Sunday Book Club Summer Edition Part 1: Books, activities and more

We love Summer and all that it has to offer.

With school over, the boys and I have been spending lots of time outside. We always take a Montessori approach to home learning, which simply means that we “follow the child”. So although there is always an opportunity to foster curiosity we don’t advocate for structured, academic summer home learning. 

However, we do love finding new and interesting activities and books that help spark that curiosity. Quentin has been interested in pond life and so with that in mind here are some of our favourite fiction books for 3-6 about the topic. 


Over and Under the Pond is absolutely excellent for exploring a pond biome and life cycles. It’s perfect for introducing these concepts to children 3 and 4 or opening up larger discussions for the 5’s and 6’s. 
Pool is beautifully drawn, imaginative and above all completely wordless. We love the picture story’s ability to suck a child into the story teller role. It’s so interesting the differences in descriptions and abstract depth that come when you read this book in a mixed age setting and ask them to read it to you. 
Beyond the Pond is such a favourite that we’ve featured it before. Intended for children who are in the Second Plane, we began reading this when Quentin was 4 because of the richness of the text. If you want to introduce words such as “extraordinary” and “raucous” into your child’s vocabulary, sit down with this book. 
In the Red Canoe is the story of a Grandfather and Granddaughter gently paddling around a lake, taking in the wildlife, told through the eyes of the child. It’s gorgeously illustrated and a soothing read at the end of the day. 

The lily pads are in full bloom at our local freshwater pond. We often take art supplies with us in a backpack as well as some snacks and a blanket to make a day of it. 


Watercolours are so easy to bring outside. They dry quickly, clean up easily and are just so pretty and delicate. 

I love having little ideas ready in case Quentin asks for Art, or is looking for a new game, or has an interest in a specific nature theme. Allyson of Tanglewood Hollow produces some of the best Montessori compatible Nature Study themed materials out there. She has recently opened a printables shop here. I’m absolutely thrilled as now I can get her materials and immediately download them to take with us or display in our Montessori workspace.

Last but not least a Giveaway 

Summer Giveaway 
The Summer Curriculum found here, is “a guide of 26 pages filled with summer songs and poems, art exploration, garden activities and games, science exploration, reading, and more! Make a nature weaving, do some garden yoga, race invertebrates, and build a terrarium!” 

Stay tuned Monday July 10th on our Instagram feed found here as we are thrilled to giveaway one professionally printed copy of the Summer Curriculum for you to use to help create all that “awe and wonder” that we as Montessorians are so passionate about. 

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

Sunday Book Club: Our favourite books Birth – 2.5 years old

Language is the first gift we gift our children. We speak and sing and read to our children at a surprisingly early age in Montessori: At eighteen weeks after conception when an unborn child begins to hear. 

Our list of books for children under two may surprise you, but if you have been following along for awhile it likely won’t. 

Here’s the possible surprise. I don’t read infant books to infants. In fact I actually really detest them. Yes, there are certainly some nice ones out there. Global Babies seems to be popular especially within the Montessori Social Media world, but it’s stereotypical dressing of children from different cultures is disappointing. Not all children from Asia or Africa or Europe or any of the continents dress in traditional garments. The text is also fairly lacking. 

So what do we do instead? We read language rich books. Right from the beginning. 

Here are our favourites. 

Sounds Around Town was one of Quentin’s very first books. It is full of such rich language, a multicultural setting without specifically touching on it and interesting artwork. 


Red Rubber Boot Day was given to us 15 years ago for our oldest son’s second birthday. He loved it so much because it features a boy doing similar things he liked to do. The artwork is stunning and so is the language 


I am leaf. I am fish. I swim by Mr. Humphrey who lives next door, standing in his yard with no shoes on. And Mr. Humphrey says to me, “It’s a fine thing, feeling wet grass, on bare feet, in green rain.” 

Just phenomenal. 

Journey Home from Grandpa’s was another first book of Quentin’s. We must have read this over 100 times. Again the repetitive text is not dull like other toddler focused books. It is instead richly descriptive. 


Alfie Gets in First is only one of the most amazing series of books by Shirley Hughes. It is our absolute favourite Montessori compatible children’s book series for 0-6. 

When Mama Comes Home Tonight was another of Anthony’s favourites. There aren’t many great books that speak to a Mother’s role outside the home and what they do when they get home. We love the kind and loving images. 

Good Night Moon needs no introduction. It has been a favourite since 1947. It also has soft and flowing text that is perfect for a toddler bedtime or rocking an infant while feeding them. 

Books express so much about who we are and what we hold dear. When reading with a child at any age, choose a quiet time of the day, a comfortable spot in your home and relax. 

Start early. A child begins learning language while still in the womb, but it is also never too late.  Finding time each day to share a book with a child will have lasting neurological and social effects.  Not only on the child but also the adult. 

Sunday Book Club: Author & Illustrator Julie Morstad

We absolutely love the illustrations and works of Julie Morstad. Her books are perfect for Montessori families because the illustrations are clear, reality based and beautiful. 


How To Is perfect for toddlers and some 3-4 year olds. Simple parts of a child’s day are explained with whimsy. 

Sometimes We Think You Are a Monkey is a loving story told by parents to their new baby. Toddlers will love acting out the different animal movements. Quentin at almost 5 years old loved this book for the animals and the ability to read it independently. 

Julia, Child is by far our favourite. We first featured this book here.
“The truth is adults often need a some extra help. Baffled and befuddled, mindless and muddled, they 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.” 


Swan: The life and dance of Anna Pavlova is excellent for children 6 and up. It’s a beautiful story of a little girl falling in love with ballet and her life there after. Quentin was very interested in the timeline aspect of this book and it’s historical references. 

When Green Becomes Tomatoes This has fast become our favourite book of poems for children. Simple poems that begin March 20th and follow the year through the seasons without touching on any specific holidays. 

Think Again. “Make sure that your heart Isn’t too well-defended. Your heart is designed To be broken and mended”. Such an important message. 

Another book of poems we are in love with and Julie’s gorgeous drawings. This one is for the older child (9-12) but Quentin enjoyed it anyway. It was perfect as a family read aloud book. 

Beyond the Laughing Sky is a true masterpiece of young adult fiction. I read this one myself and enjoyed it immensely. It would be perfect for the 9-12 year old independent reader or as a bedtime chapter book for a 6-9 year old. 
So many beautifully illustrated and written books and we haven’t even listed most of her work. If you haven’t had a chance to read some Julie Morstad we would definitely recommend it. 

Sunday Book Club: Fall Leaves

I love a good Autumnal picture book. 


Fall Leaves by Loretta Holland and Ella MacKay
This has been one of our favourites for a while and it’s always a little bittersweet for me pulling it out of storage. It means that Summer has gone. 

So, on this our Canadian Thanksgiving, I thought instead of feeling wistful, I would share it with you and welcome in Autumn. 

Elly MacKay’s paper dioramas are stunning as always. What we love about this book is that the text is simple but pared well with more detailed information such as the migration of geese, weather patterns and the shortening daylight. 


A good book for costing up under a blanket with. 

Sunday Book Club: Awesome nature resource books for school

The weather has changed. There is a crispness in the air suddenly. Talks of school (whether at home or away) have been circulating in our friend circles. With that, the conversation ultimately turns to books. Old ones we pull out of storage and dust off, and new ones that we have passed in book store windows or online that have sparked our interest. 

I am always looking for nature resource books. These books are my greatest love both in my 3-6 classroom and at home. They often have the best quality illustrations, can be used by even the youngest child, and the good ones will keep a child turning the pages for hours. 



Amazing Animal Journeys by Jason Cockroft
Such a beautiful resource of animals that migrate around the world. 


Quentin thought it was hilarious that this book almost matched the Montessori colours for the globe. The beautiful illustrations and simple but interesting text are what drew me in. An excellent book to add to an animal life cycle study or biome study. 


Natural World by Amanda Wood
This book should be on every shelf, in every school, everywhere. It has been celebrated in good book circles around the world and I was lucky enough to find it at our tiny library. This will be one that we purchase for Quentin’s Montessori home space. 


It’s attention to detail is superb. It carefully uses coloured tabs to classify subjects into 3 areas. The introduction page speaks for itself. 


We have been using it with our August nature study of a pond, but it will have far more applications in the months and even years to come. This book will last us long after Quentin has left the 3-6 classroom. It is suitable for a child 3-12 years. 


Quentin loves that it has included penguins.

Are you looking for good quality resource books to fill your learning space? Ones with beautiful illustrations or photos mixed with the right amount of information will keep them coming back for years to com. 

Sunday Book Club: The Forest Feast for Kids

 

“You are what you’re eating ate” – Chef Dan Barber

We love to give our our boys new experiences. We love to see them try new things and make something come together from nothing. 

There is no easier way to do that, than in the kitchen. 

We also believe the above quote to be completely true, and so whenever we can, we seek out delicious, real, whole foods, that fuel both their heads and their hearts. 

That is why, when I stumbled onto this cookbook for kids I fell in love with it before I ever actually held it. Before I ever turned the pages. 


The pages are beautiful and clearly laid out. 


I love that there are some preliminary things to cover first. 


We don’t have a hand blender but found it wasn’t essential, although it would have been helpful. 


The recipes ranged from Quentin being able to do them completely independently, to us enjoying working together. All of them were simple, healthy foods that were delicious and easy to make. 

I can’t say enough good things. This is simply a must have book. 

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.