montessori toddler

EVERYDAY PHOTOGRAPHS OF MY FAMILY

My favorite things to photograph are the simple, everyday moments that take place. I know I have talked about this in a previous post here and here. With instagram and an iphone everything is so user friendly for capturing those fleeting moments on the go and sharing them. I do plenty of both.

My goal this year is to try and take so many more photos of all FIVE of us with my Nikon. A few things need to be done to tidy up some hard drive space for the amount that is sure to follow and fix my tripod for family shots. To start, here is a set of adorable shots of my 2 year old doing everyday activities in the "self care" category (Montessori friends!), ie in the bathroom. This is such a funny age to watch, because they really start to show their personalities and take a sense of pride in doing independent activities. They role model older siblings and parents, even down to the facial expressions while brushing their hair and teeth.

As a child I used to love to watch my Dad shave in the bathroom daily. It was a mundane part of his morning ritual, but something I found unique to watch. Do you have a memory like this? Something you remember sharing with a parent or sibling growing up, that was a simple everyday moment?

Speaking of the everyday moments of a two year old, you must watch this most ADORABLE episode of Olive Us, created by Gabrielle of Design Mom featuring HER two year old's day.

Terrible Two Who?

 

 

A LITTLE AUTUMN IN FELT

Last week I started to set up the Montessori shelves for my toddler. I decided to purposely keep a few of his wooden toys on the shelves first, and then to slowly add some of the new Montessori works in the coming days and weeks. I want him to notice the new environment and explore with familiar items. He has totally fell in love with this special place already! It has become a little routine for us to drop off the older boys to school, come home and get our slippers on, mama her 2nd cuppa coffee and head to the third floor family room.

I made one small addition from the leftover felt after last weekend's birthday party. With scraps from the birthday banner and a handmade lizard came little tree tops and leaves for his wooden block set. He is fascinated with the leaves outside, which are only beginning to change and fall here in southern Ohio. He loves to gather them up with his brother's help and then, crumble them and shred them to bits. We are still at that stage, ha, so felt works great for indoors.

This is so simple, and opens up ideas for other nature scenes as the seasons change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CREATING A MONTESSORI SPACE AT HOME

My Montessori Experience

What I love about Montessori is based mostly on my own personal experience. I went to Montessori for the pre-primary years (ages 2.5-5) and then back again for 2nd grade. My two older boys attended for three years each as well. Some of my favorite parts of the Montessori method include: working with simple, natural materials in a prepared, child-sized environment, and having the freedom for a small child to move about the space and learn at their own pace.  This setting fosters independence, and promotes the care and beauty of a learning space.  The lack of sensory overload encourages the importance of concentration, as the child develops an awareness of community and learning practical life skills. I see bits of Montessori style learning everywhere, not just in the school classrooms. I see people pinning on Pinterest ideas to teach their children practical life skills, like tying their own shoelaces and buttoning their own coats (reminding me of how I practiced this skill as a preschooler on the dressing frames). There is an obvious trend towards more natural toys made of wood, instead of plastic as well. I see many pins and blog posts about creating play spaces with a more clean, uncluttered aesthetic.  I like that some mainstream schools are even adopting more student-driven learning through projects, exercising the curiosity and creativity in every student. There are so many ideas and examples out there and I find it all very exciting.

My first memory of my Montessori experience was gardening. I was in a beautiful Montessori space (a school in Yellow Springs, OH) that had a small vegetable garden. As a young 3 year old,  I began planting and harvesting the vegetables with my peers. We would serve fresh garden peas, radishes and other vegetables that we picked for a snack. I remember setting the snack table with real, heavy dishes like at home. I remember these same familiar materials that my children used when in their pre-primary years. One of my favorite lessons in elementary class was learning all the different flags from around the world. The flags were arranged on wooden stands, along with dolls from each country. I remember being able to work on a special project about a specific country I was interested in, doing my own research and self-directed learning. It was a beautiful way to learn.

My baby will be two this winter, and I am starting to see that switch from playing with toys at random, to more purposeful play, like working on puzzles, flipping through books and pretend play with animals. I've also been wanting to tidy up our 3rd floor family room to be a little more functional for everyone. Right now he has toys in baskets and boxes, and there is no organization. I spent some time last week sorting through the toys and packing away the baby toys, the ones I know he doesn't play with anymore. I was honestly sad to see his soft infant toys packed up. (tears)

Preparing the Montessori Environment

I have decided to switch some furniture around and continue our Montessori learning in that space. When my parents were downsizing, I snatched up the two custom bookshelves with matching toy chest that my Mom had made for my sisters and I when we were young. They were Montessori inspired and have been holding books only thus far. These two shelves will be the foundation of the space for my toddler plus a tiny drop-leaf table (I know?!!) that I picked up before I had any children. (Yes I shopped before having kids for my future kids!) It needs a little sprucing up, should I paint it ivory? Or should I sand it and stain back to a wood finish?

I went to an antique thrift store last week looking for some natural, reusable materials for the space (see all that beauty above?). I was mostly looking for small containers, trays or baskets to hold materials for him. I really lucked out and after a thorough search found a few more pieces in addition to what I was looking for: a small wooden easel for his artwork, 2 small framed pieces of art to hang at his eye level, an adorable nesting doll, a set of wooden fruit and a carved wooden maraca. This was all for.... $36!

I will also add a few things we already have, along with 1-2 specific Montessori items. My goal is to create a beautiful learning space, scaled to his size, with interesting materials that will engage him and encourage exploration and spark his curiosity. My older two boys are excited to participate and help with this Montessori space. We have some really exciting projects for creating materials with their help! I will be posting about this little space over the next few weeks.

A little more inspiration?

Here is my Montessori Pinterest board and also this website is great if you want more general information on the Montessori philosophy. Read this  and watch this to take a peek at the many well-known, creative and inventive people who were former Montessori students! And one of my favorite online friends (now local friends-yay!) is a Montessori teacher (among many other fabulous titles) and she shares bits about it all here.