22-24 months, 24-28 months

Autumn fun — a bumper crop of apple works

apple face

It’s Halloween day, which I’m trying to convince myself does NOT signal the end of autumn, and the start of…that other season. With warnings of wet flurries tonight, it’s been a real challenge.

I thought I’d round up some of the apple and harvest-themed work we’ve been up to over the past month or so, before it’s too late. Apples are a wonderful cold-storage fruit too, so the fun with local apples can continue all winter long.

apple picking

Apple Picking

We are really blessed to live in a bit of an apple belt (there’s a local stretch of country roads labelled as “The Apple Route” if themed road trips are your thing), and there are a number of orchards around that are available for picking-your-own. This was our second year going, and it’s becoming a really sweet tradition. It really helps to set the scene early in the season, so that J can grasp where these apples are coming from. It’s also an affordable way of stocking up for all the apple fun to come. Plus, apples grow really low. Like, toddler height, for instance.

apple peeling

Apple Peeling

We were given an apple peeler last Christmas by an old friend and it has turned out to be one of our most-loved gifts. Jasper is becoming more and more adept at turning the crank, but even as a younger toddler, we’d do it hand-over-hand and he loved to watch the apple turn. He loves to eat the ribbons of apple peel that twist off of the peeler. I can see this becoming an independent work within a year or so.

apple cutting wavyapple slicing

Apple Cutting

Our apple peeler also slices the apple into a spiral, which is a great set up for the next work: cutting with a knife and cutting board. When he was younger, we usually used the wavy chopper from Montessori Services, and he’s since moved onto using a small, slightly serrated knife (which is meant to be a cheese knife. Have we talked about cheese knives? They’re toddler-hand-sized and depending on the knife, perfect for either cutting or spreading. Get thee to a thrift store!).

 

apple stamping

Apple Stamping

Jasper has been loving painting these days — at almost any time of the day. Case in point: today he painted before breakfast. Having the paint and paper available on the art shelf at all times has been really allowing him to pursue this love.

A few days ago, we did some apple stamping. Slice an apple in half (in this case, an apple I found on the counter with two small, browning bites out of it), paint the inside, slam it down. Actually, J eventually found that slamming doesn’t actually transfer paint very well.

And bonus pumpkin action! Pumpkin Washing

This is a variation on the watermelon exploration we did in the summer — carrying, measuring and washing a pumpkin. And hey, sometimes those pumpkins can be a bit muddy straight out the patch, so this practical life work can be really practical.

pumpkin washing

Here are a few more apple-themed works from around the web:

How about baking up some tasty apple crisp with your toddler? — from Sixtine et Victoire

Loved this apple pie exploration for a young toddler. — from Welcome to Mommyhood

This genius sensory exploration for even younger toddlers. — from Natural Beach Living

This life cycle of an apple tree project would be nice to combine with an orchard visit.  — from My Montessori Journey

Learning the parts of a fruit. — from The Natural Homeschool

A whole week of apple activities! — from Golden Reflections

Another week of apple fun and a week of pumpkins too! — from Study-at-Home Mama

This idea for an apple-tasting is great for pre-schoolers. — from Natural Beach Living

For older kids: apple tree art — from Hip Homeschool Moms

pumpkin carving

Keep your fingers crossed for warm weather for wee trick-or-treaters tonight! Happy Halloween!

P.S. What are your plans for keeping November from getting too wintery?

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18-21 months, Practical Life

Practical life: pitting cherries

cherries_in_progress

It’s June, and it’s cherry season. Cherries are within the category of produce which I buy only in season; and now is their time.

Last night in the midst of the usual heat, hunger and confusion of the hour-before-supper, I quickly set up an easy practical life activity for Jasper to work on at the kitchen counter while whirled around making pizza dough and chopping topping ingredients (we usually have pizza on Friday nights, but it was just that kind of a Monday). This wonderful cherry-pitter is from For Small Hands, an online/catalogue Montessori-supplies retailer for families.

The presentation was simple — and, in the insanity of the w̶i̶t̶c̶h̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶ pre-dinner hour, necessarily so. A bowl of cherries, a bowl for pitted cherries, and a little dish for stems (the pits are caught in the bottom of the cherry-pitter). One quick presentation, he was off to the races and dessert was taken care of.

cherries_after

Jasper is a big time olive-lover, and this pitter works well for olives too. Save the preserved foods for colder weather, though. For now: it’s all cherries, all the time.

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18-21 months, Family life

Montessori in the home with Ikea

I’m a big believer in the idea that Montessori is for everyone. It’s a philosophy which is ultimately meant to make the world a better place, originally inspired by Maria Montessori’s observations of children who were living in poverty. Unfortunately, Western public education systems are slow to adapt and Montessori has been mostly privately-funded system in North American — meaning that the schools are mainly available to those who can afford to pay out of pocket.

One way to access Montessori is to incorporate it in the home. Whether you work from home or away from home, there are ways to incorporate independence, freedom and grace into the family’s routine.

Montessori materials don’t have to be expensive (public educators, listen up). We’ve had great success with making our home work for Jasper in part with ubiquitous and affordable Ikea materials. All this, and meatballs, too!

Here are a few of our favourites:

latt-childrens-table-and--chairsLATT weaning table & chairs. For under $25 bucks, we bought a mostly-solid wood table & chairs, and cut about 3 1/2 inches off all of the legs to make it the height of this weaning table from Michael Olaf. Bonus: after making the cuts, David sanded down the leftover pieces to make some wooden blocks! We use this table to eating, creating art and work of all kinds. I keep a little adult-sized stool under the table as well to allow Jasper to welcome adults to his table.

agam-junior-chair

AGAM junior stool. We want Jasper to feel independent in being able to join us at the dining table, and free to leave. We also want him to be safe when he’s sitting at a height. We started out using a strap-on booster, and now that he’s a confident climber and has the strength and balance to sit with minimal support, we’re moving on to a junior stool that gets him to the height required.  forsiktig-childrens-stool trogen-footstool

FORSIKTIG and TROGEN step stools. If you have kids in your home, you probably have at least one step stool as well. The Montessori paradigm asks us to think about the world from the child’s point of view. If you can’t bring something (a sink, for instance) to the child, you must bring the child to it. Places to think about using a stool: to climb on to the toilet, in front of the bathroom sink, beside a bedroom door to reach a light switch, as a little bench boots & shoes on and off. And of course, with its handy side-handles, the Trogen makes excellent material for lugging around during the Period of Maximum Effort (you’ll know it when you see it). pokal-snaps-glass

POKAL snaps weaning glass. These glasses are the perfect shape and size for a weaning glass, they are durable and they cost $2.99 for 6. Can’t beat ’em. nackten-bathroom-mat

NACKTEN bath/Montessori work mat. It’s cheap, it’s lightweight, and it rolls easily. Just starting in the past few weeks, Jasper has really been enjoying getting out his mat to use with some materials.

mula-stacking-rings__26095_PE111081_S4

MULA stacking rings. The Mula series is a great collection of wooden toys for babies and toddlers, and the MULA stacker has been in heavy rotation at our place for almost a year now. It’s amazing to watch a child’s development through how they engage with the same material over time. duktig

DUKTIG utensil set. Jasper has a wonderful child-sized kitchen which my Dad built for him as a Christmas present, and which he loves to play with, but we use the durable, stainless-steel parts of this set in the “big kitchen,” where Jasper can use the perfectly-sized whisk to scramble an egg for breakfast. duktig-mini-kitchenDUKTIG mini-kitchen. We don’t actually have this kitchen in our home, but I know it’s a well-loved part of many folks’ child-space (see it in action on Our Montessori Life) . Our home-built kid’s kitchen includes one of the best features about this kitchen — the removable tub that makes the kitchen sink. It can be filled with water real work like for hand- or dish-washing.

For more tips on Montessori in the home, visit the excellent German blog Eltern Vom Mars (Parents From Mars) for a whole series on “Swedish Furniture featuring Montessori.”

Have you found Montessori-friendly materials at Ikea? What is your go-to for affordable Montessori products?

 

 

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