Friday, December 21, 2012

A Home Day & Crafts

Making garland with hand made beads

Bead Stringing

Cooking:  Mortar and Pestle, bread crumbs!

Making ornaments with applesauce and cinnamon

We rolled and rolled

The gift of crafts, doll making kit for the girls!  They are going to be so busy...

Happy Winter!!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Gift Courtesy

Re-posting what I wrote over at Mommy Moment.  A timely re-share for the holiday season.  Happy Holidays!

At our house, we have been practicing some gift receiving with one another.  I feel this is a valuable lesson with little children, so that they aren't corrected or prompted while they have the spotlight.  ”Say thank you.”….”Don’t be rude.”….”What do you say?”  Preparation is the key.
To a child, its hard not to state the obvious when opening a gift…..”I already have this.”….”I’m too big for Elmo”…..”Clothes, again?!”   Children aren’t trying to be rude, they just know these things to be true;  so they say it.  Sometimes the side effect of many gifts comes in tossing gifts aside for a better one. Truthfully, at our birthdays, we wait until the party is over.  It gives us time to go over the gifts on our own schedule and write hand written thank you notes for each. Its more calm, and not so post-cake sugar crazed. Of course, it’s okay to not love a gift, but it is the adult’s role to help a child learn to wait until the appropriate time to express these notions.
We give this lesson before the holidays and birthdays, but it is a good idea to review it often. Gifts tend to come to little kids when life is a circus, during holidays or birthdays, at a time when there is a lot of stimulation.  Regular practice may ease the moment.  We like to play this after grocery shopping, which happens regularly, while many bags are handy.  Often, we use play silks, a furoshiki, or reusable shopping bags.  Then, we  fill it up with things from around the house. The receiving child slowly opens it, looks carefully at it, and then makes on observation about it.  ”It’s purple, my favorite color!” or “I have a book about this character.”  Go over the possible comments with your child, so that they are armed with some language for the big event.  The most important part, the receiving child looks the giver in the eye and says, thank you.
Be sure that you model the same grace and courtesies that you hope your child to gain. 

5 Montessori Books to Read and Read Again

Good morning!  Today I'm sharing a list of books that I find myself reading and reading again.  Book selection and relevance is personal, but this is a book stack that rarely makes it off my nightstand and back on the shelf.  Montessorians are so careful what goes on the work shelves, but we must remember to keep ourselves refreshed by choosing quality books for OUR shelves.  There are endless books for parents, teachers, and Montessori enthusiasts

Sunday Morning Reading

1.  The Absorbent Mind.  Every Winter and every Summer, I read the Absorbent Mind again.  EVERY time I find something new that speaks to me in the phase of my teaching at that time.  I have two copies: one to make notes all over, and one to reference and allow peers to borrow.  The copy I wrote in is almost a time capsule for me.  I keep seeing my old notes and remembering my first years.  I can see my own growth, it's valuable.  Buy hardcover, it'll get used more than any other book.

2. Let My Children Work.  Although I find this book so essential, not many teachers have it.  I promise you that you'll find it useful and insightful if you teach or practice Montessori Principles in any way.  I had the chance to met the author at an AMS Conference a few years back.  I was so impressed with this man's continued passion for his work, after all these years.  If you find yourself at a conference, ALWAYS go to the elder meetings.  The room is full of experienced teachers who will converse and mentor you.  Look closely at the homework section.  It's safe to say I idolize John Blessington.

3.  Montessori Today.  Montessori in Layman's terms.  Read this, and read it again.  Share with parents for a deeper understanding of our philosophy.  Everything Paula Polk Lillard writes is amazing.

4.  Nurturing The Spirit.  I buy this book for everyone I know who starts Montessori Training.  This book changed the way I saw all education.  A teacher who nurtures the spirit in any type of classroom or group is reaching the deepest part of their growth.  Some programs require this book.  I find it essential to understanding the spirit of a child and the collective personality of a classroom and its values.

5.  Honoring The Light of the Child.  I met Sonnie at an AMS conference, and she was so warm and welcoming.  We are still in touch, as every teacher needs supportive friends in the field.  This book will connect you with the soul of the children you work with.  It is EVERYONE's job to honor, teach, and protect that spark behind a child's eyes.  This book gives clear examples and lessons on how to discuss feelings and love with littles.

What's on your nightstand?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Waldorf Holiday Faire

This is the 2nd Holiday Faire at a local Waldorf School and the girls find it to be the exact kind of magical experience to jump start our holiday festivities.  There was no Santa, there was no gifts, no candy.  It was a lovely day, just our style!  

It was the first time I was recognized by this blog, the Waldorf Mom and I had a good chuckle about our interests in another type of holistic education. :)

Making Natural Centerpieces.  Sanding Bamboo, choosing fillers, adding tea lights.

The sign outside of the Knome Cave.  Only children are allowed, but I hear that they saw FAIRIES!

We spent an hour in here, eating lunch and snuggling.  Every playground needs a cozy place.

Pony Rides!

Getting a Candle Making Lesson

Candle Dipping.  This took a very long time, but it was a great experience.  The concentration made me think about Practical Life, Waldorf-style.

Enjoying the playground in my Nana's sweaters.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Rainbow After Sandy

 Our six year old sat next to me while we watched the weather predictions for Hurricane Sandy, and immediately started thinking about how to send some cheer.  She did the math, those children would miss Halloween. 

Madeline loves rainbows, and knows that sometimes after wet weather there will be a colorful treat.  She decided to write letters to a few friends who have damaged homes and are staying elsewhere.  I cried in pride when I read what she wrote, "After a storm there will be the best rainbows!"She sorted all of our halloween candy and chose all the skittles (edible, sendable rainbows) to mail, along with some rainbow-themed art her and her sisters have done. 

What pulls at my heart is that this was ENTIRELY her idea.  All we want is to raise kind, loving children and we are beaming. 

Peace to you all!
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Apple Polishing

There's always something for little kids to do
with cooking that requires fine motor skills,
concentration, and interest in healthy foods. 
Good thing we went apple picking!
Materials:  Apples, Cloth, Water, Bowl.   It's that simple, and
repetition is guarenteed!

Point of interest:  "Wow, that apple is shiny- these
are still dull"

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

5 Ways To Support Montessori Kids

Now that Iris and Sarah are off to school (with Mom), I'm remembering how important it is to support
the Montessori-Schooled Child while considering their school-specific needs.
This photo is Madeline in our old school, viewing the world- up close.

1.  Read
Make time each day to read to your child.  This is the most important things a parent can do for any child.  If they can, ask them to return that favor (even if they are just making up the stories).  Visit libraries and bookstores, not just kindles and iPads!  Show them that reading isn't just a skill, but a world of adventure.  Also, read for pleasure in front of them.  I always find my girls curl up next to me with their books while I read my own books.

2.  Art
Provide plenty of time and materials for art; both creation and appreciation.  Go visit museums on weekends, or show the child books with art from all cultures and times.  Consider having an art area/table, where the child can create open-ended art.  Using pencils, crayons, paints, and clay at home supports the coordination and control they work on all day at Montessori.  We all know creativity is linked so deeply with intelligence. 

3.  Simplify
Take time to "just be."  Children can be over programmed, overstimulated, and overtired to the point where learning is impeded.  Try taking breaks from activities and spending time just being together.  No plan, just being together.  Time away from screens and electronic toys creates calm and room for real thought.  Considering the child's needs for rest can help him/her have successful school days with less fatigue.  

4.  Nature
Get outside.  Country or city, there's so much world to see.  Get out there, and spark some wonder in yourself and your little ones.  The best memories I have with my girls were surrounded by leaves, sand, and grass.

5.  Think Independence

Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.  ~ Dr. Maria Montessori  Allow your children to dress themselves, help to cook and prepare meals, and clean up around the house.  Beyond that, try to imagine ways to set things up in your home to keep more at the child's level.  Can they reach the soap themselves?  Perhaps a stool will help.  Can your child help themselves to a healthy snack or a drink?  Give it a try!  Children need independence and support simultaneously, it is a balance to play with throughout their growth.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Color Filled Pear Room for Our Sweet Pair

For Iris and Sarah's 4th birthday, we decided to give them a more cheerful room.  Madeline saw Enzo Mari in one of my magazines and thought to paint her own version as their presents.  We are so pleased with the results.
Painting the red pear for Sarah, how personalized!
Our finished pears hung over our big kid beds (we formerly used floorbeds, this is a big step!)
Our toys and books.  We recently removed the letters, so that they are interesting and exciting at Montessori School this fall.
Our clothing drawers.
Art display, kid changeable.
Room view from my tip toes.  It's a small space, but we now have the room  for our individual treasures.   They love their new bedroom, hand made by Madeline (who was 5) and Mom!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Movie Afternoon: Popcorn with Cake Batter Milkshakes (recipe here!)

Today we are watching a movie to cool off.  The girls were super hot from playing outside all day, so we are enjoying a little treat.  The library is showing Sleeping Beauty, but too late to fit our bedtime.  Snuggle central.  Here we are!  Sharing here, as everyone knows Montessori kids love to cook...the measurements were so easy.

Cake Batter Milkshakes
(a copycat of the American Girl McKenna Bday Shake)
This is nut safe, for our Iris :)
4 scoops Hood Chocolate Chip  Ice cream
1cup milk (or soy/rice vanilla)

1 cup cake batter mix, we used white cake
4 tablespoons of colored sprinkles

Topped with whip cream, more sprinkles, and a tea cookie!  

Enjoying our creation, tastes just like the store!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Bunny Birthday Party, She's SIX!

"What we need is a world full of miracles, like the miracle of seeing the young child seeking work and independence, and manifesting a wealth of enthusiasm and love."

- Dr. Montessori 
Peace and Education, p. 51

Although I can barely believe it, I've been a mother for six years!  Miss Madeline just turned six, and we celebrated in a bunny theme.  We did 6 walks around the sun first thing in the morning, reminiscing about each year with a Montessori Birthday Walk.  We also spent a lot of the day looking at pictures.  I can see now that she's so very proud of her growth, and we are tickled to have this little lady in our lives.  Happy Birthday, bunny.

Bunny Cakes
Bunny Snacks
The birthday girl in her glory
She cannot believe her eyes!

Sarah holding her very first bunny.  A proud moment!
Bunny hop races, GO!

Outdoor decorations

Baby Bunny, 4 weeks old!

Handmade favors!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summer Fun!

This summer has been filled with day trips to some great places.  Today, we went to our local zoo to see the newest exhibit.  It has a large outdoor area, all for self-exploration and discovery.  Music, art, and nature were strong themes.  If you find yourself in New England, take a trip to the Roger Williams Park Zoo.  What a great way to spend a day with my little ones!

Inside the tent they built with silks!

By turning the wheels, gears spun the leaf images kaleidoscopic!

Up in a tree house, a music station!
Madeline goes on a nature scavenger hunt, all in a tree house.

Sarah builds a tower with natural materials.  We spend A LOT of time here!
Fishing with bamboo and experimenting with water flow

Madeline is working with the chalkboard, practicing some lowercase letters.  She's feeling nostalgic these days with the materials.  Her time at Montessori was very special.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Candyland Party with Shake Your Own Icecream!

 Iris and Sarah turned four in June, and we celebrated with a party themed after their favorite game- CANDYLAND.  We had a candy buffet, cake, and made our own ice cream!

Candy Land Cake!  Yum!

A birthday pose!
(The dresses are from Little Tickles on Etsy)

We sang for each child, and they blew out their candles separately.  

Making ICE CREAM!!!  We added blueberries and raspberries today.

In a small bag mix together:

1/2 cup cream or half & half
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

(for allergic children, soy or rice milk can be used.
Try vanilla flavor and omit the extract)

Shake!  Place the little bag into a larger zipper bag
halfway full of ice and 6 tablespoons salt.
Shake for 5 minutes and serve immediately.
Note:  Don't do this over grass,
the salt burnt ours.  Oops!