I am taking a moment to say hi and write today. Life has been extremely busy since I got back to work and, although we have a good routine now, we are still struggling to find time for ourselves. We have had a beautiful summer and have been spending most of our time outside enjoying Prince Edward Island, its red sands and beaches, farms, and local businesses. It has truly been a joy to see the girls experience their surroundings and getting to see how their personalities evolve.

Observing the girls has been all the more inspiring. Victoire loves animals in general, and Sixtine has developed a true passion for horses. I believe giving natural learning opportunities is essential to our children’s development.

It’s important to have knowledge of the heart,” he explains. “How do 
you get that? Well, you learn through the soles of your feet, the palms 
of your hands, the seat of your pants. All that knowledge has to pass 
through your heart on the way to the head.
—James Raffan, Historian, Camp Kandalore (Our Kids, 2014)

Sixtine and Victoire love picking up shells and rocks when we go to the beach and they especially love feeling the different textures. Sixtine also enjoys lining them up or studying them with her magnifier.

The book Looking Closely Along The Shore compliments the experience very well. It helped with naming and understanding our findings a little more. Of course, sticker work is always a hit here and our Seasonal Eye Like sticker book has beautiful and realistic pictures which comes particularly handy whenever I need to put together a quick activity.

Sixtine started Montessori school this past winter and they are now closed for the summer. She is enjoying going to a home daycare for the time being where she spends most of her time outside with other children her age and her baby sister.

She will start the “Casa Program” in September on a full-time basis and I am happy to have found such a great school for her to learn, experiment and grow.

However, I have been asking myself a question:

Is Montessori (really) for everyone?

My daughter has a very strong and adventurous personality. She needs to touch, explore and learn freely. I have to admit that I have been asking myself whether a Montessori school would be the best for her or not. I think that (good) Montessori schools are a wonderful learning environment for life but I can’t stop wondering if it actually suits all children, and all personalities.

This has been on my mind for a while and I would love to hear your input / feedback / experience on the matter.

Thank you!

I had been on the look for a very easy bread recipe to try with Sixtine (I have made bread a couple times before and it took so long I found it quite discouraging – we don’t own a machine) when I found the perfect recipe for dinner rolls (suggested by someone on a Facebook group).

I cannot believe how easy and delicious those rolls can be. I made a second batch (by myself this time) tonight and I am starting to think it wasn’t a good idea after all as I have been eating them like there is no tomorrow.

I always make sure to only put the necessary ingredients in front of Sixtine as to not overwhelm her and put them in order of use from left to right. She did an amazing job and we had so much fun. Victoire joined us towards the end (she was napping). It was her first time helping out in the kitchen and she clearly had a blast. It was the perfect occasion to wear her little apron – a great gift from Beth and her family on her first birthday.

Aprons / available here and there

Shot glasses / available here , I use Victoire’s glasses as they are the perfect size!

Recipe for dinner rolls:

  • Mix warm water (please supervise your child accordingly), oil, sugar and yeast; let rest for 10 minutes until yeast activates.
  • Add salt and beaten egg; blend well.
  • Add flour, one cup at a time until soft dough if formed.
  • Knead on a floured surface 5-10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.
  • Shape into small balls (walnut sized) and put into a greased baking pan.
  • Let rise at least 5-10 minutes or until they double in size.
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Do you have a great toddler-friendly recipe for bread (or anything nice and sweet) that you would like to share? Please do!

Life lately : beach bum / creative mind / her first smoothie / smells like summer

Question : What are the pros and cons of siblings room sharing? Thank you and have a great week!

This is a guest post by Amy from Midwest Montessori on Following the child.

 

Follow the child. Possibly one of Maria Montessori’s most renowned phrases. So often repeated, yet so often misunderstood.

I find that when I put the phrase too far in the forefront of my parenting, I am letting myself be overrun by my toddler. And then I am reminded.

“Follow the child, but follow the child as his leader.” – Maria Montessori

Following the child does not mean that we give him free reign of our household. It does not mean that we let them break the rules whenever they please. It does not mean that we cave when our child prefers television over playing outside. Or when they prefer milkshakes to fruit. Or when they don’t want to go to sleep despite being overtired.

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Following the child as their leader requires a deep knowledge about the child’s current and upcoming development. It requires a prepared environment, one that is created with the child in mind: both his development and his interests. It requires respect for the child’s autonomy by providing opportunities for independence. It requires two-way communication between caregiver and child, which most often means lots of observing and decoding on our part.

Following the child means putting our own agenda for our child aside and observing his natural development and interests. I have to remind myself each time I admire Sixtine et Victoire or How We Montessori that I am looking for inspiration, ways to improve our environment, and preparing myself for future stages of Charlotte’s life and that I need not compare my daughter to Sixtine, Victoire, Otis, or Caspar (or Solu, or Kade). Nor do I need to compare myself to their amazing mothers (Deb, Kylie, Junnifa, and Beth). Following the child means following my child—observing her as an individual with needs, desires, and interests that may not always align with what other children are up to.

 

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The goal of Montessori education is not to have the most advanced baby, toddler, child, adolescent, or adult. The goal is to facilitate a natural unfolding of a child’s learning by capitalizing on their natural development (sensitive periods) and interests (following the child). The hope is to keep from stifling the child’s innate desire to learn with our own agendas, benchmarks or milestone expectations.

Montessori is so much more than a set of materials, it is a way of life. I recently wrote about what I consider the most important aspects of Montessori in the home, and following the child should be added to that list.

In the past year I have learned how much smoother our life goes when I choose to follow my child. Like when…

-          I tried to night wean until I realized that nursing her once in the night helped us both sleep better and made days so much better. Eventually she showed me when she was ready to night wean.

-          I anticipated her interest in her object permanence box for nearly 6 months before she tried it out. She taught me that she had other things to work on (gross motor development) before she was ready for it. Just when I thought she would never progress in this area she started putting the ball in the hole over and over and over one day (at 11 months). The next day she tried out her single shape puzzle. She knew when she was ready.

-          I watched her take one or two spoonfuls of pureed food for a few weeks before I figured out she was more interested in soft finger foods. She wanted to feed herself. Eventually decided she was ready spoonfuls of applesauce, hummus, and guacamole and now she even tries to feed herself with her spoon and fork.

-          She began to resist diaper and clothing changes until I realized she wanted more of a hand in the process. Now our diaper and clothing changing areas are on the floor (at her level) and involve more collaboration.

-          She showed so much interest in my car keys that my mother-in-law finally decided to make her a set of her own. She plays with them while we are in the car and has even taught herself how to use the whistle on the keychain.

-          She is naturally drawn to certain toys and materials. She loves her farm animals, her stuffed rabbit, her musical instruments, her bucket, her car keys, and her stacking cups. She has dozens of toys, but when she shows interest in certain ones, she communicates her preferences so I can expand on those elsewhere.

-          Her desire to throw things led us to creating two baskets of objects to throw in our house: soft blocks and soft balls. Now when she shows a desire to throw things we direct her to those, rather than materials she could damage. I love that we can say “yes” to her desire to throw, rather than constantly telling her “no.”

-          She has so much joy when we are outside. Because of this interest, we take child-led walks almost every day. She walks along the sidewalk in front of our house and along our flower garden. She has some garden tools, a walker wagon, a trike and a kiddie pool in the backyard.

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In addition to following our child in these ways, we also try to have our home prepared each day and for each stage she enters. We gather so much inspiration from Deb’s prepared environment for Sixtine and Victoire. Our child friendly spaces include her bedroom and bathroom; our kitchen, dining area, and living room; and our outdoor spaces. Here is a sneak peek into a few of her areas.

Her bedroom

Complete with floor bed, nightstand, low shelves with a few toys, rocking chair for nursing, and a dressing area that encourages independence.

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Charlotte has slept independently in her room since before she was three months old. She has the freedom to get in and out of bed as she pleases, though she seems to stay in bed all night. I love being able to lie next to her and comfort her if I need to and when she falls asleep I can drift away without having to transfer her.

Kitchen and dining area

Fortunately our family is blessed to be able to share three meals a day together, so Charlotte sits with us in her knock-off Tripp Trapp. In the next six months or so, I anticipate removing the bar so that she can start climbing up and down by herself.

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Charlotte also has a weaning chair and table for snacks. Her hand-built kitchenette serves as storage for our daughter’s dishes, as well as a place for her to wash her hands and get a drink, since it has running water. Soon she will be able to practice washing dishes and prepare snacks on it.

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We hoped you enjoyed getting to know our family and our spaces as much as I enjoyed sharing them. We hope to continue following Charlotte as her leaders through our interactions with her and in our preparations for her. Thank you for having me, Deb, and thank you all for reading.

Amy

Links: Blog, Facebook, Instagram

Thank you for letting us into your home Amy. Your family is beautiful and is sure to inspire many other families.

  1. Art memory game used as a matching game at the present time. Sixtine loves the Mona Lisa and a few other beautiful paintings. It is one of her favorite activities right now.
  2. Rubber bands and cork board activity / great for developing fine motor and concentration skills.
  3. Gluing tray / I printed off some real insects pictures and cut them off. I presented the activity by demonstrating slowly how to use the glue and she copied my movements carefully. She was very concentrated!
  4. Charcoal and specialty paper tray. It makes for beautiful artwork!
  5. Pouring water activity / developing the skill of pouring. Sixtine is becoming more and more precise. She knows when to stop and how to position her hands well.
  6. Gardening tools for helping her father in the backyard and vases with freshly picked flowers to decorate her table.
  7. Primary color tablets / sensorial / color discrimination. A lovely gift from our friend Rachael at Little Red Farm.
  8. Spooning beads with wooden spoon / practical life.

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous on the island (PEI,Canada) and we are spending most of our time together outside but these trays have been pretty popular! I am starting to get a bit more comfortable balancing lesson planning and down time so I am hoping to be able to blog a little more from now on. I am also excited to announce there will be a couple guest posts coming up soon on the blog!

Have a beautiful rest of the week and feel free to stay in touch via Facebook or Instagram if you miss us x

Cherishing every minute of every day we have together as I slowly transition from being a stay-at-home mother after over 30 months. The weather has been really nice around here and it has been wonderful. Victoire enjoys riding swings and eating sand very fondly. She also loves flowers and grass.

Sixtine is a whole different child outside. It makes my heart sing to see her so happy and serene. She loves insects, dirt, birds and trees…every little things I wouldn’t notice with my adult eyes. She is in harmony with Nature – or else why would she say Hi to the Sun and bye to the Water?

 

I had been wanting to introduce a new medium for a while and thought clay would be perfect for Sixtine to express her creativity considering she loves molding and touching different textures. I was very inspired by Rachel and Kate’s blog post series. Sixtine was very engaged by this activity and I highly recommend clay as a medium for toddlers. It is a nice change from play dough – it has a different feel, smell, and texture to it.

I would like to apologize for missing in action the past couple weeks. I haven’t had a minute to myself as I have just returned to work (matching nails and stapler to prove it!) and it all happened very quickly. We are all trying to adjust to such a big change in our family routine and it has been exciting but also very challenging. There aren’t enough hours in the day at the present time so I will be posting less frequently until we find a new routine that works well for us. I miss the girls so much during the day but I also enjoy my new position. The hardest part is the breastfeeding situation – Victoire seems to be doing all right and has decided to make up for it at night – but I am very sore during the day!

I hope you stick around until we get settled into a new routine. Until then, have a beautiful weekend, Deb x

 

I was just done running errands when I stumbled upon a flyer for children cooking classes. I thought it was a wonderful idea and decided to sign us up for the next available class which was Spring Flower Fun Foods.

The flyer said: “In today’ class, you and your little chefs will have a blast by helping to create a spring “flower garden” in our kitchen. Your beautiful, edible creations will include Flower-Shaped Cut-Out Sandwiches and yummy Marshmallow Flower Decorated Cupcakes. Gardening never tasted so good!”

Crayons and themed coloring pages were on the table when we first arrived. It allowed for prepping time and waiting for everyone to arrive. Wearing an apron made Sixtine feel right at home and she started to get very excited!

Heather, our Chef for the day is just wonderful with children, not only does she engage the kids very well but Sixtine felt very comfortable with her. I loved the fact that the children were completely involved in the baking and cooking process, and there was never a dull moment! (Plus who doesn’t like to make a mess in someone else’s kitchen!)

While the cupcakes were baking, the children started working on flower-shaped sandwiches which they were allowed to eat right after as well as cut up banana and strawberries. Six really loved making the sandwich, layering each ingredients and naming them as she went.

We both had a lovely Mommy and Daughter time and I highly recommend giving it a try if those classes are available in your area.

Do you ever plan for one-on-one time with your child? What are your favorite things to do together? 

ps: PEI Moms! Classes are available here or you can contact Heather for more information at pccookingschool.charlottetown@loblaw.ca.

ps2: These are iphone pictures. Sorry about quality!

Inspired by Anne and her little Miss E’s play dough activity, I put together a fun little birthday cupcakes station for the girls. How did I not think of it before? These cupcakes have to be the most adorable! Sixtine was wowed and the girls had so much fun playing with these. I used the following recipe. This play dough is really smooth and feels really nice. Anything festive would probably make wonderful loose parts for decorating (we used cupcake liners, decorative toothpicks, candles, sparkles, cut up paper straws…), and of course, baking tools (rolling pin, spatula and so on).

Have a beautiful weekend, Deb x

 

HAPPY EARTH DAY!

We celebrated making bird feeders for all our little visitors. Sixtine has been very interested in them and she was very engaged in this activity.

You will only need three ingredients to make those feeders:

  • 3/4 cup bird seeds
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons of powdered gelatin

How-to: Bring gelatin and water to a simmer in a pan, and stir until completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Add bird seeds. Lay your cookie cutters on wax paper and fill them halfway with mixture. Add your knotted twine and fill the other half of your cookie cutter until it is completely full. They will need to dry overnight so plan for that too (if you can turn them over here and then, that is even better).

It was such a fun activity! I even found out I was allergic to bird seeds! :) We are looking forward to observing birds in the backyard.

Did you celebrate the day? How?!

▴ Happy second’s birthday to an adorable little boy named Quentin!

▴▴ Here is another fun activity around birds with Anne from Itty Bitty Love!

Find original recipe here.