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Sunday, 30 August 2020

Summer Colours - Engaging With Nature!

Sensory Play - Capturing The Sights, Smells, Sounds & Feel Of Summer.  

Who doesn't love summer? All of those bright colours and gorgeous smelling flowers. We are rapidly heading towards Autumn, so I thought I would take advantage of those last summer dregs and give Arlo the opportunity to explore. 


Yesterday, I had spent several hours pruning our garden and as I worked, I set aside a leaf or flower from each plant ready for today's activity. Then, I arranged some beans, peas and lentils into a tray, added a scoop, two Lanka Kade dinosaur figures and placed some of the more intricate items (in this case the lavender and a yellow flower head) into the treasure tubes for closer examination. I made sure to include only plants that were not poisonous, however as long as you are monitoring the activity to ensure nothing is ingested, it should be fine. Just make sure to wash your little one's hands afterwards. 


Arlo showed interest in the activity immediately. I thought he would head straight for the dinosaurs, but he surprised me by investigating the treasure tubes first. He examined their contents closely, before moving on to the dinosaurs. He put them into the bean tray and had them 'eat' some before using the little spoon to mix the colours together. He then made his way through the leaves and plants. He took the time to smell them (as we smell the flowers in the garden regularly and had clearly remembered!). 


Arlo absolutely adored these treasure tubes. He could examine the flowers closely and the lids helped to trap the floral scent inside, giving a huge burst of fragrance as I lifted the lid. Arlo particularly enjoyed the lavender smell! 


Some days, I find it an almost impossible task to remain 'the observer' (this is a Montessori concept which involves allowing the child to engage in the materials independently, without adult involvement) as Arlo engages in activities. It is, at times, so hard not to jump in and help. Thankfully, this wasn't one of those occasions. Today, it was an absolute joy to sit back and watch as Arlo studied the different leaves, the beans and lentils and used the dinosaurs to bring the scene to life. 

What do you think? Send me a comment in the comments box below. 

Don't forget, you can also find us via our Facebook group and on our Instagram account. 



Friday, 28 August 2020

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Play Dough Tray!

 Space Themed Play Dough!



This was a lovely simple activity and a great way to use up left over Play-Dough. 

Arlo had his injections a few days ago so has been feeling quite under the weather and sorry for himself. I made some play dough earlier in the week but he hasn’t been in the mood to play with it. Last night he was feeling much better, so we snuggled down and read ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ before bed. 

I was inspired by the lovely images in the book and wanted to use up all of the leftover dough, so I pressed all of the different colours together which created this wonderful space themed dough. I then cut out some stars, provided the cutter and tools and left it out as an invitation to play. 

Thankfully, he was feeling much more like himself today and had great fun playing with all of the different tools and equipment. 

This dough was made using my foolproof homemade dough recipe which you can find here. It works every time! The tray I have used here is a reuseable serving platter. It is perfect for laying out activities as it contains the mess and provides a great work space at the same time. 

This colour of dough would also be perfect for a space or planet themed activity. I hope you like it! Why not drop me a message or comment in the comments box below? 

Don't forget, you can also find us via our Facebook group and on our Instagram account. 





Thursday, 27 August 2020

Join Us On Facebook!

Building a Community!


I set up a Facebook group because the principles of Montessori really changed my life! I want to share that passion with others and meet some amazing new friends along the way. 

My vision is to build a blog and a group where likeminded parents can share their ideas, what has worked and what hasn’t. Where we can share the joys, heartache, pride and frustration of every day life.

So, whether you follow Montessori or just take inspiration from the activities or principles, come and join us! 

Click Here

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

5 Simple Messy Play Ideas to Engage Your Toddler!

Using Messy Play to Engage Your Toddler! 

Messy play is incredible! Children of all ages absolutely love it. They can get their hands, feet, faces and everything else in sight mucky while having the time of their lives. Not only is it fun, but they are developing so many essential skills along the way. 

You may notice in a lot of my messy play photos that Arlo is wearing the same yellow vest. This is because my husband accidentally ruined this vest by leaving a pen in his pocket which leaked onto the back of it. It is already ruined and therefore I don't mind whatever else gets stuck onto it. 

I chose a vest (over a t-shirt and trousers) for three reasons:
  • Firstly, it is much easier to get sticky things off Arlo's skin than material and so it saves me a ton of time when cleaning up.
  • Secondly, during our particularly messy 'messy play' I can strip him easily to put him straight in the bath afterwards. 
  • Finally, messy play is all about the sensory experience, so the more of his skin that comes into contact with the messy play materials the better I say! 
I highly recommend you find an outfit for your little one that you keep aside for your messy play adventures. It just means you can stick it straight in the wash and don't need to worry about it getting messy. 

Underneath each messy play activity, I have included a quick explanation of how to clean-up afterwards and a few tips to hopefully contain the mess as much as possible. Of course, messy play is all about the messier the better, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't also aim to make our lives as easy as possible. Our little ones will have just as much fun with an activity regardless of if it takes us ten minutes or two hours to clean up afterwards! 

So, without further ado, here are 5 of my favourite messy play activities. 

Rainbow Drops! 

As a child, rainbow drops were one of my all time favourite sweets. They are so tasty and the bonus is they are SO cheap! One bag will set you back just 50p from most big supermarkets (or you can order a multi-pack of 10 here for £4.30, making them just 43p a pack!). 

For this activity, I simply selected a few of Arlo's favourite toys and bits and bobs and arranged them onto his tough tray with some Rainbow Drops scattered all around. This activity is great because it is completely taste friendly - your child can put everything in their mouth and you can be confident they will be safe. 



Clean up - there really wasn't much to clean away after this activity, which was a huge bonus. All I needed to do was sweep up the escaped rainbow drops and dump them in the bin. 

 Play Dough! 

My son is still at an age where most things will instinctively go in his mouth. For that reason, I choose not to use shop-bought play dough as it full of chemicals and other things which I wouldn't want my child to ingest. 

Instead, I use my perfect home made recipe (which you can find on my play dough link here).

I had tried so many recipes, some with all kinds of wacky ingredients but none had ever really hit the mark. In the end, I decided to create my own simple recipe by combining what I had learnt from other recipes along the way. I hope you find it helpful! 

For this activity, I simply laid out the play dough on the tough tray with a range of cookie cutters and utensils. If you are short on time, or would prefer to keep this activity contained to a smaller area, you could even use my play dough recipe as one of your Montessori tray activities. Click here to see an example of this.


Clean up - If you are using a tough tray here, clean up is pretty straight forward as you can simply smush the play-dough back into a ball and either put it into a food bag or cling film for a few days if you plan to reuse it, or throw it out. I recommend you put a sheet underneath too as it is much easier to take the sheet outside and shake off any excess than try to pick it up off the floor. The one pictured is a 'Totsahoy' protective mat and I cannot recommend them enough. They have tiny bumps underneath which means the mat doesn't slip or slide along the floor which keeps your little one perfectly safe. Here's the link if you are interested, they come in a whole host of patterns and colours. 
If you have carpet, you might want to lay out an extra large plastic dust sheet or similar underneath just to be absolutely certain nothing will reach it. No one wants to spend an hour pulling play dough out of the carpet!

Sand and Water trays.  

Anyone who lives in the UK, or many other places for that matter, will tell you that you cannot rely on the weather. I love to get outside and use our sand and water trays, but some days that just isn't practical. Of course, you could just strap on your rain mac and wellies and enjoy the outdoors whatever the weather, but Arlo absolutely detests the sensation of wet sand. He will not put his feet into a wet sand pit! So, I found a great little alternative which is this mini sand and water pit. It is really reasonably priced and comes with everything you see in the photo plus much more. The watering can, sand moulds and utensils for digging. 

Now, Arlo can have beach inspired fun come rain or shine! 


Clean up - Again, by putting this onto our tough tray everything is contained, but I have put another blanket underneath just to keep any sand off my deep-pile conservatory rug. I recommend giving your child a cloth so they can clean up their own water spills and depending on their age they may be able to use a dustpan and brush to clean up the spilled sand too. 

The wonder that is - Tapioca Pearls!

Until a friend told me about this at play group one day, I had never even heard of tapioca pearls! Tapioca pearls are a jelly-like ball made from cassava root. They are used in Southeast Asian cuisine so are 100% completely edible and safe for your little one. 

Make sure you follow the directions on the tapioca pearls you have, but generally you add the pearls to a pot of boiling water and wait for them to float to the top. At that point, you cover the pot with a lid and turn the heat right down allowing them to sit for between 4 and 6 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to lift the pearls out of the water and wait for them to cool. 

Since this was Arlo's first time experiencing tapioca pearls, I presented him with some on a plate without anything else around them. I wanted him to get the full experience of feeling their unique texture and taste, however you could of course add any other utensils, plastic or wood toys you would like to use alongside them. 

I used these ones as they already have a mixture of colours inside the bag, although you can of course dye your own, too. 


Clean up - Again, I used my Totsahoy (Here's the link) mat for this activity. You could also use your tough tray, but because the pearls are quite sticky, I wanted something I could roll up, take outside and shake off. This worked great, but beware: those sticky little pearls really do get everywhere (including your little ones hair) as you can see here! Don't worry, they are easy to pick off and don't leave much goo behind. If you're worried, stick them in the bath straight afterwards.  


Animal Rescue! 

This one takes a bit of forward planning, but it really is so simple. I made some jelly by dissolving the packet crystals in hot water, gathered a deep tray (this was the lid from a sandwich platter, but you could use an oven baking dish, a large lunch box or whatever you have to hand), placed some beloved toys inside and covered it with the jelly mixture. Leave it to set over night and by morning you have a ready made messy play activity! 

When I attempted this messy play activity, Arlo was teething and so I included a few items I knew would help relieve his pain such as his teething rings and a rubber baby spoon. 

At first, Arlo was reluctant to dig into the mixture, but once I removed the first toy to show him how it worked, he was hooked! The rest were out in no time at all and by the end there was more jelly on himself than in the dish. It was great fun! 


 
Clean up - Usually, I am quite a thrifty person and always advocate for using what you have or buying the cheapest available option, however on this occasion I really feel it is worth spending those few extra pennies to get a named brand jelly. Having done this activity a few times, I have used both cheap supermarket own brand jelly and the usual name brand kind. I have also used both powdered and jelly cube type. I would strongly recommend using the name branded powdered jelly. The ones which come in a jelly block (both supermarket own brand and name branded) were very sticky and hard to get off things afterwards. The supermarket own brand powdered jelly wasn't too bad, but still had a sticky texture when you touched it. The name branded version, however, didn't have that stickiness to it and instead just felt cold and smooth. It was also much easier to get off the mat and Arlo's clothes. I would try to stick to that one, if you can, but of course the others are still great fun if that is all you can find. 
Again, I put a sheet down to collect the mess and simply took it into the garden to shake off the spilled jelly. The few bits just go into the grass and are soon washed away in the rain! 

Finally... 

So, there you have it! Five great messy play activities which will keep your little ones amused for hours. I hope you found them intriguing! 
Be sure to pop back soon as I will be updating with several other tough tray activities in the near future. For now, drop me a comment in the comments section below and let me know what you think!

Don't forget, you can also find us via our Facebook group and on our Instagram account. 

5 Ingredient Home-made Play-dough - The Easiest Recipe Around!

 The Best Play-dough Recipe!




Okay, so I know I might be somewhat biased, but I truly believe this is the best play-dough recipe out there. If you are anything like me, you will prefer to use homemade play-dough simply because you know exactly what is in it and if you can be confident that if your child eats any, they will be completely safe.

In my experience, both as a teacher and a Mum, I must have tried twenty or more different play-dough recipes. Some worked great but contained a thousand complicated and hard to get ingredients, others were too wet, too dry, turned bad really quickly... the list is endless. None of them were right. 

In the end, I found a recipe online that was pretty close to perfect, although for me the quantities were still a little out, so I tweaked them until I had the perfect consistency. This one is more like a bread dough. It isn’t sticky or gloopy and I love it. It’s perfect for rolling cutting shapes - everything! 

Here is my formula for the perfect play-dough.


Ingredients:

11 tbsp (or 165g) flour. 
3 tbsp (or 45g) salt. 
5 tbsp (or 75ml) water.
1 tbsp oil - vegetable, rapeseed, sunflower... whatever you have is fine! 
1 tsp liquid food colouring.

Utensils:

1 mixing bowl 
1 spoon
1 tbsp measurement or weighing scales 

Method:

1) Combine dry ingredients (salt & flour). 
2) Add wet ingredients (water, oil & food colouring).
3) Stir!
4) Tip onto your work top and knead.
5) Use your play-dough immediately, or you can put it into a food bag or wrap in cling film and store in the fridge for up to a week!

That’s it! 

Here are my top tips:

  • Every time I’ve made this recipe it is just perfect, however if for some reason you’re mixture feels a bit wet, add more flour. If it feels a bit dry, add a tiny drop more water. 
  • If you’re using a gel or concentrated food colouring instead of liquid you may need to add another teaspoon of water. 
  • If you want to make multiple colours, leave out the food colouring, knead your dough as usual, divide into the number of colours you are using and add your colouring at the end.
  • Lastly - get your little one involved! Plonk them into their learning tower and have them help you with the mixing and kneading! 
I hope you have hours of fun with your perfect play-dough. To see how I present this in a Montessori style way click here. I’d love to see your creations or if you have a comment or query, drop a message in the comments box below!

Don't forget, you can also find us via our Facebook group and on our Instagram account. 

Montessori Inspired Play-Dough Activity Tray.

 Home-made Play-Dough - The Montessori Way! 

Who doesn't love play-dough? Those squishy balls of colour provide endless hours of play. Personally, I prefer to use home-made play-dough because Arlo still occasionally likes to put things in his mouth and I feel better knowing exactly what is inside it. If you are looking for a recipe, take a look at my absolute fool-proof recipe. It works perfectly, every single time. 




For this activity, I collected a few cookie cutter shapes (these ones are different kinds of fish), some utensils, a tray and some home-made play-dough. Due to Arlo's age, I try to limit the number of tools I give him to work with. Ultimately, I want him to have fun while developing his fine motor and grip skills. A smaller selection of tools will therefore be more beneficial. I will add additional tools over time as he gains confidence with the ones he has. For example, he still gets frustrated with the rolling pin and often asks for my help to get the dough flat. Once he has mastered this, I will introduce another tool to build up his skill set. 

I laid out this activity in the exact same was as I would any of my other Montessori activities. I laid it out on his activity station and waited for him to show an interest. I modeled rolling out the dough and cutting a fish shape, then adopted my role as the observer, only intervening when invited to do so. 

As this activity was sea themed, I chose blue food colouring in my play-dough and stuck to fish shape cutters, however the possibilities here really are endless. You could use animal shapes and green play-dough. You could use insect shapes on a pile of brown 'mud'. Anything you think your child will take an interest in! 

I hope you liked this Montessori inspired activity. If you have done something similar or have a comment or question, drop me a message in the comments box below. 

Don't forget, you can also find us via our Facebook group and on our Instagram account. 

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Under The Sea Sensory Fun Using Dyed Rice!

How to dye rice and create your very own sea themed sensory play!


Today's invitation to play was this stunning sea themed activity. It looks so appealing I want to dive right in myself! The brilliant thing about it was how simple it was to do! Honestly, sometimes I see these creations on Instagram or Pintrest and I think people must spend hours on these creations. The truth is, I am a working Mom who has barely enough time to brush my teeth, so any activity I am going to do needs to be simple, quick and relatively easy to clean up after. 

This one hits all of those criteria! In fact, I managed to get this set up while my potatoes were cooking and I was finished in time to dish up. 

Method:

Firstly, gather everything you need to make this wonderful creation. Don't forget, you can always adapt what you see to suit whatever you have in the house. If you don't have sea creatures, you could die the rice green and use farm animals. If you don't have rice, use spaghetti. If you don't have food die, use green lentils for grass or cous-cous for desert sand. Remember: Make It Work For You! 
  • Rice
  • Blue Food Colouring
  • An empty food bag
  • Sea creature figures
  • Utensils
  • A large platter, tough tray or lunch box. 
Dying rice is so simple and yet a quick search on Google and you may come away thinking you need a few degrees in order to complete it successfully. I have tried so many different methods, water, vinegar even hand sanitiser! The truth is, you really don't need any of that. 

All you need is some rice, some liquid food colouring and an empty food bag. Pop your rice into the food bag, add half a teaspoon of food colouring per cup of rice (no need to measure, just eyeball it! You can always add more rice or more food colouring if you need to). Twist the top of the bag closed, hold it tightly and smush the rice around the bag until it is fully coated in the colour you've chosen. Open the top of the bag and leave it to sit for a few minutes. 

It should dry pretty instantly, but I find giving it a few minutes just makes absolutely sure there is no transfer. If your rice is still looking wet after a few minutes, you probably need to throw in a bit more rice to soak up the liquid, mix it together again and repeat until it looks dry.

If you are using gel or paste to die your rice, you will need to add a small teaspoon of water to help spread the dye around, although if you can get hold of the liquid dye, which is usually much cheaper and available from all supermarkets or discount shops like B&M or Poundland, it is my experience that this is much more effective. 

Now all that is left is to arrange your scene.


Spread the rice out onto your tray - this one below is a reusable serving platter, but again you can use whatever you have available. I used split peas to make a star in the centre for added enticement, a variety of different utensils on the side and a book we could read afterwards which linked nicely to our activity. 

I always like to include a range of tools because it is a great scientific skill (although of course at Arlo's age he has no idea he is working on science skills!) to test out different objects. Hopefully, he will determine that utensils like the lollipop stick aren't too effective here, but the scoop and measuring cup will be much more helpful. All of these things may seem obvious to us, but they are a skill our little ones will need to develop over time. 

So, there you have it! A dyed rice sensory activity. If you decide to use a dyed rice project with your little one, or have any questions or comments, drop me a message in the comments box below! 

Don't forget, you can also find us via our Facebook group and on our Instagram account. 

Monday, 24 August 2020

5 Minute Warnings & Why They Are So Important!

It's time to tidy up!



Five words we have undoubtedly said to our child at some point in their life. Packing away one activity in preparation for the next is a necessary part of life. It could be almost nap time, lunch time, dinner time or time to go out, but either way we need our little ones to understand that there are parts of our schedule that must be met. 

Now, let's imagine you are at work, in the middle of finishing an important task and someone swoops in to declare you have to pack away right now, just as you're about to finish. How would you feel? I know I would be extremely frustrated and yet this is something parents do to their children all the time. Instead, if you need your child to finish up, give them a warning.

'In five minutes, we are going to need to pack away because it's almost dinner time.' 

This helps to reduce those levels of frustration and gives them a heads up that they need to begin winding down that activity.  By doing this, you develop a mutual respect with your child and reduce the feelings of frustration when an activity comes to it's end. It is important to remember that whatever your child is doing, whether it's an activity you set up for them or simply an every day task, they are learning. 

Of course, there are always going to be times when things pop up unexpectedly and plans change in an instant, but on the whole, we should aim to give our children notice before ending any activity, whether it is one we have set up for them or one they have invented themselves. 

Remember to always put yourself in their shoes. We need a little time before we can finish an activity so it is only reasonable that our children will, too. Give it a go and drop me a comment in the comments section to let me know how you got on! 


Don't forget, you can also find us via our Facebook group and on our Instagram account. 


Getting Started With Montessori - How you can get going TODAY.

How you can start incorporating Montessori practices into your family life TODAY.

Never put off 'til tomorrow what you can do today. 

Now, who heard that pretty continuously throughout their childhood? I certainly did! While frustrating as a child, as an adult I have come to realise how very true that saying is. When I first heard about Montessori, I loved the idea so much that I really wanted to get started as soon as possible.There was one problem, however and that was where to begin.

When I began to research the Montessori principles and concepts, I was a little mind boggled! There was just SO much information to take in and I had no idea how I was going to narrow it down into something I could actually implement in my home. After hours and hours of research, I decided to focus only on the areas I could implement right there and then.

Beginning with small steps helped me to see what a real difference Montessori could make to my life and motivated me to keep going until every area of my life reflected the Montessori principles. Let's face it, the life of a Mom (or Dad!) is busy and often downright chaotic! Making small, manageable changes is going to be far more manageable than transforming everything overnight. 

In that spirit, this article is hopefully going to give you the first few steps along the road to a Montessori way of life. Each step is something you can begin to do today without purchasing a thing! 

Step 1 - Play is the work of the child. 


Every day your child gets up and goes to work. Okay, they aren't doing a 9-5 or bringing home the bacon, but in their little world every single task they do is their work. It is important to them and should be to us, too. You may see this referred to as 'the absorbent mind'. It means that young children are constantly absorbing information from the world around them. Every single thing they do is a learning point in their day and should be treated as such. What may appear to an adult as a simple activity, or merely 'messing around' is actually part of their absorbent mind at work. 

I deliberately included this first as I feel it really helps to set the tone for a Montessori way of life. More than anything, it is a mindset or way to approach life with your child and I cannot express how important it is. Whatever the activity is - playing with blocks, feeding their baby doll, trying to put their own shoes on - we must ensure we treat it as the child's crucial work, after all - this is the point in which they are absorbing their learning.

Children learn through play. Play is their work. It is absolutely vital to provide plenty of time for play. If you're looking for some inspiration, check out the label 'Activity' which has many great suggestions. 

Step 2 - Follow the Child



This one is equally important in starting out on your Montessori journey. The founder of Montessori, Maria Montessori, spent many years observing children. One of her conclusions was that forcing children to learn in a certain way at a certain time just did not work. Instead, we must be guided by our children and their needs in that moment.

Is your child showing interest in a particular object or activity? If so, spend some time exploring that - even if it isn't the activity you had planned for the morning. 

Is your child finding it hard to sit still? Are they constantly climbing onto the sofa or furniture? If so, this is an indicator that they want to get moving. So strap on those wellies and head outside. Or set up an obstacle course with pillows and blankets to climb over instead.

The key here is engaging in what the child wants to do in that moment, rather than trying to coerce or force the child into doing what we feel they should be doing. At times, I know this can be a huge challenge, at times I know it can be downright frustrating, but I promise - once you see the results, you will fully understand this principle.

A great example of this happened to me only a few weeks ago. I had spent hours the night before setting up a messy play activity for Arlo. It had everything: bright colours, objects of different sizes, things he could taste and smell. Everything! However, when I showed him the activity the following morning, he gave it one cursory prod and went back to climbing across the throw cushions.

This was a clear indicator that he did not want to sit still and engage in an activity right now, so we went outside and played in the garden instead. We ran, we looked at the different plants and leaves, we threw balls and stones. I knew that by fulfilling this need right now, he would be much more engaged in the activity at a later time than if I had forced him to do it right then and there. 

On this occasion, we came in from the garden, had snack time and Arlo spent the entire remainder of the morning working on that activity, right up until nap time. Seeing that confirmed I had made the right decision in following his needs because not only did we get some time outdoors to burn off some energy, but he was much more focused and engaged in the activity afterwards. 

What we should always have in the back of our minds is that children are simply little adults. How would you feel if you were exhausted and someone kept trying to force you into a physical activity? Or you were brimming with unspent energy and someone suggested a trip the library? Remember to put yourself in your child's shoes and follow their lead. They will always let you know what they need if you take the time to listen. 

Step 4 - Setting up your home to create a 'prepared environment'.

This was the big one for me. I felt so daunted at the thought of reorganising my home into a Montessori style environment that I didn't know where to start. I ended up aimlessly wondering through my house trying to envisage various things in various places. My husband arrived home to find me dumbly staring at one wall. 'That's it, she's finally cracked!' he must have thought. The truth was, I was so confused. It seemed like a gargantuan task that I would never be able to fulfill. I would never have a home as organised as those I had seen on Instagram or Pintrest. 

Finally, I decided to change just one small area in my home and go from there. So, I pulled some books and ornaments off a low, child height shelf and arranged a set of three plastic baskets there instead. In each basket, I selected a Montessori inspired activity and allowed Arlo the opportunity to explore. That very first day, he pulled a basket down from the shelf and started putting the playing cards into the little cardboard box as if he had been doing this his whole life. I was thrilled! 

Gradually, I got myself an Ikea Kallax unit, some under the stairs storage (since I am based in the UK, there are few houses with big walk in cupboards similar to those I had seen on other blogs and videos, so I decided to utilise the space underneath my stairs instead) and a few additional baskets and trays to keep my activities in order. 

I really want to stress, though, that it is absolutely not necessary to purchase anything in order to make Montessori work in your home. All you need is a little bit of space where you can lay out your activities so your child has the freedom to choose for themselves which one they would like to complete. You could use a shoe rack, lower a shelf down to child height, clear off a shelf on your TV unit - any space you have can work. Similarly, if you do not have any boxes or baskets, use what you have to hand. This could be shoe boxes, lunch boxes, cereal boxes with one side removed. Whatever your budget, you can make this work.

I wish I had found a simple guide to getting started when I was first looking into Montessori and I hope that this guide goes a long way to helping make that transition a smooth one, but I would also like to say that if you are reading this and have any queries or problems - no matter how big or how small - feel free to email me (montessoriathomeuk@gmail.com) and I will do my best to support you. Alternatively, you can drop a comment in the comments section below! 

Step 5 - Practical Life Skills 


This is perhaps my favourite element of the Montessori lifestyle. As a primary school teacher, I cannot tell you the amount of times I have met a child who lacks in the most basic self care skills. For example, an intelligent, bubbly ten year old who cannot use a knife correctly. Having observed this for years, I vowed that should I ever be blessed with children of my own, I would ensure they had adequate skills to care for themselves. This doesn't mean, of course, that we force our children to do everything while we sit back and watch - quite the opposite in fact! It is simply about providing opportunities for our children to engage with us in every day tasks. 

Some examples (age dependent):

  • Could your child cut up their own banana? 
  • Could they put the ingredients into the blender to make a smoothie? 
  • Could they brush their own hair? Teeth? 
  • Could they hang their own coat up when you get home and put their shoes on the rack? 
  • Can they stir the pot to help with dinner? 
  • Butter their own toast?
  • Use a dustpan and brush to clean up their crumbs?
  • Pour their own drink? 
  • Wipe up their spills when completing a water based activity.

Involving our children in the everyday tasks of life, not only helps to build their skills in these areas, but many others too. For example, allowing your child to cut their own banana means they develop their fine motor skills, their grip control, their ability to appreciate size and measure as they aim for similar sized pieces. These skills are invaluable and reach into every aspect of their learning. Furthermore, you can begin to include these in your day-to-day life straight away. As you make breakfast in the morning, ask your child to help you butter their toast, or give them a small cup of milk and ask them to pour the milk onto their own cereal. These simple things really do make the world of difference! 

Step 5 - Make it work for you!



I know there will be some practitioners out there who are screaming at their computer screens at the thought of this final step. For them, following the Montessori lifestyle is an 'all or nothing' deal, however I personally view it very differently. I believe the only way to make this work is to adapt it to suit the needs of your family. You know your child better than anyone else and there will be some things that just won't work for you. That's okay. All you can do is give things a go, keep the things that work for you and discard the ones that don't. 

An example of this would be eating in a highchair. Many Montessori parents adopt the idea of a weaning table or independent area to eat food. I tried this in my home, but it just didn't work for us,so I ditched it.

The idea is that your child should be able to get in to and out of their own space to eat their meals, so providing their own table and chair set at their level helps to foster this independence. In principle, I think it is a great idea, but for our family, it just didn't work. Firstly, everything you put on a low table becomes fair game for our family dog, so we had to exclude him from the kitchen at meal times. This in itself became a whole palaver as our dog isn't used to being shut out and therefore spent most of dinner time determined to get into the kitchen. Secondly, I see these beautiful examples of Montessori eating areas for toddlers, but they are typically in large homes where space is ample. In the UK, kitchens are often small or (like ours) long and thin. As a result, I simply do not have the space to accommodate a second table and chair area for Arlo. In the end, after trying this for a fortnight, we decided to go back to the typical highchair set up we had used before. Now, I have taught Arlo a simple gesture of raising his arms in the air to signal he is finished with his meal and wants to get down. I will then lift him onto the floor where he is once again free to explore. 

This is a perfect example of how we have made the Montessori lifestyle fit in with our family and our home. Some things will work for you, others will not. It is important to realise this early on and be flexible. 

Another example is Montessori toys. I am sure you will have seen that most Montessori toys are simple toys usually made out of sustainable materials. You wouldn't find many v-tech remote controls in a Montessori school setting. However, again, we are adapting this lifestyle to fit into our every day home life. If your child receives an electronic toy for their birthday, it is only right to include this as part of their toy options. It is a case of being flexible. I doubt there are many families who would be willing to throw away half of their children's toys simply because they do not conform to the typical 'Montessori' style. That being said, I have tried to stem this problem by creating a wish list on Amazon full of toys I know would suit our needs and directing family and friends to it at birthdays and Christmas. This means we can build our range of Montessori style activities.

Finally...

I want to finish by saying that I know all of these changes can feel daunting at times, but the Montessori lifestyle has genuinely changed my family and I for the better. You will begin to see the changes instantly. No longer will you have a toddler crying behind your heels while you run around making breakfast. No longer will you pick up your hundredth toy of the day, all of which were emptied out of the toy box only to be looked at once before being discarded onto the floor. Instead, you will have a happy, confident toddler who happily pours the milk onto their own cereal, or who cleans up their own activity once they are finished with it. I created this blog, my Instagram and Facebook group purely because I felt so passionately about Montessori that I just had to share it with others. 

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comment section below or you can contact me directly via InstagramFacebook or at MontessoriAtHomeUK@gmail.com 






Hey Duggee and 'The Tooth Brushing Badge!' A DIY activity for toddlers.

A budget-friendly, DIY activity for toddlers.  

Please note: We do not own any copyright to the image of Duggee or the Squirrels.
Hey Duggee - TM and © Studio AKA Ltd 2014. Licensed by BBC Worldwide.


If you're the parent of a toddler in the UK, I am confident you will have come across Duggee at some point. 

My son loves Duggee but hates brushing his teeth, so we decided to combine the too in the hopes of building positive teeth brushing experiences. There's also the added bonus of practicing those fine motor skills and strengthening a love for books. 


In today's invitation to play, I set up this Hey Duggee themed box (cleverly drawn by my wonderful Husband) along with a Hey Duggee book, some counters and lollipop sticks. 

The objective was to push the counters and lollipop sticks into the slot inside Duggee's mouth, then use the toothbrush to clean his teeth afterwards. 



As an added surprise, my husband put the images of all the squirrels inside the box, so that as Arlo resets the activity by removing the counters and lollipop sticks, he can see all of the characters inside. 




Once Arlo had finished the activity, we took the time to read the story and share in the beautiful pictures. 

You could adapt this activity to suit any character your child enjoys. Simple draw their face onto a cardboard box (or, if you aren't keen on drawing, print one out!), cut a slot or a hole in the mouth and present to your child. 

I guarantee this one will be a hit and it didn't cost a penny!

What do you guys think?

Breakfast - The Montessori Way!

How to have a calm, stress-free breakfast experience, every day! 

Morning guys! 

Have you ever spent the morning trying to do a million things at once with a screaming toddler clinging to your leg? Well, I have! They're hungry, still only half awake and want nothing more than to cling to you as you try to maneuver around the kitchen and prepare their breakfast. 

That was until I decided to involve my son in breakfast preparations, rather than trying to run around and do everything myself. 

This morning, the menu was a simple bowl of cheerios with milk and a cut up banana. I invited Arlo onto his learning tower (if you haven't heard of this before, click here to find out more) and he stood and cut up his banana while I poured the milk and cheerios ready for his breakfast. By doing this, I had given Arlo something to occupy himself with while I completed everything else, resulting in a smooth, stress-free morning! 


When Arlo had finished cutting up his banana, I chopped a few pieces that were still a little big (after all, he is still learning!) and put them into a bowl next to his cheerios and jug of milk. 


I presented Arlo with his breakfast exactly as you see here. I allowed him to pour his own milk (I gave him some kitchen roll to clean up his spills) while I sat and drank my cup of nectar from the gods... sorry, I mean coffee, while he ate away. 

I have to admit, this was a little tricky for me to get to grips with at first. For a start, I was horrified that Arlo always seems to put milk on his banana and eat a few mouthfuls first (see photo below) before mixing the concoction into his cereal. The first time he did this, I was sure he had accidentally spilled the milk into the bananas and would want me to rectify it immediately - but he didn't! In fact, he vehemently shook his head 'no!' when I asked if he needed any help! 
Secondly, I was always apprehensive that there would be a huge mess to clean up. Let me be honest here - some days, there is. Today, he spilled some of his milk onto his tray, but he mopped it up himself using the kitchen roll. However, if his breakfast consists of something like yogurt or porridge, I can very often find myself having to mop the entire kitchen afterwards. The thing to remember, though, is that as he practices more and more, his control becomes so much better and even when he has made a big mess, he has had so much fun and learnt so much from doing it, that I cannot find the energy to care too much. As long as he is happy, so am I. 

My tip here is to keep the messier breakfasts for days I know I will have the time to clean up properly afterwards. If, like me, you work during the week, I can sympathise that there often isn't the time to clean up after a messy breakfast. On these days, I might allow Arlo to butter his own toast instead or stick to milk and cereal, saving breakfasts like fruit and yogurt for the weekends. 

I would also like to point out here that many would argue the true Montessori style would be for Arlo to eat his meals at a low table where he could get in and out at will. For me, this just doesn't work. Firstly, Arlo would likely loose half of his meal to the dog. Secondly, I do not have the space in my kitchen-diner to accommodate another table and chair set. So, I have taught Arlo to put his arms in the air if he wants to get down and I will accommodate that. This gesture indicates he is finished eating and will be let down from the table. His meal time is over. 



Taking the time to share these every day events with your toddler builds a remarkable foundation of respect, caring and engagement. 

If you have prepared anything with your child, drop me a comment or a picture below! 

Learning Towers or Pods

 What is a learning tower and why should I have one?

Hi Guys, 

You may have seen from a few of my posts, either on my blog or on Instagram, that I regularly use my Montessori learning tower (sometimes called a learning pod, toddler stool or kitchen helper). I absolutely love these! They are essential tools, in my opinion, for really integrating the Montessori principles into your every day life. 

Effectively, learning towers are a stool with sides which allow a child to reach the work tops safely (since the sides prevent them from falling). This means they can join in with tasks such as preparing dinner, baking break or preparing their own breakfast.

Initially, I wasn't sure if a learning tower would be used in our house and since they can be quite costly (usually around the £100 mark), I decided to try a DIY version first. At the time, we were on full lockdown due to the Coronavirus, so my husband build a tower using whatever pieces of wood we had lying around in our shed. Let me tell you, that thing was a complete and utter eyesore! Whenever friends came around, I would hide it outside to avoid anyone seeing it! Despite its ugliness, it was so incredibly useful I wondered how I had gotten by without one for so long. I used it every single day. 

If you would like to have a go at building your own, there are plenty of images and plans online, such as the one we used from thediyplan.com. We found this guide helpful, although because of our limitations for wood at the time, we created one fixed platform rather than cutting circular holes. 




If you would prefer to purchase an already built one, I recommend this one which comes in a range of colours and most importantly, is height adjustable so it will grow with your child. 

I promise that once you take the time to build or invest in a learning tower, you will never go back to life without one. They are invaluable! 

If you created your own, drop a picture in the comments or share a picture of your little one inside their tower! 



Saturday, 22 August 2020

Jelly Play! Activity for toddlers!

Help! My toys are stuck in jelly! 😱 

This one was SUPER fun! Great sensory development, completely edible and took about 3 minutes to prepare! 


Arlo absolutely adored this activity. It was so easy to do. I simply made some premix orange jelly (adding water to the sachet) arranged his toys in a tray and covered with the mixture. Put in the fridge overnight and it was ready for play the next day! 

I wasn’t sure if it would stain, so I put Arlo in an old vest just in case. Luckily, it was fine! 

A great sensory activity and it’s edible too so no need to worry about little ones putting it in their mouth! 

#momlife #montessoriathome #montessori #montessoriathomeuk #montessorionabudget #budgetfriendly #budgetactivities #boymom #newtoinstagram #follow4followback #activitiesforkids #1yearold #montessoritoddler #parenting #montessorishelfie #keepingkidsbusy #learningthroughplay #learningathome #mompreneur #ukmoms #sensoryplay #learnplayideas #babysensoryideas #learningathome #learningthroughplay #learningisfun #babysafe #tastesafesensoryplay


Friday, 21 August 2020

Classification Montessori Activity.

 Who doesn’t love a budget friendly activity?! 

This one is so simple! Place a few PomPoms in a bowl in the middle (this one from @easytots_ is perfect as it sticks to the tray and can’t be knocked over!), add a few #cupcake cases and a spoon. Perfect! 


At my sons age (17 months), I’m not too concerned if he gets the pom poms in the right colour case - picking them up with the spoon is tasking enough! But it certainly gets us on the right track to identify colours and classify objects. 

If you’re doing it for the first time, maybe just start with two colours or use fingers instead of a spoon. To make things more complex, you could use tweezers. 

Drop me a comment and let me know what do you guys think.



#momlife #montessoriathome #finemotorskills #montessori #montessoriathomeuk #montessorionabudget #budgetfriendly #budgetactivities #boymom #newtoinstagram #follow4followback #activitiesforkids #1yearold #montessoritoddler #parenting #montessorishelfie #keepingkidsbusy #learningthroughplay #learningathome #mompreneur #ukmoms #learningthroughplay #exploratoryplay

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Facebook Group!

I’ve just set up a Facebook group so that anyone reading this blog can join in and comment, share, like and post your own Montessori inspired activities! 


Come check it out! 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/617286518983067/?ref=share

Today’s activity! Water!

Water Dropper Activity.

This is a great activity for 1 year olds. Using a dropper takes some true fine motor skills! 

The objective here is simple! Move the water from the container on the left, to the container on the right using the dropper. I’ve also included a sponge to mop up any spills. Remember: everything the child needs to complete the activity is always included on the tray.

This activity is great for teaching your child fine motor skills to hold the dropper carefully, apply pressure when needed to suck the water up and release it again, move carefully so as not to spill anything and even to clean up after themselves! 

It’s inevitable that some squirts will miss the container, but this is all part of the learning journey. The more they do the activity, the more accurate they’ll become! 

Don’t worry if your child doesn’t use the dropper just yet, simply pouring the water from one container to another is great for now! 

As I mentioned earlier, if there are any spills your child should use the sponge or cloth included with their activity to clean up after themselves. This does take a bit of teaching on your part, but soon they’ll know exactly what to do without a word from you! 



I hope you liked this activity! 

Be sure to check out my Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/montessoriathomeuk/

You can also find us on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook! 








Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Budget friendly Montessori Activity!

Having fun while keeping the cost down! 




I absolutely love an activity which is quick to set up and budget friendly. This activity is so simple and yet helps to build so many different skills from fine motor skills opening those fiddly drawers to classification and language skills.

To set this up, I simply put the tower of drawers on one side (I bought this from the works and I’ve used it so many times, but you can get yours here) and a bowl on the other. In that bowl you can put anything you think your child will find interesting. For this activity, I have used three different shapes of pasta, but you could use Pom Poms, buttons, animal figures... anything really! Here we are sorting by shape, but you could sort by colour, size or for older children even something more complicated like where the animals live or how many legs they have! 

I will model the activity by selecting a piece of pasta and putting those of the same shape into the same drawer. There are three different shapes - one for each drawer! Remember you want to use as few words as possible when modelling so your child can focus on your movements and internalise what the activity actually is. 

It’s simple, quick and easy to set up and great fun too! 

Drop me a comment and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Busy Rainy-Day Activity!

Shredded Paper Fun On A Rainy Day! 


Today was one of those days where one minute you could be basking in the glorious sunshine and three minutes later the heavens have opened and everywhere is saturated.

So, in between dropping Darren here there and everywhere to get his car MOT sorted, Arlo and I decided to engage in some not messy messy play! I must admit these are my favourite kind. All the fun of messy play but without the mopping at the end! 

For this 'animal rescue' activity, I collected a bit of shredded paper and some of Arlo's favourite plastic animals and shapes


. Some of the animals are taped down to make the activity a bit more challenging, others are simply placed on the tray. I then covered with a layer of the shredded paper. 

Arlo had a wonderful time digging through the paper to 'rescue' the animals. Once rescued, we role played the animals eating the paper, running around on the tray and talking to each other. 

The great thing about this activity is the minimal clean-up required. I stuffed the paper into the recycling bin, put the animals back in their storage tub and that was it! We were packed up and able to enjoy a few minutes of sunshine in the garden before the next wave of showers arrived. 

If you don't have one of these tough trays, I highly recommend getting one. They are surprisingly good value and save so much time on cleaning up and really help to keep the activity contained!

Here is the one pictured (I love this one because it is manufactured right here in the UK):


Who are we and why do we use Montessori?

My First Ever Montessori Blog Post! 


Hi guys!

My name is Kimberley and I am a busy, working Mom who lives in the UK with my husband, Darren and my 1 year old son, Arlo.


I stumbled upon the Montessori practices quite by chance when scouring the internet for inspiration one day. Several lost hours later and I was hooked! Ever since that day, I have followed the principles of Montessori in the hope of raising a confident, independent and - most importantly - happy little boy. It hasn't always been easy and there have certainly been bumps along the way, but the results speak for themselves and I became so passionate about Montessori that I couldn't contain it any longer. I just had to share!


The Montessori concept was born in the early 1900's by an Italian doctor called Dr Maria Montessori. Dr Montessori was tasked with opening a school for disadvantaged children where she was able to hone her learning principles and ideas.


As a primary school teacher myself, I could see the wealth of benefits in the Montessori way of life but, since I was intending to use this in my home rather than in a formal educational setting, I knew I would have to make some adaptations to fit the principles into my every day life.


So, why start a blog?

Quite simply - after hours and hours of research online, I couldn't find any examples of relatable families based in the UK who were also using Montessori in their homes. I enjoyed watching hours of YouTube videos and reading dozens of blog posts by various families from the US, but I often found it difficult to imagine their set-ups and ideas taking shape in my own home. Not to mention the frustration of seeing various products or ideas only to find they were unavailable in the UK.


In the end, I decided that I would try and give something back to the Montessori community and dedicate some time to sharing with other families both in the UK and around the world how I make Montessori work for us.


I hope you can take inspiration from some of my ideas and activities!

FREE Card Matching Game resources

 New Card Release! You may remember that a few months ago I released a set of cards for matching or play activities. Well, they've had a...