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 →


Last weekend I attended a felting workshop to make a Waldorf/Steiner birthday placemat and birthday crown. I loved the process (and outcome) so much I couldn't wait to try felting again. I wanted to make an ocean/beach theme play mat for Otto (3yrs) like the ones I'd seen on Etsy (here and here). There is something powerful about making toys and playthings by hand. They are made with love and intention and made specific to the child. The child can see the time and effort that goes into it. It can also show the child how we can work with... Read more →


Liquid watercolours and clay are my two favourite art mediums. We've been trying a few Waldorf inspired arts and crafts with watercolours, clay and more. Some of them have two steps so I recommend them for children aged three years+. Here are a few of the activities we've tried this week. Wet-on-wet watercolour painting - includes liquid watercolours in primary colours, watercolour paper (soaked in water) and a sponge to remove excess water. The child applies one colour at a time, blending the edges of each colour. This is a Waldorf inspired activity, Sarah has a good guide here. We... Read more →


Are you looking for a few new art activities to try at home? I suggest most of these activities for children from around three years however some like the nature clay collage would be suitable or adaptable for toddlers. All of the materials the child needs are presented on the tray. I use melamine trays (similar) as they are super easy to wipe clean and will contain spills. Some of these trays contain two-step activities. It doesn't matter if the child doesn't follow the steps however they provide a good opportunity for the child to learn to follow steps and... Read more →