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Showing posts from February, 2018

Gardening Ideas for Spring

I'm told that spring is right around the corner. Even here in snowy Minnesota, there are signs that spring is on the way. Each morning I hear more birds starting to chirp, the sun feels warmer, and my dogs want to go outside more - cautiously checking each time to see if the 18+ inches of snow sitting in our yard has disappeared. These subtle signs have me thinking about all the possibilities that there are outside once spring is here for us. And, I know for many of you, the time to start your outdoor gardens is now! 

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I have also been reading the book There's No Such Thing As Bad Weather which has inspired me to get outside and enjoy the weather we do have even if it's not warm and sunny. I'm making a much more concerted effort to make that a reality. So, here are some ideas for gardening this spring I have been inspired by lately: 
Force spring bulbs to grow insideGet a small watering can for your children Square f…

Montessori Toddler Wardrobe - IKEA Besta Hack

As a Montessori parent, I know that my children crave independence from a young age. Even as a young toddler, children seek independence in their everyday lives. As a Montessori parent, it is my role to prepare our environment to give my child as much independence as possible. As Maria Montessori said, "We must help the child to act for himself, will for himself, think for himself; this is the art of those who aspire to serve the spirit."

In an effort to help Gus become as independent as he wants to be, I have been thinking about the best way to make his clothes accessible to him. Prior to this, we have been using a baby dresser and presenting him with two options to choose from when he gets dressed. But, as he gets older he is ready for more. Hence -- the IKEA BESTA toddler wardrobe hack!

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Gus doesn’t have a large room and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money making something custom he would only used for a couple of ye…

Our Baking Essentials

My children, Nora in particular, love working in the kitchen. I rarely have to ask or invite them to work, but will often find them starting to make something on their own. And if I'm in the kitchen working, you better believe I will find a helper or two with me pretty quickly. The kids (and me) love to bake. I'm pretty sure they are mostly motivated by the delicious treat at the end! If I'm being honest, so am I! 

One of the ways that makes independent baking work possible is having the right tools in our kitchen to help make our kids successful. By having the right sized tools, I don't have to step in as often. One of the greatest additions has been a toaster oven which allows the children to use the oven without help. The double oven mitt protects their hands, arms, and chest! A batter bowl has also been a great addition, since the built in handle makes it so much easier to stir and keep the bowl steady!
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Responding as a Montessori Parent - Tips for Success

Honesty time, lately, I feel like I have been struggling with responding to my children in the way that I would like. I've been too quick to react, instead of taking time to really respond. Maria Montessori knew that the preparation of the adult was vital to the success of her method. This work takes work from us to really respond to children in a calm, loving, understanding way. 

And, that's not always easy. For me, it's probably lack of sleep, and too many commitments driving some impatience and crankiness. It has led to too many quick reactions. Times when I'm just not really taking the time to think about what my children are doing, and respond to the root needs/causes/desires at play. 
So, I wanted to create a small list of things to keep in mind as I try to respond more than I react.  Take a Deep Breath First, remember to take a deep breath. No matter the challenge, taking a deep breath can help to diffuse the situation. It gives us some much needed oxygen and k…

Montessori Baby Tactile Mobiles

Montessori baby environments are sometimes knows for their wonderful array of mobiles. Montessori mobiles provide just enough stimulation to meet the developmental needs of a baby. Therefore, as a baby changes and grows, the mobiles changes to meet the needs of a child at that particular stage. The visual mobiles are wonderful for smaller babies, but as a baby starts to learn to move, a tactile mobile can be introduced. 
A tactile mobile is one that is meant to be touched, grabbed, tasted or otherwise manipulated. These mobiles might create a sound to start to connect the baby's movements to a response. They may be interesting to mouth or fun a texture to touch. The possibilities are open ended, but here are some popular Montessori friendly tactile mobiles!  Bell on Ribbon Mobile
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The bell on a ribbon mobile is often the first of the tactile mobiles introduced. It can be introduced when a baby starts to move more voluntarily. S…

First Art Tray - Montessori Young Toddler Week 11

Lately, Gus has been so super interested in the art supplies that Nora and Henry are using in our art area. Every time they sit down to work, there he is looking for something to get involved with. So, I figured it's time for him to have an art tray of his own! And, I made him his very first art tray! 

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I kept it simple this time! It's just a small tray, with a small glass sauce dish, 2-3 rock crayons, and some paper. The dish is from a local store, but any small container (like this) would work really well. We choose rock crayons because they help to encourage proper grip from the start. Small chunks of broken regular crayons also have this effect. Keeping it small makes sure that a pincer grip is used and not a whole hand grasp.

Everything is neatly organized on the tray for toddlers. Unlike Nora and Henry, who use open ended art supplies, a tray is a necessity. This is for a few reasons: 
making it easier to take off the…

What We're Reading - January 2018

It's another new year, and another year of sharing some of our favorite library book finds! We are so very fortunate to have access to a large library system and lots of local choices. This gives me the opportunity to find lots of Montessori friendly titles that my kids always enjoy.

Here are the choices that have been on our library book shelves lately!

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Row 1: Full, Full, Full of Love | Great Pets: Horses | The Great Day | Miss Lina's Ballerinas and the Wicked Wish
Row 2: Salam Alaikum: A Message of Peace | Usborne Book of Famous Artists | A Letter to Amy | Where's Rodney?
Row 3: The Big Book of Bugs | That is My Dream! | Marja's Skis* 
Row 4: First Garden: The White House Garden and How it Grew | Hassan and Aneesa Go to Madrasa | Mama Built a Little Nest
* This book deals with the death of a parent, so may be more suitable for slightly older children. 
I actually enjoyed a lot of these choices this month! It's …

Peeling Bananas -- Montessori Young Toddler Week 10

At 14-months-old, Gus is becoming more and more interested in participating in every day tasks around the home. This often means throwing away a tissue (or something that isn't garbage at all!) or wiping up a spill. But, in the kitchen it has also meant starting to take steps to preparing his own food! These early experiences will set the foundation for his relationship with the kitchen for years to come. 

It will be these early experiences that will give him the confidence he needs to participate more fully in the future! He will begin to understand that food comes from somewhere, and that it takes work to make it into a product that everyone can enjoy. Slowly we will introduce tools for him to use that will make his work easier and more efficient. 

Peeling bananas is a great place to begin this work! Not only does Gus love bananas, this is a simple step that even little fingers can work to complete. I'm by no means the first person to create this classic Montessori work -- …

Math Work at 3 - Parts of a Whole

At 3.5-years-old, Nora has a lot of different interests. Here at home and at school, we follow her lead and let her natural desires drive her activity. Right now, Nora has taken an interest in math work. At school, she spends her time working on the number rods, sandpaper numerals, and counting in general. Here at home, I have seen the same interest intensify. She has been counting everything and pointing out numbers she finds around the house. 

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Since she does attend a Children's House I don't feel the need to duplicate traditional Montessori materials here at home. But, I do want to have materials available that fit her current interests and needs. And, that's where parts of a whole work have come in! Basically, this work is fraction work. But, instead of introducing it as "this is 1/8" we have used these materials to talk about all the different ways to make 1 cube or 1 circle. Specifically, we have had two…

The Importance of Modeling

Maria Montessori was revolutionary in many ways, not just in the world of education but in child development. She saw and recognized that children interact with the world differently than adults. She recognized that young children have an absorbent mind, that they literally soak in everything in the world around them in order to form themselves. Adults are a vital influence in the environment, not as a director, but as an aid. 

I often get questions about how to: get a child to start cleaning up introduce practical tasks get a child to use manners introduce new toys and games make your children help around the house  and all sorts of similar questions. And the answer is so often, "model." And, not just model, but model with joy, with love, and with passion. Show you children how you want them to be. We need to use the absorbent mind to our advantage and guide our children through our actions. 

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So, we aren't telling ou…

Ignoring the Shelf Work -- Montessori Young Toddler Week 9

"Not all those who wander are lost."
Life with Augustus can be summed up in two words right now -- busy and busy. With a new found physical freedom, Gus doesn't want to stop moving, ever. His sole mission right now is to explore every aspect of every part of the entire world. With one exception - the materials on his shelf. 

Over the last couple of weeks, Gus' interest in his Montessori friendly toys has gone way way down. He just is too busy wandering around with someone's toothbrush to stop and use an imbucare box. That's not to say he never uses materials, because he does. But, just not the 40 minutes of sitting that happened before he was walking. It's a new phase in his development. He has more important things to do than worry about the things I've put on a shelf. He's got to -- move! His shift has been gross motor development all the way. 
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Children are driven to move from birth. And Mont…