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 →


What do you look for when choosing a good alphabet book? It's most important that the book is engaging, attractive to the child so they will want to read it and so they will interact with it! Calling to the child, sparking an interest, igniting a desire, these all come first for me. Things to remember when choosing an alphabet book from a Montessori point of view include: age appropriateness - this is particularly important when looking at the objects on each page. lower case letters - in Montessori we teach lower case before upper case letters. phonics-based - we... Read more →


Do you have a two to three year old who is showing an interest in letters and reading, and you don't know what to do next? Here are a few ideas. From around two to three years we focus on phonological awareness and this comes before teaching the child letters or reading. Phonological awareness includes identifying and manipulating units of oral language such as words, syllables, speech sounds (phonemes), onset and rime. Activities regarding phonological awareness do not necessarily have any written words in them, it is about the sounds that the words make, not about the letters we use... Read more →


Toddlers are naturally curious. We can use this curiosity to teach the child about the world around them. One way we can do this is through language development. We can provide the child with real and scientific names of things, like species or type names of flowers, birds or dogs. We can connect learning to things that have meaning to the child like sharing books and stories about their favourite pastimes or animals or vehicles. We can also teach them the parts of things that the child is familiar with, for example their body parts and anatomy, the anatomy of... Read more →


Many of us are spending a lot of time at home right now. I know there is one thing that will keep my toddler very busy and learning at home every day of the week. That is art and creating! I've been reading and learning about children's art spaces in Montessori and also in Reggio environments. While this art area is uniquely ours I wanted to share it with you. This art space is on our back deck, it's an almost seamless indoor/outdoor environment. The deck is covered and is suitable for working in all year round. Our art environment:... Read more →


While at this age I don't feel it's important for the child to be able to write their name, it becomes more and more important that they can recognise their name. "Our names are a crucial part of who we are. They give us a sense of identity, attachment and belonging. Right from the earliest moments of our lives we hear our names over and over most often being spoken by the people that we love. Using marks to write their own names is one of the first pieces of writing that many children try to do - saying in... Read more →


I've been reading In The Spirit of The Studio: Learning From The Atelier Of Reggio Emilia (a fantastic Reggio book) and art is on my mind. This week I've refreshed our art area and introduced an awesome easel. Otto is almost three so I feel the need to add some more interesting elements especially in the area of mark making. So I've sought the perspective of other Montessori parents and teachers. Here are a few Montessori art shelves I've found interesting in homes and schools. This is in the home of a 4 and a 11 year old. They have... 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 →


I recently presented Otto with his first sand tray! He isn't interested in phonics or letter recognition but he loves drawing and mark making. A sand tray is a wonderful way to encourage and develop pre-writing skills. The child can draw a picture and then shake the tray to start over again, it's fun and economical. Like finger painting, this is a good way to encourage mark making without the child having to use a tool. Sand is tactile and feels wonderful. I suggest using a fine, dry sand. Here we've used fine salt that I've coloured. I love to... Read more →


What are the best scissors for Montessori toddlers? I'd love to know your thoughts. Why specifically for Montessori toddlers? In Montessori environments, toddlers are often taught to use real scissors to cut paper strips. In many mainstream environments this may not occur until preschool age and even then some children are taught to cut soft things like play-dough first. In Montessori we also like our children to use real materials so small sharp scissors (with a round tip) are going to be preferred over dull plastic scissors. Otto (2yrs 10months) and I recently tested ten scissors that claim to be... Read more →


Has your toddler started to draw people? A few months ago Otto started to draw circles, then he started to draw circles within circles and then he started to draw faces with two eyes and a mouth. On Sunday night (at two years, 10 months) he started to draw people with legs and arms. I had been patiently waiting for the moment to happen and it did not disappoint. He has been drawing these 'tadpole' (or potato people) ever since, and lots of them. They are adorable! Here are a few notes that I've made about this stage from Children... Read more →


Want to take a peek into a really beautiful, colourful and vibrant children's art studio? Before the COVID restrictions came into place Otto and I loved attending the process art toddler class at the Little Ginger Studio in Sydney (Randwick). All of these pictures were taken in March (2020), a week before the studio closed due to COVID. The studio has now reopened but they are only running drop off classes (no parents allowed) for children over the age of three. You can see all of their classes listed here. Danielle Falk is the founder of Little Ginger Studio. Danielle... Read more →


As I've show pictures of my toddler drawing and tightly grasping a pencil, I've been asked a lot about pencil grip. For a child in the first plane of development, especially in the child under three I would never correct pencil grip. Another one I'm asked about is how the child holds their scissors, unless it is a safety issue don't fix them. Role model and work along side them, surround them by peers of all ages (who can also role model), give clear and precise demonstrations but don't fix them, they are learning from the experience, and will learn... Read more →