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Showing posts from January, 2021

Getting Started with Montessori - Terms to Know

Montessori has changed my life. Montessori provides a wonderful anchor to how we parent and educate our children. But, Montessori can feel complicated, like entering a new world. There is a whole shift in the way we see children and childhood, how we respond to children, and how we prepare our homes. Montessori even seems to have a whole language of its own. 
I don't want this new language to be a barrier for anyone trying to become interested in Montessori. So, I've taken some of the most common phrases and concepts in Montessori and created a little cheat sheet just for you. Plus, I want to share some resources so you can learn more! Sign up below to receive a copy of the PDF sent directly to you. 

This list is by no means an exhaustive list of Montessori terms and phrases. However, I hope it gives you a greater understanding and introduction to this beautiful way of life. 
Respect and LoveChildren deserve the utmost respect. In Montessori environments, children are respected…

Montessori Toys - What is Self-Correcting?

There are many different things to look for when selecting toys for your Montessori home. We want to make sure toys fit the interests of our children, and meet their developmental needs. We often want simple toys made from natural materials. So many toys fit these qualities. However, one really important quality to consider is whether or not the material is self-correcting. 

Here is some more information about self-correction, control of error, and why it's so important, and some examples to consider! What does it mean for a toy to be self-correcting? 
A self-correcting toy is one that will give a child some immediate feedback about whether or not the material is being done correctly. In other words, something about the design of the material tells the child if they have done the work correctly or not. Adult interaction is not needed for a child to determine if they completed work correctly. A child can immediately see whether something is "right" or "wrong." In c…

Practical Life - Setting the Table

For so long practical life work with young babies and toddlers is individual. It's taking care of their own body. It's feeding themselves. They may help clean up around the house, but the expectation that it's super clean after has to stay pretty minimal. Basically, at first practical life isn't for the benefit of the family but the benefit of the child. Even so, it's super super important! 

Utensil tray from Willow and Pine TN
But, then, the preschool years hit and suddenly your little child is so much more capable! So happy to contribute to the family as a whole and so proud to be able to do it just so. That's exactly the phase that Gus is at right now. He is just becoming exceedingly capable at many practical life tasks and truly a help to the family. 

Setting the table is just one example of how he has been meaningfully contributing to our family through practical life lately. Step by step he is able to place everything around the table to prepare for a meal. …

Shelf Help Ep. 39 - Q&A Part 2

With Amy still on maternity leave we have another question and answer session! We talk about a variety of topics including the Montessori approach to chore charts, to baby routines, and baby gates. Nicole and Amy also have a long discussion about toddler independence, separation anxiety and what to do when toddler's say "no!" Show Notes...In the Kitchen from 12 to 18 MonthsThe Powerful Unconscious Absorbent Mind 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. 

2 Minute Montessori - Sticks into Shaker

Sometimes Montessori gets a reputation for needing to be expensive, time consuming or difficult to set up. But, not all Montessori activities have to be this way! One of my kids favorites has been this simple sticks into shaker activity! The simple beauty of this activity is that it allows for that all so important burst of concentration that we hope to see in our toddlers and even older babies! 

Nora started using this activity when she was just 11 months old. Gus and Teddy have been a little older, but still younger toddlers. Recently, this has become one of Teddy's favorite works. He is quick to grab it and sit placing sticks in and out over and over. For a very gross motor focused toddler, it's a big change for him from his typical choices. 

Putting this work together really does take two minutes! It's a small tray, some craft sticks (you could also use q-tips, cut straws, toothpicks, or anything similarly shaped and sized), and a spice jar. To present it, I simply showe…

Learning to Lose

We all know that learning to gracefully lose is a part of being an adult. Or at least, I hope it is. But, for children it an be a very difficult skill to learn. Losing a game, a race, or a challenge can be deeply disappointing, sparking anger and outrage in small children. For a time, these large reactions can be avoided if you skip games or ensure that your child wins. However, these tricks are short lived and guiding your child through a loss is a much better life skill. 

In our house we just had to upgrade to a second game cabinet we love games so much! Games are not something we avoid because losing is hard, but games are another amazing learning opportunity for our children. Here are a few tips on how to teach your children how to lose. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. Cooperative GamesEspecially for children under 6, stick to cooperative games. In these games, there isn't one winner or loser. Either the game is not about winning or losing at all or you'…

Shelf Help Ep. 38 - The Baby is Here! Let's Q&A.

Amy's baby has been born and she is officially on maternity leave. Today we have part 1 of a pre-recorded question and answer session where we answer a variety of Montessori questions submitted on our Instagrams. We talk about everything from Montessori with older kids, play spaces for 1-year-olds, and how to approach kids that aren't interested in independent work.  Show Notes...Baby Dorsch DetailsNicole's InstagramAmy's Instagram 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 Toys 15 to 16 Months

It's been a couple of months since I shared a  Montessori toy shelfie and some ideas of what Teddy is playing with here at home. Right now, Teddy has two play shelves in our home. There's the one featured in this post and a smaller shelf with a few materials in our homeschool classroom. Those in the classroom are rarely used and are just available for those times where he needs to be with us while we are having a focused work period with the older kids. This work period has mostly shifted to his nap time so he's not using them much. 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 
So, I chose to focus on the materials he uses daily and those that are most accessible to him. This shelf is located in our main playroom and he can choose to use this space whenever he would like. In addition to the shelf of toys, Gus also has materials in this space. There is also our Sprout Pikler Triangle, a ball run, and our large wooden stacker. 

1. Pom-Pom Push - This is one that Ted g…

Supporting Independent Sibling Play

Lately, my house has been abuzz with different small groups of children playing together. This has definitely been one of the side benefits of quarantine over the past 10 months. Without a lot (or any) places to go or people to see, if my kids want to play with other children they largely have to play with their siblings. This isn't always easy for small children, and especially siblings. I find that even Henry (9) and Nora (6) are more likely to be rude, mean, or rough with their siblings then they are with random friends. It makes sense, though! Siblings just have a different relationship. 

In a Montessori home, independent play is really a nice sign (but not the only one) that the environment is working for the children. We want to create opportunities for independence, for concentration, and for self discovery. This can absolutely happen while more than one child plays together. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to support independent sibling play. 
This post contains affiliat…

Shelf Help Ep. 37 - Being a Parenting Team (with Morgan Kavanaugh)

With Amy on maternity leave, Nicole welcomes her husband Morgan to Shelf Help. They discuss how they started using Montessori and his role within their home. He shares his favorite and least favorite parts of Montessori at home. We also discuss how to get on the same page with Montessori with your parenting partner and answer listener questions about dads and Montessori. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Show Notes...Getting Your Parenting Partner On Board with MontessoriThe Magic of the Topponcino7 Wonders - DuelAzulTokaido 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.