I've been looking for some fun ways to use wool in crafts and activities that promote the development of fine motor skills. Here are seven activities we tried recently. Yarn Sticks - this was much more fun than I had expected! Both my three and nine-year-old loved wrapping the wool tightly around the sticks, these are purely decorative but you could pretend they are wands or add faces for people. I tied the wool to the sticks but we could use glue too. Pasting Wool Worms - this is the activity that my three-year-old spent the most time on, simple... Read more →


There are lots of good reasons to include items from nature in our art trays. Nature items have different textures and smells and provide a different experience to using paper or other stationary items. Using items from nature also: demonstrates resourcefulness - using what is readily available in the environment promotes creativity and out of the box thinking promotes learning about seasons and seasonality - what resources are available and when respects our natural environment leads to further exploration and new ideas/discoveries in using nature in art Here are eight nature based trays we've used recently. Drawing on Paperbark -... Read more →


It's easy to prepare an activity and put it on your shelves. It's much harder to prepare an activity that meets your child's developmental needs and is also attractive to the child. My toddler doesn't love pasting and he will walk past most pasting trays. I know pasting is a valuable skill so I set out to make some pasting trays that he will actually use and enjoy. I recently watched a video of a Montessori guide who suggested cutting out images for the child to paste from magazines and wrapping paper. My magazines didn't have many useful images but... Read more →


There is some thought especially with Occupational Therapists that young children would benefit from using crayons before moving onto other drawing materials like markers. Although my toddler on occasion uses markers, I have to agree and it's not just crayons. I feel there are many reasons why young children would benefit from using pencils, oil pastels, perhaps even charcoal and paint sticks before using markers. Using a marker it's very easy to produce a mark on paper. You can hold a marker at almost any angle with varying amounts of pressure and it still works. Markers are smooth and consistent,... Read more →


I've been feeling inspired by Reggio style children's self-portraits. The Montessori and Reggio Approach have a lot in common. Both are child-led approaches that respect and trust the child. "Right at the heart of the Reggio Approach is the very powerful image adults have of children. Every child is seen as strong, confident and competent. Strong children have their own ideas, express opinions, make independent choices and are able to play and work well with others. This powerful image of the child needs adults who listen to children and trust them to make responsible decisions. In the Reggio Approach listening... Read more →


Many of us are spending a lot of time at home right now. I know there is one thing that will keep my toddler very busy and learning at home every day of the week. That is art and creating! I've been reading and learning about children's art spaces in Montessori and also in Reggio environments. While this art area is uniquely ours I wanted to share it with you. This art space is on our back deck, it's an almost seamless indoor/outdoor environment. The deck is covered and is suitable for working in all year round. Our art environment:... Read more →


I've been reading In The Spirit of The Studio: Learning From The Atelier Of Reggio Emilia (a fantastic Reggio book) and art is on my mind. This week I've refreshed our art area and introduced an awesome easel. Otto is almost three so I feel the need to add some more interesting elements especially in the area of mark making. So I've sought the perspective of other Montessori parents and teachers. Here are a few Montessori art shelves I've found interesting in homes and schools. This is in the home of a 4 and a 11 year old. They have... Read more →


Nature journaling with a toddler? Is it possible? It is possible and it can be a lot of fun too! It's nice to make a few observations while out in nature especially if we visit the same spot regularly. We can make observations about the big things like the wind or the raging waves, or about the small things like a tiny crab claw found in the rockpool. Here are three ways we enjoy nature journaling with our two year old. Mark Marking/Drawing We take a journal or notepad and some pencils for mark making and free drawing. I don't... Read more →


What are the best scissors for Montessori toddlers? I'd love to know your thoughts. Why specifically for Montessori toddlers? In Montessori environments, toddlers are often taught to use real scissors to cut paper strips. In many mainstream environments this may not occur until preschool age and even then some children are taught to cut soft things like play-dough first. In Montessori we also like our children to use real materials so small sharp scissors (with a round tip) are going to be preferred over dull plastic scissors. Otto (2yrs 10months) and I recently tested ten scissors that claim to be... Read more →


Has your toddler started to draw people? A few months ago Otto started to draw circles, then he started to draw circles within circles and then he started to draw faces with two eyes and a mouth. On Sunday night (at two years, 10 months) he started to draw people with legs and arms. I had been patiently waiting for the moment to happen and it did not disappoint. He has been drawing these 'tadpole' (or potato people) ever since, and lots of them. They are adorable! Here are a few notes that I've made about this stage from Children... Read more →


Want to take a peek into a really beautiful, colourful and vibrant children's art studio? Before the COVID restrictions came into place Otto and I loved attending the process art toddler class at the Little Ginger Studio in Sydney (Randwick). All of these pictures were taken in March (2020), a week before the studio closed due to COVID. The studio has now reopened but they are only running drop off classes (no parents allowed) for children over the age of three. You can see all of their classes listed here. Danielle Falk is the founder of Little Ginger Studio. Danielle... Read more →


What do you put on your clay tray or with your toddler clay work? In the past I've presented clay with lots of bits and pieces like small craft sticks, mosaic tiles, dried beans, gum nuts and other items from nature. This week our clay tray includes more tools, rather than sticking things in the clay I want my toddler to explore the clay with his hands, to change the shape of the clay, to model and mould it. A toddler size spray bottle to keep the clay moist. Textured rolling pin. "Clay has a utilitarian purpose—it can make bowls... Read more →


Are you looking for some new art trays to try? Here are eight that we've tried this week. Tape - my toddler is in a huge scissor phase so he likes this tray, I have coloured tape, children's scissors and card. The card is from Reverse Garbage but the back of cereal containers or other card packaging would work well too. The child cuts pieces of tape and arranges it on the card. Mirror - painting with a cotton bud on a mirror, fantastic for developing fine motor skills. We loooove using our pencil crayons on the mirror too. Car... Read more →


The Big W Toy Mania Sale starts tomorrow in store (Thursday 18th). The sale can be a big event for many families, it is a great opportunity to buy toys at a discount and especially to stock up for birthdays or Christmas. We have family members who don't shop online and are always looking for gift ideas from big stores like Big W. I don't want to promote consumerism here but I do want to support you with good and affordable purchasing options. When I think of Big W's toy sales, I think of Lego. They usually have various and... Read more →


I don't want to sound pushy, but I want to check-in to see if you are providing a creative outlet for your children. Are you providing time and space for self expression? It doesn't have to be grand or expensive. It can be as simple as some pencil, paper and a few minutes of uninterrupted time. Perhaps your children aren't interested? Perhaps your children are already doing lots of crazy exciting creative things! One area of creativity and self expression that I'm particularly interested in is mark making, or drawing. "For youngsters aged two to twelve, expressing themselves through art... Read more →