Grace and Courtesy: Playing Competitive board games

Do your children play board games? They seem a bit antiquated now I suppose. We love them though and we are constantly on the look out for new ones. 

Quentin enjoys Bird Bingo (seen here), and Snakes and Ladders (seen here). Today I introduced Checkers because he’s been asking how to play. 

The board was made by my father for me when I was a child. Old and worn it was a perfect match to the newly oiled wooden checkers that arrived in the mail today. 

There are so many valuable lessons to be learned from competitive games. Concentration, patience, critical thinking. All the things the latest childhood research is telling us we need to teach more of in school. 

I think there is something much more important. 

“I won Mama.” A smile beginning on his lips. Then, a hand reaches across the table. 
“Good game Mama. You tried hard.” A tiny hand shakes mine before sitting back to survey his achievement. 

“Wanna play again?”

Sunday Book Club: The introduction of chapter books

I don’t think there is anything more lovely in all the world then laying under a tree, submersed in a book. 

My childhood was almost entirely made up of reading while laying in a field, sitting in a tree or hiding under warm blankets.

We filled Anthony’s childhood bookshelf with the classics. Roald Dahl, Jules Verne, J.M Barrie, and I have fond memories sitting on the edge of his bed sharing them before he drifted off. 

Now it’s Quentin’s turn. We just purchased this vintage copy of “The Jungle Books” for him. It’s pages are screaming to be breathed in. That “old book” smell gets me every time. 

We have read to Quentin everyday since before he was born. We have a huge love of good quality picture books, but there’s always a pause when it comes to chapter books. Is the child ready? Will it hold their attention? 

Here’s what we did. 

Follow the Child

If your child finds it hard to sit through a picture book story, it’s not time for chapter books yet. If they sit through two or three at a time, they are most likely ready.
Start slowly

We moved to longer stories like these first. Stories that had a few pictures, but mostly words on every page. We started at night and replaced the picture book that we read as part of our nighttime routine. 
Keep your child’s interests and age in mind

If your child has a phobia of water “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” might not be a good starting point. If your child loves horses “Black Beauty” might not be good either because there is a death of a horse in it. Think about the books you read as a child. They may be perfect for you to pass down to your own child. 

Try a few different books with your child to find one that works well. We leave them out, where Quentin can see them. The covers spark his interest and keep him engaged with the idea. Sometimes it’s only a few pages we get through, sometimes multiple chapters. We don’t have a set limit of reading time or pages a day. This helps keep everyone enjoying the story. 

Research library lists or book lists online. There is so much information out there and so many great books waiting to be picked up by the next generation. 

Do you have a favourite classic? 

Leave a message in the comments. We are always on the look out for great books. 

Sunday Book Club: A Kid’s Herb Book

The middle of the summer has found us spending lots of time outside. We have lots of great cookbooks for the boys, but what we were lacking was a book we could really get into about herbs and plant uses around the home. 

From fresh basil on pizza, to lavender mist on pillows before we go to sleep, we use plants a lot. So I was really excited when I came across this book. 

A Kid’s Herb Book for children of all ages by Lesley Tierra
Recipes that kids can help make range from Chamomile Tea for calming children, to Elderberry Syrup to relieve colds. We really enjoyed learning about the different uses for things growing right outside in our own backyard. 

Summer is such a great time to get out and explore things. To try something different. This is definitely a book for anyone looking to try some new uses for the herbs they find in their area. Either at the grocery store or your own back yard. 

Sunday Book Club: I Am Yoga

I am always looking for Peace Education books. In light of the recent events around the world, sadly I find I am looking for them more and more. 

I Am Yoga by Susan Verde is a great book to have in your “Peace Education Toolbox”.
“When I feel small in a world so big…” The story mixes easy yoga poses with simple affirmations that a child can repeat when exhaling their breath slowly. 

“I can open my heart. I feel love.”

The back of the book has a guide to each of the poses used, so if you are a reluctant yogi, you can read up on the poses first. 

“If help and salvation are to come, they can only come from the children, for the children are the makers of men.” 

– Maria Montessori 

If anyone is interested in finding out more about Montessori Peace Education you can find our resources here:

Sunday Book Club: Summer on the West Coast´╗┐

It feels very good to be back in this space. I have missed being here. 

As the days warm here we are seeking even more time outside. We picked up two excellent books this week that have really complimented our need to be out in Nature. 

The Specific Ocean by Kyo Maclear 

A girl is unhappy about leaving her friends behind to travel with her family to the ocean. However once she gets there, her prospective slowly changes and she allows herself to be drawn in by the sensorial  beauty of the Pacific. This book is full of rich, flowing vocabulary and it will challenge you to explore this type of vocabulary with your own child the next time you are at the beach, the park, or anywhere for that matter. 

West Coast Wild: A Nature Alphabet by Deborah Hodge 

This is the perfect alphabet book for anyone living in the Pacific Northwest, or wanting to learn about it. We just so happen to fall into both categories. An entire alphabet book dedicated to the wildlife and vegetation we see every day but would like to know more about. 

If you have any suggestions for excellent, Montessori friendly books let us know. Have a great week. 

Their smell was my childhood. 

I had a little garden I tended under a big maple tree and it was full of them. 

After 15 years of searching for them in every nursery here, I finally found them last year. I bought up the 4 plants they had and tenderly planted them under my own home’s maple tree. 

That night the deer came and ravaged them. I actually cried. I thought they were gone. 

That was a year ago. 

Then in the early Monday morning light, right as we were leaving the house, rushed and hurried, I stop to linger under the tree. There poking through the daffodil foliage were 3 slim stems of tiny white blossoms. My heart was full as I breathed in the scent of my childhood. 

3 hours later I was informed that my Grandmother had died that morning. 

We are all connected.

I will be taking some time off from all of our public spaces. I need to fly home. 

We have 3 hugely exciting collaborations coming up. I’m so thankful and thrilled to have been asked to work with such amazing Montessorians and their teams. 

I’ll be back in June to tell you all about it.

Sunday Book Club: A child’s daily rhythm

There are so many beautiful books out there. One’s with an important moral message or peaceful story. One’s for learning new facts and amazing science ones. But the ones Quentin will usually pick for himself are none of those. The ones he picks for himself are most often simple stories about family rhythms. 

Fiction books that focus on the real world day to day are often left off recommended book lists. However these are some of the most important books to read with children. They provide a glimpse into another family’s world (albeit a fictional one) and give the child a chance to relate to what is happening in the story. 

Reading books about family rhythms can help a child process their own need for order in their day. This builds their trust of the world and aids in their natural development. 

The above books are our absolute favourites and are all set with the child at the centre of the story. 

  1. Sounds Around Town follows a toddler and his Mother from morning to night. This was one of Quentin’s first books. I absolutely love the vocabulary it introduces to a young child. 
  2.  Alfie Gets in first is the first in the long beloved series by Shirley Hughes. We love every single one. This one begins with Alfie accidentally locking himself in the house with Mom and baby sister stuck outside.
  3. What Happens on Wednesdays is Quentin’s current favourite. It follows a preschooler through her day beginning when she wakes up and maps her day not in hours but in events such as getting the newspaper with Dad, going to preschool, having a nap and going to the pool. 
  4. Journey Home from Grandpas “The yellow car drives down the long and bumpy road, long and bumpy road…” We read this every single day between 12 months and 2. I couldn’t get the words out of my head if I tried. It is an excellent vocabulary builder but the rhythm at which the story flows and the alliteration will grab young children and keep it a favourite. Quentin still asks for it at least once a week. 
  5. Moving Molly was my favourite as a child. Shirley Hughes has something magically simple about her art. The story of a small girl who moves with her family, and all that she experiences including sleeping in a new room and finding something special at the end of her backyard one day. I’ve ordered it for Quentin. I hope he loves it as much as I did. 

Montessori focuses on reality based themes. Reading to children about the daily lives of other kids their age opens up their world, and helps them affirm that many others experience the things that make up their own days.