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Foto Friday: Homemade Christmas Gifts

 

 

Can we have a Foto Friday on a Sunday?  22 Month Old A. made Christmas gifts and cards for her friends.  With a little help of pre-measured ingredients and finishing touches by Mommy, A. was able to do a lot the work herself to make these beautiful Bird Seed Ornaments.

22 Months - bird seed ornaments 1 Pour flour, water, gelatin, and corn syrup into bowl.  Give it a good stir.

DSC_0050 Pour in the bird seed.  Stir it all together.

bird seed ornaments Scoop into Christmas cookie cutters.

gift from toddlerInsert straw pieces and leave to harden.

DSC_0096  Tie a piece of ribbon through the hole.  Hang on a tree outside for the birds to enjoy.

DSC_0105 Don’t forget a card!  Crayons and dot stickers allowed A. to add her personal touch.

 

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Filed under 18-24 Months, Carrie, Foto Friday, Independence

Foto Friday: Squeezing Orange Juice

2 year old E. squeezes the oranges for freshly squeezed orange juice.  Yum!

Toddler Orange Squeezing DSC04107 toddler squeezing orange juice DSC04109 DSC04110

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Filed under 2 years +, Food/Feeding, Foto Friday, Independence, Tomoko

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

Foto Friday: Gardening

Yvonne’s daughters aged 2 and 4 were busy in the garden this summer: weeding and exploring!

toddler gardening toddler gardeningtoddler gardening

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Filed under 2 years +, Foto Friday, Independence, Nature/Outdoors, Yvonne

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!  The giveaway is now closed.  Congratulations to Crystal G. on winning the 5 Pack of Beginning Montessori Toys!

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

Foto Friday: Pouring

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

DSC_0551_crop DSC_0554_crop

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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Filed under 18-24 Months, Food/Feeding, Foto Friday, Independence, Rubi

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

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.

R and P 13 months 1

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

R and P 2

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?

R and P 10

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).

R and P 11

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 Toilet Learning at 1 Year

By Carrie

I hope you’ve enjoyed following our journey of toilet learning this week from Cloth Diapers and EC, to Standing Diaper Changes and Underwear.  To wrap up the week I wanted to share some of the reasons why I chose this route for toilet learning.

Avoid Power StrugglesDSC_0022 (4)_crop

Power struggles are more common when toilet learning/training occurs at age 2-3.  Ever heard of the “terrible two’s?”  It’s common that two year olds have an increased desire to make their own choices and assert themselves.  I want to take toileting out of the equation while A. goes through this.  There will be more than enough other ways for her to assert herself and things to tantrum about.  I hope that toileting is just a natural part of the day and that by age 2/3 A. will be ready for more responsibility and control of her own toileting.

Sensitive Period for Toileting

“The myelination of neurons necessary to ready the body for control of the bowels and bladder is completed by the time children are approximately twelve months old.” ~Montessori From the Start.   

Between 12-18 Months children go through a Sensitive Period for toileting.  This means that a child is gaining an awareness of their toileting needs during this time and if we take the steps to accommodate this developing awareness, then a child will more naturally learn to use the toilet than if we take efforts at a later stage.  From my experience working with children at my preschool and seeing various Sensitive Periods in action, when children are in a Sensitive Period they have intense interest and learn the concept quite quickly.  I want to devote my time to aiding my daughter during this Sensitive Period for toileting.  I believe it will be more of a natural, gradual development towards toileting independence.

Decreased Constipation and UTIs

Many children who have joined my preschool and have recently been toilet trained experience constipation.  While I’m not a medical doctor, I wonder if holding in poo (or pee) is related to the psychological development of asserting control which is typically stronger at age 2/3.  (I also know it is important to keep up fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and whole-grains in a child’s diet to decrease constipation at any age)  Dr. Jill Lekovic in Diaper Free Before 3 indicates that earlier toilet learning decreases the risks for urinary tract infections and constipation.  So does Gwen Dewar at Parenting Science.

Get out of Diapers SoonerDSC_0066 (3)

Wiping a poopy bottom is not fun.  Wiping a bottom that has pooped in the potty, not so bad.  While the process may take longer than 3 days, typically the child who begins earlier is out of diapers at a younger age.  Decreased time and money spent on (washing) diapers sounds good to me.  There are also many who believe the increased use of disposable diapers has led to a later age for toilet training, when historically, and currently internationally, many children stop using diapers before age 2.  I think that wearing underwear and eliminating in a toilet is more comfortable than diapers and I want to help my daughter experience greater comfort by being in underwear sooner.

Because a Child is Capable of it 

I want to demonstrate to my daughter that I have faith in her abilities.  I have heard from so many friends that their children, and many Montessori toddler teachers that the children in their programs, are successful wearing underwear by age 2.  My early EC joys lead me to believe that my daughter does have the capacity to connect to her elimination and I want to support her in this.

“If parents remember that their mission is not a child in “dry pants” but a child successful in her formation of independence, coordinated movement, language, and will, they will know that their hard work on their child’s behalf is worth the effort.” ~Montessori From the Start  

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Nature furnishes special protection for the young.  For instance, the child is born amidst love; his very origin is by love, and once born he is surrounded by the love of father and mother, a love which is not artificial or enforced by reason.  ~Maria Montessori, Education For a New World  

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Filed under 12-18 Months, 18-24 Months, Carrie, Diapers/Toileting