Last week my husband was away and I had to take Otto with me to a couple of my classes and also to his brothers sports training. While it is undesirable to have a toddler in tow, Otto (at 25 months) is capable of quietly sitting and playing for 30-40 minutes with a couple of small toys. These toys are also useful for when we are in waiting rooms, when eating out, when I need to make an important telephone call and they are good to have just in case I need them when visiting friends. Which toys we take... Read more →

I recently wrote about how to winterise your children's shoes when I realised this is a process I could get my children involve in. While shoe polishing is generally an activity for those aged 3yrs + I wanted to have a shoe polish that was completely safe for my toddler to use too. I knew the best option was to find a good homemade DIY shoe polish/conditioner. Due to the minimal nature of the ingredients I decided to try the recipe at Montessori Services. All Natural Beeswax-Based Shoe Polish 2 tablespoons beeswax 1 cup food-grade linseed oil (or flax seed... Read more →

My toddler is fiercely independent but how do I help him to put his shoes on the right feet? It can be so tricky... I don't have all the answers. He puts his own shoes on 100% of the time (at 25 months). But he has no way of telling which shoe is for which foot, except for those with a side closure like his slippers and sandals. If he put his shoes on the wrong feet I don't correct him, but with some shoes it causes him to trip up more and it looks uncomfortable. First I want to... Read more →

Blocks are fantastic open ended materials. They are investment pieces that can last a lifetime. Many blocks will appeal to a wide range of children starting from toddlerhood. Our block corner is one of the most popular areas of our home, especially during play dates. Today I'm sharing the blocks that we are currently using. The larger blocks are kept in our block corner but some of the smaller sets are in baskets on shelves in our play area or in our children's bedrooms. 1. Grimm's Coloured Rainbow Geo-Blocks Classic Wooden Set - 30 pieces. This is one of my... Read more →

At what age do you think children can put away their own toys? It's not so much about age as it is about ability. Once the child is able to pick up and release a block, they can start to put their blocks away. Once a child can walk, they can start to put their toys back on the shelves. Toddlers at around 18 months can provide a lot of help putting away, but by two or two and a half I find most toddlers can pack up and put away the majority of their toys and many toddlers actually... Read more →

Soft Star shoes are well known for being excellent indoor shoes for Montessori and Waldorf communities but what about for outside and what about for winter? We've only ever used them in mild Australian winters, can we wear them here (in the UK), will they be warm enough? I've seen so many people use Soft Star shoes for Forest School I had to reach out and ask how is it possible, how do they make it work? The Elves at Soft Star Shoes have given me a few tips that I hadn't thought of and want to share. The same... Read more →

Is there anything better than a good jigsaw puzzle? Over the years my children have used many puzzles but their favourites by far are by Ravensburger. Once your toddler is out of the peg puzzle stage it can be hard to know what comes next. Well how about some two-piece, then four-piece and six-piece jigsaw puzzles? Jigsaws make fantastic presents and you can find these or similar for almost any interest for any age. Jigsaw puzzles are perfect for children, friends and siblings to work on together, it creates a nice atmosphere of collaboration. Doing a jigsaw puzzle is another... Read more →

Having my toddler next to me in the kitchen is a part of my parenting practice. I couldn't parent as smoothing or as easily as I do without a kitchen helper. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and my toddler loves to be right next to me. Obviously the best option is to involve him in whatever I am doing, chopping, general food preparation, cooking etc. But there are times when I don't want his involvement (cutting meat/chilli/onion) or when he isn't interested in food prep. So here are a few activities that I try while my... Read more →

Over the weekend I presented Otto with his first sewing tray. He does a lot of threading so this feels like the next step. I needed to demonstrate but it didn't take him long to get it. It felt a little like two steps forward and one step back as he like to poke the needle through and then reposition it and poke it again, without threading it. But toddlers (and perhaps all children) like to test, they like to experiment and in their own time they will find their way. I don't feel like there is a need to... Read more →

This style of tap tap hammer toy was used by both of my older boys at their Montessori toddler classes. As Otto isn't currently attending a toddler class I thought I would try it with him at home. It turns out he loves it too. I like it because of the fine motor skill work. Otto likes it because of the hammer and he is allowed to hit things! There is some risk involved which requires the toddler to handle the pins with care. It also requires a lot of self regulation and self control. If Otto threw the pins... Read more →

Nichole from Radicle Beginnings recently published a series of videos from her toddler class that I found very interesting. It was such a wake up call, a reminder for me about what is possible. The video was of a young child scooping pumpkin seeds out of a pumpkin, the child then washed the seeds, dried them, baked them and served them to friends for snack, this involved six or seven (perhaps more) opportunities for transferring. The video is no longer available but you see how the child could have her need for transferring fulfilled in a real life and relevant... Read more →

The RIE and Montessori approaches are not always the same but on sharing I find them really compatible. I've learnt a lot about how to teach my child empathy and authentic sharing by reading more about the RIE approach. I'm compelled to write this as in just over a week I've experienced two occasions where another adult has tried to take an object from my child's hands in an attempt to make him 'share' with their child. Unless you are the child's parent, caregiver or close friend/relative or it is a safety issue, it's not ok to touch another child... Read more →

Schleich model animals are extremely popular in Montessori classrooms and Montessori homes. They are hand painted and are life-like, perhaps are the most realistic models we can find. They are durable although they are made from 'high quality plastic'. I've been asked a gazillion times for wooden (or sustainable rubber/plastic) alternatives. The wooden alternatives have been Ostheimer or Holztiger. Both of these of these brands are more Waldorf in design and the animals are abstract with less detail, not what many Montessori parents or teachers are looking for. I've recently had a look at these TickiT animals and people. The... Read more →

Our toddler wardrobe isn't a minimalist wardrobe, it is an age-appropriate, developmentally appropriate wardrobe. Perhaps your child can manage with more clothes, perhaps less. "Clothing that is easy to remove and to put on oneself enables the child to practice these skills. These are things to consider when picking out any clothing, from shoes to pajamas, to coats, for young children. A child's efforts at picking out her own clothes and dressing herself are satisfied if the parents hang up, within the child's reach, just two outfits, letting the child decide between them when she dresses in the morning. This... Read more →

This morning I was cleaning and restocking our toddler fridge and thought it would be fun to take a few pictures of what is in the fridge and how Otto uses it. All three of my children use the fridge but as Otto is the only one that can't reach the main fridge, he uses this fridge the most! Let's take a look. In our toddler fridge we always have: water in a large dispenser sliced fruit and/or vegetables yoghurt a few pieces of (whole) fruit in the bottom, usually apples or oranges dip - hommus, beetroot hommus or avocado... Read more →