Montessori at Home

Materials for Montessori-at-Home

The home offers so many opportunities for developmental activities. In this blog post I have recommended different DIY activity ideas and my Amazon material recommendations listed by age. These are all materials that the children use in class which inspire concentration and teach new skills.

0-6 months

How to make your own Montessori mobiles: (free downloadable instructions)

The purpose of Montessori Mobiles is to stimulate sight, hearing, touch, and eye-hand coordination, and to enable the child to discover how he is able to interact with his environment and produce change within it.

You can use this guide to make your own naturally-moving Montessori mobiles out of simple crafting materials. 

If you purchase the Montessori mobiles included in the MontiKids Level 1 Newborn Box, you can get 60,00 euros off with the code MONTESSORIMOTHER.

Montessori Teething and Grasping Toy

This is a favourite baby toy because it is so easy to see and to grasp onto. It also doesn’t roll away as quickly as perfectly round balls so it serves as an inspiration for crawling short distances. (€5,99)

6-16 months

How to make your own Montessori boxes

“Montessori materials do not necessarily have to be purchased at a high price, not even for small children and especially not at home. Some things can also be made very quickly using very simple means, such as this box with a crocheted ball for squeezing into the box. So simple and yet a material that has a lot to offer.” ~ blogpost by Anna, Eltern Vom Mars

3 einfache DIY Montessori-Materialien für Kleinkinder – Eltern Vom Mars

Peg board with rings

Babies love to work with pegs. First they take them out of their holes and eventually they are able to put them back and release using the pincer grasp. I love this material because it offers so many levels of difficulty and can grow with your baby gradually over 12 months. (€24,99)

16 months – 4 years

How to make a DIY gluing box

The Montessori gluing box is a fun activity for toddlers which is about learn glue and a gluing brush. Older toddlers can also make detailed and colourful collages. Here is another DIY guide from Eltern vom Mars which includes a baby-safe recipe for glue.

Ein simples DIY Montessori Klebekästchen und ein Rezept für selbstgemachten, ungiftigen Leim – Eltern Vom Mars

Magnetic Drawing Board

This is one of the top favourite activities in the Montessori baby and toddler class. It gives the opportunity to practice grasping and drawing. They also train eye-hand coordination and concentration by pushing the metal beads down with their pointer finger. (€9,99)

I hope you found this post helpful and interesting!

Montessori at Home, The Montessori Method

Montessori Mixed Age Groups: in school & with siblings at home

toddlers doing practical life work in montessori class

at home

Tips on the Montessori home environment for siblings

  • arrange the environment or play space so that both children can use it at the same time (for example, a movement mat for baby and a table and chair for your older child can be near each other so that they can learn from each other through observation)
  • instead of buying multiple versions of the same thing, teach siblings that if a material is in use, it’s unavailable. It it is not in use, it is available to either sibling
  • if one sibling wants something the other is using, teach them to trade for a reasonable alternative instead of just taking it
  • organise the shelf so that the materials on the lower part are intended for younger siblings, and materials on the top of the shelf are intended for the older siblings
  • keep any small parts in containers which only the older child can open. This is a safety precaution that allows your 3+ child to satisfy their need to work with tiny items and keeps your under 2 child safe
siblings without rivalry montessori book recommendation

Book Recommendation: “Siblings without Rivalry” by Adele Faber

in school

For a school to be considered Montessori, each class must have mixed age groups. Maria Montessori stressed the importance at least a 3 year age difference in a class (3-6, 6-9, and 9-12 years). In 0-3 we separate the classes from 2-16 months and 16 months to 3 years because the big changes the child goes through in the first years of life require differently prepared the environments.

toddler doing coinbox material work at montessori table in class

why a mixed age group is the best way to support learning and growth

1. each child is in one area the teacher and in another, the learner

Mixed-age groups are the ideal platform for learning responsible behaviour and mutual respect. Everyone is at some point the smallest or the largest, sometimes the strong or the weak, the person seeking help, or the helper. In Montessori young children grow up caring for each other and nurturing their self-esteem, self-confidence, and respect and empathy for others.

In Montessori children can strengthen their knowledge by demonstrating or communicating it to others. Younger also seem to be most at ease when surrounded by older children and enjoy learning from them by observing them with silent fascination.

2. every child has room to grow at their own pace

Having all the materials within the age group available at the child’s level, allows them to advance onto the next challenge when they are ready. It also makes it possible for them to follow their interest and advance in their strongest areas, while still being able to enjoy learning in others which are more challenging. Because teachers do not have to set the instruction pace by a whole group, each child is given the ability to learn at his or her own pace in every aspect of their development. 

3. it allows for cooperation over comparison

When there is an age difference, older and younger children are able to work together to achieve a goal and solve problems. When every child is expected to be at the same stage in their development, it opens the door for competition. No longer do we see each child’s individual skills and abilities, we see which child can do the same thing better and faster.  Children will help each other when cleaning up after work, putting things away, caring for the environment, and caring for each other. 

toddler choosing wall art in montessori class

the big picture

This relationship of mutual care and respect, of self awareness, and awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of others make Montessori mixed-age classrooms the ideal place for learning peaceful conflict resolution.

The Montessori approach is an Education for Peace and mixed age groups is its cornerstone.

– all photos by Natalia Smirnova

Montessori at Home, The Montessori Method

Montessori Food Q+A

Montessori weaning in the parent-infant class
Snack time in the Montessori Baby Class where babies enjoy food together and parents learn about Montessori-style weaning.

This blog post is common question and answer style discussion about Montessori Weaning, food-related difficulties with toddlers, play food, and links to a great Montessori mealtime set. I hope you find it very practical and helpful! 

1 | Montessori Weaning

“How does Montessori weaning work?”

Montessori weaning is a child-led approach to the transition from milk to solid foods. We use real, child-sized dishes, glasses, and cutlery to make their experience similar to they way they see us eat. A great place to introduce Baby’s first food is at the family table during a family meal. After you start introducing solid foods, your baby will decide how fast or slow you change to eating food all the time. Start a meal with the food you have chosen, and finish the meal with milk. Gradually baby will take more solid food and less milk until they are completely weaned.

“When should we introduce solid foods?”

In Montessori we follow the child’s interest and natural path of development. Baby’s interest in food sparks around 6 months old. They will start to reach for food at the table, to watch with fascination while you are eating. They have probably had their first tooth and they will be sitting comfortably with support. This is a great time to start introducing new flavours and drinking water from an open glass.

“What are some good 1st foods?”

What you give as your baby’s first food is up to you, your culture, and their interest. You can give juices, broths, soft solid vegetables, soft fruits, purees, or tastes of what you are eating during family meals.

babies eating bread and strawberries at Montessori weaning table
These babies have the choice between strawberries and soft bread.

2 | Refusing food

“My child just isn’t interested in food!”

There are multiple reasons why children refuse foods. Sometimes they don’t feel hungry; sometimes they are too tired/overstimulated/not feeling well and will prefer milk. Having scheduled mealtimes also makes a big difference because your child can feel when it’s time to eat based on your daily routine and prepare themselves.

Starting each meal/snack time with 2 solid food options allows the child to choose which food they want to eat and how much. You can finish each meal with milk to make sure that they get all the nutrition that they need. If they have refused a food, have patience, stay positive, and keep offering different options. If you are concerned about how much your child is eating, please speak with your paediatrician.

toddler eats at Montessori table
A toddler enjoying strawberries during snack time, which he cut for himself in Montessori Toddler Class.

3 | Family Meals

“My child doesn’t want to sit at the table.”

First you should set the general expectation that when we eat, we eat at the table. If they are hungry, I promise that they will sit with you and eat. When they are done and they want to leave the table, put the food away together. Do not to continue to feed them or give snacks while they walk around. This is distracting and it sends the mixed message that food comes to them and they can eat it wherever they like. Remember to have patience and stay positive. 🙂 You are the parent and you are setting a kind, but firm limit.

“My toddler wants me to play with him during meal times.”

Family meals give babies a lot of information and language. They should be able to participate as an equal member of the family by having a place for themselves at the table – to join you in eating or just observing. If they want to go play after they have finished eating, that’s fine, but you also need to finish your mealtime. You can let your little one know that after you have finished and cleaned up you will be happy to play with him, but at the moment it’s meal time so they are welcome to sit with you at the table or play in their space until you are able to join them.

Our adjustable weaning table by Community Playthings and handmade cube chairs by Montessori Mother Materials

4 | Throwing food

“What should I do when my child throws food?”

If you are trying to feed your child and they are throwing food, maybe they are not hungry enough to eat right now or they have finished their food. If they have finished eating, they we should set the example that throwing food isn’t appropriate by removing the food and cleaning up together. If they are not hungry, you can try again to sit down an eat in 30 minutes.  Make sure to give at least two options with meals so they can decide which food they want to eat.

Snack table in our Montessori Toddler Class

5 | Using real food + dishes

“Why don’t you use toy food in Montessori?”

In Montessori we always give real objects so that children can have their own experiences and learn about real life. Toddlers are fascinated by cooking and eating, something that they have observed adults doing for their whole lives and they are even more interested when they have the opportunity to do it themselves. So instead of a wooden banana with velcro, give them a real banana and a dull knife (link below) and they can cut it themselves and prepare their own snack!

How great is it that when they feel hungry they can know where to go and what to do to feed themselves. As long as you prepare a space for them in the kitchen where they can do this easily and safely, they won’t have to ask an adult each time they feel a bit peckish. They can meet their own need until the family mealtime. You can start doing this with simple snacks as soon as your little one is walking-around 16 months. Just empty out a low cabinet or shelf and put there a little try or box with one favourite snack in it that they are allowed to take and eat at any time. It helps if they have their own little table nearby where they can sit, prepare, and enjoy it as well.

“Why do you give real glasses and plates to babies?”

We always use real cups, dishes, and cutlery with our babies and toddlers in Montessori. Using plastic spoons and dishes and water bottles is not necessary. We should trust the child enough to  allow them the same pleasant experience we expect when eat. 

6 | A Montessori Mealtime Set

Montessori at Home

How to set up a Montessori play area at home (from birth to 3 years)

What are the reasons for using Montessori education at home?

1.Our absolute main goal is to support the child’s mental and physical development. First we are aware of what the child’s needs are, and then we prepare the space for them, so that they can follow their natural path of development with everything in their environment is available to them to use to meet each developmental need. 

2. Understanding the child also makes parenting them more peaceful and more joyous because it takes away our struggles and frustration of every-day tasks like getting dressed, going off to sleep, etc 

3. At home, you are often able to allow your child to have more control over their learning than they have at school. When children have more control over their learning, they are able to face challenges, grow their creativity, and become more resilient. They have to be self-aware, resourceful, and confident in their capabilities in order to solve their own problems. 

4. Finally, Montessori is an education for life and gives children a love for learning so that they can succeed in every other area of their life. 

Parts of the Montessori 0-3 Environment

When we talk about the home environment from 0-3, we are looking at 4 general zones of the child’s space. They are the sleep, care, food, and movement areas. In this blogpost, we are going  to focus mostly on the movement area because that’s usually what people think about when we talk about Montessori and the other areas can be different for every family.

The toddler (5m-walking) play area includes…

· low, light-weight table and chairsprovides a comfortable place where the child can focus on their work
· cleaning suppliesteaches responsibility and allows child to do practical life work
· toddler shelf with 6-10 materials organises the toddler’s materials for most success
· easelprovides a comfortable place for artistic expression
· access to water sourceallows the toddler basic access to drinking water and water for practical life (just a small amount)
· plant with watering canteaches how to care for nature
· 3-8 books on a low Montessori bookshelf or basketchild can grow a love for reading
· wall art hung at eye levelbeautifies the space + gives visual information
· reading loungegives the child a comfortable place to enjoy their books

The baby (5m-walking) play area includes…

· larger movement mat or regular carpetallows Baby to move freely, easily, and safely
· mirror on the wall with pull-up barprovides motivations and opportunities to stand
· low shelf with 6-8 materials organises Baby’s materials for maximum success
· push wagonallows Baby to walk independently and practice balance
· tactile mobilestrains the grasp and supports concentration
· plant with small watering pitcherteaches how to care for nature
· 3 books on a low Montessori bookshelf or basketchild can grow a love for reading
· wall art hung near to floorbeautifies the space + gives visual information
· place to climbstairs, a Pikler triangle, or bridge offer a defined climbing area

The newborn (0-5m) play area includes…

· firm movement matallows Baby to move freely, easily, and safely
· low horizontal mirrorgives visual feedback on movements; allows Baby to see more of the environment
· low shelf with 3-6 materials or booksprovides motivation to crawl
· visual mobilesgives gentle stimulation and supports visual development
Montikids $50 off code: MONTESSORIMOTHER
· plantshares an appreciation for life and nature
· wall art hung near to floorbeautifies the space + gives visual information

I hope you found this helpful and interesting! I will go more into detail about materials and other zones of the environment in separate blogposts.

Montessori at Home, Montessori Materials

15 Montessori gifts for 0-3

Here are 5 Montessori gifts for newborns, babies, and toddlers that are perfect for Christmas, Chanukah, birthdays, or just because!

I hope this list will make getting gifts for your little ones this year a bit easier – whether you’re looking for your own child or your relatives are wondering what to buy for them.

These Montessori materials, furniture, and non-toxic toys range in price from 6 to 240 € and are made by various brands in Germany, France, and Sweden. I have separated them into three age groups: newborn (0-6m), baby (6-14m), and toddler (14-36m)

Gifts for newborns 0-6 months

MUNARI MOBILE

The first Montessori material from birth is the Munari mobile. Its high contrast colour allows Baby to focus on it. The geometric elements are designed with specific proportions that ignite a child’s inherent mathematical sense. It moves naturally with the air in the room so that it’s slow enough for their eyes to follow, which gradually improves their ability to shift focus between distances. Hang 30 cm from the movement mat.

TOPPONCINO

A topponcino is a thin mattress used for holding and carrying newborns. It supports them when relatives or siblings are holding them. It keeps the familiar smell of the parents and eases transitions from person to person/place to place. Time-tested design by Maria Montessori.

BEST TEETHER EVER

This ball is great for grasping, teething, and playing. It can also be cooled in the refrigerator to soothe Baby’s gums.

MOVEMENT MAT

Movement is an essential factor for intellectual growth. Freedom of movement is Baby’s time to have their own experiences using all of their senses and make their own discoveries. The Montessori movement mat allows Baby to move freely in a place where view of the space is not obstructed by any walls or bars.

WOBBLE TOY

This toy wobbles slowly back and forth and is a motivation to Baby to reach out and start to crawl. It’s small enough for them to grab and it also makes a soft sound when the yellow ball moves from side to side.

Gifts for babies 6-16 months

ELECTRIC PIANO

This tiny piano has a beautiful and realistic sound. It also has an on/off switch. My little ones in the Montessori Baby class love playing the piano we have in the music area. This is a nice way to make creating and enjoying music a part of your child’s every day life.

PUSH TOY

This is such a fun material that babies can use successfully and toddlers also enjoy. The balls have to be pushed down so it trains their finger strength, grasp and release, and sense of object permanence.

BALL TRACKER

The tracker is an amazing Montessori material for integrating the left and right hemispheres of the brain, which supports movement and crawling. It also trains their grasp and release and balance. *photo by Eltern vom Mars*

RINGS ON DOWEL

A ring on dowel activity is a critical material for babies. It’s something that they can use for a long time with multiple levels of difficulty. First with a single large wooden ring, and gradually they work up to using a basket of these 4 small rings to the side.

PEG AND RING BOARD

This is a great toy which can be used in so many ways as Baby grows. The first presentation is as a simple pegging activity with 2-4 of the pegs in the board, on the shelf. The final presentation is a colour-matching activity with all the pegs and rings in two separate baskets on the side.

Gifts for toddlers 16 -36 months

TOOL BOX

Toddlers love learning about tools. Teaching them how to use a saw, hammer, clamp, manual drill, screwdriver… is a lifelong skill that they can do successfully and independently from two years old! It’s amazing how much children are capable of when they have the right tools. The Haba Terra tools are good quality, child-sized, and most importantly, real.

BUY ON AMAZON:

MONTESSORI RADIO

Hoerbert plays screen-free music that the child can choose for themselves. You can also program white noise, audiobooks, and entire playlists into the buttons through their easy application. This is a fantastic way to include multiple languages in your child’s environment as well if each button has songs or stories in a different language.

WATERING CAN + PLANT

Toddlers love caring for the environment. Giving them their own plant to love and water and clean is a beautiful way to support their sense of responsibility, respect for life, and self esteem. Water is also a huge point of interest right now and they LOVE to pour, so make sure that you buy a plant which can take a lot of water. 🙂

CRINKLE CUTTER

It’s such a boost to a toddler’s self esteem when they can prepare a snack for themselves, therefor fulfilling one of their basic needs independently. Cutting a banana or other soft fruits+veggies is a safe and easy activity that you can keep available for your little one at all times in the kitchen for when they feel like having a snack. Invite your toddler to help you chop ingredients for meals. This teaches life skills and includes them as a contributing member for the family. 🙂

THREADING ACTIVITY

Threading is another activity which grows with your little one as their fine motor skills develop. This beautiful set comes with 18 wooden beads. When you first introduce this toy around 14 months, you can start with just the thread and 2 beads. Slowly add more and more. You can also use them for color sorting activities! Suggestion: when your toddler is able to have success using the wooden threading needle, change it out for a long thicker shoe lace for a new challenge.

More gift ideas…