Book Club Summer Edition Part 4: Books about Food and where it comes from

Summer is my favourite time of year to be outside, and one of my absolute favourite places to be is surrounded by green an growing things. This includes stocking our bookshelves with our favourite books about gardens, food and where it comes from.

A beautiful story of compassion set in a cold and wintry world where adults chase a lost fox away, and a young child brings it food and offers it shelter in a beautiful greenhouse full of flowers. “Fox’s Garden” found here is perfect for even the youngest child and older children love imagining the story in read-aloud sessions.

We absolutely adore the Anatomy series by Julia Rothman. “Farm Anatomy” found here is a complete guide to all aspects of a farm from the machinery to planting to different kinds of barn doors. We love the ideas and recipes in it and the detail is second to none. It’s absolutely perfect for children beginning at 2 years as a vocabulary book and it remains a favourite well into the elementary years.

“Eating the Alphabet” found here was one of Quentin’s favourites as a toddler. The vocabulary building opportunities are endless and the rich colours draw both the adult and child in. The children in my 3-6 Montessori classroom love it because it’s a great conversation starter for that age group around food, what you’ve tried and what you definitely don’t love to eat. For Quentin it’s tomatoes.

We wrote about “Green Green: A community garden story” here when we showcased some of our community/allotment garden plot. We love community gardens. So many opportunities to connect with your neighbours, grow fresh food without the need for growing space at home and teach children about the food cycle.

We love Elisha Cooper books. Of all of them this is our favourite “Farm” found here is a beautiful story that touches my heart and makes me homesick for my childhood days of hiding in corn rows and the smell of the hayloft. It follows the life of a farming family for one year and Quentin loves the rich detail. It’s best suited to children 5+.

“Grandpa’s Garden” has been a favourite for years. We love Barefoot Books and this one follows a boy and his grandfather as they slowly wait for their garden to come to life. Barefoot has an excellent selection of garden and food related books for every age and their rich use of language and inclusive and diverse books keep us coming back.

Do you have a favourite thing to grow in your field, garden or planter box? We’d love you to share it. If you’ve never tried growing vegetables, lettuce is an easy one and perfect for kids to grow.

Book Club Summer Edition Part 2: More Books and activities a year later

One year later after we wrote part one of this post here we are settling into our summer rhythm once again. And once again we are following the Montessori approach to home learning, which means we “follow the child”. So although there is always an opportunity to foster curiosity we don’t advocate for structured, academic summer home learning.

Books and extension invitations are such a fun way for us to spend quality time together. These are some of our favourites this year.

The Darkest Dark is a favourite Canadian read here. Astronaut Chris Hadfield recounts a story of his childhood of big imaginations, big dreams and being afraid of the dark. We love the illustrations and comical and relatable moments. It’s perfect for kids 3-6.

Max and the Tag Along Moon is by the multi award winning Floyd Cooper. His soft paintings tell a gorgeous story of a small boy’s love for his Grandfather who reminds him that the same moon that shines over them together will shine over them when they are apart. Max watches the moon as it “tags along” all the way back to his own house. Perfect for kids 2+.

We have written about some of our own favourite moon and space nature activities here.

Straw painting is so easily accessible to children beginning around two years old. It requires nothing more than a straw and some coloured water. We have loved making constellations over the years.

We also watch the Perseid Meteor shower every year in August. I have fond memories of curling up with Quentin in the back yard hammock, wrapped in a blanket, watching the streaks of light cross the sky. You can find all the details of that meteor shower here. If you aren’t in a great viewing location for this space event, research what you can see. Summer is the perfect time for star gazing.

Up in the Leaves: The True Story of the Central Park Treehouses was recommended by our friend Fred Ted and Company. I’m so glad they did. It’s our favourite new book on our shelves. A true story of a young boy who lives in New York and dislikes the noise and crowds. He instead decides to seek refuge in Central Park and build tree houses. A book about following your passion despite what people may say, it is an excellent read for children 5 and up.

Westlandia has been on our shelves for over a decade. It was our oldest’s absolute favourite as a young boy. Another story of a boy who doesn’t quite fit in and decides to follow his own path. There’s a reason it has stood the test of times in this house. Well written with extremely rich language and beautifully coloured pages, this story sparks imagination, follows the Montessori Great Lessons and ultimately showcases that it’s not only ok to be different from the masses; it’s essential. It is essential reading material for all children but especially those that feel like outcasts. Ideal for children 7+.

Our own front yard tree house was there long before Quentin came along and gave both the boys so much fun. Anthony especially. He would spend summer nights up there, lantern light glowing through the window, curled up in his sleeping bag reading with a snack. Regrettably it had to come down earlier this year. Quentin was devastated as he was not yet big enough to climb the rope ladder independently. We will have to consider a rebuild when he is older.

We keep all our Montessori compatible outdoor space ideas on our Montessori Outdoor Space Pinterest Board here. There is something for everyone from the beginner looking to bring in a little outdoor play to the advanced builder looking for their next project.

We hope that you are having a relaxing, exciting and memory making Summer.

Sunday Book Club: Red Sky at Night

The weather has changed here. Warmer days are teasing us with thoughts of Summer right around the corner.

And so with our eyes on the skies watching and waiting, I had to snap up this beautiful new book. It’s by one of our very favourite authors Elly MacKay.

A collection of weather sayings it’s absolutely perfect for any Nature Study or for children who love interesting facts.

As with all her books the almost luminescent pictures tell a much deeper story. This one is of a family out for a camping adventure.

We loved the facts that detail each of the sayings found at the back of the book and they would be excellent research topics for the oldest students in my 3-6 classroom.

The book ends on the note that though traveling is amazing, there’s no place like home.

If you haven’t had a chance to see the process Elly uses to make her artwork you can visit this video here. It’s a stunning.

We hope you all are enjoying your weekend and have set aside some time to curl up with a good book.

Sunday Book Club: Giveaway!

We are always on the hunt for books that encourage kids to go beyond simply reading them. So when we were approached to review this book I was intrigued.

I grew up reading Choose Your Own Adventure books and this one is a modern day one that focus on a young boy named Danny. The concept here is that a child has the ultimate super power: the power of choice. Such an important message not just for children but for everyone.

This book allows a child to make the choices of Danny’s behaviour and to find out that one positive choice has the power to change the entire day of not only oneself but of others. It’s a great book for groups, and children have fun making the choices and finding what happens next.

We have enjoyed it so much that we are giving away two copies of the book on our Instagram feed found here. Follow the link to enter. If you have ideas of ways to empower children with the power of choice we would love for you to share them. Leave a comment and we will share some of them in an upcoming post.

Sunday Book Club: One last one for 2017

It’s hard to believe I started this little book club two years ago. There have been so many amazing books over the years and 2017 was no different.

One of our very favourites was Here We Are. We are madly in love with Oliver Jeffers children’s books.

The artwork asks the audience to stop and take a closer look, something that’s important to me. So many books miss this critical aspect of a good children’s book.

Then there’s the written message. Does it speak to you and the child who is absorbing the story? This book speaks to us very very much.

If you haven’t had a chance to read this one, go and see it out. You won’t be disappointed.

Thanks for joining us on this journey of seeking out well written, gorgeously illustrated, diverse books.

We will be back early in the new year with our latest finds.

Sunday Book Club: A Montessori compatible Christmas Book – A rare and beautiful thing

We have so many favourite Montessori compatible Winter books and were going to post them today, but we have been patiently waiting for someone (anyone really) in the Montessori social media world to post this book as it is one of the very few traditional Christmas themed books that is truly compatible with Montessori.

It’s not that it’s a new book, it’s just I suppose a little less popular than others.

We all have our favourites from our own childhoods or ones with beautiful art, but when we are looking for a truly Montessori compatible book for teaching the traditional message of Christmas, just as we do with all other books we seek for our children what are we looking for? What are we choosing?

Are we choosing books that are reality based or are we choosing books with a very whitewashed version of a humble family of Middle Eastern decent looking for shelter in Bethlehem?

Above all, are the books we choose broadcasting a strong message of inclusivity, love, hope, and peace for everyone?

This one does.

Originally read by Angelou herself at the White House Christmas tree lighting in 2005, it is a stunning book.

Focusing on the traditional message of Christmas, it brings together Christians, Muslim’s, Jews, Atheists and many more by acknowledging that whatever our differences, we can come together.

We can do what Maria Montessori asked of us.

We can build peace not only in ourselves but in the world.

Sunday Book Club: Montessori Peace Education

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.