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.

Our Montessori Semi-Holiday: Cosmic Education

What does Cosmic Education mean in a Montessori Home?

It means exploring the big wide world.

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Although Infant, and Cycle One (3-6) hold special places in my heart, my absolute favourite is Cosmic Education. It’s quite literally infinite in its possibilities.

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For Anthony, it’s about testing his limits (safely) and feeding that passion and hunger for seeking out the new.

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It’s also about having a little fun. We walk and talk.

“This is where the world came.” He says, more to himself than to me. In 15 minutes, we hear a handful of languages. We meander, stopping when he wants to look more closely at something.

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“Follow the Child” I can’t forget that just because the child is taller than me.

Our Montessori Semi-Holiday

We live in a small fishing village on the edge of the Pacific. Snow is a rarity for us, so we have to seek it out.

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Whistler Mountain (home of the 2010 Winter Olympics) is a few hours away (plus of course the ferry ride). Both boys are used to long car trips. We stop when we need to and keep everyone’s “limits” in mind. Anthony has things to pass the time in the car, but he enjoys looking at the passing scenery. Quentin still rides rear-facing in his car seat, and activities aren’t really an option, but he enjoys pointing out the things he sees and knows the name of. “Truck!” “Water!”

He as never seen snow before, he has no idea what it is.

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He walks the sidewalks saying “Bubbles, bubbles.” He thinks it’s soap. This still fascinates me. He has never experienced this before, yet he has the ability to search his knowledge of the world and come up with a conclusion of what the new thing might be. It takes him a while to confirm what we are telling him.

This is definitely not soap.

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We filled our day “Following the Child”. It was magical watching him expand his world.