Sunday Book Club: Swirl by Swirl – Spirals in Nature

Anyone who knows me can tell you, Maths are a very big love in our house. So, when there is a beautifully illustrated Montessori friendly book that features not only nature, but the Fibonacci sequence; well I just couldn’t resist. 
  
 

Swirl by Swirl, Joyce Sidman

Incredibly detailed pictures set with simple text, this book will capture a child’s interest at any age. 

  
The delicate way Math reveals itself in nature is a beautiful one. There is an excellent information section at the back of this book, explaining Fibonacci and many other interesting bits about nature. Quentin at almost 4 enjoys carefully scanning the pages, looking for all of the details. He happily identifies swirls and this book is a great way to add the extension of some nature exploration. On our nature walks he looks for patterns. Perhaps he doesn’t yet find Fibbonaci in a pinecone or a sunflower. But I do. And I can marvel beauty of it with him. 

  
This book touches on the subtleties of it all from ferns unfolding to a chipmunk curled in its den. There is more there than we realize, we just have to stop and look. 

Sunday Book Club: A Handful of Numbers

 
I was contacted at the beginning of March by Hands-on-Prints to see if I would be interested in reviewing some of their books. I agreed and am thrilled to debut with their newest publication. 

  
When I’m looking for good quality, Montessori friendly books, illustrations are what do it for me. But it doesn’t end there. Books must be engaging, beautifully written and invite the child to seek out some aspect of the story. This book didn’t disappoint. 

It’s simple, clear and detailed illustrations are what Quentin was also drawn to. He loved the world landmarks, the continents page (because yes there are penguins in this book) and wanted to know more about the planets and the weather systems featured. 

  I liked that each number and corresponding page sat side by side. A child can easily see the number and the correlation to what is being shown on the opposite page. I also liked that the Number Rods were used to give a physical representation of the quantity as well as the number in symbol form. This is a great book for children 3-6 to compliment their understanding of the world. It is also a book that will grow with them as they can begin to delve deeper into some of its topics as they get older. 

  
When partnering with anyone, it’s important to me that their values are somewhat connected to our family’s. That’s why I was pleased to read the back cover of this book and find out more about Hands-on-Prints. 

  
Hands-on-Print books are available around the world at Baker & TaylorAmazon and Barnes and Noble

You can also order directly from their website here

It also happens that I have a copy of this book to give away. To enter head over to our Instagram feed for details and to enter. Good luck to everyone.  

Sunday Book Club: A Nest is Noisy

  
We’ve been off on Spring Break here. It’s been quiet days filled with lots of outdoor time. 

One of our absolute favourite things to do is bird watching. I’ll go into more detail coming up later this week but I had wanted to share our favourite companion book for bird watching at this time of year. 

  
A Nest is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston
This book is part of a beautiful series and if you haven’t read it I would highly recommend you do. Lots of beautiful illustrations and interesting facts. We love it because it reminds us that it is not only birds that make nests. Many reptiles and mammals do as well. 

The coming of Spring offers such an amazing look into the animal world. We use this book to talk about different nests, how nests are made and also how we can help nest building animals ensured they have a safe place to build a home for their young. 

Sunday Book Club: Our favourite Big Idea books

This week has been busy for us. However, we have been exploring big concepts with Quentin and I thought I’d share some of the best books for children that look at abstract ideas. 

  
 

All of our selections give interesting facts and leave the dialogue open for more discussion. We purposely looked for facts that were interesting but not alarmist for a young child. 
    

You Are Stardust by Elin Kelsey

“If you were a planet, you’d be a lot like the Earth. Rainforests on land and algae in the oceans are the Earth’s lungs.”

A book detailing the connections between the Earth, it’s creatures and the child. So stunning and absolutely fantastic. 
 

   
 Wild Ideas by Elin Kelsey

“If squirrels can learn to cross roads by watching people, what can you learn by watching squirrels?”

A book that celebrates the nature of problem solving. It shows children that it’s okay to have problems, and just like animals people are capable of using their minds to come up with a solution. A valuable lesson for all of us. 
  

If: A mind bending new way of looking at big ideas and numbers by David J. Smith
“If the Sun were the size of a grapefruit, Earth would be the size of a grain of salt.”

I love big concepts. This book is ideally suited to the next Montessori Plane of Development, however Quentin can grasp some of the concepts and we enjoy talking about them. 

  

4,962,571 by Trevor Eissler
This is a long time favourite here. Written by Montessori advocate Trevor Eissler it tells of a boy who wants to count to a really big number. It is an excellent book for any 3-6 child who has moved on to the Golden Beads in the classroom, or a child who is intrigued by the prospect of counting leaves on a tree. 
Happy Sunday 

Sunday Book Club: Our favourite fictional Winter books

Yes, Spring is right around the corner, but it is not here yet. So I thought I’d share our cosiest books to curl up with under a blanket.

   
 I had a friend ask about children’s poetry, and I have included some. I find it’s a hard balance with kids poetry. I’m not looking for silly, but I am looking for rich language that can be understood by a young child. Not easily found in the poetry section. 

 
  
Montessori friendly fictional books are no different than non-fiction. They are beautiful, rich and ideally reality based. This last part is a bit tricky when dealing with fiction.  I don’t mind a bit of whimsy, but I try to leave out the anthropomorphic animals. 

  
Fox’s Garden by Camille Garoche 
This is part of a wordless books series. It is a beautiful story of a child’s compassion. The artist works in paper cutout dioramas and the pages are stunning. 
  

The Snow Rabbit by Camille Garoche
Yes, this author and her wordless books have made it onto this weeks list twice. But if you’ve read these stories, it’s easy to see why. This is her latest, published only last Fall. I love how the child gets to make up the story from the beautiful dioramas pictured in the pages. The simple, selfless love of a child for her sister is the theme of this book. I love that these books get Quentin talking about what he’s seeing in the pages. These are great books for anyone looking to explore emotions or virtues with a child.
  

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson
Given to us by a close friend years ago, this book continues to be one of Quentin’s favourites. It can be enjoyed by a child as young as 18 months (or possibly younger) and it is perfect for the child who has trouble sitting still through a story time. Lots of actions like tapping, knocking and shaking the tree make this a really fun book for the younger child. I like that it goes through the seasons in a simple way and shows the differences.

  

Good Night Songs: A Celebration of the Seasons by Margaret Wise Brown
I am always interested in the hidden work of authors that is published posthumously. Especially ones from my own childhood. So when this was published last year I hurried to get my hands on a copy. Such a beautiful quiet day or bedtime book. Simple poetry and songs that Quentin really enjoys. Our copy came with a cd as a bonus. 

  

Once Upon a Northern Night by Jean E. Pendziwol
This one surprised me. I was looking for something else and it caught my eye. I’m so glad it did. A soft and gentle lullaby about a small child going to sleep while the rhythms of  nature continue on all around. This was another good find of poetry for young children that wasn’t fantasy based. Just a simple account of a child going to sleep, but so beautifully written. 

Sunday Book Club: Our Favourite Science books 

  
I am loving the science books spread out all over the house this week. 

Quentin is really coming into an interest in the natural world. Until recently I have always struggled to find good quality science books that offer interesting information, yet keep it at a level that will engage him.

  
Here are some of our favourites: 
   

 

Animalium by Katie Scott

The animal kingdom like you’ve never seen it. This book has become a favourite around the world and opening the first page it’s obvious why. It’s a must have for Montessori book shelves at home and at school.  

  

Story of Life: Evolution by Katie Scott
More of a fold out timeline than a book, it is stunning. I have never seen a timeline done with such detail and beauty. Although this concept isn’t introduced until the 6-9 Montessori classroom, Quentin is fascinated by the different creatures and the information given for them. There is information on one side and pictures on the other and it’s just executed so perfectly that even a young child can take pleasure in reading it. If your child loves dinosaurs, mammoths and everything in between, this is the perfect book for you. 

  

Nature Anatomy by Julia Rothman
This is my favourite over all Natural World science book. It covers everything, not just animals, is small enough to tuck into our hiking pack and is easily held by little hands. 
  

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies
This one is right on the cusp of Quentin’s understanding. He loves this book because it’s subject matter ties in so well with the use of his new microscope. He is beginning to make the concrete connection to the microscopic world. Our nature table is a great place to find things to put under the microscope. When we go for nature walks he will now find something and ask what it might look like under the scope. This, like all the books on this list is a book he can grown into. He enjoys it now, but his true understanding is yet to come. 

Montessori Friendly Books 2015

   
I’ve been wanting to do this for a while. Anyone who follows us on Instagram knows I have a love affair (read addiction) with good quality children’s books. 

So, why not showcase our latest finds once a week, on a day where maybe you can grab a cup of tea, sit back and enjoy what we’ve discovered. 

Montessori friendly books are no different in criteria than any other Montessori  material. They are good quality, beautiful and for the most part reality based.

I decided that the best Montessori friendly books published in 2015 would be a good place to start, and so, here they are:

  

Her art is some of the most beautiful I’ve seen for children’s picture books and she’s Canadian. I love books that speak to a child’s ability to change their environment by including nature. 

A boys bland and ordinary pond has no bottom. “How extraordinary! Cried Ernest D.” Adventure, in the everyday ordinary with some nerdy prose. Oh yes. This was a hit right away. 

This is our favourite and I’ve written about its brillance before. It amazing, mindful and perfect for every age.

A beautiful science book. It follows its predecessor Farm Anatomy, and the illustrations are spectacular. It will have a place on our bookshelf for years to come. 

This is was published in October, and I’m so glad. We have Fox’s Garden and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this. Her books are wordless and centred around a child’s compassion. This time it’s the love between too sisters. The cut paper dioramas are stunning. 

This has been on our shelves for a while too. I love the simplicity of it and of course the artwork. Take home message: home is different things to different people but it is always where the heart is. 
There was one that despite all my efforts didn’t make it in time. The distributor has promised to send a new copy out, so I will continue to wait. 

This one will be well worth the wait I think.  

 

So that’s it. If you have any good suggestions let me know. Opening a child’s world to books has such a fundamental and lasting impression on them. Collections don’t need to be big. Public libraries, thrift stores, and friends book swaps are easy places to score great finds. 

    What we’re reading: Fave’s at 3

      

    I could just live in the Children’s section of a good bookstore. I could nestle down amongst some comfy pillows and just hope that the shop owner would simply forget about me. 

    When we look for books for Quentin, the themes of Montessori whisper in our ears. Excellent quality, realistic images, and above all else beautiful. 

    Reading is a part of our everyday. We don’t set aside a strict time and a limit. It is not a chore. It is a joy. We read with Quentin because we love to, not because we have to. 

    These are his favourites that have stood the test of times this last year and going into 3. 

      

    If You Hold a Seed. A heartwarming story about a boy and his wish. Quentin loves that it goes through the seasons. The layered paper art is stunning and I just had to go to YouTube to find the video of how Elly MacKay made her gorgeous pages. 

      

    Walk This World. This is such a fun book. Each page is a different country, and there are lots of paper windows to open on each page. Quentin loves finding the hidden story behind the windows. If your child loves geography like Quentin does, this is the book for you. 

     

    African Animals ABC. Ant bear, bush baby, crocodile and dassie. A feast to roll off your tongue as much as to look at. We have always loved Barefoot Books. This is Quentin’s favourite of their publishing line. There are many educational facts at the back that accompany the rhyming text. The style of art is so interiguing and the richness of the colours is what draws you in. 

      

    If You Find a Rock. A beautiful poem about not only the rocks around you, but also the places in nature you find them. A wonderful addition to the shelf of any child who loves nature. I have used this book in my classroom before venturing out on nature walks as well. 

      

     

    Julia, Child. “Baffled and befuddled, mindless and muddled, adults sometimes forget what they know.” How so very true. Quentin loves the story of a child who grew to love cooking and helped adults “overcome their feelings of never-enoughness.” 

      

    Home. This is a new one for us, but it has quickly become a favourite of Quentin’s. Beautifully simple pictures and a good straight forward story has made this a favourite. Quentin loves the fact that the homes are from all over the world. Definitely another good one for a geography enthusiast.

    Both Buddha at Bedtime and Nightlights are essential in our house for bringing calm. From virtues to peaceful self affirmations, these books do it all and in a gentle way. 

      

    And finally an unexpected late entry. In fact, we didn’t own this until late this afternoon. I was looking for another title to give as a gift and this one caught my eye. It absolutely floored me with its artwork. The layout and text are just breathtaking. Here are some examples.

      

      

    I showed it to Quentin and he immediately loved it. Facts accompany each drawing. For lovers of animals, geography, and art, Amazing Animals. If I could only get one, this would be it.   

    And so there it is. His bookshelf at 3. If you are looking to start a Montessori child’s bookshelf think beauty instead of “cute”. Trying to bring it all together at once may be daunting. Each of these books cost under $20US and were collected slowly one by one. 

    That’s the beautiy of a collection. It starts to take shape over time. As does a child’s love of reading. 

    Exploring the World: Activities, books and ideas surrounding Geography, Landmarks & Architecture

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    Lately we have had an explosion of interest in architecture in our house. Quentin has (like many children his age) an extraordinary memory for facts.
    Then we noticed that he had the entire route to school memorized with all the “landmarks” in order along the way. All 30 minutes of it. It was time to help him explore this new love of his world.

    It started (as it so often does in our house) with books.

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    1. Walk this World 2. Young Frank Architect 3. If You Find a Rock

    These are gorgeous books.

    Young Frank Architect is one of Quentin’s favourites, and has a moral that thinking outside the box is a good thing and that kids creations are as relevant as the great architects of the 20th Century. It features at trip to the MoMA and showcases some of the “great Franks” of the architectural world.

    If You Find a Rock is absolutely beautiful, and I will be sneaking it out of the house to use in my new classroom before our nature walks. A lovely poem about stopping to observe your surroundings and finding “special” and beauty in the natural world.

    Walk This World is Quentin’s absolute favourite book at the moment. We’ve read it twice today. It features a day walking the world through some of the major cities. The art is amazing and simple. And it’s a door flap book kind of like a paper advent calendar. Behind the doors there are lots of hidden treasures including a tiger in the Taj Mahal, and a chicken riding the bus in…well, I’ll let you find out for yourself.

    I also purchased some Safari Ltd. Toobs for Quentin. The Around the World Toob and the World Landmarks Toob coupled with some matching cards I made have been a hit, and he loves naming and matching them. Sometimes he will tell me a fact he has remembered.

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    The Taj Mahal is made outta white marble. The Statute of Liberty is made outta copper. I don’t know what dis Parfannon place is. I gotta look dat up.

    Part of this experience we are offering Quentin is the very basis of the Montessori “My place in this World” activity. It begins with a child identifying their house, their community, their region (state/province) and so on circling outward. Our nature walks have begun to incorporate not only being mindful of nature but also identifying “landmarks” such as bridges, trees and even rocks.

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    We “Follow the Child” allowing time for him to stop and explore something more closely. We will walk to a point and then turn around and ask him if he remembers what’s coming up next. “The bridge!” He exclaimed rushing by on his bike, face full of concentration.

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    Having him point out familiar things like the firehall or the park strengthens his sense of order and placement of the world around him. Allowing him time to explore and take pleasure in the things he sees is hopefully instilling a life long love of adventure and a knowledge that there is a big world out there to discover.