Autumn: Materials, nature study and slowing down


September is always such a busy time. Back to school, work, extra curricular activities. The weather changes and we notice a change in our home too. 

We try to be more mindful, and take things slowly. It’s a challenge, but it means so much to the boys. It’s the small things that make the most difference. We change our rhythm, when the mornings are still dark at the sound of the alarm clock. We add in candles and quiet sitting on the couch together as the house darkens at the end of the day. We make more time to go slowly, gently and to be mindful that even though the days are a little colder and a little shorter, it is still important to be outside. 

If you have been following along on Instagram you will have seen our nature study adventures. We are using this book because it is so perfect for Montessori families both homeschooling and otherwise. 

I stumbled across Calli at Sparrow and Lilies and her absolutely excellent companion Nature Study to this book. We needed something to ground us. To focus us in a gentle way while opening up the world of nature study to us. This is perfect. And better still, it’s free. 

Quentin returned to school for his 3rd (already!) year of Casa. We make a point not to have the classic Montessori materials in our home space as he uses those all week at school. However, we have added some materials to his space that reference the change of seasons. 


This layered seasons puzzle is still popular one year after getting it. I love that it has the control of error on the side so the child can check their work independently. 


Quentin has used our Seasons mat and Sun every day when he gets home from school. He loves examining the subtle changes in the different seasons and singing the months of the year song. It is a beautiful material that takes time and care to use. I think this grounds him after a long day. 

Autumn happens slowly in our part of the world. We don’t have the drop in temperature at night and frosty mornings that the rest of Canada does. It makes it a littler harder to admit that summer is gone. 

I have a post in the works for our favourite Autumn themed books and would love you to share any that are your favourites. 

Summer Activities: Pond Exploration 

Quentin and I are finally off on holidays together. I had wanted to find a little nature project he might enjoy. 

We are lucky enough to have the Pacific on our doorstep, but we also have a few fresh water spots around. I found this fantastic nature study and wanted to try it with Quentin. August is about pond exploration. 


An inexpensive net, a clear plastic container for observation and a notepad for recording and you’re set. It’s easy for a young child to scoop the water, and examine their finds. 


Montessori always advocates for reality based experiences before abstract ones. Being able to go and actually see the ecosystem of the pond helped solidify concepts for him. 

He compares his findings to the reference book. 

It was a lovely way to spend a morning and as we carefully put the contents of the tub back, he made plans to return. 

Montessori 3-6 Botany in the Home 

I have always advocated against the need for the true Montessori didactic materials in a home setting. The reason for this is that there are an endless supply of ways to explore the world with your child in the home environment. And you don’t need any formal training to do it. 

So, having led with that, we don’t have a Botany Leaf Cabinet, or Parts of a Plant cards. We simply go outside and garden. 
 
Gardens are so perfect for children. A feast for the senses at every level, a connection between what is grown and what is consumed by animals, insects and humans. And, most importantly, Practical Life. The ability to plant, care for, and harvest one’s own food. Even the youngest of children can help. 

  

Gardens can come in any shape and size. You can grow vegetables in a field, a large wooden planter box, in a small pot on a balcony or even a windowsill. 

If your thoughts turn to the fact that you do not have a green thumb, don’t worry. 

Your child does. 

  
Try sprinkling lettuce seeds into some soil, cover and leave a small spray bottle near by with a little water. Your child will feel such a sense of accomplishment when the first green stems poke through the soil. 

Summer: An Update 

The other day, we had our first morning where the wind definitely had an Autumn chill. It was light but it was there. And so, with school just over a week away I thought I’d share some of my favourite Summer moments we’ve had. 
 
Creating under the big Maple tree in our front yard. I think of all the mornings we’ve spent there drawing painting and reading will be my favourite memories of this Summer. 
  
Nature Journaling. We pack his bag and go. He collects small samples to bring back for our Nature Tray and records the rest. This has been a good way to channel his writing practice. 

  
Practical Life. It never really stops. He will sit and sew and we’ll talk. Sometimes about everything and sometimes about nothing. 

  Bike riding together. Their bond has strengthened while they’ve been off together. This was Anthony’s Birthday.  

 

And finally, because within every Montessori child lies a teacher, there was work. He would pull something off his shelves, set it up carefully and then call the cat over. 

Here Huxley, see a nineteen is really just a 10 plus a 9. 

His new school bag hangs from his dressing chair and his new school shoes should arrive tomorrow. And we are ready. Ready to get back to it. He asks daily if it’s a school day. It will be good to start the next school year and watch him grow, but it has been a very nice summer. 

Happy Canada Day

While there were many parties and community activities to mark the day, we spent the holiday together as a family quietly in our own small town.

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A quiet breakfast of cereal, fruit and a glass of milk. Sometimes he’s very talkative at dinner, but at breakfast he’s always quiet. Contemplating his day perhaps.

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Yay! He’s not wearing a diaper! He actually made it the whole day in underwear including staying dry through two naps and out for a picnic lunch in the park overlooking the ocean.

When he got up from his afternoon nap, Anthony had this waiting for him.

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He loved it.

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Our big country is only 146 years old. A tiny blip compared to others. We are thankful to be together and live in such a peaceful, beautiful part of the world. Reading Children of the World has given Anthony new insight into just how lucky we are.

A Summer Bike Ride: Physical Activity & Sensory Work

Father’s Day fell on a beautifully sunny Sunday. We decided to seek adventure (on the small obtainable scale) and went for a bike ride and a picnic at the local lake.

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We took our time and stopped to observe our trail view.

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Lush green everywhere. What can I say, we live in a rainforest.

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The water was too cold for even the bravest swimmers.

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I love the fact that nature provides all the toys necessary for basic outdoor play. Sticks become shovels/scrapers/writing tools. Leaves and stones become everything from cars to castle windows and flags.

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Quentin mostly just used the small stones to practice his pincer grasp which now includes the movement of his thumb and finger knuckles. He also showed his sensitivity for repetition and touch sensorial experiences by picking up handfuls of sand and letting it fall back to the beach through his fingers.

It was a good reminder that we can easily add a little physical activity to our day, but more importantly we can give the boys lasting memories of family adventures without spending a gob. We brought a blanket for the beach, $5 of healthy snack food and wore layers for the weather. We already owned the bikes but we could have just walked.

I am a big believer in Montessori Materials, and their obvious and significant impact on the Absorbent Mind. However I’m also a huge advocate of the fact that the entire world of a child is sensorial. A few handfuls of sand on a beach and the right stick also do wonders.

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