Articles from 2022

September 26, 2022

Open Ended Playthings at 7-Months-Old

Open Ended Playthings at 7-Months-Old
As you may know in the Spring of 2021, I completed the RIE®️ foundations training. In this training I did a deep dive into the teachings of Magda Gerber and her approach toward infants (birth to 3.) While the RIE®️ approach is similar in many ways to Montessori's approach toward infants and toddlers, there are some differences. One difference that I noticed was in the materials. 
September 22, 2022

7 Things that Are Normal In Our Montessori Home

7 Things that Are Normal In Our Montessori Home
We've been a Montessori family for so long now that so many of the Montessori parenting decisions we make on a day-to-day basis feel really normal to us now. That wasn't always the case. When Henry, now 11, was a toddler, a lot of this felt hard, different, or impossible. Looking back it's fun to see how much of our life has changed and how many little things are just regular life for us now. 
September 21, 2022

Approaching Weaning with Our Montessori Baby

Approaching Weaning with Our Montessori Baby
At seven-months-old Penelope has started her weaning journey. To be clear, weaning in this context means starting food, not stopping nursing or breastfeeding. The majority of her nutrition comes from breastmilk and will for sometime. But, she is eating more and more solid food throughout the day. I wanted to share a little about how that looks for us because it is a little deviation from traditional Montessori sources. 
September 19, 2022

Transitioning to the Montessori Floor Bed at Night

Transitioning to the Montessori Floor Bed at Night
Right off the top I want to just say that sleep and sleep environments are highly personal. I am just sharing what we have done with Penelope. I am not providing specific medical or sleep advice. Every family needs to make decisions around sleep that feel right for them and their unique child. Please do not think that I am judging you or your family if your sleep arrangements look differently than mine. 
September 15, 2022

Montessori Home: Natural Playscape Phase 1

Montessori Home: Natural Playscape Phase 1
Over the last couple of years I’ve become quiet obsessed with natural playscapes and playgrounds. A natural playscape is a play area that seeks to use elements of the natural world to invite play for the child. Instead of having a large swing set to climb, use a large tree limb or rock formation, for example. A slide might be added to a naturally occurring hill. And water is captured and reused for play.
September 12, 2022

Montessori Toddler: Try a Lock Box

Montessori Toddler: Try a Lock Box
Admittedly this summer I haven’t been the best about rotating Teddy’s materials. He’s not the most interested shelf worker and we all alternated between being sick and being outside. But, one thing that stayed in use all summer long with him, was his lock box.
September 09, 2022

Montessori Elementary: Lately at 11

Montessori Elementary: Lately at 11
When imagining myself with a large family, I never really thought about all the unique stages that we would have going on all at once. So many individuals and so many amazing stages. Here, I wanted to continue my lately posts on my bigger kids by sharing a little about life in our Montessori home at 11-years-old. 
September 06, 2022

Natural Gross Motor Development and Rolling

Natural Gross Motor Development and Rolling
The last few weeks with Penelope have been what I can only describe as an explosion of movement around here. She has been able to roll and scoot for awhile, but something consciously clicked the past week where she seems to understand that movement means getting to where she wants to go. 
September 01, 2022

Montessori Friendly Books for Back to School

Montessori Friendly Books for Back to School
I know we start later in the year than a lot of families around the United States but my kids finally go back to their respective Montessori schools next week. It's going to be a really interesting and exciting year, I think! But, as we prepare for the new year ahead I've taken out our collection of Montessori friendly back to school books. 
August 31, 2022

Montessori Siblings: Balancing One-on-One Time

Montessori Siblings: Balancing One-on-One Time
With five kids it can definitely be hard to balance everyone and their individual needs. It can be easy for any one child to get lost in the mix and not really get the one-on-one attention that children need and deserve. One of the reasons I am grateful for Montessori, specifically Montessori parenting, that Montessori is designed for multi-age environments. It is foundational to the method for multiple ages to be together learning and working along side each other. 
August 19, 2022

Balancing Natural Gross Motor Development and Starting Solids

Balancing Natural Gross Motor Development and Starting Solids
Six years ago when I was pregnant with Gus, we decided that we would take a more natural approach to gross motor development moving forward. The ideas come from Magda Gerber and Emmi Pikler and super basically mean, allowing a child to develop their gross motor skills at their own pace without adult "help" or intervention. In strict terms this means avoiding tummy time, any device that places a child in a position they cannot achieve on their own, and no propping of babies. As we learned in my RIE training, and in my personal experience, this leads to safer, confident, and capable babies, toddlers, and children. 
August 16, 2022

Montessori Elementary: Lately at 8

Montessori Elementary: Lately at 8
I feel like I say this all the time, but wow, time moves fast when you're a parent. Nora recently turned eight-years-old and is an actual full blown big kid now. After I shared a little "lately" update of Gus at 5 , I decided I would do the same thing for my other bigger kids.
August 15, 2022

A 3-Year-Old Birthday Gift List

A 3-Year-Old Birthday Gift List
I can't believe it, my tiny baby Teddy is less than a month away from being three-years-old! Time really does fly by in the blink of an eye, especially with your fourth baby. Teddy is such a wonderful little passionate toddler, both serious and funny. He is extremely confident and just says what he wants and needs. He will let you know if he likes something or not by saying he "loves it" or "hates it." There's no in between for him. 
August 12, 2022

3 Options for Baby Safe Books

3 Options for Baby Safe Books
I love to read to my babies. Reading to Penelope has been an important part of our daily routine. Although being a fifth baby, often she is listening to books meant for one of her older siblings. But, I do try to make time to read books meant for babies. Either way,  I hope we are instilling a love of reading with her early and that those feelings will stick with her for life.
August 11, 2022

On Our Montessori Art Shelves - Making Beads

On Our Montessori Art Shelves - Making Beads
Typically, my older kids are past the point of many structured art trays. They just have access to a lot of different art materials and sort of go with the flow. However, with all my big kids home from school this summer, I'm trying to add a couple more structured works that allow them to return to work more than once. The biggest hit from this art work, has been making beads from FIMO clay . 
August 09, 2022

Montessori Home: Cabinet Shelving

Montessori Home: Cabinet Shelving
One of the more challenging parts of preparing a Montessori home is creating spaces that work for all your children all at once. Preparing an environment that meets the needs of a baby, toddler and an elementary aged kid can feel really hard. While Montessori schools are also mixed age, the children in the prepared environment are all of the same general developmental stage. This isn't always true at home, and requires some balancing on our part to make it all work. 
August 08, 2022

Montessori Parenting: Care Routines with Infants

Montessori Parenting: Care Routines with Infants
I can't believe that as I'm writing this Penelope is a whole 6-months-old. It feels like just yesterday that she was a tiny baby newborn snuggled up in my arms. Now, she's rolling around, scooting on her back and just interested in everything in her world.  
August 03, 2022

Montessori Child: Lately at 5

Montessori Child: Lately at 5
Last night we were having our annual block party in our neighborhood and among the fun and games, Gus came running up to me and said, "Look Mom! I have a loose tooth!" And sure enough one of his little baby teeth was wiggling back and forth with ease. I was shook. I (most definitely) teared up. In my mind, we are nowhere near this phase with him. I don't know if it's a side effect of the pandemic, or what, but in my mind's eye he is still like 3-years-old. 
August 02, 2022

Montessori Baby - Favorite Toys at 5 Months

Montessori Baby - Favorite Toys at 5 Months
Penelope is such a love of a baby. She is so happy, calm, and observant. I don't think it's super productive to compare babies but she is a lot like Gus was. Very super chill and not very movement motivated. While she can roll to her belly and back to her back, and scoot on her back, she is very content to just sit still and just watch all the action around her. 
July 29, 2022

Montessori Considerations for Renovations Part 1

Montessori Considerations for Renovations Part 1
Just about 10 years ago, Morgan and I bought our house. At the time, we had one small toddler and a couple little dogs. Since that time, we've welcome four more children into our family and so many changes have taken place. When we bought the house, we knew that it needed a fair amount of updating and we've slowly worked over the last decade to make the house really work for our style and needs.
July 26, 2022

Four For Summer: Favorites to Wear, Play, Read, and Learn

Four For Summer: Favorites to Wear, Play, Read, and Learn
The summer season is short and oh so sweet here. The amazing thing about where we live is that we really get four full seasons. It's as hot in the summer (into the 90-100s F frequently) as it is cold in the winter (with weeks below 0.) This time of year we are enjoying popsicles, sunshine, water, and being outside as much as possible. In celebration of my personal favorite season, here are a few favorites for this wonderful season for both toddlers and preschoolers. 
July 25, 2022

Shelf Help S2 Ep 24 - Montessori Parenting When Everyone is Sick

Shelf Help S2 Ep 24 - Montessori Parenting When Everyone is Sick
Amy and Nicole have been dealing with sick children the last few weeks. In this week's episode, we talk about how we approach sick children as Montessori parents. This conversation includes how we relax our parenting expectations, how we prepare our child's environment, and how we give medication when children struggle to take it. 
July 22, 2022

Montessori Parenting: A Few Sick Baby Things

Montessori Parenting: A Few Sick Baby Things
It's been a long couple of weeks here in the Kavanaugh house. We've had our second round of Covid for a couple of kids which was no fun. But then Penelope also got sick. And as hard as it is to have big kids that are sick, it's even harder to have a sick baby. Well, one trip to the emergency room for a fever and cruddy breathing later and we found out that she has a summertime case of RSV. Ugh. The RSV was tough enough but it led to a double ear infection that is making for long days and even longer nights. 
July 19, 2022

Montessori Toddler - Obsessed with Clive and Rosa

Montessori Toddler - Obsessed with Clive and Rosa
At nearly 3-years-old (how!?) reading books is a big part of my day with Theodore. Especially since Penelope was born, reading while I nurse has become a big part of our routine. Teddy is still mostly into cars, trucks, and all things that go and many of the books he chooses are related to that theme. But lately, something new is starting to take over and I just had to share - the Clive and Rosa books. 
July 18, 2022

Shelf Help S2 Ep 23 - Being the Child's Advocate in Social Spaces

Shelf Help S2 Ep 23 - Being the Child's Advocate in Social Spaces
It can be a challenge to navigate social spaces with children. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy talk about all the ways that they advocate for this children in public. Whether the interaction is with between two children, between our children and another adult, or even ourselves and another child we talk about some of the Montessori inspired strategies we use to make sure everyone is treated with respect. 
July 15, 2022

Montessori Babies and the Outdoors - The First Six Months

Montessori Babies and the Outdoors - The First Six Months
There is so much beauty and fun in nature for children. Nature is perfectly perfect for all sorts of sensory exploration and learning. In so many ways, the outdoors provide the most perfect prepared environment. But, it can be easy to think this only applies to older children - those children that can walk around and explore on their own. This doesn't have to be true. Babies - even newborns - can be brought outside to enjoy the beauty and wonder that is nature. 
July 14, 2022

Practical Life Hack - Toddler Measuring Made Easy

Practical Life Hack - Toddler Measuring Made Easy
Over the last several months, Teddy has finally becoming more and more interested in participating in practical life activities around the house. I know it doesn't really matter and comparing children is a useless practice, but he has been a little slower to show interest than Gus or Nora were. So, it's been fun to finally have him join in to some of our favorite practical activities. But, the thing about Teddy is that once he gets started in a particular practical life work that he enjoys, he has a lot of difficulty stopping. 
July 02, 2022

How Long Do We Use Montessori Baby Mobiles?

How Long Do We Use Montessori Baby Mobiles?
As Penelope gets older, the more she wants to move and explore the world around her. A couple of weeks ago she started rolling, she can scoot backwards, and her grasping skills improve by the day. It is clear as I observe her that her newborn days are far behind her. She is moving forward and on from life as she knew it in here pursuit of developing herself. 
June 28, 2022

Montessori Home: Summer Snack Boxes

Montessori Home: Summer Snack Boxes
Summer is upon us here and it is in full swing. And with it the size of my children's stomach has somehow doubled - just kidding! But, seriously, home for the summer somehow means that my children want nothing to do with meals and just want to eat 1,000 snacks all day long. Well, that sounds great, except for our actual food supplies and budget! So, this summer we are trying something new here to give our children access to the snacks but also limit complete free range snacking. 
June 24, 2022

Two Montessori Baby Mobiles to Love at 4-Months-Old

Two Montessori Baby Mobiles to Love at 4-Months-Old
I have a thing for Montessori baby mobiles! I think they are just a great way to provide opportunities for concentration, stimulation, and movement from babies before they can do a whole lot with other toys. For the four children I have used them here at home with, the exact mobiles that have been interesting to my kids has changed each time. It really speaks to how much of an individual each baby is right from birth.
June 23, 2022

3 Tips for Observing Toddlers in Your Montessori Home

3 Tips for Observing Toddlers in Your Montessori Home
Observation is one of our most powerful tools as a Montessori parent. It is through observation that we learn what our children need, where their interests lie, and how well our environments are meeting their needs. Observation answers so many of the questions we have as parents and caregivers. One of my favorite things to ask myself lately has been, "but, why?" This question truly can only be answered through observation.
June 21, 2022

Montessori Play Shelves at 5-Years-Old

Montessori Play Shelves at 5-Years-Old
It's been a little while since I've shared the materials on Gus' play shelves here in our Montessori home. As a reminder, Gus is 5.5-years-old and attends a Montessori school. So, while you won't find many Montessori materials here on our shelves, you will things that support his interests, and build upon the skills he may be working on at school. 
June 20, 2022

Shelf Help S2 Ep 22 - A Listener Q&A

Shelf Help S2 Ep 22 - A Listener Q&A
In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy answer listener's Montessori questions. This episode includes a lot of different topics including tummy time, cursive learning, phones and screens and routines. There's a little bit of something for everyone here! 
June 19, 2022

Starting Practical Life with Babies - A Simple Activity

Starting Practical Life with Babies - A Simple Activity
Babies, like all children, are people of their time and place. They are quietly absorbing everything around them - from what we are saying to them, to what we are doing, to what we see, they are soaking it all in. From the extraordinary to the mundane, our babies learn by being with us, connecting with us, and participating where they can.
June 17, 2022

Second Plane Parenting: Family Expectations

Second Plane Parenting: Family Expectations
Summer break is just beginning here and so is a whole new routine for the next few months. Henry, Nora, and Gus* are all home from their respective Montessori schools and enjoying a relaxed summer of following their interests and enjoying self-directed activity. But, with that comes a whole lot of time at home, a lot of togetherness, and plenty of second plane disorder.
June 14, 2022

Montessori Friendly Toys: Fun Frame Puzzles

Montessori Friendly Toys: Fun Frame Puzzles
Recently, I was looking through and organizing my puzzle collection in preparation for a big renovation project that we have going on here this summer. While I was doing that I was reminded of one of my kids' favorite puzzles - a frame puzzle of a garden scene . I was looking at it and realized it's really unique in that it is a frame puzzle with a larger number of pieces and also that the control of error included words to read. Love. 
June 13, 2022

Shelf Help S2 Ep. 21 - Following the Child In Public

Shelf Help S2 Ep. 21 - Following the Child In Public
Children are meant to exist in the world - not just their homes. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy discuss how they prepare themselves and their environments to take their children into public. We review our mindsets, the limits we set, and how we allow for respectful freedom outside of our homes in both adult and child centered spaces. 
June 11, 2022

When Your Baby is Frustrated

When Your Baby is Frustrated
Babies are just like all people - they come in all temperaments. Some are happier, some are fussier, some are more on the go, while others still are more chill. But, no matter what adjectives describe your baby, one thing is certain, they will experience a wide variety of emotions. Babies, again like everyone, get happy, tired, frustrated, or sad. Our job as Montessori parents, is not to prevent emotions but help guide our children through them. 
June 09, 2022

Bubble Wrap Tray Activity for Toddlers

Bubble Wrap Tray Activity for Toddlers
Sometimes the best activities are the simplest. Teddy isn't a kid that loves a lot of shelf or tray work. But every now and then, something will really call to him and meet his needs. When that happens, he can't get enough. And, this bubble wrap tray activity has completely enthralled Teddy this week. 
June 07, 2022

Montessori Toddler: An Interest In Recycling

Montessori Toddler: An Interest In Recycling
If you've followed us closely for any length of time then you probably know that Teddy loves trucks. Construction trucks, transportation trucks, city trucks - any and all trucks have his heart. For a long time, garbage day has been super awesome for him as all the trucks come up and down the street. Recently, however, he noticed that the two different trucks stop at our house - the garbage and the recycling. This has spurred an unexpected interest in recycling. So, I thought I would share how we are supporting that interest here at home. 
June 03, 2022

Natural Gross Motor Development: We Have Motion

Natural Gross Motor Development: We Have Motion
Babies are born moving, and they are moving well before that. These early movements are a lot more subtle than the movement that is to come. First moving their eyes and head, then arms and legs. The movement is generally fairly uncoordinated, and there's not much (outward) purpose for that movement. Overtime, that movement becomes more coordinated and eventually that movement leads to motion. 
June 01, 2022

The Age of Rudeness

The Age of Rudeness
When your baby is born and you look into their beautiful face you never imagine (or at least I didn't) that one day they are going to tell you that your hair needs to be combed, that your butt is big, or that you look old. But, guess what, it's actually pretty likely. The age of rudeness is a thing. Maria Montessori identified the second plane of development (ages 6 to 12) as a time of tremendous inner growth for children. They start to get louder, chat more, and push back against limits and boundaries. 
May 31, 2022

Observing Your Baby's Preferences

Observing Your Baby's Preferences
It's been amazing to me each time that we add a new baby to our family how perfectly themselves each baby is from birth. Before having children, I kinda assumed babies were just babies and they "grew" their personalities somewhere along the way. But, that really hasn't been my experience. They have personalities, they have likes, they have dislikes right from the womb. That's been part of the fun of a new baby, discovering that personality and seeing the world through their eyes. 
May 30, 2022

Shelf Help S2 Ep. 20 - Making Plans for Summer!

Shelf Help S2 Ep. 20 - Making Plans for Summer!
For many parents, summer break is here. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy break down some of their summer routines, schedules and plans for their Montessori families. We include a little insight into how we balance scheduled outings, free play, and academic learning during the summer. 
May 28, 2022

Practical Life and Art Ideas from IKEA

Practical Life and Art Ideas from IKEA
If you know me, then you know that I love a good IKEA run. I still maintain that there is someone in the Montessori community sneaky consulting for IKEA and making products that fit the needs of the Montessori community so well. Not only are the items great for a Montessori home, they are at a price point that we can all get behind! This is particularly true for furniture, practical life finds, and art! 
May 25, 2022

Montessori Baby: Grasping Rings

Montessori Baby: Grasping Rings
Penelope was on the floor the other day playing with her hanging bell mobile. She was watching it move as a slight breeze moved through the house. Slowly, I watched, as she lifted both her little hands, brought them together and slowly but surely grasped the ribbon bringing the bell to her chest. It was an incredible moment of intentional grasping and movement. And, a good reminder that she is ready for more and more grasping opportunities. 
May 24, 2022

Montessori Home: A Surprising Outdoor Addition

Montessori Home: A Surprising Outdoor Addition
Late last fall one of our good friends had to cut some smaller brush and trees from their property. They asked if we wanted some logs for firewood and we gladly accepted. But, times were busy and the firewood logs sat in our shed for the winter without getting burned. This spring the bins of firewood were discovered by Gus. And surprisingly, they have become one of his favorite additions to our yard that we've ever made. 
May 23, 2022

Shelf Help S2 Ep. 19 - Siblings and Shared Bedrooms

Shelf Help S2 Ep. 19 - Siblings and Shared Bedrooms
In this week's episode we continue our mini-series on Montessori siblings by chatting about shared bedroom spaces and routines. Nicole and Amy discuss their routines around sleeping and shared bedrooms, bedtime, and what they include in their shared bedroom spaces. They also address safety and how to keep kids safe when sharing rooms.
May 19, 2022

We Love Baby Paper

We Love Baby Paper
Every day it seems like Penelope is growing, changing, adjusting and adapting to her environment more and more. The 3-month mark seems like such a big change. Suddenly Penelope is really taking the lead in interacting with the people and things around her. She is slowly but surely starting to intentionally grasp and explore the objects placed around her. One of the first things that she has really been interested in has been baby paper. 
May 18, 2022

Montessori Home: LEGO Display and Storage

Montessori Home: LEGO Display and Storage
Lego has been having a moment in our house for the last several years. It's one of Henry's favorite things and one of the few toys left that he really uses at his age. Gus is also super into lego too, so I have a feeling these magical little toys aren't going anywhere anytime soon. I find it fascinating watching children play with lego. Some are builders, some are designers, some are really in it for the play. For us, the minifigures that come with the sets are more highly prized that anything.
May 17, 2022

Montessori Baby: Floor Time at 3-Months-Old

Montessori Baby: Floor Time at 3-Months-Old
In a blink and flash Penelope's newborn days are behind us! She's officially 3-months-old and really blossoming in so many new ways. Her schedule is getting more predictable and consistent. She is spending more of her day awake and alert. Less of her time is spent nursing or cat napping. It's always such an amazing thing to watch these sleepy newborns, discover the beauty of the world around them. 
May 16, 2022

Shelf Help S2 Ep 18 - Sibling Relationships from Birth

Shelf Help S2 Ep 18 - Sibling Relationships from Birth
Welcoming a new baby is such an exciting time for you and for your older children. There are lots of feelings - both happy and negative - when a new baby comes into your home. In this episode, Nicole and Amy share their experiences with cultivating a relationship between babies and their older siblings including some practical tips to teach gentleness and responsibility. 
May 04, 2022

Storing and Saving Kids Art Work

Storing and Saving Kids Art Work
All three of my bigger children could sit and do art for days, and days, and days. They seriously love to create. And, I love that about them. Their creative little minds and souls bring so much beauty into this world. However, with all this creation comes a lot of product - a book, a poster of cut up and glued scraps of paper, comic strips, and paintings. You take that times three or four kids and suddenly you have a huge pile of art. 
May 02, 2022

Shelf Help S2 Ep 17 - Navigating Sibling Relationships

Shelf Help S2 Ep 17 - Navigating Sibling Relationships
It can be so beautiful watching your children develop relationships with one another as they grow. However, it's not always a peaceful process. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy discuss how Montessori influences their parenting decisions when it comes to sibling conflict, and challenges. We discuss how we strike a balance between giving them space and intervening. 
April 29, 2022

Hands Hands, Baby

Hands Hands, Baby
Penelope has made a very important discovery this week. One that will change her life forever. Her hands! Over the years, as a Montessori parent, I've learned that some of the most important work I can do is observe my children's hands. From their first movements and reflective grasps to nimble little fingers sewing, the hands can give us so many clues about the kinds of work that our children need and want.
April 27, 2022

Scavenger and Find It Games

Scavenger and Find It Games
My children could play board games all day, every day. There are very few days that go by where we aren't playing something. But lately, Gus has been getting into another type of game - I Spy. He's very family with the format of looking games after his experience with sound games at home and at school. But lately, he's really upped his game.
April 25, 2022

Supporting the Montessori Fifth Great Lesson

Supporting the Montessori Fifth Great Lesson
Growing up I had a love/hate relationship with maths. In elementary school, I remember resenting the topic, being bored and uninterested. I can still remember the tears that came along with long sessions of drilling multiplication facts in preparation for a math test. Why was this important? How was this relevant to the world? Why should I care? None of these questions were ever answered for me. As I grew, I came to realize I liked the order and rules that math was structured around. That didn't make me any good at the subject, but at least it made sense. 
April 23, 2022

Montessori Babies: Growth Is Slow

Montessori Babies: Growth Is Slow
For my last three Montessori babies, I've been writing these weekly Montessori baby updates. I share a bit about what's on my mind, and give a little picture of what it looks like to use Montessori from birth at home in real life. I love being able to share our story and what Montessori feels like for me. But, in writing these updates, I also feel like I need to clarify something - growth is slow. 
April 20, 2022

Four for Spring: Favorites to Wear, Play, Read, and Learn

Four for Spring: Favorites to Wear, Play, Read, and Learn
The calendar says that it's finally spring. But, here in Minnesota, the snow is still flying more than I would like. But, we are solidly dreaming of spring, and thinking about all the warmer weather that is to come. But, I know for lots of you spring is here and in full force. And, with the season change comes new and different opportunities for us and for our children. I thought I would share some of what I'm looking forward to this spring in four categories: wear, read, play, and learn. 
April 19, 2022

Montessori Activities: Current Art Trays

Montessori Activities: Current Art Trays
As my bigger kids have gotten older, we have done less and less "art trays" in our Montessori home. Older children, especially those in the second plane of development, just don't need small directed trays. They are able to gather supplies and create more openly than younger children. But, my toddler Teddy still needs these trays in order to most effectively be able to create. He isn't able to gather supplies on his own and focus on learning new skills. 
April 15, 2022

Montessori Parenting: Self Care with a Newborn

Montessori Parenting: Self Care with a Newborn
Taking care of a newborn is hard work no matter what parenting method is grounding your decisions. Whether you are using Montessori, or taking a more traditional route, adjusting to a new baby is physically and mentally draining. During this time it can be easy to ignore your own needs in favor of the baby's. And while newborn babies do need prompt attention to all their needs, we also need to make time to take care of ourselves. As the old saying goes, we cannot pour from an empty cup. 
April 12, 2022

Montessori Kids: One Favorite at 5 Stages

Montessori Kids: One Favorite at 5 Stages
With five kids, I think we are finally in the category of "big family." With so many kids, it's really cool to experience all these different stages of a Montessori childhood all at once. It's challenging and beautiful all at the same time. They all have different interests, different needs, and different abilities. And, they all have different favorite Montessori friendly toys and materials. These change all the time, especially with our younger kids, but I wanted to share a little snapshot of some favorites right now in the Kavanaugh family household! 
April 09, 2022

Pause with Your Baby

Pause with Your Baby
At 9-weeks-old Penelope has suddenly woken up and started interacting with the world around her. It's been really fun to see her start to interact with us and with her siblings. Compared with Gus and Teddy, Penelope seems to be much more interested in social interactions. She loves "chatting" with us, staring into our eyes, or just watching us. She's started smiling and cooing, all really fun things! 
April 07, 2022

Potty Learning and Fear

Potty Learning and Fear
Imagine you had been doing something one way your whole entire life multiple times per day. You were happy in that routine, or at least you weren't unhappy with it. But, then someone comes along and asks you to change that thing. Guess what? You can't do it anymore, or you have to change the way you were doing that thing significantly. Some people, because of their personality or temperament, might have an easy time with this change. Others might experience worry, fear, or anxiety. Some of us might adjust quickly to a change like this, while others might take awhile. 
April 05, 2022

Second Plane: What is a Going Out?

Second Plane: What is a Going Out?
Looking back on my Montessori journey there were definitely times where I assumed that the older my kids got, the less we would "Montessori" here at home. But, the opposite has just been true time and time again. Montessori remains just this amazing framework for structuring our house, and our children's experiences well into elementary school. 
April 04, 2022

Introducing Playthings with Your Baby

Introducing Playthings with Your Baby
At around 7.5-weeks-old I was carrying Penelope around the house when I noticed something - she had grabbed on to my shirt.  The next day, she was laying on the floor in our bathroom and grabbed our shower curtain. While these seem like little moments, it's actually a really big deal to me! Through this observation, I can see that Penelope is getting ready for more active work for her hands. 
March 30, 2022

Developing the Senses - Proprioception

Developing the Senses - Proprioception
There is so much we can learn through our senses. As humans move through the world, we are constantly assessing our surroundings with all the tools that our body provides. The assessments are often immediate and sometimes even unconsciously preformed. As Maria Montessori explained all those years ago, and as we know from modern science, children have heightened sensory awareness as they learn about the world. That's why Montessori materials include such heavy sensory input. Children learn first through their senses, it's literally how they make sense of the world. 
March 28, 2022

Montessori Elementary - Stop Motion Video Activity

Montessori Elementary - Stop Motion Video Activity
One thing that has been an unexpected joy of parenting kids is watching their interests unfold as they get older. Their own unique opinions, personalities, interests to every project they undertake. They approach problems in new ways, have creative visions, and the energy to really put it all together. I'm finding that I'm learning from them, and really taking joy in seeing them share their passions. 
March 25, 2022

Four Reasons we Love Our Bassinet Stroller

Four Reasons we Love Our Bassinet Stroller
I'm going to be the first one to stand up and admit that I was really skeptical about this. Was a bassinet stroller really that much better than just using the car seat attachment? Would we really get use out of it? Would it even seem different? Was it worth it for our fifth (and likely last) baby? 
March 24, 2022

Montessori Toddler Toys at 30 Months

Montessori Toddler Toys at 30 Months
It's been a little bit of time since I've shared the materials that Teddy is using on his Montessori work shelves. At 2.5-years-old, his main focus throughout the day is still practical life and gross motor development. More than any of my other children, Teddy is far less interested in toys and shelf work. He is much more likely to be running around with a truck than spending much time on puzzles. Yet, some parts of his day still do include working with his things. 
March 23, 2022

Montessori Siblings: Toy Competition and Hoarding

Montessori Siblings: Toy Competition and Hoarding
“That’s my toy!” “You can’t use it!” “Give it to me.” “She’s not sharing!” I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how we handle toy competition, sharing, and fairness lately. And, I totally get why. Bickering, fighting, and whining from big and little kids is no fun for anyone. It can make your house feel like a competition and you feel like a referee. 
March 21, 2022

Shelf Help S2 Ep16 - Caregiving Routines for Babies

Shelf Help S2 Ep16 - Caregiving Routines for Babies
If we let them, caregiving routines with babies can be approached as a chore for the parent. Instead as Montessori parents, we want to make caregiving routines a point of connection between us and our children. In this episode, Nicole and Amy discuss their caregiving routines and how this looks in real life with distractions and other kids.
March 18, 2022

Changing the Montessori Baby Mobiles

Changing the Montessori Baby Mobiles
Babies change so fast! It’s like lightning. At six-weeks-old, Penelope is already so different from what she was like at birth. She’s nearly doubled her birth weight, she’s more alert and has more and more control over her body every day.
March 17, 2022

Our Easter Baskets 2022

Our Easter Baskets 2022
There's nothing like a new baby in the house to really make you feel rushed in getting ready for holidays. I swear it was just January, and now we're talking about Easter in April! I don't know where the time is going and I once again feel super unprepared for our Easter celebrations. 
March 16, 2022

Developing the Senses - Vestibular

Developing the Senses - Vestibular
It's no secret that the Montessori method is focused on sensorial learning, especially for younger children. The materials that are used, the activities we choose - they all have a sensorial aspect. We are engaging a child through their senses to bring them into the work. This is supported by our modern understanding of how the brain works and how children learn. That's one of the most amazing things about Montessori to me, that so many of her discoveries are supported by modern research.
March 14, 2022

Shelf Help S2 Ep15 - Having Hard Conversations with Kids

Shelf Help S2 Ep15 - Having Hard Conversations with Kids
There is a lot of turmoil and uncertainty around the world. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy share their experiences of having difficult conversations with their children including conversations around war.  This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. Show Notes... Simplicity Parenting Montessorians for Ukraine   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  |  Amazon .   --- If you enjoy my work, please consider supporting The Kavanaugh Report through Buy Me a Coffee.
March 11, 2022

Why We Don't Use Baby Socks

Why We Don't Use Baby Socks
At 5-weeks old, Penelope is slowly spending a little more time alert and around each day. Of all my children Penelope has had the most day-night mixup and still has been spending the most time sleeping hard or being cranky about not sleeping during the day. So when she is up, happy and awake we want to make sure that we are giving Nellie (as we call her) the most out of her environment. 
March 09, 2022

Favorite Truck Toys and Books for Toddlers

Favorite Truck Toys and Books for Toddlers
If anyone knows anything about Teddy, you should know that he LOVES trucks. Garbage trucks, construction trucks, commercial trucks - he's not picky. Nothing in the world beats seeing a real truck, watching construction work or talking about trucks. This love of all things trucks spills over into his play and work as well. So many of the books he chooses or the things he plays with regularly are truck related as well. 
March 08, 2022

Read My Mind: A Reading Game for Preschoolers

Read My Mind: A Reading Game for Preschoolers
It's hard to believe but somehow another one of my kids is on the cusp of reading! Part of me is so excited for this new and exciting phase in Gus' life, but also...where did my baby go?! At 5-years-old, Gus is in his second year in Primary or Montessori children's house. Both in school and at home, he's had opportunities to work with Montessori materials that have helped him learn letter sounds and their symbols. Over the last few months, he has been putting this work together and without really knowing it has started to read! 
March 04, 2022

Simple Sensory Play for Montessori Newborns

Simple Sensory Play for Montessori Newborns
Somehow Penelope is already 4-weeks-old. It's incredible how quickly time passes when you have a newborn baby. At this point, Penelope pretty much still just eats and sleeps. But, her awake times have started to become a little longer and a little more alert. She's typically a pretty chill baby and so it's been really fun to have a few simple, sensory rich ways for her to explore the world. 
March 02, 2022

10 Favorite Podcasts for Kids

10 Favorite Podcasts for Kids
With the pandemic and the school bus driver shortage in Minnesota, I’ve found myself picking up my kids from school each afternoon. At their current public Montessori school we have a bit of a drive to get back home. In an effort to ward off the afternoon chaos, a high protein snack and a podcast are necessities! Without these things we get fighting, touching each other, and all out hangries. 
March 01, 2022

Montessori Toddler: We Love A Marble Tree

Montessori Toddler: We Love A Marble Tree
At just about 2.5, Teddy is really starting to get interested in more shelf materials. One of the things that he has been gravitating toward more and more lately has been our marble tree. The marble tree is a wooden tree made of small wooden "petals." A marble is placed on the top and it cascades down the petals to the tray at the base. 
February 28, 2022

Shelf Help S2 Ep14 - A Montessori Child Q&A

Shelf Help S2 Ep14 - A Montessori Child Q&A
Amy and Nicole have eight children between them. In this week's episode, four of their children - Henry, Charlotte, Nora, and Gus - join the podcast to answer questions about being Montessori kids. They talk about screen time,  how they feel about traditional schools, favorite things to do at home and school, and much more! 
February 26, 2022

Floor Time and Montessori Newborns

Floor Time and Montessori Newborns
It's incredible that newborns are just amazing little people right from birth. It's hard to believe but from the moment they are born, they have the power to develop themselves into the adult humans they were meant to become. This work happens from birth, but doesn't always look the way we assume it does. Remember, the most important work of the newborn is to be adjust to their environment and integrate into their family . And, that's exactly what Penelope has been spending the majority of her days doing. 
February 24, 2022

Screen Time in the Second Plane of Development

Screen Time in the Second Plane of Development
It's amazing to me, but we suddenly have a house with babies, but also a bunch of bigger kids! Henry and Nora are both solidly in the second plane of development. Gus is well on his way and will be 6 by the end of the year! Ahh! As our children get older we have introduced something new in the Kavanaugh family - screen time. 
February 23, 2022

Maximum Effort Ideas in the Winter for Toddlers

Maximum Effort Ideas in the Winter for Toddlers
The need to reach maximum effort is such an important concept to understand when it comes to toddlers in Montessori environments. Toddlers need to move their bodies, exert as much effort as possible and do heavy, big work in order to regulate themselves. This Montessori concept is supported by our current understanding of brain science and the proprioceptive sensory system. The proprioceptive system helps children know where their bodies are in relation to the world. This system is developed by using big muscles and heavy work. 
February 21, 2022

Shelf Help S2 E13 - Some Wisdom from Dr. Montessori

Shelf Help S2 E13 - Some Wisdom from Dr. Montessori
Maria Montessori shared so much wisdom with the world through her books, articles, and lectures. Even in 2022, there are so many parenting lessons we can get from her words. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy share some quotes from Dr. Montessori's books and how they might apply to our parenting. We completely get nerdy about Montessori's words as a way to examine our own behavior as the prepared adult. 
February 18, 2022

DIY High Contrast Montessori Inspired Mobile

DIY High Contrast Montessori Inspired Mobile
It’s no secret that new babies love high contrast images. When they are born, a baby’s eye sight is pretty poorly developed. They can see only muted colors and only a few inches from their face. High contrast items are the easiest to see and therefore the most attractive. Montessori takes advantage of this fact and the first mobile in the visual mobile series - the Munari mobile - is high contrast and visually appealing for a newborn.
February 17, 2022

New Board Games for Older Kids We're Loving

New Board Games for Older Kids We're Loving
We are a huge game family. We love them and not often does a day go by where we aren’t playing a board game of some sort with at least one of the kids. Even Morgan and I love games and honestly playing a game is our go-to date night activity. While many games are just for fun, they also can help reinforce many of the concepts that the kids learn at school. Therefore, I really see them as a perfect compliment to a Montessori home. 
February 16, 2022

Montessori Baby: 3 Activities for Newborns

Montessori Baby: 3 Activities for Newborns
When we think about Montessori for babies, I think it's easy to think about all the unique ways that Montessori babies can interact with the world. They may have a movement area, special mobiles, or specific types of toys. We, as the prepared adult, might offer them opportunities and choices that traditional parenting styles wouldn't. But, I think it's important to remember that parenting using Montessori from birth is so much deeper than this. And, it doesn't have to be complicated.  Now, that my 5th baby Penelope is home with us, I'm reminded about how simple our first few weeks with a newborn can and should be. We don't need to worry about creating complex "activities" or stressing about if we are doing enough. Simple activities that focus on connection, healing, and adjusting to this whole new world.  This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you .  Three Activities for the First Week With a Newborn I hope you can see these aren’t “activitie
February 14, 2022

Shelf Help S2 E12 - Montessori Parenting with Amy and James

Shelf Help S2 E12 - Montessori Parenting with Amy and James
In this episode Amy invites her husband, and parenting partner, James to the show. They talk about their Montessori parenting journey including why they decided to use Montessori as the foundation of their parenting. They share some of the tutorials they created along the way, why they choose Montessori schools, and how Montessori, RIE, and gentle parenting has shifted their lives and the lives of their children's.  This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Show Notes... Nicole's Instagram Amy's Instagram  Kitchenette Tutorial Ball Tracker Tutorial Pikler Triangle RAD Children's Furniture Solid Starts Unfolding of Infants' Natural Gross Motor Development by Emmi Pikler    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 .  ---
February 11, 2022

Montessori at Home - Yarn Shapes Activity

Montessori at Home - Yarn Shapes Activity
If you know Gus, then you know he loves yarn and handcrafts. He got a giant roll of yarn for Christmas and I don’t think he could be happier. Recently, he was home distance learning and I was looking for some work that would compliment his learning from his Montessori school. We don’t have everything here for him to work on and I don’t think it’s super necessary for us to reproduce classroom work in the home. But, extension work can be a fun way to reinforce concepts introduced at school. This yarn shape activity was a great way to do that.  So I took Gus’ love of yarn and decided to combine with some of the shape learning he’s been doing at school to make a fun, easy art project. It was a great way to reinforce some shape learning, challenge some of his measuring skills, and a nice fine motor activity.  This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.   To do this activity we gathered a few simple things:  Yarn  Scissors  Glue  Shapes - we used shapes from the traditional Montess
February 09, 2022

Penelope Ruth

Penelope Ruth
I’m thrilled to announce that our newest Montessori baby is here! Penelope Ruth Kavanaugh was born January 30th at 5:45 a.m. She was a tiny 6lbs 3oz, 18 inches long. We have been settled in at home for a few days and couldn’t be more in love. I figured I would take this opportunity to share her birth story before all the details escape my mind. Her labor was both long and fast, and her delivery led to my most intense post birth experience and intervention.  Like most of my pregnancies I started experiencing contractions early on in the third trimester. They would come frequently, get close together and stop. The false labor was annoying but I’m very used to it and mostly just live life while it happens. Well, on Friday, January 28 I was experiencing all the same fake contractions I had had for weeks. They continued into the dinner hour and throughout bedtime for the kids. I was annoyed, cranky and tired. As I got ready to go to bed (of course) the contractions suddenly intensified.  At
February 07, 2022

Shelf Help S2 Ep. 11 - Acknowledging the Challenges of Parenting

Shelf Help S2 Ep. 11 - Acknowledging the Challenges of Parenting
Parenting is difficult, especially in today's world. While Montessori provides us a lot of useful tools, it doesn't eliminate all parenting challenges. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy acknowledge some of the very real parenting challenges that they face even while using Montessori. They share their own struggles in an effort to help normalize and support all parents who might face similar situations.  This post contains affiliate links at no costs to you.   Show Notes... There's No Such Thing As Bad Weather Montessori Prepared Adults Wait Taking a Pause Montessori and Older Kid Discipline - Thoughts and Tips Responding as a Montessori Parent - Tips for Success Shelf Help Ep. 25 - Balancing Montessori Parenting and Work    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  |
January 28, 2022

Making Space for Big Work in the Second Plane

Making Space for Big Work in the Second Plane
Right now, Henry and Nora are both second plane children. Their ideas flourish, their minds are always going, and their tongues hold nothing back! It's such an amazing shift to see from the little busy first plane of development children they once were. One of the most interesting and challenging parts of parenting a second plane child has been accepting and making space for their need for big work. Everything is a project. Everything is a big idea. 
January 26, 2022

Preparing for Baby - A Montessori Environment

Preparing for Baby - A Montessori Environment
As it gets closer and closer to my delivery of Penelope we have been preparing in a variety of ways. We prepare ourselves for this huge transition, and we prepare our other children, but we also have been spending some time preparing our environment. Even for our fifth baby, it's easy to assume we don't need to do much to prepare for our newborn's arrival. And, in some ways that's true. Newborns need very little and very simple surroundings to adjust to life in this big new world. But, making some preparations can make the transition easier for you and for them. 
January 24, 2022

Shelf Help S2 Ep. 10 - Montessori Water Work and Play

Shelf Help S2 Ep. 10 - Montessori Water Work and Play
In Montessori environments there are so many amazing practical life opportunities when children have access to water. In this week's episode, Nicole and Amy discuss how to make water accessible to young children for both work and play. We include tips on how to prepare yourself and your environment to make water work fun and reasonable in a Montessori home.  This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Show Notes... Charlotte’s Montessori kitchenette: a tutorial DIY {IKEA Hack} Wash Basin Creating a Montessori Water Station in Your Home Easy Sensory Exploration for Babies Pitchers for Every Age and Stage Montessori Aprons to Love Tiny Spray Bottle Buddha Board Faucet Extender Splash Pad  Our Outdoor Summer Water Toys Shelf Help Ep. 57 - Stools Are the Unsung Hero of Montessori Homes   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 Sh
January 21, 2022

Montessori Play Shelves at 5-Years-Old

Montessori Play Shelves at 5-Years-Old
I was looking back on some of my other posts when my older children were around 5-years-old and realized that I didn't do a great job sharing what they were interested in or playing with around that time. I would like to make an effort to change that as my little guys continue to get older. I think it can sometimes be helpful to see some of the things that older kids enjoy in Montessori homes. But, I think I have shied away from sharing because as children get to be 5+ years old, the materials they have are so highly individualized.  So, bottom line, while I'm sharing these, just know that they may or may not work for your specific child. These have been chosen based on Gus's interests, skills and my observations of him. Always use these types of lists as inspiration but not as a prescribed need for a Montessori home. Also note that Gus goes to a Montessori school so his shelves at home do not often include traditional Montessori materials.  This post contains affiliate lin
January 19, 2022

When Will My Child Do *That* Montessori Work?

When Will My Child Do *That* Montessori Work?
There's a lot of really amazing aspects of Montessori education and parenting. So many possibilities for introducing the world to our children. At home, it might be some really cool material you bought, or it might be a practical life opportunity that you want to share with your child. Your decision to introduce it might even be based in something you've personally observed in your child, or based on your experience with the material. You may generally feel it's a good time or choice.  And, it still might not interest your child at all. Like not even a little bit. See the thing is every child will come into their own with work in their own time.  This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. We are learning and relearning this with Theodore. Teddy is neurodiverse and very much on his own timetable when it comes to a lot of Montessori work around the house. In particular, he is very much on his own path when it comes to practical life. While his siblings might have h