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Showing posts from October, 2018

Materials to Support Cursive Writing

In both Nora and Henry's Montessori schools, the children are taught to write in cursive. There are many benefits to learning cursive writing from the start including the ease of the strokes, the clear difference in shape between each letter, and the natural connection between the letters which help children to understand to blend sounds together. {You can read more here about why Montessori specifically starts with cursive writing.} 
At home, I have made an effort to support my children's learning of cursive in a few ways. First, and I think most importantly, I MODEL cursive writing for them. This has been a big change for me over the last few years. But, I write almost exclusively in cursive now. Whether it's a grocery list, a calendar, or just a random note, I try to write in cursive. This makes cursive a real and practical means of writing for my children. It's not something they are just learning, but it's something that we actual use! 
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Favorite Art Supplies from IKEA

If you've been around here for awhile, you know that I love IKEA. I've used IKEA stuff for soooo many areas of my Montessori home. But one area where you might not think about turning to IKEA is for art supplies. But, IKEA actually has a really great selection of Montessori friendly art supplies for kids. So I thought I would share some of my favorites! 

1. Art Caddy - I saw this recently and its so cool! It has some great trays too that could be re-purposed for other awesome work
2. Easel - We love ours, plus it is easily cut down for toddlers! 
3. Stamps - These are some of my kids favorites! I love that they are bigger than traditional stampers. 
4. Paper Pack - I LOVE this paper pack, its such a great variety of colors and sizes for the price
5. Color Pencils - these are such a great size and are so pretty 
6. Paint Brushes - my absolute favorite! Great size for little hands and a nice variety, plus for the price you don't have to worry about them being destroyed 
7. …

Managing Sibling Conflict

It is so hard to have multiple children in your care. It is, it can be exhausting and daunting to be responsible for so many little lives. While there is a lot of joy in watching your children play together, there are also times when there is a lot of conflict. This post is going to answer the question that I get more often than ANY other question I am asked - how do you manage sibling conflict? 
My children are like any other siblings close in age. They can squabble over the same books or toys, they can lash out in anger, they can push/hit/bite/scratch. It happens. Especially between Nora and Gus who have a closer age gap and very similar personalities. They tend to push each other's buttons much more than Henry and Nora did, or that Henry (being so much older) and Gus. But, it happens between all of them. And, it's up to me to respond. 

So, what do I do? Here are some things to try and keep in mind in order to manage sibling conflict in your home. All examples here are just…

Supporting Montessori Math Learning at Home

One of my favorite things about the Montessori method of education is the math materials. The Montessori mathematics curriculum is pure genius. It gives children concrete experiences with math concepts in a way that is fun and interactive. As they play/work they are given a concrete foundation that I so wish I had. Slowly, the children move toward abstraction where math is done more and more without concrete materials. And concepts they "played" with at 3 and 4 are suddenly second nature, and tied to something bigger and more complex. In elementary, they use many of these materials again but in different ways to deepen their understanding of mathematical concepts. 

Now, I'm talking about the math that is done at school, so what about home? How do you support Montessori math learning at home? For me, the answer here depends on my child's age and experience.  Augustus (22-months) Gus does not attend a Montessori program of any kind outside of our home. Nor do we do AN…

Toddler Bead Threading

At 22 months, Gus is super into threading beads. It’s one of the first works he gravitates toward each day. At any given time he can be found stringing his beads over and over again. And he’s constantly asking for “more, more” to thread. 

I love bead threading for a few different reasons. One, it’s amazingly flexible. It’s a work that can stick with your children for a long time with just a few changes. Two, it’s a great precursor to a lot of practical sewing work. Three, it’s just great fine motor work that increases concentration and focus. 
Bead threading can look a lot of different ways but you essentially need two things - beads and something to thread. You have options in either case! 

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Beads: Here you can start with larger beads or even rings with larger holes and eventually move your way to smaller beads. A possible progression could look like this: 
Rings Large beads Smaller beads Cut straw Pony beads Small glass beads
Over time…

A Toddler Friendly Cleaning Area

Toddlers are just the greatest little people! But, with a toddler comes a certain amount of mess. They are learning, growing, and exploring all the things around them. And as they do that, things get bumped over, water gets dumped, and if you're toilet learning things can get messy. This doesn't mean that you have to be the only one responsible for cleaning up the messes, a toddler friendly cleaning area can make a big difference. 

Gus has turned a corner in his potty learning journey. He is in underwear all of the time at home (outside of sleeping) and staying dry a lot of the time. But, just a couple weeks ago, accidents we're pretty common. Having an area where he could go to help clean up that accident has been really helpful. But, beyond that Gus has taken an interest in cleaning throughout our home. He has had access to these tools since he was walking and gets better and better at using them. 
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So, what does a cl…

My New Favorite Parenting Phrase

I have a new favorite parenting phrase! And all credit has to go to Mars from Montessori on Mars for giving it to me. She modeled this simple phrase, "I'm concerned that..." with her daughter and it was so totally brilliant that I had to try it. And, guess what, it WORKS! It really really works, so I have to share. 
So, when do I use it?! For us it has been the perfect way to reach a child without causing a power struggle when there is either something that has to be done or there is a child what is likely to get hurt from continuing the same course of action. But honestly, I use this phrase all of the time now. Daily. Here are a couple of examples.

One, Gus, is climbing on the back of our couch. Except instead of just climbing (which I don't mind in principle) he's also being chased by an older sibling as part of some game. They are all having fun so it's not something I need to stop completely and I don't want to intervene and force a solution. So, I s…

Our Favorite Book For Language Development

Last week, I shared that Augustus struggles with expressive language delay. I wanted to thank each of you that reached out to me and shared your own stories, concerns, and language journeys. Seriously, it was immensely supportive and I really appreciated it. But, I wanted to share a little bit about how we are supporting Gus as he learns more and more vocabulary. Because while we will follow his path, even if that is slower than others, we will still prepare our environment to support his success. 

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Right now, that means In the Town, All Year 'Round! No, seriously, this book is amazing. And, right now it's a major part of Gus acquiring new vocabulary words and speech. More than any other tool we have been using, this book has sparked new words and sounds from Gus. A few from just this week alone have been Donkey, balloon, moon, and hi. For a kid with 10 spontaneous words, even a couple new ones have been amazing. 

Now, this…

Extending the Life of Your Puzzles

I think we all have likely experienced buying a toy for our child and having them outgrow it quickly. And when that happens, it's always sort of disappointing and frustrating that you spent money and now the toy sits around. But, sometimes if we are creative we can extend the life of the toy with a little creativity. Here's one way to extend the life of a puzzle - tracing! 

If you have a child in a Montessori school, this idea is likely not new to you! Montessori children do this all the time - especially with the geography maps. But, there's no reason this idea needs to stay in the classroom. Using a puzzle in a new and creative way helps your child work on the skills he/she needs without needing to buy a new material.

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Nora, for example, is working on building the hand strength she needs to write. She needs those fine motor experiences. But, a simple knobbed puzzle isn't going to be enough anymore. By tracing the p…

Which Open-Ended Toys are "Worth it?"

As a Montessori parent, I try to provide a mix of materials in our home to engage my kids! That work that will spark joy, concentration, and repetition. It's not always an easy task, as Maria Montessori said, "Life is mysterious...only the choice of life can choose the work that the child truly needs. Therefore, the teacher respects this mysterious process and knows to wait with faith." So, there does sometimes feel like there is a bit of trial and error when it comes to choosing materials that your children need. 

For us, the right balance is easier to find when I spend time deeply observing my children. Watching their interests, sitting on my hands if I have to, letting them struggle a little with things, and letting them get bored. And what I have personally found is that here at home, a combination of open ended materials and more structured work have been the right balance. Open ended toys wouldn't necessarily be found in a Montessori classroom, but they are perf…

5 Recipes that My Kids Love to Make

I love to work in the kitchen with my children! I try to invite them into the kitchen to help me do something at least daily. Often, especially with my older children they are at the point where they can take some initiative and say "I would like to make..." and do a lot of that process on their own. Gus is definitely not there yet, but everyday he is becoming more and more interested in the process of working in the kitchen.

Generally, we aren't doing anything special in the kitchen. We're making breakfast and dinner. We're preparing lunch. Maybe a special snack. But, there are a few recipes that my kids love to help make and lend themselves to child's work, and I thought I would share those! So, here are 5 recipes that my kids love to make!  Chia Seed Pudding When in doubt, I have been adding chia seeds to all the things at my house! My kids love them. So, chia seed pudding has been a natural addition to our rotation of recipes. We have been using this chi…