At our (Montessori) parent toddler group I've been privileged to witness children much younger than Otis cut, slice, spread and grate. Capable, young (I think the youngest is 18 months) children. With parents willing to take inspiration and guidance from our teacher. Otis has never hurt himself grating or peeling. But it doesn't happen in any haphazard way. Clearly demonstrated. Closely supervised. Often working side by side. We've tried a lot of peelers over the years and I've always found the horizontal peelers work best for children. Otis first started grating and peeling carrots (for Caspar's school lunch) however I... Read more →

Getting dressed is a big deal at this age. It's actually faster for us to allow Otis to dress himself than to face his resistance to our help. In the morning Otis takes off his pajamas, picks out his own clothes and gets dressed. He starts by picking out his shirt and puts it on. His shirts are all hanging on his low hanger. His shorts, pants and pajamas are in the large white basket. His socks and underwear are in the metal buckets next to the basket. He selects fresh underwear and puts them on. He selects some shorts.... Read more →

There are days when I just know that Otis needs something new and engaging on his shelves. He has his favorites but often he's restless, needing something new for stimulation. Sometimes it's just the newness of an activity that gets his interest. I open our cupboards, often our kitchen cupboards, art cupboards. I walk through our garage. Thinking, thinking. Hoping that something will come to mind. And it usually does. I've never set up an activity like transferring pom poms before, but remember I'm getting desperate and he loved it. Sink and float? Open and close? Locks? How about magnets?... Read more →

1. Absorbent Minds (UK), 2. Michael Olaf (US), 3. Michael Olaf (US), 4. For Small Hands (US), 5. How we Montessori Shop (Aus), 6. How we Montessori Shop (Aus), 7. Montessori Shop (NZ), 8. Montessori Paratodos (Spain). One of the things I love about Montessori is the approach to aprons. Aprons are more than something to protect the child's clothing. Aprons are a part of the environment, they are a material, a learning tool. By putting the apron on at the start of the activity and taking it off (and putting it away) at the end, the apron helps to... Read more →

. Do you have a quiet place? . . Breathe, breathe deep. Touch. Feel. . . Fresh air and natural textures. . . We've recently found a new quiet place. The boys can run, sing and shout without breaking anything or disturbing anyone. . Our quiet place has water. And sand. And rocks, moss, stones, sticks and grass. Wet, dry, spiky, slippery, furry, soft and smooth. Whirly, windy, splashing, cold. . . Fresh. Refreshing. Beautiful. Surreal. Read more →

Sometime I lack ideas of what to rotate on Otis's art shelves - so I decided to make a list. I find there are lots of advantages of rotating art activities like this. We usually only have three trays out at a time. Although there are often pencils or crayons available in the study. Having all the items that Otis needs within the tray makes it easier for him to use and pack up. With the exception of water for washing his paint brush (which he needs to ask me for) and his smock and place-mat which he can access... Read more →

A small child can feel rather big when they have an apron on and a bucket in their hand. Or a broom, shovel or watering can. It's not about inflating their ego but rather giving them purposeful work. Real. Satisfying. Work. You know when your child feels it because you feel it too. The chores of practical life correspond exactly to what children are looking for at this age: an activity that requires their muscular energy, and that can lead to visible results that are useful to themselves and the persons who live with them. These present a unique opportunity... Read more →

If anyone had asked me about the right time to introduce grating or juicing I would have said to wait to at least until the child is three. I've heard a Montessori guide comment that juicing in a toddler class is almost 'tokenistic', that most children cannot (don't have the hand strength) to do it. From what I have seen this is true, it's usually the children closest to three that can productively juice. . Grating and juicing are two activities I thought Otis would not be able to do and as I felt he wasn't ready and would only... Read more →

We love cooking. It's absolutely one thing you can say about our family. Caspar and Otis are always asking to bake and they always want to bake a cake. Today they both wanted to make chocolate cake but Otis also wanted to make a banana cake. To make sure everyone got the cake they wanted I decided it was Choose Your Own Ingredients day! Otis started with bananas and ended up with banana, chocolate (raw cacao) and oat muffins. Caspar went a little crazy with his ingredients and made a chocolate (raw cacao), coconut and orange cake with ground pepitas,... Read more →

I've filled in the forms and submitted our paper work for Otis to start school next year. He'll start in February 2014, just before he turns three. Otis will start in the 3-6 class, Cycle One. For many children three is the age they enter preschool. The advantage of Montessori is that he will have the same teacher, the same classroom for the next three years. I love that continuity. Being the second child in our family Otis is already familiar with the school, the classrooms and many of the children, parents and teachers at the school. Being a part... Read more →

We only need one warm day and we are outside weeding, digging and planting. We only stopped for ice-cream, a trip to the plant nursery and school pick up. Spring is three days away and the sun is shining again. Otis has new gardening tools to break in and a butterfly garden to plant. When he returned home from school Caspar chose to plant sunflower seeds. Lots of sunflower seeds, scattered through our garden beds. To surprise his dad he said. . Otis like most toddlers I believe, loves to garden. He loves to harvest his crop including carrots and... Read more →

When Caspar was young and using a floor bed, I asked around "When do you move them into a real bed"? I didn't even know anyone who had used a floor bed. Even the Montessori teachers I spoke to didn't use floor beds with their children. The general consensus was - when you and the child are ready. Well, that was difficult. With Caspar being my first child and not really knowing other children his age, I had no idea when he was ready. So just before he turned three we gave him a real bed. He was sleeping on... Read more →

We've always enjoyed matching work in our home. It started with Otis matching real items and them moving onto matching with cards. One thing I've failed to mention is that the child should already be familiar with the item before introducing the model. These birds are a great example, with the exception of the penguin we can see them all locally. Mainly we've matched fruit, vegetables, household items and animals. There are many cards available but I have on occasion photographed and made our own cards. Now Otis finds this level of matching easy but he still likes it and... Read more →

. I was recently asked about early numeracy activities. While I don't feel that we do or that I put out a lot of numeracy activities it was quite easy to put together a list of five. These five really encompass the numeracy activities that we do at 27 months as part of our everyday living. These activities are as hands on as possible keeping in mind that workbook, worksheet activities don't form a part of the Montessori approach at this age. . Counting Everyday Items . Counting oranges as we put them into the bowl. Counting apples at the... Read more →

To brighten things up a little we decided to print on some of our plain napkins. A bit like our Inside Outside Fruit prints! . We've had these fabric paints for years and they are worth the initial investment. It's not that they are terribly expensive but if you want them in lots of colours it adds up. With our Inside Outside Fruit we used paint stamps because it's important to get an even(ish) thin layer of paint on the fruit. This time Otis did lots of simple sploshing but Caspar used the roller to get even coverage. . .... Read more →