Montessori Nature Study: Rocks, Minerals & Fossils

November has seen our Nature Study really take off. It took us a few months to find our rhythm. I wanted to be sure it was not forced and that if flowed holistically into what we were already doing. We are often exploring nature anyway, but this has given us a better direction and given me an overview to prepare materials from. 

Here’s a glimpse into our November study of rocks, minerals and fossils.

We travelled to one of the local lighthouses to get up close to some big rocks. We brought a picnic and made a day of it. It was windy but we were well bundled. 

We spent the day at our local museum getting up close and personal with a mummified baby mammoth, looking at ammonite fossils and adding to our gemstone collection. By the way, he’s holding cookies here. His newly acquired quartz and amethyst crystals are safely in my bag. 

We went on a field strip to a gem and rock shop in search of treasures to add to our newly formed gemstone collection. This was an unexpected pleasant surprise. The staff there were incredibly kind to us (you can read about our experience here). 

I hadn’t expected Quentin to be as engaged as he was there and I highly recommend looking into your own local rock and gem store for interesting materials to add to your home or school environment. 

Last week we added geodes to our Nature Tray. Quentin loved smashing them to find the sparkly centre. This took a bit of help from me. Mostly to guide the hammer. It made me think of how to make a meaningful hammering Practical Life work for him.

We took out many different books from the library over the month, but this one has always been our favourite. Quentin loved matching is own specimens to the end pages. 

Today we finished our study by bundling up, packing some snacks and heading to our local beach. Quentin observed that the rocks were most likely granite but he was also cautious and curious of the waves. As winter approaches so does the storm surge in the Pacific. 

It has been such an amazing month. As we pasted some mementos into our nature journal and slowly filled the page with watercolour, we looked back on a really wonder filled month. And that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? Tending to the fire of awe and wonder burning within the child. 

If nature study and nature journalling are new to you, go slowly. Take your time, pick a topic that is easily doable in your area and as always, follow the child

Our Montessori Shelves: 4.5 years old

Freshly cleaned shelves and rotated materials. Such an inviting space and a great way to start the weekend.
Top left – right:

  • Children of the World atlas
  • Heartfelt Emotional Intelligence doll (later placed on shelves)
  • Little Passports suitcase and Big Ben 
  • Montessori Continents Globe

Middle left – right:

  • Musical instruments figures & cards
  • Montessori Blue Series Language cards
  • Moveable Alphabet 
  • Composition book

Bottom left – right:

  • Diatonic Bells & felt notes with mat
  • Montessori clock work (hours & half hours)
  • Montessori Large Number Cards
  • DIY Montessori Stamp Game

Top left – right:

  • DIY light box 
  • Walking the line bell
  • Nature Tray
  • Nature Study samples 

Middle left – right:

  • Seasons puzzle
  • Parts of a Pumpkin puzzle
  • Animals of the world tokens
  • Heartfelt Emotional Intelligence doll

Bottom left – right:

  • Knitting fork & wool
  • Parts of a Pumpkin 3 Part Cards
  • World Landmarks figures & cards 
  • Orchestra toy

They are ready and waiting for a small boy. Enjoy your weekend. 

Our Montessori Life: A snapshot

While Quentin polishes his wooden barn, some of the animals get a temporary display. 

With Montessori, the emphasis is always placed on realistic good quality. Our Schleich animals have held up for 3 years and look just as good as the day we purchased them. 

You can see all of our toy farm posts over on our Instagram feed, or search “Farm” here in our search window. 

We first started collecting animals for the farm when Quentin was 15 months and you can read about our first Montessori toddler activities with them here.

If you are looking to introduce animal figures into your Montessori at home space, look for quality and realism. Collecting them over time means that you don’t need to put a lot of money into them upfront and they will hold your child’s interest for years. 

Sunday Book Club: An old friend’s travels

I have been excitedly waiting for this week to arrive. The week when I would finally get my hands on the masterpiece of an old friend. 

A story of a small traveller and his adventures through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. 

The illustrations are her own and each is carefully taken from her own photographs of her real life adventure.

 Each page is rich and full of detail. Quentin loved learning the names of the different places and his questions led to us pulling out one of his maps and exploring further. 

Amberlea and I grew up in the same small town. We’ve each travelled the world on our own adventures. We now live in two similar cities but on the opposite sides of this big country, raising our own babies. This book invokes both a sense of adventure but also (especially for me) that overwhelming feeling of gladness upon returning home. 

Her book and other beautiful works, can be found here

Our favourite Montessori friendly books to give 

We love giving books. They are such a simple gift but the benefits last a child their lifetime. 

There are some absolutely fantastic non fiction books out there for children. 

Here are some of our favourites. 

Animalium by Katie Scott  Gorgeous illustrations and facts, the animals are classified into the kingdoms. This book is stunning. Each image could be framed to go on the wall. It’s great for 3-6 Montessori children and it’s essential for 6-9 Montessori children. 

Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska Perfect for a a geography lover. So much information on countries around the world including landmarks, peoples and animals. An ideal book for 3-6 year old geography lovers or anyone wanting to bring the study of the world into their homes. 
Nature Anatomy by Julia Rothman Our absolute favourite and go to book for our Nature Study Wednesdays and any time we want to look something up. If you had to choose only one off this list, this would be it. 
Natural World a Compendium by Amanda Wood This one was new to us this year and we couldn’t be more thrilled. So much information on the different animal kingdoms, biomes and everything else you would want to know. This is an amazing book and we love looking at it, but it’s full use won’t be realized until the 6-9 age range. However, it is a book that will definitely hold its value for us and I like that it has the ability to stay on our book shelf for years to come. 
Body: An amazing tour of human anatomy This book was Anthony’s. It’s been in our house for 12 years. It is excellent for close up detail of all internal and external human anatomy. We love that it has see through film pages that overlap to see seperate systems and organs. 
Books are so easy to give. If you want to give a Montessori friendly non fiction book here are the most important guidelines:

  • Good quality. A child should be able to return again and again
  • Reality and scientific based. The information should be current, scientifically backed and non biased

If you have favourites not listed here please let us know. We would love to feature them 

Montessori Nature Study: Field Trip

We are studying rocks, minerals and fossils this month as part of Nature Study found here

We decided to go and find some big rocks. 

We are lucky enough to live in a place where we can easily find them. The caution sign is not to be taken lightly. He’s standing in the edge of a 60 meter (200 foot) drop. 

Getting out and exploring is so much more fulfilling for a child than simply looking at images in books or on media. We took our time, brought a picnic lunch and enjoyed this rare sunny November day. 

Adventuring doesn’t have to be difficult. A bag with snacks, a blanket, pencils and a notebook are all you need. Instead of the same old trip to the park see where else adventure might lie close by. 

If you have a favourite destination, big or small let us know. We’d love to feature your story. 

Our Favourite Montessori friendly gifts

Our answers might surprise you….

Or maybe not if you have been following here for a while.

Between the ages of 0-6 years, as the child crosses through the first plane of development, it is the experience they seek. Not the stuff. 

Our favourite and most important gift to give to a child is experience. Because, experience equals time. 

A day at the beach with family is so much more to a child than a story book about the beach. Playing kitchen with plastic pots and pans isn’t even comparable to the love a child feels when baking with a family member. 

Each positive experience goes far beyond simple fun. It builds lasting connections in the child’s development that build on each other over time. This in turn leads to a child building stronger Executive Functioning skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and self control. 

Here is a list of some of our absolute favourite experiences to give a child:

  • Go on a holiday, big or small that is just for them. Spoil them with late bedtimes, pillow fights, sightseeing and lots of together time
  • Annual pass to the Zoo, Aquarium or other live animal focused centre
  • Annual pass to local museums, art galleries, or music conservatories that offer child friendly programmes. 
  • Rec centre membership for endless swimming, skating & kids athletic programmes
  • DIY Coupon book for kids that can include things like “baking cookies”, “movie and popcorn night” “outdoor adventure” etc. 

If you are looking for a physical gift to give a Montessori child, here are some crucial things to keep in mind:

  • Quality over quantity. One carefully selected thoughtful gift is worth more than an armful of absentmindedly thrown things into a shopping cart. Quality materials although more costly upfront will last for years in a Montessori home 
  • Nature materials over plastic whenever possible. Cotton, wood, steel, stone all feel, smell, taste and sound very different, but all plastic is the same. Children are refining their senses. They must have sensorial input. Giving natural materials also keeps little hands chemical free. 
  • Reality based over fantasy for under 6. Children crave real experience and under 6 are still laying the foundation of the neurological connections about their world. Real tools, lifelike animals and realistic people figures & dolls help them make sense of this world. 
  • Practical Life is always a great idea. The best gifts allow a child to be independent, self confident and take pride in contributing to their family life. They are also incredibly fun for a child. Small working vacuums, brooms, kitchen utensils and yard tools are always favourites. 

Gift giving can sometimes get a little crazy. We all want to give them everything. But, before we go out and add to the stuff that’s piling up in the corners and across the floors of our homes, maybe we need to remember that adding to the stuff is not really what they want. 
What they really want is our time.