The week before Christmas is fabulously quiet in our home. We are mostly Christmas baking and shopping for gifts. An easy at-home activity with children that requires very few ingredients includes making Salt Dough Ornaments. Salt Dough Recipe 2 cups of plain flour 1 cup of salt 1 cup of water. Combine and knead until smooth. Roll out and cut shapes out with cookie cutters. Add a hole for a string with a stick or straw. Bake in the oven at low heat until thoroughly cooked, dry and hard. We used an oven at 130°c for around 2 hours. Once... Read more →


I love the lead up to Christmas. One way to make this season more meaningful to our children is to involve them in practical hands-on ways. Children can be involved in decorating, baking, choosing or making gifts for others, writing cards and of course wrapping! We decided to try some child-made Christmas wrapping paper. I love these ideas as they make the gifts look and feel extra special and show that we've given some extra care and thought into the wrapping. We tried as much as possible to use craft materials we already have at home. With some of these... Read more →


We've used modelling beeswax many times before but we've always used Stockmar Modeling Beeswax. Stockmar Modeling Beeswax can be expensive and I wanted to try a natural alternative. I decided to try some homemade Modeling Beeswax. Working with Modeling Beeswax is a good activity to develop muscles in the fingers and hands. It can be calming and the children can work on their sculpting skills. Modeling Beeswax is firm and can be warmed by the child's hands which may help to develop perseverance and patience. When cooled it retains its shape so the sculptures can be used on a nature... Read more →


I've previously written about all the good reasons to use crayons before markers. As Otto gets closer to four I've been paying special attention to his pencil grip and drawings. Recently he has been using markers almost exclusively and a solid cylindrical grasp. Markers are easy for the child to use, the child doesn't need to apply much pressure and the marker glides over the paper. They are an easy and colourful way to draw. Crayons require much more effort. So I decided it was time to put away the markers for a while. Stages of Early Mark Making image... Read more →


I recently discovered two fantastic science experiment books for children 3-5 years. I hadn't seen science experiment books for preschoolers before. I was so surprised. The experiments are easy to follow, some of the experiments are familiar and some are new. We've also had a lot of success with the experiments so I really wanted to share. Our most used science experiment book for 3-5 years is Big Chemistry Experiments for Little Kids, we've done almost all of the experiments. I also really like Big Engineering Experiments for Little Kids in the same series. The books are super easy to... Read more →


To prepare our children's hands for writing and using scissors it's important they have lots of hands-on play in the early years. It's imperative that our children are given opportunities to learn through tactile experience that strengthen the hands. Using clay is the best multi-sensory art experience I know for developing fine and gross motor skills. I prepare a lot of activities using play dough as it's easier for us to use inside, but at least once a week I like to break out the clay for all three of my children to use. Generally, our clay play involves open... Read more →


We have spent the two weeks at home and our art trays have been well used. I've presented a different painting tray each day. Want to take a look? Our painting trays from this week include: round paint stampers - while these are fun to use, they can also help us to talk about size - small, medium, and large or smallest and biggest. uv glow paint - at first this paint doesn't look special but it lights up and glows under ultraviolet light. paint bellows - used with liquid watercolours. The child squeezes the bellows to squirt the watercolours... Read more →


Have you tried observational drawing with your children? My three-year-old has been enjoying a lot of observational drawing so I want to share some of my thoughts about it. I want to encourage you, no matter your child's age, to give it a go. Why try observational drawing? Observational drawing can: help strengthen memory - as the child looks at the object and remembers what they see. develop fine motor skills. develop spatial awareness. develop concentration and focus. develop observational skills - the child will look closely at the object and notice certain details, sometimes what the child notices are... Read more →


Otto (3yrs) asks to paint almost every day. Getting the paints out is such a hassle I was starting to feel bad about saying no. So I decided to do something about it and set up a painting station. This painting station is on our back deck. Although it's undercover we need to put most things away when it rains or gets windy, so everything here is easy to move. We don't have any space inside for large-scale easel painting, so it works to do this outside. It's nice too that we can also move this painting station into the... Read more →


We love to use play dough. We always have a play dough tray on our art shelves but our tray is often cluttered, full of cookie cutters, rolling pins, and other random items. Sometimes my child spends more time looking in the tray than playing with the play dough. So I was considering what a play dough tray looks like in Montessori environments. I've only seen play dough trays in Montessori toddler classrooms (18months-3yrs). The play dough trays I've seen present the play dough with only one tool, usually some kind of stamper or cutter. Presenting the play dough with... Read more →


Have you considered introducing a handsaw to your home or classroom woodworking area? Introducing a saw into a Montessori or other child-led environment requires careful forethought and planning. Montessori parents who have already introduced their children to real knives in the kitchen may find it easier to introduce a saw in the woodworking area as the principles are similar. Our focus is on supervision, preparing the environment, and scaffolding skills. Benefits from using a saw with children include: allows the child to cut different lengths of wood and having greater creative control over their work. can provide a sense of... Read more →


We've had a crazy week with the children suffering injury and illness, so today I wanted to share something really bright and cheerful. What could be more cheerful than Montessori home art areas? These areas are doable, practical and also beautiful. In some of these areas you can see specifically what activities are presented, what art materials are used, and the little features that make a difference. All of these areas are impeccably organised. I hope you enjoy! Wow, this family has used Magna-Tiles in the windows to create some wonderful coloured light. I can see large post-it note on... Read more →


It is forecast to rain heavily for the next 5-6 days. It's not cold but it will be wet enough to keep us from using the art area on our back deck. So while it is still dry and we have the time, we moved our art materials inside. This is a temporary move, perhaps for the week or so, we usually love doing art outside! Naturally, we made a lot of adjustments when moving our art materials inside. We didn't bring in any paints or clay. This area inside has carpet and although we use a rug in our... Read more →


We have stayed home this week. My nine-year-old has been unwell and unable to go to school, I could feel he was down and getting more frustrated as the days went on. Sport is his release but this week he hasn't left the house. I wanted to try a large-scale art activity to help him relax and unwind. "Creating art also helps children wire their brains to regulate stress. Art gives them the tools to learn how to calm themselves down. Tactile cognitive processing occurs when children create art; the neural networks in their brains fire up and signal their... Read more →


I'm not sure how it started but we have been using a lot of stencils this week. Stencils can be fantastic for developing fine motor skills they also encourage the hands to work together. One hand controls the paintbrush or pencil while the other needs to hold the stencil or paper in place. As you can see on our stencil trays, I have secured the stencil to the tray with tape. The child still needs the supporting hand to keep the paper in place and to hold the stencil down. These trays are for a three-year-old, for an older child... Read more →