Often we can create Montessori style activities using materials we already have in our home. This one is super simple but really engaging. If I want to create a new activity for Otto I will think about what he likes doing and have a look around the house to see what I can find. Otto is currently loving his open close tray so why not add an activity which involves matching lids to their containers. I love this one (above and below) as the jars are exactly the same except for their size. They are glass so he knows he... Read more →

Do you use essential oils at home with your children? They are a great way to help calm your child, prepare them for bed, help with their concentration or even with colds. But it can be difficult to know which oils are safe to use. I've asked a lot of different people for help when using essential oils with my children but I've often received mixed messages and some terrible over the counter advice, so I want to share with you what sources I've actually found useful! There really aren't a bunch of essential oils that are 'kid safe', it... Read more →

My Infant Massage Instructor brings a Treasure Basket with her every time she visits. Otto loves it and always spends a lot of time playing with it. It reminds me how important it is to rotate and completely mix up or change the items in a Treasure Basket. It loses appeal if the child is already familiar with the items in it. So for Christmas is just seems appropriate to have a Christmas themed Treasure Basket. Here are a few things that we have in ours: Ribbon - in red and green colours. Large Christmas Bells - we have three... Read more →

I've written about Forest Schools previously but I want to give a little update since my knowledge and experience with Forest Schools has grown since living in the UK. Both of my school-age children go to Forest School once a week. Caspar (11 years) also goes to Forest School Club (an after-school club) once a week. Otto (14 months) has started attending a Forest School toddler class. Attending Forest School with Otto has been an eye-opener and I've learnt so much about the process. Otto's class is for 1-3 year-olds, so he doesn't play or mix with the other children... Read more →

I'm not great with mess. I do everything I can to avoid it. But if you have a toddler it is inevitable. The key for me is to know what is true mess and what is the child's work or play and to contain the mess as much as I can. It is important to me not to view mess as a negative and not to use negative words or negative body language around it. It is also really important to make cleaning up a part of the activity and always prepare for it. Here are a few ways we... Read more →

Otis has been growing mushrooms (and beans) it's - been fascinating to observe the mushroom's entire life cycle. This is a gorgeous poetry book that we have been enjoying. I Am The Seed That Grew The Tree. I noticed this really simple craft at Otto's Forest School class and wanted to make them with the older boys. It's best done with willow which is a little more pliable. But ours worked out well (mostly!), we are calling ours Christmas stars and have them in a jar on our window sill. We love using open-and-close baskets (a basket with containers that... Read more →

Otto is really enjoying lots of posting, pushing, threading, and 'in' and 'out' activities. These activities are easy to make using household items or a few easy-to-find toys. Above is a container that I put a hole in the lid and some paper straws cut in half. This is an activity that he loves and is probably his favourite right now. It takes a bit of practice but the idea is the child using coordination and concentration inserts the straws into the lid of the container. The hole is only just larger than the straws so it requires the child... Read more →

Above: Sensitive Period for Movement Otto is now 14 months old and I'm wondering what are the areas he is in the Sensitive Period for? Sometimes it's really obvious such as his need for movement, but other times if we are not watching and observing carefully it's easy to miss the important sensitive time for learning, like for toilet awareness. "They go through a very specific and well-defined periods of interest in certain areas of their development. For example there is a period of intense absorption with order, another for language, and another for learning to walk. During each of... Read more →

While visiting Isle of Wight over the weekend I found this gorgeous book, If I Were A Whale. It has all the things I love in children's books, it is rhyming, has beautiful realistic illustrations, it's factual and it's just wonderful. It is perfect for toddlers, the language is simple but it is also educational, it actually tells you a little about each kind of whale. It's the best board book I've found about whales, we really love it. Another new board book that we've been reading is A Picnic with Monet, it's from the Mini Masters Series. It's not... Read more →

Otto has started to do this really funny thing, he is picking all sorts of things up and putting them in the bin. Sometimes it's rubbish but sometimes it's Otis' school work and sometimes it's his own toys. I am sure he is in a transporting schema. Montessori talks about sensitive periods and I see schemas as being very similar. A schema is a pattern of behaviour that some children regularly display to help them make sense of their world. Children explore schemas differently but we can help our children by noticing and acknowledging when they are in a schema.... Read more →

We rotate our toys and materials for two reasons: We only want a few materials out at a time, so the child isn't overwhelmed, so they can look after their materials and maintain order. In any one area I've found 9-12 materials about right for an infant/toddler. We want to keep the child interested in their toys and materials. Often if the child isn't using a toy we can put it away for a couple of weeks and then get it out again and the child may have a renewed interest in it. It also prolongs the life of our... Read more →

Today I want to share some the new materials that Otto is using at 13 - 14 months old. He has only recently mastered materials like the peg board and the ring slide (so fun to watch!). Others like the ball push he could easily do months ago but now he is really enjoying the repetition and is using it more than ever. The trike is a fairly new addition (a hand-me-down from Otis). These puzzles are such a must for me, I love how they have real images, they are also great for language development. I wouldn't ordinarily buy... Read more →