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Showing posts from August, 2020

Shelf Help Ep. 24 - Using a Capsule Wardrobe

A capsule wardrobe is a small and intentional wardrobe for each member of your family which can align well with Montessori parenting. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy discuss why they have decided to use capsule wardrobes with their children. They give tips on how they create their capsules, including how laundry works, and the number of options they need.  This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Show Notes...Simple Families on InstagramTarget (use code PRIMARYNICOLEK104 for 20% off your first order)Hanna AnderssonNo Such Thing as Bad WeatherOaki RainsuitsPlanning for Our Winter Capsule WardrobeSummer Capsule Wardrobe PlannerUsing a Capsule Wardrobe with a Newborn Thanks for joining me for today's podcast! If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share and leave a review in your favorite podcast app.
If you are interested in finding Shelf Help in a podcast app, it is available on Apple | Spotify | Stitcher | Google.

When the Baby wants Everything their Big Sibling Has

Any parent with multiple children has probably been there. You're older child is happily engaged in something, anything, and here comes your baby or younger toddler. And, all your younger child wants is whatever your older child is doing. Your baby doesn't care if the work is too small, or dangerous, or not appropriate all they want is that thing. What do you do? 
This exact scenario has been playing out more and more in my home as Teddy gets older and more mobile - especially between Gus and Teddy. Gus still mostly works in the same shared playroom space as Theodore. He is at a table that Teddy can reach. And, he's at an age that Teddy just wants all the super engaging, tiny work that Gus loves. Gus's first inclination is to shove Teddy away from his work. Gus does it mostly out of concern, he knows that Teddy shouldn't usually have what he is working on. But, he also does it out of annoyance, he doesn't want Teddy to disrupt what he is doing. So, how do I resp…

Montessori Sandpaper Letters - To Buy or DIY?

To buy or to DIY - it's an age old Montessori parenting question! And, I think it's one that a lot of parents ask themselves especially when considering traditional Montessori materials for their homes. These materials are often limited in purpose and just plain expensive. For a Montessori classroom, it makes sense to buy a lot of the real versions of Montessori materials, but as a parent should you? This is a complicated question because everyone's situation is so different. And, for me, I make a material by material analysis before deciding for my own family. In this post, I wanted to share that analysis with the sandpaper letters, in particular. 

First, what are the Montessori sandpaper letters? Traditionally, they are wooden cards with letters printed on them. These letters are rough like sandpaper to give a tactile impression to a child. The child traces the letter and repeats the letter's sound. The tactile feel of the letter helps the child to internalize its sha…

Montessori Baby Toy Favorites at 9 and 10 Months

Somehow Teddy is rapidly approaching his first birthday! I don't know how that happened, or where the time has gone, but here we are! I wanted to back up a minute and share some of his materials over the last couple of months. Some of these are still on his shelves now, some he is done with, and some have been rotated away for later on. 

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Here's a look at what's been on Teddy's shelves over the last few months:  Toys He's LovedThese are the toys that Teddy hasn't been able to get enough of! They are all still on his shelves today at 11 months, and probably will stay there for some time. I would say these all saw daily use. Many were also favorites of Gus and even Nora over the years. 
Simple Bead Mover Object Permanence Box Sensory Balls Mirrored Balls Variety of Teethers
Teddy is very very into throwing, so I don't think its a surprise that a lot of this list includes balls! 

Toy's He's LikedThese are toy…

Shelf Help Ep. 23 - Handling BIG Emotions

An important part of parenting is dealing with big feelings and emotions from your children, especially around limit setting. In this week’s episode, Nicole and Amy discuss limit setting in Montessori environments and how they gently and respectfully respond to big feelings and limit testing in their homes. They give some examples of how to respond to tantrums, hitting, and sass around limits. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Show Notes...Join Nicole's NewsletterLosing Your Cool as a Montessori ParentRespectful MomWhole Brain ChildJanet LandsburyHow to Talk so Little Kids Will ListenMaria Montessori Speaks to ParentsToddler Discipline for Every Age and Stage Thanks for joining me for today's podcast! If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share and leave a review in your favorite podcast app.
If you are interested in finding Shelf Help in a podcast app, it is available on Apple | Spotify | Stitcher | Google.


Simple Bead Movers for Montessori Babies

There are just some toys that are absolute classics. I feel like a bead mover maze is definitely one of them. I have vivid memories of playing with bead movers as a child - usually those giant complicated cubes in doctors offices. It's no surprise that they speak to small children now. Teddy is one of those children. 

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Our small bead mover is one of the few toys that Teddy couldn't live without. He plays with it daily for long periods of time - spinning and moving the beads. He's had it available on his shelves for a few months now and it doesn't seem to be losing his interest. It's a beautiful, simple toy that works so well for what he needs right now. 

If you have a baby, there are tons of great options available for bead movers. When considering a bead mover for a baby I take into account the size, complexity, and simplicity of the toy. We want something that is not too large that a baby can't easily move the…

Supporting the Great Lessons with Picture Books

Our school plans are stilllll up in the air for this fall. But, here's what I know - Henry and Nora are both in elementary school now! Nora is starting lower elementary and Henry is starting upper elementary. For this year, they will be in different public Montessori schools and both schools have announced that they will be distance learning through at least the first six weeks (but likely longer given the rising number of cases.) I know that their day will consist of at least some online learning. And, I know we are very seriously considering pulling Henry out of his school and just straight up homeschooling. Beyond that, I have zero (ugh) information about what the school year will look or feel like. 

So, I'm moving forward as if we are homeschooling and heavily supplementing online learning with hands on Montessori materials. One area that I've gotten very excited to dive into with my kids this year has been the Great Lessons! These lessons about the creation of the univ…

A Giant Montessori Object Permanence Box DIY

There's nothing like a good DIY to expand on an interest you see in your child. I've mentioned this before, but Teddy really really loves object permanence work. As he is getting older, that interest is continuing and I wanted to expand on it a bit as his skills grow. 

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I could have done that by getting an object permanence box with a drawer. But, now that he is also focusing so much on gross motor play, I wanted to combine the two a bit. The smaller box was really more stationary. Then it occurred to me - I needed to go big! So, I've been waiting until I got the perfect box in the mail (as in until something was randomly delivered in a box I liked.) When that finally happened this week, I jumped on the chance to make this giant Montessori object permanence box. 

You'll need:  A recycled box - I wanted one larger enough for Teddy to have to stand up to use, but it could be any size - plus some extra cardboardScissors Pain…

Shelf Help Ep. 22 - Birthday Celebrations and Gifts

Birthdays are a wonderful way to celebrate your child but can come with some stress over gifts. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy discuss how they approach birthdays in their Montessori families. This episode includes a discussion on how we approach gift giving with friends and extended families. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Show Notes...Waldorf Birthday RingMontessori Sun CelebrationThe Life Changing Magic of Tidying UpThe Ultimate Montessori Toy ListNicole's Amazon ShopMontessori Friendly Alternatives to Popular Toddler GiftsMontessori Friendly Alternatives to Popular Baby ToysMontessori Friendly Alternatives to Popular Young Preschool Gifts Thanks for joining me for today's podcast! If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share and leave a review in your favorite podcast app.
If you are interested in finding Shelf Help in a podcast app, it is available on Apple | Spotify | Stitcher | Google.

Learning to Like Texture - 5 Ideas to Help with Sandpaper Letters

Recently, I've been sharing more details about Gus' Montessori language journey and how we are supporting it at home. While some of these posts have been directly related to letter learning, there is still a lot of work that happens to support this learning unrelated directly to writing or reading. We call this indirect preparation. Today, I wanted to share some indirect preparation that we have in our home for sandpaper letters - lots of texture work! 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 
The sandpaper letters are an important part of the reading and writing process in Montessori. But, their texture is very bothersome to some children. There are kids that are naturally more sensory seeking (might like a variety of textures and seek them out) and some that are more sensitive (avoid a lot of texture.) Gus falls into the sensitive category. He's not typically a fan of getting his fingers messy, wet, or touching anything rough. I introduced the sandpaper lette…

A Love Jar for Emergent Readers

At newly 6-years-old Nora is an emergent reader. Basically, this means she can read simple words with some effort but not with much fluency yet. She has been at this place for awhile (booo Covid) because school has been so inconsistent. But, I know she will get more confidence in reading on her own timeline. My job is to support her joyful learning and protect her love of learning. This sometimes calls for some fun and sneaky reading practice. 
One way we are doing this is with a love jar. The idea came from her guide (teacher) last spring and we've been using it at home ever since. The concept is really simple. It's basically passing love notes to one another. 

It's just a little jar that I've tied a ribbon around to make it pretty and attractive. The same thing could be done with a little box or any special, beautiful container. I placed the jar in a special spot in her room and told her to check it frequently. 
Then, on tiny strips of paper, I write love notes to place…

Teething Toys that Work for Us

It's that time of life again here at the Kavanaugh house. Our nights have gotten a little longer, our days have been a bit droolier and crankier. This can only mean one thing - new teeth. And sure enough, Teddy starting laughing yesterday and showed off some new white spots right under his gums. He is often reaching for one of the variety of teething toys we have available for him right now. 

If you have a teething baby, here are some Montessori friendly options that are doing the trick for us: 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. RingsI like this style because it's easy to use for the baby and seems to be really satisfying. Downside is that they don't seem to get as far back in the mouth so stop being as useful for those molars and deeper teeth. Teddy is still missing two up front (but those are the white spots I see) so I think he will use these for a short time longer and probably phase out of them. 
Chewbeads Rainbow Ring Water Ring - we store these in the …

Easy Montessori Tray - Transferring with a Sponge

Older toddlers and preschoolers love to transfer things back and forth from one container to another. This repetition is one of the hallmarks of the Montessori method. Many of these transferring activities have a hidden purpose! That purpose is to work the muscles in the child's hand to prepare them for writing. These kinds of activities also help to extend a child's concentration and internalize order.

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Recently, I put together a small and super easy transferring tray for Gus! This tray has been a huge hit so I thought I would share some details. The outward purpose of this tray is to soak up all the water and transfer it to the next bowl. But, my hidden (or indirect) goals are 1) multiple step work which requires him to remember a sequence 2) whole hand movement that involves getting your hands wet/messy. 

Here's the sequence that he needs to work through:  fill the pitcherset out the two bowlspour the pitcher into the bow…

Montessori Shelves - What to Look For

After months at home, I've realized that sometimes four kids is a lot of kids! With a lot of kids comes a lot of Montessori shelves. And the number of Montessori shelves here in the Kavanaugh house just increased as we learned that our public Montessori are not reopening in person for at least some (but probably all) of this fall. This means we will be doing some combination of homeschooling/distance learning for the foreseeable future - this time with 2 kids at the elementary level! 
That's a whole post of it's own, but it's got me thinking about our catalogue of Montessori shelves. So I wanted to share our shelves and what I look for when considering shelves for each age group. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Baby/Young ToddlerWhen looking for shelves for babies and young toddlers, I look for 2 qualities. One, it has to be something super low or resting on the ground. This is important so that even the youngest of babies can reach in and use the …