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Showing posts from September, 2020

Introducing Loose Parts Play in our Montessori Home

Loose parts play! An alternative title to this post could have been "What does my Montessori 6-year-old do all day?" In our Montessori home, the answer to that has been pretend play and loose parts. For Nora's 6th birthday, I dove into the much more Waldorf world of Grapat toys (For clarity's sake, this isn't sponsored by them and I purchased all of the toys we own.) and their colorful loose parts. I bought most of what we have used, so we have about a quarter set of the Grapat Mandala set plus some extra figures. It's been a huge hit! Especially when combined with our collection of Grimms toys. 

So, what are loose parts? Basically, they are small bits of...anything used for play. The Grapat are really colorful, well made toys, but there is nothing special about them when it comes to loose parts. Everything we've seen by adding them to our home could have been gained with a tray of rocks, buttons, scraps of fabric, milk tops, and cheap wooden rings. So I d…

Montessori Elementary Homeschool and Distance Learning Classroom Tour

I've hinted at this a few times in recent weeks, but school looks very different for us this year. Typically, my children attend in person Montessori schools. Henry and Nora were both supposed to be in public Montessori schools and Gus was attending a small private Children's House. Henry would have been starting upper elementary (4th grade) and Nora was entering lower elementary (1st grade.) But, with Covid, the public schools are distance learning only. 

For Henry's unique learning needs, online learning doesn't work. So, we made the decision to leave his school and homeschool using Montessori for the year. Nora is remaining enrolled, participating in distance learning but highly supplementing with concrete Montessori materials. Given this unique situation, I've created a homeschooling classroom in our basement playroom. Here's a look at how I've set it up and some of the materials we are using to get started with our elementary Montessori learning this ye…

Shelf Help Ep. 28 - Being a YES Parent

Sometimes it's important as a parent to let go of a little control and say yes to your kids. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy talk about the power of saying yes as Montessori parents. We explore the benefits, challenges, and opportunities that come along with really and deeply following your child. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Show Notes...Signs that You're Entering the Second PlaneSubscribe to Nicole's newsletterHandling BIG Emotions (limit setting)Imbucare Box 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.


Montessori Friendly Resources for Autumn

Autumn is almost a magical time of year when everything changes and feels like a fresh start! Our whole world is just beautiful right now and it's pretty inspiring. There are so many great toys and materials that can enhance this feeling for your children right now. I'm not big on creating themes for learning, instead I like to follow the child and their interests. But, every now and then, I think brining in a theme can be really fun. 

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Autumn has so many great choices for jumping off points: apples, fall leaves, moon phases (because it's actually dark enough to see the moon before bed!), weather, hibernation, migration, birds, and so many more! We will bring in a few pieces of Autumn into our play here at home with Gus and Nora. 
Here are a resources that can help you and your children explore Autumn!  My Autumn themed Montessori shopMontessori Family Fall Bucket ListOur Outdoor Autumn EssentialsLaminated Rainbow Leaf Sort …

Independent Play with Babies and Young Toddlers

Independence. It's an important Montessori concept to understand, and one that I've talked about many times before. In her book, The Absorbent Mind, Maria Montessori said, "The child's development follows a path of successive stages of independence...We have to help the child to act, will and think for himself." Having said that, I don't think that Dr. Montessori meant that *bam* children should be independent completely from the moment they are born in all areas of their lives. Each child is on a path towards that ultimate goal. But, as parents we can support that path from infancy. 
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When it comes to playing alone, sometimes that can be a struggle for children, especially young ones. I know that it has been for some of my children. So I know that when it comes to independent play for babies and toddlers I need to keep my own expectations in check. We aren't looking for long stretches of time where our k…

Recent Montessori Inspiration from Instagram

It's been awhile since I've shared some of my favorite finds from Instagram! If you know me at all, then you know I love the community of Montessorians on Instagram. It's where you can find me hanging out in my free time during the day, sharing real moments from our Montessori journey. But so many people share so many amazing ideas that it is hard not to be inspired! Here is some inspiration for you.

On Our Montessori Bookshelves this Autumn

And, suddenly it's Autumn! Autumn is one of my favorite times of year for so many reasons. The world is just filled with this renewed sense of beauty and wonder. And it just so happens that our collection of Autumn books is also one of my favorites. There are just so many great topics to explore during these few months. I typically bring out our books around the Equinox and leave them out for a few weeks before starting to move on. 

Here is a look at the books we  actually own and have out on our shelves for fall. I have broken these down roughly by age, but really my older kids enjoy them all.
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. Baby+Autumn (Gerda Muller) - beautiful and wordless 18-months+Apples and Pumpkins - a Family favorite My Autumn Book - this entire series is very cute Autumn (Shirley Hughes) - you can get a stand alone book part of this collection or as a chapter in this book. 2.5-years+Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn - my kids love this whole series too, later i…

Shelf Help Ep. 27 - Montessori and Open Ended Toys

How do open ended toys fit into a Montessori home? What is the deal with pretend play? What kinds of open-ended toys are best? What should you look for when considering adding open ended toys? In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy answer these questions and dive into the world of pretend play and open-ended toys. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. Show Notes...Amy on InstagramNicole on InstagramShelf Help Ep. 8 - From the ABCs to SwearingSchleich | Safari Ltd. | Papo AnimalsOur Play Farm SetupUnit BlocksLegoPlay Kitchens and Montessori HomesPlay SilksWhich Open-Ended Toys are Worth it?Barn 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.


Types of Consequences - Options for a Montessori Home

The other day I was talking about a hard moment that happened between me and Gus with my mom. Gus had done something out of anger and I mentioned it to her. She replied, "We'll what was his consequence?" This sparked a conversation with her about Montessori, consequences, and our approach to those hard moments. 
What was his consequence? The answer, a natural one. Gus had hurt me, I had to excuse myself, we could no longer continue our activity until I was done collecting myself. This moment of time gave him the space to consider what happened, feel horrible, and then we had some connection following. Sorry, I'm being vague about the details because I don't think we need to share every 3-year-old tantrum details. 

Anyway,  this conversation got me thinking about the types of consequences that parents can impose and where they fit in a Montessori home. Here are some choices, and some thoughts: Natural Consequences Natural consequences are consequences that come natur…

Work those Baby Hands - 4 Ways

Maria Montessori emphasized the importance of the hands for the development of human-kind. It is through the use of our hands that people have been able to create, explore, and grow. It is with this understanding that Maria Montessori created the materials in her classrooms. This understanding continues today and is just as important in a home as a class setting. As a Montessori parent we know that offering real and concrete experiences for a child's hands is key to their success. 
This includes babies. And there are so many great toys available that can help to get a baby's hands moving. But here I wanted to highlight four materials that are great for getting little hands moving - egg and cup, peg in cup, palmer block, and pincer block. These toys are similar to one another, but each have benefits. 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Egg and CupThis is the first of the set that I introduce to my kids. It's lovely because it is so simple. Babies can grab t…

Shelf Help Ep. 26 - Transitioning to Toddlerhood

Toddlers are so different from babies, and their environment needs to change to meet their needs. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy talk about the transition into toddlerhood and children's changing needs as they turn 1-year-old. From gross motor needs, to practical life and toys, we explore everything you need to know for your young toddler. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. Show Notes...Using a Capsule WardrobePlaymatMontessori Toy IdeasOur Weaning Table3M Sticky BarIKEA drinking glassesRadio Flyer Walker WagonIKEA OttomanRocking Boat/StairsSprout Kids Pikler TriangleMagic Cabin Climbing Dome3M Command HooksVery small watering canSwifferNose Blowing AreaMusical InstrumentsHorizontal Disk ToyTracking Toys for ToddlersSingle Shape PuzzlesIn and Out WorkOpen and Close BasketRealistic Model CarsSmall Toddler ChairA Few Favorite Board Book SeriesMontessori DIY work for young toddlersWhat if My Child isn't Using Montessori Work Correctly? Thanks for join…

Shelf Help Ep. 25 - Balancing Montessori Parenting and Work

It can be a huge challenge to balance work and parenting. Parents can feel so much guilt being pulled between their children and their work. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy discuss working motherhood. We address how we balance work, children, housework and relationships in our Montessori home. And, share our experiences with working both inside and outside our homes.

Everyday Moments in Our Montessori Home

What does it look like to actually live in a Montessori home? My hope is to share that reality with everyone through this website and my other services. I especially share everyday moments on Instagram and Instagram stories daily. But, today, I wanted to share some pictures from the last few weeks that really just sum up normal life around here. 
Our days look like kids carrying around random kid-made snacks and lots of kids working around each other. 

A Few Art Materials at 3-Years-Old

My kids can frequently be found huddled together around our art area table diving into art materials together. It's one of those things that they can do both together or individually which I really love. Gus, in particular, is super into creating with our art materials lately. At 3, almost 4, he is at the verge of being able to pull together art supplies without needing them all on a tray. But, for the most part, I still organize everything together on a tray for him to easily grab from the shelf.  So, you'll notice that mostly, the trays are completed sets of materials he needs to explore the art medium. 

Montessori Friendly First Birthday Gifts

Some how my sweet Montessori baby Teddy is already going to be a full year old! On September 12, he will officially turn 1-year-old. I can't believe it. This year has gone by so incredibly fast and he is just blossoming into this super busy, curious, little tiny toddler. Being my fourth baby to turn 1, I know just what a bittersweet moment this is. I'm feeling the loss of my tiny baby while also feeling really excited to enter the toddler years again. One-year-olds are one of my favorite ages!
In honor of Teddy's upcoming first birthday, I thought I would share some of my top Montessori friendly birthday gifts for 1-year-olds! If you're looking for other ideas, don't miss my Ultimate Montessori Toy List or my Amazon Shop.

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Introducing the Montessori Sandpaper Letters at Home

The Montessori language materials for 3 to 6 year olds are so amazing! They breaks down the process of learning to write and read so beautifully. And each material meets a child exactly where they are at that moment. As you may know, I've been sharing parts of Gus' journey with Montessori reading and writing and how we are support that journey at home. And, finally, we've reached the sandpaper letters! 
See other posts in this series: Pincer Grip - Preparing for Language Work Montessori Language Fundamentals to Remember What are Montessori Sound Games and Language Objects? How We Approach Montessori Sound Games + Some Tips Learning to Like Texture - 5 Ideas to Help with Sandpaper Letters Montessori Sandpaper Letters - To Buy or DIY?
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I actually introduced the sandpaper letters to Gus late last autumn right around the time he turned 3-years-old. It was my hope that we would work through them together through the school year and then…