We talk about this frequently on our Instagram account especially at this time of year when everyone’s “Best Stuff to Get Your Kids” Lists are cropping up. That although giving stuff to kids is fun for the adult, it’s not what they really want or need.
What they really need is your time.
So I thought I’d share one of our own recent experience gifts because it’s not enough to just say it is it? We must practice what we preach.
A day at the local Natural History Museum is one of his favourite outings.
As you can see, there’s a lot to see.
Quentin enjoys the the first floor the most because it focuses on the animals of our region from prehistoric times until now. Museums are the perfect space for children to explore. Lots to see and do and share with an adult.
This is the perfect time for a child to take the lead. When we are on an outing together we always remember to follow the child. Their path through an exhibit may not be the one you would have chosen. We return three times to look into this microscope to look at the small shoreline creatures that inhabit our local fresh water edges.
This takes a lot patience! There’s so much to see and the tendency of the adult is to keep moving to see everything. It’s not the same for the child. They may focus on one area, or they may rush through the entire building at break neck speed. But the success of the outing depends on how much they have enjoyed it. And so we follow the child.
An interesting thing to note is that the financial cost of the experience (in this case a year’s pass to the museum) is actually less expensive than the pile of stuff he could have been given.
If you are considering giving a gift of experience this year but are having trouble narrowing it down or knowing where to start consider this:
- Follow the child. A trip to the water theme park, art gallery, museum or a walk in the forest are all perfect for different children. Choose an activity your own child would love.
- Do your research. Places often offer season passes or yearly memberships. These can often be extremely inexpensive for the amount of times you will use it.
- Think of your own needs. If roller coasters aren’t your thing, you are likely not going to be taking your child to the theme park that often. Even if you did buy the season’s pass.
- Find something local and awesome. There are so many hidden community gems. Ask friends and family about their favourites.
- Seek adventure. Sometimes the best experiences are when you travel. Consider taking your child to see something amazing, even if it is only in the next town over.
Looking back over the years it is the times I have spent out and about with my children that are some of my favourite. As the gifts pile up, it’s up to us to think about what we want to pass on to our children.
When they look back on their childhood, what do you want them to remember?l
This is education, understood as a help to life; an education from birth, which feeds a peaceful revolution and unites all in a common aim, attracting them as to a single centre…This is the bright new hope for mankind.” – Maria Montessori
Montessori Peace Education is at the forefront of my approach to the pedagogy and so when I was asked on our Instagram account last weekend to host a theme on another site, Peace Education is what I chose.
These are some of the materials use at home and in my Montessori 3-6 classroom. It is a simple exercise kept in a basket or tray that children can choose freely in the same way they would choose any other work.
The Emotions and Mindfulness cards are from Diamond Montessori and can be found here.
They are 3 Part Cards so there is an accompanying set of solo picture cards and also a set of solo word cards to match. They can be used with even the youngest of toddlers by simply exploring the different faces each child is making and we love that there is a wide range of ethnic diversity in them.
Our Love Light house. Both in my classroom and at home we use the concept of a love light, an internal light that can either shine brightly from each person or can be extinguished with nothing more than a little hot air. The concept comes from this book and we adapt many activities found in it to suit our needs.
This little dish was a gift from a dear Montessori friend and teacher. It is a beautiful pottery piece made by a local First Nations artist. We keep it in our Peace Tray and we fill it with freshly ground lavender when Quentin wants to. Sitting with it on a work mat a child can choose to smell the sweet and calming smell.
This book is a new addition and couldn’t have arrived at a better time. We have been anxiously awaiting it as it is absolutely perfect for a 3-6 year old child to actively engage with.
The pictures are simple and so is the text but the message is a powerful one.
Each of these activities and many many more are so easy to take the time to do with children. The sense of calm they can invoke in a child is remarkable and will help a child with so many important social emotional aspects.
Autumn is such a busy time. A time of new beginnings, new classrooms, new friends. As it gets a little more crisp outside, we purposely try and step back and take a breath. This is not the time for extras here. So while others are shuffling off to new afternoon programming of teams and lessons we are snuggling down.
Back to school, less daylight and colder mornings all make us treasure our downtime. School days are busy and filled with learning. Quentin will often ignore his Montessori home shelves at this time of year more than any other time. Instead we make extra effort to connect with each other. This includes long walks in the crisp air to the market. It does us all good to get out together.
His basket (the Little Luggy by Olie and Ella) is a new addition. We searched and searched for a supplier in Canada. Finally I contacted Nineteen Ten in Vancouver. The staff was amazingly helpful. They offered to order one in for us, and then shipped it to our home. We are so thankful for all their help. It arrived quickly and Quentin has been smitten ever since.
We love watching the seasons change and finding quiet activities to help each of us find calm and peacefulness.
Some of our favourites include:
- Play dough with essential oils (ideas found here)
- A stack of great books about the seasons to curl up with (our favourites listed here)
- Baking some of our favourite homemade seasonal treats including home made apple cider from our orchard trees
- Board games we can all sit and play together
- Long walks outside bundled up.
If you are feeling like the approaching holiday craziness is getting a little too close, or the back to school madness is starting to take over, consider stepping back at home. Instead of restocking your Montessori shelves with new activities, stop and observe the child. This may not look like it, but this is one of the most important ways we teach Montessori Peace Education. By learning to slow down and be mindful of our bodies need for rest, we give the child the ability to self regulate. This is the first step in Peace Education. We ask ourselves are they wanting more to do on top of what they do at school each day?
Or are they just wanting us?
The air was crisp and the skies sunny today.
We spent it quietly together.
We spent all Summer growing this sweet pie pumpkin in our garden and it was perfectly ready for harvesting this weekend.
Scooping out a pumpkin whether for a jack o’ lantern or for a pie is a favourite Practical Life work around here.
This process is so amazingly rewarding because the child is a part of it right from the beginning months ago.
There have been many Nature walks in the forest lately but today was about leaf gathering to compliment our newest book on the bookshelf.
We loved finding many of the leaves found in the gorgeous book Fall Walk.
It is a beautiful poem of a family out enjoying an Autumn day and the information regarding so many different leaves is fascinating and easily could be used for many years to come both at home and in the school classroom.
As we Canadians sit down with our extended families over a meal this holiday weekend we wish all of you much happiness and we are so extremely grateful to have you all following along here and our other media outlets.
As October ushers itself in today I thought I would share one of our favourite Autumnal books.
Goodbye Summer Hello Autumn is the perfect story for a 3-6 child of a girl exploring her neighbourhood, taking in all the sights and sounds of the seasons changing.
Today we chose to pack it into Quentin’s backpack and head out in search of our own changing seasons.
All of a sudden we find ourselves back in jeans and layers. Walking through the forest on the way down to the Pacific Ocean, the air was cool and we noticed many of the leaves had already started to fall.
We love taking books with us outdoors! Such an easy way to expand on the story.
Happy October everyone!
We spent this glorious Autumn day in our Community Garden. We met good friends, cooked pizza in the cob oven and sipped tea from the carafe.
Our community garden changes so much with each season, and so it’s nice to slow down and really take in all that it provides for our family.
It is a place we gather to grow food sure, but it’s much much more. It offers endless Practical Life and Sensorial explorations for a child. The sights, sounds, tastes, smells and textures are limitless.
It offers our family not only a chance to grow affordable food, but also meet like minded people from our diverse small community. It’s a gathering place for the community and our children get to meet so many different people that they perhaps wouldn’t cross paths with during our day.
Most importantly Quentin gets to run free. It is a big, secure area with so many things to take in and he gets complete free range here. Jumping from rocks, splashing in the creek, just having fun.
This book is the perfect companion to veteran gardeners or also those just starting out.
It is wonderfully diverse in its characters and tells a simple story of build a garden in an unexpected place in the city.
It is accompanied by interesting facts and helpful tips for starting a little green space and attracting wildlife whether in an urban or rural area.
If a garden isn’t quite possible for you this year, why not check out a farmers market near you and show your child all the awe and wonder of growing things.
September is settling in nicely around here. We find ourselves wearing long sleeves and pants all of a sudden.
Our September Nature Study is perfect for the cooler days and slower family rhythms.
We have been using these gorgeous materials from Tanglewood Hollow to compliment our study. They are perfect with just enough information as well as being portable so we can actually take them out on hikes with us.
Our time is the rainforest has proven to be exactly what we need. Giving us some time to energize ourselves after the first busy weeks back at school. Looking for different types of ferns, lichen and mushrooms has been a fascinating treasure hunt.
A note of caution: We have poisonous mushrooms here and therefore we never touch them unless with a trained guide. We would recommend you do the same.
We have also been talking about the importance of rotting logs. There are some beautiful examples of this where we live. New life growing from old and the continuation of the biome.
There is so much see in the forest in Autumn. If you have yet to start a Nature Study, why not try a walk in the woods.