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Showing posts from August, 2017

Our Play Farm Setup

Want to know what the most popular toy in our house is? It's our play farm! Hands down. There's not a day that goes by that someone doesn't play with the barn, the animals, or one of the accessories. And, I'm not just talking Nora here -- it's all the kids. They LOVE the farm.

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For them, it's the ultimate pretend play opportunity. It sparks so many scenarios. Each of our people have backstories, relationships, and history personalities. The animals have names, favorite foods, and families. To watch them play is amazing. And, I can't get enough. 
Our farm setup is really quite simple. First, we have the barn! The barn we got a few years ago on sale at Target. It's mostly wood, with a plastic base, fencing, and doors. It's a really great size, and very sturdy. 

When we stored it on the ground, it never got much play. But, one day {about a year and half ago} I moved it to it's own shelf and it h…

Children's Table Options

One of the first things I got for Henry when I first learning about Montessori and child-led learning was his own work table. It was the first child-sized furniture we bought and it was a big step toward independence for him and us! At the time we went with the LATT set from IKEA. It was a great introductory piece and fit our needs really well. 
Fast forward almost six years. This past week I was sitting at the table working with Nora and leaned on the surface with my elbows. Next thing I knew, my elbow was through the top of the table. Yikes! I think the surface got wet and not cleaned and it's old. So, long story short, our work table ended up with a giant hole. Now I'm on the hunt for a new table. It was getting to be time to upgrade anyway. Our table in our art area is also starting to get too small for the kids too. 
Here are a few things I am considering, in case you are also on the hunt for a kid's table. 

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Option …

Starting to Pull Up -- Montessori Baby Week 38

Babies are natural explorers. They don't need to be told or shown how to explore their environment, they just do it. They take it all in, absorbing every last detail. And, in the process they figure out how to get their bodies to do what they need them to do in order to make this exploration possible. So, it's through this exploration that they learn about themselves and our world. 

It's therefore, our role to make the world interesting, accessible, and safe. We often think of toys as being the first thing we should provide, which can often be met with disappointment when they are ignored in favor of common objects and gross motor challenges. Therefore, we can't forget to give babies an environment where they can physically get around and explore. 

A couple of months ago when Gus started to roll around more fluidly, we added this footstool from IKEA to our movement area. It was a simple addition that provides so much interesting exploration for Gus. First, it physical…

22 Montessori Friendly Books for Autumn

It's hard to believe it, but Autumn is on the way here in Minnesota. The nights are getting cooler, days are getting shorter, and kids are heading back to school. I've even seen a couple of trees starting to get a hint of gold and red. As much as I wish summer could last forever, it can't. So, we are preparing for fall. If you are too, here are 22 Montessori Friendly Books for Autumn to get you in the mood!

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Column 1: Winter Is Coming | Autumn Board Book+ | In November | Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep
Column 2: Autumn: A Collection of Poems, Songs, and Stories for Young Children* | Pumpkin Jack | Yellow Time | How Do You Know It's Fall?
Column 3: We Gather Together: Celebrating the Harvest Season* | From Seed to Pumpkin | Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn | How Do Apples Grow? | Pumpkin Moonshine
Column 4: Apples and Pumpkins+ | It's Fall | Bella's Fall Coat | Leaf Jumpers
Column 5: Autumn is here! | Awesome Autu…

Maps and Globes in a Montessori Home

One of the reasons I love Montessori is its early emphasis on an understanding of the world. Through the study of geography and culture, young children are exposed to this great planet of ours and the wonderful people who inhabit it. This deep appreciation leads to a greater understanding and hopefully a more peaceful world. 

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For the home, I like globes and maps for another reason too -- beauty. Children are inherently attracted to beautiful things. Special little touches in an environment call to the child. They make the child feel like this space has been perfectly prepared for them, it invites them in, and they are hooked. I feel like the right map or globe is just the perfect touch to add something special to the environment and call to your child. 
We personally have several throughout our home. We have this beautiful topographic globe that I found at a thrift store, in Henry and Nora's bedroom. We have a continent map {h…

Preparing for Children's House - 4 Ways to Prepare for Preschool

In just a few days Nora is off to Children's House. She will begin her first year in a primary 3 to 6-year-old classroom. She'll be there 5 mornings a week which will be a huge adjustment for all of us. I know that she is so ready to be in a Children's House community, and, on one hand, I'm so excited for her. On the other, I'm sad to give up my mornings with her. Putting my own feelings aside, there have been several things we've been doing to prepare Nora for school. 

Here are some ways we are helping to prepare Nora for the start of her first year of school!  Increasing Independence Now Nora is a fairly independent child! Since birth we have been giving her opportunities to learn to exert her independence. But, there is always room for more independence. And, for us this mostly includes with pottying. I would often step in to remind her to go, or to help her when she is finished. But, slowly I've had to back off to give her space to do it on her own. Sh…

Egg and Cup -- Montessori Baby Week 37

There is an incredible simple beauty to Montessori baby toys. They isolate concepts, allowing for slow movements, concentration and exploration. Their natural material makes them safe for mouthing and beautiful for any shelf. 
The egg and cup is no exception! It's simple beauty and function make it ideal for a Montessori environment. And the material itself is so simple! Just a wooden egg and a wooden cup. 

Typically, this work is introduced to a baby that can sit and do the work. Augustus is a bit delayed in gross motor skills {which is totally fine!} so he cannot sit on his own yet. But, cognitively he was ready for this challenge. So, I introduced it anyway. This is a great material for whole-hand grip, fine motor practice, babies interested in in/out, and starting to introduce different shapes.

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I noticed that he was starting to become intensely interested in putting things in and out of other things. So, out came the egg a…

What We're Reading -- July

Well, I'm super behind! Here it is middle of August and I'm just finally getting around to sharing our books from July. There are fewer here than most months because we weren't home as much to enjoy library selections. But, plenty of reading still occurred! Without further ado, here are some new and favorite Montessori friendly book finds! 

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We Came to America | Lola Plants a Garden | A Huge Hog is a Big Pig | Littles And How They Grow | Blue Sky White Stars | Mrs. Katz and Tush | Goodnight Numbers | First Day of School
All of these books were really great and my kids really enjoyed them. Henry's {and my} favorites was We Came to America. The book introduces some tough topics about American history but in a very age appropriate way. It opened up conversations about slavery, war, refugees, and our current political climate without being scary or overwhelming. I highly recommend it! Nora's favorite was A Huge Hog is …

Montessori Home -- Our Art Area

Today, I wanted to share a bit about one of my children's favorite places in our home -- our art area. This little nook is right off of our kitchen and is truly where my kids spend lots of their time. It's where they work on projects, create, and work. 

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The space itself is not very big but has several little areas in it. First, there is the cube shelf {an older Expedit from IKEA} for the toddler-ish art trays. As Nora is getting older, we are needing these less but they are still useful at this point. Right now she has her Buddha Board, some bracelet/beading work, watercolors, and sun art. 

To either side of the cube shelf are tools for real work. To the left is the kids' stool. They mostly work with this in the adjacent kitchen. To the right are some of the kids' cleaning tools. They have a smock for painting, a small broom, a swiffer, and a small mop. They hang on a small tool organizer.

Moving further to the right…

Object Permanence Box -- Montessori Baby Week 36

We've all played that game with babies where they drop something and start to look for it, right? They drop, you pick it up, they drop again, and it goes on and on and on! They slowly make the connection that objects that disappear from view don't disappear forever. And, they build trust that someone will respond to their needs when they need something. 
It's at the first sign of this game, that I bring out the object permanence box! This Montessori material is one of the most quintessential Montessori baby toys. 

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With this material, the baby drops the ball into the hole at the top of the toy. It disappears for a moment before rolling down the ramp and out of the little box. Then the attached tray catches the ball so that the work can be repeated. It shows them that while things may disappear for a moment, they come back. 

My kids have both LOVED the object permanence box. Both with Augustus and Nora I introduced aroun…

Montessori Spaces I Love Lately

I'll never get enough of all the wonderful Montessori and Montessori inspired spaces on Instagram!

Seriously, so much inspiration all in one place, and such an amazing Montessori community. Here are some of the spaces that I've discovered recently that I just cannot get enough of!
A post shared by Kylie (@howwemontessori) on Aug 10, 2017 at 6:23pm PDT

I love this baby space from Kylie at How We Montessori! It's so beautiful and that mobile is just perfect!

A post shared by Aprendiendo con Montessori (@aprendiendoconmontessori) on Aug 8, 2017 at 5:50am PDT
This kitchen space is fantastic! I love how open and accessible everything is. And the organization looks so beautiful, yet, practical and easy to maintain.

A post shared by Bruna Masalin 🌿 (@themasalins) on Aug 5, 2017 at 5:46am PDT
This lovely little book nook area is just so sweet! I love the natural lighting!

A post shared by Lilae and Co (@lilaeandco) on Aug 1, 2017 at 1:50pm PDT
What a great floor bed! I love this a…

Calming Tools

Peace education is an important part of the Montessori way of life. Montessori saw children, and education, as a way to bring about world peace. Creating peaceful children could lead to a better future. And, while I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. It doesn't mean that children in Montessori homes are always peaceful and calm.

We haven't addressed it much here, but Henry has been diagnosed with some special needs. We have decided not to go into specifics online, but these needs can make the use of certain calming tools necessary. These in addition with other therapies help all of us.

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As time has gone on, I have found that these aren't just helpful to Henry but also they have been very good for Nora. Having a small basket of these in our little peace area has been a great retreat for everyone. All children have moments where they just need to get away and reset.

Our calming tools include: Breathing Ball | Prayer…

13 Montessori Quotes on Discipline

When sharing little glimpses of our life, it can inadvertently seem as if we have no conflict, no difficulties. But, that's not true. Montessori children are not perfect. Montessori parents are not perfect. Lately, we've struggled here with a summer lull as routines ebb and flow. It's led to some challenges for both me and the kids. 
An important reminder, for myself, on Montessori and discipline has been necessary. It's always good to remind ourselves during the tough times why we are taking the approach we take and where we are ultimately headed. I thought I would share, because this part of Montessori is so important, and so hard to come to terms with for those of us raised on traditional discipline. Here are 13 Montessori quotes on discipline
"Discipline must come through liberty." 
"We have a concept of discipline very different from that commonly accepted." 
"Since the child now learns to move rather than to sit still, he prepares hims…

Preparing an Environment on Vacation -- Montessori Baby Week 35

Having a prepared environment is so important for children. Montessori recognizes the importance of the environment for children of all ages. She knew that it was through experience in the environment that children are able to blossom most naturally and reach their fullest potential.

And, when you're at home or school, this works great. You can take the time and make changes to make your environment meet the needs of your child. This isn't so easy when you're traveling! This past week, we have been on vacation along the North Shore of Lake Superior with my entire family. During our vacation we've made some special considerations for Augustus to prepare the environment as best as possible, to allow him the freedom of movement to explore while also keeping him safe {and keeping our own sanity.}  Playtime Bring a few toys from home to help occupy your baby if you spending lots of time indoors Pack a small basket or two to help contain and organize the materialsA large blan…