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Discover the secret of childhood from 0-3 year old:

6-12 months

Our Montessori Home In Baltimore Part II: Where We Eat

Thursday, October 18th, 2012 9:22 am | By Stephanie Woo

To continue the tour of our new Montessori home, here is where we eat.

1. This is the same weaning table we’ve had since they were 6 months old – we’ve gotten more use out of the $150 table than anything else we’ve ever bought for the kids. However, I replaced the heavy armchairs with light slatted chairs. These chairs were designed by Maria Montessori herself. They are made of birch wood, so they are lightweight enough for children to carry, but the design makes them extremely sturdy. I also find them to be beautiful to look at. Email me if you want the name of the carpenter in Denver who made these for me.

2. The cups and pitcher are permanent fixtures on this table. This is where the children get a drink of water during the day.

3. When not in use, we keep this dirty dish basket under the table. After meals, they clean up their own table and put their dishes in here.

4. These are their placemats. I’ve pre-drawn outlines of plate, bowl, fork and knife on a piece of paper, then laminated it. This great Montessori trick makes it so easy for little ones to set their own table. When they’re setting the table, you’ll see them point at the outline of the fork and say, “Fork,” then go to the cart to get a fork, and then point of the outline of the plate and say, “Plate,” then get one, etc. It’s like a great little cheat-sheet! I highly-recommend it. Takes about 5 minutes to make and costs very little. You can see how the children use it in the video below.

5. Here are their bowls, plates, fork and spoon. I keep the fork and spoon in separate containers.

6. These towels are used for their mouth, hands and for wiping up spills. The little hoops I’ve sewn onto the towel makes it really easy for them to hang on hooks. This tip I learned in my Montesorri training has saved me thousands of paper towels.

7. This little basket holds two sponges, which they use for wiping their mat. You can see them using it in this video here

8. This rolling cart is light, takes up very little floor space and can be moved around easily.

In order for you to get an idea of how we use this space, here is a video of the children making a smoothie, setting the table, then sitting down to eat their breakfast.

Before we start, here are the ingredients we use in the smoothie. Putting out each ingredient in individual containers makes it possible for children to make this smoothie on their own.

 Here we go!

If you’re interested in making fresh sunflower seed milk, here’s a great video. It’s super easy. And instead of using Brazil nut, like he does in the video, I use cashews or sunflower seeds: http://livingmaxwell.com/how-to-make-nut-milk

Our Montessori Home in Baltimore, MD

Monday, October 15th, 2012 2:34 pm | By Stephanie Woo

After a month of designing, purchasing and experimenting, I’m finally happy with the Montessori design of our new home.

When we first moved in, Mark and I agreed that the thick, dark-green carpeting in the living room had to go immediately. Within a week, Mark had put in brand-new laminate wood flooring. It cost less than $300 and completely transformed and uplifted the energy of the house! (Home Depot and a handy husband is all it takes, my friends). We then agreed that since the children will be spending the most time at home, we would set up their work space here on the first floor in the living room.

I’m so glad Mark and I are on the same page about our children: their education is our priority and you can see it when you come to our home.

Here are a few pictures of the children’s new work space:

On the other side of the room is my favorite thing of all – a child-sized sink that my husband designed and built! It is both luxurious (because so few homes have it) AND oh-so necessary (I never have to lift them up to the sink, press their stomach into the cold ledge of the sink and then hurry them through the whole washing process again!). Powered by a pump, it runs water up from a container through the faucet and then drains back down into the same container.

Here are some pictures of my amazing husband at work:

This is a standard sink from Home Depot, which Mark sawed down to size. Here he is installing the faucet. A goose-neck faucet makes it possible for children to fill up watering cans or pitchers at the sink.

He puts plumber’s putty around the drain ring in order to secure it to the sink

This container is from a fishing and marine store. For convenience’s sake, the water comes out of here and drains back here. We change it daily, which is simple to do.

You can’t see the pump, but once it’s plugged in, all you have to do is turn on the faucet and it works!

If you are in our neighborhood or passing through Baltimore, come for a visit! And bring the little ones to come and play with us!

In upcoming posts, I’ll be showing you the other areas in our home, including where we get dressed and where we eat. Stay tuned!

We Don’t Share

Monday, October 15th, 2012 11:19 am | By Stephanie Woo


Brooke and her stroller

You know how when two children play together, the toy someone else is playing is always the BEST toy in the room? This is when I always hear parents and caretakers tell their children, “Sweetheart, you have to SHARE.”

Imagine this: you’re at dinner at a beautiful restaurant with your partner and two friends. The food comes and everyone starts enjoying the food in front of them. Then your partner turns, nudges you and says, “Honey, you should share your food with your friends.” How does that make you feel? Depending on the day, I can imagine I would have any or all of these responses, including “What, why? It’s MY food.” “Why do I have to share? Why don’t you share YOUR food?” and flat-out “um, NO.” Frankly, everyone else at the table would consider your partner to be nothing but plain rude. As adults, we respect someone’s right to share. We value sharing when it comes from within. If you have to ask someone to share, it’s not really sharing.

That’s why you never hear the word “share” in our house.

Two weeks ago, Mackenzie was playing with a toy stroller and Brooke wanted it. I heard the screaming and found Mackenzie holding onto the stroller while Brooke was trying to yank it out of her sister’s hands.  I got down to their eye-level, turned to Brooke and said, “Brooke, can you say, ‘Mackenzie, when you are finished, can I play with it?’” I gave Brooke 1 or 2 words at a time so she can repeat them after me. Then I turned to Mackenzie and said, “Mackenzie, when you are finished, can Brooke play with it?” She nods yes.

Brooke still wanted it and tried to take it from Mackenzie, I said, “Mackenzie is not finished playing yet. You can play with it when she is finished. Do you want to read a book or listen to music?” Brooke lets it go and goes to play with something else.

Five minutes go by. Brooke is upstairs. Mackenzie climbs up the stairs pulling the stroller behind her saying, “Brooke! Brooke!” She’s done playing with it and she’s ready to pass it on!

We’ve been doing this ever since they’ve started fighting over toys, maybe 4-5 months ago. This is the most effective communication tool I’ve experienced with toddlers. Speak their language and toddlers can be so reasonable it would surprise you. The next time Brooke is playing with something, she knows she will receive the same courtesy: she gets to play with the toy to her heart’s content and no one else can play with it till she is done. When a child knows this, she will have all the patience in the world to wait her turn.