Monday, 8 December 2014

How to: DIY Montessori Placemat

The Montessori placemat is a part of the infant/toddler's practical life materials. The shapes of the bowl, glass and utensils is clear and easy for the toddler to identify. Once the toddler is walking and able to carry objects (i.e. there bowl and cup from their shelf) they can independently set their own table. According to Montessori children aged between 0-3 are in the sensitive period for order and beauty in the environment. It is the adult's responsibility to prepare an environment that allows the child to express this. The children greatly benefit from setting their table and preparing their own snacks. It encourages independence and autonomy in the child as well as improving fine motor skills. 

Here is the required materials list if you missed it:
- Ribbed material for the placemat
(With matching colour thread)
- A second colour material for the utensil patches
(With matching colour thread)
- Child- sized bowl/ plate, cup, and utensils
- Sewing Machine
- Sewing Scissors
- Iron
- Pencil
- Ruler
- Pins

I hope you enjoy this super easy tutorial and have a go at making a placemat for your own child. Have a lovely day!
Nikki xx

Update: Beau enjoying juice and berries using his placemat, and very carefully placing his glass down with lots of concentration.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Beau's Story

The first year of a baby's life flies by so quickly, so for Beau's first year my daughter worked on a project to capture one second of footage everyday starting from his birth and compile it into a time-lapse video. The result was something we could have never expected, it is absolutely beautiful and well worth it!

Here it is, I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Beau's Montessori Room 8 Months

Welcome to baby Beau's Montessori Bedroom! 
Where did we start when creating Beau's (Tiny) room... Well the main idea behind the Montessori infant room is to foster independence.  So with this in mind my daughter and I went to work creating Beau's beautiful space. 

There is a low floor bed for Beau so that he can move freely and safely on and off. In a conventional cot the child relies on the adult to leave his sleeping space whereas a floor bed gives him a choice to leave when he wants without feeling like he's locked in.  I've tried to used natural materials wherever possible and his floor bed is made from organic coconut husk.

There's a large mirror hung low which we purchased from ikea. By viewing his own reflection Beau is not only improving his concentration skills (he will out stare anyone, even himself), he is also improving his ability to move around and manipulate objects by observing his own actions. 

There's a soft floor space. Beau's room was initially my study nook so unfortunately it is a small space, but you make do with what you have and create a space that works for you and your baby. The floor is covered in a ribbed mat and soft sheepskin rug.  When Beau was first learning to leave his bed and venture further across his room the sheepskin rug was an ideal landing space. And the ribbed mat is helping him to grip the floor as he tries to move across it. 

There's a low shelf with educational materials that Beau can see and with some support grab. The materials are ordered, age appropriate and have a purpose. The golden rule with the shelf is less is always best! Beau has a small selection of books, musical instruments and toys that we rotate on a regular basis. I try to also keep the toys in the same place so he is familiar with where to find them and where to return them. Of course, he is not at the stage of returning the materials, but its great to start role modelling this process early on. 

My favourite area in Beau's room is his weaning table and chair where he sits, eats, and plays with his toys. The chair is low to the ground so Beau can sit by himself and will be able to move freely in and out once he starts climbing and crawling. This weaning set we made our selves. Beau loves sitting at his table playing with different materials. He is definitely learning the law of gravity at the table dropping and picking up his toys.
Beau's clothes are stored in a small cupboard which will also be an ideal height for when he is older. At the moment he loves pulling all the clothes out of the drawers.

Things that we are changing in his room....
The shelf is a temporary one we purchased from ikea. I am currently designing a larger shelf to match his chair and table with separate cubicles (6). When Beau starts walking the cubicles will help him access the materials more easily and keep the materials in the right space. I will post the shelf on the blog once its finished. 
I'm looking for a good sturdy pull up bar to go in front of Beaus mirror so that he can practice pulling him self up. I would also like to get some artwork that we can hang low on the walls for him. Another thing that i will do for him when he is a bit bigger will be to get some spice racks from ikea to hang low and display/store his books a bit like here.

I hope you enjoyed and gained some inspiration for your own montessori rooms...

Nikki xx

Friday, 11 July 2014

On Our Shelves at 8 Months

1- Ring Stacker from Beginning Montessori. Beau hasn't mastered this material yet, which should be expected at around 10 months, however he still enjoys pulling off the rings and banging them together, as well as observing the differences in size and colour. 

2- A couple of our favourite books with two ikea 'B' bookends. I've choosen books that are based in reality rather than fantasy. I also limit the number of books on the shelf to make easier to keep it ordered and not too overwhelming of a chose for Beau. The books are rotated weekly.

3- Object Permanence Box from Nienhuis Montessori. This is Beau's favourite at the moment. He has mastered the skill of moving the ball to the hole and letting it fall. This material is designed to help the child's sense of object permanence; the idea that once something can't be seen it has not disappeared forever. In doing so he develops focus and concentration, eye-hand co-ordination and fine motor skills through grasping and releasing.

4- Toy Hammering Block from Ikea. On the website it recommends this toy for children over 18 months however it is safe for him at 8 months as long as he's supervised. After observing an adult use the hammer to bang the pegs he too makes the same motion. 

5- Ball and Bell cylinder from Beginning Montessori.  Beau has enjoyed manipulating the bell cylinder since around 5 months old. The bars are easily grasped by his small fingers and he enjoys banging the cylinder into his opposite hand to make the bells rattle.   Ball Cylinder has been a great toy for developing his muscle strength in his arms as its quite heavy but easy to hold due to the size and distance between the bars. 

6- Handmade Puzzle Ball which was made using this great tutorial from Little Red Farm Montessori. We also added some bells to the centre so that it makes a noise when shaken. The way it is formed makes it easy for the child to hold grasp and pick up.

Nikki xx

Friday, 20 June 2014

Meet Baby Beau & Our Family

Welcome to my new blog... Belle and Beau Montessori. My name is Nikki and I am a Montessori educator and a mother of three amazing children Izabelle, Shanti and Beau. I found Montessori education or should I say it found me when I had just finished my bachelor of Education and my eldest daughter Belle was beginning her first year of primary school over a 11 years ago.
As my teenage girls begin a new chapter in their education (high school & teritary education) I have embarked on motherhood all over again. My gorgeous 7 month old baby boy, Beau has inspired me to start this blog on my journey as a mother who is passionate about Montessori. I have been a Montessori teacher for 11 and half years and love how the philosophy has become a big part of who I am and how I am as a mother and partner. On this blog I will share ways in which we use Montessori principles in the raising of our beautiful Beau from a newborn to a toddler and beyond. I hope you enjoy reading my blog and it inspires a little Montessori in you too!

We are a family of five from Queensland, Australia and my husband is from British Columbia, Canada. We are currently living in Australia but are always back and forth between countries. I am currently a stay-at-home mother but am returning to work in October. My husband has a handyman service in Australia and his own business in Canada. 

In Canada we enjoy spending time camping, going for walks, feeding the birds on the pond, eating out and visiting grandma and grandpa.  In Australia we enjoy going to the beach, waterfalls and markets. Both in Oz and Canada I love to cook healthy organic foods using produce from our own garden and  local organic farmers.

The arrival of Beau has also inspired me to design and make (with the support of my family) children's educational sensory toys, mobiles, books and furniture that are designed with Montessori principles in mind.  Our beautifully hand-crafted weaning chairs and tables will be our first product ready for purchase from own on-line store, which will be up and running in the very near future!

Nikki xx