Montessori compatible Christmas Books – A rare and beautiful thing Part 2

Last year we waited patiently, while everyone was posting their “must haves” and “what to buys” and “favourite Christmas books evers” for this book to humbly be mentioned.

It wasn’t.

And so, this year, we are posting a newly published beautiful, Montessori compatible Christmas book, that also hasn’t been anywhere on the usual Montessori social media Christmas posts.

It is the simple hymn so many know.

The story of a birth in a middle eastern town to a modest young Jewish family.

When we are looking for Montessori compatible books, our first and most important goal is that they are reality based. Too often we see this story on book shelves with blond haired, blue eyed, and white skinned characters.

This is why we love Silent Night by Lara Hawthorne.

It’s pictures are stunning with bright beautiful colours, and lots for young children to look at. But most importantly, it does not whitewash this thousands of years old story.

Maria Montessori implored us to build Peace, not only in ourselves, but in the world. The very best gift we can give our children is the knowledge that our stories are other people’s stories.

That our differences are our similarities.

Montessori family reunion: A social experiment 

What happens when you take two Montessori from Birth children, who live thousands of kilometres a part, who have never met, never spoken to each other, and place them in a Prepared Environment? 

  

    

  

You get instant friendship. 
We had the extreme pleasure of hosting Jasper and his family from Milkweed Montessori.

What transpired in our all too short visit was Grace and Couresty, as they prepared snack together, demonstrated materials and talked about their lives. Jasper talked about his trip and friends back home in his own Montessori Casa. Quentin talked about our recent family goings on and the up coming school holiday. 

Their was a quietness to both of them and it was magical to watch them both move around my classroom. Jasper tried the binomial cube (and completed it successfully) while Quentin got out the geography flags. They sat side by side as if they had done it 100 times before and it was beautiful. 
We are off on Winter holidays now, and my classroom is closed up, the shelves draped. 

Our upcoming weeks will be filled with peaceful home life and we will do our best to not fill it with busy holiday nonsense. To aid that, I’ll take a break from this space in order to fully be in the moment. 

Thank you to all my followers and friends. This has been a good year. I will see you on the other side of 2016. 

Montessori Practical Life: Homemade Gifts

The holidays are so special to each of us. We all have our traditions that are close to our hearts. 
For me giving homemade gifts is one of those special traditions. Simple acts of love and kindness, carefully made and gifted to loved ones. What could be better?

This is an excellent opportunity for Practical Life activities for children 3-6 and older. 

Here are some of our favourites.   

  
Cookie making. Little hands rolling and cutting dough into stars, trees and snowmen. Rolled cookies are easy and inexpensive to whip up. Placed in a little tin or box a child can proudly deliver, they make a great gift. 

  
 Printable note cards your child can help fold and assemble. These are from one of my favourite artists Alice Cantrell. Her Etsy Shop is a must for me when I’m looking for a beautiful paper gift to send. I also use many of her works in my Montessori 3-6 classroom. Quentin loves picking something out, going through the printing process and assembling the finished product. 

  
 Drying oranges. They are so easy to do and they make quite a statement when wrapped with cinnamon around a gift. Quentin made these almost completely on his own. I simply placed them in the oven. 

That’s it for now. I hope you enjoy. If you have some favourite homemade gift ideas I love to read them. I’ve included the instructions for the dried orange slices below. 

    

The Building of Peace

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It’s right around this time of year that this message makes me really think.

What does peace mean to our little family?

Well, it is not something that I can easily define, that part is certain. Martin Luther King Jr. was certainly right when he said “Hate begets hate, and violence begets violence”, but I don’t think that’s quite all of it.

I think Peace begets Peace

Like any other area of Montessori, peaceful behaviour is something that must be modelled if we hope children to do it. In our house we use the Silence Game when things become chaotic for Quentin. A single candle lit in a dim and quiet room while we sit together and quietly watch it calms him more often than not. We try (and try is the word because we are never perfect) to use calm tones when speaking to each other. Each of us finds peace in our home in their own way, and so I would (and anyone who has been here) call our house for the most part peaceful.

We have worked hard to have a peaceful home. For Small Hands has a great selection of Peace, Spirit and Conflict Resolution materials. The North American Montessori Centre has a post with some great ideas on making a Peace Basket and encouraging peace in your environment. But that’s only the beginning I think.

What about building peace in the world? Montessori implores us to build peace in humanity. An impossible task? I don’t know. Today’s world sometimes seems impossible. But Montessori lived through and advocated for Peace Education in one of the worlds darkest times. Surely there must be a chance.

Perhaps Empathy is a good place to start. Or Understanding. The worlds borders are shrinking smaller and smaller every day. Perhaps our instinct to think of ourselves and our families first gets in the way sometimes of sharing peace with our neighbours or the so often “forgottens” of our communities.

What would happen if I shared a small kindness with a stranger? Maybe nothing. But maybe something.

I guess I’m not able to answer my own question of what does peace mean to us. I can only start with the basics which for us are love and respect. How can we ensure those things for our children’s children’s lifetime? That’s a much harder one.