Friday, June 24, 2011

Our Montessori environment.

One of my biggest concerns about my decision not to return to the classroom was that I would really miss setting up the environment. But instead of missing it, I've got more time AND energy to devote to setting up our Montessori environment!

We've always followed Montessori philosophy in our home (often, without spending a dime - see this post here). But, I've also enjoyed creating work areas for Madelyn.

Many of you have asked "How do you practice Montessori at home?" Well, here's a sampling of what we do...

This shelf is in our living room. It's convenient for Mads to choose materials to work with while being a part of the family. From left to right, top shelf: Melissa & Doug makes this peg/color matching work, two sets of nesting dolls (the smaller a gift from our dear friend Gretchen), wooden puzzle (Madelyn calls it a christmas tree- it was also a gift), and xylophone. Second shelf: alphabet puzzle, two wooden dolls that twist apart, bowl of finger puppets, tray with peg game (similar to horseshoes but can be played indoors), and a bowl of wooden beads to string. Bottom shelf: basket of cars and trucks, wooden crane, tray with three infant toys for Henry and Clara, and bowl of different textured fabrics for Henry and Clara. The beautiful stroller in front of the shelf is from Nova Natural Toys and was a gift from Aunt Alisa!

This is Madelyn's reading area in our living room. Her books are in an old crate and the desk on top of the crate flips open (her coloring books and crayons are stored inside). The rocking chair used to be Nanna Jackie's when she was little!

This area is next to the front door. Montessori strongly believed in giving children the tools to be independent. Madelyn will choose her shoes for the day and put them on herself. She is also really good about putting her shoes away when we get home and hanging up her coat. Often, she will offer to hang a guest coat too.

Although, the most fun is watching the clothes she picks out to wear each day. Her teacher gets a real kick out her daily outfits (tutus and stripes are very popular with her these days)!

In the babies room, there is a mat with sheet in front of a mirror on the wall. Clara and Henry love to lay here while Madelyn plays or we work together to put away clothes.

This area is in our dining room. Madelyn has her play kitchen (handmade by her Great Grandpa), a small table and chairs, and an easel for painting and chalkboard. The artwork on the wall is Madelyn's first finger painting, she made it when she was 1 year old!

This is Madelyn's work area in the kitchen. She uses this small table to make food (making peanut butter and jelly in picture below) and to work with her practical life materials. The bottom shelf contains two pouring works and one squeezing (using a dropper) work. Her hooks are on the wall with an apron, broom, and dustpan. Although she seldom wears the apron. She usually prefers to take her clothes off when working with water -She'll pull off her shirt and yell, "Naked girl!" This is probably something we should tell her not to do ;)

I love observing Mads in our Montessori environment. I'm looking forward to the challenge of creating an environment suitable for a 3 year old and two quickly growing infants!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I'm doing my best.

The days are going so fast. Each and every moment seems to be flying by me. I was hugging Madelyn the other day and I probably squeezed her a little too long...all I could think about was that someday she won't let me hug her like that - I'm afraid that day will be here before I know it.

So, I'm doing my best....doing my best to appreciate each and every moment I have with these three. It's tough. Somedays, I'm so tired and cranky but then the Montessorian in me remembers how much my mood affects the children and I switch gears.

I'm doing my best not to lose my focus.

I'm focusing on deep breathing, on little smiles from a babe, on giggles that surprise a little guy just as much as they surprise me. I'm focusing on the funny comments coming from my 3 year old and taking pride in watching her want to "gather enough lavender in the yard for EVERYBODY, mommy!"

I'm focusing on my husband who seems to be much more of a roommate to me these days as we high five each other and pass off a child (Go Team Gerker!) I'm focusing on the every other full night of sleep I'm getting (Matt and I take turns waking with the babes) and on the fact that Henry and Clara are only waking once each night!

And finally, I'm focusing on those moments when we're all in one spot. Matt, Madelyn, Henry, Clara and Me - those moments when Matt and I look at each other and wonder:

"Where the hell did all these kids come from?"