Foto Friday: Flashback

Flashback!  A. enjoying her 5 Pack of Beginning Montessori Materials

It’s not too late!  Enter to WIN your own 5 Pack of Beginning Montessori Materials!  Celebrate the 1 Year Anniversary of our blog!

1 Month: Bell Rattle  BELL RATTLE_crop3 Months: Small Grasping Beads small grasping beads4 Months: Interlocking Discs  interlocking discs5 Months: Ball Cylinder  ball cylinder6 Months: Bell Cylinder  bell cylinder

 

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Filed under 0-3 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Carrie, Foto Friday, Play Area/Toys

Happy 1st Anniversary! Beginning Montessori Giveaway!

We’ve just about reached the end of our 1st Anniversary of Blogging Celebration.  It has been such a joy to share with you our favourite Montessori resources and products.  It has been a lot of fun reading your responses as you explore Montessori further.  And our readership continues to grow!  Thank you for following our blog!  Thank you for sharing our blog with others!  If you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to enter to win a signed copy of The Joyful Child up on our blog until Tuesday, September 16 at 11:59PST.

Beginning Montessori
As our 6th and final giveaway we are offering up a Five Pack of Toys from Beginning Montessori!  This pack makes the perfect set of toys to get started with Montessori.  I am a little biased about these toys as my husband makes them.  This company was born right out of my AtoI Montessori training.  As the course transformed me and how I saw infants, purchasing baby shower gifts became increasingly difficult.  During our training we made many materials and I asked my husband to help me make the bell rattle.  We had leftover dowel so my husband asked if any of the other women from my course would like a bell rattle.  Well, the orders flew in!  My husband then came to the training centre and checked out the materials telling me he could make many of the items.  He was just as excited as I was!  He grew up around wood crafting as his parents made wooden toys and he’s had lots of advice along the way as we developed our products.  With his ability to make the toys and my Montessori trained eye for detail, with special attention for how it would aid a young child’s development, we developed our product line to include:

    interlocking discs2    ball cylinder2

Amongst other materials which you can check out on our website.  Since we’ve observed our daughter A. use these toys, we’ve tweaked a couple of them but most were already perfect.  It has been such a joy for me to see A. use these materials!  It has been such a joy for me to see all of the Montessori Moms babies use these toys!  (From top to bottom you can see Christie’s sons R. and P.. my daughter A. with the interlocking discs, and Tomoko’s daughters M. and E.)  It continues to be such a joy for me to see many, many babies enjoy these toys.  I know at a deeper level how much the child is gaining through their usage of these toys so it just delights me!  You can read a short description of each material on the website and in addition, each toy comes with a product card describing the purpose and usage of each toy.  If you’re looking for cleaning information, please check our facebook page note on cleaning our materials.

This Five Pack of Montessori Baby Toys was designed to be a perfect baby shower or first gift for the child.  The cost of the five pack is $48 and the giveaway includes free, international shipping.  A few of the toys can start to be enjoyed within the first months of the child’s life.  They will aid the child’s development, and continue to be enjoyed, throughout the child’s first year.  These toys will also last for multiple children and in infant communities.  They are great quality and beautifully made.  They make great teething toys and you can be sure they are safe to be mouthed on by an infant as they are hand-made with natural materials.  We hope you will enjoy them as much as we do!

1 Year Anniversary - Beginning MontessoriTo enter leave a comment on our blog telling us: What is your favourite post from the Montessori Moms Blog from our First Year of Blogging?  Then click the link to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway and click the green button on the Rafflecopter form telling us “I commented!”  There are also lots of additional ways to enter to get your name in multiple times.  If you haven’t used Rafflecopter before it’s very easy to do so by just following the instructions.  You can also watch this quick video to help you learn. (Sorry it has to be a form using the link.  It still works!)

The giveaway will close on Monday, September 22 at 11:59PST.  Winner must respond within 48 hours of being contacted.  Good luck!

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Filed under 0-3 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Play Area/Toys

Happy 1st Anniversary! The Joyful Child Giveaway!

Can you believe we’re already on our last week of giveaways as we celebrate our 1st Annivesary?!  Last week’s giveaway is still up until 11:59PM PST tonight!  It’s your last day to enter for a $50 Gift Certificate to Montessori Services/For Small Hands if you haven’t done so already.  We’ve been enjoying sharing with you our favourite products and helping you bring more Montessori into your homes to celebrate.  This week, our final week of giveaways, we have two giveaways.  Today I’ll announce the first one.  We’re offering a signed copy of The Joyful Child by Susan Mayclin Stephenson!  Yes, I said signed!  Susan was so wonderful to donate a signed copy of her book at my request.  She has such a passion to further bring Montessori to the youngest children.

The Joyful Child

This is such a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Montessori from birth to three years of age.  You may have started reading about Montessori on a blog, perhaps this one, and you’re wondering what might be good book to learn more.  Having been published as a formal book only last year, I find it’s not often the suggested Montessori book.  After reading it earlier this year, I fell in love with it!  Susan writes in such a warm, gentle tone.  She weaves jam-packed advice into a simple scenario of how to set-up a space for your child.  The advice about how to handle situations has stuck in my mind with her poignant stories from her own experiences as mother, grandmother, teacher, guide, and friend.  She truly looks at the child from a holistic perspective, covering topics such as feeding, toys, language development, discipline, art and music, toilet learning, motor development, sensory development, connecting with nature, connecting with our child(ren), psychological development, and so much more!  I especially appreciate her approach to parenting and addressing our needs/challenges as parents while trying to do the best for our child(ren).

Parents all do best they can with the knowledge and skills they have at the moment.  … No matter how much parents know, or how much time they give, they are not alone in feeling that it is not enough.  The first year of the child’s life is not the easiest time to begin to learn what it takes to be a parent, … We must not be too hard on ourselves as we try to balance our busy lives.  Parents who observe carefully, who listen, and, as they do so, imagine themselves in the place of their child, will learn that a child is a unique, thoughtful, and creative individual, even before the age of one year.  This is truly one of the most joyful discoveries of parenting. ~Susan Mayclin Stephenson, The Joyful Child

Thank you Susan for writing such an informative and encouraging book!  If you haven’t heard of Susan Mayclin Stephenson before, she is AMI trained at all 3 levels (0-3, 3-6, and 6-12) and has extensively travelled.  She has helped bring Montessori education to many children and families around the world.  She is also an amazing oil-painter and you can check out her work as an artist and educator here.  She runs the company Michael Olaf which offers a wonderful selection of children’s toys, books, furniture, and child-sized tools.  The newsletters are very informative, as is the website itself!  A very helpful resource on her website is the selection of video clips of Child Development Birth to Three+.  Be sure to visit the website and watch some videos to be inspired!

Video Clips: Birth to Age One Michael Olaf Videos - Birth to Age 1

Video Clips: Age One to Two Michael Olaf Videos - Ages 1-2

Video Clips: Age Two to Three Michael Olaf Videos - Ages 2-3

Thank you Susan for offering up a signed copy of The Joyful Child as a Giveaway to help us celebrate the 1st Anniversary of our blog!  This giveaway is open internationally.  To enter leave a comment on our blog telling us: Which video clip is your favourite from the Michael Olaf website?  Then click the link to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway and click the green button on the Rafflecopter form telling us “I commented!”  There are also lots of additional ways to enter to get your name in multiple times.  If you haven’t used Rafflecopter before it’s very easy to do so by just following the instructions.  You can also watch this quick video to help you learn. (Sorry it has to be a form using the link.  It still works!)

The giveaway will close on Tuesday, September 16 at 11:59PST.  Winner must respond within 48 hours of being contacted.  Good luck!

Disclosure statement: All opinions expressed are my own.  I have not received any compensation for expressing these opinions.  Susan was very generous to offer up her book for this giveaway.  I don’t have a previous relationship with her although I did have the pleasure of meeting her at the 27th International Montessori Congress in Portland last summer where she signed my own copy of her book and I was privileged to hear her speak.

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Foto Friday: Pouring

22 month old F. pours herself a beverage using her pitcher from Montessori Services

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Child sized tools make a huge difference in a child’s ability to do things independently.  Go enter to WIN a $50 GIFT CERTIFICATE to Montessori Services/For Small Hands and help us celebrate the 1st Anniversary of our blog!

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Happy 1st Anniversary! For Small Hands/Montessori Services Giveaway!

Thank you for your continued support for our blog and your excitement as we celebrate our blog’s 1 Year Anniversary!   Congratulations to K on Winning the Montessori Apron from Handmade Montessori!  We greatly thank all who entered to win the Montessori Apron!   Thank you for supporting Handmade Montessori!  K., we hope you greatly enjoy your new apron!  I’m sure Karla from Handmade Montessori can accommodate your request for a red flowers waterproof apron!  If you weren’t the lucky winner, consider visiting Handmade Montessori and purchasing one of her fabulous aprons!

Congratulations to Jamie on Winning the Montessori Placemat from How We Montessori Shop!  Thank you so much to all who entered to win the Montessori Placemat!  Thank you for helping us promote our blog and How We Montessori Shop.  It really is a wonderful company filled with unique and quality items.  It seems a few of you were eyeing up the matching and language sets and the lock box.  If you weren’t the lucky winner, remember that the Easy Clean Montessori Placemat has FREE international shipping,   making it affordable no matter where you live!

Now to announce the Giveaway for Week Three of our 1 Year Anniversary of Blogging!  This week we have a

$50 Gift Certificate to For Small Hands/Montessori Services!

 For Small Hands  Montessori ServicesI am really excited to work with this company for the giveaway.  I’ve been ordering materials for my school from them for many years and now purchase materials for my daughter from the company.  They have a huge selection of child-sized tools, great toys, art supplies, children’s books, adult resources, and so much more!  If you’ve not heard of this company, I’m really excited to introduce you to it.  If you do know of this company, I’m sure you’re anxious to get your name in for the giveaway!  They have two branches: For Small Hands is geared towards parents and Montessori Services is geared towards teachers.  A $50 Gift Certificate would be so much fun to spend for this company!

1 year anniversary - Montessori Services

You’ve probably seen A. using materials from For Small Hands/Montessori Services in previous posts such as Crawling towards Practical Life.  Our most loved items are the small garden hand tools and the small metal pail, although we also greatly love books such as Hands Can and Global Babies, and I think the baby hairbrush is absolutely perfect for fine, baby hair.  We also use the polka-dot pitcher and tongs on a daily basis.  Recently, For Small Hands/Montessori Services sent me some musical instruments to review.  I was so excited to do so!  We only have a few musical instruments and it was on my wishlist to obtain more for A.  I’m quite particular about the toys that make it into our home as I really try to limit the toys.  That means the toys that are in our home are usually made of natural materials and are good quality.  The musical instruments from Montessori Services fit both these criteria and had the bonus of being from South America.  I love travelling and the cultural diversity of our world so what better way to introduce this to my toddler than through musical instruments!  We picked up A.’s maracas when we were in Dominican Republic so it is very fitting that we continue the international collection.

Bolivian Goat Hoof Shaker

Bolivian Goat Hoof Shaker from For Small Hands/Montessori Services

On my dream wish list was to have a goat hoof shaker.  I know this sounds strange but years ago we travelled to Ecuador and at one of our stops was a family showcasing the music of the area.  100_0062_cropThe older children were dressed beautifully and were playing their instruments with their parents.  Then, the little toddler came in, clearly wearing her play clothes, and joined in with such enthusiasm playing her goat hoof shaker or chaj-chas.  It was completely unprompted and so beautiful of the child and the family to embrace the moment and joy of playing music together.  I was very excited to see that Montessori Services sells a goat hoof shaker from Bolivia (item no. M332), as I didn’t have the foresight when I was travelling years ago to purchase one.  So with great joy I introduced the goat hoof shaker to A.  Bolivian Goat Hoof ShakerShe was definitely intrigued by the texture and the foreign look of the goat hooves.  The simplicity in shaking it to obtain sound immediately brought a smile to her face.  She even experimented with it a little by holding it by one hoof to shake it and holding it by the fabric to obtain a different sound.  I’m quite certain she will enjoy this shaker for years to come!  I look forward to using this shaker as a stimulus for talking about  Bolivia and learning about the country together.  I think it will also serve as a stimulus for talking about goats and using animal parts in a resourceful manner.  Another extension will be to listen to music from the Andes, where she will be introduced to more instruments such as the pan flute and charango.  This goat hoof shaker is a very welcome addition to our home and instrument collection!

Child-Size Chilean Rainstick

Child-Size Chilean Rainstick from For Small Hands/Montessori Services

The second instrument I received was a child-sized rainstick from Chile (item no. M448).  It is made from a Capado cactus and the pebbles cascade over cactus spines.  At first touch I thought it was quite rough.  When I gave it to A. though she didn’t seem bothered in the least by the roughness.  She turned it over creating a “downpour” effect immediately.  Child-Size Chilean RainstickShe then explored it and any worry that I might have had that the roughness would turn her off from enjoying it was dispelled.  I also had another worry that she would be scared by the noise.  A. is quite sensitive to sounds and on a previous occasion was quite scared by the thunder of a large rainstick.  The child-sized rainstick made just the right amount of noise so that she was intrigued by it and continued to use it.  I’m so glad For Small Hands/Montessori Services pays great detail to attention to ensure each item is truly child-sized.  In the future, A. and I can explore the country of Chile and the geography of the area, especially the flora to learn about cacti.  Perhaps we can get a cacti for her to take of in the future.  I wonder if she’ll be bothered by spikes of a live cactus!

Peruvian Tinya Drum

Peruvian Tinya Drum from For Small Hands/Montessori Services

A.’s favourite instrument was the Tinya Drum from Peru (item no. M350).  On a recent trip to the Squamish Líl’wat Cultural Centre A. had a lot of fun playing the drums of our local First Nations in the children’s area.  When I gave her the mallet for the Tinya Drum, she immediately began banging on the drum and I could tell this was her favourite.  Peruvian Tinya DrumPrior to receiving this drum A. only had a djembe drum which she plays using her hand so the addition of a mallet to play a drum was quite enticing to her.  The drum has a little handle, perfect for her small hands, and this allows her to carry the drum around with her.  She hasn’t tried playing it while holding it yet, which makes me happy that there are different elements to playing the drum that she will be able to discover in the future.  She can enjoy it now in a simple manner and later explore the many ways to have fun with it and create various sounds.  The drum makes the perfect accompaniment to the goat hoof shaker as it is also an Andean instrument and uses a different part of the goat, the skin.  I love how drums are very international, as every culture seems to have their own drum, no matter where I go.  I’m sure we’ll use this drum as a stimulus for learning about Peru and inciting interest to travel to South America.

While I’ve shared with you my excitement of receiving these musical instruments from For Small Hands/Montessori Services, the company has so many more wonderful items!  My personal favourites are the child-sized tools.  I’d love for you to check out this company and I’m looking forward to one of our wonderful readers winning the $50 Gift Certificate!  This giveaway is open to residents of Canada and the US.  To enter leave a comment on our blog sharing What item is on your wishlist from For Small Hands (for parents) or Montessori Services (for teachers).  Then click on the link to a Rafflecopter giveaway and click the green button on the Rafflecopter form telling us “I commented!”  There are also lots of additional ways to enter to get your name in multiple times.  If you haven’t used Rafflecopter before it’s very easy to do so by just following the instructions.  You can also watch this quick video to help you learn. (Sorry it has to be a form using the link.  It still works!)

The giveaway will close on Wednesday, September 10 at 11:59PST.  Winner must respond within 48 hours of being contacted.  Good luck!  The giveaway is now closed.  Congratulations to Danielle F. on winning the $50 Gift Certificate to For Small Hands/Montessori Services!

Disclosure: The musical instruments shown in this post were sent to me free of charge from For Small Hands/Montessori Services.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation.  This blog is written with authenticity and honesty.  I am pleased to work with For Small Hands/Montessori Services for this giveaway as it is company I highly recommend for quality products, great selection, and good customer service. 

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Foto Friday – Peas

18 Month old A. is back in the garden & the kitchen!

Pick the peas from the garden

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Shell the peas and enjoy!

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Don’t forget to enter to WIN a Montessori apron, just like the one A. is wearing, and then enter to WIN a Montessori placemat.

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Happy 1st Anniversary! Apron and Placemat Giveaway!

Congratulations on Winning the Home Consultation!  Thank you so much to all who entered to win a Home Consultation with Christie from Aid to Life Education during our first week of our 1st Anniversary Celebration!  Thank you for helping to spread the word about our Montessori Moms Blog and Aid to Life Education!  A huge congratulations to Kathy D!  We hope you gain further knowledge and support during your Home Consultation!

Week Two – Two Giveaways!  Now to announce the giveaway for Week 2 of our 1st Anniversary Celebration! Just a reminder that we are on week 2 of 4 weeks of giveaways to celebrate our 1st Anniversary.  This week we have two wonderful, and separate, giveaways.  If you follow this blog you have seen these items featured before, especially in Crawling Towards Practical Life.  This week we are giving away:

Both these products and the shop owners are amazing!  We graciously thank Karla from Handmade Montessori and Kylie from How We Montessori Shop for offering up these wonderful products!

Handmade Montessori Apronsiusb_760x100.13123774_op1x

What makes an apron Montessori?  Independence!  There are two different aprons to choose from: the cotton apron and the waterproof apron, costing between $16-$22 (US dollars).  With the cotton apron, the child can easily slip the elastic neckband over their head and do it up using the velcro tab on the side.  With the waterproof apron, the child pulls the apron over their head and slips their arms through the arm holes.  Even a young toddler can independently put on and take off these aprons.  These aprons come in two sizes: toddler (fits ages 1-3) and primary (fits ages 3-6).  Why Handmade Montessori?  Karla is AMI certified Casa and recently A to I (Congratulations Karla!) so she has wonderful attention to detail and quality.  I have been using her waterproof aprons in my classroom for years and have used the cotton apron at home with my daughter.  She has excellent customer service and even better products!  I can’t recommend her aprons enough!  I use the waterproof aprons for water activities in my classroom, e.g. water transferring, watering plants, washing tables, etc.  I think they would also be great for art activities.  I use the cotton apron at home for kitchen activities e.g. food preparation and baking.  Rubi’s daughter F. uses the cotton apron when painting or chalking on her easel.  Not only are aprons good for protecting clothing, they also give the child a sense of purpose when doing an activity and a point of completion when the apron is removed at the end of the task.

How We Montessori PlacematlogoThis placemat is amazing!  First off, it truly is as beautiful as the photos look.  The outlines are just fantastic for helping young children learn to set the table.  The outlines are even better as they are raised ever so slightly.  Using it multiple times a day?  Not a problem, it just wipes clean!  I’ve even put it to the test as my daughter, while learning to use a spoon, covered it in tomato soup.  Yikes!  That time it didn’t quite wipe clean but it did come completely clean!  I can’t say enough wonderful things about this placemat.  The placemat costs $19.95 (Australian dollars) and there is free international shipping.  Kylie, the owner of How We Montessori Shop, offers excellent customer service.  Every single product in her store has been used, or is currently being used by her sons.  She also writes the very inspiring blog How We Montessori, and it is an excellent reference.

1 year anniversary - apron

Montessori Apron Giveaway is for one apron of your choice from Handmade Montessori.  You can choose between cotton or waterproof, toddler or primary size (ages 1-3 or 3-6), and you can also choose from a wide selection of patterns.  The giveaway is open internationally.  To enter leave a comment on this blog post telling us: Why did you choose Montessori? and Which apron would you choose?  Then click the link to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway and click the green button on the Rafflecopter form telling us “I commented!”  There are also lots of additional ways to enter to get your name in multiple times.  If you haven’t used Rafflecopter before it’s very easy to do so by just following the instructions.  You can also watch this quick video to help you learn. (Sorry it has to be a form using the link.  It still works!)

1 year anniversary - placematMontessori Placemat Giveaway is for one easy clean placemat from How We Montessori Shop.  The giveaway is open internationally.  To enter leave a comment on this blog post telling us: What is your most wanted item from How We Montessori Shop?  Then click the link to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway and click the green button on the Rafflecopter form telling us “I commented!”  There are also lots of additional ways to enter to get your name in multiple times, such as “liking” Montessori Moms or How We Montessori Shop on facebook (if you already do “like” us, count it as a freebie!).

Both giveaways will close on Monday, September 1 at 11:59PST.  Winners must respond within 48 hours of being contacted.  Good luck!   The giveaway is now closed.  Congratulations to K on winning the Montessori Apron!  Congratulations to Jamie on winning the Montessori Placemat!

Disclosure statement: All opinions expressed are my own.  I have not received any compensation for expressing these opinions.  I do have a business relationship with these shop owners so I could facilitate this giveaway.

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Happy 1st Anniversary! Home Consultation Giveaway

We’re so excited to have reached the 1 year anniversary of our blog!  We’ve really enjoyed sharing about our lives with our children as we attempt to implement our Montessori training in our own homes.  We’re amazed at how much our readership continues to grow!  We hope you have enjoyed the past year of posts.

One of our top posts is by Christie about setting up the bedroom for her twin boys.  So to kick off the 1st Anniversary Celebration we thought we’d start with a giveaway for a Skype Home Consultation!!!  Christie offers home consultations through her company, Aid to Life Education.  We know you’ve enjoyed reading about how Christie has set up her home, the toys and books her sons use, and how she and her husband prepared to become parents.  Wouldn’t it be great to have a 1:1 with Christie!

1 year anniversary - skype consult

Home Consultation

Throughout any stage of your child’s life, Aid to Life Education is available for home consultations.  Your success as a family is dependent on providing your child with the right environment at each changing developmental level.  We will help to make your environment flexible and practical, looking at the specific needs of your child.  We will give you tips and strategies for utilizing space and offer suggestions regarding the materials needed to better support your child’s age and ability.

Just as important as the set-up of the physical environment, the adults need to have an understanding of child development and we will provide you with invaluable info on what to expect from the child at each stage.  We will offer you support in parenting and how to help your child master the fundamentals.  All the advice given is based on the ideals and philosophy of Maria Montessori, the purpose being to aid each child in the process of becoming a confident and independent member of society.

The giveaway is for a 1 Hour Skype Home Consultation from Aid to Life Education.  It can be redeemed on any Sunday during the month of September (timing to be mutually agreed upon by recipient and Christie).  This giveaway is open internationally.

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post telling us: What part of bringing Montessori into your home do you find the most challenging?  Then click through to [a Rafflecopter giveaway] and click the green button on the Rafflecopter form telling us “I commented!”  There are also lots of additional ways to enter to get your name in multiple times.  If you haven’t used Rafflecopter before it’s very easy to do so by just following the instructions.  You can also watch this quick video to help you learn. (Sorry it has to be a click through form.  With a free wordpress hosted site I couldn’t seem to embed it on the post.)
 
The giveaway will close on Sunday, August 24 at 11:59PST.  Winner must respond within 48 hours of being contacted.  Good luck!
The giveaway is now closed.  Congratulations to Kathy on winning the Skype Home Consultation!

 

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1 Year of Blogging!

 

 

Montessori Moms - beginning

Can you believe that we’ve been blogging here at Montessori Moms for almost 1 Year!  We are so thankful for all your support.  We love sharing how we’re implementing our Montessori training at home with our children.   We love hearing stories of how we’ve inspired you and helped you.  We love hearing your stories of what you’ve learned and are now implementing in your own homes.

 

We wanted to do something to celebrate our 1 Year Anniversary and to thank you, our readers, for your support.  How about a giveaway?  How about 6 giveaways?  Yes – 6 different and amazing Montessori giveaways!   Starting on Monday, August 18 we will have a month long anniversary celebration of giveaways.  Woo Hoo!!!  Each Monday for one month a different giveaway will be announced.  Some weeks will have multiple giveaways.  You will have one week to enter each giveaway.  So make sure to mark your calendars for Monday, August 18 for the start of our 1 Year Anniversary Giveaway Celebration!

Montessori Moms 1 Year Anniversary Giveaway Celebration

 

Have you noticed we recently organized our blog?  We hope it makes it easier for you to find information and previous posts.  Let us know your thoughts!

 

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Crawling towards Practical Life

By Carriecrawling towards practical life
A. is now 17 Months and is still mostly crawling and cruising around.  She can definitely be considered a late walker.  It was drilled into us during our Montessori training that when a child begins walking s/he will have “hands free to transform the environment”, meaning the child would be ready to take on practical life activities.  While A. may not be walking, she is certainly progressing psychologically and cognitively.  She’s not the same as an 11 month old who is not yet walking.  It was around 12 months that she started exhibiting a stronger will (tantrums!).  She has a stronger need to do things independently and become an active part of her home environment.  She is ready to take on practical life activities and has been doing so for the past few months.

If you’re new to Montessori you may be asking what I mean by “practical life.”  Practical life is everyday life:

  • Taking care of ourselves and our children
  • Taking care of things in our home environment (including yards, animals)
  • Treating each other, and our materials, with care and respect

As a parent I want to create a home that is rich with opportunities for A. to contribute and gain a deep sense of belonging.  I want to offer opportunities for her to develop the self-confidence of independently taking care of her personal needs.  This isn’t so easy when she is still using her hands for locomotion.  In our training we were asked the question “If the child is still crawling, can they participate in practical life?”  I feebly answered this question at the time.   I’ve had to completely re-think this now that I have child who has yet to reach the milestone of walking.

So many practical life situations require the balance and coordination utilized in walking, and the ability to carry items with two hands while walking.  I look forward to introducing those to A. in the future and in the meantime I wanted to share with you some ways in which A. is beginning to do practical life as she crawls and cruises.  I don’t think any of these ideas is revolutionary, nor does A. do all of them in one day.  I have just been conscious of slowing down and inviting her to participate in everyday life.  Having a few child-sized materials has definitely helped.  While these are the activities that are a part of our day, depending on where you live, your culture, and your personal circumstances, the practical life activities that you and your child will do will vary.

morningTo start her day she is able to crawl independently out of her floor bed.  After nursing we go to her dresser and she opens her small cupboard.  She is able to choose an outfit for the day.  The night before I place two outfits for her to choose from.  Then we go to the bathroom to get ready for the day.  It is a collaboration during undressing (I assist in taking out her arms and she pulls her pajama shirt over her head) and during dressing (she gets one leg in the pants and I assist with the second leg.  She pulls it up to her knees while sitting on the stool and I assist by pulling them up all the way once she is standing).  It is also a collaboration as she has a turn to brush her teeth, wash her face, and brush her hair, and then I have a turn.

preparing breakfast2We go to the kitchen and she assists in preparing breakfast.  She cracks the raw eggs for fried or scrambled eggs.  She peels the shell off the hard-boiled egg and uses the egg slicer to cut the egg.  She puts the fruit into the colander, I wash and cut, and then she puts the fruit onto the plate.  She pours water into her dry oatmeal before I cook it.

breakfastDuring meals she has been learning to use a spoon and fork.  She completely self-feeds herself, often choosing to use her hands before using utensils.  She likes to be given the opportunity to wipe her face at the end of the meal, and this is a collaboration as I need to wipe her face and hands before she is clean enough to play.  She then goes to unlock the dogs from their dog crates (they get locked up for meal times).  I love how she develops fine-motor control and unlocks various types of locks in a real, practical manner.  She also treats the dogs with respect by petting them gently, hugging them, and respecting that they have limits of how much they will tolerate being crawled over.

inside houseworkAfter breakfast she often likes to help unload the dishwasher.  She hands me the utensils and I put them away.  This is a great opportunity for language as I name each utensil she pulls out and she tries to say it after me.  For her own utensils, I give them to her to put away in her cupboard.  She is learning how to match up the forks to the forks and the spoons to the spoons.  A. loves to help do the laundry.  She puts the dirty clothes in the washer, puts the wet clothes in the dryer, and puts the dry clothes into the laundry basket.  This is a wonderful sensorial experience of dry, damp, and warm.  She is tall enough now to reach the buttons, so with guidance, she pushes the power and start buttons.

baking3We also like to bake together.  A. loves to put on her apron.  She pours, peels the bananas (for banana muffins), stirs, is learning to open containers, mixes things together by hand, and puts liners in the muffin tins.

PL lunctimeLunch time is eaten at her small table and chair.  It’s hard to set the table when she is still crawling so currently I’m starting by having her bring over the placemats (while I try to ignore the dog hair that gets picked up as they are dragged across the floor).  She then goes to sit down at her table independently when I ask her to do so.  She peels the banana peels off her banana slices, peels her mandarin oranges, picks the edamame beans out of the shell and puts the organic waste into her small bucket.  She is learning to sign ‘please’ when she would like more of something (she signs ‘more’ quite well).  Again, she self-feeds herself and I found it was easier for her to learn self-feeding with utensils at her small table.  She is able to pour water into her glass, albeit not from the spout yet.  She continues to make little spills and often still attempts to drink out of the pitcher afterwards.  She likes to wipe her table at the end of the meal to clean-up.  She will bring over the dustpan and brush for me to use to clean the floor.  She likes to dump her little bucket of organic waste into the compost bin.

outdoor workIn the afternoon we might do some work outdoors.  A. loves to be out in the garden!  While she isn’t truly helping in the garden quite yet, she loves to transfer dirt with her own tools while I do the weeding.  She enjoys picking the leaves and I take deep breaths as I guide her towards the appropriate leaves to pick (lettuce, spinach, and beet leaves).  The vegetable boxes are the perfect cruising height for her.  She is having fun harvesting the carrots and beets as she pulls them out of the soil (I loosen them first).  She also likes to help clean her toys and chair by scrubbing with a brush or a sponge.  I’ll hose down the toys while she continues to enjoy playing with the bubbles or transferring water between two buckets.  I really like the sensorial experiences she is gaining by handling soil, vegetable leaves, and soapy water.

preparing dinner2Helping to prepare dinner is fun as she then collaborates with both Mommy and Daddy.  She transfers the vegetables to the steamer basket.  She puts the cut up vegetables into the salad.  She puts the organic waste into the compost bin.  She pours the dry rice or quinoa into the pot and pours the water into the pot before I cook it.  She adds the spices to foods.  When we make our own pizza’s she scoops the sauce and spreads it, then adds the meat and cheese, chooses to not add the vegetables, and has a pre-dinner snack (still working on self-control).  She puts the ice in Mommy’s glass.  She climbs into her Tripp Trapp high chair to eat dinner as a family (we’ve since removed the baby insert seat).  Preparing food together offers infinite opportunities for language enrichment.

bedtimeAfter dinner it is time to get ready for bed.  Throughout the day she has been given multiple opportunities to use the potty and multiple opportunities to pull up underwear and pants.  She hasn’t gotten into pulling down underwear and pants yet.  Before her bath she crawls over to her laundry basket with her dirty clothes in hand to place them in the basket.  During her bath it is collaboration again as she uses the cloth to wash herself and then I wash her.  I dry her off and she opens the diaper cream and her face cream containers so I can apply them.  She loves to dip her finger into the face cream and put some on her cheeks.  She collaborates in putting on her pajamas.  Then she’s off to sleep in her floor bed.

My own efficiency has been slowed down to include A. in many of these activities yet the activities become more joyful for me as I watch her developing greater motor control, independent skills, have rich sensorial experiences, a greater vocabulary, and self-esteem that she has contributed and done important work.  I find myself pausing and just smiling as she takes on many of these tasks.  She is also a happier, more content child, which makes the day more enjoyable for both of us.

Observation of the child shows that normally he has the desire to act independently; he wants to carry things, to dress and undress alone, to feed himself, and it is not by adult suggestion that he tries to do these things.  On the contrary, his urge is so strong that our efforts are usually spent in trying to restrain him; but when we do this, we are fighting nature, not the will of the child. ~Maria Montessori, Education for a New World

While we do practical life activities our entire lives, allowing the child to follow their natural instincts to do these activities has a much deeper impact on a child who is under 6 years of age.  At this age the child is going through a huge developmental stage of constructing their personality.  While you and I prepare a meal and do the laundry to complete a task, the young child does these activities to feed their soul. Children have a deep need for their movement to be connected to an intelligent and purposeful activity.  Children have a deep desire to belong to the environment that they are in by participating in the activity that surrounds them.

Children are therefore at an age when they are greatly interested in movements and seem to be anxious to learn how they should move about.  They are passing through that epoch of their lives when they must become masters of their own actions.  Physiologically we may say that their muscles and nerves are passing through a period when they are learning how to work harmoniously together.  Successful passage through this period is of utmost importance for an individual’s ultimate perfection.  A good beginning here is most important for a child’s future. ~Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child

Join the conversation!  How have you involved your crawling and cruising child in everyday, practical life?

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Filed under 12-18 Months, Carrie, Food/Feeding, Independence