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: 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.

Sunday Book Club: Leaf 

Every once in a while a book comes a long that is so absolutely stunning that it kind of knocks us off our feet. And then of course despite us rarely buying books because of our fantastic small town library network, we fine ourselves on the hunt for this new treasure. 

Leaf by Sandra Diekmann is a gorgeous tale (perfect for a Montessori child in the Second Plane) of a strange and seemingly menacing stranger that finds itself in a wild wood. The other animals are fearful and avoid and distrust him. Until the crows offer a suggestion: maybe he just needs some help. 



Although this book gently but poignantly highlights the plight of polar bears and their rapidly declining habitat it also touches on an all too important topic these days. 

That although there may be “different ones” that have come to our neck of the woods, the right thing to do is to: 

“Share your smile, lend a hand and spread a little peace.” 

Sunday Book Club: Life by Cynthia Rylant

We love books about “the big picture”. Books that ask us to take a step back and appreciate what we have. This is an important concept to introduce to children. It helps build resiliency early and is one of the building blocks of Montessori Peace Education.

Life by Cynthia Rylant is a gorgeous new book that speaks to us all starting out small, and that it won’t always be easy but we will all grow. 

The artwork is what drew me originally to the book. It’s understated but full of colour. 


This is one for every Montessori home and classroom. Younger children will enjoy identifying animals and older children will be able to use it as a jumping off point for empathy and resilience discussions which are so incredibly important starting in the 3-6 age group and continuing right through to adulthood. 

We have absolutely love it. 

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: This is how we do it

Peace Education is the centre of the Montessori pedagogy. It is essentially the heart of it. 

This week’s book is absolutely fantastic for teaching that although we are all slightly different, for the most part we are all very much the same. 
This book is excellent because it has what I struggle to find: realistic illustrations of children all over the world without the stereotypes of dress or religion found in other books. It also doesn’t contain children from North America which so many books focus on. 





The pages are beautiful, interesting and best of all, offer opportunities for vocabulary building and further discussion. The story follows each child from breakfast, through the day and the reader and child can easily make connections between what the person in the book is doing with what they do each day. 

Peace Education seems to be all the more important in today’s world. Finding ways to connect with others even if you aren’t exactly the same is a common goal we all can share.