We work hard to create a multi-sensory learning environment. What this often means is creating lots of real-life experiences. When I think of using our sense of smell I'm thinking of walks in the forest, scented flowers in the garden or in flower arranging, harvesting and caring for our children's herb garden and of course cooking with lots of herbs and spices. But I wanted to create an activity, a tray that we could put on our shelves that would specifically use my toddler's sense of smell. I created a scent or smelling tray. I put a range of herbs... Read more →

When I set up our toddler 'writing' station I put our block crayons into a cute crayon holder. I had put them in the crayon holder previously when presenting the crayons in a tray, but this time it was different. This time my toddler (at 22 months) was much better and more consistent with putting them away and more specific with the colours that he wanted to use. I could see how practical and useful the crayon holder had become. The crayon holder promotes order - the child can easily find the colour crayon they are looking for, it's easy... Read more →

Matching activities are pretty standard in Montessori but have you ever tried matching or sorting using a compartment tray or muffin tin? I've found it a lot easier to work with my toddler this way. My toddler (22 months) has progressed nicely through matching and sorting work. We have had success in object to object, object to image and image to image matching however we have mostly used objects that are very different visually, like a model cow and sheep, or garbage truck and digger. The matching activities shown here are with objects with more subtle differences. What I've found... Read more →

These are the sweetest little birds, I loved them as soon as I saw them. They are plush birds that play authentic bird songs. They are lifelike enough for the child to recognise them with accurate colourings and patterns. I've put a collection of these singing birds into a basket for Otto (22 months) to explore. Most of these birds can be found in our garden, with the exception of the Woodpecker which we've only heard at Forest School and the Puffin which we have watched on live webcams (around Scotland and Wales). The Blackbird, Robin and Tits are very... Read more →

Have you used a Talking Tub before? I only recently found out about them and loved the idea so much I'm trying it with my toddler (22 months old). I attended a Talking Tub webinar (How Do You Use A Talking Tub To Stimulate Talking and Thinking) by Claire Warden at Mindstretchers. After loving her webinar on the Floor Book approach I knew this was something I really wanted to do. As with the Floor Book approach, Talking Tubs have been designed to use in Early Learning Centres with groups of children. But I can see the value in using... Read more →

I have a toddler (22 months old) who loves to draw. He likes to draw on his legs, he likes to draw on the walls. He will draw wherever he can. I don't want to stop him from drawing, I want to support him! He has an innate need to draw, to scribble, to make marks. We know that a scribble is more than a scribble. It's emotion, expression, creativity, it's communication. The more the toddler can express themselves and be heard, the better!! I want more scribbling, more expression. It's also concentration, focus, autonomy. I've set up a small... Read more →

We know that it is important to observe our toddlers, to see what schemas and sensitive periods they are in. We may know what activities are suited to their level of development (stacking, sorting, matching, climbing) but what about their interests? Their interests are important too. We may think that our toddler doesn't have any interests but if we watch - what is it that captures their attention more than anything else, what do they always want to stop to touch, reach out for, stop to listen too? Sometimes interests pass quickly, sometimes they are seasonal, sometimes they last a... Read more →

Parenting a toddler can be tough. We are constantly trying to do the best by them while also surviving, looking after other family members and perhaps working long hours. Society is often working against us, offering electronic devices and underwater worlds of talking octapuses or singing pigs, that actually keep the little ones entertained. What Montessori found and what I've found is that what the toddler is actually interested in, is the world around them! What fascinates a toddler is often the little things, the ants on the walkways, little rocks and stones, sometimes the big things, the banging recycling... Read more →

In Montessori, we often hear "buy the best art materials you can afford". But what is the best, and what is your budget? Often I am guided by the materials I see in our Montessori classrooms and if I'm not sure I'll ask the teacher. Often teachers have used the materials for many years and with many children, they've seen what works. Our most used toddler drawing materials are paint sticks and oil pastels, but we offer pencils too! Whichever you choose I suggest finding drawing materials that work for you and make them freely accessible to your toddler. Imagine... Read more →

These are really notes-to-self, things that I need to make note of and be more mindful of in my own home. I've been trying to make some changes to our playroom in order to provide more whitespace. "White space is often referred to as negative space. It is the portion of a page left unmarked: margins, gutters, and space between columns, lines of type, graphics, figures, or objects drawn or depicted. The term arises from graphic design practice, where printing processes generally use white paper. White space should not be considered merely "blank" space — it is an important element... Read more →

I recently participated in the How to Use a Floorbook to Engage Infants and Toddlers webinar by Claire Warden at Mindstretchers. I loved some of the ideas so much, I tried them out with Otto. I have used many of Claire's resources before including the Floorbook approach, but always with my older children. The Floorbook approach is much like a project-based approach to learning, still child-led. The Floorbook approach is designed for early childhood learning centres and educators. But I can see how it can be applied, in part, at home. I have included some of my notes and light-bulb... Read more →

a. / b. / c. / d. (UK links) If your toddler stands on a step stool can they reach the running water but not the tap? If so, a tap turner or tap extender may help. At our kitchen sink Otto washes his dishes, washes his hands, has some water play, fills his water pitcher, gets a drink, fills his watering can. He's up at the sink multiple times a day. With the use of the kitchen helper, he could reach the water once the tap is turned on but he couldn't reach the tap. Previously I'd only seen... Read more →

I'm often inspired by what I observe in Montessori classrooms, especially toddler rooms. So often in these controlled environments we see what the toddler is truly capable of, and it's amazing. Yes, toddlers can bake. They don't need to be our assistants, or sit and watch while we do all the work. We can prepare the environment and assist them. As I've observed in Montessori classrooms and as I have done with my other toddlers, I have put out everything Otto (22 months) needs to bake muffins. All of the ingredients are pre-measured, all he has to do is pour... Read more →

Otto is now completely nappy free at 22 months. Over the last week, we've moved from nappies at night to one hundred percent in underwear. He was wearing a nappy at night but I found that he was dry almost all of the time. I started offering him the potty first thing in the morning and now he goes there himself as soon as he wakes so we stopped using nappies completely. So far no night time accidents. Otis (now 8yrs) was also completely nappy free at 22 months. How is it done? I followed the Montessori method of toilet... Read more →

Do you know about Paint Sticks? Until last week I hadn't heard of them!! These are paint sticks with real tempera paint, they are not pastels or crayons. Paint sticks are a convenient, quick and easy way to involve children in painting without the mess and preparation of usual paints. Paint sticks may lack the sensory experience of using squishy liquid paint but they are better suited to using inside or while travelling. They are a good idea for playdates or parties when you don't know how the other parents feel about mess, or when you don't have access to... Read more →