I've previously written about how I was considering using the Movable Alphabet with Caspar at home during the long summer break. Some of you thought it was a good idea and others suggested it wasn't such a good thing. First it is important to note that Caspar uses the Montessori cursive Movable Alphabet at school. I (as his parent not teacher) have only ever seen him write in print. All the books that he reads at home and his school readers are in print. Before deciding on an alphabet I spoke to Caspar's teacher. She suggested to go with cursive... Read more →

The Hammering Shape Board (also known as a Hammering Geo Board) is an activity idea I picked up from our Montessori parent toddler class many years ago. A toddler with nails? Yes. But supervise. I sit right next to Otis the entire time he does this activity. This tray is placed on his shelves but I keep the nails up high. If he wants to do the hammering he knows he needs to come to me first. Otis knows exactly how to handle them. The hammering is the difficult part as he is working on his coordination, often he misses... Read more →

In my earlier post Learning to Cut with Scissors - The First Step I mentioned how I introduced the scissors to Otis. Since then Otis has watched and observed Caspar and I using scissors on many occasions. You know how Maria Montessori wrote of children having an absorbent mind. They watch everything. He's got it. Snip, snip, snip. These photographs tell a story of how Otis will often use his materials. He's taken only what he needs from his tray. He didn't take the entire tray from the shelf - just the scissors and the card. Usually I will remind... Read more →

Over the weekend I introduced Otis to the water dispenser. I think it's good for a child to get lots of practice pouring from a pitcher and really there is no better way than to pour their own drink several times a day. But now for the water dispenser, it's much easier for everyone. We still have a pitcher which is a little larger than before. The boys will fill the pitcher for drinks at lunch or dinner. Cleaning cloths are a must. While we are in the kitchen I might show you around. It's not all that different to... Read more →

The Mystery Bag is an activity usually associated with older children (3-5 years). An adult would put a few small items in the bag (it's important that the child is already familiar with all of the items). The child (sometimes blindfolded) would put their hand in the bag and using touch name the items and then pull them out one by one. This is an excellent activity to do with the Geometric Solids. Caspar tells me at school he also uses the mystery bag to match items. . For a toddler the activity needs to be adapted slightly. To start... Read more →

Looking for a gift for a child? How about some seeds, seedlings or a plant that produces fruit? Looking for a Montessori activity for your child? No need to buy a book or read a manual. Montessori at home is more about enjoying everyday living than many would acknowledge. We may not be milling our own flour (I'm working on that) or milking our own cow but Otis can still enjoy a process from start to finish. Pick. Wash. Slice. Serve. One seriously happy toddler. P.S. His knife is not sharp, it's not possible for him to cut himself with... Read more →

It's hot in Canberra. We've been enjoying all sorts of water play. Clam shell, hoses, buckets, taps, water wheel - every kind of water play I can think of. Today I put some different containers in the clam shell. You know I love to use recycled materials. . The kids can get nice and cool while using their hands (and their hand muscles) in different ways. Squishing, squeezing, pumping. . . But funnily enough after filling all of the containers they did this... . filled the trike and made deliveries to each other. All afternoon. . Read more →

As always I've been thinking about the materials I present to my children and as always I'm thinking about how they fit (or don't fit) with the Montessori philosophy. Thinking about the materials in a Montessori way helps to keep me on track, it reminds me what my beliefs are when often I'm looking for an easy way out. . When I was looking for a jigsaw puzzle for Otis I found some featuring cartoonish characters. I showed Otis the picture of the cartoon cow. "Cow" he said. The chicken. "Chick-ee". So he got it, he understood what the images... Read more →

While I was shovelling soil into our clam shell I was really hoping my neighbours weren't going to ask what I was doing. It would have felt silly explaining. "Well... I'm putting some dirt in here for the kids to play with??" We live in a city with close neighbours and yes they would have heard me shovelling. They also would have heard the shrieks that came only minutes later... "Worms! I've got one! There's another one here!". I didn't just put in any old soil in the clam shell, I put in soil full of worms. Earlier in the... Read more →

1, 2 and 3 Circle, Square and Triangle Puzzle sold separately at Classic Baby or as part of a set from A2Z Montessori (Australia) or Kid Advance (US). 4. Increasing Circle Puzzle available from Classic Baby, A2Z Montessori (Australia), Montessori Outlet (US). 5 Circle Sorter Kid Advance or Amazon or Michael Olaf (US). 6 Kid O Recognising Shapes Puzzle from Amazon (US). 7 Shapes Puzzle from Manzanita Kids (US). 8 Part-Whole Perception Puzzle by TAG from Amazon or Michael Olaf (US). 9 Geometric Shapes Puzzle by TAG from Amazon or Michael Olaf (US). . Step One. Lay the Foundation -... Read more →

Montessori wrote of children needing only a few toys (as opposed to materials) and blocks (along with a special doll or bear) was what she suggested. Most educators support the use of blocks by children. Montessori went further and developed blocks as materials for her schools (I'm thinking pink tower, brown stairs). As I watch my children play with blocks they balance different shapes on top of each other, each with varying levels of success. I am reminded of Montessori's words on movement.The child has an instinct to co-ordinate his movements and to bring them under control. Yes, in trying... Read more →

Otis is now 21 months and is really enjoying playing with cars, trucks and diggers. The biggest change in the last month or so is puzzles. His favourite right now is an everyday items basket. A bucket, keys, measuring tape, container, peg, torch and telephone handset. Because it is the school holidays and we have been spending a lot of time at home the toys/materials are on high rotation. Perhaps every two to three days I'll change or add something. Much more frequent than usual. Read more →

I've realised that the Geometric Soilds would make excellent first blocks. What other block set has such a range of shapes? What other block set has a sphere, a cone, a cylinder? These Geometric Solids are Caspar's and we've been using them as a sensorial material with his mystery box or bag. It wasn't until I introduced them to Otis that I discovered what great blocks they make, for building, for stacking, for feeling. These are now on my must have list of Montessori materials. Otis can use them as a toddler at the same time Caspar is using them... Read more →

There is a wonderful feeling you get when your child does the right thing at the right time. It makes you feel proud, makes you feel like a great parent. Then there are times when your child repeatedly makes mistakes, messes or does the wrong thing and you feel like a failure. Toilet learning can be tough like that. Otis often makes messes or has accidents but some days it's worse or more public than others. This morning it was on my bed, last week it was three puddles at our parent-toddler class. Mostly I just get on with things,... Read more →