Book Club Summer Edition Part 2: More Books and activities a year later

One year later after we wrote part one of this post here we are settling into our summer rhythm once again. And once again we are following the Montessori approach to home learning, which means we “follow the child”. So although there is always an opportunity to foster curiosity we don’t advocate for structured, academic summer home learning.

Books and extension invitations are such a fun way for us to spend quality time together. These are some of our favourites this year.

The Darkest Dark is a favourite Canadian read here. Astronaut Chris Hadfield recounts a story of his childhood of big imaginations, big dreams and being afraid of the dark. We love the illustrations and comical and relatable moments. It’s perfect for kids 3-6.

Max and the Tag Along Moon is by the multi award winning Floyd Cooper. His soft paintings tell a gorgeous story of a small boy’s love for his Grandfather who reminds him that the same moon that shines over them together will shine over them when they are apart. Max watches the moon as it “tags along” all the way back to his own house. Perfect for kids 2+.

We have written about some of our own favourite moon and space nature activities here.

Straw painting is so easily accessible to children beginning around two years old. It requires nothing more than a straw and some coloured water. We have loved making constellations over the years.

We also watch the Perseid Meteor shower every year in August. I have fond memories of curling up with Quentin in the back yard hammock, wrapped in a blanket, watching the streaks of light cross the sky. You can find all the details of that meteor shower here. If you aren’t in a great viewing location for this space event, research what you can see. Summer is the perfect time for star gazing.

Up in the Leaves: The True Story of the Central Park Treehouses was recommended by our friend Fred Ted and Company. I’m so glad they did. It’s our favourite new book on our shelves. A true story of a young boy who lives in New York and dislikes the noise and crowds. He instead decides to seek refuge in Central Park and build tree houses. A book about following your passion despite what people may say, it is an excellent read for children 5 and up.

Westlandia has been on our shelves for over a decade. It was our oldest’s absolute favourite as a young boy. Another story of a boy who doesn’t quite fit in and decides to follow his own path. There’s a reason it has stood the test of times in this house. Well written with extremely rich language and beautifully coloured pages, this story sparks imagination, follows the Montessori Great Lessons and ultimately showcases that it’s not only ok to be different from the masses; it’s essential. It is essential reading material for all children but especially those that feel like outcasts. Ideal for children 7+.

Our own front yard tree house was there long before Quentin came along and gave both the boys so much fun. Anthony especially. He would spend summer nights up there, lantern light glowing through the window, curled up in his sleeping bag reading with a snack. Regrettably it had to come down earlier this year. Quentin was devastated as he was not yet big enough to climb the rope ladder independently. We will have to consider a rebuild when he is older.

We keep all our Montessori compatible outdoor space ideas on our Montessori Outdoor Space Pinterest Board here. There is something for everyone from the beginner looking to bring in a little outdoor play to the advanced builder looking for their next project.

We hope that you are having a relaxing, exciting and memory making Summer.

Montessori friendly infant materials: Giveway

Ethically sourced, chemical free, Montessori compatible infant materials are often hard find. We love discovering local shops that have both quality and Montessori at the forefront of their design so when Anson the owner of CUBOS approached us to test their new shape sorter the CUBOS-lite, we were thrilled.

Made from hardwood, finished in a natural beeswax polish, the pieces are stunning, easy to grasp and fit easily through their correct holes. The easy open lid will delight children as they can store more than just the accompanying blocks inside.

The CUBOS-lite Kickstarter campaign opened yesterday and can be found here for anyone looking to purchase this beautiful Canadian made heirloom toy.

We are so thrilled with it that we are giving one CUBOS-lite away starting today on our Instagram feed found here. Follow the link for your chance to win!

Montessori friendly STEM activities: Rainbow crafts

Sewing is one of our favourite Practical Life activities to do in the 3-6 Prepared Environment.

We love that this kit by KiwiCo is focused on the science behind rainbows and that it comes with everything your child needs to create some fantastic fibre arts projects!

Like their “Tinker” subscription box for 9 years and up that we reviewed here, this Koala level is well laid out with easy instructions to follow.

Kiwico is offering Our Montessori Life followers a free one month trial of any subscription box in their lineup!

Follow this link to see their entire selection of subscription boxes and choose your free one!

Summer Screen-Free Activity ideas: Montessori compatible subscription boxes

With Summer right around the corner in this part of the world, we’ve been planning lots of exciting outdoor time and some fun indoor activities to help keep us off screens as much as possible.

I absolutely love subscription boxes and we have used many over the years but I have struggled to find Montessori compatible ones that were good quality, mixed age specific and above all tailored to a child’s general interests while being a “one stop shop”.

So when KiwiCo approached us to review some of their subscription box options we jumped at the chance.

KiwiCo is focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) with hands-on projects delivered each month, and there are 5 different lines for kids up to 16 years.

Although this particular box is ages 9+ Quentin can read at a 12 year old level. The words “walking robot” sucked him in right away and he immediately wanted to try this one first. I was sceptical I have to admit.

Each box comes with everything you need including all parts, instructing and an accompanying zine. As you can see the instructions are extremely clear and easy to follow. At just turned 6 years old, Quentin could easily follow along. He liked that the parts lists were clearly laid out so that he could easily see what he needed to gather before reading the instructions and making the next step. I liked that many of the parts are actually wood, not something we often see in boxes like this.

We were so thrilled with this set and we can’t wait to show you the others.

KiwiCo is offering all Our Montessori Life followers a free one month trial of any subscription box in their line up!

Follow this link to see the entire line of boxes and get your own!

This will be perfect for those long summer days when we are in need of a little downtime together inside or under the big tree in the front yard with a glass of lemonade.

Sunday Book Club: Red Sky at Night

The weather has changed here. Warmer days are teasing us with thoughts of Summer right around the corner.

And so with our eyes on the skies watching and waiting, I had to snap up this beautiful new book. It’s by one of our very favourite authors Elly MacKay.

A collection of weather sayings it’s absolutely perfect for any Nature Study or for children who love interesting facts.

As with all her books the almost luminescent pictures tell a much deeper story. This one is of a family out for a camping adventure.

We loved the facts that detail each of the sayings found at the back of the book and they would be excellent research topics for the oldest students in my 3-6 classroom.

The book ends on the note that though traveling is amazing, there’s no place like home.

If you haven’t had a chance to see the process Elly uses to make her artwork you can visit this video here. It’s a stunning.

We hope you all are enjoying your weekend and have set aside some time to curl up with a good book.

Montessori Culture Materials: The Tree of Life

The Cultural materials of any Montessori Plane of Development are by far my favourite and I would also humbly say, the most important. They are what we as the trained Guides use to open up the vast wonder of this world to the child.

The Tree of Life Bundle from Waseca Biomes is one of those materials that you find yourself staring at over and over and so when I had the opportunity to meet Alli and the Waseca Biomes staff in person I felt I couldn’t hold out any longer. I called ahead of time and purchased the bundle and they graciously brought it with them for me to pick up.

It’s even more stunning in person.

The entire wooden puzzle sits on a gorgeously designed thick vinyl mat. This is the control of error. The mat is perfect. It lays flat, has a good weight without being heavy and most importantly it can be wiped. A must when it will be used by classroom after classroom of children.

The child then builds the wooden puzzle over the mat. Each wooden piece is a perfect fit which is important for young children trying to maneuver the pieces into place.

The Guide of Presentation (pictured above) lists each step in the sequential presentations given to a child. The first asks the child to sort the leaves into two groups: plants and animals. This alone is tricky as some plants and animals have similar features. The conversations are virtually limitless with this work.

The art (as with all Waseca Biomes materials) is what gets me every time. Realistic, simple and absolutely stunning. Quentin loved that an Emperor Penguin was included in the bird branch and a lengthy discussion followed by some research topics evolved from his observation that the bird branch comes from the reptile branch.

We have loved using this book for years and it is the perfect companion piece to the work.

He finally sits back to admire his work.

The mat along with the information cards that come with the set will spark many more conversations in the future.

We are forever grateful for the kindness Alli has shown us over all our years of purchases. As Quentin continues through the Montessori Second Plane of Development this material will evolve into so many more discussions.

New Montessori Cultural Materials from Waseca Biomes

It’s no secret we have loved materials from Waseca Biomes for years.

It started when Quentin was two with the Seasons Mat and Sun.

He loved carefully singing the Seasons Song and laying out the corresponding cards. Our collection of materials has grown quite a bit over the years, and so when Waseca Biomes released their new series of materials we couldn’t help but jump at the chance to see them.

It was incredibly fortunate that they happen to be a vendor at the 2018 American Montessori Association conference as I am also a attending.

Seeing their materials laid out in entirety gives you a true sense of how they are integrated into each of the 5 areas of a 3-6 Montessori programme and one can also see how the sequence of the materials easily carries onward into the Elementary.

The new Season’s Mat is amazing. Rounded with an extraordinary amount of detail, it clearly illustrates the subtleties in the changing of the seasons.

There is also an update to the Water Cycle Mat (which will will do a later post about) and a brand new edition of a Rock Cycle Mat.

This is going to be the perfect addition at our house and in my classroom as both have kids that are passionate about rocks. Finding materials that reflect your child’s passions help fuel future discussions and discovery.

If you want to see the complete Rock Cycle Mat you can find all the photos and information here.