Montessori Basics

        

{Asher and John Robert cutting their egg with a fork and knife}

In the world of the numerous themed Montessori trays, I sometimes think the core philosophy which Maria Montessori developed gets overlooked.  It’s about preparing our children with the practical life skills to successfully function in our society.  It’s helping them become as independent as possible.  The numerous amount of trays can be overwhelming for some mothers so they think they can’t follow the Montessori Method, but really…nothing can be further from the truth.  Montessori is innately simple.  It’s us who make it complicated with our Montessori-inspired trays and sensory bins.

Here are the Montessori Basics that can simply be implemented in your home:

Hand washing:  Encourage independent hand-washing with a Hand-Washing Station. Include a step stool, easy to pump hand soap or bar of soap, a fingernail brush if you have one and an easy to reach hand towel.

Dressing:  Have them practice dressing and undressing themselves.  Teach them how to use buttons, snaps and zippers.  Show them how to keep their clothing orderly and where to place dirty clothes.

Meal Time:  Give them the opportunity to properly use utensils, including a butter knife.  Include them in meal preparation.  Let them set the table.  Place snacks and a water station at their level where they can independently make snacks for themselves.  We have two snack stations in our home; one in the pantry and one in the refrigerator.

Cleaning:  Provide towels, sponges and a hand-broom at their level so they can clean up their spills.  Allow them to practice washing and drying dishes.

I love the themed trays as much as the next Montessori enthusiast, but for those of you who are feeling overwhelmed by Montessori, don’t be…YOU CAN DO IT.  Follow the simple Montessori truths that are at the core of Maria Montessori’s philosophy.  Anything more is just an added bonus.

Anyone else have suggestions on how to simply implement Montessori principles in the home?

This post is linked to Montessori Monday.  To see more Montessori Monday posts, click here.

Independence in Small Children

Are you ever surprised when you see your small child doing a task you didn’t think they were ready for?  On January 23, Asher asked me for an orange, but told me he wanted to peel it himself.  I started to say, “It’s pretty hard to peel an orange,” but then I caught myself and told him, “You can do it.” 

Honestly, I thought he wouldn’t be able to get his little fingernails under the peel or maybe he would give up after peeling a small portion, but he did it all and he’s been peeling oranges ever since.  He peels multiple oranges a day all by himself.  It’s funny how these small accomplishments make both of us proud and this new independence will come in handy when baby #3 arrives.  Maybe you have a 2 or 2.5 year old that is ready to peel oranges.  What do you think?

I love celebrating small moments like these…the small moments that make up life.

p.s. I’m completing goal #30 this week from my 101 goals.  I’ll be offline until Wednesday, February 1st.  I have posts scheduled for all of this week, but Monday and Tuesday of next week will be postless.  :)  No internet for an entire week…Wish me luck!

Sifting Snowflakes

  

  

     

Hello everyone!  Sorry for my absence, but I’ve been sick over the past few days.  I’m glad to be back and feeling better.  The weather has been pretty nice here lately, which has been my one saving grace.  The boys have been playing outside a lot.  We even took our learning outside…and I’m glad we did because “Sifting Snowflakes” was a lot of fun, but a bit of a mess. *Especially for Asher.*

A little while ago, one of our Christmas cups broke.  It was one that had water in the lining of the cup with glitter and snowflakes.  I saved the snowflakes, because I knew they would come in handy for a Montessori work.  All of the other items came straight from my kitchen.  I purposely placed 10 snowflakes in the snow (aka flour) so they could count them when they were done sifting.  It was their self-correcting way to know if they got all of the snowflakes. 

JR (5.5) only did this work once, but Asher (2.5) did it 5 times in a row.  He loved everything about it.  He even loved the messy part.  He tried really hard to keep it in the bowl, but every time the snow blew out of the bowl he couldn’t help but giggle.  Plus, I loved hearing him repeat, “tap, tap, tap” as he tapped the side of the sifter.

It’s already feeling like Spring here, but knowing Texas weather…we’ll be hit by a blizzard next week.  How’s the weather where you are?

This post is linked to Montessori Monday.  Click here for more Montessori Monday posts.

Spooning Snowballs

Here’s another fun Practical Life work that is very easy to prepare.  All you need are 2 bowls, white pom-poms and a spoon.  I don’t even put it on a tray since I only have a set number of trays.  When they’re done transferring all the snowballs into the other bowl they stack the one with the snowballs on top of the other bowl and place it back on the shelf.  Super easy, huh?

Here, Asher is using a measuring spoon I purchased a while ago at Target.  The deep sides make keeping the object inside the spoon easier.  Scooping or pouring snowballs would also be fun.

What have you done with snowballs?

Transferring Emperor Penguins

   

   

One of the boys favorite Antarctic animals to learn about is the Emperor Penguin.  Did you know that the father holds the egg on top of his feet, tucked under his belly all winter long.  When the weather gets especially windy and cold, the fathers snuggle close together to keep themselves and their eggs warm.  That’s a dedicated father!  I like to think of my husband as an Emperor Penguin, how about you?

Asher (2.5) has been drawn to this “Transferring Emperor Penguins” work time and time again.  The palette is from Michael’s (an art supply store), but if you don’t have one near you then this Amazon deal is for you.  Split the 10 palettes between friends and they will only cost you 50 cents each.  The Sugar Cube Tongs are from Crate and Barrel and the Penguin Beads are from Oriental Trading Company.

Would your kids love Transferring Emperor Penguins?

Baking with Kids

       

        

Well, I got busy on Christmas Eve and forgot to post my 12th Day of Christmas Montessori Trays.  It wasn’t actually a tray anyway, but it’s something very true to the Montessori principles…baking with kids.  Baking teaches so many basic principles from math, to language skills, to practical life skills…all in a hands-on environment.  Ask your child to help you read the ingredients, make sequence cards for your child to follow a recipe, explain fractions and measurements while adding ingredients and let them help you scoop flour, pour milk and roll dough.

Not only is it a wonderful time to introduce educational skills in a fun way, but you’ll also bond with your child and create special memories.  We made cookies for Santa and according to JR, Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies are his favorite.  These cookies are particularly great for practical life skills because they require the child to roll the dough into balls, press their finger into them and place cherries in the indention.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas and I’ll be back tomorrow with a special gift I handmade for Asher for Christmas.  Until then…

Tying a Bow

 

On the 10th Day of Christmas Montessori Trays, JR practiced tying a ribbon into a bow.  Today was the first time I’ve ever showed him how to tie a bow and we still have a long way to go, but he worked so hard and I was so proud of him.  Once he masters tying a bow, he’ll be ready for shoes with shoelaces.  I know many people teach this much younger and the only reason I haven’t is that he’s been wearing velcro shoes.  Plus, I thought tying a bow on a gift sounded like a fun way to introduce the task.

 

   

   

What’s been your favorite Christmas Montessori Tray?

{hint: it doesn’t have to be one of mine. :) share a link if you’ve seen a fun one somewhere else.}