A Montessori field trip: A trip to Fruitful Orchard Montessori in Nigeria

This has been a trip that has been a long time coming. 6 years in the making. And so, after months of planning, vaccinations and packing we are finally here.

I love travelling around the world to visit different Montessori environments. This one is particularity near and dear to my heart because I have been here (in spirit anyway) from the beginning. Before there was a school or children to fill it.

There is a vibrant and beautiful 3-6 classroom here and I will feature it in an upcoming post but what I wanted to focus on firstly was the Toddler Community at Fruitful Orchard. Authentic Toddler communities are hard to find in Canada and we don’t have a single one in our own community despite the fact that we have two Montessori schools that go from 3-6 all the way through high school.

It has all the tell tale signs: tiny chairs and tables, light, bright and airy, but it also has some gorgeous personal touches that the owner Junnifa Uzodike has carefully arranged.

The beautiful artwork and custom fabrics immediately caught my eye. The tiny carved reading bench with hand made cushion is just perfect for two small friends to sit together and look at books. As a side note the books featured are excellent for toddlers.

Perhaps the best part of this Prepared Environment is the tiny working sink, counter and real working oven at a toddler’s height. So often we see the opportunity to cook with heat taken away from toddlers. Here they regularly bake.

The Vocabulary shelves offer the toddlers a rich variety of new language and the chance to explore different items.

One of the most important part of a Montessori Toddler Community is the Practical Life lessons. Care of Self and Care of Others are the foundation of the Montessori Toddler years. That’s why when we knew we were coming I contacted Miniland USA and they rush delivered not only their beautiful dolls but also some warm weather outfits.

Toddlers love repeating. This little one removed the clothes of the doll, named all the body parts and put the clothes on again and again. It is so important for a young child to be able to see this Cycle of Activity through. The repeated fine motor movements and vocabulary solidifies key social neurological concepts that they move forward and build on. Dolls that a child can identify with (either by hair colour, eye colour, skin tone, genitals or physical features such as freckles, scars or implants) are incredibly important for all children. It gives them a chance to see them self and to practice all those Care of Self and Others lessons they have been working on. Often a child will mimic with a doll what they have experienced in their day.

We have been here a week and have a month left to teach in the 3-6 classroom, offer consulting and just spend time. The memories formed here will last long after we leave.

New Montessori at Home Materials

It’s been a weekend full of sunshine and the promise of Spring here. And so I was thrilled to pull some gorgeous new language materials out of the postbox this weekend!

If you follow us on Instagram you’ll know that we love following beautiful, hard working creative small businesses and Hobbs Farm is one of our absolute favourites.

It’s even more wonderful that they are Canadian and they can be purchased here in Canada!

I’m going to frame these beautiful alphabet cards to use as art in my 3-6 Montessori classroom’s Language area.

Wishing you all a beautiful end to your weekend!

Our Montessori Shelves: 5 years old

Unbelievably another year has passed and so once again we are examining Quentin’s Montessori space. 

We have noticed some big changes in the last few months and because of that we have decide to completely revamp his space in preparation for him entering into what Montessori described as the Second Plane of Development. 

I’ll write a post on that in the upcoming days but I want to give you a sneak peek at some of the things on his shelves as he heads into 5 years old. 


These were his shelves at this time last year, as he was about to turn 4. You can read about the details here


These are some of the things on his shelves now. 

It’s really fascinating to me to see the evolution of the materials, especially this last year. Many of the materials have remained the same but have evolved in difficulty. As a Montessori child gets older this is the norm. In infancy, materials are mastered quickly and new materials must be rotated in often. As the child develops, the materials remain longer and longer on the shelves and it is simply the way in which the child works with them that changes. 

Top Row left-right: 

  • Nature Study materials (you can find all our Nature Study posts here)
  • Flags of the World puzzle & geography work (purchased here)
  • Landforms Geography Mat (purchased here)

Middle Row left-right:

  • Time telling clock cards (purchased here)
  • Our Nature Table with some of this month’s materials (purchased here)
  • DIY Stamp Game (he’s now doing dynamic addition)

Last Row left-right

  • Montessori Green Series Language cards (purchased here)
  • Montessori paper Moveable Alphabet (purchased here)
  • Primary writing journal (purchased here)

These are only a few of the things that hold Quentin’s interest. He has many open ended items as well, some of which can be seen in this post about our home. He also loves spending time outside. 

As we prepare for him to take his fifth walk around the sun we are mindful of how this space has stayed the same over all these years and now, how it must change for a boy who is growing and it would seem is entering the Second Plane. 

Our Montessori Shelves: 4.5 years old


Freshly cleaned shelves and rotated materials. Such an inviting space and a great way to start the weekend.
Top left – right:

  • Children of the World atlas
  • Heartfelt Emotional Intelligence doll (later placed on shelves)
  • Little Passports suitcase and Big Ben 
  • Montessori Continents Globe

Middle left – right:

  • Musical instruments figures & cards
  • Montessori Blue Series Language cards
  • Moveable Alphabet 
  • Composition book


Bottom left – right:

  • Diatonic Bells & felt notes with mat
  • Montessori clock work (hours & half hours)
  • Montessori Large Number Cards
  • DIY Montessori Stamp Game


Top left – right:

  • DIY light box 
  • Walking the line bell
  • Nature Tray
  • Nature Study samples 

Middle left – right:

  • Seasons puzzle
  • Parts of a Pumpkin puzzle
  • Animals of the world tokens
  • Heartfelt Emotional Intelligence doll

Bottom left – right:

  • Knitting fork & wool
  • Parts of a Pumpkin 3 Part Cards
  • World Landmarks figures & cards 
  • Orchestra toy

They are ready and waiting for a small boy. Enjoy your weekend. 

New on our Shelves

20130726-200821.jpg

Today I made Quentin some fruits and vegetable cards for matching. After lusting after the ones on Michael Olaf I decided that I would search and see if I couldn’t find an alternative. These are from Mr. Printables. The are beautiful, show a real image and of course are free of charge. I printed off 2 sets and then laminated them for better durability. I presented them to Quentin by picking 3 cards and laying them down neatly left to right. I then picked up each card and slowly said the name of the image pictured. When I had presented all 3 cards I asked him for a specific one (ex. Where is the banana?). 3rd period lesson anyone?

He got it right away.

On a side note he clearly is ready for a work mat. If anyone has a suggestion or recommendation, it would be welcomed.

Some new store bought materials (gasp!) and a home made one

This was a week of new materials for the boys. Usually I try to make Quentin’s materials. Lets face it. They may not be relevant to him for very long and I love the fact that things can be easily made and easily recycled. However, there are so many beautiful store bought materials out there, and for us it’s the start of summer vacation. How could I resist?

20130628-202408.jpg

This arrived for both Quentin and Anthony. Quentin loves looking at the faces, and Anthony loves reading the poems with me and comparing how far away everything is. I guess when you live on an island, everything is far away. The photos are stunning, and the book is well laid out. It captivates both boys.

20130628-202629.jpg

This came for Quentin. At 14 months he definitely is in a sensitive period for opening things. I’ve seen similar boxes on Kylie’s site and on Rachel’s site. I immediately lusted after it and I couldn’t wait for Quentin to be ready to use it.

20130629-193024.jpg

This new placemat for our weaning table was made by my Mother. It was a wonderful surprise in our mailbox. Quentin feeds himself almost completely independently and that means we need more placemats. I love the fabric she chose.

20130629-193700.jpg

Lastly, these arrived for Anthony. Something that would take advantage of that summer sun. He tried a sheet and really enjoyed experimenting with different objects around the house. Oddly enough the tea ball (used for loose tea, not the toy) gave the nicest result.

Over the last few days there has been quite the discussion on the web of how “elitist” Montessori is. It makes me question my purchases. Should I feel guilty that I buy “expensive” materials for the boys? It would seem that society’s answer is yes. But I disagree. Instead of guilt I feel blessed. Blessed that I am able to carefully choose each material for my children, based on my observations of them. I don’t particularly feel the need to defend my love of beautiful books, interesting fabrics and natural materials. True, both my boys would do just fine with some dirt, sticks and rocks in the backyard. In fact we also spend many hours doing that. But I think a home can have a balance.

I’ve said it before that it’s all about the experiences. Whether store bought, home made or nature based, it’s the freedom we give our children to immerse themselves in the experience that’s important.