Swinging by to Share our Age Pumpkins

It’s been so long since I posted, I almost forgot how to do it!  I’ve had to prioritize my life recently, which led to me taking a long break on the blog and shutting down my business temporarily.  It’s been hard to say goodbye to these little pieces of me, but as my friend pointed out, I’m putting my kids and husband first and that’s what really matters.  Thank you to everyone who has told me how much you love and miss my blog.  You sure do know how to make a girl feel special.  My blog posts may be few and far between now, but I had to stop by and share this year’s pumpkin photos.  I probably should have cut Asher’s hair before the photos, but a busy mom has to let a few things go.  I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about.  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We all have so much to be thankful for.  I’m sending a little love to you all (especially those who can need a little extra during the holiday season). xo, Lori

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Check out our previous Age Pumpkins: 201220112010.

Classical Conversations Montessori Bundle Cycle 2

***This giveaway is now closed.  Congratulations to the winner of the Montessori Print Shop Bundle: Lynnsy. Lynnsy’s comment #45 was chosen by random.org.  Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway.  Have a great week! ***

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I’m back from my blog break and it’s Fall! I hope the past few weeks have treated you well.  You’ll have to fill me in on anything I missed while I was out.  It’s so good to be back and to get back into our homeschool routine.  Plus, I’m really excited about this first post back.  You should be too.  Montessori Print Shop has given me a Classical Conversations Montessori Bundle – Cycle 2 to give away!  This bundle is wonderful for Classical Conversations homeschoolers, Montessori homeschoolers and those of you like me who combine the two.

I love our Classical Conversations community.  It gives us a support group, a wonderful curriculum, a lot of friends and great songs to help the kids learn everything from skip counting to a historical timeline from the creation of the world to current time.  I also love our Montessori materials because it gives the children tangible, hands-on experience with anything they are interested in.  I also have a theory that once you learn about the Montessori philosophy, you’ll be a lifer.  It’s that incredible.  Combining these two methods of learning just seems like the most perfect formula for our family.  Classical Conversations gives us the structure and Montessori allows us to explore it however we dream up.  The sky’s the limit.

Just look at this gorgeous package put together by Montessori Print Shop!  The materials are so bright and engaging with wonderful eye-catching images.  It’s no wonder my children love working with MPS materials.  It’s a wonderful way to review the curriculum over and over again without it getting so monotonous and boring. Plus if your kids are doing Memory Master for CC, you’ll be doing LOTS of reviewing!  :)

How many of you combine Montessori with Classical Conversations?  I keep seeing the group of us grow and grow as more people see it’s beauty.  If you’re interested in trying it out, here’s your chance. It just might be your lucky week.

Here’s the list of everything included in the bundle:

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Leave a separate comment for each entry:

- Share your favorite thing to do during Fall. (just to keep it interesting)

- Follow @MontessoriPrint on Twitter.

- Like Montessori Print Shop on Facebook.

-Share the giveaway anywhere online and share the link with us. (Worth 3 entries, but make sure to leave 3 comments.)

The giveway will close at 8:00 am CST on Monday, September 30th.  The winner will be selected by random.org.  Good luck everyone!

Blog Break

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My little guy is getting so big. This photo of us was taken before church this past Sunday. I love how handsome and mature he looks in his dress shirt and tie. He sure does make his mom proud. I’m just stopping in to tell you I’m taking a blog break for a few weeks. Stephanie at Discovery Moments has offered to take over Friday Five while I’m away from the blog. I’m really looking forward to care-free days with my kids and husband. I’ll see you in a few weeks. I hope life treats you well while I’m gone.

Montessori Tour of Homes: Discovery Moments

Stephanie is a homeschooling mama of two. Montessori learning and Artful homeschooling fill her days with creativity, learning, and work. Her daughters are Bunny who is in second grade, and Pup who is 4. She blogs about learning, life, and discovery over at Discovery Moments. Her blog is so truthful, relatable and authentic.  She’s also a wonderful blog friend and is so supportive of her fellow homeschoolers.  I just love her.

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1 | When did you start introducing Montessori in your home? My Montessori journey began back in the summer of 2010. Bunny (who is now 7) was only 4 at the time and I was trying to think ahead to how we would school her. I loved Montessori, but we could not afford to send the girls to the school. So I went to the library and dug up every book they had on Montessori! And before I knew it I started making trays for Bunny in the kitchen using anything I had. I think my very first tray was a cookie sheet with two Pyrex bowls, some beans and a spoon! A couple of weeks later, I had decided that homeschooling would work, that I needed Montessori materials, and now was when it needed to happen. By fall we were ready for school to begin and I was excited! Learning and the Montessori concepts quickly became a regular part of our life and home.

2 | What are your favorite Montessori-inspired spaces in your home? Well personally I love, love, love, our school room! What I love is that it is beautiful. There was really something to Maria Montessori’s requirement of a beautiful space for children to learn. I think that having things well-organized, pretty, and always ready make learning more natural. When you want something it’s there, when you have a project there is space, and when you are there for a long time you enjoy it because the space feels good to be in. That is how I feel about it. Another room that I love for the girls is, and you will laugh, the bathroom. Our small half bath is perfect for little ones! There has never been a toddler yet who doesn’t head in there, climb on the stool and try to wash their own hands. It is right in the middle of the main level of the house and the door works better left open. It just calls to kids to try and do it themselves (much to the dismay sometimes of my mommy friends when their little ones are soaking wet). They can wash their hands, clean their own faces, and get their own drink of water. A couple of years ago a redecorated their rooms so that they were a good space for each of them. Bunny needed a space to work and places to display her favorite things, plus a closet where things could be stored (so they don drive me crazy). She has her clothes in the dresser and it is easy for her to put things away. Plus moving the bed into the corner allowed her more space to create LEGO creations! Pup needed somewhere for her clothes to go and a place to keep books! So I put some shelves in her closet with baskets for her clothes and gave her a bookshelf and a desk. Everything is there is at her height and easy for her to navigate. However, things are slowly moving and I can see us changing things around soon enough as they keep growing!

3 | How do your children benefit from a Montessori home? I think that they are really independent. My girls like to do things themselves and they like to create new things. Plus they are able to get what they need, and put away what they don’t. This teaches a lot of care for the home as well as takes some pressure off of me. We ask a lot of questions, read a lot of books, and try out new ideas! That is what I wanted for my girls and making sure the house supports that is important to me! To be honest there is a lot of benefits that I don’t even see! The things that they go off to do or make aren’t always shown to me. They are learning and exploring and I don’t always know. And this is a good thing I think. It means that they are doing it themselves because they need to not because I told them to! This is something that I think having a Montessori home supports.

4 | What advice do you have for a parent who wants to start implementing Montessori principles in the home? Start simple.  The Montessori method is about more than the beautiful materials. It is a way to interact with your child and to help them explore the world that they are a part of. So get a table, and buy a shelf. Then start with simple trays for them. Sure having pink tower and knobbed cylinders is a great thing, but you really can teach the same things with some nesting blocks, and some nuts and bolts. This is something I learned the expensive way! ;) Another thing that I really recommend is to read Maria Montessori’s work. It’s a little hard to get into, but it offers a lot more insight into the method then reading about what others have interpreted it to mean! So make sure that you research well and understand the method because that is what is going to lead to your success! Finally remember that your kids are kids! You will have meltdowns, fits, and “I hates schools” statement even if your home looks like a perfect Montessori school. Why? Because they are in their home, their safe space, and their place to be what they are without pressure to be perfect all the time. As such, the normalization of a Montessori classroom is hard to get at home. So know it will never look the same and embrace it! They may have fits instead of sitting in perfect concentration on some days, but you will always share those moments of pure joy of success in deeper way then you ever could if they were in school!

That’s the end of our Montessori Tour of Homes.  I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the Montessori spaces and learning a little bit about why other families are using Montessori principles in their homes.  It’s always fun to get inspired by other people’s homes.  Or at least it is for me.  Friday Five is cancelled this week.  I hope you have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend.  xo, Lori

Montessori Tour of Homes: Education of Ours

Jessie from Education of Ours is a Montessori Teacher for the ages 3-6, also called Primary or Children’s House. Her own children are Montessori kids. She went to Montessori Training (AMS) just after she got married, and then continued on for a Masters Of Education for Montessori and Early Childhood Education. She says, “The last few years with my girls have been so amazing; after learning so much about their stages and planes of development I felt ready for the every day with little ones. What magnificent growth happens in a three year cycle! Currently, we have a 2nd grader and two Kindergartners. This coming school year will be the last year I have my own children in class, so it will be both bittersweet and rewarding.”

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1 | When did you start introducing Montessori in your home? I began preparing our home during pregnancy. I’m a planner by nature, my training taught me to prepare environments so I did just that. I felt like I had waited my whole life to be a mom. This adventure is unlike anything else. By the time the twins were born, we were in a new house and everything was set up for infants and toddlers to be independent and joyful.
2| What are your favorite Montessori-inspired spaces in your home? My favorite space is the playroom. We spent hours and hours there, crafting, learning, and growing. I also love their own art spaces that they have in their bedrooms. Art is so personal, they needed their own creation area.
3| How do your children benefit from a Montessori home? I see them doing things for themselves that typically an adult would step right in. They seem confident in their own abilities. My oldest child is now into researching her own interests, today it’s Red Pandas! The best part about having a Montessori-friendly home is that it is consistent with their first school experiences.
4 | What advice do you have for a parent who wants to start implementing Montessori principles in the home? Read & Watch. Scour through every Montessori book you can get your hands on, get a feel for the philosophy and see how it fits with your family. Watch your children. Really. Do nothing but sit and observe. What do they do when given freedom? Follow your child.
Tomorrow, Stephanie from Discovery Moments walks us through her home. Stay tuned.

Montessori Tour of Homes: How We Montessori

Kylie D’Alton is the Montessori Mom behind the marvelous blog How We Montessori.  She lives in Canberra, Australia with her husband and two sons, Caspar who is five and Otis who is two.  One of my favorite qualities of Kylie is how involved and hands-on she is with her two sons.  She’s a huge inspiration to me and I feel lucky to share her Montessori Home with you.

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All photographs taken by Katie Kolenberg for LittleONE Magazine.  

1 | When did you start introducing Montessori in your home?  I became interested in Montessori not long after Caspar was born. We started implementing parts of Montessori in our home straight away but it wasn’t until he was around eighteen months old that we really had a grasp of the Montessori home concept. We were fortunate enough to know about Montessori before Otis was born so he was raised from birth the Montessori way. 

2 | What are your favorite Montessori-inspired spaces in your home? I probably have three favourite Montessori inspired spaces in our home. Our kitchen is the obvious place. We have a low shelf in our pantry for the children to prepare their own snacks and an entire cupboard devoted to their cooking tools and plates. The boys also have their own refrigerator so they can access their own foods that require refrigeration. I love their bedroom which contains Otis’ floor bed and low baskets and hanger so the boys can dress themselves. I also love our livings areas which have lots of spaces designed especially for children. 

3 | How do your children benefit from a Montessori home? Most of all I want our children to feel inspired in our home. I want our home to be a place of peace, warmth, comfort and beauty. I feel following the principles of Montessori has helped us achieve that.

4 | What advice do you have for a parent who wants to start implementing Montessori principles in the home? First and foremost be kind to yourself, parenting can be incredibly difficult at times. I suggest reading widely, don’t just read blogs, books are a great source of neutral information. I also highly recommend connecting with your local Montessori community. Many people especially those with young children can feel isolated. Try to get in touch with other Montessori parents, infant or toddler groups, your local school or homeschooling groups.

Tomorrow we will tour the Montessori home of Jessie from Education of Ours.  You won’t want to miss seeing this incredible home of a Montessori directress.

Montessori Tour of Homes: Montessori MOMents

This last Saturday, Montessori MOMents turned 3.  In honor of the site’s birthday, I’m sharing a Montessori Tour of Homes.  Every day, a Montessori family will share their Montessori home with us and give us some insight into their philosophy.  Today, I’m sharing mine although many of you have already seen these portions of my home.  There are a few new spots, especially in the school room that I’m excited to share with you.  These Montessori spaces in our home are for John Robert (7), Asher (4) and Lila (1 on Wednesday!).  I hope you enjoy this Tour of Homes.

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{a low table and small chairs fit their small bodies.  create a space that fits them ergonomically.}

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{create a hierarchy of spaces where each child can reach his own space.  we have levels for John Robert, Asher and Lila in this room.}

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{a new addition to our school room are these buckets, one holds JR’s work and the other is Asher’s work. they are low to the ground where they can access them easily.} 

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{lila’s new space in the room is just for her – minus the movable alphabet. it’s low and uncluttered.}

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{our grammar farm is new too.  it’s getting a lot of play these days.  :) }

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{our hand washing station includes a pump soap that is easy for them to work without getting soap EVERYWHERE.  it also has a nail brush and step stool.}

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{hooks are so much easier for kids to use.  these are mounted at their height.}

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{a shower caddy mounted to the side doubles as a cup & straw holder. Also, different colored contact paper help them distinguish “their space”.}

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{this is probably the boys’ favorite space.  they eat non-stop and still eat a lot at meals.  they’re growing boys and this way they can help themselves to healthy food when they’re hungry.}

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1 | When did you start introducing Montessori in your home?  In 2010, I decided to stay at home with Asher and John Robert full-time.  I pulled John Robert out of his Montessori preschool since we could no longer afford it and started implementing Montessori principles in our home.  It was a gradual process and a very rewarding one. It still is. John Robert was 3 at the time so it was the perfect time for him to thrive in Montessori.  We started with easy things, like a hand washing station and an area for him to get his own water and snacks.  It transitioned into us remodeling our school room and purchasing traditional Montessori materials.  We are still working on it, but I’m really happy with where we are right now.

2 | What are your favorite Montessori-inspired spaces in your home? By far it’s our school room.  We spend time in there every day and it’s an oasis for us.  A peaceful place to get away.  It’s usually orderly and neat and it makes us feel at ease.  I love that every single thing in this room is for the boys.  Everything is at their level, with their work and their art.  All of the furniture is their size, except for the one red chair for me.  I’m especially excited now that Lila has a low shelf just for her under the window.  It will give her many activities to explore and develop her skills while the boys are busy at work.  I’m also very fond of the snack station in the fridge.  It helps a lot when they are able to solve their own problems, like hunger.  It also empowers them to help themselves, which is an important skill to learn.

3 | How do your children benefit from a Montessori home? My children are self-starters.  They are able to see their needs and figure out how to fulfill them.  I love that about them and I attribute it to our Montessori philosophy.  They also feel loved and comfortable since so many areas are especially for them.  This house is their home and it’s obvious to them and everyone else who visits.

4 | What advice do you have for a parent who wants to start implementing Montessori principles in the home? Start small.  Don’t worry about changing everything all at once.  You know your child and what will benefit him or her the most.  Start with that and gradually let your Montessori home grow.  Reading Montessori books are also extremely informational.  Get a good feeling for the philosophy.  The idea behind Montessori is so much greater than trays of work and beautiful materials.  It’s about a lifestyle.  You can mirror that lifestyle in your home at very little cost.  It’s about making your home kid-friendly where they can function and learn to take care of themselves.  Empower them and they will rise to the occasion.  I know because I’ve seen it in my own family.

Tomorrow we will tour the Montessori home of Kylie of How We Montessori so be sure to check back.  She has the most amazing Montessori home.  You will LOVE it.