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Showing posts from August, 2018

4 Ways Maria Montessori has Changed Me

Today is Maria Montessori's birthday {August 31, 1870}. And, it's kind of blowing my mind how a woman who was born 148 years ago has had so much influence on my life. She has changed how I parent, how we create spaces in our home, and how I am as a person. Today, I thought I would take a moment to recognize the ways she has changed me - as a person. 
Patience Dr. Montessori, or Maria as I often call her, has made me more patient. I still wouldn't call myself a patient person, but I'm getting better. She has opened my eyes to the importance of waiting, of just giving children time. This has happened mostly through practical life.Watching a child scoop batter into a bowl, wipe up a spill, or kneed bread, that forces you to be patient. To watch a child sit a struggle and struggle to fold a shirt, that forces you to be patient. And, it's all so worth the reward. Seeing the joy and satisfaction that a child gets from me just keeping it together and giving them that tim…

A Child's Dictionary + Thoughts on Learning to Spell in Montessori

Next week Henry will enter his second year of lower elementary at a public Montessori school. Since the school is public there are some compromises that we have to make when it comes to the method. An emphasis on spelling words seems to be one of the areas where we might see some difference. We'll see how the year plays out, but it has had me thinking about Montessori and spelling this summer. 

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Spelling is obviously important (although arguably less so in our digital age) but in Montessori it is handled differently than in a traditional classroom. Traditionally, children are given lists of words that they are to memorize and spell. They are tested and graded on that knowledge. In Montessori, the emphasis is on phonetic spelling of words for a much longer period of time. Children should not be corrected when writing phonetically or for spelling words wrong. Instead children learn as they naturally refine their writing over time…

Our Montessori Home Lately

It's been awhile since I've shared some of the Montessori spaces in our home. As our kids get older, the spaces grow and change to meet their needs. Its a slow evolution with the child, changes that we have made over years to create a prepared environment that works best for all of us! So, here are some snapshots of some of the areas of our home. 
This is just one example of how Montessori can look in a home, your prepared environment should fit your children's needs! If you're looking for help creating your prepared environment, don't miss Cultivating Spaces. My course on making changes to your home returns in October, the course will open for sale in late September. 
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Currently: Used mostly by Nora (4y) and Gus (21m). 
My favorite feature: the light, and the access to the outdoors! Right now, the playroom is definitely seeing less play as my kids are outside so often. 
Current favorite material: The farm …

Shifting My Expectations Toward Potty Learning

It's been a few weeks since I've written about Gus' potty learning journey and I wanted to talk about it again. He is still mostly wearing underwear here at home, but diapers when we are out and about. I plan to shift to all undies during the school year when he's the only one with me, right now I just can't deal with three kids in public and have to also deal with wet clothes and poop. That might not be the most Montessori answer, but it is what works for our family. And, what keeps the process stress free for us, which I think is most important. 

I wanted to talk about shifting my expectations for potty learning. Because there has been a big shift. When I first started parenting, I didn't know anything about potty learning, I would have called it potty training, and it most certainly was a system based on rewards, an adult imposed time table and frustration. So this has been a shift. A shift towards learning. A shift towards respect and time. I'm not expec…

Montessori is Not a Race

I've talked about this a bit before, but it's been awhile so I thought I would talk about this again. There seems to be all sorts of pressure in today's world to teach our children ALL THE THINGS. Everything needs to be done sooner, faster, and perfectly. The world is ever changing, yet child development stays the same. Each child is on his/her individual path, whether we want to believe it or not. Some people turn to Montessori feeling like it is a way to get their child on the fast track. And, I hate to break it to you. But, Montessori is not a race. 

Montessori is not a race to 

help your child learn to crawl faster teach your child how to walk fasterget your child to talk earlieruse the toilet independently at a younger agehelp your child memorize colors sooner teach your child letters/numbers/learn to read/learn to write/academics in general help your child learn to cook/clean/do chores/have a job/be useful at a younger agememorize random facts get smarter This post co…

Montessori Friendly Infant Shelves to Love

Creating your baby's first Montessori environment can be such an exciting process. Picking every little detail feels like such an important decision inn creating that perfect environment. And when it's all pulled together it is so much fun watching your baby explore and grow in the space. 

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One of the main elements in any Montessori space - including an infant space - will be the shelf that the materials are stored on. Unlike many traditional environments which rely on toy boxes, in Montessori environments, toys are arranged on shelves. There are many options to choose from so that you can find the perfect shelf to fit the feel of your room, your needs, and your budget. Here are a few that I really love for Montessori infant environments: 

1. Sprout Kids Infant Shelf - I love this shelf! Its newer to the market, but made specifically for Montessori environments. It's solid and beautiful without being super expensive.

2. …

Montessori Friendly Alternatives to Popular Young Preschool Gifts

There is a myth about Montessori that all Montessori friendly need to be expensive and wooden. A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about Montessori alternatives to popular toddler toys to try to show that that's not true! When I wrote that post a lot of people asked me to make posts for older children as well! 
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So, I recently came across this list of Best seller preschool toys and thought it was time for another post! There are plenty of Montessori friendly alternatives to traditional toys that aren't that different in price. Now, I think this list uses some liberties with the word "preschool" and includes some toddler and infant materials. So I picked through the list to find those most reasonable for young preschoolers - ages 3 and young 4. Some of these materials would still be appropriate for older children, including the art. You just have to know your child. 
Here's what I found: 
ABC Magnets instead try Sim…

5 Books I Love for the Second Plane (6+)

There are so many amazing resources online for young children when it comes to Montessori. It is so much harder to find resources that are appropriate for older children! The shift to the second plane of development occurs somewhere between age 6 and age 7 for most children. It marks a huge shift how a child thinks, learns, and acts.

So, I wanted to share some newer resources that I've found and am loving  at home for the second plane! These would be great for any older child book collection! 
Born With a Bang: The Universe Tells Our Cosmic Story  - the first of the Universe Series, which is a beautiful companion to the first Great Lesson used in Montessori elementary schools. This whole series is beautifully illustrated, and told in a story format which appeals to the second plane child. From Lava to Life: The Universe Tells Our Earth StoryMammals Who Morph: The Universe Tells Our Evolution StoryThe Story of Clocks and Calendars - Another beautiful series, this time talking specif…

10 Minutes with Gus at 20 Months -- Montessori Young Toddler Week 36

At 20-months-old, Gus is just a delight! He is funny! He is expressing his will! He has a limited vocabulary (very limited, I need to write more about this!) but he tries to start conversations about things he can say and things he likes. He's just really a beautiful human. 
I've noticed lately that his play is shifting. He is definitely taking a greater interest in his toys and playing with them in new and interesting ways. He is slowing down and spending much more time with them again. So, I figured it was time for another 10 minutes with Gus post! See Gus at 16-months.  
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What He's Doing: Balls are his favorite thing! He trying to place all of his balls down his ball run. Some fit, some don't.
My Thoughts: Gus' sensorial exploration of materials is starting to move beyond texture and taste! He is exploring size without me needing to say anything or prompt him to do so. This is the type of creative play that I t…

Thoughts on Color Learning and Easy DIY Color Mixing for Toddlers

Toddlers are busy developing their whole selves by being in the world around them. Everywhere they are, they are scientists discovering (and unconsciously absorbing) even the smallest details about their worlds. That piece of lint on the couch - yep, they touched it. That dog barking across the street, yep, they noticed it. You added something new (or took something away) from your home, they feel it! Toddlers don't need a lot in this world, every detail is absorbed by them and retained. 

It's the same with things that we traditionally feel like we need to "teach" toddlers about. Colors, for example. Toddlers are constantly absorbing the properties of the things they have around them. They will naturally feel called to learn about these properties when they are ready! It isn't our job to force that readiness, but to prepare our space for interesting exploration of color. Then, when the child is ready, provide the language our children need for their discoveries!…

Stacking Cup - Some Options and Ideas

Gus has been super into stacking lately - stacking rings, stacking blocks, stacking random objects he finds in the house. He's learning balance, size discrimination, and things like "in" "out" "over" and "under."

While there are many options on the market, I personally like things that are plain and don't try to do too much at once. Therefore, I gravitate toward those without numbers, letters, animals or shapes printed on the cups. We have a couple sets (not all of these), the plain wooden cups are my absolute favorite. 
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Plastic Cups | Large Plastic Set - I love that these can get wet and hold up to a lot of teething/throwing/use 
Wooden Cups - I love that these isolate the concept of size and are self correcting. Here, there really is no other factor then size to focus on {although colorful wooden options also exist.} 
Squareish Cups | Cube Cups - I love that these require a more preci…

Size Sequencing Puzzles - Montessori Young Toddler Weeks 34 and 35

With a strengthening sense of order in general, Gus is super into puzzles lately. If he's choosing work from his shelf, its more likely than not a puzzle of some kind. And while he likes knob puzzles, size sequencing puzzles have really been his jam. These are puzzles that distinguish pieces only by size. Or, ideally, only by size, some also vary by size and color. You can see a couple varieties on his shelf right now. 

By chance, we have several of them. A Montessori friend of mine had several custom made and then her children outgrew them so she passed them along. I added those to our puzzle collection, and here we are! Thankfully, Gus likes them since we have so many. We all know I have a puzzle problem and I'm not able to let these go! 
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It's hard to find a good sequencing puzzle. I'm not sure why but these are just rarer to come by than other types of knobbed puzzles. I've been asked a lot lately where to g…