Montessori Book Club: Maybe – The story about the endless potential in all of us

Have you ever had a children’s book speak to you deeply? One where the illustrations and message grab you and immediately you want to put that book into the hands of everyone you know?

That’s this book for us.

The first time I saw the cover I immediately knew it was that type of book and so when Compendium offered to send one I over I was thrilled.

“Your life is yours” it begins. If that was all of the message, mixed with the illustrations that would be enough for me to love it forever, but there was more.

“Wherever you go, take your hopes, pack your dreams and never forget – it is on journeys that discoveries are made”.

“Do everything with love. Follow your heart and see where it leads you.”

“Maybe you will speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves.”

And of course because this book melds so seamlessly with the Montessori pedagogy it saves its most sage wisdom for last:

“You already have everything it takes to do big things.”

This book belongs in the hands of every child and most likely a great many adults.

This the perfect gift for new babies, children facing life changes and should be on every Montessori school’s bookshelf’s under the category of Peace Education.

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.” 

Montessori Nature Study: Ecosystem of a pond

Our year long Nature Study begins again after a month off in July. 


The first week of August we explored pond dipping again. It is such a fun and easily prepared activity for kids of all ages. Dip a net into a pond and gently dump the contents into a clean container filled with the same pond water. You will be amazed at what you find. 

We recorded some of our findings in our Nature Journal. It’s interesting to observe how a child’s mind has grown and evolved in just one year. The different questions being asked and different observations made are fascinating. 

This year, observing the ecosystem of a pond has been particularly special. We are currently travelling and so the pond we are observing is the one from my childhood. 

There are so many things to share with Quentin. The holes dug by turtles and the remaining egg shells, the small minnows that swim past your toes. The smell of the water, and the crunch of the sand. A highlight for him was feeding the swan family and talking about their role in the ecoystem. 


Pond ecosystems are virtually endless with a wealth of information to satisfy children of all ages. Everything from naming different animals for toddlers, to life cycles to the microscope world. 

This particular pond has four generations worth of memories for my family and I’m glad I got to share it with Quentin today. 

Sunday Book Club: The Barefoot Book of Children

“Peace is what every human being is craving for, and it can be brought about by humanity through the child.” – Maria Montessori

It isn’t often that we stumble upon a book so completely Montessori in its message. A book that shows a gentle look at children from around the world in a multitude of family settings and personal circumstances.
“The Barefoot Book of Children” found here is a masterpiece of Montessori perfection. It has vibrant, realistic images, rich descriptive text and above all, promotes Peace Education. 


What we specifically love about this book is that it’s the telling of a child’s day. Children 0-6 years old identify most with stories that feature children like them. They want to be able to connect with the characters in a real and concrete way. However, regrettably few children’s books offer that to all children. 

It’s also important to offer books to your child that feature a wide range of racial, cultural, and geographical differences to their own. They must see that there are other children who may be slightly different than them for one reason or another, but whatever the differences, we all inhabit this one small planet and when examined, despite our differences, we have many similarities. 


This book touches on so many of those similarities. We all have our own space that is special to us where we seek peacefulness. 


We all have a family. No matter how big or small, close or far away. 


We all seek communication. Look at all the amazing languages featured on this spread! Can’t read them all? Neither could we. Not a problem. Keep reading the answer is coming.


“We all have love to give.” 

This is the most important message of this book. It emphasizes that even the youngest child can show another love and empathy. We love that it showcases simple ways to show love instead of giving material gifts. 

Building empathy and understanding are key features of Montessori Peace Education. The simplest way to do that with children is to show them that despite our differences, we are all the same. We all get up, go about our days and have our families how ever that looks to each of us. 


The best part about this book (aside from the gorgeous artwork) is the reference section. This book is such an excellent starting point to teach Peace Education in the 3-6 year old classroom but it is also excellent for teaching the Fundamental Needs lessons in the 6-9 and 9-12 year old classrooms. Each of the pages of the story are complemented with more details in the reference section. This is where we discover all of the different languages featured in the picture above. Quentin loved learning what languages they are and what the translation is. 


It’s no secret we love Barefoot Books. They are an entire collection of award winning, beautiful, diverse books for every child from birth into early teens. We own many of their books and learning resources, some of which we have featured here and here and here. We were absolutely thrilled when they offered to send us this newest edition for a free and unbiased review. 

If you are looking to add diversity to your child’s bookshelf but aren’t sure where to start head over to Barefoot Books and browse through their easy to follow sectioned catalogue. We are sure you will find something to get you started. You can also follow along with them here on Instagram and here on Facebook. They are just wrapping up an amazing collaboration of planting trees around the globe with every purchase of one of their books. 

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: 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.  

Montessori 3-6 Botany in the Home 

I have always advocated against the need for the true Montessori didactic materials in a home setting. The reason for this is that there are an endless supply of ways to explore the world with your child in the home environment. And you don’t need any formal training to do it. 

So, having led with that, we don’t have a Botany Leaf Cabinet, or Parts of a Plant cards. We simply go outside and garden. 
 
Gardens are so perfect for children. A feast for the senses at every level, a connection between what is grown and what is consumed by animals, insects and humans. And, most importantly, Practical Life. The ability to plant, care for, and harvest one’s own food. Even the youngest of children can help. 

  

Gardens can come in any shape and size. You can grow vegetables in a field, a large wooden planter box, in a small pot on a balcony or even a windowsill. 

If your thoughts turn to the fact that you do not have a green thumb, don’t worry. 

Your child does. 

  
Try sprinkling lettuce seeds into some soil, cover and leave a small spray bottle near by with a little water. Your child will feel such a sense of accomplishment when the first green stems poke through the soil. 

Sunday Book Club: A Nest is Noisy

  
We’ve been off on Spring Break here. It’s been quiet days filled with lots of outdoor time. 

One of our absolute favourite things to do is bird watching. I’ll go into more detail coming up later this week but I had wanted to share our favourite companion book for bird watching at this time of year. 

  
A Nest is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston
This book is part of a beautiful series and if you haven’t read it I would highly recommend you do. Lots of beautiful illustrations and interesting facts. We love it because it reminds us that it is not only birds that make nests. Many reptiles and mammals do as well. 

The coming of Spring offers such an amazing look into the animal world. We use this book to talk about different nests, how nests are made and also how we can help nest building animals ensured they have a safe place to build a home for their young. 

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.