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Montessori at home

Practical life: 1-year-old watering


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.”   (more…)

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


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).




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.:-)



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.









Sensitive Periods – The Cue Tips


sensitive periodsFirst, my connection to Montessori

This morning my son demonstrated what Montessori calls a “Sensitive Period”.  I have been learning about Montessori principles over the past three years, thanks to Age of Montessori (based in my hometown of Bozeman).  I completed their 9-month online teacher training course (but I audited it, since I wasn’t planning to become a certified teacher).  That experience gave me the chance to gain the knowledge and tools of Montessori education, enough to use Montessori in-the-home while I am a SAHM for the first 3-5 years of my son’s life.

Here’s what happened…

So, here is what he did today.  He has been loving taking things out and putting them back into containers. * Well, let’s be honest. He isn’t always as excited about getting all of the pieces back in.  That would be too easy for me, right?;-)

Well, today, he was particularly interested in doing that with the cue tips.  Now, if I wasn’t educated about Montessori’s Sensitive Periods, I would probably have been annoyed and told him he was being naughty for making a mess.

Thankfully, a story from Mary Ellen Maunz was echoing in my head.  One day a little girl was pouring out her mother’s hair pins in the bathroom.  The mother decided that instead of reprimanding her, she would carefully watch to see what happened next.  To her surprise, the young child repeatedly carefully picked up and put each hair pin back into it’s container.  When she was done she poured all the hair pins out and repeated the steps to refill.  This mother understood sensitive periods.

What are Sensitive Periods?

Maria Montessori noticed that children seem to have stages in their development where they are intensely interested in a repetitious activity/behavior and that is a sign that they are in a “sensitive period” to be developing in some way. In this case, my son is in a developmental period where his brain is thirsty for chances to practice emptying and refilling containers.  I’m not sure if it is the coordination it takes to get the items in the container, but something about the activity is extremely satisfying for him, and that means he is meeting an internal developmental need.  The focus he has and the enjoyment on his face, while putting in cue tip after cue tip, shows me that he is in a sensitive period for this type of activity.

How you can help your child in Sensitive Periods

So, I am striving to find as many opportunities as possible to give him items to practice with.  He can do this with the cue tips, the makeup in my morning make-up bag, the blocks in an yogurt tub, etc.  When he has met the internal developmental need to master this task, he won’t be interested anymore.  So, I don’t have to focus on this activity forever.  But, if I can be mindful and attentive enough to my child, I can catch these sensitive periods and try my best to encourage them.

And you can too!

Learn more about Age of Montessori’s Teacher Training Program here.




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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