Montessori Book Club: Books for Spring

It’s been a quiet few weeks for us here. We, like the vast majority of the world are together, safe at home, watching and waiting to see what will come. But it is also Spring.

Spring for our family has so much to celebrate. The end of the rainy season, our wedding anniversary, and Quentin’s birthday. It’s a time we look forward and make plans and that’s all changed a little bit with this new “normal” around the world.

So, to capture some of the feelings we and our children may be experiencing, I wanted to showcase this beautiful new book sent over from Grey Stone Kids.

It’s a beautiful, simple and easily relatable story of a parent tree, covered in seeds who are small and silent but will one day be big trees of their own.

It touches on the feelings of worry we as parents and caregivers have about the children we love. Will they be okay? Am I protecting them enough, and above all, maybe I could keep them little for just a little bit longer.

It shows us that we can care for them and love them and even fuss needlessly over them, but one day they will grow up and that our confidence in them and their abilities will be one of the defining factors in their own self confidence.

“Stay Little Seed” releases on April 7 just as gardens are warming and trees are waking up here.

Montessori Cultural Activities: This is How We Do It – Workbook

I’ve shared before how much we have loved This is How We Do it. You can read all about our review of it here. So when the author Matt La Mothe contacted us and asked to send us the new workbook we were thrilled.

We love that just like the picture book, the workbook gives information about families around the world, and that families can look many different ways.

Quentin loves that new regions are featured in the workbook and the illustrations are gorgeously detailed.

One of the most important features of this book is its showcasing of how much similarity we have with people in different cultures and regions even on the other side of the world. We love picking out commonalities in games we play, food we eat, and how we live.

This addition of favourite books fascinated both Quentin and I and we have been looking for copies to read here.

Montessori education has at its heart Peace Education. The easiest way to foster that is to showcase the similarities found amongst perfect strangers, and spark interest in wanting to know more about different cultures. This workbook is perfect for that.

Montessori Book Club: Solstice Books 2019

This new book has quickly become a favourite. We have paired it with our nature based crafts, baking and slow living days curled up next to the fire under a cosy blanket.

Of course we love Carson Ellis artwork and this new book is no exception. The muted tones are perfect for Winter Solstice.

It tells a simple story of the history of the Winter Solstice, one that is easy for the youngest for readers to understand. It also connects the traditions of the past, with the traditions found in other celebrations like Christmas.

There are so few good Yule books out there for kids and we couldn’t be more please with this one. I’ll post our December bookshelf in its entirety on our Instagram page, later this week.

Giving Tuesday: Fruitful Orchard Montessori

“A child is both a hope and a promise for humankind” – Dr. Maria Montessori

We spent just over five weeks living and working at Fruitful Orchard Montessori in Nigeria this past summer. The kindness and love shown to Quentin and I by that school community could no be repaid in a life time.

However, we would like to try.

And so on this Giving Tuesday, we hi,boy ask all of you in our amazing community to join us in supporting Fruitful Orchard as thy endeavour to build an Elementary programme.

A programme that will allow the oldest of those beautiful children I fell in love with this summer to stay.

Follow this link to read more info and give to this incredibly important journey.

Montessori Book Club: Birdsong

The seasons are changing here. Autumn is definitely fleeting and Winter has crept in. It is the perfect time for family and friends and reflection.

This new book Birdsong from Greystone Books is a beautiful story of a child that moves to their new home with their mother and meets their new neighbour, an elderly woman who loves nature and art as much as they do.

It highlights each season beginning with their arrival at the new house and how things are different.

We loved how the complexity of the intergenerational friendship is highlighted but in a gentle way focusing on how the child must navigate this and ultimately finds a connection with their elderly neighbour in art.

We absolutely love this book and were thrilled that it made the Globe and Mail’s “100 Books of 2019”! If you are looking for a beautiful “own voices” story this will definitely be a favourite for years to come.

Montessori Book Club: All The Ways to be Smart

“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

This book has been on our wish list for a while as its such an important topic to explore with children. The idea that everyone has something important to contribute and that unfortunately, the world does not often recognize all the different gifts and abilities of people.

We love the retro colours and overall look of it. But mostly we love the message it brings to the small people being read to.

“Smart is kindness when there’s crying.” Was one that we as a Montessori family hovered over for a while because this is something that is so often overlooked.

I also appreciate that the pages reflect a variety of children without drawing attention to it. It’s so very important at all children see themselves represented in the books that they are reading, without the book specifically touching on their differences (although books that do that are incredibly important too).

We are so grateful for Scribble Kids Books for sending us this that we are giving TWO copies away!! Follow this link to our Instagram Page to enter.

A Montessori Field Trip: A visit to Brooklyn Children’s House

I love observing in toddler/preprimary environments and so when I had the chance to observe at Brooklyn Children’s House I eagerly took it.

Lisa is the owner and her space is beautiful and so thoughtfully laid out. One of the biggest misconceptions about the Montessori pedagogy is that you need a lot of space and a lot of stuff. It simply isn’t true.

Throughout the two main rooms, children were happily working with Practical Life materials, art materials and having snack. If you have ever doubted an independent group toddler snack is possible go and visit Lisa. Three children happily sat around a toddler sized table serving themselves fruit and crackers and then putting their personalize placemats away and washing their dishes.

Toddlers are often not a quiet and calm bunch. They are also still working on their empathy, and emotional regulation. When teachers are trained to understand the underlying neurological and social development going on, appropriate and above all caring responses to that behaviour can happen. It was lovely to witness that in this space. It was also lovely to watch other very young children show empathy when asking if a child was ok, which is a testament to the hard foundational Peace and Courtesy work Lisa has put in.

I loved my visit and seeing the beautiful detail oriented space Lisa has curated for her students. If you are curious about quality authentic Montessori programmes please leave a comment and we will try to answer your questions.

Montessori Book Club: Maybe – The story about the endless potential in all of us

Have you ever had a children’s book speak to you deeply? One where the illustrations and message grab you and immediately you want to put that book into the hands of everyone you know?

That’s this book for us.

The first time I saw the cover I immediately knew it was that type of book and so when Compendium offered to send one I over I was thrilled.

“Your life is yours” it begins. If that was all of the message, mixed with the illustrations that would be enough for me to love it forever, but there was more.

“Wherever you go, take your hopes, pack your dreams and never forget – it is on journeys that discoveries are made”.

“Do everything with love. Follow your heart and see where it leads you.”

“Maybe you will speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves.”

And of course because this book melds so seamlessly with the Montessori pedagogy it saves its most sage wisdom for last:

“You already have everything it takes to do big things.”

This book belongs in the hands of every child and most likely a great many adults.

This the perfect gift for new babies, children facing life changes and should be on every Montessori school’s bookshelf’s under the category of Peace Education.

Montessori Multi-age Art Activities: Colour Mixing

Colour mixing is such an easy and inexpensive art activity for children of all ages and can easily be done by the youngest child.

As with all Montessori compatible activities, art should always be child led and about the process not the product especial in the years between 0-6.

For a toddler colour mixing can simply be a transferring work. Above, Quentin at 18 months carefully transferring blue food colour tinted water from one small jar to another with a long pipette. This strengthens fine motor control and concentration. He loved sucking up the water in the pipette and carefully squeezing it out into the other container. Sometimes we would adjust the amount of blue or yellow dye to affect the shade of green that would inevitably be made from his mixing but this was for the most part involuntary by him. He was simply absorbing what was happening.

For the 3-6 age group, an easy to carry tray with the primary colours and a slotted dish, a bowl to dump used water and a sponge for clean up make colour mixing exciting. Children at this age love to experiment with each of the primary colours and it’s still very much about the process here. In the classroom we talk about their favourite colour, what happens when you mix blue with red, red and yellow, yellow and blue, but for the most part they are experimenting and absorbing the experience of those experiments.

By the time the child reaches Elementary, multiple mediums such as paper to spray invite a child to continue their experiments. Small spray bottles and containers (the exact same ones from when he was 18 months), help a child keep their work contained and orderly.

A colour wheel is clearly understood by this point and the child can follow it to achieve the desired colour or make their own.

It is always fascinating to see the social and neurological development at each stage. At 7.5 years old, he commented on the imaginary tastes of his colours such as “root beer” above, and mint tea in a previous combination. It’s still amazing to see him quiet himself as he did in his toddler days and focus on the task at hand.

There are endless colour mixing ideas on Pinterest and around social media. If you haven’t tried it with your little one here’s some things to keep in mind:

  • Keep it simple and age appropriate. Trying to explain the why and how of everything to a toddler won’t make it enjoyable
  • Be prepared for spills. Sponges, bowls, towels and play clothes help make this successful for the youngest child
  • Follow the child. Let them truly experiment with colour. If all they make is green over and over that’s ok.

Montessori Book Club: Winter Sleep – A hibernation Story

We are settling into the cosy days of Autumn here. The leaves have begun changing colour, the air is a little cooler and the sun a little more golden.

I am always on the lookout for brand new Montessori compatible nature books and so when Winter Sleep – A Hibernation Story came out last week I knew I had to grab it!

It’s the sweet story of a child who visits their grandmother’s home in the summer and loves exploring nature.

The illustrations are beautiful and whimsical but also extremely detailed.

The child returns in winter and asks to see the glade where they sat in summer, but is worried when it’s covered in snow. Where are all the flowers and the animals?

What I really love about this book is the information pages at the back.

There’s so much information on how different animals survive the coldest months of the year.

There’s also a section at the end on how people can help animals through the winter.

This is such a perfect book to share with children 3-6 years old. It will be on our shelves for years to come.