Sunday Book Club: Swirl by Swirl – Spirals in Nature

Anyone who knows me can tell you, Maths are a very big love in our house. So, when there is a beautifully illustrated Montessori friendly book that features not only nature, but the Fibonacci sequence; well I just couldn’t resist. 
  
 

Swirl by Swirl, Joyce Sidman

Incredibly detailed pictures set with simple text, this book will capture a child’s interest at any age. 

  
The delicate way Math reveals itself in nature is a beautiful one. There is an excellent information section at the back of this book, explaining Fibonacci and many other interesting bits about nature. Quentin at almost 4 enjoys carefully scanning the pages, looking for all of the details. He happily identifies swirls and this book is a great way to add the extension of some nature exploration. On our nature walks he looks for patterns. Perhaps he doesn’t yet find Fibbonaci in a pinecone or a sunflower. But I do. And I can marvel beauty of it with him. 

  
This book touches on the subtleties of it all from ferns unfolding to a chipmunk curled in its den. There is more there than we realize, we just have to stop and look. 

Spring: Naturally dyed eggs

  
Sunshine, birds chirping and lots of time outside. We’ve been off on Spring Break and trying to spend as much time as possible together and relaxing. 
Egg dying was also on the agenda this weekend. Naturally dyed eggs are easy and fun for all ages. 

You don’t need much except patience. 

Materials:

  • White hardboiled eggs
  • Sheer stockings/pantyhose
  • Plant material 
  • Natural dying material 
  • White vinegar 
  • Tall mason jar

We used yellow onion skins, purple cabbage and blueberries. But the list goes on and on. Try experimenting with spices, beets, tea and anything else you’d like.

  1. Use one mason jar for each colour
  2. Put your dying material into mason jar
  3. Put in 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  4. Place a small piece of plant or flower onto egg (optional)
  5. Wrap egg tightly in stocking and tie it tight (optional, keeps plant material in place)
  6. Place egg into mason jar
  7. Pour boiling water into mason jar until egg is covered 

Leave for 3-6 hours, or overnight. 

Drain the jar when done, unwrap eggs and compost the dye material. Simple and beautiful. 

    
Have a safe and weekend. 

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. 

A Child in Nature

 We are going to take a break from our Sunday Book Club this week to instead tell you about this.  
I love spending time out in nature with both boys. We are lucky to live where there is such a vast and diverse wilderness. I also love reading about the different Montessori friendly activities out there for children and their families so when this came along for us I was interested right away. 

We have been reviewing Wild Explorers Club for the past 6 weeks. Their website is well put together and explains the entire two year programme really nicely. It is a monthly subscription service and at a cost of $12US a month I thought we got what we paid for. 

Each week there is a new activity for the child and their family to try. The programme starts when you sign up so you don’t have to jump in part way through anything. The first assignment was make an adventure pack. Others included hike a new trail, find a walking stick and make a nature journal. It includes a monthly paper magazine shipped to your door and all the weekly assignments and final certificate for a level are accessible on your account page and are easily downloadable. 

  
Quentin was so happy when his badge arrived in the mail. I’m not sure we will do the full two years but it has been fun for us so far and it helps motivate me to get us out and seeing the world. 
* All right, I’ll put up a disclaimer: We are not affiliated with Wild Explorers Club and I was not compensated for my review. All opinions expressed are purely my own. 

A Child in the Wild 

We are reviewing a child’s adventure club. I’ll do a full review shortly when we are farther along, but I thought I’d share our travels of today. 

  
A Montessori child in the forest. There really just isn’t anything more awe inspiring. The soft foot falls, the quite concentration as he carefully steps over a mushroom.

  
  
Here, the rainforest meets the Pacific, and fresh water meets salt. Moving at the child’s pace, made us more mindful of our surroundings. 

 

 
Do you use a nature journal with your child? It is an easy and fun way of collecting memories. 

In the end he carried his pack the entire 80 minute round trip. We took our time, talked along the way, and made it all about him. We picnicked on a soft blanket, while the almost deafening crash of the Pacific loomed ever closer. When its reach was only an arms length away, we decided we’d better go.

The final destination was worth just as much as the journey.

   

  

Changing seasons: Materials and Exploring

  
I love tying what we have on the shelf with our bigger picture. Montessori is about immersing a child in rich, holistic experiences. 

So, when we want to explore the changing seasons, it only makes sense for us to find some beautiful Montessori friendly materials. 

And then, go outside. 

  

There is so much for a child to take in when walking in the forest. We purposely seek out quiet, peaceful spots where we can really take in our surroundings. This doesn’t have to happen in the middle of nowhere. A quiet corner of the park will do. We stop, practise some mindful breathing and really listen. Even at 3, Quentin has been able to master this with practice. 

  
There is just something about sitting beside a stream. The water starts rushing with the heavy Autumn rains where we live. We could just sit all day. 

In Autumn our favourite shelf activities include: leaf garland sewing, crayon/charcoal rubbings of leaves, and using Autumn themed free printables a like this one and this one

Materials collected from nature walks also make great counters to go with number cards. 

  
  
This is a beautiful new multi level puzzle we were gifted from Mind Set Learning Tools. Such perfect timing. 

Montessori Summer activities to keep the learning fresh

  
Summer. It is a glorious thing isn’t it?
Both boys are now finished school and we have been blessed with hot, not warm but hot weather.  

The new school year is still in the distance and so I’ve been thinking about activities to do with the boys. Things that will keep them from (oh I even hate to type it) the “brain drain.” 

Here’s what we do in the Summer: 

We linger 

  

We stop a little longer to watch the bees hurry about their work. We breathe the heady scent of lavender a little deeper and we let our fingers run over the soft scented stalks a little more. 

We wander

 

Whether at the beach, around town or through a good book of far off places. We allow time for exploration of all things. Quentin’s favourite is geography. 
We create 

  

With paints and pencils and small world play, we encourage creativity and the expression of knowledge. Quentin loves to set up his Schleich farm animals and barn. 

His Bruder recycling truck (pictured below) and tractor (pictured above) also offer him a chance to create with to scale and realistic materials. 

  

How does all this have anything to do with learning you ask? 

Well, in the Montessori pedagogy learning comes from within the child. It does not happen to the child. So instead of math sheets and reading apps we continue to prepare the environment that will engage the child. We cater to the senses and the inborn curiosity. 

I often get asked about “the trays”. I answer that is doesn’t matter what’s on the tray. What matters is what is in the hand. What I mean by this is that a pretty tray of carefully designed sea shell work is nice, but it is incomparable to the vastness of learning happening when holding a shell at the beach. 

And then, just like that, everywhere there is learning. From connections made from reading to real world exploration. From measuring and counting as we bake, to keeping the senses sharp with environmental sensory input (flower smelling) it all keeps the light in their eyes burning. Their growing brains constantly seeking. 

There is this quote that rattles around my own brain often.

“Be careful what you teach. It may interfere with what they are learning.”