It is no secret that toddlers have BIG emotions. From the time that my children were babies, I have always used descriptive language to help them label their feelings so that they can learn to express themselves in words. Recently (at 18 months) Marley has show a lot of interest in the feelings of other children, especially when they are feeling upset. I wanted to give her some practice reading facial cues and give her some more language around feelings, so I was very happy when I found these beautiful cards by @montessori_123. We’ve been talking a lot about how the children in the photos are feeling and they also come with a chart that she can use to match the cards later. This morning she absolutely blew me away when I introduced the mad card and she said “angry!” I also loved watching her comfort the sad baby. Giving her these tools to express her feelings from an early age will definitely be helpful in the future!
I love Montessori place setting placemats 🍽. They help small children learn how to set the table independently and help bring a sense of order to the dining table. After a few years of trying out different fabric combinations, I finally found the perfect combination. Outdoor fabric on the top, which is water and mold resistant, and non-slip rubber fabric on the bottom that helps hold the mat in place. I took a picture of each step of the process for anyone interested in creating their own. First I trace the place setting onto the top with an embroidery pen and then embroider the outline with a chain stitch. Next, I sew the back to the front (right sides together, leaving an opening to reverse the mat.) Then I do an outline stitch and it’s done! I shared my design with my favorite seamstress @sosuzette and she has listed them in her shop! My kids use these placemats at every meal. We love them so much! 💛
One of my strongest beliefs is that children should be invited to be active participants in their lives. I try to engage Marley whenever possible so that she is a part of what is happening, especially when something requires her participation like a haircut. To prepare her before hand, we talked about exactly what would happen during the haircut. I told her how her hair would be sprayed with water and brushed and then how it would be cut with scissors. She’s a second child, so she’s seen this before with her brother (who was very nervous about his fist cut, read more about how we handled that on my blog!) Instead of going to a shop that distracts children from the haircut, we went to a sweet little shop that involves children in the process. Marley was so interested in the whole process. I helped talk her through it as the cut was happening and asked the stylist to make tell Marley what she was going to do next, so that she wasn’t surprised. This little one is a constant-on-the-go-always-all-the-time-mover, but she sat still and watched the entire 20 minute cut with wide eyes and a smile because she felt involved and prepared. Sometimes all it takes is a few conversations to help these new experiences go smoothly! ✂️
Thank you all so much for your enthusiasm and support for our launch of The Montessori Guide! 💛 Based on your feedback and interest, Theresa from @montessoriinreallife and I are excited to offer discounted packages of our monthly guides! Unlike the subscription, you will receive a set of guides bundled. This will allow you to see and compare guides earlier or later than your child’s current age for additional ideas, and to plan ahead. We will also continue to sell single guides for ages 0 to 18 months that you can buy at your own pace. *
Additionally, we have added more DIY and affordable options to our guides! We hope to continue to add content and ages in the near future. Click the link in my profile to purchase single guides or a 6- or 12-month package, and start incorporating Montessori ideas at home today!
This morning I converted a wrap into a sling for a friend and used the leftover tail fabric to make a little sling for Marley. I’ve worn her in a sling since she was teeny tiny. It’s perfect for quick carries and amazing for both newborn and toddler snuggles. Now that she’s bigger, the sling is still her home base when she is tired and we are out and about. She loves having her own sling and hasn’t taken it off since I gave it to her. 😍😍😍
✨Giveaway! ✨ Theresa (@montessoriinreallife) and I are excited to celebrate our launch of The Montessori Guide with a giveaway from two of our favorite shops, @sprout_kids and @Heirloomkids! •
1. Click the link in my profile.
2. Sign up with your email address.
That's it! Enter before Friday at midnight for a chance to win a six month package from The Montessori Guide, a Sprout infant shelf, and a ball cylinder from Heir+Loom Kids! •
This giveaway is not sponsored by Instagram in any way. Must be 21 or older to enter. Shipping to US only. Giveaway ends Friday, March 8th at midnight. Winner will be announced Saturday, March 9th!
Here’s a little peak at Marley’s space in our rented office. This is where we spend time for a few hours each day while Camden is at school. It gives her some time to work independently and gives us both a break from long car rides to and from school. Last week, I hung some beautiful paintings of our two sweet dogs (by @breyna_artist) at Marley’s height. She has been absolutely captivated by them, going back and forth naming the dogs and pointing out their features. We have low hanging art in other areas, but she’s never given any of the other pieces this much attention before. Her personal connection to these paintings has really drawn her focus to art in a new way. Now that I can see how much she enjoys looking at our pups, I’m going to hang a few other family photos at her height. (These frames are child safe: plexiglass and hung with command strips!)
Montessori at home is better with friends! After our girls were born, Theresa from @montessoriinreallife started spending a lot of time together. Over the past year and a half, we have spent so much time taking about how we use Montessori at home and bouncing ideas off of each other. Each time we met, our conversation always turned to how we wanted to making using Montessori at home more accessible. After months of hard work, we are so excited to present The Montessori Guide, a monthly subscription series that simplifies using Montessori at home. Let us help you guide your child. Each monthly guide has six different activities you can do with your child. Each activity comes with a product recommendation, a description of the benefits for your child and a detailed description of how to present the activity to your child. We are so unbelievably thankful for the huge interest in the guide so far. If you haven’t already, follow the link in my profile to learn more!
Theresa (from @montessoriinreallife) and I are excited to launch The Montessori Guide: a simple way to incorporate Montessori into your home, month by month!
The Montessori Guide is a month-by-month guide, each month including six suggestions for Montessori materials and activities based on your child’s age, ranging from birth to 18 months. All of the monthly guide’s suggested activities are aimed at encouraging your child’s fine motor, gross motor, language, and practical life skills. Each activity includes a link to a recommended product (or DIY instructions), a description of the benefits for your child, and a detailed explanation of how to present the material. •
Try one month at a time or subscribe to receive The Montessori Guide each month. Sign up today to receive your first guide by March 2nd. Learn more on our websites - link in profile!
Marley’s new favorite thing to do is put on her coat! I love the up and over technique for toddlers. It is simple, fun and the easiest method I’ve found for little ones to put on their coat independently. Now at 18 months, she is able to get ready to head outside herself and is SO proud. Love that huge “I did it myself!” smile. 😀
After a week without a water station, Marley was so happy to have access to water again! She spent all morning watering the plant and serving herself water (second half of the video). Keeping the watering can and plant close to the water station is an excellent way to redirect her when she wants to run the water just for fun. I love to see how confident she is in her movements now (and those little pigtails 😍😍😍.)
At 17 months, Marley loves to vacuum. This is a real vacuum, so she is actually helping keep our house clean. This little vacuum is loved by all children who come to play at our house. Almost every child who comes over asks to use it, which I love because we have two chocolate labs and the dog hair is endless. We recently had some friends over who said that their children didn’t like to clean. They couldn’t believe when the three four year old boys ignored the legos and cars and took turns vacuuming, sweeping and dusting. Children love taking part in the work of the home. They are drawn to tasks that seem like chores to us. Vacuuming, sweeping, pouring and wiping are a good place to start for even the youngest children. At 17 months, Marley is learning to push the vacuum. She spent most of her time in one corner and spent a good amount of time exploring the vacuum. I don’t expect her to clean the whole rug, that will come with time. For now, this is all about the process not the final product (and is so much fun to watch!)
As I looked in the cupboard this morning for something to make for breakfast, I was interrupted by both of my children screaming at each other while holding on to the same toy. I wearily wondered how I was going to get breakfast on the table and then realized that I just needed to get everyone involved. Instead of trying to stay calm and juggle cooking with keeping the peace, we baked a coffee cake and it was pure magic. The kids worked peacefully side by side, Marley (17 months) learned how to crack an egg and grease a pan from her big brother Camden (4 years.) I mainly stood back and watched them work with a heart that was overflowing with pride. Including them turned our morning around gave them practice working together. When we share the highlights of our day at dinner tonight, this will definitely be it! 💛
For more fun with kids in the kitchen, check out the kickstarter by @pepperandparsley. They’ve written the most beautiful Montessori inspired story cookbook for children. Let’s help them get funded!
I love watching her work. Here are a couple of clips from her busy morning at her shelf yesterday (see more in my stories). I love to sit back and observe what she does because her idea of how the work should be done is always a bit different than how I would do it and that’s ok. For children this age it is about the process not the final product. Sometimes work gets completed, sometimes it just gets used until she is done and that’s ok. She is getting what she needs from it. Giving her time to concentrate and explore is always my top priority and oh, is it fun to watch! (Beautiful size discrimination board by our favorite Montessori materials shop @heirloomkids.)
At 17 months, Marley is in an absolutely beautiful stage where she loves practical life activities. Sometimes it just takes a tiny adjustment to give your child a chance to take part in daily tasks. Pouring milk into a small pitcher instead of directly into Marley’s cereal gives her a chance to help make her breakfast. A water station accessible to her means she can get herself a drink when she is thirsty, without having to ask an adult for help. A small sink gives her a chance to clean her own dishes (and gives her big brother a chance to lend a helping hand.) These three videos encompass so much of what I love about Montessori at home. This is a little girl learning that she is a capable and valuable member of our family. Isn’t it beautiful?
A little peak at our entry way. Hooks hung at the children’s height and a little cubby for shoes allow for easy access to coats and shoes. For awhile I tried having a small chair in this area, but both kids prefer to put their shoes on while sitting on the steps so I took it out in favor of a larger shoe cubby. It’s very simple, but functional. I’ve noticed how much easier it is for us to get out the door when this area is tidy, so we have made a big effort to keep it looking like this all the time. For the past couple of weeks we have done a nightly “shoe check” to make sure everything is ready to go in the morning for our get out the door hustle. Just taking a few extra minutes the night before has made a huge difference. I’ve even noticed that we haven’t actually had to move anything for the past few nights because it was already tidy. Yay for forming good habits! I’m wondering why we didn’t take the time to do that before (and already planning what area we will focus on next!)
Flower arranging is one of my favorite things to do with young toddlers! Marley loves pouring the water, exploring the flowers and putting them into the vases. Such an easy, beautiful activity. After I showed her how to do it yesterday, she wanted to repeat it over and over with the same flowers. By the end, the flowers were a bit smashed but so well appreciated! 🌸
✨Toilet learning and Elimination Communication✨This week, I’m going to do a few posts on our toilet learning journey. For Marley, toilet learning began when she was around three months old. I started using a very modified version of elimination communication. Every time I noticed she was pooping, I would say “you are pooping.” Nothing fancy, just the same exact words each time. It was very easy to notice when she was going. When she was around 7 months old, every time I said “are you pooping?” she would give it a try. I didn’t try using a small potty at this point (I was waiting until she could walk independently, but looking back I think it would have worked well and saved a diaper.) Then, the day she turned 13 months she looked at me, said “poop!” and walked over to the toilet. I lifted her on and she did. It was the first time she had ever sat on the toilet, but she knew exactly what to do! I immediately realized that she was ready for toilet learning and kept her diaper free whenever we were at home. Since that day, I have changed less than 3 poopy diapers. It was very clear that she preferred using the toilet over the diaper, I wish I had offered her the choice earlier! Now, at 17 months, she only wears a diaper for long car trips (an hour or more of non stop driving.) Other than having the environment prepared and saying the same thing every time I could see she was pooping, I feel like I have done very little to help her in this process. She has been almost totally self motivated. I offer her a chance to use the toilet (or potty) before we leave the house and as soon as we arrive at our destination. I also have a small potty that I keep in the car, which she uses when we are on the go. This combination of toilet learning and elimination communication have given her a very early awareness of how her body functions. Truthfully, I am blown away by how easy this has been and how early we have reached the no diaper stage. I wish that I had used elimination communication with my son. If we have another baby, I am going all in with EC! Has anyone else had good results with elimination communication?
I love toy rotations for so many reasons, but my favorite part is watching how the toy gets used over time. Last time I had this toy out (around 13 months), she practiced putting the discs on the post but didn’t pay attention to the size of the discs. After she lost interest in this material, I put it away for a few months. Now, at 16 months, she prefers to stack the discs based on size. I didn’t show her, she just started experimenting with it on her own. Such a simple toy has given me so much information about her awareness and interests. Time to put out some more size discrimination work!
Watering plants is a favorite here these days. We own a landscaping company, so plants are a huge part of our life. I seem to collect a new plant every week, so this gives her a very meaningful way to contribute to the work in our house. I love how she has started holding the watering can with two hands! This ZZ plant is my very favorite plant for the kids. It has lovely leaves for dusting and, while it likes to be dry, has been doing very well with her watering attention. •
Because it’s in the background of the video, I feel like I should also mention that we do have a small potty in our living room. It is a long walk from our living room to our bathroom, so I put the potty in the living room to increase her success rate. Now at 16 months she is out of diapers during the day, except for long car trips. More about toilet learning soon, if anyone is interested.