I've been looking for some fun ways to use wool in crafts and activities that promote the development of fine motor skills. Here are seven activities we tried recently. Yarn Sticks - this was much more fun than I had expected! Both my three and nine-year-old loved wrapping the wool tightly around the sticks, these are purely decorative but you could pretend they are wands or add faces for people. I tied the wool to the sticks but we could use glue too. Pasting Wool Worms - this is the activity that my three-year-old spent the most time on, simple... Read more →


(Christina's children James and Lilah reading Montessori abc's) There is a new book on our shelves and I know you are going to love it. It's an authentic Montessori style alphabet book written and photographed by Montessori parents! Montessori abc's (AU link here) is written by Christina Clemer (Montessori-ish Mom) and photographed by Nick Karwoski. It's wonderful to see a Montessori style alphabet book that is so true and genuine. Christina decided to publish Montessori abc's after making a similar book for her son James. Montessori abc's has: a simple easy-to-follow layout engaging and interesting images phonetic words/images a single... Read more →


I recently put together some poetry and story baskets for my preschooler (3yrs old). The baskets ensure I am intentional about the poems I share and they also provide my child with the opportunity to hear a poem when he chooses. Poetry and short stories can help develop phonemic awareness and memorization skills. They are also a good way of developing a love of language. We know that early literacy skills are about listening and speaking rather than about reading and writing. We want to build our child's vocabulary, we want the child to hear and identify sounds, rhyme, and... Read more →


One of the easiest and cheapest ways we can incorporate fine motor skills into practical life activities is by using mini tongs. Mini tongs and tweezers can be used by children from around 18 months right up to around five years of age. Adult tongs are too bulky for young children and require a whole hand grasp. Smaller tongs are much easier for the child to manipulate successfully and tweezer-like tongs are fantastic at strengthening the muscles in the fingers and promoting the pincer grasp. There are tons of mini kitchen tongs and tweezers that are suitable for children so... Read more →


We are doing a lot of language work right now. My three-year-old is learning the sounds of the letters and is also learning what the letters look like. Although these are not traditional Montessori materials we've started using an Alphabet Puzzle and the Alphabet Roll. Using the Alphabet Puzzle the child is able to hold and feel the shape of each letter. As the child finds the letter and then finds the place on the puzzle where the letter fits the child becomes acutely aware of what the letter looks like (visual discrimination). The child can see the similarities and... Read more →


Today I want to share some of the language materials we have on our shelves. My son is 3 years (36 months) old but age is not so relevant here. You will find these activities are potentially useful for children from 2 to 4 years. Children's interests and ability with language materials vary greatly. It's important that we meet the child where they are at and not feel that we need to rush this very important stage in development. Here are four activities that we currently have on our shelves: Rhyming Activity with Objects - I've presented this in a... Read more →


Now that Otto is three I would like to see him further develop his tripod grasp. At this age I won't step in and correct his grasp but I but will prepare the environment including the materials to support him. Due to their unique shapes and designs these crayons support the child's developing tripod grasp, they really help the child to strengthen their hand muscles and work the fingers. These aren''t perfect the child can still hold some of them with a whole hand grasp but overall I've seen an improvement with my child's grasp when using these crayons. Crayon... 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 →


I noticed Otto loving the geoboard at his Montessori toddler group a couple of weeks ago so I thought it might be time to get ours out of the cupboard. Previously he had been using the toddler geoboard (#2) but perhaps now we could try a larger one like our standard geoboard (#4) or our transparent geoboard (#3) on the light table. At this age the purpose of using the geoboard is for the child to: get to know the material and how it works - for the child to become proficient in using the material so that it can... Read more →


Otto (36 months) is now cutting and using scissors with greater accuracy. To help him further improve his accuracy and also improve his fine motor skills we've introduced a range of cutting strips. I love using cutting strips with images as they also help promote language development and they are much more interesting for the child to use. At this age I like to use cutting strips where there is a bit of a gap between the images as they are easier for the young child to use. Here are some of our current favourites. Construction Vehicles Dogs Cars &... Read more →


It's easy to prepare an activity and put it on your shelves. It's much harder to prepare an activity that meets your child's developmental needs and is also attractive to the child. My toddler doesn't love pasting and he will walk past most pasting trays. I know pasting is a valuable skill so I set out to make some pasting trays that he will actually use and enjoy. I recently watched a video of a Montessori guide who suggested cutting out images for the child to paste from magazines and wrapping paper. My magazines didn't have many useful images but... Read more →


I've been inspired to try some woodwork with Otto since reading Learning Through Woodwork: Introducing Creative Woodwork in the Early Years by Pete Moorhouse. Otto turns three this month so I wasn't sure how to start. Learning Through Woodwork contains good tips for introducing woodwork and it has lots of beautiful photographs of children 3-4 years old working with wood. The author believes that the preschool years starting from three is the ideal time to start woodwork! This feels entirely in line with the Montessori way of thinking. Today I want to share three ways I've introduced woodworking to Otto.... Read more →


Why would we want to make a letter writing tray for our toddler or preschooler? A letter writing tray provides young children with the opportunity to write letters or draw pictures as gifts for friends and family and it introduces the child to the letter writing process including using names, possibly addresses and envelopes. It teaches children about written communication in a real, practical and meaningful way. This may also be a good way to introduce thank you notes or even cards for celebrations. I recognise the wonderful fine motor skills used here too. My toddler loves this tray and... Read more →


There is some thought especially with Occupational Therapists that young children would benefit from using crayons before moving onto other drawing materials like markers. Although my toddler on occasion uses markers, I have to agree and it's not just crayons. I feel there are many reasons why young children would benefit from using pencils, oil pastels, perhaps even charcoal and paint sticks before using markers. Using a marker it's very easy to produce a mark on paper. You can hold a marker at almost any angle with varying amounts of pressure and it still works. Markers are smooth and consistent,... Read more →


I've been feeling inspired by Reggio style children's self-portraits. The Montessori and Reggio Approach have a lot in common. Both are child-led approaches that respect and trust the child. "Right at the heart of the Reggio Approach is the very powerful image adults have of children. Every child is seen as strong, confident and competent. Strong children have their own ideas, express opinions, make independent choices and are able to play and work well with others. This powerful image of the child needs adults who listen to children and trust them to make responsible decisions. In the Reggio Approach listening... Read more →