Category Archives: Christie

Foto Friday: Last Day of Parent/Infant Class

Remember back in January how Christie shared with us that R. and P. had started attending Parent/Infant Class at Aid to Life Education?  See how these boys have grown since then!  They recently attended their last day in the Infant room.

 

P. and R. sit down on the bench upon arrival to remove shoes and socks.  Aid to Life Education - Parent/Child Class Dad watches over R. as he uses the Peg Box. Montessori Peg Box Christie/Mom watches P. as he uses the crayons. Montessori Toddler Crayons           R. enjoys a snack at the end of class. Montessori Placemat and Toddler Self-Feeding      Time to go home.  P. puts on socks and shoes with some assistance. Montessori Toddler Independence

It is time for R. and P. to move up to the Toddler Room!  I’m sure Mom and Dad will continue having fun during these Parent/Toddler classes.

 

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Filed under 12-18 Months, Christie, Food/Feeding, Foto Friday, Independence, Play Area/Toys, Relationships

What’s on our Play Shelf at 13 Months?

At 13 months we have had a big shift in interest and R and P are loving the new activities I have put out for them.

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Here is our play area – no more movement mat and mirror (since about 10 months):

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Stacking Rings/Cubes:
I first introduced these activities many months ago with the series of ring stackers I have from Beginning Montessori Materials. They worked for months on just taking the rings off, then finally figured out how to put them back on. Around a year, their hand-eye coordination seemed to improve dramatically and all of a sudden they were able to work with more challenging wooden rings and cubes and take them off AND put them on.

R and P 3

Puzzles:
I have the shape puzzles out and they are just starting to get interested in them (as well as other simple ones that are small in size and have larger knobs).

R and P 4

Push Balls:
There is a fantastic one by Sapienza that I have in my classroom and it is honestly one of the children’s favourite activities for years. I tried to find one similar locally and settled on the Melissa and Doug 4 ball tower and took away the hammer. I wanted the boys to learn to exert effort with the strength of their own hand and showed them how to push the balls through.

R and P 5

Slotted Box with Chips:
I had an old box from Michaels Craft Store that I made into a make-shift slotted box by pulling off one of the wooden slabs and they love it. I also got the wooden chips from Michaels, and have 3 circular ones and 3 square ones. Similar to the other activities, I do always show the boys how to do the activity first and then invite them to have a turn. This is a great one for repetition and object permanence.

R and P 6

Mail Box:
I have the Nienhuis one in my classroom and again, wanted to find one locally for my boys at home. I settled on the Hape three shape sorter as I wanted it to be not too overwhelming with too many shapes, as well as I wanted them to be successful getting them out by themselves. I wished the lid had a hinge but they figured out how to take it off, take out a shape (seem to only take one out at a time), put back the lid and then attempt to put the shape in. If I am sitting with them I remove the lid, take out all the shapes, and then put the lid back on for them.

R and P 7

Opening and Closing Containers:
Another favourite! I collect bottles always when I am on vacation from hotels, etc., then wash them out and use them in my classroom and now at home. I put together a collection of about 10 different ones (also use the travel containers you can buy at any local drugstore) in a basket and show how to ‘turn’ the lids on and off. They definitely love this one (haven’t quite figured out how to turn their wrists yet) but once the lid is off, like putting it on and off.

R and P 8

Basket of Animals:
Since R and P seem to be craving language and want to know the names of EVERYTHING, this basket seems like a necessary activity. The difference in this is that when we introduce language objects, an adult always should be present to offer the child the right names. So it is very much an adult directed activity (naming each animal, letting them hold it, and then asking for certain ones “Where is the duck?”). This also has been a great activity as they love to take things out and put things in baskets/cupboards/drawers/etc. so we always put the animals back in the basket when done.

R and P 9

Basket of Balls:
This basket is a saviour! Not only are they loving to throw and chase after these balls, but it gives them an outlet as they love to throw. Their mind is now telling them, I can control my body. I know how to grasp, pick up, etc and now I want to exert my effort. In the beginning they don’t know the boundaries of what is ok to throw and what isn’t, so this is where we need to be the positive role model. Many times a day I say things such as, “The bottle is not for throwing. We throw the balls.” And then I pass them a ball to throw. I am not joking that the last time I said that, P went HIMSELF to the basket, picked up his own ball, threw it, then smiled at me! They understand SO much without being able to speak and we must remember this.

Books:
We cannot forget the books! The boys LOVE their basket of books (which I rotate every few weeks) and choose to look at these often. They take one from the basket, put it in front of them and know how to flip through the pages. The majority of the time they will pick up a book at pass it to me with an “aadddaa?” Meaning, read this to me please?

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We have another collection of more ‘story-type’ books in their bedroom that we read before naptime and bedtime (both R and P get to pick one that he would like me to read).

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What’s on your play shelf that your child really enjoys right now?

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Filed under 12-18 Months, Christie, Play Area/Toys

Why Baby Led Weaning Works for Us

By Christie

 

It is time for the six month check-up.  We are excited to find out the new ‘measurements’ for our boys and see how much weight they have gained.  However, what we felt when we left the doctor’s office was as totally different feeling; one that left me questioning my own knowledge and experience.

“The boys have not gained enough weight.”

“They have dropped to under the 5th percentile.”

“You may not be producing enough milk for the both of them anymore.”

“You should start introducing baby cereal.”

As a new mom I can see how the outside influence of professionals can make you change your ways in a heartbeat, no matter what you believe is the ‘right’ thing to do.  Because for an instant, I did just that.  In our training, we learned that the child will show us physical and psychological signs for weaning.  The child will begin to drool, has cut his/her first tooth, and should be able to sit up with minimal support.  The child will show an interest in people eating around him/her and start reaching for food.  This was part of my mental checklist and because the boys were a month premature and were not sitting well on their own, had no teeth, etc. I had the right mind to hold off.  But here I was, rushing out to Whole Foods to purchase Organic Baby Rice Cereal!

Then, I had to check in with myself (as well as vent and get reassurance from those around me).

Were my boys happy and thriving?

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(R sitting with support in nursing pillow, looking at one of his favourite books.)

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(First time P ventured off the movement mat.)

YES!

Were they sleeping well and through the night?  

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YES!

Did they show signs of distress or lack of food?  

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NO! (Big sigh of relief.)

I was introduced to Baby Led Weaning after my training, once I started my Parent-Infant classes.  At snack time, one parent pulled out a whole apple, took a bite, and then handed it to her 9 month old to eat.  I was in awe!  I researched it and read the book Baby Led Weaning, which I thought was very interesting and sounded very much on page with the Montessori philosophy.

Some key components include:

  • Feed babies food in their natural form (cooked or steamed if needed)
  • Teach babies to feed themselves and eat as much (or as little) as they need.
  • No need for purees or spoon feeding, babies will learn to break down the food in their mouth.
  • Baby may gag a bit in the beginning, but remember that the baby’s gag reflex is not as far back as an adult’s.
  • Hold off on grains until baby’s system is producing more amylase, which is a type of ptyalin that helps to break down starches.

So this is what we did.

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The boys began with avocado, banana, steamed cauliflower, broccoli, apple, carrots, and pear.  Yes, at first I was a bit nervous and so were those around me, especially when the boys gagged on the food!  It took us a while to get into a groove and perfect the set-up (at their weaning table with the proper dishware etc.) but now they have all meals at their table (along with complementary milk feeds).

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Overall, it is a very lovely experience for all of us.  The boys are now enjoying many different types of organic food and I find it easier to prepare food for them as I do not have to do much else than what I already do for my husband and I.  Some of their favourites right now include Ezekiel bread with avocado, homemade pancakes, chicken drumsticks, salmon, cod, meatballs, yams, sweet potato, banana, raspberries and blueberries.  Unfortunately, the “broccoli loving babies” that I had in the beginning are no longer and this is when the “lovely experience” turns not so lovely as they very purposefully throw what they don’t want on the floor.  I am very thankful for our dog on these occasions as she gets invited in to assist with clean up!

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Every meal is finished up with a drink of water from a real glass (ours are shot glasses from Ikea) and in the beginning I poured only a little to get them used to holding the glass with two hands and tilting it up to drink.  Now they have pretty good control and will hold out their glass for ‘more’, which I pour from a child-size pitcher.  At the end of a meal they definitely show signs of being done, by pulling off their bibs, pushing their dish away, or by pushing their chair away from the table.

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Next steps?

It is time for us to introduce the use of cutlery, which opens up a few more doors in terms of choice of food.  I haven’t purposely held off, but with the boys approaching 11 months it is time!  I have also started to encourage them the wipe their own faces, hands, table, etc….basically to help me clean up their mess.  Not that they do this as of yet but the language and actions are there for the future. 🙂

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So all in all this too has been a learning experience for me as an educator and mom.  We are quick to give our opinions about what we feel is ‘right’ by the books, but every child and situation is different and what works for one family may not work for another.  That is why Baby Led Weaning works for us, and it may (or may not) work for you!

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Filed under 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Christie, Food/Feeding

First Day of School for R and P

By Christie

Happy New Year!

It feels like forever since I have shared what has been going on with R and P as we have been extremely busy with travel, illness, work, visitors, etc., but I am happy to take the time and let you know about a very exciting thing that happened a couple weeks ago…..R and P started school!

Although I spend every day either incorporating Montessori methods at home with my twins or running Parent-Child classes for others, this is the first time my two worlds came together.

When I started Aid to Life Education 4 years ago, I knew that I wanted to offer something different.  I chose to walk away from teaching Montessori in the traditional sense and create a program that is in need – to work with parents and their babies.  The first few years (especially the first year) in raising a child is overwhelming to say the least.  And I wanted to create an environment to support moms during this time, while aiding the children in the development of concentration, language acquisition, coordination of movement, independence, and instill a love for learning.

The Parent-Infant program runs weekly on Mondays and I hired a lovely AMI Infancy trained teacher to run the classes so I can attend as a parent.  It was actually quite easy to keep the ‘mom-hat’ on and focus on being with the boys in a beautifully prepared environment, along with the other families.

Once we arrive to the classroom, I sit the boys on the child size bench and remove their coats, socks, shoes, and pants.  Because they are in a very active stage, it is extremely important to keep their legs and feet bare (as much as possible) in order for their clothing not to restrict their movement.  I am ‘that mom’ with my camera on the first day, snapping pictures during the whole class to document everything!

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R and P sit on the bench upon arrival.  

We are then ready to enter the class and set the boys up with their own activities on mats.  The shelves are low, there is a movement mat and mirror, and many different activities for grasping, hand-eye coordination, language acquisition, etc.

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R and Daddy start with a familiar activity, Ring and Peg on Rocking Base (only one ring on in the beginning)

Over the next hour, R and P get the opportunity to try some materials that we do not have at home such as the spindle with napkin rings, the object permanence box, the bar to learn to pull up, the walking wagon, a language activity with forest animals, etc.  And we get the opportunity to enjoy one full hour of being absolutely present with our children.  It is a win – win!

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Becky shows R the Punch Ball

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Becky shows P Spindle with Rings

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R and I do a Language Activity together.

Next, all the children sit together at low tables for snack time and we set them up with placemats, plates, cutlery, and glasses.  I have been implementing Baby-Led Weaning with the boys (to be discussed in a future post) so they are able to feed themselves off their plates.  It is great to see them so capable although it does create a big mess!

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Lastly, we all come together to play instruments and sing songs.  And then class is over!  The children are all tired and ready to go home, however I wasn’t.  I wanted to stay and do it all over again.  I am not sure who enjoyed it more, me or the boys!  Now I actually look forward to Mondays. 🙂

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Filed under 6-12 Months, Christie, Play Area/Toys

Setting up the Home: The Bedroom

By Christie

The boys turned 6 months last week and it is amazing to think that they have been a part of our lives for half a year!  Time flies and I love that we are able to document their development on this great blog, sharing our routines and methods with those people out there who are curious as to how things are done the Montessori way.  My hope is that from reading our personal stories, you may in some manner feel more comfortable incorporating even a little bit of this theory into raising your children!

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Photo by Felicia Chang: www.feliciachangphotography.com

I would like to continue on from one of my previous posts on setting up the home and this time let’s talk about preparing the child’s bedroom.  Please keep in mind that the fundamental principles incorporated are as a result of my AMI Montessori training, however some slight adjustments were made based on space and the logistics of having twins (and some personal choices).

I was so excited to start setting up the room as we had painted it a beautiful yellow colour and just got new carpet laid (part of our ongoing house renovations).  The room had two large windows which let in lovely light, however I had become obsessed with finding black out curtains in order to aid the boys in healthy sleep habits!  I ended up hanging blinds (so we could have them closed and the room would still remain bright during the day naps) and black out curtains on top, purchased from Canadian Tire.  We had them shortened as I knew the boys would be spending a lot of time on the floor in their room and I wanted it to be safe for them.  I was also focused on having the room pitch black at night so I attached industrial Velcro to the bottom of the curtains (and the underside of the window sill) and Velcro them shut before bedtime every night.  Seems like a bit much, I know, however R and P are great sleepers and I believe all these factors add up!

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I knew that the room had to be flexible and practical, and that it would change based on the boys’ developmental level.  The first stage was to prepare the environment for a child from birth to 5 months.  After this time, certain key factors needed to change due to the introduction of solid foods and the child’s development of movement.

There are 4 key areas to keep in mind when setting up the child’s room for this age:

Area for Movement:

As discussed in my previous post, we chose to place the movement mat, mirror, and low shelf out in the family area as opposed to in the bedroom (as it is suggested in our training).  This is generally where they spend all their awake and alert time, however we have a lovely sheepskin on the floor in their bedroom where I place them as I change or dress the other one on the changing table.  Because they are both not officially crawling yet (rolling and slithering don’t count) I have not had to think too much about setting up some toys for them to play with in their room.  I am sure it will happen before I know it and I will need to adjust their room accordingly.

Area for Changing:

When we are changing or dressing our child, it is such a wonderful time to engage with him/her.  We are typically fully present and close to our child’s face to participate in a conversation and provide a lot of eye contact.  We recommend not hanging mobiles over the changing table (as sometimes done) because we want this time to be special between the adult and the child.  In my case, we have a double dresser which we have turned into a double changing table.  So when there is an extra set of hands, both boys can be changed simultaneously.  I find changing/dressing to be quite enjoyable as it gives me some one on one time with each baby.  We are able to have at least a few minutes gazing into each other’s eyes, having a conversation, completely uninterrupted.

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Area for Feeding:

Carrie wrote a lovely post about the relationship of feeding your child and it starts by creating a space in their bedroom that meets everyone’s needs.  You need a comfortable chair, nursing pillow (double in my case), a place to put your burp cloths and water, and a foot stool.  In our training it is suggested to have a non-rocking chair as when you are feeding your child you are focusing on one thing and it is an active experience.  The rocking motion of course lulls the child off to sleep (which you may choose to do) and I chose to separate the two experiences for the boys.  In the beginning we were focused on getting their weight up so I had to work very hard to keep them awake while I nursed.  I remember having to blow softly on them, tickle their feet, rub their heads…anything to keep them sucking!  That definitely changed around 2 months (once out of the Symbiotic Period) as I began to put a routine in place which had R and P eating right after they woke up (bedtime is an exception).

Area for Sleeping:

When I tell people about how I have set up an area for movement with a mat on the floor and low mirror, they look at me with great interest and ask more questions.  However, when I tell people that I use low beds instead of cribs, they look at me like I have lobsters crawling out of my ears!  It is ‘against the grain’ and quite hard for people to accept but I hope that at least one of you reading this will have the courage to try it with your own child.  We don’t claim that this is a fail-safe method.  Rather, you will come across some challenges (like when your child starts rolling and crawling) however the hope is that the principles that you are instilling in your child from such an early age (independence, respect, confidence, good self-esteem, healthy sleeping habits) will make it all worth it!

For the first few months we have the child sleep in a bassinet, and then transition him/her to sleep on the low bed.  In our case, we kept the two bassinets in our room until the boys started sleeping longer stretches at night (which was the best thing in the world at that time).  This happened around 3 months, which was pretty much when they started hitting the sides of their bassinets so I knew it was time to make the transition.  I had them sleep for one week in their bassinets on top of their low beds in order to create a point of reference for them in their bedroom.  Then, it was time to make the switch!  I was so nervous that first night and barely slept.  I have a video monitor set up so I spent a good deal of night checking it.  And guess what?  They survived!

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It was a seamless transition and all was good…..until they started rolling.  The day P learned to roll I was woken up that night to a “Thump.  Waaaaaa!”  And P had rolled off his bed and was stuck between his and R’s mattress.  Back to sleepless nights for me!  This happened a couple more times before I decided to add a pool noodle under the edge of the fitted sheet so it would bumper my rolling children.  And sleep was good again.  So, I have made a small adjustment to what we learned in our training and I will reassess once the boys start crawling.  I want them to be able to get on and off of their low beds and believe that the bumper won’t hinder this (not very high) but only time will tell.

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So, in closing, I also have to keep in mind that their environment (and me) must remain flexible and practical.  I love spending time in R and P’s room and believe they do as well.  When I put them to nap, or when they wake from their naps they have the chance to look around at their space without the restriction of bars.  Both boys have pictures above their beds of our family which I find them observing, or they like to stare at the wall decals.  I enjoy watching them take their time looking and learning from their surroundings!

Please feel free to ask questions about any part of this set-up or the routine.  I had also previously written an article here: http://mariamontessori.com/mm/?p=921 about the benefits of using a floor bed instead of a crib.

Until next time!

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Filed under 0-3 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Bedroom, Christie

Books for Babies

By Christie

When we think about what books are best for children under three, we need to keep in mind their developmental level.

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These children are in the process of adaptation, which means they are learning how to relate and become a part of the world that they see around them.  Children between birth and three possess what Dr. Montessori termed an unconscious absorbent mind, meaning they will pick up every single detail of their surroundings without any preconceived ideas or judgement.  Because of this, the books that the child looks at need to represent this reality.  The books need to do with the life of the child and be culturally appropriate.  It is important that the images in the books are based in reality and if possible not have images of things that don’t really exist like smiling or talking animals.  This characteristic is very hard to find as the majority of children’s books possess friendly looking creatures that are generally smiling and/or talking.  There is definitely a time in the child’s life where these make-believe books are encouraged, it is just not for the child who is under three years old.

 

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The first books that we introduce to the children are books with one object per page.  Then, they slowly increase in content to include one object with the name per page, then two objects with names per page, etc.  The process continues to more objects with a short text (ex. Today is my birthday.  I will have a party.).  The pictures in the books move from real images to drawings, however they still need to be realistic.

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At home or in the classroom it is important to have a small selection of books out at one time (ex. 4-8 books).  These can be on a little bookshelf for the child to access.  It is recommended to rotate the books every week or two from your larger selection.  Show your child how to manipulate the book and turn the pages.  If you handle books with respect and model this for the child, he/she will do so as well.

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Here is a selection of books that I have in my classroom (and at home) which generally fit this criteria:

Real Pictures:

Baby Basics – Animals                                                 www.priddybooks.com

Trucks – Bright Baby                                                   www.priddybooks.com

Animals – Early Learning Fun                                  www.priddybooks.com

Things That Go – Early Learning Fun                   www.priddybooks.com

Words – Early Learning Fun                                     www.priddybooks.com

Baby Faces Board Book – Smile!                                Grobel Intrater

Families – Babies Everywhere                                     Star Bright Books

Carry Me – Babies Everywhere                                  Star Bright Books

Eating the Rainbow – Babies Everywhere             Star Bright Books

Cuddle – Happy Healthy Baby                                  www.freespirit.com

Move – Happy Healthy Baby                                     www.freespirit.com

Hands Can                                                                   Hudson, Cheryl Willis Bourke

Sizes – DK Flaptastic                                                      www.dk.com

Cuddly Animals – DK Touch and Feel                    www.dk.com

Christmas – DK Touch and Feel                                www.dk.com

Welcome Song for Baby                                             Richard Van Camp

Wild Animals – Amazing Animals                           Vision St. Publishing

Sea Creatures – Amazing Animals                          Vision St. Publishing

Emergency – Mighty Movers                                    Vision St. Publishing

Diggers and Dumpers – Mighty Movers               Vision St. Publishing

Baby’s First Word Book                                               Nicola Baxter

Maybe My Baby                                                               Irene O’Book

First 100 Things That Go                                             Make Believe Ideas Ltd.

Things That Grow                                                           Snapshot Books

In the Wild – Baby Animals                                        Kingfisher Publications

On the Farm – Baby Animals                                      Kingfisher Publications

Illustrated Pictures:

Bathtime for Twins                                                     Ellen Weiss

Playtime for Twins                                                      Ellen Weiss

Everywhere Babies                                                     Susan Meyers

Mini Masters Artist Series                                       Julie Merberg and Suzanne

Good Night Our World Series                                David J. Adams and Anne Rosen

Big Red Barn                                                                 Margaret Wise Brown

Baby Animals                                                               Gyo Fujikawa

In My Tree (Pond/Den/Ocean/etc)                  Sara Gillingham & Lorena S

Wiggle! March! – Indestructibles                       Kaaren Pixton

Little Helpers                                                               Innovative Kids

Poems to read to the very young                        Eloise Wilkin

How Do I Love You?                                                Marion Dane Bauer

The Garden – First Words                                     Flying Frog Publishing

Food – First Words                                                   Flying Frog Publishing

Baby Beluga                                                                  Raffi

Machines At Work                                                     Byron Barton

Who Lives Here?                                                        Paula Croyle

 

Look forward to having you add to the list!

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Filed under 0-3 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Christie, Language

What is so Special About the Montessori Mobiles? Part 1 – The Munari

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During our training we spent a good deal of time learning about the Anatomy and Physiology of the Human Body in order to have a clear understanding of what aids to give the child throughout his or her early years.  Our five senses begin to develop in utero and specifically the eyes begin to experience some light and darkness influenced by where the mother lives, the time of year, etc. but that is about it.

At birth, the child can only see approximately 30cm/12 inches in front of him or her.  Amazingly, that is the exact distance from the mother’s eyes to her breast!  I was truly blown away when this was pointed out to me.  Nature is so wise.

For the first two weeks we allow the newborn an adjustment period and after that we begin placing him or her under the first Montessori mobile, the Munari.  One of the special key factors about the Montessori mobiles is that we offer them to the child when he or she is awake and alert.  More commonly, you see commercial mobiles hanging over the area where a child sleeps.  For us, the purpose is to help the child learn to focus, track, and develop his or her visual sense so he or she needs to be actively engaged and not in the process of falling asleep.

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The Munari is a black and white mobile made from 2 dimensional geometrical shapes.  All the shapes and dowels are balanced off of a glass ball which reflects the light. This mobile moves very slowly in the environment (just by natural air flow) which allows the child to observe it with great concentrated energy.  The newborn is unable to see colour so the Munari is black and white in order to give the child the greatest contrast in shades.  Also, as the newborn visually studies his or her environment, he or she picks up that objects are made from linear and curvilinear figures so the Munari offers these geometric shapes to the child.

Because I have twins (and my husband only let me put one hook in our ceiling) I placed both boys under the Munari at the same time.  It was hung from the ceiling to land approximately 30 cm from their line of sight and not directly above them – more so they could look at it on a slight angle.  I found this time very special (once R was ok spending more time on the movement mat) and really enjoyed sitting back and observing them while they concentrated on the mobile.  They became fascinated with it for longer and longer periods of time and of course they couldn’t move yet (except for random non-voluntary flailing of arms and legs) so this became a time when I could also grab something to eat and have a cup of coffee!  Definitely a win-win situation.

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I kept this mobile up for almost 2 months.  When I observed that the boys were disinterested in it after a period of time, I would simply hook it up against the wall so that they could still stay on the movement mat and I would introduce another activity such as listening to some music, looking in the mirror, or grasping one of the rattles.  Right from the beginning we try to encourage only doing one thing at a time in order to help with the development of focus and concentration so each of these activities was done in turn.  Eventually, it was time for the Munari to be replaced with the next Montessori mobile in the series and it now hangs ready to be loaned out to another family with a newborn.
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The Munari mobile is not too difficult to make (I did a mobile making workshop with an upper elementary class and they each made one in about 2 hours) and here is what you will need:

  • Three thin wooden dowels (painted black), a glass ball (ornament), shiny black poster board paper (white on other side), fishing line, scissors, and glue.  I was able to find all materials at a local craft store we have here called Michaels.

Directions:

  • The Munari has three different levels.  The fishing line attaches to the center of the top dowel and this will hang the Munari above the child’s movement mat.
  • The top dowel is about 42 cm/16.5 inches long. From one side hangs the glass ball and from the other side hangs fishing line to the next dowel.
  • The second dowel is about 2/3 the size of the top dowel.  From one side hangs a black and white circle and from the other side hangs fishing line to the next dowel.
  • The third dowel is about ½ the size of the top dowel.  From either side hangs the two remaining black and white figures.20130915_154819_resized
  • The first thing you need to find out is the diameter of your sphere.  This will be called ‘A’ in our formula.
  • ‘A’ will also be the inner circle of the two dimensional circle.  On one side the inner circle is white, the other side is black.  The outer circle will be called ‘B’.  ‘B’ is equal to A plus 1/3 A.

Circle

  • The next shape (looks like two trapezoids together) starts as a square, which has each side equal to ‘B’.  Measure the square half-way on each side and connect that dot with the two opposite corners on both sides.  That will show you where you need to cut to make it the shape of the two trapezoids together (shortest length touching).  You will do the same with the other one that goes on the back.

First trapezoid

  • The other larger one begins as a rectangle, with two sides ‘B’ and the other two sides being 2’B’.   Do the same thing for the rectangle as you did for the square.  First you cut the paper on the long sides, and then you trace the black and white for the middle.

Second trapezoid

  • The shapes are attached to the dowels with fishing line.  The length of the line for each shape will be determined by the diameter of the ball and the balancing point of each dowel.

Good luck and enjoy observing your child while he or she learns to focus and track while developing concentration and independence!

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Bringing Home Babies

By Christie

The day that we brought the boys home from the hospital feels like a lifetime ago.  They were quite small and my concerns were the same as any new mom: “Are they getting enough milk?  Why are they crying?  Do they really only sleep for 2-3 hour intervals?!”  Not even my intensive Montessori trainings could have prepared me for what real lack of sleep feels like!

The first couple of weeks were spent figuring out life together as a new family.  My husband T had never held a baby before let alone change a diaper (times that by two) so getting him comfortable was top priority.  I was recovering from a C-Section so not very mobile and required a lot of help with the babies.  My mom C was also here staying with us and was a huge support in preparing meals, cleaning, and acting as my personal chauffer since I wasn’t allowed to drive.

In our training we talked about the importance of the “Symbiotic Period” which is the first 6-8 weeks of a child’s life.  During this time the mother and the child establish an important relationship with one another which is crucial to each other’s life.  Through holding, handling, and feeding the mother and child come to know each other in their new relationship and through this the child develops basic trust in the world.  The father plays a very important role as well.  He is the protective barrier and can form his own special relationship with the child through participating in the infant’s physical care (hence why it was so important for T to learn how to change a diaper!!).

Bringing home multiples altered this model a bit.  I had to be conscious of satisfying both boys’ needs equally and T definitely took more of a role in the everyday holding, handling, and feeding (we had to supplement for first 6 weeks).  I found it helpful to read passages of Silvana Montanaro’s book Understanding the Human Being to T in order for him to understand the importance of this period and his role as a father.  During this time he began the nightly ritual of bathing the boys which is a special time for all three of them.  I truly believe that this routine not only helped the boys go to bed without a fuss but also has made T’s bond with the twins so strong due to these nightly interactions.

When we could, we would make an effort to put the boys down on the movement mat (see my previous post on the area for movement).  Now I don’t know what I was expecting but I didn’t realize that with one of my little guys it would take so much work to get him comfortable spending time there!  I guess I thought I would just put them down and they would be happy and content for hours!  Well, like introducing anything new, it was a process.  P was very content to be placed on the mat under the Munari (the first black and white mobile introduced from 2 weeks on) however with R I would literally put him down and he would immediately start crying to be picked up!  Over the course of days and weeks it was my goal to ‘remediate’ this as I knew just how important it was for babies to experience the early stages of independence.  I started out sitting on the mat while holding him, then put him on my lap, then lay him down beside me….all for very short intervals of time.  This was done multiple times throughout each day and eventually I was able to put him down and leave him on the mat without me.  I am happy to report that R now loves being on the movement mat for long periods of time (which mommy also loves!).

P and R observing the Munari mobile while laying on their topponcinos on the movement mat

R and P observing the Munari mobile while laying on their topponcinos on the movement mat

The first two months of R and P’s lives seems like a distant blur.  We survived the Symbiotic Period and the thing that made it all worth it was when the boys finally looked at us after the two months and gave us real smiles!

SmilesSmiles

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Setting up our Home

By Christie 

When we found out we were having twin boys I thought to myself, “Now this is REALLY going to put my Montessori theory to the test!!”  It was finally time for me to put my many years of experience with other people’s babies into practice and I was ready for the challenge.

A huge factor in the Montessori philosophy is preparing the environment.  This is a fancy way of saying that you must spend a good deal of time getting your house ready for the child/ren in such a way that you take into account their needs at each developmental stage.  By creating a beautiful, calm, simple space for the baby with the right amount of stimulation it is hoped that he/she will form a secure and healthy attachment to his/her new family and world.

My husband and I have a fairly small house so we really needed to be mindful of how we were to set up the space for not one but two babies!  Setting up their room was so exciting (to be discussed in a future post) however one of the components which we term the area for movement (aka play zone) I chose to create outside of their room and make it a part of our common living space.  I wanted a visible area where I could put the boys down and they would be able to entertain themselves while I made a much needed cup of coffee!

So, I needed to prepare such an environment.  What did I need?  A movement mat, mirror, cabinet, shelf, and materials.  Please keep in mind that we were on a budget so the items that I bought are not the top of the line but still serve the purpose.  I wanted the space to be beautiful, calm, and simple and not have my house overtaken by baby items so had to be selective with what I chose to buy.

The movement mat that I purchased is a mattress topper from Ikea similar to this one and I covered it with a rubberized flannel pad and a neutral bed sheet (also purchased at Ikea).

The mirror I got was from Canadian Tire.  Ideally it would not be framed and you need to make sure it is secured to the wall.  I LOVE using these Velcro-type strips for all the things I hang for the boys as they can easily be removed when they grow and when the height of the pictures etc. need to be adjusted.

I had the hardest time finding the right cabinet with enough shelves and glass doors but not too large in size.  I finally found one at Winners/Home Sense however this is the one that I am still on the hunt for (although totally out of my price range).

Now, what to put in the cabinet?  Well, I was lucky!  Since I had been running Parent-Infant classes for a few years now, I was able to simply bring my materials home from school.  What do I mean by materials?  Basically they are toys.  I am sure you have noticed by now that we have a particular lingo in the Montessori world.  We choose to call them materials as they all have a specific developmental purpose however simply put, they are educational toys.  I purchased the majority of mine from: Beginning Montessori and Michael Olaf.  I occasionally find nice items at places around town, keeping in mind some key factors like the toys need to be small, preferably made from wood or another natural substance, and purposeful.

In the first few months you don’t need much except a few small grasping materials, a music box or other source of music, and a selection of mobiles.  We hung one of those plant hanger hooks in the ceiling above the movement mat (my husband was not too happy about this) and this is where the mobiles are hung.  The specific toys were placed on a small low shelf (actually a shoe rack from Canadian Tire).

The space was ready! Thank goodness because the boys chose to arrive almost a month early! 🙂

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Don’t forget to enter to win the Five Pack of Toys from Beginning Montessori by commenting on our blog or our facebook page with something you’d like us to write about in future posts. Entries must be submitted by Saturday, August 24 11:59PM PST.  (Contest has now closed)

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Christie

Tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Christie Stanford and I was born and raised in the beautiful city of Vancouver.  I have lived here most of my life except for a 9 year stint in Ontario during my teenage years.  I have been married for 7 years to a wonderful man named Ted and we have recently been blessed with twin boys R. and P., born May 2013.

 

Christie Family

How were you introduced to Montessori and what led you to pursue your training?

I was fortunate enough to attend Montessori as a young child and feel this early experience shaped me into the person I am today.  With fond memories and a love for the Montessori philosophy, I decided for this to be my career path.

I have completed all three levels of AMI Montessori training and worked for 7 years at the Casa level and 3 years at the Elementary level before starting my own company Aid to Life Education.  I currently offer the only Montessori Parent Participation Program for Infants and Toddlers in Western Canada which has grown in immense popularity with families all across the lower mainland.  I currently run 10 classes per week and offer home consultations in the evenings and on weekends.

How did the Assistants to Infancy training impact your life?

After completing the Assistants to Infancy training in 2010, I knew that I had to walk away from teaching Montessori in the traditional sense and start something for families to really help them with their children in the first years of life.  I felt a need to share my passion and knowledge with parents and help them aid their children into becoming independent, confident, and happy individuals.

Now that I have my own children I feel that I have been blessed with this knowledge on child development and thankful to know what to do with them at each particular stage.  However, theory is one thing and implementing it with my own children who have different personalities and temperaments is another!  It is an ongoing learning experience and one that I am loving every day.

What has been helpful to you as you implement Montessori at home with your children?

It was very helpful for me to know how to set up my home beforehand so that my environment was prepared for Robbie and Parker’s arrival.  I talked extensively to my husband about what to expect and read to him “Understanding the Human Being” by Silvana Montenaro.  I also enjoy reading the blog “Montessori on the Double” and Janet Lansbury’s posts on RIE.

Last words?

I try to remember that every day is a new day and what happened yesterday is in the past and tomorrow has yet to come!

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