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Monday, 9 November 2020

Instagram Play Hashtag Competition

 Worldwide Play Hashtag!

This month we are launching a new Worldwide play hashtag! All you have to do is use the hashtag in your play activities which have a 'bright colours' theme. The four hosts will check the hashtag every day to like, comment and share our favourites. We will also showcase the best entries in a roundup throughout the month. It is great fun and a great place to get lots of inspiration for different play activities! The hashtag will run each month but with a different theme, so keep checking back! 

If you are a UK resident, every time you use the hashtag, you will earn 1 entry into our monthly giveaway as long as you are following all four hosts (@MontessoriAtHomeUK, @StirUpAStory, @Montessorimamaof1 & @curls_twirls_and_twins)

Have you taken part? Drop me a comment in the comments box below and let me know! 

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

Saturday, 7 November 2020

Bonfire Night!

 Remember, remember, the 5th of November!

This bonfire night is going to be very different. There are no firework displays to attend and we aren’t even allowed to visit friends and families under current lockdown rules, but I still wanted to make the occasion by doing something fun. I decided on this play idea as I know Arlo loves to scoop and play with loose parts, so this one was perfect! 

I drew the outline of a firework and used a glue gun to attach cardboard along the outline. I then painted it and left it to dry overnight! 

This morning I added some colourful dyed rice, beans, peas and pom poms along with:
πŸ’₯@stirupastory phonics stones
πŸ’₯ A couple of emotion stones which you can find @the.future.image (use the code Kimberley for 10% off) to show the range of emotions people might feel when they see fireworks.
πŸ’₯And a Lanka Kade policeman to oversee our firework safet

Arlo had a great time pouring the different items into each section of the firework and he absolutely adored the alphabet stones! 

Do you celebrate bonfire night? 

Drop me a comment in the comments box below!

Friday, 6 November 2020

The Ultimate Guide to Montessori Toys and Activities By Age!

Toys and Activities By Age!


I have been asked a few times 'what can I do with my X month old child?' so I thought it would be a good idea to write a blog post about activities and toy ideas by age group. Each age bracket starts with ideas for activities you can do around the home with toy ideas underneath. In brackets, you will see a link to purchase items for both the UK and the USA. I am working on building up a database for other countries, too. 

There is so much variation between children that it is difficult to narrow down exactly what would be suitable for a '6 month old' child for example, however I have tried to do my best by looking at what an 'average' child may be able to do. Please feel free to look at the category before and after your child's current age and do not worry at all if your child appears to be unable to do something or did it months before - every child is different! Arlo is 20 months now and he still loves his stacking rings. He plays with them regularly and has done since he was able to sit up. There is no age limit on anything, really, as long as it is safe. For example, some of the 18-24 month toys may have parts unsuitable for a 6 month old. 

Take a look through the activities and toys are remember to bare in mind your child's current interests - remember, we are always following the child! If they have shown an interest in balancing or stacking then go for that. If they are climbing over everything, maybe go for one of the piklers. It is entirely individual to your child, but hopefully you will find some inspiration below of ideas or toys you haven't seen before. 

If you have had success with anything that isn't on the list, let me know in the comments box below and I will be sure to add it on! 

0-3 Months

Activity ideas

  • Nursery Rhymes – sing songs and nursery rhymes. Your baby will find your voice very soothing.
  • Story time – Read, read, read! It’s never too early to start!
  • Tummy Time – great for strengthening muscles! Use a tummy time pillow or rolled up blanket.
  • Mirror Play – lay a mirror down on the floor next to your baby so that as they play on the floor, they can see their own reflection.
  • Baby Massage – check out a YouTube video or join a massage group if you aren’t sure.

Toy ideas

Mobile (UK Link / US Link)

Contrast Cards (UK Link / US Link)

Baby Contrast Rattle (UK Link)

Montessori baby gym (UK Link / US Link)

High Contrast Play Math (UK Link)

3-6 Months

  • Outdoors - Get outside and explore the outdoors. All those sights and sounds will be fascinating to your baby.
  • Contrast Cards – lay some contrasting cards out around your baby as they are engaged with tummy time or look at them together while having a cuddle. If you don’t have any, just draw some shapes on white paper with a black marker such as zig zags, circles, faces.
  • Photograph time – share photographs of familiar faces with your little on. Begin to develop language by discussing who they are and features such as nose, glasses, brown hair etc.

Toy ideas

Sensory Balls (UK Link / US Link)

Teething Blanket (UK Link / US Link)

Bell Rattle (UK Link / US Link)

Rattle (UK Link / US Link)

Interlocking Ring (UK Link / US Link)

Ribbon Rings (UK Link / US Link)

Skwish (UK Link / US Link)

6-9 Months

  • Muffin Tray & Balls – present child with various balls and a muffin tray. Can they put the balls into and out of the tray?
  • Saucepan band – present a saucepan upside down and a wooden spoon. Let them bash away and create some interesting sounds! Experiment with other equipment such as a whisk or a plastic bowl.
  • Stacking rings – Can they begin to grasp and position stacking rings? You could use bangles on a peg.
  • Treasure basket – put a few select items into a basket and present it to your baby. You could give related items for example a blue ball, blue cloth, blue flower etc. or completely unrelated items. Anything could be suitable as long as it is safe to go in the mouth.
    Sensory bottles – fill a bottle with interesting things such as water and glitter, beads in water or washing up (dish soap) liquid and give it to your baby to examine the contents. Make sure the cap is secure!
  • Sensory bottles – fill a bottle with interesting things such as water and glitter, beads in water or washing up (dish soap) liquid and give it to your baby to examine the contents. Make sure the cap is secure!
  • Shaker – you can buy these or you can make your own by filling objects with lentils or rice and sealing closed. You could use small bottles, hollow egg shapes or whatever you can get your hands on!
  • Play the drums! If you don’t have any, make your own!
  • Messy Play –You could begin to introduce simple messy play here as long as your baby can sit up unaided. Always begin with taste safe play. For example, strip your baby down to their vest or nappy and put them onto a sheet or tuff tray with mash potato, beans, custard… anything your baby would like to squish and experience!

Toy ideas

Palmar Grasp (UK Link)

Pop up pegs (UK Link / US Link)

Musical Toys (UK Link / US Link)

Realistic animals/people (large) (UK Link / US Link)

Single Shape Sorter (UK Link / US Link)

Stacking rings. (UKLink / US Link)

Tuff Tray (UK Link / US Link)

9-12 Months

  •  Hot or Cold! Fill one bowl with warm water and another with cold water. Put some toys in each one and let your child experience the difference between the two. This one was one of Arlo’s favourites!
  • Wooden blocks stack – stack a few blocks and let them knock it over. Stack a few and let them place one on top. Stack a block on something else like the back of a toy animal. The possibilities with blocks are endless!
  • Toy rescue! Tape toys down inside a box and allow your child to ‘free’ them by pulling at the tape. Or you can weave string back and forth through the holes in a washing basket so your child has to reach through the gaps to rescue their toys.
  • Ball scoop – put a ball in a bowl of water and allow your child to try and catch it with a slotted spoon.
  • Jelly play – lay a few toys into a small dish and cover with jelly. Put in the fridge to set and let your child get messy trying to get the toys out of the jelly!
  • Messy Play - If you haven’t already, definitely introduce some messy play! You could use shredded paper, ice, homemade play dough (taste safe – there is a recipe on the website), tapioca beads, dyed pasta or rice.

Toy ideas

Three Cylinder Puzzle (UK Link)

Exploring Colour & Sound (UK Link)

Object Permanence box (UK Link / US Link)

Ball Run (UK Link / US Link)

Shape Sorter with 2 or 3 shapes (UK Link / US Link)

Pull along toys (UK Link / US Link)

Wooden egg/egg cup (UK Link / US Link)

Wooden Blocks (UK Link / US Link)

Cylinder size sorter (UK Link / US Link)

Wooden Car (UK Link / US Link)

Coin into a slot (UK Link / US Link)

Learning Tiles (Animals (UK & US Link)

12-18 Months

  • Help with the cleaning. Can they use a dustpan and brush to clean the floor? A wet cloth to clean their toys? You could even smear something like Nutella or jam onto toys and give them a bath to make them clean!
  • Card Match - Match physical objects to cards. Can they match the toy cow to the cow picture?
  • Mark Making – Give your child a square of paper and one or two different coloured crayons to mark make.
  • Painting – Use homemade, taste safe paint to make pictures. You could use corn flour/corn starch & water or yogurt and food colouring.
  • Flower arranging – present a vase and some flowers. Allow your child to arrange the flowers however they’d like and display at child height.
  • Dyed rice play – using fine motor skills to scoop up the rice and fill containers or create pictures by moving the rice into different shapes.
  • Lid match – present several different containers such as jam jars. Can they find the correct lid that matches each container?
  • Fill a box – present a variety of small boxes, such as match stick boxes or cereal boxes. Each box should have a different item inside. Allow your child to open each one and explore the contents!
  • Water Painting – Use a wet paint brush on large sheets of coloured paper to ‘paint’ a picture.
  • Kitchen helper – using a kitchen helper to help with everyday tasks such as washing up, preparing vegetables, baking bread. 

Toy ideas

Pre Writing Tablet (UK Link)

Spiral Tracing Board (UK Link)

Lacing Toy (UK Link)

Wooden sorting tray (UK Link)

Nesting dolls (UK Link / US Link)

Colour Mixing & Exploring Sensory Blocks (UK Link)

Stacking toys (UK Link / US Link)

Multiple shape sorter (UK Link / US Link)

Hammer Bench (UK Link / US Link)

Finger Puppets (UK Link / US Link)

Jack in the Box (UK Link / US Link)

Nuts and bolts (UK Link / US Link)

Stacking train (UK Link / US Link)

Cleaning Station (UK Link / US Link)

Independent book nook/reading shelf (Link)

Large Ball Run (UK Link / US Link)

Cognitive shape puzzle (UK Link / US Link)

Door Puzzle (UK Link / US Link)

Learning Tiles - Colours (UK & US Link)

18-24 Months

  • Nature hunt – explore things in your natural environment. Collect different coloured leaves, collect pine cones and conkers. Look for minibeasts
  • Threading beads – thread beads onto  a string.
  • Matching socks – Can they put together pairs of socks.
  • Every day helper – poor their own water, clean an apple, peeling an egg, wash the car. Can they help with everyday tasks in their own age appropriate way?
  • Draw and paint on an easel. Copy pictures. Decorate pictures by sticking leaves or tissue paper.
  • Doll play – can they use self-care techniques such as washing babies face and hair?
  • Bowling skittles – stand a few bottles up and provide a ball to knock them over.
  • Ride on toys – balance on a balance bike or make use of your local play area for swings and rocking toys.
  • Chalk – draw on the pavement with chalk.
  • Planting seeds – head into the garden and plant some seeds or flowers.
  • Sand & Water play – make sand castles in a sand pit, practice pouring water.
  • Sensory activities – Oobleck play, dyed rice or pasta play, chia seed slime.
  • Reading links – Read a story and find related objects. Such as, can we find an animal figure that was in our book? Can we find something the same colour as the characters t-shirt?

Toy ideas

Pre Writing Tablet (UK Link)

Spiral Tracing Board (UK Link)

Solid Wood Montessori Letter Tracing Boards (UK Link)

Tens counting frame (UK Link)

Stacking By Colour, Shape & Size (UK Link)

Complex Peg Puzzle (UK Link)

Domino Puzzle (UK Link)

Buckles & Zips toy (UK Link / US Link)

Wooden construction vehicles (UK Link / US Link)

Peg & Ring matching activity (UK Link / US Link)

Magnetic animals or letters (UK Link / US Link)

Balancing toys (UK Link / US Link)

Balance board (UK Link / US Link)

Pikler (UK Link-* / US Link)

Locks & Matching keys (UK Link / US Link)

My first jigsaw puzzle (UK Link / US Link)

Grimms rainbow stacker (UK Link / US Link)

Easel (UK Link / US Link)

Colour sorting rings (UK Link / US Link)

Knob puzzles (UK Link / US Link)

Learning Tiles - Land & Water Formations (UK / US Link)

Ideas for Children Over 2 Years 

(We are working to update this section, so please bare with us as we continue gathering the necessary links!) 

Full Set of Realistic Wooden Animal Figures (UK Link / US Link)

Exploring Countries Flashcards (UK Link)

Exploring How food grows (UK Link)

Exploring Animals (UK Link)

Developing Memory through Matching (UK Link)

Recognising Number (UK Link)

The Montessori Family Subscription Box service packed full of Montessori aligned resources. (Link)

I hope, whatever age your child is, you have found something which will inspire you! If you have tried any other activities or purchased any other toys, please drop me a message in the comments box below and I will be sure to add them to the list. Also, if you have any photos of your little one taking part in any of these (or any other!) activities, head on over to our Facebook group and show us. We are a rapidly growing friendly group and would love to see your beautiful pictures!

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

Thursday, 5 November 2020

Read all about it!

 My top Montessori books and why you NEED to read them!

There are so many incredible books out there, so I thought I would do a roundup of my favourites. All of these are great reads and really helped me along my Montessori journey. I know, like every other parent out there, our spare time is limited and therefore a huge list of books is simply unrealistic. We just don't have time to read them! 

So, I thought I would share with you my top three. I feel that these contain most of the information you would need to begin using Montessori principles and hopefully it is a manageable amount that everyone can find the time to read, even if it takes a few months! 

Please note: I have no affiliation with any of these books or authors. They are simply books I have read and enjoyed. This is my own opinion. 

1 - The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies. 

You can find this book here. (Click for the UK link or the USA link). Please note cover art may differ from that shown depending on edition and country.

This was the first Montessori book I ever read and it was truly eye opening. There were so many 'Yes!' moments along the way and I couldn't believe that everyone wasn't doing this. It just made so much sense! 

What I loved about this book was that it began with an introduction into the mind of the toddler. This was truly eye opening for me. When I read it, Arlo was just beginning to reach that toddler stage and so I was seeing some of the things she mentioned on a daily basis. One example, was the concept of throwing food onto the floor from a high chair. This was something Arlo did every meal time and I have to admit, I was beginning to reach a level of frustration with it. Not because of the mess, but because I knew it was his way of trying to communicate or develop something, but I had no clue what that was. Simone lead me on a journey of discovery which let me see how toddlers view the world. In doing so, I could understand that it wasn't about the food. It was about the satisfying reaction when it hit the floor, the texture in his fingers, the safety of knowing the same thing will happen time and time again. 

This book also gives a rundown of the history of Montessori, along with every scenario you are likely to encounter in daily life and how best to deal with them from 'tantrums' to potty training. It truly was the best book I have read and this list wouldn't be complete without it.

Bottom Line - If you are looking to explore the ideology and principles behind Montessori as well as some hints and tips to organise your day, this is the one for you. 

2 - How To Raise An Amazing Child the Montessori Way- Tim Seldin

 You can find this book here. (Click for the UK link or the USA link). Please note cover art may differ from that shown depending on edition and country.

This book was such a pleasure to read. I really appreciated its 'straight talking' approach. It cut through the nonsense and didn't tiptoe around the issue. For example, the chapter on managing tantrums begins by quite simply stating that during tantrums both child and adult can lose control. The child is struggling with emotions, the adult is struggling with perhaps embarrassment if you're in a public place or frustration at not having the answer. Ultimately, however, one of you has to be the adult and deal with the situation. I just loved this! I loved that this book gave clear, simple and easy to follow advice that I could begin to implement right away. 

Another plus is the bright and engaging photos which shows children participating in many different Montessori activities and self care actions. I found them to be really helpful in knowing exactly what my own set up should look like. 

It also includes a list of suggested activities for children of different ages from birth right the way up to 4 years. An invaluable tool. 

I really enjoyed this one and I hope you do too! 

Bottom Line - Simone's book shares a lot of the philosophy and ideology behind the Montessori approach, but if you are looking for a straight forward 'instruction manual' on how to Montessori, this one is definitely the one for you. 

3 - The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori. 

You can find this book here. (Click for the UK link or the USA link). Please note cover art may differ from that shown depending on edition and country.

No list would be complete without this addition from the lady herself! This book was written by Maria Montessori, the founder of Montessori principles, way back in 1912. I am going to be honest and say this is not a book for the faint of heart. It is quite technical in places and unlikely to give you a breath of relief if you have a spare five minutes to sit with a coffee during naptime, however it explains everything in such depth it would be remiss of me not to include it here. 

Maria Montessori lays out the reasoning behind the principles in a factual and evidence based way. Although it does use some technical language, everything is explained well and it is easy to follow. In reality, we will pick and choose the pieces of information that is relevant to us here. Some chapters in fact you may want to skip entirely, but I do recommend you stick with it as there are useful tidbits on every page. 

I really enjoyed how this book divides each chapter into manageable chunks, meaning I can quickly sneak a page or two in when I have a second without having to commit to hundreds of pages. Furthermore, the inclusion of scientific studies and exactly where the information in the Montessori method came from are invaluable. 

Bottom Line - If you are looking to hear about Montessori from the creator herself and have the time to process the more complex information, this is definitely an interesting and purposeful read. 

So, that's it! My three all time favourite Montessori must reads. If you have read and enjoyed any other books, drop 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. 

Benedykt and Sylvester

Benedykt and Sylvester is a small British business run by Brittany, a Montessori Mum to Benedykt, 4, Sylvester, 2 and baby Otylia.  After be...