Articles from 2024

February 22, 2024

Montessori Parenting in the Second Plane: Responding to Questions

Montessori Parenting in the Second Plane: Responding to Questions
The mind opens up in the most incredible ways during the elementary years. Suddenly our small little people have all these big questions, thoughts, and abilities. Maria Montessori tells us that this period is so unique for the capacity that elementary children have for learning. They need new stimulation and crave abstract information. But in an age where every bit of information is at our fingertips, how do we give elementary aged kids the information they need without doing too much? Or should we just info dump on them at their given questions? 
February 12, 2024

Our Montessori Days at 2-years-old

Our Montessori Days at 2-years-old
It's hard for me to believe that my youngest little Montessori baby is already 2-years-old. The years fly by faster with each child and by the 5th, the years are barely a blink. But, even if I can't believe it, my Montessori baby is solidly a Montessori toddler now. Entering the 2-year-old year is just such an exciting time. Our days are predictable, her language is exploding, and we have a lot of fun together. 
February 01, 2024

Montessori Activity: Valentine's Stencil Painting

Montessori Activity: Valentine's Stencil Painting
Valentines Day is right around the corner and that means I'm adding a couple of things to our Montessori art shelves to celebrate. While adding seasonal work to your Montessori home can be super fun, it doesn't have to be super complicated. Since giving cards at Valentine's Day is super popular, I wanted to add something for Ted to be able to make some cards for friends or family. So I decided on some simple stencil painting work.  This simple work is perfect for preschoolers for encouraging fine motor skills, multiple steps and a little precision without being too difficult to clean up. Plus some great opportunities for social emotional learning as we make and give something simple and beautiful to others.  Make a Montessori Friendly Valentine with Stencil Painting Like I said these are super simple! A tiny bit of preparation on your part and your kids will be making tons of great cards in no time. To make these you'll need:  Tray : Use an easily cleanable tray that ca
January 31, 2024

Montessori Kids: Rule Making in the Elementary Years

Montessori Kids: Rule Making in the Elementary Years
The elementary years, or the second plane of development as we call them in Montessori, are marked with many unique characteristics. One of the major characteristics of the second plane of development is the immense interest in social relationships. These kids are so social. Their brains are wired to move around in little packs learning how to be in community with others. Their friendships become important, they start to explore social dynamics, and test out social rules. They also have a strong interest in justice, morals, and fairness. In fact, one of the first signs of the second plane in my family has been the phrase "that's not fair" popping up repeatedly!  Why do Elementary Kids Love Rules? The combination of these two characteristics create a super interesting phase for some second plane kids - an obsession with rules. I've seen in my kids this peak between age 5.5+ (when they start to transition to the second plane) and around 7.5-years-old. All of a sudden r
January 22, 2024

Montessori at Home: Pretend Play in the Preschool Years

Montessori at Home: Pretend Play in the Preschool Years
Pretend play can be such an interesting and complicated topic within Montessori. While Maria Montessori found that children prefer real work in favor of pretend toys, children in Montessori environments still engage in pretend play. In fact, pretend play has an important role to play in the social emotional development of all children.  Where Montessori often differs when it comes to pretend play in the preschool years is the role of fantasy based play. Fantasy is often avoided, or limited, until a child is older and has a firmer understanding of reality. While every family will take their own approach in this area, Montessori principles would suggest less fantasy and more exploration of real life. In our society things like talking animals, superheroes, fairies and mythical creatures are common in the preschool years, often making them difficult to avoid.  Don't miss part 1 of this series: Montessori at Home: Pretend Play in the Toddler Years Building with mirror blocks (and hol
January 17, 2024

Montessori At Home: Pretend Play with Toddlers

Montessori At Home: Pretend Play with Toddlers
We've been experiencing an explosion of pretend play in our home lately. With my two youngest (nearly 2 and 4) both in really unique stages they have both been drawn to pretend play in a way that I find so fascinating. Sometimes in Montessori environments, there is a pervasive myth that small children prefer only real work to pretend play. And while Montessori activities should certainly be based in reality for small children, pretend play is an important part of every child's work in these years.  Even in Montessori schools , you see a fair amount of pretend play. While materials have a specific aim, children often explore the boundaries of those material through their work. Montessori at home, however, is far more flexible than in a classroom. Children will want and need opportunities to pretend and process the world around them through their work.  Pretend Play in the Toddler Years I've observed some unique phases of pretend play in my own children over the years. The to
January 16, 2024

Shelf Help S4 Ep 8 - Finding Center After a Break

Shelf Help S4 Ep 8 - Finding Center After a Break
 This week on our Montessori parenting podcast:  The new year is here and for a lot of us that means a time of reset after a break from our regular routines. In this this week's episode, Nicole explores a couple of ways that she likes to reset her home and get back to Montessori roots following a time of disruption.  Show Notes... Reading Area Reel 5 Minute Observation Ideas    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   |  Google  |  Amazon . *Shelf Help now includes  automated ad breaks. We do have control over the content of the ads and do not specifically endorse their messages/products. Thank you for your support of our show.
January 10, 2024

Montessori at Home: Purging Toys and Clutter with Elementary Kids

Montessori at Home: Purging Toys and Clutter with Elementary Kids
For many of us the first few weeks of the year mark a time where we are staring at just far too much stuff. Especially children's stuff. With the holidays newly over, and winter here I feel like my house is bursting with all sorts of toys, games, activities that need to be organized and need a place to go. With my younger kids, a solid toy rotation usually solves the issue. The older things go into storage and some new things are placed neatly on shelves. But, for elementary aged kids, those in the second plane of development, that usually doesn't cut it!  See, I find that by elementary (especially as they move into upper elementary) toy rotations aren't effective anymore. They aren't the solution for keeping the clutter at bay and helping to organize their spaces. Instead, I find working together to purge some of the things in their spaces tends to be a more effective approach to eliminating clutter and excess.  Why Toy Rotations Don't Work for Elementary Aged Kids