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Showing posts from April, 2018

The Montessori Elementary

As Henry is finishing up his first year of lower elementary (ages 6 to 9, or grades 1-3 in the U.S.) I've had Montessori elementary on my mind a lot lately. It's been a big shift from the Montessori primary environment that I've become so familiar with over the last several years. That's not to say the change hasn't been a good one, just a change!

I can't speak for every Montessori elementary program, but I think the change has more to do with the shift of the child into the second plane of development than it does anything else! Just like in the Children's House, the Montessori elementary classroom seeks to meet the developmental needs of the children in the community. Maria Montessori said, "Education between the ages of six and twelve is not a direct continuation of that which has gone before, through it is built upon that basis. Psychologically there is a decided change in personality, and we recognize that nature has made this a period for the acq…

A Basket of Birds -- Montessori Young Toddler Week 20

It seems simple, but one of Gus' favorite things this week has been a basket of toy birds. He is very into watching for birds out our window so I thought he might like some small figures of different birds. 

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It's a simple invitation that he just keeps coming back to. The basket contains a macaw, a pelican, a penguin, a toucan, a puffin, and an owl. These aren't birds he would see in our area naturally, so it's not about matching or finding them. For us it's simply play and language development. 

I basically let Gus explore them however he sees fit. Often its taking them out and putting them back in the basket. Sometimes it's kissing them, or lining them up. Sometimes its simply throwing them across the room! My part is to just name them (when he's into that). We talk about what the name of each of the birds is called. We also get to talk about colors, parts of the birds, and eventually where they live. 

What We're Reading Lately - March and April

As always, we've been busy reading so many good books around here! Since winter hung around longer than we expected, these books have been a life saver on cold and snowy afternoons. This month, I thought I would share these a bit differently, and break them up by those enjoyed by Nora (3), Henry (7), and Augustus (17 months). So, here's what we've been reading!  Augustus These are the books from the library that Gus was enjoying these months.

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In the Rain Music Is . . .  This was my favorite!  Edible Colors: See, Learn, Eat Every Color Soup Nora I put most of the books in Nora's spot but this isn't to say that Henry didn't enjoy them too. Many would be appropriate for a slightly older audience, and some would appeal more to a younger audience as well. Henry would listen or read some books plenty too, but they would also keep Nora's interest and attention. Basically, these books were the most flexible on age.

5 Ideas to Try When Family is Far Away

Morgan and I really love living where we live. But, one downside is that we don't live super close to much of our family. I'm fortunate to have some of my family here, but that isn't the case for Morgan. So, it's been important for us to have something for the kids to be able to connect with family here at home. even if we can't see them in person regularly. 

For us, we have tried a family book and family cards. Both have been super successful and loved. But, I've recently seen some other great ideas and wanted to share. So, here are 5 ideas to try when your family doesn't live close! 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Family Book You can make your own book of family pictures or we have used these books {this is not sponsored, we just like them} to make ours. All of my kids, but Gus in particular, love these books and will sit for long times talking about all the people in the pictures. Using a small photo album would have a similar eff…

Practical Life for the Outdoors

We are finally experiencing spring and warm weather here. Which means we are going to be outside as much as possible for the foreseeable future. Being outside doesn't just mean that the kids are off riding bikes or swinging on the playground, but it opens up a world of practical life work opportunities. Practical life activities are such a huge and important part about Montessori living, especially for young children, and this work does not need to be limited to the doors of your home or classroom. 

The possibilities for practical life work outside are practically endless! Nearly anything that can be done inside could be taken outside for a child to work on. It's actually kind of nice to take practical life outdoors because they you don't have to feel so concerned about the mess that comes along with young children and these types of activities. So, here are some ideas for practical life work outdoors for you!  Care of the Environment Sweeping  Raking  Weeding  Scrubbing …

Beautiful Plants in Montessori Spaces

Over the last couple of years, I've become a bit obsessed with beautiful house plants. The deeper our family has gone into Montessori the more important it has been for me to have plants inside my home. And, the more I get, the more I love having them around. Now, I'm no green-thumb. But, I'm trying! 
I'm also finding inspiration everywhere that is feeding my new-found love of plants, especially in Montessori spaces. So, I thought I would share the plant love with you! Here are some inspiring plants and plant care set up in Montessori spaces! 

OurMontessoriStory | GentleBreezeMontessori |  Miss.Elizabeths | MontessoriVillage
I'm now pretty sure that I need a tree in my living room! Right, I definitely do!

Nininoes | HowWeMontessori | MightyMother_ | Emilundmathilda
I'll take them all! I tried to grow flower bulbs in a pot this spring and failed miserably! Next year!

Cosmic_Montessori | OurMontessoriWay | FruitfulOrchardMontessori | PetaGibson
Seriously, what do y…

10 minutes with Gus -- Montessori Young Toddler Week 20

At 16-months, Gus is at one of my favorite ages! He is sweet and curious, snuggly and gaining independence. Every day he is learning something new, his own interests are becoming stronger and his own personality is shining through. 
He's also super busy, into everything and just a lot of fun! I thought I would share a few minutes of his playtime and some observations that I can see by looking at these pictures. These pictures are totally candid and are just about 10 minutes of his playtime (these pictures aren't totally in order)! 

What He's Doing: Looking out the side door at the older kids playing outside, while throwing balls all over the room.

My Thoughts: I love this picture because it is a very real view of how play looks at this age. It looks messy, but if you look past that, there is so much order that is developing! I see:

the binoculars he was using (see below) are put back on the shelf but not in the right spot the basket for the Matryoshka doll is restored but he…

Spring Project - A Root Viewer

Although it's mid-April we have had a terrible Spring here in Minnesota. Over the weekend we got just over 19 inches of snow! Needless to say, we are all looking for a little green in our lives! So, we pulled our our root viewer and hit the garden store for some seeds! Even if our outside is still an endless sea of white, inside we have some beautiful little sprouts coming up! 

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I love root viewers, they are a fantastic way to explore how plants grow and change with children. You can see everything from the seeds, to the tiniest sprout, to the roots growing and expanding in the ground. This is our second year to use ours and the magic is not lost on Henry or Nora. We planted these together, and have been monitoring their progress. Even I love to water them because you can literally see the water trickling down to all the roots! It's an amazing process. 

This year, we're growing radish, dill, and carrots. The radish, in …

Imagination and Montessori

There are some myths about Montessori that sometimes crop up and often they surround the topic of imagination. There can sometimes be this feeling that Montessori does not allow for kids to use their imagination or that somehow pretend play isn't encouraged. We so often see Montessori children,focused on trays that have specific outcomes that it can appear that creativity, imagination, and the world of pretend is taken out of the equation.  "The secret of success is found to lie in the right use of imagination in awakening interest..." Maria Montessori  But, that's simply not true. Children will always pretend. They will use their imagination to create. If you spend time with any child this quickly becomes clear. Children constantly use their imaginations to create, to process, and to learn. 

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In a Montessori home, we don't discourage the use of imagination or pretend play. But, it may look a bit differently t…

Using a Fork -- Montessori Young Toddler Week 19

When Gus first started eating, way back when he was around 6 months old, we immediately introduced him to real plates, cups, and spoons. By real, I mean ceramic plates/bowls, real metal spoons, and glass cups. Since that time he has continued to eat with these real tools available to him. Throughout this process, however, the goal has never been perfection, it's just been to have the tools available for him to experience as he felt compelled to try them. 

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His weaning spoon, in particular, was always available, but that doesn't mean it was always used. But as he has gotten older, he has taken a greater interest in eating with utensils. A few weeks ago, I saw that he was very very interested in trying to eat with my fork so I finally ordered some small forks of his own. 

I purchased mine from Michael Olaf Montessori shop, but they are Oneida brand. I believe they are the same as this set {or this set with a knife included}, or…

Montessori Floor Beds and Young Toddlers

Floor beds are quintessential for Montessori babies! Maria Montessori talked about the importance of having a bed that allowed for an infant’s free movement many times, as did her predecessors in the Montessori 0-3 community. We know that it is important that a child can move freely into and out of bed as a very young child. Montessori was very clear about the need to use a low and accessible bed for young children.  "We suggest that a typical child's bed should be done away with...the child instead should be given a low couch resting practically upon the floor, where he can lie down and get up as he wishes." Maria Montessori  But what happens as your baby grows? And suddenly your baby isn’t so much of a baby anymore? What is the role of the floor bed with young toddlers? 
Before I go on, I wanted to make it clear that I am in NO way a sleep expert or anything. Sleep can be an intensely dividing issue and I'm here only to share our experience. Everyone will take diff…

Our Reference Books and How we Use Them

As my children get a little bit older, it's important for me to have books available that give them information, not just stories. This way if they have a question, they have the resources available to them to be able to find information about that topic. Plus, these books open up so much information about the world that my children may not have learned otherwise. 
We have had many of these books for a long time, but organizing them into a reference library was an idea I got from How We Montessori. Basically, these books are not rotated like our picture books, but are on their own shelf available all the time. Since organizing this way, my children have access to answer their questions or to just pursue the books at their leisure. It's worked really well. 

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Here are a look at some of my favorite reference books. Most of these we own, but a few are on my wish list.  Geography/BiomesMaps - a great visual overview, appropriate…