Parent Information

Fatherhood Interview with Chad

For our podcast I did an interview with Chad about fatherhood! Here is what he shared with me about his personal experience about becoming a father and discovering the kind of parent he wanted to be. There is a lot of talk of fathers and mothers and breaking traditional roles and stereotypes. This is a very emotional topic and one that carries centuries of gender-based biases. There are also so many personal, religious, cultural, familiar, and social factors that contribute to the experience of every parent and of course there are all kinds of family models. Chad shares his experience of becoming a father to one child, as a man who is married to a woman (the Montessori Mother, no less 🙂 and who was raised by very strong, Alaskan women. As Chad shared with me, although every parent’s journey is distinct, it is helpful to hear about each other’s experiences and this can affect our understanding of what being a father means to us.


Chad is a Montessori father and teacher for 3-6 year olds. Together he and I run our school and raise our 2-year-old daughter. Chad also guides Fathers’ Meet-Ups, which is what inspired us to do this podcast episode/blog post.

What is Fathers Meet-up?

Once a month on a Saturday fathers come and have a space to interact with their children and we have a discussion, which is optional. Some fathers just want to spend time with their children, which is great. The reason I came up with the idea is because I saw that in our classes there were loads of women who would talk to each other about their experience as parents and as women and how that in many ways helped them. It made me think that fathers don’t really talk about these things. There’s not really a platform where they can feel like they won’t be judged or they can express themselves honestly without hurting someone’s feelings. We have this environment where all different kinds of fathers can share the way they feel about things without fearing someone is going to judge them. Even if they disagree, it’s even better that way because a lot of fathers do have different experiences and can share that and it expands our understanding. 

All fathers are welcome with children from 2 months to 4 years. Some fathers talk about how their religion affects their parenting, but it’s not religion-specific. There is also talk of mothers and wives as well as husbands and partner-fathers, we also have single fathers and co-parenting fathers. It all plays into the idea that we get together and we hear about eachother’s experiences and this can deeply affect our understanding of what kind of fathers we want to be and how we understand what being a father means, particularly to us. 

What changed for you when you became a father?

I think becoming a father opened my eyes a lot –  to the biological truths about ageing, family, the unfairness of how women are treated, and fatherhood. I think it’s made me feel more in-touch with other men. I was raised by only women and I always felt a bit out of place among men. My mom was a tough lady who worked in the oil fields her whole life after she left the army.  She taught me how to use a chainsaw and build houses so I ended up doing a lot of jobs in traditionally male environments for most of my life and I always felt apart, even though I was competent within that world. Becoming a father made me see the parts of me that are masculine and because of that I felt more comfortable in male surroundings and maybe more empathetic to other men and more conscious of what we as men in society really need in order to be more present with our children. 

What to you hope fathers will get out of Fathers Meet-Up?

Having a place where fathers can share their experiences and get or give advice is a very important reason I see to be a part of our group. More importantly, I set this whole thing because so many fathers just don’t have equal time with their children. There are a myriad of reasons, but I like the idea that on a Saturday a father and his child can set out on an adventure across the city and have a place to go that the other partner knows is safe. Everyone who works with children has a different way of doing it and they are all valid as long as they can provide for the child’s mental, emotional, and physical needs. What often happens when both parents are together with the child, or when one parent doesn’t get any alone time with the child, is that the rhythm of one parent begins to control the rhythm of the other parent – or even excludes it unintentionally. So I think it’s vital for a dad and his child to set off into the world, just the two of them, and solve problems as they come. 

What was the best piece of advice you have received from another parent? 

I suppose the best advice that I’ve gotten was from a man who was in the playground by himself with his children and I was talking to him while I was with my child and he expressed to me the idea about the rhythms. He understood later when his child was older that it’s really important to be alone with your child in order to develop communication. He said that a father needs to spend time alone with his children as early as possible. This means that he sometimes has to put his foot down and say, ‘I am a part of my child’s life and that means now, not later when they can talk and play football, but now.’

What is a common misunderstanding about fatherhood and what is the truth that you now know? 

I think this is my experience, I don’t know if it’s everyone’s, but I think that a big myth is that raising children is ‘women’s work.’ We live in a time that is very different from past generations and many fathers are a big part of their children’s lives. However, I see very prevalently in society the belief that men are not natural parents. I’ve seen a woman jump across isles thinking I was going to drop my child. I see women who feel the need to explain how a stroller works to me or whether or not I should consult my child’s mother before I give them ibuprofen. It’s not that women don’t suffer degradation in society, but it’s particularly difficult for men to surpass this misconception that  “mother knows best”. Fathers are often not considered as equal parents with an equal right to make decisions or have their own philosophy for child-raising… [Chad gives several of examples in the podcast about common situations he has heard of and how the father felt when being corrected in those situations]

Maybe it looks easy when a mother does it, but there is no magic “mother’s touch”. It’s not about being a mother. When two human beings suffer through difficulty- and being a child is extremely difficult with a myriad of new experiences – they develop trust with each other and a form of communication that’s only between them. The child understands that they are safe with this person physically and emotionally. Women have the benefit of countless generations who have come before them that cemented this role of motherhood in society. They also passed down tools of how to care for another human being, which many men are not given when they are boys. 

Do you feel like fathers have equal opportunities in education and parenting? What do we need to change to help them be more included? 

I think fathers often don’t have the level of opportunity as mothers do and I think it’s really about time. Many fathers don’t have the particular kind of courage or tact to put their foot down and say ‘I am an equal parent. And while I may not be the only one making the rules of engagement, I won’t be left out of the conversation or subordinated to carrying out orders.’ I don’t know how that comes off, but when you’re a father it does often feel like ‘I just have to carry out what the mother says because mother knows best and I am just kind of here…’ A mother needs support, but a father also has valid input. Once a man has crossed over their line of illumination and their presence in the child’s life becomes vital, a lot of it becomes easier.

I will not listen to what society tells me and I will be present in my child’s daily life somehow…I will do this no matter what anyone else on the planet says. I am my child’s parent for life.” 

Fathers often have a stack of difficulties. Some may only need time alone with their children to figure things out. Sometimes the other partner needs to see things from their point of view and ensure that their own behaviour is not discouraging or disabling that father from being present. Often schedules can be rearranged. [Examples in the podcast]

The priority we give our children now is the priority that they will give us when we are old and we don’t have work or our health and all we have is time.

Parenting is dominated by a feminine aesthetic and it can be intimidating for men to enter that world of holding the baby or of changing diapers or of putting their baby in a carrier and going for a walk quietly. It can make a man feel emasculated or like they’re in a world that they don’t fit into, or they feel awkward in. I don’t think many women are cognisant of the fact that this feminine aesthetic makes men feel out of place. There is a lot behind that psychologically, but the essential point is that a partner who is more comfortable with parenting can maybe try to see things from the other parent’s point of view. Maybe the kind of encouragement that they are trying to give isn’t the right kind. Maybe choosing a different tact in conversing or commenting on how they are with the child could be worked on. 

 How did you learn about what kind of father you wanted to be? 

I never really thought of myself as a father. Maybe in my mid do late twenties I thought it would be cool to have a child, but it was only in passing moments. I think society doesn’t really gear us (men) toward what kind of fathers we want to be, especially not in the way that women are geared towards it. I was raised by women and the closest thing I ever had to a father was Indiana Jones as a kind of childhood idol. So many fathers base their idea of what kind of father they want to be simply on doing the exact opposite than what their father did. We have to think about and be aware of the fact that fatherhood doesn’t really have any good role-models. 

The tools that we need to be a functioning member of our family in today’s world, to care for and encourage another human being, were not given to us. We have to forge them from scratch, from zero, through our own experiences in every moment.

What is the best part of being a father?

I think the best part of being a father – and this is going to sound strange or maybe silly – but when I pick up my daughter from somewhere, she catches sight of me and her whole face lights up and she runs towards me and hugs me, I think something inside me just melts. It kind of feels like all those fears that you are doing something wrong, that every parent goes though, just goes away because you see that your child is happy to see you.

Thank you for reading!

-Katelynn & Chad

Parent Information, The Montessori Method

Language Development

In this blog post you will learn the stages of development for language comprehension and speech from pregnancy to 6 years old; I share some ways to help your child learn and use language by making small changes to every-day interactions; and I reference recent, peer-reviewed studies to answer the main questions I hear from parents:
1. When to children learn to talk?
2. Will having more than one language at home cause speech delays? 
3. My child isn’t talking yet. Should I be worried?
4. How can I teach my child a new language?
5. What is the best way to support language learning in general?
6. Should I try baby sign language?

#1 When do children learn to talk?

ages & stages

  • Research has shown that language learning starts in the womb and could start as early as the 4th month of pregnancy, from the time Baby is able to hear. {1,2}
  • As seen in the guides below, much of language-learning occurs during the pre-linguistic stage from pregnancy to the time child speaks their first, intentional word. 
  • In general, the child says their first word around the age of 1. By the age of 3 the child is able to speak in short sentences. 
  • Some babies may start speaking earlier, and some toddlers may start later. Every child has their own, perfect timing.
  • In the 2nd year of life there is an explosion of language during which the child learns approximately 7-10 new words per day, or 1 new word every 2 waking hours!

For a complete guide of speech development, you can open and print our new language development chart:
0-1 year | 1-6 years | complete 0-6 guide

#2 Will having more than one language at home cause speech delay? 

This is a myth!

  • The saying that teaching a child multiple languages will cause delayed speech is a myth! 
  • In fact, in the first three years of life children can learn multiple languages at the same speed as a child who is only learning one. 
  • There is no limit to the number of languages a child can learn in the first 6 years of life. See #4 How to teach my child a new language below.
  • Having two or more native languages has long been proven to be linked to higher executive function and cognitive abilities. Specifically, multilingualism is linked to longer attention-span, higher task-switching ability, and protection against cognitive decline in old age. {recent peer-reviewed studies: 7, 8}
  • The connection between multiple languages and speech delays may be relevant in combination with other factors such as family history, medical conditions, low parent education, and lack of stimulation. If you are interested in this topic, here are two recent case studies on the risk factors of speech delays. {3, 4}

#3 My child isn’t talking yet. Should I be worried?

  • In the first year of life, the development of language involves mostly learning language comprehension, which is neurological. The development of speech foremost depends on motor ability, which is still developing from 0-2 years old. To produce speech, the child must first have the motor skills to form sounds. Secondly the child requires the neurodevelopment to absorb words and concepts through visual/auditory/sensory information, comprehend and process that information, formulate language in the brain, and ultimately express it. Each of these processes occur in a different area of the brain. {5}
  • I share this with you to show that a child’s first word is a huge task which the child has been working on for nearly their entire life up to that moment.
  • An 18 month-old child may be able to say 1-15 words, but also comprehends 70-100 words as well as grammar, intonation, and “yes”/“no”. 

speech delays

  • If your child is not yet speaking in 3- word sentences by the age of 3, this could a sign of a speech delay. 
  • If your child is over 3 and you are concerned about a speech delay, seek advice from your child’s paediatrician and/or a speech pathologist.
  • If your child is under 3 years old, but you are worried about speech delays, you can have your child’s hearing checked, monitor other developmental milestones, learn ways to support early childhood language development, and speak with your child’s pediatrician. 
  • Many babies and toddlers start speaking later. This is not by itself a sign that something is wrong. However, speech delays are not something to be afraid of. For more information on what a speech delay can indicate and what to expect if your child has a speech delay, here is a helpful parent guide. {6}

#4 How can I teach my child a new language?

one-person-one language

  • In Montessori we aim to support the child’s amazing ability to absorb and learn to perfection multiple language without direct instruction. The rule we follow is one-face-one-language, meaning that each person in the child’s life speaks only one language directly to the child. 
  • In early childhood language is learned through absorption by contact with another person who speaks directly to the learner. 
  • The adult does not need to speak their own native language, but a language they are comfortable speaking and able to speak consistently to the child. Choose the language you want your child to learn from you and use that when you are together. 
  • In groups or family settings where the language is different, you can speak the group language, which is the culturally considerate thing to do. But when you are speaking only to your child, you would switch back to the language you share together.
  • In this way, the child is able to clearly organise and learn the language completely and they are also able to organise and separate languages associated with different people. For example, the child knows that their mother and grandmother call this fruit an apple, and their friends and teacher call this fruit der Apfel.

changing the language you speak to your child

  • If a parent would like to change the primary language they speak with the child, it is possible to switch as long as they are consistent from then on. For example, if a parent has multiple native languages themselves and decides later that they would like to introduce a different language from their partner, it’s not too late!
  • It is best to make this switch as early as possible. 
  • What to expect: 
    > Switching during the pre-linguistic stage, or during the first year of life, is a smooth transition in my experience and in my observations. 
    > If you make the switch after the first year, or during the linguistic stage, it may take several days to a week for both parent and child to adjust. 
    > If your child is over 2 years old and is already in their explosion of language, this change will be more challenging, but it is still possible. 
    > After 6 years old, changing the primary language you speak with your child is not likely to be successful. If you know of a situation when this was possible for a family, please email me! I would love to know more.  
  • To help your child learn this new language, see #5 What is the best way to help my child learn language? below.

See the language development guide for reference of your child’s stage of language-learning.

establish a personal connection to the target language

If you want to teach your child a language which is different from your primary language with them, here are some ideas:

  • Find a class in your area which is taught in the target language: Montessori in English, Ballet in Spanish, Art in French, etc. to normalise the language and allow the child to absorb it naturally in a fun environment. 
  • As often as possible speak to friends, caregivers, other parents, etc. in the target language while the child is present in order to make the target language a normal part of the environment. 
  • Find a babysitter or playgroup leader who speaks the target language, so your child can create a personal connection to the adult speaking the language to them. 
  • Read books in the target language to your little one. 
  • You can read to your child in any language, regardless of what language you usually speak together. The book should be read only in the language it is written in. In this situation, the rule is one-book-one-language.
  • Listen to songs in the target language and have fun singing and dancing together in that language.

#5 What is the best way to support language learning in general?

For specific recommendations for your child’s current stage of development, see the Language Development Guide. Below you will find general recommendations for giving language to toddlers in daily life, in the way you play with your child, and while you are out and about together. 

daily life

  • Use body language when you speak to the child. Get down on their level, make eye contact, and show them what you are talking about. Pause for comprehension, and repeat if needed.
    For example: if you want to ask if they are hungry, bring the snack to them. Get down on their level, make eye contact and ask, “Are you hungry?” Showing them the food. Pause for an answer. “Let’s go eat at the table,” and point to the table.
  • Speak in complete sentences with descriptive vocabulary. For example:
    Say “Have you hurt yourself?” Not “Baby ow?”
  • Instead of “yay” or “uh oh” describe what your baby has done/observed. “You put the ball in the basket!” “Your plate fell on the ground.”
  • Offer choices, even if your child is not speaking yet. They then have the option to speak or point.
    “Do you want milk or water?” “Do you want to take a bath or read a book first?”
  • Add on to the words your child uses, including them in full sentences or offering more information. If your child says, “Outside wet.” You can reply, “Yes, it is wet outside. It’s raining. Can you see the puddles?”

the way you play

  • Use complete and correct names for all items, animals, furniture…
    For example, say “hippopotamus” – not hippo. Say “car” – not beep beep. Say “cylinder” – not circle. Say “cat” – not meow meow.
  • Instead of questions like “What color is this?/What is this animal?” Ask the child to give you the red block or put the giraffe on the table. By responding choosing the item you asked for, you will know if they know the names of the colors, animals, etc. 
  • When reading books or looking at photos, isolate nouns to teach vocabulary. Instead of “this is a squirrel”, just say SQUIRREL and repeat the word one or two times. 

out and about

  • When you go out to do things with your child, to the park, to the zoo, to a cafe, the child is absorbing a lot of language by just watching and listening. You can connect them to these places and aid their learning by discussing their observations.
  • It is not enough just to take the child to interesting places. You have to make the connection so they can learn how to understand and categorise what they see.
  • On a walk, let your child roam free and notice what draws their attention. If they want to stare at a leaf on the ground for five minutes – great! Let’s talk about the leaf. What tree could it have fallen from? Is it whole or broken? What does the leaf tell us about the season?.…
  • Allow your child to be present for and included in conversations between adults.

#6 Baby Sign Language

  • Baby sign language is a great tool for non-verbal babies and toddlers. It also helps verbal toddlers express themselves when they are across the room from you or in situations when they feel shy and prefer not to speak. 
  • You can start from birth or any time after that to use signs for different things. You can use as few or as many as you want.
  • Any sign you use will work, as long as you are consistent with how you use it. 
  • Here is a free, online dictionary which will shows you the signs in many different countries. 
  • As much as possible, use real signs from your country’s dialect of sign language. Let the sign language you use with your little one be a real language you are adding to their life!
  • If your child has their own way of making a sign you use, accept and respond to it, so they know you understand. Continue making the sign in the same way that you taught it to them. This is the way they understand it already and the way they are trying to imitate.

my experience with baby sign language: 

When our daughter was born we started using basic signs: milk, diaper change, I love you… But when our baby was eight months old she started repeating the signs. We were so amazed that we incorporated more and more into our language. She still uses them today in combination with spoken words and we are so happy that she has the ability to express herself when she needs something. 

helpful signs

You can look up signs in different countries with a video dictionary such as

PAINYou can ask the child if they are feeling pain and they can tell you if they have hurt themselves. This is such a relief when baby cannot yet explain to the parent verbally how they feel.Point your index fingers together and twist your writs in opposite directions.
CHANGE (DIAPER)Make two fists and put them together at the palm. Twist your wrists in opposite directions.
EAT/FOODYour child can tell you when they are hungry and you can tell them when it’s time to eat.Bring your fingers and thumb together on your right hand, moving your hand towards and away from your mouth in a short motion.
SLEEPYour child can tell you when they are tired and you can ask them if they want to sleep or relax. Place an open hand on your cheek.
BUMPYour child can tell you if they have fallen down.Make two fists and bump them together at the thumbs.
MILKMake two fists, opening and closing your hands.
WATERPut your first 3 fingers to your chin, holding your thumb and pinkie together, palm facing to the side.
FINISHED/ALL DONEWith two open hands in front of your chest, face them away from you, then turn them towards you.
WORKYour child can tell others that they are busy or that their toy is not available.Make two fists and cross your forearms over one another.
WASH HANDSMove your hands together as if you are washing them.


  1. Language experienced in utero affects vowel perception after birth: a two-country study, USA National Library of Medicine,
  2. Fetal rhythm-based language discrimination: a biomagnetometry study, NeuroReport Health Journal,
  3. An Assessment of Risk Factors of Delayed Speech and Language in Children: A Cross-Sectional Study, USA National Library of Medicine,
  4. Speech and language delay in children: Prevalence and risk factors, USA National Library of Medicine,
  5. What brain regions control our language? And how do we know this? The Conversation Academic Journal,,%20temporal,left%20side%20of%20your%20brain
  6. Language Delays in Toddlers: Information for Parents, Healthy Children Medical Blog by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 
  7. Bilingualism and the Development of Executive Function: The Role of Attention, USA National Library of Medicine,
  8. Positive Cognitive Effects of Bilingualism and Multilingualism on Cerebral Function: a Review, Psychiatric Quarterly Journal,

Thank you for reading!

Classroom Tours

Photo Tour of Montessori Newborn Class

Hello there! I am excited to be able to share this photo tour with you of our Montessori Newborn Class for small babies and their parents. The starting age for this class is 6 weeks – 7 months old from the first day of the term. Newborn Class is offered every Thursday and Friday from 9:30-10:30. You can find more details and join the waiting list at the link above.  

Montessori Classes are child-led so each week is different as the babies’ interests and skills advance. The structure of the class as well as the other students in the group are the same each week to support the child’s need for routine and community.


Your child’s Montessori class starts as soon as you enter the school. 

Parents help the babies come in and lay down on one of our floor-mats or carpets to remove their outside layers of clothing.

2.Montessori Work Cycle

The classroom is fully prepared with educational materials which support every stage of Baby’s motor, visual, and cognitive development. 

Parents decide which movement area to start the work cycle. 

From there, Baby can choose from the available materials or work with a mobile.  

Parents offer only 1 or 2 materials at once, removing materials which are not in use. Baby will indicate which material or area they are interested in exploring by looking or reaching in that direction.

Parents have time to connect with each other, to speak with the Montessori teacher about any questions, and complete their weekly observation worksheet.

The teacher moves around the classroom, working with each baby on different skills that the child is currently focused on learning. 

3. Montessori Snack Time

Babies sit together around a low table. They can sit on the parent’s lap or in cube chairs. 

Every week we explore a new food. Even babies who are not eating yet enjoy watching, touching, and smelling the fruit or vegetable of the week. 

Babies explore tiny cups and silverware and can learn to drink water from a cup if they are interested.

4. Music Circle

During Music Circle we sing in English, German, and any other languages present in the group. Sometimes we use instruments or play silks. 

Babies lay on their back with their feet towards their parent, in a circle. They really enjoy hearing the music and watching you sing and dance. Mobile babies may prefer to lay on their belly and move around during the music. 

At the end of class we sing goodbye to each baby. 🙂

Thank you for reading! 

If you would like to participate in this class in the future, you can join the waiting list HERE! If your baby has not been born yet, you can use your due date and write “Baby” in the Name section.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions! 

– Katelynn

The Montessori Method

SHARING: the Montessori approach

The Montessori environment is a shared space where ALL toys are shared. 

If a child is concentrated on something, it is unavailable to other children.
If an object is not in use, it is available to any child.

The adult sets this limit is a kind, but firm way.

We enforce this limit whether our child is the one who has taken the object or the one who’s object has been taken – whether you are at home or on the playground.

Preventing Conflict

example scenario between toddlers, Sam and Francis

“Sam is using the paints right now. Would you like to use stickers instead?”

“Francis, it looks like Sam is working with that right now. It will be available soon.”

“Sam, are you trying to say this is your work, but it will be available soon?”

“Let’s go wash our hands while we wait for this to become available.”

“Sam, may Francis and I watch you work?”


If a conflict causes a tantrum in either child, we pause to let the child release their emotions about the situation. We let them know we understand how they feel and comfort them. When they are calm we make amends.


“I can’t allow you to take Sam’s work, but I can show you something else that is interesting. ”

“I see that you are upset, Francis. You really want to play with that. It will be available soon.”

“I understand that you are very interested in this, but Sam hasn’t finished yet. We have to return the ball to Sam for now. It will be available soon.”

“Sam, I understand that Francis took your work, but I can’t let you hurt him.”

“I am going to gently take this and return it to Sam.”

when you don’t know who started it: “I can’t allow you to fight over this. I am going to gently remove it and you can both try again later.”

Sharing Between Siblings

shared objects

Between siblings we can follow the same guidelines. If it is in use, it is unavailable. If it is available, either sibling may use the object. 

It is not necessary to buy multiple of everything. 

personal space

It’s nice to have a place in the home which is especially prepared according to each child’s interests, especially for siblings of different ages. They can still venture into either space or use the objects on either shelf when they are available. 

At any age, sometimes a sibling might need alone time. 

“Jamie, it looks like Francis wants to be alone right now.”

“Francis is working at the moment. Let’s come back when he’s available.”

“Francis, are you trying to say that you want to do this alone?”

Thank you for reading!


The Montessori Method

Explaining Death to Children – the Montessori approach

In Montessori we aim to give children the information they need to understand the world at their stage of development, as well as provide the tools they will need to thrive in this world.

When your child asks you about death or they experience the death of something or someone, here are 6 things you can do: be honest, give practical information, read books together, explain any spiritual beliefs without ambiguity, share your feelings, and allow the child to say goodbye.

1. Be honest. 

Explain death in an honest, direct, and non-emotional way. Death is a natural part of life. This is the frame of mind to be in when having discussions with your child about it.

Avoid using phrases like “they left”, “they went to sleep”, “they flew away”. This is misleading because if someone dies they cannot do those things and the child could be confused as to why they don’t just come back or wake up. They may develop fears of sleeping or of loved ones leaving and not coming back.

Until your child asks you for more information, you don’t need to explain why someone died. This can lead to confusion or fear about illness, ageing, accidents, etc. When they do ask for more information, be truthful and factual about what you can share. Avoid general phrases like, “when someone gets old/sick/hurt..” and refer specifically to the reasons why this one animal or person died.

A simple and brief explanation for when an animal or a person dies:

Their body can no longer sleep, eat, walk, or talk. The animal/person does not return. Their body is then buried in the ground (for example) and we keep the memories we had of them when they were alive. 

A simple and brief explanation for when a plant dies: 

The plant can no longer grow. It cannot take water from the soil or make food from the sunlight. When a plant dies it becomes the soil and helps other plants to grow.

2. Give practical opportunities to learn about death and impermanence before it happens.

A glass when it breaks is no longer a glass and the pieces can no longer be used. Every time something breaks without the chance of being repaired is a lesson you can share with your child on impermanence and fragility. It is important to let them know that things breaking is a natural part of life, even when it was an accident. It is not a negative thing or a positive thing. It is just what happens sometimes. Material objects, like our physical bodies, are not as important as the things we do with them while we have them.

If you happen to have plants or pets at home, this is an opportunity to teach your child about physical needs and lifespans. If a plant gets too much water or not enough water they will die. The lifespan of a gerbil is about 2 years. It is our job as caretakers of our plants and pets to take care of them, love them as well as we can to give them a happy life, and enjoy our time with them. This healthy experience with life and death provides a reference for children when facing other kinds of loss.

3. Share age-appropriate books with them about death. 

Even if your child has not known someone who has died, they may already know about death and have questions. Reading books with your child a good way to talk about it and help them understand more. Having them available at the child’s level allows them to open the book and revisit this topic whenever it’s on their mind. Children often want to repeat the same conversations with you about death (or any other topic) to confirm what they know.

The Goodbye Book
Written and illustrated by Todd Parr
view on Amazon HERE

This is a book for young toddlers which could be about death or just the emotions you feel when someone goes away, as it doesn’t mention anything specific about death. It is about a fish in a fishbowl who misses his friend. He is sad at times and happy at other times when he remembers all the fun they had together.

Always Remember
written by Cece Meng, illustrated by Jago
view on Amazon HERE

This book is my favorite of all three of these. It is about an old turtle, who we never meet directly in the story, but we hear about the different things he did during his life and all the ways that his friends will “always remember” him. It is beautifully written and illustrated. 

Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children
Written by Bryan Mellonie, illustrated by Robert Ingpen
view on Amazon HERE

This book is fascinating for older toddlers and preschoolers. It is beautiful and honest. It talks about how death is the natural end to life and describes the lifetime and death of things like plants and insects.

4. Share your spiritual belief about death, if you have one.

When sharing a religious belief with a child, it is important to pair it with the physical explanation of death as well. If you only offer a spiritual explanation about death it can be confusing and even scary to the child who does not yet fully understand the abstract meaning.

5. Share your feelings

When your child shows their emotions regarding death (fear, sadness, confusion, anger, guilt, or no emotion at all) we want to validate and acknowledge their feelings. Talking about the child’s thoughts, translating the child’s emotions into words, and teaching them how to express their feelings in a safe space, are all very important. Offering hugs, giving a pillow to hit when angry, allowing for alone time, having a visual or verbal cue for strong emotions, offering to draw feelings, are possible ways of teaching children how to express their emotions.

EQUALLY IMPORTANT is translating your own feelings and modelling how you process your own grief. It’s okay to cry in front of your child. It’s okay to explain why you are feeling upset. You are showing your child through example that their feelings are real and teaching them how to manage them.

6. Allow your child to say goodbye.

When a person dies funerals or celebrations of life can be overwhelming to a child. In preparation for this, we can explain to them what will happen and what to expect. In addition to this, find a time when the child can say goodbye to the loved one with just you. You can sing a special song, write a note, leave flowers, or some other kind of simple ceremony. 

For pets or plants or even for a bug found outside, the child can be included in a small ritual for saying goodbye if they want to. These experiences all help to normalise death and form a healthy relationship with it.

Personal Note:

This blog post was difficult for me to write, but I am glad that I have done it now. Considering death from a child’s perspective and practicing the ways to discuss it without fear is helping me in my own process of grief and acceptance. I know that I have to do the work to heal my feelings about death first so that I can give my daughter a healthy understanding of this part of life when she starts asking about it.

In 2019 my mother died suddenly at the age of 44. One year later I became pregnant with my first baby, a daughter, who I named Jennifer after my mom. Keeping her memory present in my home and sharing her photos with Jennie is very special and important to me, but it has also been painful and complicated. A book that has given me strength is Motherless Mothers by Hope Edelman. 

I share this because I know that understanding this healthy approach to death is one thing, and putting it into practice is quite another when you have experienced painful losses. I hope that this information will be helpful and that we can become stronger and in turn be better models and teachers to our little ones.

For more information I recommend this blogpost: Helping Young Children Cope with Death: We talk to Lead Guide Jennifer Schwartz about how Montessori education can help young children process the loss of a loved one It shares stories about how children have dealt with loss and how their Montessori teacher supported them through their process of grief. 

Thank you for reading. I hope this post has provided some helpful information. Feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions.

– Katelynn

Classroom Tours, Montessori Materials


Montessori woodworking materials

Montessori Ikea Hacks – part 1 is by far the most popular post on this blog. Since 2019 both our Montessori classroom and my IKEA hacking skills have come a long way, so I am sharing some before and after photos from those original areas posted AND 4 more corners of our school which were made from IKEA furniture. I really love IKEA, can you tell? 🙂

Toddler Woodworking Station

The woodworking station is a special place of pride for our students. Humans have the natural tendency to use tools to do their work. Because of this, the presentations for these materials are very short because children as young as 12 months can use them intuitively. Older children use this area to make their own, small constructions. 🙂


  • Each tool has its own pre-prepared block which fits into the table insert. This keeps the block stable, isolates the difficulty of the tool, and supports the sensitive period for order.
  • The tools are arranged from least to most difficult, bottom to top, right to left. This is useful for a mixed age classroom, or for different-aged siblings using the work station at home.
  • The presentations are hammering nails, wearing goggles, unscrewing screws, cutting soft balsa wood strips with a saw, sanding, and drilling holes. There is a small broom and dustpan available for sweeping up sawdust.
  • Older students usually prefer to work here while sitting in the chair, while babies prefer to sit on the floor or work while standing.
  • We teach safety and respect for the tools by setting limits on how and where they may be used. Safety goggles are available and the tools may be used with or without them. We don’t use gloves in this area because they get in the way of the child’s precision.

HOW TO MAKE (photos linked)

Work blocks, table insert, and balsa-wood sawing dowels are homemade by Chad, woodworker. and Montessori guide. Custom orders can be made to

Toddler Library

Montessori toddler library with reading bench and bookshelves

This library is a simple, cozy place, bright with natural light, where children can easily choose their books and read them. They love to sit on the reading bench. The little table and chair is also available because it’s more comfortable to read large books there.


  • Avoid layering the books so they don’t fall down when the child chooses them. 
  • Limit the number of books on the shelves, keeping the rest on your adult bookshelf or put away. 
  • Rotation: keep the child’s favourite books on the shelf. Switch out books which are not often read or damaged books. 
  • Hang the shelves at the child’s level, very low to the ground, so that they can reach even the top shelf. 
  • If you have vintage books or treasured books that the child can only read together with you, keep these on a higher shelf within the child’s view so they can let you know whenever they want to read it.
  • Model respect for books by handling them very carefully and not setting them on the floor.
  • Try to read only one book at a time, putting them back on the shelf after looking at them. This helps to support concentration.

HOW TO MAKE (photos linked)

Plant Care Areas

Having living plants at home teaches children how to care for living things which are smaller than them. They learn about the different needs of plants and the benefits and consequences of how their needs are met. If the plant is watered well and kept in the light, it will flourish. If it is watered too much or too little, it will die. 

A plant and watering can is a great gift for a child. They can even pick out their own special plant at the store or grow it up themselves from a seed. The plant table is a special place where the plant lives and where you keep the watering can and towel. 


  • Fill the watering can yourself and invite the child to watch you water the plant. 
  • Slowly pour half the water into the soil, using two hands. 
  • Set the watering can down on the table and invite the child to try. The child will then water the plant or possibly spill on the floor or try to drink the water. This is okay because they are learning! 
  • Use the sponge or towel to wipe up the spill. 
  • Invite the child to re-fill the pitcher of water by themselves. If the child is still not walking yet, fill the pitcher again for them with a very small amount of water from another pitcher which is kept at your height.

HOW TO MAKE (photos linked)

Parent & Child Dressing Area

A child-sized dressing area helps children to be responsible for their personal items and practice self-dressing. This area includes a child shelf, an adult shelf, adult changing chairs, a child changing bench, and both low and high coat hooks.

HOW TO MAKE (photos linked)


1. Art Area



Montessori toddler art corner with easel, table and chair, wall art, and hand-washing station


  • This easel and clip set up is still the one we use today! The new easel model from IKEA is great in that the height does not need to be modified and the paper roll is easier to use (we have this model at home for our toddler). However, it does not have a tray to hold paint cups. For this reason our trusty IKEA hacked easel is still going strong in our environment and is nearly constantly in use.
  • We have added another chair and table set to this area.
  • The chest of drawers is near the shelf and in its place is a Montessori hand washing station, strategically placed for washing painty hands. 🙂
  • This lamp was replaced for the lovely IKEA FUBBLA lamp. The only drawback with this one is that the button for turning it on and off is very tough and only our 2+ year olds can manage to push it completely.
  • We added a hook to the wall for the apron, so it would not be in the way if a child chooses not to use it.
  • Hidden behind the easel we have a small Tesla tape dispenser to easily hang up wet paintings and tape paper sheets to the easel at the bottom.
  • We have 3 washable Stabilo crayons in a grooved base available now on the tray.
  • In Montessori  also offer 3 colours of paint at a time now, rather than just two. In Montessori Baby Classes we either offer 1 cup of paint or only the crayons.
  • We now use a paper roll which is 60cm wide which covers the entire easel surface, giving the children a larger and more obvious surface to paint on.
  • We changed the old unfinished wooden frames for the plastic FiSKBO frames which are easier to keep clean.

2. Toddler Work Area



Montessori toddler work station with low shelf, table and chair, and music corner


  • These tables had to be replaced after much use and love. We now use the KRITTER tables from IKEA, which have also been shortened to stand at 38cm tall. 
  • The chairs are still the same as we have had since 2018! We have only broken 1 chair out of 15 in all this time!
  • Our wall art is now displayed in the plastic HOSTVA IKEA window frames. They are a little crooked, because we have to drill new holes after them being pulled down so many times. 🙂
  • We have a new music shelf, custom built and painted by Chad (
  • The table and chair set in this area now lives in the middle of the space, with the shelves against the wall. I find this to be more inviting for the children to sit down and work.

3. Self Care Area



Montessori self care area for toddlers


  • We have a different tray which allows me to separate the different materials: trying on sunglasses, wiping nose, and brushing hair. 
  • I have added a sign to the waste basket that reads “dirty tissues”
  • I have added a backpack, a straw hat, and a helmet to the wall hooks to offer more try-on possibilities.
  • I have a larger lotion jar now and a this little round tray to hold its place.

4. Quiet Corner



Montessori quiet corner with toddler library and aquarium


  • In front of the shelf I have added a faux wool carpet, TOFTLUND from IKEA, to make the area cosier.
  • The bead tracker is in a different part of the Montessori Baby Class environment. Now we have here a large ficus plant for the students to water.
  • We have a different armchair from Verbaudet. I sewed the cushion cover from the same animal print textile because I loved it so much. 
  • We have a different ball tracker from Nienhuis now in a different place in the classroom. It its place is the scale and weights from Educo with a mystery box base, custom-made for it by Chad.
  • The books are rotated every term. Now we keep 6 small books in this area, instead of 4. We didn’t have as many books back then. 🙂
  • Under the aquarium we rotate the materials in each class depending on the age group. During Montessori Toddler Classes we keep two 3D puzzles.
  • The art is a print by Monet, available on Wikipedia Commons for free. It is hung in a plastic frame, the RIBBA from IKEA.

5. Newborn Movement Area



Montessori Newborn Movement Area with free movement mat


  • The walker wagon has 4 rice bags which are used to weigh it down so it rolls more slowly. I sewed handles on the bags so that toddlers can practice loading and unloading the wagon when they are in the Maximum Effort stage of development. 
  • We have a new pillow in this area, LEN from IKEA. And I sewed a fuzzy pillowcase for it. This is used in Montessori Toddler Class when children pretend that they are sleeping or decide to lay down for a rest. In the Montessori Newborn Class I remove this pillow for freedom of movement.
  • The visual mobile and materials on the newborn shelf are rotated every term. Currently on the shelf we have basket of balls, basket of brushes, sensory wheel, simple threading work – (bottom), posting sticks, outlet puzzle, transparent lock and key, and wooden blocks – (top).
  • I have added a cloud carpet to the other side of the shelf for babies to work on.
  • A small, plastic FiSKBO frame is hung on the wall with Tesa tape. The art is “Girl with a Watering Can” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, available for free on Wikipedia Commons.

In my blogpost Changes at Home When Your Baby Becomes a Toddler I have shared 3 areas of my daughter’s Montessori home environment, which features the classic functional toddler kitchen IKEA hack.

Thank you for reading!

– Katelynn

Montessori Materials, The Montessori Method

Changes at Home When Your Baby Becomes a Toddler

When our baby turned 15 months old she began showing strong signs of self-affirmation crisis, or in other words, becoming a toddler. It was time to make changes in our home to support her during this new stage of life and change areas to better meet her needs. In this blog post I will share some ages and stages of young toddlers and practical life areas for toddlers at home.

Signs and expressions of self-affirmation: 

  • Walking
  • Increase in tantrums
  • Interest in practical activities/household tasks
  • Resistance getting dressed, changing diaper, brushing teeth, etc.
  • Interest in water
  • Desire to help adults
  • Can follow a 2 step process
  • Can follow simple instructions
  • Strong feelings towards and against things
  • Preference of choosing between two things, even two of the same thing

Definition of self-affirmation crisis:

This is also called the “Opposition Crisis” or mistakingly referred to as the “Terrible Twos”. In a person’s second year of life there is an explosion of language which parallels the self-affirmation crisis. At this moment the child learns his favourite word: “no.” They don’t necessarily say it because they don’t want something, but because they want to be respected as a individual with their own point of view. 

Changes in the child: 

  • The child starts to gain more physical control of themselves and their surroundings.
  • They understand that they are a completely different person from their caregivers and start saying “no!” Children test the limits and seek a deeper understanding.
  • She starts showing more uncertainty and having conflicting ideas and attitudes.
    Due to this humanisation, the child is prone to frustration and bursting into tears.
  • By three years old the ego has been nearly fully formed. By the end of this period the child will use the pronoun “I” instead of “me” or saying his name.
    This signifies the completion of personal boundaries and the beginning of knowledge of the self in contrast to others.

Ideas for changes in the home

The first area we changed was in the bathroom. As discussed in the Toilet Awareness Workshop we added a simple potty, carpet, and sink to the bathroom when Jennie started walking.

Now we added a small mirror, towel hooks, wall art made by Jennie in her Montessori Baby Class, which we placed in a plastic frame. After making these changes Jennie noticed immediately and started to use this area more frequently for its intended function, rather than just exploring it.

Montessori toilet awareness, potty training, toddler bathroom, working sink

The next space was a self-care area in her bedroom. This is a small table made from a cube chair turned on its front. The mirror is stick-on plastic and non-breakable mirror. The blue container is for hair bows and is from Tiger Copenhagen. The wooden tray is from Ikea and keeps tissues for nose wiping. The wall hooks are secondhand from HM Home and the matching bags were made by hand by a friend. We use them for cream, sunglasses, hair clips and hair ties, and a brush and comb. The first day we set it up Jennie was so excited that she spent an hour exploring all these materials. She now uses this space every day. 

Montessori toddler self care area

Finally we made this little kitchen for Jennie which is still in progress. So far she uses it only for drinking water and taking her snacks, but eventually I plan to set it up for simple cooking activities and dish washing work. 

Montessori kitchen, Montessori ikea hack, toddler kitchen, functioning child sink
Montessori kitchen, Montessori ikea hack, toddler kitchen, functioning child sink

The kitchen is from Ikea, bought secondhand. The cutting board was custom made by Chad. The water dispenser is made of plastic and it’s very easy to use. I attached it with velcro stickers so Jennie can easily push the button. I also found these lovely trays which fit perfectly, also at IKEA. The enamel trash can also comes with a cute lid, but it’s too distracting and hard to open for the time-being. On the side I have attached stick-on hooks for her dustpan, broom, mini mop (from Kaufland, no link), and wash cloths. 

Finally I bought a role of adhesive foil on Amazon to add some color to the space. The mat and wall art are both from IKEA. These additions are mainly cosmetic, but making the space beautiful is inviting and attracts the child’s attention. They really appreciate all the little details.

And that is all of Jennie’s new practical life areas at home for the moment now that she’s a big, grown up toddler. 🙂

Final Thoughts 

Since making these changes we have noticed a lot less tantrums and frustration. She is also so proud of herself when she knows where to do things and where the materials go. It was so simple and inexpensive to make these small changes for her and has made a big difference in our daily routine. 

More ways to help children during the self-affirmation crisis:

  • Activities like riding, pushing, jumping encourage their physical development. They provide opportunities for positive output of energy.
  • Offering 2 choices as often as possible helps to resolve and prevent problems without creating strife between child and parent.

    Offer two acceptable choices, for example:
    “Do you want to go to the beach or to the park today?”
    “Do you want eggs or porridge for breakfast?”

    This shows respect to the child because you asked for his opinion.

    2 choices also has the huge advantage of teaching reflection. The child has to consider before he answers. Starting this early helps children to be able to make bigger choices in the future. In situation when there is no possibility for choice, you must be firm and honest. Set the clear limit and enforce it consistently in a loving and respectful manner.

I hope this has been interesting and helpful!

Thank you for reading. 

– Katelynn

Classroom Tours, Montessori Materials

Introducing Montessori Preschool Class!

Example Preschool Environment: Guidepost Montessori

Montessori Preschool Class is a 2 hour weekly class for children 3-6 years old to attend with one parent or caregiver allowing you and your child to learn together and bring the Montessori approach home with you!

The class is based on Dr. Montessori’s Casa Dei Bambini, a primary school which allows young children to fulfil their whole learning potential at this critical age through child-led exploration and a prepared environment.

Our materials allow children to learn writing, reading, math, geography, practical life skills like sewing, cooking, woodworking, and so much more! In every class the children will amaze you at what they are capable of when every opportunity is provided for them. To get a picture of our materials and how the children learn through hands-on experience, see the individual areas of our expanding classroom below!

Our current collection of materials represents an introductory class environment for children 3-4 year old. As these children grow, along with our school, we are increasing our collection. We intend to open the doors to our complete 3-6 classroom in March 2023!

Our teachers are AMI-certified Montessori guides with years of experience and a profound love for each and every student. You can meet our team here

Currently we offer classes ever Monday from 15:00-17:00 and from March 2023 we plan to offer these classes every day! You can join the waiting list and receive updates by filling out this application form!

To learn more about the Montessori Mother Preschool Expansion and get involved you can find full expansion plan HERE!

Sensorial Materials

The Montessori Sensorial materials have been time-tested for over 100 years! They are one of the pillars of the Montessori approach, enabling children to refine all 10 of their senses. 


While the child stacks the 10 blocks to build the timeless Pink Tower, he trains his motor control, his visual precision, and is introduced to the metric rule of 10. The blocks are then used as measuring tools and visual aids for the proceeding materials.

Here is one of our lovely shelves dedicated to sensorial materials.

Writing and Reading

Although in traditional schools children learn to read and write from 6 or 7, we find that the best time for children to teach themselves how to first, write and then, to read, is closer to 3 and 4 years old! From the first sandpaper letters to the grammar analysis materials our students are reading books by 6 years old and they LOVE it. 


A 3.5 year old child starts with a puzzle then uses our wooden letters to match the starting sounds of the words to their letter Peach, Cherry, Watermelon…. Then crafts those letters out of clay or writes them with a water paintbrush onto a chalkboard. A passion for calligraphy and the intrigue of sounds and their symbols continues and grows until the child can write their own name cards to match to their pictures.

Here is one of our shelves dedicated to writing materials where you can see our tracing letters, wooden moveable alphabet (on top) and all of our writing materials. The bottom shelf holds more sensorial materials for refining the tactile and visual senses.


There are SIX groups of math materials in the 3-6 classroom: numbers 1-10, decimals, counting, abstraction, memorisation, and fractions. Starting with understanding quantity and the number symbols, by the end of their time in the Montessori Preschool Classroom, children have learned to divide numbers by the thousands! 

Photo: our shelf dedicated to the introduction to numbers 1-10. As you can see this is just the start of our mathematics area because it is one of the largest and most expensive parts of the primary classroom. Our focus currently is teaching all the students to recognise the numbers and have a strong understanding in concepts of quantity, adding, and subtracting numbers from 0-10. 

Geography and Biology

This is one of my favourite areas of the preschool classroom as our international community includes families from every continent. Children not only learn the countries, continents, landforms, and bodies of water, they learn about the cultures, animals, plants, foods, et cetera which come from each place. 

Example: A three year old child chooses a country from map puzzle and finds it on the globe. Then they find the flag of that country, the corresponding animal replica, name card, landmark replica, and photo of a view of that country. Although they might not have been there, they build a knowledge of that place and a respect for its culture, widening their world view with every minute spend working in this area of their classroom.

We currently have the first globes, maps, and early puzzles in rotation on our shelf, but this is an area I plan to expand on significantly in our classroom and include a geometry cabinet of all kinds of objects and photo cards to be sorted and grouped with the continents, countries, and ocean puzzles.

Practical Life Skills

Practical life is the link to the classroom for toddlers entering the preschool environment. At three years old the children are already familiar with cleaning, cooking, and self care, and this area includes all their favorite materials with an elevated level of challenge. New materials include ironing, polishing silver, sewing, woodworking, tending the garden, grinding spices and making tea, and so many other beautiful activities which allow the child to learn lifelong skills. 

For example: The child knows how to thread beads using a needle – now those skills are elevated to embroidery and perhaps the child will use them to sew a purse or pillow or weave a cloth on the loom. 

The practical life area in our classroom extends throughout our entire school as the children have their own complete kitchen, washroom, woodworking bench, herb garden, cleaning area, self care area, various washing stations, and of course, this shelf of lovely materials. Children can use their materials to polish, sew, wash, grind, grate, braid, screw, spray, and explore their curiosity whenever they want. That’s why this shelf is found right in the middle of the room. 

Art and Music

Our art shelf continues to offer interesting opportunities for children to develop their creativity. We also have a music shelf complete with various instruments. In the future we plan a large expansion of our music area to include materials for learning notation (how to read music) and discern the notes on the scale using their auditory sense.

Food Preparation

Every class children enjoy a meal which they help prepare together. Children can also prepare a snack for themselves or use materials to make clay or pasta. The table is beautifully set by the children with flowers they arrange themselves and the napkins they have ironed and folded. This is perhaps the greatest visual of their great capacity for independence and mutual consideration. 

Our classes are fully equipped in this area already and in the future we plan to set up a full child-sized kitchen complete with countertops, a mini stove and refrigerator. 🙂

Grace and Courtesy

Grace and courtesy is a fundamental concept of Montessori, which is an education for world peace. The activities promote self awareness and social awareness through control of movements and exercises of sound and silence. The two most well known are the ceremony of passing the bell (without making it ring) and walking the line (without faltering). 

Here is the line we’ve set up on our carpet which is home to all of our hellos, goodbyes, and exercises of grace and courtesy. 

& more! 

In addition to all the wonderful areas of our classroom above, we also plan to have the following in our new expanding Montessori environment: 

  • outdoor garden to teach horticulture and give a farm-to-table experience
  • climbing wall for gross motor coordination and spacial awareness
  • water lab for fun and experimentation with volume, pumps, and gravity

The Montessori Movie

Would you like to see a Montessori Preschool in action? This documentary follows a Montessori 3-6 classroom in France for one year and it is truly moving to see what children achieve after just a short time in this beautiful school.

Stream HERE:

Thank you for reading! 

– Katelynn


The photos of our environment are property of Katelynn Johnson. 

Other photo inspiration is property of Guidepost Montessori and Let the Child Be the Guide

Classroom Tours, Montessori Materials

Montessori Materials for Snack Preparation

Our snack preparation area is one of the children’s favorites in our Montessori Toddler and Montessori Baby classes! These materials can be used as early as 14 months up to 3 years old! Find 12 Montessori snack materials for toddlers below, including their presentation descriptions and links where to find all the tools!

Montessori Kitchen Setup

To encourage independence and responsibility, set your little one up for success by preparing a couple of these snack materials every day so your little one can make themselves a snack whenever they feel hungry. Your child can also prepare extras to share with you or a sibling. We also always have our little water dispenser available so the little ones can take a cup of water whenever they feel thirsty. There is just a little bit of water inside. In case it spills everywhere,

only offer as much water as you are willing to clean up afterwards.

Toddler Snack Table

A little snack table is a wonderful addition to the eating area, as little ones can take their work to the table, sit down and prepare their snack, and enjoy it in peace. Of course, when having family meals the child still joins the family table, but this space is for all the times they eat snacks alone. We love our adjustable table and chair set, handmade from beechwood.

Washing Dishes

Of course after enjoying their snack, your little one can help to clean up by putting their trash in the bin and placing their dirty dishes in a box to be cleaned. If you have a learning tower up to your sink, or a little wash station like this one, they can wash up their dishes themselves!

In our classroom the toddlers get water using this pitcher from the sink, fill the basins, wash and dry their dishes, and empty the dirty water into this bucket. They can then carry the bucket to the sink and empty it out again. It seems like a lot of steps, but the toddlers LOVE all this purposeful water work and they also enjoy seeing the result of a dirty to clean dish. This activity builds so much self esteem and is about much more than just washing up their dishes. 🙂 This is a custom wash station built with love by my husband, Chad at Montessori Mother Materials. 🙂

Montessori Snack Materials 1-6

Find the corresponding material presentation descriptions and links below! I tried to find the exact links I used wherever possible, but some materials I purchased a long time ago so I have listed the closet alternative I could find.

EggCrack egg on both sides with pestle, peel, add the bits of shell to mortar, slice egg in egg slicer, spoon onto plate, crush eggshells with pestle, enjoy!Tray
Anti-slip cover
Mini mortar and pestle
Egg slicer
Mini plate 
Mini spoon
Hard-boiled egg
Crackers and Cream CheeseSpread cream cheese onto rice crackers with tiny knife, enjoy!Tray
Blue cutting board
Small glass bowl – filled with 1 cream cheese box
Mini plate 
Spreading knife
2 unflavored rice crackers
Orange JuiceSqueeze halves of mandarins or clementines, pour into fancy cup, enjoyTray
Anti-slip cover
Yellow plastic goblet
Small bowl
1 mandarine (cut in half)
Mini juicer
Mini sponge (moistened)
StrawberriesPluck off leaves, slice in strawberry slicer, spoon into bowl, enjoy!Tray
Red cutting board
Trash cup
Small bowl
Strawberry slicer
Mini spoon
2 strawberries with the leaves on
PeanutsCrack with nutcracker, separate from peels, enjoy!Tray 
Blue cutting board
Small bowl
Trash cup
Wooden nut cracker
A few peanuts in the shell
BlueberriesEnjoy eating blueberries with chopsticksTray
Blue cutting board
Small bowl
Children’s chopsticks
Toddler-sized handful of blueberries

Montessori Snack Materials 7-12

BananaPeel banana, place peels in the trash cup, cut with knife, add to bowl, enjoy with fork, enjoy!Tray
Green cutting board
Green toddler knife
Small bowl
Trash cup
Half banana, cut 3 peel-deep lines along side
Mandarins/ClementinesPeel clementine, place bits of peel in the trash cup, divide into slices, enjoy with a fork!Tray
Anti-slip cover
Small bowl
Trash cup
1 mandarin (with corner pre-cut out)
CucumberPeel cucumber, place peels in the trash bucket, Cut into slices with toddler knife, transfer to bowl, enjoy!Tray
Mini cutting board
Toddler knife
Mini plate 
Trash bucket
Mini peeler
Snack cucumber
CarrotPeel carrot, transfer peels to trash bucket, enjoyTray
Red cutting board
Mini plate 
Red trash bucket
Mini peeler
1 sweet carrot
Tea BrewingCut mint and/or lavender from the gardenWash in the sinkPluck or cut leaves and place into flowered teapotAdd warm waterCount to 10 or 20 with the child to let the tea brewPour into glasses Invite friends to teaTray
Anti-slip cover
Pitcher for tea
3 glasses
small scissors
Tall pitcher of warm water (1/2 hot, 1/2 cold)
Mini sponge
WaterChoose a cup, pour water into small pitcher from dispenser, transfer water into cup, enjoyWater dispenser
Mini pitcher
Mini sponge
Washrag on hook
Mini cups on shelf

Thank you for reading! I hope you found this post interesting and helpful.
Happy snacking!


The Montessori Method

Montessori Sleep: FAQ

A Montessori Sleep Environment for 6+ months

In this blogpost I will be answering these frequently asked questions anonymously and I will give advice based on Montessori theory. This doesn’t mean that it’s the perfect solution for you, every family and every child is unique, but I will do my best to give helpful suggestions and if those suggestions feel right for you, then try them out.

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Sleep is such a personal topic . It is a skill that all children have to learn. The relationship your child has with sleep affects the whole family’s mental and physical health so making changes regarding their sleep situation should involve the whole family. Communicate with each other so that everyone is on the same page and whatever you decide to do is the right solution for everyone, parents and children.

Question 1

My baby is 5 months old. She only falls asleep when I am cuddling with her, not my partner, just me. If I am not there she will cry 95% of the time. What should we do to help her find sleep by herself or with my partner?

  • Children can easily get used to one thing that they need to go to sleep. This can be cuddling with a specific parent, like in the example above, it can also be a pacifier, a lovey, milk… It doesn’t mean that they can’t find rest another way, they just have to re-learn how to sleep without that attachment. Believe in your child that they can do it. 
  • Their whole life they have slept one way, so changing that understanding will take some time. On top of that, they have to process this new information when they are tired and probably when the parent is tired also which makes it even more challenging. Communication, patience, and complete calm are so important in this process. 
  • Make a change that your family has decided on, go to bed early so they haven’t passed exhaustion, and stick to your plan so it doesn’t send mixed/negative messages. You can do this!
  • You can make a plan to take it slow. For example, start with day sleeping, then move to night sleeping. Instead of getting in the bed, sit next to it and offer comfort and closeness this way. Let the child feel all of their feelings about this process without judgement. If there are tears, let them be expressed and show compassion. This is your child’s way of saying “I am tired and I am having a hard time.”

Question 2

How should I set up a Montessori sleeping area?

  • In Montessori we use a low bed or a floor bed which is a mattress on the floor, on a carpet, or on a base which is only slightly higher than the floor. Eventually baby moves to this bed as they transition to independent sleeping. 
  • The sleep area is should be in the darkest, quietest part of the room. 
  • Make the space functional and inviting. 
  • You can keep some books nearby in a basket or on a shelf for reading before bed. There shouldn’t be any noisy or highly stimulating toys in the sleeping area – this is a place of quiet where the child knows they can go if they need to find rest.
A Montessori Cestina (sleeping basket) for babies from birth to rolling

Question 3

How and when should we transition from crib sleeping to toddler bed sleeping?

  • Make this transition when you feel your child is ready and when you are ready to commit to the transition which can take some time.
  • When the child is walking they should be able to get in and out of bed independently. 
  • Step-by-step: Remove the crib and introduce the bed in the same day. You can invite your child to help you or they can observe what you are doing passively. 
  • Talk about how “Your ‘new bed’ is in this box. We are going to open it and put it in your room so you can sleep there.”
  • Say “Goodbye!” to the crib with your child so they have the memory of it being gone.
  • Put the new bed exactly where the crib was before if you can. 
  • On the first few nights, go to bed a little bit earlier and prepare yourself (what you are going to say + your positive attitude) for coming into the room several times before they fall asleep. You will have to remind them that it’s time to rest, go back to bed, and tuck in every time in the exact same way. 🙂
  • Keep a neutral attitude of calm and acceptance. It’s just a new bed, not an overly exciting or a bad thing. This will also help your little one accept it.

Question 4

How and when should we transition from co-sleeping to independent sleeping alone?

  • If this is what your family has decided is best for you, you can make this transition when you are ready to commit to it. It can take some time and no matter when you decide to do this, it will be a learning process for your little one. If your family is happy with co-sleeping and it works for you, then you should continue it! There is no 1 right way to sleep.
  • Explanation: Co-sleeping is family sleeping, so often it’s difficult for the child to learn how to fall asleep when the family is not right by them and that they have their own bed now where they sleep alone. 
  • The first step is to get them their own bed, talk about it, show where they can put their head… “This is your own bed. When you are tired, you can come here and rest.”
  • Don’t get into the bed yourself, because it is a place where only your child sleeps.
  • Start with day sleeping, sitting near the bed if they want closeness. Gradually give more and more space until they are sleeping there fairly comfortably. Use a specific routine before they get into bed to sleep. (For example, lunch, brush teeth, change clothes, read books, sing a special song, give a kiss, then it’s quiet time.)
  • Begin changing the night sleeping by giving information and going to bed early. “Tonight you will sleep in your bed and we will sleep in our bed.” Use the exact same routine as you do before a nap.
  • If they are upset, be their calm and give them the words to explain how they are feeling. “You feel tired right now and it’s hard to get to sleep. I am here for you.”

Question 5

My baby is 13 months old and he wakes up every 2-3 hours. We are a co-sleeping family. How can we help him to have a more normal sleeping pattern? It feels like everything is on pause until we can sleep through the night.

  • The sleep cycles of a child this age should be longer than this so it’s a sign that they are waking up for a reason. 
  • There are many reasons why toddlers could wake up in the night:
  • digestion – their tummy is upset or they have food in their stomach so their rest is not quality
  • they are waking for a bottle (they don’t need to eat at night any more at this point, so slowly give less watered down milk until they no longer feel hungry at night.)
  • they sleep with a pacifier or lovey and it’s fallen out triggering their wake-up response
  • they are feeling discomfort – teething, sickness, overheated, uncomfortable
  • they have had a bad dream
  • they have woken themselves up with their own movements or by the sleep noises and movements of the other people in the bed (If this is the case, perhaps they need their own sleeping space away from the noise and movements of others – which is OK if that’s what they need. There are no rules on where or how to sleep.)
  • I recommend saying ‘goodbye’ to sleep props/associations
  • Communication: Encourage independence by teaching her how to find rest without waking you up. Teach her what you do when you wake up in the night.
    – keep a waterbottle nearby the bed
    – teach her how to flip her pillow over
    – take off socks
    – roll over…

About using a pacifier or other sleeping props:

  • Say ‘goodbye’ in a respectful way. It’s a real and strong attachment your child has, so treat it with love. 
  • After 3 difficult nights, it’s usually over with.
  • If they use the pacifier other than at night, start by using it not using it during the day, then for night sleep, and finally for day sleep. 
  • You can also say goodbye to the pacifier all together at once!

Question 6

My baby is 17 months old. She sleeps alone in her bedroom but the bedroom door is closed so she has to cry to call one of us when she wakes up.  How can we give freedom without creating a bad habit of leaving the room during rest time? At night, would it help if we open his door before we go to bed, so he can go out and find us when we wakes up? How about at nap time?

  • This is a good idea to open the door when it’s time to wake up and let them come out when they are ready.
  • You can also try leaving the door cracked after you say ‘goodnight’ and if they get up, remind them to it’s time for sleep and going back to bed.  See question #3
  • Perhaps you can add a long extension to the door knob so they can open it alone.

Question 7

My son sometimes sleeps either naked or topless when he refuses to put his pyjamas on. I don’t force him to put on his pyjamas if he resists. Should I insist on this as part of the routine? Are there unintended consequences of me agreeing to let him sleep without pyjamas on?

  • This depends on you. If it’s okay for you, then yes. If it’s a limit for you, then no.  Always sleep with some protection like a diaper or training pants. In the summer it’s hot and lots of people don’t wear pyjamas.
  • Personally, I think it’s fine – It’s the child’s choice. Offer them to put on pyjamas and let them decide if they want or not. 

Question 8

My toddler wakes up at 5:30am. Why is he waking up crying?  Why so early? How to help him understand that morning starts at 7.30 and 5.30 is still night? How can we help him to wake up happy saying hello?

  • 6am is a pretty normal time to wake up in the morning for toddlers. Their best sleep usually takes place between 8pm and 6am. 
  • See question #5 for reasons why your toddler might be waking up. 
  • Waking up early could also be part of your child’s bodily rhythm. If possible, prepare the environment so when he wakes up he can prepare himself a snack when he wakes up or play independently. If the environment is safe, it’s okay to say, “I still need to rest. You can relax here with me or you can go prepare some fruit.” 
  • If possible, change your routine to go to sleep earlier and his routine to go to sleep later so you can wake up at the same time. 
A reversible Montessori floor bed (by Montessori Mother Materials)

Question 9

Why does my baby wake up every hour screaming? It’s as if he is afraid of being alone even though he is in a familiar and safe environment and has never had any traumatic experiences around sleep.

  • When a toddler passes out from exhaustion, this sleep will be more restless and involve more wake-ups at night. 
  • Waking up suddenly and crying is a natural response which comes from an instinct to react to threats of danger or being alone. The fear of being alone is a natural fear in all children . It isn’t only a sign of trauma. 
  • Communication before bed “I will be in my bed and come say good morning to you. “ “You woke up and felt worried. I am here for you. Spend time in the bedroom for a while before and after sleep so the room is not only a place of aloneness. 
  • Always be calm and understanding, translate her emotions, meet her where she’s at, let the fear pass for her and keep going with the day. 
  • The child’s emotions are very powerful in the moment, and when the moment has passed the emotion will have passed. Take a step back to observe how they are feeling, help them work through their emotions, and be their calm.

Question 10

We have a night routine and my toddler knows it very well. However, every night is a fight. He’s exhausted because he only sleeps 30 minutes to 1 hour during the day. He wakes every 2-3 hours crying or calls me for cuddles. How can I help him find rest? He is too stressed and so I am. 

  • It sounds like in this situation it becomes very had to manage because both child and parent are exhausted. 
  • Try to go to bed before reaching the point of exhaustion. Try to help them not get overstimulated during the day, which will help him relax at the end of the day. 
  • Crying is a natural form of expression and we can respond to it with 
  • Make sure that all of his sleeping situations are consistent so he can make the associations with where and how to find rest. 
  • If the tantrum every gets to much for you to handle, leave the room for a few minutes. Calm down, listen to a song or drink a cup of tea. Come back and explain “I was feeling overwhelmed and I needed to have a calm moment. I feel better and I am here for you now.”
  • Crying is a normal and healthy form of emotional expression. Be there for your toddler as they release all their emotions. If they push you away, give them space and let them know that you are nearby if they need you. 
  • Every time he wakes up you don’t need to run in straight away. Try to understand the cries and see if he needs something or is afraid. If he’s just woken up and is not really upset, give him a couple of minutes to see if he can get back to sleep by himself. If not, observe how he is feeling + if he needs anything, help him work through his emotions, and be his calm. 

Question 11

How will my child manage to sleep with a caretaker (kita, tagesmutter, babysitter)? What can I do to help?

  • Make sure that both you and your child trust the other carer completely before they start putting them to sleep. If you feel comfortable with the way they are going to put them to sleep, it will help your child to feel secure. You can help them to have success by giving information about your child’s sleep routine. Hopefully in day care they will not insist that the child has to fall asleep at first, but offer quiet rest time. 
  • Sleeping in this new way will become part of their normal daily group routine. Believe in your little one and trust that they can do it. 


At this age babies and toddlers are still not usually sleeping the same way that adults do. We would love for them to, but physically many are still developing the ability to sleep through the night. Sometimes they need help to learn how to get to sleep and how to get back to sleep when they wake up. The key is communicating with your partner, making a plan, and being consistent with your plan. Change, especially around sleep is difficult because the child is having to learn and process information while they are already tired. At first it will be hard but it will get better and you will be able to sleep through the night, at least hopefully, 80 percent of the time. 🙂

All of your had work will pay off and your child will learn how to relax and sleep when they are tired, a skill which will help them their entire life.

Thank you for reading! I hope that you found this interesting and helpful. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. 


Montessori Materials

Montessori Mother | 10 Favorite Things

In this post I am sharing some of the favorite things in our classroom at Montessori Mother ELC, including 5 practical supplies and 5 Montessori materials. I may have been inspired by Oprah’s favorite things, but decided on just ten. 🙂 Some of these links are affiliated with Amazon, but they won’t cost you any extra. They are all links to products I have purchased myself for the school.

– practical items –


This tiny 12pc set of very REAL silverware is what we use when we introduce solid foods to Baby and also what we use with the toddlers until 3. They are the perfect size proportionally for their little hands. The forks and knives are not sharp at all. The sorting tray is a great addition, but you need to paint it with some lacquer or oil to make it washable.


This is the little potty we have at the school which is very low and easy to use for the little ones. It’s also very easy to clean and has a lid that the child enjoys opening and closing. My favorite part is that is doesn’t do anything. It’s simple and functional and looks like an adult toilet.

Paint cups + matching brushes

At the easel I only give one or two colors of paint at a time. The matching cup and brush help the child to know where to put the brush after painting, how to keep the colors separate, and keep the space clean.

Toddler easel

Our easel is a small DIY project where I cut about 20cm off the length of an easel from IKEA, added paper clips to the top, and a stick-on hook for an apron, and pre-cut wide paper.

Cleaning supplies

The matching mops are made by Obi and can be shortened to child-size. The broom set is available in blue, green, or pink. It’s best to have a child-sized version of the cleaning utensils you already use at home so that you and the child can clean up together. All these are hung with metal hooks secured in the wall.

– Montessori materials –

Metal Coinbox

If you save coins when you travel you might already have some large coins to give to your little one to work with. This box is a treasured material in the toddler classroom. I keep large coins (old Deutsche marks) in a basket to the side and have attached the key to the handle with a ribbon so it won’t be lost.

Rubber band board

This is by far one of the most frequented materials in the classroom. The toddlers use it every day. In class I also keep the pegs and rubber bands separated in plastic containers (found at Rossmann) so no younger babies put the little pieces in their mouths.

Counting beads

This is one of the first materials we introduce for counting. You can present it with the beads to the side in a tray or basket. Through experience with this material, the child understands quantity. They learn the numbers through experience with you in the environment.

Introduction to numbers

Here is a discounted version of the Montessori spindle material I found. This should be introduced when your little one can already recognise number symbols. Introduce zero first, and gradually, the following numbers up to nine.

Introduction to writing

If your child is showing an early interest in writing, this material might be something you can use at home. It includes lowercase letters with a grooved inset for tracing with the finger or wooden stylus and an additional fine sand tray for writing the letters. *This is not an official Montessori material and wouldn’t necessarily be used in the classroom.

Thank you for reading! I hope you found this post interesting and helpful!