Skip to main content


Showing posts from March, 2021

Montessori Toddlers and Concentration

The opportunity to concentrate is so important for young children. From birth, children have the ability to deeply concentrate on their chosen activities. This power, when protected, grows with each passing moment and even young toddlers can focus and concentrate on a task for long periods. Maria Montessori was clear that this power of concentration leads to perseverance, inward satisfaction, and joy.

But what does this concentration look like for toddlers? And how can we tell if our young toddlers are concentrating? Well, the good news is we don't have to look for just one special thing. Concentration can look and feel many different ways.  MovementConcentration can look like movement! As adults we tend to think concentration is only stillness, and quiet. But, really watch a young toddler move! It's a lot of work to learn to move gracefully and efficiently in a body you are just learning to control and understand. Focus can and should come from movement. It can be loud, it can …

Our "Must- Haves" for Montessori Elementary

Sometimes I look around and wonder how I've gotten to this place. I have not one, but TWO, elementary children. A big one even! Henry just turned 10! T E N! Nora is already nearly 7. I honestly don't know where the time has gone. I thought they were just little tiny toddlers waddling around here a few moments ago. But, here we are. A big step into the elementary world. 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 
Honestly, it's so fascinating. My heart truly belongs with infants and toddlers, but the older my kids have gotten the more appreciation I have had for the second plane of development. As Maria Montessori said, talking about newly second plane children, "Before, he was interested in things (changing the water for flowers, caring for the little fish, et cetera). Now he is interested mainly in the how and the why...But the adult finds this being, newly born to the world, a bit annoying." (From Childhood to Adolescence) Suddenly they talk constantl…

1-Year-Old Montessori Toddler Bedroom

Teddy is growing up! At 18-months, he is in one of my absolute favorite ages right now. He is active and passionate. His independence grows by the day! But, even with all these changes his bedroom has stayed pretty much the same since he was a baby. That's the beauty of a Montessori space, while it grows and changes with our children the process is slow and intentional! I thought I would give a little tour of his bedroom at 1-year-old. 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  SleepTed doesn't do a whole lot in his room during the day beyond sleep and getting dressed. So the room itself is mostly focused on that. He sleeps in his Sprout Kids Floor Bed {use code "Kavanaugh" for 10% off at Sprout Kids.} I love that he can get in and out of bed on his own without a whole lot of fuss. We've added a blanket and pillow for him as a toddler, but stick with your comfort level around sleep. 
DressingIn addition to sleeping in his room, his bedroom is also where…

Shelf Help Ep. 46 - How We Approach Screen Time

Screen time can be a hot button issue for many parents. This week, Nicole and Amy approach screen time from a Montessori perspective. We discuss some Montessori principles that influence our choices to limit screen time with our families. We share how much screen time we allow and what television shows we show our children.  Show Notes...The Atlantic - Why Young Kids Learn Through MovementPenn State - Movement Builds a Child's BrainBBC - Why not all screen time is the same for childrenNPR - How The Science Of Learning Is Catching Up To Mr. RogersWon’t You Be My Neighbor?: The Neuroscience Behind Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood
 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. 

Our Easter Baskets 2021

I've had such a hard time with Easter this year! I don't quite know why but it's felt like such a long way off. Then, I looked at the calendar and it's only a couple weeks away. Cue a little bit of panic and a little bit of pulling my lists together. I anticipate that we will still mostly be at home this spring/summer so I'm thinking about what kinds of things would be helpful to make that the most fun. 

Here's a little look at our Easter Basket lists for this year. In addition to what's listed, I usually add some sidewalk chalk and bubbles to the basket along with some sweet treats. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Teddy (18-months) Little Wagon - We have no little outside pull toys, so I think this will be perfect for a busy summer in our garden Helmet - Ted is starting to ride toys, and I anticipate he will be on a bike by summer, so he needs some protection Gus (4-years) Geoboard - I think Gus will love this, and it's great finger wo…

Birding with Young Kids

At 18-months-old Teddy spends his days doing lots of different things - running, climbing, throwing. So so much movement. But, one of the things that immediately gets Teddy to be so still with attention are birds. We happen to have a pet bird, Harold. But beyond that the wild birds that enjoy our back yard and our neighborhood. If you would have asked me a few years ago about our wild birds, I would have told you we don't get many good ones because we live in an urban area. But, that is not true. A couple of years ago we started to get into amateur birding. 

Especially over the last year at home we really have been able to slow down, take note of the birds, and really enjoy their presence. But there are so many amazing ways to enjoy this simple gift of nature. I know I used this quote recently in another post but it rings true here too, Maria Montessori said, "There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life t…

Shelf Help Ep. 45 - When Grandparents and Friends Aren't Into Montessori

As the world slowly reopens, many of us are looking forward to seeing family and friends again. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy discuss how they approach family members and friends who may not be into or know about Montessori. How do we open up these parenting conversations in these cases? This episode includes a discussion on how we approach grandparents, cousins, screen time, and playdates.  Show Notes... Being a Parenting Team (with Morgan Kavanaugh)What is Sportscasting?Grace and Courtesy in a Montessori HomeNicole's InstagramAmy's InstagramShelf Help Podcast 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. 


Tiny Toddler Rain Boots - Some Options

As a Montessori family, we spend as much time as we can outside even with our babies and toddlers. In the words of Maria Montessori, "There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them, in a real forest." And for young children we want to give them the most real experience possible. We need to be outside. Even when it's cold. Even when it's raining. Even when it's hot. We need to make it a daily practice. 

Now, this time of year in Minnesota, it's kinda gross. There's snow and mud, wet and boggy grass, and just a lot of water. While I don't love shoes on toddlers, it's just too cold to have Teddy run around barefoot. So, I've been on the hunt for rain boots that would work for his tiny baby feet. We ended up with 2 different pairs that I wanted to review since I've gotten this question a lot lately on Instagram. 
This post contains affiliate links at no…

On Our Montessori Art Shelves

Artistic expression is a huge area of interest for most of my children right now. They can always be found drawing, coloring, or painting something. We had so many little scraps of paper around the house with must save drawings that recently we even moved to providing sketch books for the older 3. This way everything stays together and it doesn't create an overwhelming amount of clutter. 
At nearly 18-months-old, Teddy is just starting to show some interest in creating art. Mostly he's still just removing the work from the shelves, exploring the material, and abandoning it! HA! But, it's these early experiences that will eventually lead to more concrete creation. 
So, what's on our shelves? Here's a look at the few trays we have out! Remember that for the older kids, this is an addition to the open ended materials that you see here. 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 
Basket of Fabric: This is for Nora (6) and Gus (4). There are some sheets of felt …

A Shared Toddler and Older Child Art Area

Oh we love our art area! It's really just the eat in part of our kitchen but it is the hub of so much activity in our home. Over the year, it's been many things, but we've settled on an art area most often. While Teddy was a little baby, we had moved the art area to our main playroom, but as he has grown and needed more space in playroom, we moved it back to the kitchen.We've made a few changes since I've last shared the space so I wanted to give a quick tour again. 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 
My main goal with the space is to provide opportunities for Teddy to work in the space but also have art supplies available for the older kids to use. Basically, it's balancing the need for safety of the toddler and the need for exploration for everyone else. To do this, we use the height of the wall shelves to store more open ended materials. Everything that Teddy can't have is stored high. 

From Left to Right: Stabilo Woodies | Easter/Spring…

Shelf Help Ep. 44 - Food Struggles and Success

In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy talk about raising intuitive eaters and developing a healthy relationship to food. We talk about how we balance offering choice, providing structure, and trust when it comes to eating. We share some of the challenges our families have faced and some of the ways we are scaffolding our kids to success.  Show Notes...Losing Your Cool as a Montessori ParentAll Shelf Help EpisodesReal Easy Weekdays - Kids Eat in ColorKids Eat in Color IGNurturing Intuitive EatersNourish the Littles
 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. 

Best Selling Baby Gear vs Montessori

At nearly 18-months-old, my little baby Teddy isn't really a baby any more. It makes me more than a little sad, and sometimes I deal by looking at baby stuff online. Don't judge me. Baby stuff is so cute! The tiny little outfits and tiny perfect toys. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.
Well....some perfect toys. There is a lot of stuff out there for babies. Recently, I came across an Amazon generated list with the top best selling baby gear and activities. I had to take a look! It's the best selling stuff! 

I should have tempered my expectations a bit, because I was a little disappointed. Well, a lot disappointed. While this list is updated hourly, the top selling item was the Fisher-Price Deluxe Kick & Play Piano Gym & Maracas. This toy description boasts about its flexibility, its educational potential, and its ability to entertain. But, it really made me think about how different Montessori baby environments are from traditional toys. Yet, a bab…

What are the Montessori Great Lessons?

Sometime it can be easy to think of Montessori as a method of education prior to elementary school. It's far more common for people to write about Montessori under age 6 and far more common to find Montessori schools serving young children than elementary students! But, the truth is Montessori has an incredible elementary curriculum (and Montessori schools actually can go through high school.) 
The elementary curriculum is often referred to as "Cosmic Education." Maria Montessori understood that elementary aged (second plane of development) children had big ideas, big capacity for learning, and a big imagination. Therefore, we start with big ideas, big concepts, and a lot of imagination! Unlike in Children's House where everything is concrete learning, elementary students need a hook to bring them into the work, and this is done through the imagination. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

In her book, From Childhood to Adolescence, Maria Montessori s…

Getting Started with Montessori - Steps to Create Your Prepared Environment

If you are new to Montessori, it can feel super overwhelming making changes across your house all at once. Thankfully, it doesn't need to be an overnight, immediate change! Small changes over time to prepare your spaces can go a long way. A good Montessori prepare environment will be orderly, accessible to your child, and promote independence. The materials are curated to your child's developmental needs and interests. 

Other posts in this series:  Getting Started with Montessori - Terms to Know
Here are the 5 steps that I take when creating a prepared environment in my home!  ObservationIn Montessori the first step is always observation. We need to make changes to ourselves, our children's materials, and to our spaces based on what we are actually seeing. This requires us to put aside all our other work and just really focus on the space we have created. We want to think about how our children are able to move about the space, what challenges we are seeing, what burdens are c…

Our Simple Montessori Potty Learning Area

Sometimes Montessori spaces can feel a bit intimidating. Sometimes it feels like we need to go out and buy or make complicated or specialized set ups in order to engage in certain work with our children. And, potty learning environments are no different. You can see some great examples of little bathrooms made completely accessible to toddlers. They include just about everything they could need for pottying all in one organized, tiny, beautiful space. 
I can see the appeal! I would be nice to have everything just right there. To move seamlessly from standing diaper changes to pottying to independent toilet use. It is nice to have diapers and cleaning supplies all in one spot, and laundry! But, realistically, most homes just don't have the space for that. Ours doesn't. So we make do with a simple potty learning area, and provide access throughout our home to other things a potty learning child might need. 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.
Our potty learning ar…