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.

Sunday Book Club: A child’s daily rhythm


There are so many beautiful books out there. One’s with an important moral message or peaceful story. One’s for learning new facts and amazing science ones. But the ones Quentin will usually pick for himself are none of those. The ones he picks for himself are most often simple stories about family rhythms. 


Fiction books that focus on the real world day to day are often left off recommended book lists. However these are some of the most important books to read with children. They provide a glimpse into another family’s world (albeit a fictional one) and give the child a chance to relate to what is happening in the story. 

Reading books about family rhythms can help a child process their own need for order in their day. This builds their trust of the world and aids in their natural development. 

The above books are our absolute favourites and are all set with the child at the centre of the story. 

  1. Sounds Around Town follows a toddler and his Mother from morning to night. This was one of Quentin’s first books. I absolutely love the vocabulary it introduces to a young child. 
  2.  Alfie Gets in first is the first in the long beloved series by Shirley Hughes. We love every single one. This one begins with Alfie accidentally locking himself in the house with Mom and baby sister stuck outside.
  3. What Happens on Wednesdays is Quentin’s current favourite. It follows a preschooler through her day beginning when she wakes up and maps her day not in hours but in events such as getting the newspaper with Dad, going to preschool, having a nap and going to the pool. 
  4. Journey Home from Grandpas “The yellow car drives down the long and bumpy road, long and bumpy road…” We read this every single day between 12 months and 2. I couldn’t get the words out of my head if I tried. It is an excellent vocabulary builder but the rhythm at which the story flows and the alliteration will grab young children and keep it a favourite. Quentin still asks for it at least once a week. 
  5. Moving Molly was my favourite as a child. Shirley Hughes has something magically simple about her art. The story of a small girl who moves with her family, and all that she experiences including sleeping in a new room and finding something special at the end of her backyard one day. I’ve ordered it for Quentin. I hope he loves it as much as I did. 

Montessori focuses on reality based themes. Reading to children about the daily lives of other kids their age opens up their world, and helps them affirm that many others experience the things that make up their own days. 

Novel Ideas

This post can also be found on the new page with the same name. I’m hoping to keep this going there.

A room without books is like a body without a soul-Marcus Cicero

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We are a family of bibliophiles. I have fond memories of my Father reading to me every night. I spent many a sunny summer day, perched in a tree, surrounded by open fields, feasting on literature. So, when my parents came to visit us after Quentin came home, the first thing my Father and I did was make him a bookshelf.

On Quentin’s shelves for July: (the following contains affiliate links)

Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Simple text, colourful artwork and a happy ending. There’s a reason it’s stood the test of times.

Jon Scieszka’s Seen Art
A small boy accidentally visits the MoMA looking for his friend Art. A great story and introduction to many artists and their work. Probably suited for 3yrs+ but Quentin loves the pictures.

Eric Carle’s Brown Bear Brown Bear What do you see
Quentin asks for this every night. Not exactly Montessori due to the unrealistic colouring of the animals, but he loves pointing out the animals and claps at the end when we turn the page to the children.

Lois Elhert’s Eating the Alphabet
A new one for us. The artwork is stunning. A fantastic vocabulary builder for Quentin. Anthony enjoys reading the history of the foods in the back pages.

Lois Elhert’s Color Farm
This one is interesting. I love the geometric shapes, but the animals are too abstract for Quentin to identify them. Still, he loves the cut out pages. We will return to this one when he’s a little older.

Jon Scieszka’s Science Curse

Don’t ever tease a wee amoeba
By calling him a her amoeba.
And don’t call her a him amoeba.
Or never he a she amoeba.
‘Cause whether his or hers amoeba,
They too feel like you and meba.<

We’re also full blown science nerds.This is really just us making sure Quentin assimilates.

Lara Vaccaro Seeger’s Green
Also a new one for us. One of the most beautiful children’s books I have ever had the pleasure to read.

Although most of our rooms have bookshelves, not to mention the books on our bedside tables and coffee tables, this small bookshelf is one of my favourite things in the house. It is a memory holder representing a lineage of book lovers and holds my memories of my parents, grandparents and even my great grandparents sitting in a quiet spot reading. It is also a memory builder. Many a quiet hour has already been spent feasting.