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Showing posts from 2020

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.

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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.

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.

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?
This post contains affiliate links at no cost you. 

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…

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 JeggingsPrimary.com (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.
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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. 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 
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.

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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. 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.
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. 

This post contain affiliate links at no cost to you.
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.