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We are at the end of a 7-day isolation period. Staying at home and not being able to go out means I've been preparing more activities than usual for my preschooler! I've raided our art cupboard and art books to put together a few new art trays. These activities are generally appropriate for children 3-5 years old. These activities allow the child to focus on one activity or one skill at a time. The art trays can be used: to introduce a new skill. to introduce new materials. on the kitchen table for the children to work on after breakfast.... Read more →

Late last year I saw these little red bricks being played with at Hedge Cottage. The bricks looked fabulous. They are like real bricks just smaller, what a wonderful way to introduce building and construction to a young child! Our house and many houses in our neighbourhood are made of red brick, as are many fences and driveways. The little bricks are available with mortar to build permanent structures. As I was using them with my preschooler, I didn't want to use the mortar and our construction is temporary. Initially, I presented the bricks in a basket. To renew interest... Read more →

We are mid-way through a 7-day isolation period and my preschooler has been desperate for some new activities. It's also been rainy so my mind goes straight to art. I've raided our art cupboard and put together a few new art activities! These activities allow the child to focus on one activity or one skill at a time. The art trays can be used: to introduce a new skill. to introduce new materials. on the kitchen table for the children to work on after breakfast. after preschool/daycare/school alongside a healthy snack to relax and decompress. in the afternoon while the... Read more →

I love bath crayons but I know not everyone feels the same. Bath crayons are softer than regular crayons and some are really creamy and smooth. Using bath crayons in the bath is a fun alternative to drawing on paper, and the child is for the most part drawing on a vertical surface (bath or bathroom tiles). Bath crayons can be used on: windows glass doors perspex or acrylic sheets or easels mirrors tiles - we have spare white tiles that we also use for play dough and clay. If you already have bath crayons and don't want them in... Read more →

At home, we like to draw and paint self-portraits. I've been thinking of ways to encourage my child to see the details in his face and to notice features like eyebrows and eyelashes, things that were missing from his drawings. I set him up with a mirror so that he could look closely at his own eyes. We used a simple eye diagram to identify parts of the eye at a preschooler level. It's a good reminder to use correct and accurate terms with our children, a four-year-old can absolutely learn iris and pupil! Then together we tried observational drawings... Read more →

I've been searching for a second-hand overhead projector on Gumtree (AU) for months. I'm still hopeful that I will find one, but this searching often leads me to find other good things on Gumtree. Over the weekend I picked up this bike (below) for $50 including the child seat and bike lock (it needs a new chain), and the Montessori Dino Cards for $10. Where do you look for good Montessori second-hand finds, FB marketplace, Gumtree, FreeCycle? The key to getting a bargain on Gumtree is finding items that you need and that are located close to you. Here are... Read more →

Every couple of months I re-read one of Susan Stephenson's books. Susan is adamant that there is no place for Montessori Materials in the home. For the most part, I agree with her. If you want to see how she homeschooled you can read Montessori Homeschooling: One Family's Story. We do have a few Montessori materials in our home but one that you DO NOT need is the Montessori Dressing Frames. I picked up these dressing frames in the UK but there are lots of other, free alternatives if we just look around our home. There are lots of dressing... Read more →

I've written previously about the importance of using real words with children and giving technical and scientific names for things. Well how about we apply that idea to art as well. "Give children words. Art appreciation is full of new vocabulary: Impressionism, Cubism, Pointillism; Realism; foreground, background; palette; fresco; bronze; mobile; statue." - Art in the Montessori Environment by Pamela Personette. Pictured above, as I've made up our watercolours, I've labelled the jar the true colour of the paint provided by the manufacturer Ecoline. As I reset our art trolley (it rarely looks this clean), I labelled our paints with... Read more →

We've always done a lot of drawing at home, we also do a lot of prewriting, hand strengthening activities like pegging, using scissors, pasting, painting, sewing/threading, play dough and clay play. We've recently started drawing with geometric tools. These are fun to use for developing fine motor skills and for developing creativity. Have you seen Frank Stella's Protractor Series? It's spectacular! I presented the geometric tools on a tray. We've used a ruler for measuring before but not drawing, so I demonstrated to my preschooler how to use use the ruler and other tools like the protractor. We are using... Read more →

I decided to try a few Montessori workbooks with my preschooler and I was so surprised I had to share them with you! Montessori workbooks especially for the 3-6 yr age group feel like a bit of an oxymoron. We want the children's learning to be hands-on, using real-life experiences as much as possible. But for the child learning to write and needs a lot of practice, a Montessori workbook may be very helpful. Times have changed too, now more than ever parents are teaching their children at home. Montessori workbooks are affordable and easy to use. If your child... Read more →

Do you have a really fantastic indoor play centre near you? Most of the play centres I've been to have large slides and ball pits. The Play Studio recently opened near us and it's a completely new concept. It's a truly wonderful space with great staff, ideal for playdates, somewhere to go on a rainy day or just somewhere interesting and educational to visit with your child. The Play Studio is a Montessori, Reggio and Steiner inspired play space. Some of the sessions commence with a teacher-guided process like an art activity or songs, in other play sessions, the children... Read more →

Today I want to share two new activities. These are not traditional Montessori practical life activities. The first is hairstyling. Some educators would find a hairstyling doll more of a prop for dramatic play or hairdresser play. I see it as a real tool to teach children real practical life skills. Hairdressers use hair styling dolls and this is just a smaller version. In addition, hair styling is fantastic for developing coordination, arm/finger strength and fine motor skills. Above is our hairstyling doll. A younger child could learn to carefully brush the hair, make a ponytail or use hair clips.... Read more →

a. / b. / c. (AU) / d. / e. / f. (AU here) A year or so ago I received a text from a friend, asking for a recommendation for a children's weekly calendar. I gave some general DIY suggestions as at that time all of our days kind of looked the same, we had no need for a weekly calendar. But now Otto (4yrs) asks repeatedly what day is swimming, what day is playgroup, what day is judo. It starts to drive me crazy and I found we absolutely had a need for a weekly calendar or a... Read more →

It feels like an inappropriate time to be blogging. The senseless war in Ukraine, the loss of life and the loss of personal security is unfathomable. It can be difficult to know how to help. Today we are donating to the UNHCR Ukraine appeal. Please leave a link, especially if you have personal experience of agencies we can support in and around Ukraine. I found this article useful Talking to Kids About Hard Things by Emily Oster. For many people, Etsy shops are their only source of income. Marina from Wooden Toys for You in Kyiv (we love their Continent... Read more →