Wednesday, October 24th, 2012 4:02 pm | By Stephanie Woo
Fall is here and we’ve been digging out coats and jackets.
Last year, when I visited a Montessori classroom, I saw the teacher teach the children put their coat on this way. Out of ignorance, I thought it was a little dumb. This year, I realize it is GENIUS. Whoever came up with this method really understands the capacity of a toddler. It is impossible for them to put on their coat one arm at a time, like adults, simply because their arms are too short. But with this method, my kids were able to put on their jackets without help after just a few tries. Watch this:
A few keys:
In order to do this, the jacket has to be placed on a surface.
The inside of the jacket should face up. Position the jacket upside down. Tell your toddler to put the tag next to their stomach.
Teach them to put both arms through the hole
Help them throw it over their head.
It works and they will eventually learn to do it on their own.
Monday, October 22nd, 2012 11:00 am | By Stephanie Woo
At 22 months, Brooke and Mackenzie are finally able to undress and dress themselves completely. They can take off and put on shirts, pants, dresses, socks, shoes and jackets with very little or no help. I have to confess I do help them when I get impatient, which is more often than I’d like to admit! But they’ve demonstrated that given enough time, they can do it all on their own.
I don’t know if your kids are like this, but mine are pretty obsessed with clothing. Since they were six months old, we’ve always kept their clothes on an open, accessible shelf like this. They can come and play with their clothes and shoes as much as they want. They love to watch us get dressed and undressed and doing it themselves. Probably because I’ve given them so much liberty around this, all the practice they’ve gotten has made them very self-sufficient when it comes to clothing.
Right now, this where they get dressed. You can’t see it in the picture, but this is right next to their work area. Getting dressed and undressing is just as interesting to them as using scissors or reading a book (if not more interesting on some days!).
On the top row, you see socks. They are obsessed with socks. On the second row are shirts and dresses. On the bottom row are pants, training pants and diapers. They are pretty much potty trained, but we do put them in diapers if we are going out for more than an hour or at night. And on the floor are their shoes.
I don’t interfere when they dress themselves. This means, on a weekly basis, you’ll find them wearing their pants backwards, two left shoes (from two different pairs of shoes, usually because they are sharing two pairs of shoes), two different colored socks, underwear over their pants, multiple jackets. etc. I think it’s hilarious, but I don’t correct them. If it doesn’t bother them, then it doesn’t bother me. What’s more important is the fact that they are capable of making decisions and following through on those decisions.
The weather just turned cold here in Baltimore so they are starting to put on jackets. I just installed these hooks on the walls for their jackets two days before this video. This is a good example of how we use this space in our home:
In the next post, I’ll show you a GREAT method for toddlers to put on their own jackets. They can’t do it the way we do it because their arms are too short, but wait till you see this!
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