Friday, July 30, 2010

Art for Toddlers: Wet Chalk Drawings

Working with wet chalk produces lovely results. Look for chalk that is slim enough for your child to hold it properly or use a lump of chalk that your child can grasp with his or her whole hand.

1. Invite your child to join you for this exercise (pick a quiet time of the day, so that your child does not have to settle down from active play suddenly).
2. Have ready a piece of construction paper or heavy white paper along with a tray that has chalk and a small dish of water.
3. Show your child how to dip the end of the chalk into the water and draw with the wet end.

Your child will see the difference between using the wet and dry ends of the chalk. Remember to sit back and let your child experiment without critiquing or suggesting drawings (or suggesting what his or her drawings look like). The focus should be on the physical movements and motions and your child's development.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Recommeded Books - Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three

Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three is a Montessori classic for parents and teachers of children between birth and three years of age.

The authors, Paula Polk Lillard, and her daughter, Lynn Lillard Jessen, have crafted this amazing guide that provides down-to-earth, practical advice on how to introduce Montessori methodology in your home as soon as your infant is born.

Beginning with easy-to-understand examples of how and why one needs a low infant bed, a mat on the floor, instead of a crib, and continuing through your infant's daily routine, the authors make sense of complicated concepts that include early childhood brain development and intra-family dynamics.

We highly recommend this book for anyone who has an infant or toddler in the family.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Feeding Infants and Toddlers: What Not to Feed Them

Great article in Yahoo news What NOT to Feed Your Baby has useful practical tips. For example, many parents would have figured that peanut butter was a no-no, but some may not have thought about skim milk (babies and toddlers require more dietary fat than adults) or honey.

You can puree vegetables and, actually, most foods on your own, so if you are focusing on organic veggies and grass-fed beef for yourself, toss some in the food processor for your little one, too.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Toddlers: Locks and Latches for Refined Hand Movements and Fine Motor Coordination

This is a fabulous puzzle by Melissa & Doug that provides lots of great fine motor skill and refined hand movement practice as your child locks and unlocks all the different types of fastenings here.

You can also use this concept to make your own material. If you have a closet door that you are not using frequently, you can add additional locks and latches to the portion close enough to the ground that your child can sit and play.

Official Montessori curriculum for infants and toddlers on our Montessori House site.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Touch and Developing the Tactile Sense

For young children, the sense of touch is key to understanding the world around them.

Encourage touch and exploration, discussing what your child is touching. Is it "rough" or "smooth"? Is it "bumpy" or "silky"? Use rich descriptive words that will teach your child the language to describe what he or she feels.

In the Montessori class, materials such as the Rough and Smooth (Touch) Boards, Touch Tablets, and Fabric Box are some of the first touch materials that your child will use.

Look for fabric, wood, different grades of sandpaper, different types of paper, and other materials that help your child learn about the language and explore the experience of touch.

Photo courtesy of Nienhuis Netherlands

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Montessori Math Material Discussion: Counting from 1 to 10

We were browsing online to look for good prices on Montessori math material and found a number of products that were called Montessori, but were not really Montessori products.

For example, there are a number of counting blocks that have different colors. Do not use these. It is important that your child learn to count with identical objects such as the spindles in the Spindle Box, and it is also important that your counting set up include a space for zero quantity with the "0" above it.

DIY Spindle Boxes can be made of cardboard boxes with labels drawn on with markers and filled with wooden chopsticks. Smooth the chopsticks with fine grain sandpaper and you are ready to go.

Photo credit: Nienhuis

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Toddler Practical Life: Ice Cubes and Water

This is an excellent exercise for a hot summer day!

Material needed:
- A small bucket of ice cubes
- A punch bowl full of water or juice
- Ice tongs that are suitable for small hands
- A workspace at a low table

What to do:
1. Invite your child to join you for this exercise
2. Using the tongs, pick up an ice cube and transfer it into the punch bowl.
3. Ask your child if he or she would like to try. Hand the tongs to your child.
4. Let your child transfer all of the ice cubes to the punch bowl. He or she can observe the ice floating and melting in the liquid.

At the end of this exercise, you can also show your toddler how to use a ladle to pour the water or juice into cups.

Alternatives to this set up include using hands instead of tongs, putting the ice into a basin of warm water to watch it melt, or using tongs with something easier to pick up.

More Montessori curriculum on our site here.