Our Montessori Shelves: 4.5 years old


Freshly cleaned shelves and rotated materials. Such an inviting space and a great way to start the weekend.
Top left – right:

  • Children of the World atlas
  • Heartfelt Emotional Intelligence doll (later placed on shelves)
  • Little Passports suitcase and Big Ben 
  • Montessori Continents Globe

Middle left – right:

  • Musical instruments figures & cards
  • Montessori Blue Series Language cards
  • Moveable Alphabet 
  • Composition book


Bottom left – right:

  • Diatonic Bells & felt notes with mat
  • Montessori clock work (hours & half hours)
  • Montessori Large Number Cards
  • DIY Montessori Stamp Game


Top left – right:

  • DIY light box 
  • Walking the line bell
  • Nature Tray
  • Nature Study samples 

Middle left – right:

  • Seasons puzzle
  • Parts of a Pumpkin puzzle
  • Animals of the world tokens
  • Heartfelt Emotional Intelligence doll

Bottom left – right:

  • Knitting fork & wool
  • Parts of a Pumpkin 3 Part Cards
  • World Landmarks figures & cards 
  • Orchestra toy

They are ready and waiting for a small boy. Enjoy your weekend. 

Our Montessori Shelves at 4 

This time next week Quentin will be four. It was time to examine his shelves. 

As many of you know Quentin attends Montessori school Monday thru Friday. We don’t homeschool in any formal way. Now at 4, his materials are often ones that he has requested. He will sometimes say “I’d like to work with some new words”, or show an interest in a particular topic. We then make an effort to stock his shelves with those items. This isn’t to say that we rush out and purchase everything. But making time to really observe him and engage him in meaningful conversations will usually narrow down some ideas. Then we look for good quality. Also, the majority of his materials are homemade.

Here are Quentin’s shelves at 4.

  
Top row: sewing basket with current sewing project, Pink Series Language cards found here & DIY Stamp Game

Middle row: knitting basket with French knitting fork, nature exploring kit for the monthly          subscription program we are enrolled in & moveable alphabet found here

Bottom row: Rhythm bells with DIY felt notes & music staff, chalkboard and chalk for writing & telling time cards found here

These are his favourites at four. Looking back at previous posts about his shelves makes me reminiscent. He has used this space for such a long time now and it is the same, but it is also constantly evolving. It follows the child like we do. 

These are simply some of the things found on his shelves. I will post again early next week on his other materials and spaces around the house. Have a great weekend!

Montessori Birthday Gift Ideas



Montessori Birthdays hold a special place in my heart. A “Celebration of Life”. 

It couldn’t have a more fitting title. 

I’m often asked what my recommendations are for gifts that fit with Montessori values. There are many fantastic options out there, so I thought I would offer a unique perspective on gift ideas for the 3 year old. Or rather, Quentin would. 

Being a “Montessori from Birth” child, coupled with the fact that he attends an extended day Montessori school 5 days a week, I thought it would be interesting to sit with him in his Montessori Space and see what he could come up with for gift ideas. 

Me: “Quentin, what would you give a friend for their Birthday?”

Quentin: “Candy.”

Me: “Yes, but what about something to play with. What are your favourite toys?”

Quentin: “I like my animals and buildings and you have to have a tractor for a farm. Oh! And I like my picture cards and alphabet cuz you can make all the sounds and match them and I know all the sounds and the words and that’s gonna make me read soon.” 

Me: “Ok. What about things to play with outside. What do you like to do outside?” 

Quentin: “I like to ride my bike cuz it’s fast. I got a new wheelbarrow and my working things for outside and I have real working gloves cuz, yah, sometimes your fingers get dirty and I don’t like that. And you know what Mama? I got rhythm bells too and those are for big boys cuz you have to ring gently or it’s a bad sound but I like them.” 

He sort of wandered off after that, but I thought his answers were sufficient. 

He came back later and helped me find the images to make the above picture. 

Starting at the top left: Bruder TractorBruder Recycling Truck (his upcoming Birthday gift), Rhythm BellsEarly Rider LiteSchleich animals,  Wheelbarrow & Tools

Despite the “toddler-esk” nature of his answers, some interesting things stood out. He likes to play with beautiful, reality based, good quality things. These qualities all fit within Montessori values. 

The animals and buildings he’s referring to are his Schleich animals and his Safari Toob Landmarks seen here. Both offer detailed replicas of real world things. Bruder vehicles are built to scale and have moveable parts but, (and here’s the best part) have no sounds, flashing lights or batteries. It’s all the child’s imagination. His bike, wheelbarrow and garden tools (“working things”) allow him to be out and exploring the world, but in a real way. Unlike typical toddler musical instruments, his rhythm bells offer a true to tone sound, allow him creativity with the musical scale and help him practice gentleness. 

When I’m looking for a Montessori friendly gift, I look for something well made, reality based and ultimately something that could grow with the child. I also try to “Follow the Child” as best I can. If the child likes art, some good paints and brushes with a nice art pad is always appreciated. There are endless real child sized tools for a budding chef or carpenter at Montessori Services. Most importantly, the gift of something homemade and from the heart can often be the best gift of all.

I came to find him when I had the picture ready to see what he thought. 

“But Mama, you forgot to do the candy.” 

Our Montessori Life: Materials at 3

How has this year passed so quickly? No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to slow time. To bring it to a standstill. Even just for a short while. And so, because if this, we find ourselves once again reevaluating Quentin’s space. 

Not much has changed in the physical space you see here. We have moved his garden to sit beside the slide. I’ve also added a dedicated art space, but that’s it. So, really it’s more of looking at the house as a whole. His shelves have had an update too.

Quentin attends a beautiful, peaceful 3-6 class in a traditional Montessori school Mon-Fri. There is no need for us to have traditional Montessori classroom materials in the home. Instead the materials here are similar to and compliment his school experience.

 When I get asked if Quentin has toys I always manage to fumble my answer. “Yes. Well, no. Well sort of.” Instead what I really mean is that we have things that envoke joy in him. His day is spent doing things he finds enjoyable. Things that he is passionate about. 

Here are some of the materials on his shelves:



Top Row: Rhythm Hand bells & felt notes, Nature observation kit from my beautiful friend Deb, DIY cinnamon scented playdough & basket of loose parts including cookie presses from my good friend  Kylie

Middle Row: Safari Toob Landmarks & cards, Safari Toob Instruments & cards, DIY Moveable alphabet & CVC word cards with storage box

Bottom Row: DIY Salt tray & tracing cards, Montessori Letterwork/Numberwork books, Number/Quantity Recognition (up to 10 in the box)

These materials are chosen freely by Quentin. We don’t teach or instruct him, and there isn’t “school time” here. We simply answer any questions he may have such as “What is the Statue of Liberty made out of?” and “Why is the clarinet black?” Mostly he loves teaching us. “Ok Mama, you will watch & I will show you how to make a “fuh” for fan.”



Quentin also has “open-ended” things such as his garden and his barn, both made by my parents. 



What has changed on his shelves is that there is very little Practical Life on them anymore. 







This is what Practical Life now looks like. All the baking, cleaning, laundry etc. of our family, he is invited to assist with. Most of it he can do himself. He continues to love his kitchen (sold here). I get a lot of questions about his kitchen set up. “Real or play kitchen? What about play food?” My answer is always the same. The things in this space are all real. Real food prep, real consuming, real mess, real clean up. His kitchen continues to store his dishes, and silverware on the left (real porcelain seen here & real glasses) and his food prep tools (mixing bowl, egg slicer, cutting board & knife etc.) on the right. He stores his cleaning supplies and tools as well as his overflow baking supplies in the closet we have renovated for him beside his sink (inside seen here).



He sets up his dish washing independently, completes the job, then goes and gets his mop to clean up the drips. He usually does this all while singing. 



The only thing we will change for him in his room is a new bed. It’s time for a twin size bed even though he has lots of space left in his cot. A “Big Boy Bed” at his own request. Above all his room will remain peaceful, uncluttered and made for resting. The only toy he keeps in here is his farm my Father made for him. The reading corner teepee I made him still houses a cosy sheepskin and custom pillow. In the morning the sun fills it’s white canvas with soft light, and it’s the perfect spot to curl up with a book. 



I will do a separate post surrounding the unveiling of his dedicated art space. It was something that was really lacking for him. He had art trays on his shelves but this is much different and has resulted in a huge difference in his willingness and want for the artistic world. 



I will also do a separate post on his outdoor activities, because those are the ones that have changed the most, and I promised myself that this post was only going to be so long. 

So, after all that what are our must haves going into 3?

  • Figurine and matching cards (everything from Life Cycles to Landmarks)
  • Trays and baskets that he can easily organize work into (small trays are no longer helpful) 
  • Lots of language activities, tailored exactly to his level (he loses interest if it’s too easy)
  • Lots of different, accessible Art mediums from paint to chalk to pasting
  • Lots of activities that offer movement (he’s 3 he must move)
  • Lots of access to the day to day chores of the house
  • Information about how everything in the world works and PATIENCE from us while he has to try it all out himself.                                    

That little tiny baby we once spent weeks watching through an incubator is unbelievably almost 3. 

“A child is both a hope and a promise for mankind” -Dr. Maria Montessori



Yes he most certainly is.  

Our Montessori Shelves 14 Months

A bit of a flashback, but for those of you who are curious:

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Our Montessori Shelves 14 Months
Top shelf: basket of plastic Schleich animals for matching mother to baby, a pouring activity, shape puzzle and homemade imbucare box

Bottom shelf: wooden acorn colour matching, homemade ring stacker, clothes pin pincer grasp activity and Pom Pom fine moter push activity

Our Shelves at 2 1/2

How did we get here? A two and a half year old. A school boy. With Quentin in Montessori school during the week, I am even more aware of the fact that I want his home materials to compliment, not compete with his school day.
I don’t have time to pull together themes, these activities are simply based on my observations of him and my knowledge of his stage of development.

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Top shelf: Marble maze (Anthony’s), zipper dressing frame, marbles, wooden marble run blocks

Middle shelf: Pasting tray (with veggie pics), felt button tree & leaves, box of numbers & penguin counters, cylinder sequencing puzzle

Bottom shelf: playdough & tools, lock box, geometric shapes, short to tall sequencing puzzle

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Top shelf: Lighttable, brass bell, nature tray, globe

Middle shelf: plastic objects & matching cards (currently lifecycle of sea turtle), Mystery Bag & objects (currently textured tiles), cutting practice, pencil crayons & notebook

Bottom shelf: vocabulary matching cards (currently veggies), colour cards, sandpaper numbers & letters books, threading beads.

These activities are not used every day. It is more often that he will choose one to work with for a period of time before his bedtime routine. On the weekends he will use more. I like to leave the materials out for a good long time to make sure that he’s really been able to get a chance to use them.

We also have some quiet “open ended” toys out. The wooden train set gets regular use. There is a basket of blocks, and some accurate construction vehicles that he uses often. A tub of musical instruments gets us dancing around the line. His barn is a favourite and the only toy in his bedroom.

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My Montessori storage cupboard needs a good clean out and overhaul. It seems he has just gone through a large change in ability and many activities are no longer right for him. I’m trying to come up with ideas of how to hand things down to other Montessori families. If anyone has ideas I’d love to hear them.

It’s hard to believe he is growing up this quickly.

What’s on our shelves

I promised I would post this and so here it is. These are the main ideas or experiences we have on Quentin’s shelves at almost 24 Months. We rotate them as needed but I’ve tried to keep it really simple. A puzzle out for a puzzle in, a wet pouring out for a wet pouring in, a colour activity…well, I’m sure you get the idea.

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Row 1: Basket of Animals used for vocabulary/matching
Art activity: crayons, paints, pasting tray, play dough
Scissor/cutting practise with strips of paper and box for scraps
Fine motor/sequencing activity: nesting dolls

Row 2: Bowling pins and ball. Thank you Essential Montessori
Vocabulary/matching cards: currently Alphabet Cards. Thanks So Awesome
Books: Letter and Number Work
Colour sorting activity: currently Primary Lacing Beads

Row 3: Practical Life Dry Transferring: currently pompoms with tongs Thanks How We Montessori
Practical Life Wet Transferring: currently water with pipette. Thanks again How We Montessori
Knobbed puzzle: a wide selection. Everything from trucks to sequencing
First jigsaw puzzle: matching adult animal to baby

Row 4: Geometric Shapes
Lock Box

I haven’t included the “outdoor” materials but I will do a separate post on them shortly as the weather is getting warmer and we are spending more time outside.

We also have a beautiful hand made zipper dressing frame made by my Mother, and of course the light box that Anthony and I made, but this for the most part is it. This is what keeps his little hands moving, and the fire in his eyes burning all day long.