONThe Peace Rose Book
Thanks for joining me for today's podcast! If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share and leave a review in your favorite podcast app.
If you are interested in finding Shelf Help in a podcast app, it is available on Apple | Spo…

DIY Big "Bead" Mover

Theodore is in a phase right now where he is much more into moving than he is anything else. It makes sense since he has learned so many new skills lately - from crawling, to standing, cruising, and sitting - this little baby is suddenly able to get anywhere he wants. 

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There's not a ton of using his materials happening, but one thing he does love is his small bead mover. He can sit for long periods of time spinning and moving the beads back and forth. It's not a huge surprise to me since it was also a big hit with Gus when he was an older baby and toddler. 

So I was thinking -- how can I incorporate his love of moving beads and his need for movement? And, this DIY big bead mover idea popped into my head! It was 100 inspired by this post on Instagram but adapted for an older baby on the move. I made the pieces smaller and put them up higher to encourage all sorts of new movement and exploration. 
To make it, I cut up an old gift…

Babies and Limit Setting

Now that Teddy is seriously on the move, he is into everything! He's pulling things off the playroom shelves. He's pulling things out of cabinets, swiping things off of tables, knocking over water glasses, and so much more. As an adult, I could see this behavior as "making a mess" or as valuable exploration. But, either way, there are bound to be times when Teddy gets into something that he shouldn't necessarily use. The cups in our children's kitchen are a great example. He loves to go to the shelf and throw them to the floor. Well, they are glass and can break. So, it's time to set a limit. 

How do we do that with babies? Here's a look at all the ways I set limits with a baby in the order that I recommend trying them. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. EnvironmentIn a Montessori home, the environment should be the BIGGEST and most important limit. Not just for babies but for all children. If there is something in your environment an…

Developing the Senses - Touch

Lately, I've been talking a lot about how we support Gus' language development here at home, in particular his path towards writing and reading. I can't write more about that without pausing here to write another article about developing the senses. That's because sensorial work is so so important. As a Montessori parent, I know that I cannot separate Gus' development into neat little categories. By working on developing his senses, we are supporting his path toward academic work. It's with and through those senses that young children learn. 
Other posts in this series: Developing the Senses - Visual | Developing the Senses - Taste | Developing the Senses - Hearing

When there's a tactile sensory experience connected to movement, the brain makes more connections and more easily retains that information. It's through the sense of touch that children will further learn about the things in their environment. It will help them discover different shapes, textur…