Playing Catch Up

There's one thing that sets children ages 0-3 apart from children in all other Montessori age groups, and it's been throwing me for a loop recently:


I spent almost two hours observing through a one-way window in my son's Toddler Community.  What I saw was amazing.  And disconcerting.

Because the environment I worked so hard to set up for my one-year old just a few months back?  Yeah, completely useless now.

My baby, the one who was content shaking a maraca or drooling over a plastic lion, is now a capable almost-two-year-old who makes his own orange juice, slices cucumbers, washes dishes, paints, draws, pastes, sews, strings beads... The list is endless!

The Montessori mommy part of me is excited at the thought of re-vamping our space to make way for Practical Life activities, but the Montessori teacher part of me knows the hard work that is involved in the creation, rotation, and upkeep of said activities.  *deep breaths*

With Thanksgiving vacation around the corner, I'm going to make it my mission to slowly introduce new activities in our home.  I promise to make time to share them here!

trayFirst step: buy trays.  Like the Primary environment, all activities are kept on color-coded trays.  Unlike Primary, the activities are often performed within the trays.  So, say the child is juicing oranges.  The juicer, orange, bowl for the fruit,  pitcher and sponge would all stay within the tray as the child works.  The trays should have handles on the sides for easy gripping and transportation.  Thankfully, if you live in the United States you can take care of all your toddler tray needs at Michael's!  Guess where I'll be this weekend?

Unlike they do in the classroom, I'm not going to paint the trays; I'm going to stain them all the same color and then use colored electrical tape to line the exterior and a matching oilcloth rectangle to line the interior.  This way, I can use the same tray over again for a different activity by simply changing the color coding!  Electrical tape is great for anything that needs color coding: pitchers, buckets, glasses, brush handles, etc.

Second step: make an apron.  Zachary's school uses this one, so I want to make the same model to support his sense of order and help him master one type of apron before moving on to other variations.  I think I have a few yards of oilcloth somewhere, for the apron I was going to make him one year ago...  Add one more project to my ever-growing list of Thanksgiving activities!

So, there you have it - the truth about being a Montessori teacher/mom.  Just because you know how it works doesn't mean you have the bandwidth to keep up.

But I'm trying...



I love this Pilar! I have been feeling exactly the same here at home. We have been going through and weeding out all the things we no longer need and the setup is changing as we go. Daunting? Yes! Worth it? Absolutely! I am trying to work out what we need before Christmas and get things before then, we are also thinking ahead to 2nd birthday and what would be developmentally appropriate. So much to do!
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So, not sure if this will help your stress level, but what we did was have all the items but I didn't put them out due to limited space issue in our small house. I set up the activities when I needed them or when it seemed the girls would use them. This way, they were also part of our kitchen. I wanted to maintain a home rather than a school. So, like you said, juicing and food prep, spooning etc, were all ready and I set it up when they were working on them, then it got cleaned up and put away. It also helped that I could then re-use the same few trays for all activities. Paints and crafts have their own place mats and aprons. I kept other things out like boxes and bottles, puzzles and coloring for them to pick out when they wanted. I just re-did our house this weekend. It was killer. I've been meaning to post a pic from a year ago. Too funny you are going through it too. What was most important to me was their dishes, and cleaning supplies. These are things used all the time, so this made sense to be kept out. After a hair cutting incident in the quiet of a room, I decided those need to be put up away from reach. But, they have toys, games, dress up, trains, music instruments, and other things to play with. The 5 year old now has her shelves with SP letters, mov alphabet, and other math materials. So, it's pretty neat to have transitioned to a whole new level. I'll try and get some pics up soon.
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Jeanne-Marie Paynel

and doing great at it! It is also important to remember that there is already so much to do in the home, that does not always need the formal set-up of his IC environment. Don't stress yourself anymore then you have too.
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