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Showing posts from September, 2017

Movement Area with an Older Baby -- Montessori Baby Week 43

This past month has been completely crazy for Augustus. At 9 months old, he still couldn't sit up. Within the month, he started sitting, 4-point crawling, crawling over small steps, pulling to stand, climbing up a couple stairs, and starting to cruise! Crazy! (That's not even mentioning the 6 teeth he got!) And, honestly, I attribute so much of his growth to his prepared space. Within his space, he was able to explore, challenge himself, and grow. He didn't need to rely on us, or external motivation. He simply was able to go at his own pace and find his way. 

We have always respected Gus' path and time table. We knew he had some physical challenges, but by preparing his environment we gave him everything he needed to follow his lead. So, I thought it would be a good time to share his space with you again. 
Since my last update on Gus' movement area, a lot of changes have occurred. First, we removed the blanket on the floor to allow for free movement as he started …

Favorite Art Supplies from 1 to 3

Sometimes there is a myth that Montessori environments don't encourage creativity or creative expression. But, this is so wrong. There are so many opportunities for children to creatively engage in Montessori schools and homes. In our home, in particular, we love open ended art exploration. As winter is once again approaching, we will be spending more time inside and naturally this means my children will gravitate more towards art. 
Even as young toddlers, my kids -- especially Nora -- have loved to engage in creative work. So, I thought I would share some of my favorite art materials for toddlers. These were all used and loved by my kids from about 14-months on. With any of these, I always started small and then added to the complexity and independence as time moved on.

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1. Rock Crayons or broken regular crayons | 2. Watercolor Paints | 3. Play Dough, modeling clay, and beeswax and some simple tools | 4. Paint cups and washabl…

Maximum Effort at 3-Years-Old

As children grow, they want to strengthen both their big and their small muscles. In order to do this they are often drawn to heavy work. In Montessori, we commonly refer to this as the need to reach maximum effort. We recognize, especially in toddlers, that they need to have an outlet to exert as much strength as possible, to use as much effort as possible, and to test their little bodies. 

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Typically, this is something I have always associated with younger toddlers. But lately, I've noticed this need more and more in Nora. At 3-years-old, I've noticed that if she doesn't get to reach maximum effort regularly, then she starts to seek it herself. Usually, by emptying shelves and hauling things around. Once a huge mess has been made and she has reached maximum effort, she walks away, leaving it all behind. 
Once I recognized this need, I've been making a conscious effort to provide her with heavy work. Unlike when sh…

"Let the Children be Free"

It seems like I'm always busy. Always. There aren't enough hours in the day to get all the things I want to get done, done. I feel like I could rush from thing to thing all day long. But, I don't want life to feel like that for my children. In fact, I work very hard for it to be the opposite for them. To give them peace, slow, and freedom. Especially the freedom to just play. 
"Let the children be free; encourage them; let them run outside when it is raining; let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water; and, when the grass of the meadows is damp with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet...let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning." Maria Montessori I feel like there is a pressure to make sure your kids are doing enough. That they aren't somehow wasting their time. That they have all the right "work" available to them, at any given moment. But, in all this pressure, they lose that freedom…

Our Weaning Table -- Montessori Baby Week 42

For many Montessori babies, their first meals are often served at a weaning table. This table serves as a transition from nursing/bottles to starting solid food. The tables provide an area for independence, even with eating. Instead of being isolated to a high chair that he/she may not be able to get in or out of, a weaning table gives a child the opportunity to choose when to eat and when to be done eating. I also see many other benefits to using a weaning table. 

I have mentioned our weaning table many times before -- we also used one with Nora -- and I want to remind everyone that this ISN'T the only place Augustus eats. We also enjoy family meals together at our regular adult table. Also, while he appears to be alone in these pictures, I always eat sitting next to him, and he is frequently joined by his older siblings.
Our Montessori Weaning Table A weaning table can look a variety of different ways. It really will depend on the family's space constraints, budget, aesthet…

Some Montessori Inspiration Lately

Who doesn't love a little Montessori inspiration!? Here are some images from Instagram that have me swooning. One thing I absolutely love about Montessori is that it doesn't have to look the same. There is so much diversity in Montessori spaces, homes, classrooms, and work. Everything is so unique while being perfectly tailored to the needs of the child! 

Here is what is inspiring me lately! 
A post shared by Bluebird Montessori (@bluebirdmontessori) on Sep 5, 2017 at 8:44am PDT
I love this glimpse into a Montessori classroom! The rug, the plant, the cozy reading corner! I love it all.

A post shared by @ourmontessoristory on Sep 5, 2017 at 3:42pm PDT
Is there anything better than toddlers cooking? Yes, when the food looks that delicious!

A post shared by • Julie, Nina & Emy πŸ‘§πŸΌπŸ‘ΆπŸ½πŸŒΈπŸƒ (@apprendsmoiafaireseul) on Sep 6, 2017 at 10:25am PDT
This is such a perfect little practical shelf. It's so accessible, but so simple. Something like this could easily be added to any h…

Exploration -- Montessori Baby Week 41

It can sometimes feel like having the right shelf with the right toys is the most important thing for your Montessori baby. But, let me tell you, it's not. Babies are naturally called to explore their environment. They are always going to want to check things out, examine how something works, and test everything in the world around them. 

And sometimes that means the shelf in their environment and the carefully selected toys. But a lot of the time, it means the power cord, the spot of sunlight on the floor, and kitchen cabinet door. A shift in our mindset needs to occur to accept that each is equally important. Dr. Montessori says,  "At birth, the child leaves a person – his mother’s womb – and this makes him independent of her bodily functions.  The baby is next endowed with an urge, or need, to face the out world and to absorb it.  We might say that he is born with ‘the psychology of world conquest.’   By absorbing what he finds about him, he forms his own personality.”  T…

Montessori Friendly Toys and DIYs at 8 Months

Augustus is getting bigger, older, stronger and wigglier each day! And with all this growth comes new interests, new challenges, and new struggles. With some observation, I change the materials available to him to hopefully meet his needs. It can feel like a guessing game, but he will always let me know if I'm right or wrong! 
I wanted to share some of the Montessori friendly toys and DIYs at 8 months. I say 8-months, but this is just an approximation. Some he used a little earlier, some he is still enjoying now at over 9-months old. In particular, he still loved the glitter drum and bell rollers until very recently. 

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Rattle Ball -- Many of the things (specifically teethers and rattles) that he was using at 6-months and 4-months are still present. I usually have a treasure basket of teethers on the shelf for him to mouth. This one was a new one we added around 8 months. 
Hair Rollers -- these are a great open ended manipulative…

Latching Boxes and Baskets

For those of you that have multiple children of different ages sharing one space, like I do, you know how hard to can be to give everyone the space they need to move and work. It seems like the baby always just wants what the older children are using and the older children just want to sit on top of the baby. (Hopefully, that's not just my house!)
And, don't get me wrong, I love to see my kids interacting and working together, but this can be a really tricky dynamic -- especially when you have an older child who has much smaller work and a mouthing baby/young toddler. You don't want to restrict anyone's freedom of movement, but at the same time you want to keep everyone (and their work) safe.
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One way that I help to combat this is by using locking/latching baskets and boxes. Using a small basket or box for the tiniest pieces of material I can slow the chances that Augustus is going t…

Montessori Family Fall Bucket List

With everyone back in school, the weather cooling, and a few trees even turning colors in our neighborhood, things are starting to rapidly feel like autumn. Fall is upon us and with the new season, I wanted to make a bucket list for our Montessori family. We are fortunate to have very distinct seasons and the change is often fun to celebrate. 

If you are looking for a little Montessori-friendly fun this autumn, here is what is on my list.  Art/Sensory I'm not big into pre-planned art projects so these would be suggestions or materials provided in our art area.  Make a leaf rainbowNature journaling interesting fall finds to make a small bookPress last of the summer flowersLaminate new set of leaves for rubbingsMake a sensory/collection bin of leaves and other natural finds for indoor explorationGluing leaves to paper  Outside We will be outside as much as possible until the weather turns cold. We have very long winters, so we soak up every last drop of decent weather.  Go on a hike …

A Treasure Basket of Balls -- Montessori Baby Week 40

There are few toys that are as versatile and long lasting as a good set of balls. Children can come up with so many amazing ways to use them. It helps them build those big muscles they need, and move in the way they need to work on their own development. It is through movement and play that children grow and develop. And, balls provide the most perfect opportunity to move, move, move! 

And, at the end of the day, that's what most babies and toddlers want (and need) to do! As Maria Montessori says: "This is the new education of movement, and in a child's home life the same principles should apply...the child at home who is allowed to...carry on the hundred and one activities that interest him and harm nobody, is in reality busily at work on his development - and the method of his learning is through movement."  Over the last 12 days Gus has gone through a major leaps in his ability to move. 12 days ago he couldn't sit up. Today, he is pulling to sit on his own, p…

What We're Reading -- August

We love reading! I can't say this enough! It's one of the things that we do a lot of throughout the whole day. And, a new supply of library books is always a big deal around here! We really do tend to keep them about a month. This is partly for convenience sake (it's hard to take 3 kids to the library!) and so that we have time to really enjoy each of the books. They really do read them over and over an over again. So, here's a look at what we're reading in August! 

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A Beetle is Shy | Jabari Jumps | From Seed to Sunflower | When the Rain Comes | Princess and the Peas | Babies on the Go!~ | The Children's Garden: Growing Food in the City | Hello Goodbye Dog | From Seed to Pumpkin | I Like, I Don't Like^ | Jabber the Steller's Jay* | Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money | Bloom: An Ode to Spring | Tool Book | The Gold Leaf* | Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night
*Denotes some elements…

Find Your Montessori Community

I got to spend this last weekend with one of my very best friends. Amy, from Midwest Montessori, was able to come with her family to stay at our house for the long weekend. While we have talked for hours and hours and known each other for years, we had never met in person. It was incredible to spend time with her in person, to watch our children play, to go shopping, to talk Montessori both practically and theory, and just to be together as a couple of Montessori families. 

Montessori parenting is beautiful, and wonderful, but it can also be different in many ways from mainstream parenting. It can even feel a little isolating if you don't have a community of like-minded Montessori parents to talk/vent/celebrate/struggle with. Having that tribe of people in your corner really can make such a big difference. 
This weekend was just good for the soul in that way! We all were on the same page in what our expectations are, what our limits are, and how we approach parenting. It was also…

Cleaning with Your Baby -- Montessori Baby Week 39

I think there's a myth in the Montessori story that children's spaces always look perfectly together while one toy is being used happily and quietly. Toys stay separate, spaces stay clean, things are returned to their spots, and order is maintained at all times. But, this isn't reality. While a Montessori classroom may have a bit more order to them, your home is your home. It's lived in.

Augustus is at the age of exploration! All babies are. He is determined to learn about everything in his environment. And this means he has to pull it off the shelf, mouth it, shake it, bang it, toss it, drop it, pick it up again, and repeat dozens of times. Friends, this is not a clean process. 
He leaves a little trail of destruction wherever he goes. He's not worried about maintaining order or restoring work. He's too busy exploring. I can always tell which way he has been headed by following the little path of things that have been strewn all over. 

But, we do eventually w…