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Shelf Help S2 Ep. 7 - A Year End Q&A

We've come to the end of 2021 and our last episode of Shelf Help until the new year. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy are answering listener's questions in this Q&A style episode. We cover a variety of topics from babyhood through elementary.  Show Notes...Children and Pets4 Reasons I Love the TopponcinoPreparing Your Baby Registry: Montessori-StyleToy Rotation in Our Montessori HomeBalancing Montessori Parenting and WorkWorking from Home with Kids - A Montessori ScheduleAn Intro to Grace and Courtesy 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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The Kavanaugh Report in Review 2021

What a year it's been! I can't believe we are already here at the end of December 2021. If you had asked me what 2021 was going to look like a year ago, I'm not sure I could have come up with this answer! We spent the whole first half of the year Montessori homeschooling, then a new baby, new schools, and all the adjustments that pandemic life has required. 

It certainly was a year of keeping-all-the-things together and not so much a year of creating new things in this space or any other! But, there was definitely a lot of growth, a lot of learning, and a lot of Montessori joy. Here's a little review of The Kavanaugh Report in 2021:  I wrote 104 new posts this year! We celebrated more than a year and a second season of Shelf Help Podcast! I published my second children's book - Shapes! We had visitors from 225 individual countries/territories/locations Popular PostsIn no particular order, some of the most popular posts written this year were:  Montessori Toddler: Favo…

Montessori Parenting - When Sibling Relationships are Tough

Some sibling relationships come easy and some come with a lot more challenges. As a Montessori parent, I think my role is to learn to be comfortable with these different relationships, accept they are on their own timeline while keeping everyone safe. Putting pressure on the kids to get along, to be friends, or otherwise want to be together will only lead to more conflict, and feelings of disrespect. We can't know exactly why the relationship feels difficult for them, but we can help support them in their feelings, keep everyone safe, and give it time without our adult desires interfering. 
In our house, Henry and Nora have gotten along immediately from the time Nora was born. They compliment each other in the most beautiful ways. Even 7-years-later, their positive relationship mostly comes pretty easy for them. As small children they never fought, hurt each other, or otherwise had any really difficult moments. Nora and Gus were more typical siblings, enjoying each other's comp…

Our Christmas Stockings 2021

It's hard for me to believe that the holidays are already here. We are well into the swing of our Advent traditions around here. We're trying to live in the moment, enjoy some family time, and get ready for Christmas all at once. With weird school schedules this year has felt different in that I haven't had nearly as much time to myself to wrap and finalize our Christmas gifts but I think I'm just about there. I figured I would share a look at our stockings (which will also help me make sure I have what I need!) Here's a look what will be in my Montessori children's Christmas stockings this year: Theodore (27-months-old)Rock Crayons Yellow Glasses Play Silk Playmobil 123 Worker Augustus (5-years-old)Knot Tying Kit Play Silk Dino Pen (local find no link) Lego Fire Truck Nora (7-years-old)American Girl Blind Bag (2x) Sparkle Pen (local find) Play Silk Henry (10-years-old)Play Silk Gem Pen (local find) Star Wars Socks  Marvel Doodles Book
I'll also add a few sweet treats to e…

Toddlers and Tiny Objects

One of Teddy's favorite things in the whole world right now is dice. Not any particular dice, just dice in general. Any game we want to play that has them, he is right there, wanting to try to roll the dice and carry them around. And, while dice are his favorite, they aren't the only little items that he loves to find. Lego, marbles, small pieces of lint, tiny scraps of paper, and any little material are all popular. And, having three older siblings, there is plenty of little thing opportunities around. Welcome to the sensitive period for small objects! 
So, what is the deal with toddlers and little objects? How do we allow for exploration but still keep them safe? And, is it a problem to let toddlers play with small objects? 
Sensitive Period for Small ObjectsAt around 18-months, toddlers enter the sensitive period for small objects which will last until around 3/4-years-old. During this time, they develop an intense love of tiny things. This sensitive period is actually a real…

3 Ways to Get Started with Montessori without Spending Any Money

Montessori has a reputation for being expensive and difficult to implement. I'm not going to say that those assumptions are not always true. Traditional Montessori materials, specifically, can be really expensive and difficult to learn to use. And, when you're coming from a traditional parenting or education background moving toward Montessori can feel particularly overwhelming. 
But, you don't need to do everything at once to get started with Montessori. You don't need traditional materials, you don't need to change every thing you own over night, you don't need to make big expensive changes. You can go slowly. You can make the changes that fit best into your family's cultural norms and what works for your particular child. Here are a few free ideas to get started with Montessori at home. 
ObserveObservation is at the heart of the Montessori method. Without observation we don't know which toys or materials to put into our homes. Without observation, we d…

Shelf Help S2 Ep. 6 - Development of the Hand

In her books, Dr. Montessori talks so much about the importance of hand development for children. Their hands are literally their instruments as they explore the world around them. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy talk about the development of the hand and some ways that we help a child develop their hand from birth on in preparation for writing and for life. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. Show Notes...DIY Color Matching Pegs for ToddlersBell RattleTactile MobilesDiscovery BasketsFirst PuzzlesCrayon RocksToddler Art IdeasThreading 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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Christmas Themed Art Trays

It's the Christmas season for us! For us that means that we engage in a lot of special traditions that help us celebrate and feel the warmth and love of this time of year. Typically, I don't do a lot of themed trays for my children but, on occasion, I do make some exceptions for holidays. It honestly depends on how much energy and creativity I feel like I have! It is in no way required and is honestly just a fun extra. 
I thought I would share our Christmas themed art trays this year. They are mostly simple, easy ideas to bring just a little holiday cheer into our day-to-day work options. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 
From top to bottom, left to right:  Pom-pom Tree: (sorry no source for this actual work) Here the kids can decorate the little tree over and over again with the pom-poms. Its a great little creative work while still providing some excellent fine motor work. It's been particularly popular with Teddy. Pin-Punched Trees: This is a simple pi…

Montessori Prepared Adults Wait

In Montessori, adults play an important role - that of the prepared adult. We are called prepared adults for many reasons and we have many roles to play. But, as parents, how can we become prepared? Often, it's simple little changes we can make in our behavior toward children that help us take on the role of the prepared adult. One of the easiest, and most important, things we can do as prepared adults is simply wait. 
Right now we are entering the holiday season, and my 2-year-old Teddy provided me with the perfect example of my own need to wait. We were outside trying to get back in from a school pickup and he stopped and looked at every single Christmas bulb hung along the path to our house. Slowly he even lowered himself to the ground to look at those near the bottom. That exploration required me to access some serious patience, and just wait for him to be done with this important work. Same when Gus recently got a new lego set for his fifth birthday. Waiting for him to figure …

Shelf Help S2 Ep. 5 - Supporting Your Children Through the Holidays

The holidays can be a difficult time for children with a lot of uncertainty, lack of routine, and lots of relatives. In this week's episode Nicole and Amy, talk about how to emotionally support your children through the holiday season. From opening gifts, to large family gatherings and using manners we address some Montessori strategies to deal with these common hurdles with small children.  Show Notes...Shelf Help Ep. 34 - Christmas Traditions...Montessori Style!Shelf Help Ep. 31 - Our Approaches toward SantaAn Advent Calendar Idea - A Book a Day 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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Math Fact Practice with Montessori Elementary Kids

There are so many reasons to love the Montessori materials and method. The hands on approach makes mathematical concepts accessible to even the smallest of children. All the different material options really give children the opportunity to practice and learn the concepts in a way that makes the most sense to them. But after age 6, during the second plane of development a shift begins to occur in children. They move from children in need of concrete materials to illuminate math concepts to more abstract learners. 

Much like traditional methods of teaching math, these abstract learners begin to rely less and less on physical materials to support their math work and more on their mental understanding of the concepts. One important step in making this leap is learning and memorizing math facts. Instead of needing to use a material (including their fingers) to remember that 7+3=10, they need to just quickly remember that the answer is 10. These little equations help them more quickly and e…

Shelf Help Season 2 Ep. 4 - Cleaning Up!

One of the challenges that many parents face is the clutter and mess that comes with having children. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy address the process of teaching your child to clean up and restore work in a Montessori environment. They share how this process evolves from babies and toddlers to preschoolers and elementary aged children and the importance of the prepared environment in this process. Show Notes...Siblings with RivalryHitting, Biting, Pinching -- Montessori Young ToddlerCleaning with Your Baby -- Montessori Baby Week 39The Powerful Unconscious Absorbent MindA Cycle of Activity 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 Small Shop Finds 2021

The holidays are almost here and I thought I would share some of the things I am drooling over this holiday season from small shops. I know there are so many more amazing shops that deserve to be on this list but here are a few of my favorite finds. Remember, this year in particular, it's important to shop early to ensure things are delivered in time for the holidays!

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. For the Home Sprout Kids Display Bookcase: We love our bookcase, it's the perfect size for the whole family. Montessori Mug: This is just hilarious and I love it.  Wooden Toy Refinishing Kit: Perfect for freshening up wooden materials! Wooden Tray with Handles: This is a gorgeous looking tray for Montessori work.  Sprout Kids Chowki Floor Table: I really want one of these for our playroom. Fabric Wall Decals: these are really beautiful in person and great for creating a lovely child-friendly space Babies Single Shape Mirror Puzzle Sights and Sounds Texture Cards: These h…

Books for Potty Learning

Potty learning can be such a fun (and sometimes frustrating) process for your child and for you. We are asking our child, although slowly, to change their routine around elimination. This can be a change that many welcome as they move to a new phase of craving independence. For some, it can be a little scary, frustrating, or maybe they don't even care. 
At just over 2-years-old, Teddy is pretty much finished with his potty learning journey. We are still working a bit on some areas but he is in undies full-time while awake and is very successful at this point. One thing that Teddy has really enjoyed during this process is reading about poop and using the toilet. Actually, I found this helpful with all of my children. So I thought I would share some good options for books about learning to use the potty. 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.
Going to the Potty (Mr. Rogers)* | Everyone Poops* | How Do You Poo? | Potty/Bacinica | Where Do You Poop?* | How Do You Know You…

RIE Stool - Ditching Chairs for Babies and Toddlers

For the past nine (almost 10 years) Montessori really has had my heart. But around the time Nora was born, seven-years-ago, I started also diving into the work of Magda Gerber. Magda is the founder of Resources for Infant Educarers, or RIE. Last spring I finally dove more seriously into the world of RIE and took the RIE foundations training course. In so many ways RIE and Montessori are really complementary. In some ways, they are even very similar. And, in others still, they are very different. 
One way that the RIE and Montessori approaches are different is with their choice of young children's seating. In a Montessori environment, babies and toddlers use small chairs for meals and play. For eating these chairs are called "weaning chairs" and are used at a small table from the time a baby can sit supported. In RIE small flat stool. Children use these stools on their own timetable when they are able to climb and sit completely independently. 

I definitely see advantages a…

Montessori Toddler: Transitioning To New Clothes

Let's just say that Teddy is a particular human. As far as flexible people go, he isn't on the list. Teddy likes his routine, his materials, his clothes...just so. And, honestly, that's not that unique for toddlers in general. Toddlers especially around age 2 are deep into the sensitive period for order. As Maria Montessori reminds us, "a child of this age notices a lack of order in the least details which escape the notice of adults and even older children" (Secret of Childhood.) This means that changes in things like the clothes they are wearing, the activities they are doing, the decor, or in the materials on the shelf are noticed. And sometimes those changes can be really upsetting. 
One change that has been really hard for Teddy this Autumn has been the change from his summer clothes to his fall and winter wardrobe. He didn't want new long sleeved shirts or pants. He wanted his same tank tops and shorts from the summer time. That wouldn't be a huge pr…

Our Family's Montessori Christmas Gift Lists 2021

It's hard to believe another holiday season is upon us again. Every year I enjoy putting together my kids' Christmas gift lists. It's really a good time to observe them, see what they are interested in and what they might be ready for during this coming year. It's one of the few times a year that I purchase new materials for our home so it's always really exciting.
IF YOU NEED MORE IDEAS DON'T MISS MY ULTIMATE MONTESSORI TOY LIST OR MY 2021 DEALS PAGE!
When considering these lists, please remember that these were curated based on my own children. Use them for inspiration but they are heavily influenced by what my children are into and interested in. And for my older second plane children, what they have asked for! 
Here's a look at our family's Montessori Christmas lists for 2021! 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Theodore (Toddler)Teddy is just over 2-years-old. Being our fourth baby, he is really hard for me to think of unique things …