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Showing posts from 2021

Montessori Inspired Prayer Space for Children

One of the ways that we help our children learn to connect with our faith is our family's Montessori inspired prayer area. This is a small area in our home where the children have complete control over the area is created and put together. 
The idea for our prayer area came from Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a Montessori religious education program. In CGS, a prayer table is used as a place to gather and pray while children are in the atrium (the prepared religious environment.) The prayer table is where we gather to pray, to sing, to celebrate, and so much more. The children are responsible for setting up this area, and for preparing it for each religious season. I wanted my children to have the same control and autonomy at home. I wanted to give them a visual reminder of prayer, and also a place where they could physically control the space to glorify the Lord. 

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Our prayer area is very simple! It is just located on a shelf i…

Natural Playscape and Playground Inspiration

This summer there’s a road that’s under construction near our house. Since workers and worker trucks are by far Teddy’s favorite thing in the world, we have spent a lot of time walking up to watch the construction. But on the walk we pass a local elementary school. The school has a small rain garden made from natural materials and native plants.

I’m not sure this small garden is supposed to be a play area, but it’s quickly become one of Teddy’s favorite spots to visit. To climb on the rocks, to kick the gravel, or walk over stumps has become an almost daily habit. It has been thinking about adding a more natural playscape to our own yard for all my children to enjoy.
Love this outdoor easel Lots of fun ideas in this post I really like how the plants are separated in this garden
There are so many amazing benefits to active play and I think those just multiply when natural elements are incorporated. Nature offers the perfect balance between risky play and enriching sensory experience. As Ang…

Religion and Our Montessori Home

I have often been asked how to approach religion in our Montessori home. For those of you that don't know, we are practicing Roman Catholics. Our faith in a big part of our every day existence and our Montessori lives. Maria Montessori was also Catholic and has hugely informed our approach toward religious education. And honestly, it's not easily explained because our religious education is happening every second of the day as we live our lives. It is giving our children the opportunity to fully participate, to the best of their abilities, in the meaningful practice of our faith. 
As always, Maria explains the approach much more eloquently than I could. In her book, The Child in the Church she says, "People are constantly asking me about this question of religious instruction - whether it should be long or short, determined by the teacher, or left the choice of the children, and so on. They nearly always speak of it as if it were a special school 'subject.' My answ…

Outdoor Montessori Activity and Work Shelf

We don’t get a very long summer season here in Minnesota. So when it’s nice we take full advantage of being outside while we can. This includes making sure we have some Montessori work outside to feed our children’s need for work at any time.
My kids are always welcome to bring their materials out to our deck to work from inside. During the summer we treat the deck as a whole new room in our house. But, it is nice to have a few things dedicated for outdoor use. 

Our outdoor Montessori activities shelf includes (from top to bottom):
1. Flower arranging materials. This is just a variety of cases, a pair of scissors, and a funnel. I organize on a cheap wooden tray I found at a thrift store.
2. Small watering can. This is perfect for watering our plants and filling up our bird baths.
3. A tray of art materials. Right now I have some dollar store cups (to use with paint) and a small container of color pencils. We’ve struggled to find a way to keep the paint dry and safe outside, so we do keep t…

Montessori at 7-Years-Old

Somehow my tiny baby Nora is turning 7-years-old today. The years go so quickly, don't they? She is now solidly a second plane child moving through the world with increasing amounts of independence. Nora just finished her first year of lower elementary in a public Montessori school. She handled the year with so much grace and flexibility and I cannot wait to see her blossom in the coming year. I thought I would share a few of her favorite things to give a glimpse of Montessori life at 7. 

Just a friendly reminder that these are unique to Nora. By the time a child is into the second plane of development, they generally have their own unique interests, skills, hobbies, and challenges. While I can share our journey with Montessori, I can in no way speak for every child's experiences. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Montessori Materials Nora's absolute favorite everything is math. She would spend all day working out math problems if she could and quickly w…

Montessori Toddler: Favorite Toys and Activities 18 to 20 months

I've been putting off this post for a little while because I felt a little disappointed that I didn't have more to share. See, Teddy just isn't that into materials, especially those on the shelf. He tends to return to a couple of favorites over and over again and ignore all other attempts at shelf work. But, really that's my own adult feelings getting in the way of Teddy's own interests, and developmental path. 
It's also me subconsciously valuing fine motor skills and stillness as more important than gross motor play and movement. I working hard not to do that, and want to normalize that all toddlers are different. All children have different interests and that concentration doesn't have to mean sitting still for long stretches of time. 
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With all that said, here are some of Teddy's favorites over the last couple of months. Favorite Montessori Toys 18 to 20 MonthsI'm listing the toys that have been o…

Shelf Help Ep. 56 - Our Favorite Chapter Books for Kids

This week's episode is our first in our new mini summer series where we are diving into smaller topics. Today's episode is all about reading with older children, specifically reading chapter books. Nicole and Amy share some of their favorite chapter book recommendations and more about why they still choose to read aloud even to their older children. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Show Notes...The Ramona CollectionThe Chronicles of NarniaThe Tale of Tiptoes of LightlyBig-Stamp Two-Toes the Barefoot Giant: Spring Tales of Tiptoes LightlyThe Way of the GnomeThe Milly-Molly-Mandy StorybookThe Children of Noisy VillageAnna HibiscusThe Magic TreehouseNate the GreatBetsy-TacyWellie WishersTanglewood Animal ParkLittle People, Big DreamsCampActThe PenderwicksWho Is/Who Was/What Is SeriesCobble Street CousinsPippi LongstockingEmilCharlotte's WebThe LittlesThe Secret Door Thanks for joining me for today's podcast! If you enjoyed this episode, please subscrib…

Montessori Toddler Activity: A Tiny Watering Can

Becoming a Montessori parent doesn't have to mean making big or expensive changes to your home or your life. Sometimes just simple changes, tiny ways to increase independence and accessibility in your home. These tiny changes can make such a difference in our toddler's ability to move successfully in the world. 
Lately for us, it's a simple tiny watering can that is making all the difference. Teddy is in love with it lately. Filling it up, dumping it out, attempting to water both our house plants and outdoor flowers. The old saying that toddlers plus water equal fun really is true. Any access to water, especially purposeful access is such a great activity for toddlers. 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. Reasons to Get Your Toddler A Tiny Watering CanWhile any watering can could have the benefits of a toddler having access to water, I love tiny watering cans for a few reasons. One, toddlers are always going to want to fill a watering can all the way to the …

Our Outdoor Summer Water Toys

Minnesota is experiencing a very warm start to summer. The last week has been in the upper 90s with no end in sight. The kids are hot, I'm hot, and we're all left wondering where the end of Spring went. But, after a long winter, the warm weather is always a welcomed change for our family. 
This summer, we're going to be keeping a fairly low profile at home again. We have some plans for travel but for the most part we are going to be enjoying things close to home. In order to prepare we've been pulling some of our pool gear out of storage and ready to play this summer. 

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Like any material we add to our Montessori home, I want our outdoor toys to be: Simple and child led - I don't want anything too flashy or complicated. Basically, good old fashioned, simple fun. SafeAppropriate for their interests and skill levels - this is a bit tricky with so many ages. But, for example, if Teddy wanted to play outside I would offer…

Shelf Help Ep. 55 - Montessori Parenting Highlights

Montessori parenting is so full of joy and wonder. In this week's episode, Amy and Nicole are sharing some of their personal highlights and "ah-ha" moments of bringing Montessori into their homes. We hope this helps you take some time to reflect on the ways that Montessori has brought joy into your parenting. Show Notes...Amy's Tik TokLarge Bead FrameTopponcino Co.The Magic of the TopponcinoOur Children's Montessori KitchenMontessori Home Tour: The KitchenMontessori Toddler Makes Cinnamon Rolls 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. 


The Power of A Montessori Presentation

The other day I was walking through our playroom and I noticed something unusual, a glass vase filled with dirt and a leaf stuck into it. I knew immediately this was the work of Gus. I made a mental note. A couple days went by and another one of these dirt filled vases showed up on our deck this time with a flower stuck in it. Again, I made a mental note. The third time I found a little vase, it had water and a flower but also the funnel. 
And, I knew it was time for another presentation on flower arranging. Something was lost in translation. As Montessori parents we often rely on the power of modeling for young children and expect that they will pick up how to do something by simply watching. While modeling is super important, we have another tool in our kit - the Montessori presentation. 
What is a Montessori Presentation? A presentation is basically the act of giving a lesson to a child. For Montessori work in a classroom there is generally a specific way that materials are presented…

Montessori Elementary Activity: Tying Your Shoes

At nearly 7-years-old, there aren't a ton of Montessori activities on our shelves anymore for Nora. She has been back in a Montessori classroom for a few months, and does most of her academic learning there. At home, mostly open ended toys and art supplies fill our shelves. But, recently, I added a more traditional Montessori activity to her shelves - a bow tying frame - because it's time for Nora to learn to tie her shoes! 

Like any Montessori practical life activity, I want to keep a few things in mind as we are introducing a new work. One, I want to isolate the concept as much as possible as I first introduce it. I want to make sure the tying is the only thing we are focusing on as much as possible. Two, I want to make this as low stress as possible, I don't want to pressure, shame or force my child into tying shoes before they are ready. I personally let them give me some indication that they are interested in tie shoes before I actually go out and buy them. 
For both No…

Shelf Help Ep. 54 - Safety in the Montessori Home

As Montessori parents we need to balance our child's freedom of movement with safety. We always want to make sure our children are safe and able to explore their environments. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy offer tips on how to balance safety, our own expectations, and our Montessori environment, particularly with babies and toddlers. We dive into sleep spaces, multiple age spaces, and adult spaces. 
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Show Notes...An Emotional Menagerie: Feelings from A to ZThe Writing RevolutionMcHomeschool InstagramA Moving Child Is a Learning Child: How the Body Teaches the Brain to ThinkBalanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable ChildrenSmart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All in Your HeadThriving Littles InstagramThe 1946 London LecturesBaby Proofing with a Montessori Floor BedPreparing a Montessori Baby Space When You Have Multiple KidsIKEA Baskets
Thanks for joining me for today'…

Shelf Help Ep. 53 - An Intro to Grace and Courtesy

In a Montessori environment manners are approached differently than in many traditional spaces. In Montessori grace and courtesy lessons are used to give children the keys to unspoken social rules. In this week's episode we address how to give grace and courtesy lessons, what to do when challenges arise, and how to engage older children in these important lessons. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Show Notes...Montessori and Waiting - 2 Solutions We Use at HomeGrace and Courtesy in a Montessori HomePractical Life for the Winter -- Toddler Nose BlowingThe Deep Well of Time 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. 

Shelf Help. Ep. 52 - Montessori Terms You Should Know

In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy talk about ten Montessori terms you should know when using Montessori at home. These Montessori fundamentals are important to understanding how children learn and develop. Nicole and Amy give examples of how to apply these terms in your Montessori home and how they influence Montessori parents. Show Notes...Sensitive Periods from Birth to 6 - A Chart and GuideTendencies of HumansThe Human TendenciesMontessori Planes of Development -- First Plane 0-3Montessori Planes of Development -- First Plane 3-6Montessori Planes of Development -- Second Plane 6-12Parenting in the Third PlaneGrace and Courtesy in a Montessori HomeDeveloping the Senses - TasteDeveloping the Senses - VisualDeveloping the Senses - TouchDeveloping the Senses - HearingShelf Help Ep. 32 - The Beauty of Montessori Math 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 intere…

Adding a Montessori Chowki to Our Outdoor Space

Last weekend for the first time in way over a year, I went to IKEA by myself to just look around. It was really a slice of normal that I needed. While I was there I saw a tray that I have been contemplating online for awhile because it looked like it was going to be the perfect chowki! 

A chowki is a small table or stool that can be used for a child's work. Dr. Montessori first saw them used while she was living in India and incorporated the concept into her schools. A chowki provides a distinct work space for the child slightly above the ground. Children can work at them on their knees or while sitting, depending on their own comfort and their height. 
My kids love working at a chowki and often choose a chowki at school or other Montessori spaces. I've been wanting to add one to our home for a long time, so I decided to buy this IKEA tray to try outdoors as a chowki. It is perfect. Over the last week, all of my kids have constantly pulled it out to use it. It gives the the oppo…