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Showing posts from May, 2018

What is the Prepared Environment? Quotes from Maria Montessori

I spend a lot of time thinking about our environment here at home. I think about why we need to put something in a low spot, or why we need to add something, or often why we need to take something away. The prepared environment is essential. It's the cornerstone of Montessori at home, and it's importance in a school cannot be overstated. But, why? What does the prepared environment include? What does it look like? What does it feel like? Those are harder questions to answer. 

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Here are 10 quotes from Maria Montessori that help to answer those questions.
Environment Generally "So the first thing his education demands is the provision of an environment in which he can develop the powers given him by nature. This does not mean just to amuse him and let him do as he likes. But it does mean that we have to adjust our minds to doing a work of collaboration with nature, to being obedient  to one of her laws, the law which dec…

Our Children's Garden {and Tips to Make your Own}

There's just something about being able to dig in the dirt, to feel the roots of another living thing and know that you can care for it! I love being able to give my children that feeling, that sense of accomplishment and pride. And, during the summer, my favorite way to do that is with their own garden area. 

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Last year, we used containers for our garden and gave them each a large pot. This year, we've made some changes to our yard which freed up a larger plot and gave us the flexibility to add a raised bed. This garden area is all their own! This isn't something that I plan on maintaining or taking over. But an area for them to explore, plant, cut, weed, and water on their own. They are in complete control over the area. Both Henry and Nora picked the plants, planned where they wanted them to go, and planted them on their own. Gus watched, dug in the dirt, helped Nora plant, and I'm sure he will be a big waterer! 

Wavy Chopper Knife - Montessori Young Toddler Week 25

Augustus is getting bigger and bigger every day. As he inches his way toward 1.5 years old, his independent levels are soaring. Suddenly he wants all the independence, thank you very much. He wants to try to dress alone, to figure out that puzzle, to walk into buildings, and those kinds of things! This desire for independence also extends into the kitchen! 

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Recently, I introduced a wavy chopper knife to Gus. And, he LOVES it. He has had access to a spreader knife for awhile, but that one has been harder for him. Nora, on the other hand, took right to the spreader knife when she was around Gus's age. But, he's different! I love these natural reminders that everyone's on their own path. 

At this point, Gus is not gathering these materials quite on his own, but is observing me. He is starting to internalize the order that he needs to create in order for this to be successful. Eventually, he will take over another step and…

Montessori Friendly Books about Gardening

This past spring I realized we really didn't have a great selection of books about gardening here at home. If I wanted to get serious about gardening with my kids, I knew that I needed to spark some joy and interest. Introducing some gardening books to our shelves seemed like a great addition to the concrete work that we have also been doing in the garden. 
So, I thought I would share some of the Montessori friendly gardening books that we have either checked out from the library or purchased for our own collection. If you have a child interested in gardening or want to spark some interest, these are all a wonderful place to start. 

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Row 1: A Year in Our New Garden~ | And the Good Brown Earth | Wonderful Worms | A Little Guide to Gardening~ | Flower Garden

Row 2: Lola Plants a Garden | Two Little Gardeners | In the Garden* | Plants Feed Me | How Does My Garden Grow?
Row 3: And Then It's Spring | A Seed Is Sleepy | Pick, Pul…

How We've Used a Sheepskin

One of the things that makes Montessori baby spaces a bit different than traditional baby areas is the focus on simplicity and beauty. A Montessori baby space should be calm, peaceful, and beautiful, but still interesting. A sheepskin rug is often found Montessori baby spaces for this reason. A good sheepskin can provide a natural warmth, beauty and texture that is perfect for a baby space. 

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If you are uncomfortable using a real sheepskin, a faux sheepskin or other small calming rug could be used in the same ways. I know that it may not be everyone's preference. 
So, how have we used our sheepskin? It's use has changed from the time Gus was born until now!  Early Days In Gus's newborn days, the sheepskin was a perfect place to set him down on the floor. He typically was also on his topponcino, but the sheepskin provided a bit of warmth (it was winter) and softness from the hard floor. It also provided a close space where…

Simple Flower Work - Montessori Young Toddler Week 24

First, I want to apologize for missing a couple weeks on this series. A surprise bout of the stomach flu got to me last week, and before that Gus was sick. But, we are back and better this week! 

It's been a busy couple of weeks and when that happens I can sometimes feel like I'm not meeting Augustus's needs like I should be. As the third baby, I do sometimes feel that he can be lost in the shuffle of chores, school pick-ups, and big kid activities. But, then little things happen that remind me that he's got this, and to trust that in the right environment, he's in charge and his path is perfect.  

Gus loves pegging work. Many of his favorite materials are pegging of some kind. So, I shouldn't be surprised that when Gus reached for a precious spring flower that Nora had set out it immediately filled a different type of need in him than I was expecting. 

I'm not going to lie, my Gut reaction was that he was going to destroy the flower. Not in a malicious way …

Easy Instagram DIYs I'm Obsessed With

You guys know how much I love Instagram, right? The Montessori community there is just amazing and there are so many brilliant ideas to use for inspiration.

Look at these picture frames! I love this, such a simple way to explore natural elements!

A post shared by Nimo and Odi (@mininimoo) on May 12, 2018 at 10:53pm PDT
I love this spin on a classic Montessori parts of a flower puzzle!

A post shared by Marissa Poole (@missymontessori) on May 3, 2018 at 12:23pm PDT
These 3-part card printables are lovely!

A post shared by StudioğŸŽ¨Montessori (@studiomontessori) on Apr 15, 2018 at 4:49pm PDT
Ok, so I want to make these soon! Little bean bags with different sensory experiences and naturally scented?! These are simply amazing.

A post shared by Montessori in Motion (@montessoriinmotion) on Apr 12, 2018 at 10:16am PDT
These make me wish I could crochet! Look at how simple and engaging these family pictures would be for a small child!

A post shared by Ann (@littleworldsbigadventures) on Apr 11,…

A Few Montessori Friendly Favorites from 15 to 18 Months

Augustus is only a few short days away from being 18 months old! I can't believe that we are solidly in toddler territory now! Over the last few months, shelf materials have been less important to Gus in favor of movement, being in nature, and practical experiences. But, he has had work on his shelves which he has enjoyed from time to time. The work is something that attracts him and he will spend a few minutes working with before moving on to something else. This certainly isn't everything he has used during this time, but these are his favorites. 

You'll notice that many of these have stayed on our shelves for MONTHS. Toy rotation isn't something we do very often here, but from time to time new things were introduced and others were removed. I expect many of these will continue to be popular for awhile after this. Also, many of the toys that Gus loved from 12 to 14 months were still well loved during this time period. 
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Balancing Games

At almost 4, Nora likes so many different things! And often, I can tell she is attracted to work that helps her strengthen and practice hand motions. She enjoys painting, sewing, and coloring, for example. And one other way, is through a couple of fun balance games she has on her shelves. These games require that she is careful in using her hands to complete the task, or else everything tumbles over and she gets immediate feedback. She doesn't see it this way of course, she just thinks they are fun! 

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Nora currently has two balancing games that work slightly differently. This game (featured in the pictures) is for placing items, and this game is for taking them away. Both use a dice to determine the color that needs to be placed or removed. The games have an element of suspense and control that I also think she finds really appealing. 
But, there are so many fun options when it comes to balancing games like these. Here are a fe…

Movement in Play

We're at a place right now where life feels really really busy. Even when we aren't going anywhere or doing anything, there's a constant buzz to life. A movement from thing to thing, from room to room, from inside to outside and back again. Movement is a constant. And that can feel frustrating, to me. I find myself fighting a desire to have my kids, Gus especially, just sit down and do something. 

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So, I clearly need a reminder about movement. And movement in play. I need to remember:

Movement is essential There is concentration in movement Movement is productive workMovement is hard work There is learning in movement Movement is valid Movement is an interest Movement deserves respectOpportunities for movement are not optional 

Nora and Gus play on this wooden climbing dome. 
There's a reason the freedom of movement is so important in Montessori! I cannot let my own feelings get in the way of what my children need in…

Water/Sensory Tables - Montessori Friendly Options

As the weather gets nicer, we are spending more time outside. Some of that time includes water play! This past week, it got so hot that I brought out our water table and filled it up. My kids got right to work, adding sticks, a found cardboard box, some animals, and some old flower pots to play with. They created their own play and stayed happily engaged for a long time! It won't be long before the water table is used for stick soup, making mudpies, collecting found nature objects, or simply being scrubbed out! 
We used to do  sensory bin type play a lot more than we do now and we used our water table for it. However, it's not something we do a ton of any more, as I have grown deeper in my understanding of Montessori. I think this article does a great job of summing up my current feelings about sensory bin. But, having a place to create their own sensory experiences, explore nature, and for water play is important for me and my kids. A simple water/sensory table has been perf…

Montessori Toddler Activity: A Low Swing

Being outside is an important part of our life. In the warm months, our backyard becomes an extension of the spaces we have inside our home. We want our children to have the same access they have inside when outdoors. While the Montessori activities outdoors are a bit different, we still want them to allow for (1) the freedom of movement (2) be accessible (3) promote independence. 

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We recently made a simple change in our backyard in order to give Gus some more freedom while outdoors -- we added a low swing! I originally got the idea on Instagram and knew that Gus would love it. It's so simple, it gives him freedom and takes away the need for me to facilitate swing time. He no longer has to ask me to lift him into a baby swing, or ask to be done. He can simply follow his own desires and carry out this work independently.  

In order to make this low swing a reality, we used this baby swing. It provides a bit more support for a y…

5 Things You Can Do Today - Montessori Play

One of the first areas where we started to incorporate Montessori into our lives was in our play. For me, it was the most natural and easiest place to begin. This might not be true for everyone, but changing the way my child played naturally led me into wanting to learn more about Montessori and eventually change other areas of my home. 

But, the change didn't happen overnight. It was a slow process and one that I still feel like we are working on. That doesn't mean there aren't things that you can do today to move toward Montessori  friendly play in your home today! Here are 5 things you can do today to start to incorporate Montessori into your home through play!
Observe your child at play! Take some time and make a conscious, uninterrupted effort to just watch what your child does when he/she plays. Don't intervene, don't judge, just watch.
Let your child lead. When you sit and play with your child, let your child decide what to play, how to play, and for how long…