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Montessori at home

Author: FLORA

I am a post-career SAHM (Stay-at-home mom), living in Bozeman Montana. I share stories and ideas from parenting with a Montessori and Positive Discipline inspired perspective. Also, I LOVE DIY projects and finding great ways to use thrift store or hand-made toys for my little ones.
Learn more about why I say I'm "Just" a stay-at-home mom.

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Recent Posts

Decide What you Will Do (To Motivate Children to Clean-up)

Today, I want to share how this tool can be very effective in motivating a toddler to clean up.  &#...

Learning about numbers

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The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) says, “Each day offers us countless opportunities to help children deepen their understanding of math concepts. The more we talk math, the better chance infants and toddlers have to build a positive attitude toward math learning and learning in general.”

So, I am striving to incorporate math concepts into everyday life here with “Chunky Monkey”.  Some people would think it’s too early to work with an 18-month old on math concepts, but that’s not true at all.  Montessori education and the NAEYC recommend that you begin including math concepts in every day life from infancy.  Why waist the incredible time period of 0-3, when children have such absorbent minds?

So, this week I did a DIY flip ring with the numbers 1-10.  number flip book1image1

 

 

 

 

 

I used a permanent marker to write on some lament counter top samples my husband got from a hardware store.  The sample chips and chain came already put together, but you could easily make this with lamenated paper.  In fact, I just found one like it recently at a yard sale (from a crafty mom).:-)image3

My little man was eager to have me tell the “story” of the numbers again and again while he flipped the samples to the next one.

So, I’d call it a success so far – and it only took about 2 minutes to make!

– See more at: http://families.naeyc.org/learning-and-development/music-math-more/math-talk-infants-and-toddlers#sthash.bIKG7DMs.dpuf”

Some ideas for talking about math concepts (from the NAEYC) with young children include:

1. Number and operations

  • “You have two eyes, and so does your bear. Let’s count:–1, 2.”
  • “I have more crackers than you do. See, I have 1, 2, 3,  and you have 1, 2. I’m going to eat one of mine. Now I have the same as you!”
  • “That’s the third time I’ve heard you say mama. You’ve said mama three times!”

2. Shapes and spatial relationships (geometry)

  • “Look, Jason went under the climber and Aliyah is on top!”
  • “You’re sitting next to your brother.”
  • “Some of the crackers we have today are square, and some are round.”

– See more at: http://families.naeyc.org/learning-and-development/music-math-more/math-talk-infants-and-toddlers

– I also strongly recommend this 8-week online course on Early Preparation of the Mathematical Mind.  I took it and learned a lot about how to teach math concepts early.  http://ageofmontessori.org/early-math-course-online/

Ways to keep my 1-year-old interested in reading

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My son has always loved books.  We have tried to encourage this from a very early age by having books be equal to toys.  We have books that work as toys in the bath tub (these are great!), books in his bedroom toy shelf, books in the play space of the living room, and even books in the car.

BUT…I noticed a few weeks ago that he just stopped gravitating towards the books.  This is what his reading area (in the living room) looked like.  I thought the set-up was cute, but I think it was too cluttered for him, and he couldn’t pull out the books very easily.

image“Maybe there are too many books”, I thought.  So I tried an experiment. I had seen a really cute Pinterest post on Montessori Themes that had a few books based on a theme, for the children to explore.  Then, those themes were rotated each week.  So, instead of having  a big variety of books, I divided the books into themes and put out just 1 theme (with only 4 books).  Here were some of the divisions:

Animal Themed books

Animal Themed books

Night-time Themed Books

Night-time Themed Books

Number books

Number books

Number books Montessori

I added numbers to the caterpillar book

Animal themed books

Animal themed books

And they were a hit!

image image

My son, gravitated to the reading area (unprompted) when he woke up from his nap. *Because of course I was only able to do this during nap time.:)

So, I totally encourage you to try this out.  I am storing the themes that are not in use  in a basket on our book shelf.

image image

We now rotate “themes” every 1-2 weeks and it’s working awesome to keep my 1-year-old interested in books!

Floor bed dropout

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confessions of a 1st time mom
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confessions of a 1st time momWell, I have a confession to make.  Yep. I am officially a floor bed dropout.  I learned about using a floored from Montessori, and believed in the theories behind it.

Here is what a Montessori-inspired bedroom, with a floor bed, looks like. Super adorable!

http://sewliberated.typepad.com/sew_liberated/2011/01/finnian-and-lachlans-studio.html

http://sewliberated.typepad.com/sew_liberated/2011/01/finnian-and-lachlans-studio.html

Mainly, the idea is that you:

1.  Have your toddler sleep on a bed that is just a mattress on the floor, with no crib.

2.  This is supposed to help the child to be able to mentally map out their environment more easily and develop independence as they should be able to get up on their own in the morning and play with toys for a while, rather than banging or yelling for parents.

3.  This is supposed to help a child learn boundaries in a more internalized form (ie. stay on the bed because they know that is where they will sleep best, not because they are trapped there).

Well…like I said, in theory this is fantastic.  In reality, however, it was totally not working.  My 16 month-old would fall off the bed in the middle of the night and scream until I came in and put him back on the bed. *Side note: This is strongly influenced by the fact that our child has been slow with large motor development and though he can walk already, he still can’t climb or crawl at all.  So, he really couldn’t get back on the bed when he wiggled off of it.  And, he recently started to be impossible to put down for an afternoon nap because he would push up onto his hands and roll off (to protest the nap), but still not be able to get back on the bed.  That lead to 1/2 hour or longer struggles to try to get him sleepy enough to stay on the bed. Argh! Exhausting.

So…yeah.  My 1st-time mom confession of the week is that I’m a floor bed drop out.  Sorry Montessori! I love you, but I just couldn’t do this one.  The crib’s back up.

Ways to involve your toddler in the kitchen

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If your 1-year-old is like mine, they LOVE to be involved with cooking (or anything you are doing in the kitchen)! My Chunky Monkey loves to sweep too.  These are aspects that Montessori calls “Practical Life” lessons.  When a child has ways that they can be involved in the daily activities (cooking and cleaning), they develop independence and confidence.   Here’s how they do practical life lessons in a Montessori school.

Here are some ways we have found we can get our 1-year old safely involved in the kitchen.

1. cooking with a toddlerPurchase a learning tower.  They are a bit pricey, but you will use it for years.  Also, to us it is worth a million dollars for how happy it makes our son as he is able to more easily help out in the kitchen.  You can set it anywhere and adjust the height so your child is easily (and safely) able to reach the table or counter.

2.  Get out the salad spinner! Our son has loved “helping” make salad since he was 10 months old.  He pushes the button for the salad (which helps him build important hand muscles that will be needed for writing and drawing), and he takes the lid off on his own.  He also loves to tear the lettuce into small pieces and put them in a bowl I set next to him.  The trick is to have his hands washed and a very clean floor under his work area. 🙂  That way if/when he drops pieces, they can easily be picked up and used.

3.  Look for opportunities for them to help stir.  Our Chunky helping in the kitchenMonkey loves to help stir, and it’s an activity that enhances his arm coordination.  We stand close-by, but encourage him to be as independent as possible.  His smile is usually about the size of a slice of watermelon, as he feels so proud to be helping.  *As a side note: I believe in the Positive Discipline principle that children thrive when they have a sense of significance and belonging.  Learn why we need a sense of belonging here.

I’d love to hear other ways you get little hands involved in the kitchen. Please share below.

 

Practical life: 1-year-old watering

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I’ve decided to start a new trend of sharing “Montessori Monday” blogs. So, here’s the first!

watering plants with kidsThink a 1-year-old is too young to do things like water the plants? Think again.

According to Montessori, this is a perfect age to begin what is called “Practical Life” lessons.  In Montessori, there are 4 main avenues of learning.  They are listed in no particular order, as they are used simultaneously.

The 4 Avenues of learning are:

  1. Practical Life
  2. Sensorial Development
  3. Development of Language
  4. Early Preparation of the Mathematical Mind

According to Age of Montessori, “Practical Life exercises help develop the sense of order, coordination of movement, concentration, and independence.  Children learn a sense of order as well as basic social skills through practical life tasks.  These lessons can be further separated into 4 main categories: care of self, care of the environment, grace and courtesy and refinement of movement.”   Continue Reading

DIY crafts you can do with a 1-year-old

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Think a 1-year-old is too young to do crafts? Think again! There are so many activities that toddlers can begin enjoying, and they are great for their brain as well as small-motor development.  Even though a 1-year-old is a long way off from learning to write, the crafts you do today help build the muscles they need in their hands later!

1. “Water Painting”.  On a sunny day, take out a small container of waterand a paint brush and let your little one “paint” the sidewalk.  My 13-month old LOVED it!water painting

2. Easle Drawing/Painting.  I got this great Imaginarium Easle from a local thrift store for $5.  31OX4xuG75L._SY355_You can buy in on Amazon.com for $99 (or I bet you could find a similar one atyour local thrift shop).  The chalkboard part can be use for drawing (using large chalk).  There are lots of super cute ideas on Pinterest for making your own chalk in fun shapes like this (from Princesspinkygirl.com).

6bfb9ae7c4d5301befa1485cf19a7845

Princesspinkygirl.com

 

412xOeOTAELA definite key to the success of painting with a 1-year old, is using Melissa & Doug paint jumbo paint brushes and spill-proof paint cups.  These71BaJKjIDRL._SL1200_ things are amazing!  I fill the cups just about 1 inch with watered down paint, so when he turns the cups upside down and shakes them, they still don’t spill.  Amazing, really.  Also, I like to really water down the paint so when he paints his shirt or head (which has definitely happened), it’s not a worry.  It washes off easily because it’s so light.

3.  DIY Edible Play-dough – Thanks to Welovebeingmoms.com, I got the best ever play-dough recipe.  It really is DSC05741the best too!  And since it’s made from edible ingredients, I don’t have to worry if my little one tries to eat it.  *Although mine just loved pounding cookie cutters into it.:-)

 

play-dough2

4.  Bubbles!  This may not seem like a craft, but making cool shapes can bebubbles a great pre-curser to other creative endeavors.  We went through a store-bought jar of bubbles in 2 days (not kidding!).  Thank goodness it only cost about .20 to make a large mason jar of DIY bubbles to use for months! I used this easy recipe from Artfulparent.com, and it turned out great.  We used these caterpillar-209x209Munchkin Caterpillar Spillers Stacking Cup bath toys as additional bubble blowers (the purple & yellow cups were the best) and had a blast in the sunshine making bubbles of all sizes.

Enjoy!