Do you have a Nature or Seasonal Table at home? A Nature or Seasonable Table is a table, a shelf, or we can use a tray, where together with our children we can create beautiful scenes and collect items from nature that reflect the rhythms of the season outside. The Nature Table enables children to touch, look at closely, smell and listen to some of the things in our natural environment. It encourages an interest in, and respect for, the natural world. We can also use our Nature Table for storytelling, exploring themes like lifecycles and simply enjoying the beauty... Read more →


Are you looking for a few new art activities to try at home? I suggest most of these activities for children from around three years however some like the nature clay collage would be suitable or adaptable for toddlers. All of the materials the child needs are presented on the tray. I use melamine trays (similar) as they are super easy to wipe clean and will contain spills. Some of these trays contain two-step activities. It doesn't matter if the child doesn't follow the steps however they provide a good opportunity for the child to learn to follow steps and... Read more →


I love exploring science and nature with my children. My older children enjoy using their microscopes (they have used the DuoScope and Celestron InfiniView Digital). Otto (3 yrs) has started using his very own First Microscope and it exceeded all of my expectations. It is super easy to use, the view is clear and accurate and Otto is crazy about it. The First Microscope teaches the child: how to hold, carry and look after a microscope about magnification the parts of the microscope and names - while we aren't giving official lessons it's easy through using the microscope for the... Read more →


I am concerned that children (including mine) are spending more time learning about bugs with plastic models and books rather than by using and observing the real thing. Even though many bugs and insects can be found right on our doorstep, backyard, and neighbourhood nature strips. "A child, who more than anyone else is a spontaneous observer of nature, certainly needs to have at his disposal materials upon which he can work." - Maria Montessori, The Discovery of The Child. Children are natural explorers, they are curious and love to look, touch, listen and observe everything that is going on... Read more →


There are lots of good reasons to include items from nature in our art trays. Nature items have different textures and smells and provide a different experience to using paper or other stationary items. Using items from nature also: demonstrates resourcefulness - using what is readily available in the environment promotes creativity and out of the box thinking promotes learning about seasons and seasonality - what resources are available and when respects our natural environment leads to further exploration and new ideas/discoveries in using nature in art Here are eight nature based trays we've used recently. Drawing on Paperbark -... Read more →


Are you looking for some fresh magnifying tray or activity ideas for your children? Here are ten that we've tried and enjoyed with my preschooler. Magnifying Glass with Matching Large and Small Cards - as this activity is new to us I've only put out three cards and they are really for observing. Later I will present all the cards and allow the child to match. This is so cute, my preschooler loves looking at the little images with the magnifying glass. Cards found here. Children's Binoculars - with an easy carry bag and a note 'take me on a... Read more →


Nature journaling with a toddler? Is it possible? It is possible and it can be a lot of fun too! It's nice to make a few observations while out in nature especially if we visit the same spot regularly. We can make observations about the big things like the wind or the raging waves, or about the small things like a tiny crab claw found in the rockpool. Here are three ways we enjoy nature journaling with our two year old. Mark Marking/Drawing We take a journal or notepad and some pencils for mark making and free drawing. I don't... Read more →


We love to use our Ikea Flisat children's table as a sensory table or as a simple sand and water table. But the mess can be too much for indoors. We have put the table outside on our deck but sand still travels everywhere and the area around the table always needs sweeping. When we lived in the UK we would often use our Ikea Flisat table for sand and water outside. When it rained I would bring it inside or put it under our door table setting. It held up for over a year. But eventually it got a... Read more →


I want to share something that will make you smile! I was recently looking for high quality photographic books for my children when I discovered the Photo Ark project by National Geographic Photographer Joel Sartore. If you haven't seen Joel's work before be prepared to be wowed. The Photo Ark is stunning. Joel's aim is to photograph all of the approximately 15,000 animal species living in the world’s zoos and wildlife sanctuaries. He has photographed 9,844 to date. Joel travels the world to photograph animals. He spreads a conservation message through public speaking, publishing books with National Geographic and producing... Read more →


For toddlers, I love to set up a nature or observation tray rather than a nature table. I like to keep all the small pieces contained within the walls of the tray. My toddler understands he can observe, touch and manipulate all of the items but they must stay in the tray. Only now at 21 months are we moving away from a nature basket which has served more as an exploration/treasure basket to a real observation tray. A Montessori observation tray is not small world play, it's not small parts play, it is about observing up close and with... Read more →


If you are visiting Cornwall, the Eden Project is a must see! I had high expectations and it did not disappoint. It's huge, it's amazing and it's so inspiring. It has to be the largest environmental learning centre I've seen. The Eden Project was built on a disused clay quarry and the aim was to showcase some of the world's most significant plants. But what it really does is showcase the relationship between plants and people and the amazing biodiversity we have on Earth. "Eden is a gateway into the relationships between plants and people, and a fascinating insight into... Read more →


My children love to use the light table, it's easy to see how it is educational for preschool or primary students but what about for toddlers? The light table is wonderful for toddlers as it provides: an inviting space to learn, it has a warm glow, it's inviting especially in a dark corner or on a dark rainy cold day/week/month. the opportunity to explore familiar items in a different way. Items like feathers and leaves look different when backlit. for the exploration of shape, light, reflections, silhouettes, colour theory. hands-on learning opportunities, some fine motor work. open-ended free play that... Read more →


Do you allow your children to pick flowers? I recently questioned this myself but the answer came out really clear. Yes, of course, but only when safe to do so. A child must touch the flower to know the flower. Children need to use all of their senses including touch, they can pull the petals off the stem, they can squish the flower in their hands. This is exploration. We need to satisfy the child's need to touch and explore while respecting the needs of our community and ecosystem. I believe that a child who is in contact with nature... Read more →


The entryway is an important part of a Montessori home environment. It's an area that can serve us and our toddler well if it is thought out and organised. Why do we need a toddler entryway? Promotes order and independence. Allows the child to easily look after and put away their belongings. For the parent it is easier to find the child's shoes and coats, especially useful when you need them in a rush. Empowers the child to participate in self dressing as much as possible. Provides adequate and dedicated space for dressing including putting on shoes and coats, with... Read more →


Before we moved to the UK last year I was fortunate to connect with Carine from Montessori Family. She was a Montessori teacher and now runs a parent-toddler group in Central Bedfordshire. Carine has become a good friend and I relate to her style of parenting. I also appreciate the many hours she spends helping and educating Montessori parents from around the world. She is tireless and she is passionate. So when Carine brought out a Montessori Family subscription box I already knew it would be something I would like and knew I could trust the contents. The Montessori Family... Read more →