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Showing posts from 2021

SH Ep. 51 - Is Montessori For Every Child? and other Listener Questions

This week, Nicole and Amy are tired from dealing with sleep regressions. So they play a quick game of Montessori true and false answering listener questions and assumptions. In this episode, they address whether Montessori is just for the rich, if it's right for every child, whether they want more babies, and more!  Show Notes...National Center for Montessori in the Public SectorBeing a Parenting Team (with Morgan Kavanaugh)Montessori Silliness and JoyGoing Out 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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Montessori Friendly Tips for Outdoor Toddler Exploration

I've mentioned this several times, but over the last few years we have made a much more conscious effort to get outside in all types of weather. Yes, that even means in Minnesota's long winters. But, in the winter there just isn't as much to explore here. The world is covered in ice and snow and pretty much that's it. But, now that Spring is really here, our world is far more exciting. From insects and flowers, to vegetable gardens and (gross) dog poop - even our immediate yard is a complete wonder for Teddy.  Being outside with an active young toddler can be a little hectic. There's so much to explore! There's so much you could taste! But, not everything is safe. And we can't prepare the outdoor environment in the same way we can prepare the indoors to remove all danger. So it really becomes a balancing act between a child's safety and their drive and need to explore the environment.  Montessori friendly tips for outdoor toddler explorationGet on your to…

Montessori Toddler Activity - Going for A Walk

We have a construction site close to our house this summer. The city is tearing up some streets and one very close to us happens to be on the schedule. But, they started several blocks away from where we live. Theodore knows about the construction and is pretty happy to say the least. A few days ago, we went outside to play. I assumed we would stay in our yard, but decided I would follow Teddy's lead. 
At 19-months, Teddy was determined to find the trucks at the construction site. I quietly followed him and we ended up walking many many blocks for over an hour. I never once picked him up. He didn't complain or whine. We had a genuinely wonderful time. 

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Maria Montessori never intended for children to be inside working at little tables from things on a shelf their entire day. No, she expected that. children would have access to the indoors and the outdoors and would be able to follow their own natural drive when it comes to bei…

Shelf Help Ep. 50 - Montessori and RIE®️ for Infants and Young Toddlers

RIE®️ is a respectful childcare method created by Magda Gerber. With it's emphasis on intentional caregiving and predictable environments RIE®️ is beautiful. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy discuss RIE®️ and how its principles are similar and different to Montessori for infants and toddlers. We share our experiences with RIE®️, which parts speak most to us, and which parts we find challenging. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. Show Notes...RIE.orgYour Self-Confident BabyObject Permanence BoxBox with Bins2 Minute Montessori - Sticks into ShakerRAD Children's FurnitureRISE ChildNicole'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. 
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Alternatives to Montessori Trinomial Cube

Every week, Gus' Montessori school sends us a few pictures of him working at school. Lately these pictures have included a picture of Gus working on the Montessori trinomial cube. If you aren't familiar, the trinomial cube is a material that mixes both sensorial and math impressions. In Children's House, it's mostly a sensorial work that gives the impression for mathematics later on. 
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The trinomial cube itself is made of different cubes in different colors and shapes that need to be placed back in a box in a very specific order. The trinomial cube comes after the binomial cube which is a smaller, simpler material.  What's amazing about both the binomial and trinomial cubes is that they represent algebraic equations and will be brought back into the child's life in late elementary school as they are being introduced to the specific mathematical concepts. It's a very cool way to prepare a child for abstract…

Color Exploration in the Preschool Years

Toddlers and preschoolers approach the world differently. Even though we tend to think of them as similar, they aren’t the same. Toddlers have an unconscious absorbent mind and walk through the world soaking up everything around them. Preschoolers have a conscious absorbent mind and are driven to manipulate and refine their understanding of their environment.

Gus is squarely in the preschool years now. He’s constantly challenging himself to refine, learn, and grow. When it comes to learning about colors, he no longer needs to know basics like “yellow” and “red” but has moved on to refining colors to things like “buttercup” and “rust.” He’s moving into a new relationship with colors seeing them as a spectrum with many shades.
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In order to support this exploration, I've made sure to have some opportunities in our environment for deeper exploration with colors. Since Gus does go to Montessori school, I want to be careful not to just …

Shelf Help Ep. 49 - Montessori Bedrooms!

Montessori bedrooms can look and feel a lot of different ways depending on a family's space. In this episode, Nicole and Amy talk about how they have used Montessori to create their children's sleeping spaces. They explore the qualities that are important to find in Montessori bedrooms. Finally, they address some of the challenges of creating a bedroom space including sharing rooms and what toys to have in the bedroom.  Show Notes...Shelf Help Episode 3 - Floor Beds and Art MuseumsBaby Proofing with a Montessori Floor BedThe Movement Area verses the Sleep Space  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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Activities to Support the Montessori Fourth Great Lesson

I've said this before but one of my favorite parts about homeschooling this year and having the kids home more has been incorporating the Great Lessons into our home life. Cosmic education is just the most amazing part of the Montessori method in the elementary years. Giving children the "big context" of why and how the universe came to be is literally what is missing from many (if not all) traditional elementary programs. Finally, truly bringing these lessons to life in our home and given me the confidence to continue this tradition long after life returns to normal (and likely everyone returns to in-school, in-person learning.)  The Montessori fourth great lesson is the history of writing. The lesson starts way back in ancient Egypt and tells the story of how the Phoenicians helped to influence the creation of written language which eventually led to the Roman alphabet and the letters we use (in our home) today. 
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I…

Montessori Activity Sewing Box for Kids

I can't pretend to be some amazing seamstress or something like that, but my kids are learning to sew. Sewing is such an amazing activity for a Montessori home. It is the perfect combination between art and practical life work. Plus it is really great for fine motor control. Depending on your child's age, there are so many awesome sewing activities for kids to undertake. 

In our home, Nora and Gus are at the point where they hand sew fairly independently, creating projects from their minds or from some simple examples. This is made possible by our sewing box. Today, I thought I would share what's inside our sewing box to make that possible. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Our Sewing BoxOur box is from a brand called Goki. I can't find a source for it in the U.S. anymore but I do see that it's available in Europe. But, honestly, the exact box isn't super important. Any organized box or container is completely fine. Make sure the box isn'…

Shelf Help Ep. 48 - Screen Time Q&A

This week we return to the topic of screen time and answer some listener questions about how we approach certain screen time scenarios. Questions included how we approach sports, restaurants and traveling. Again, we stress that every family will make decisions that feel right for their own individual families and children. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Show Notes...Shelf Help Ep. 8 - From the ABCs to SwearingShelf Help Ep. 46 - How We Approach Screen TimeA practical life opportunity for all ages: grocery shoppingHenry and Mudge Series 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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Sewing at 4-years-old + How We Got Here

Sewing is having a moment in our house right now! All of a sudden, everywhere I look is little hand sewn projects. We have a few new pillows around here, lots of fabric with people's names sewn onto them, and even some doll clothes. It's so interesting watching all of this as a person that really can't sew. I can hand stitch a tiny bit, but beyond that I'm completely clueless. 

And while Nora has always loved sewing projects, it's really Gus that is driving the new interest in sewing these days! At 4-years-old, he is patient and dedicated to his work. He can plan a project and see it through, even over the course of a couple days. It's been really fun to watch this blossom in him and I can't help what great work it is for his hands as he starts to explode into writing. 

This work definitely hasn't come out of nowhere! He has been working with sewing type activities for many years. Starting with bead lacing, and move through a variety of activities as he g…

Montessori Friendly Books that Celebrate Rain

I feel like Ive had a very complicated relationship to weather my entire life. I feel like I've been told either directly or indirectly that unless it's sunny and warm, you don't go play outside. Rainy days are for inside play.  We sung "rain, rain go away!" Cold weather is a no. 
It's taken a long time to try and unlearn these views and to see all weather as valuable and fun. I've been working hard at instilling those same values with my kids from the start. We don't have bad weather, we have different weather. And each of those weathers have different ways to prepare for being outside. 
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Who Likes Rain?  | Come On, Rain! | Worm Weather | Rain Feet | Red Rubber Boot Day | In the Rain
As we move into Spring and our rainy seasons here in Minnesota, I wanted to share some Montessori friendly books that celebrate rain in all its beautiful forms. These books are not limited to Spring rains, but rain in all …

Montessori Toddler Play Shelves 16 to 17-months

At 16 to 17 months, Teddy was still not super into using the materials on his shelves. He would spend a few minutes, a few times a day choosing a few things off of his shelves. While absolutely every toddler is different, I do think it is interesting to see what they enjoy. Heres a quick look at the toys that were on Teddy's play shelves from 16-months to 17-ish months. 

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From left to right, top to bottom:  Silicone Rainbow* - a huge hit, this has been on the shelves for many months Haba Pegging Toy - Gus liked this a lot more, but it will make another appearance soon Lakeshore Learning Tower* (similar) - this exact toy is retired, but it's been a good challenge for TeddyHorizontal Ring Slide - too challenging for Teddy and always ends in a screaming fit Balls on Pegs* - Teddy's favorite toyPlanToys Stacking Tree* - a fun challenge, he stacks randomly at this point Monti Kids Peg Drop* (similar) - Teddy's second favorit…

Shelf Help Ep.47 - Montessori Baby Mobiles!

Tiny babies can interact with their environment in so many interesting ways. The Montessori mobiles offer a variety of interesting experiences for babies to explore in developmentally appropriate ways. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy talk about their experiences with Montessori mobiles. We address a variety of mobiles, when to introduce them, and how we use them. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. Show Notes...
The Fourth TrimesterMontessori Infant Mobiles - Visual SeriesMontessori Baby Week 6 - First Mobiles (Nicole's DIY)The Munari Mobile (Amy's DIY)Montessori Baby Week 8 - The Octahedron MobileThe Gobbi Mobile -- Montessori Baby Week 11Montessori Baby Week 13 -- The Dancers MobileMontessori-inspired butterflies mobileDIY Whales MobilesMontessori Baby Tactile MobilesBell on Ribbon MobilePuzzle BallOballHABA Clutching ToysSkwish ToyDIY Rainbow Ribbon Tactile MobileWooden Chimes MobileBatting -- Montessori Baby Week 14 (Teddy with Primary Disks)Prim…

Two Montessori Toddlers at 18-Months

I was just thinking the other day about how incredibly lucky I am to have been able to witness four little humans walk through this world. At one point, a doctor told me I might never have another child and just the amazing people who have been born since then really just blow me away. But, having a few kids has really opened my eyes to how different they all are from each other, even with the exact same parents, the exact same parenting approach, environment and more. 
I thought it would be fun to do a little comparison between Gus and Teddy at 18-months just to illustrate this point. Nearly everything has been the same for these two, and yet, they are completely different little people.  Play Going through pictures, I noticed some of the same things on their shelves, but not a ton. The things Gus loved, are not the same as the things Teddy is frequently using right now. But, even looking a bit deeper, how they play is very different. Gus was often sitting still and working at the table…

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 …