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I have 2 that I have read a while ago, but while rearranging my shelves, I stumbled upon, and couldn’t  not reopen them.

These books are introductory books for the Montessori pedagogy.  But even though I am passed this, I am still happy to have them on my shelves.

THE WORLD OF THE CHILD

this book is written by ALine D. Wolf.

It is a fable for parents, to try to put them in their’s child’s shoes.  A daddy, that is not very patient, while being at fair with his family, goes into a weird house, where everything is oversized for him, and he is treated with no reagards over this situation.  He finally understand what it is being a child is in this world which is often not tailored to their needs.

It is very short, 50 pages, with images, and big writing.  You can easily go through this in one sitting.

but for a parent who has not been made aware, it carries a very powerful message.  Definelty a book that stays on my shelves for the days where I have a hard time understanding my kids…

A PARENT’S GUIDE TO THE MONTESSORI CLASSROOM

Again, a book by Mrs Wolf

THis book is meant to be an introduction for parents who are about to send their child to a Montessori school.  It is a soft cover book of again about 50 pages resuming what happens in a classroom.  It is heavily illustrated with pictures of the material and a short explaination of how it works.

A great ressource for parents who are not familiar with the method and who wants to know what their kids are doing all day long in school, and be able to discuss with their kids about their day and the work they did (and actually understand…).  I have to admit that being a visual person, while I was trying to introduced myself to the method, when I was reading  about a piece of material, and I was having a hard time picturing it, it really did help.  And the bonus with this, DS LOVES to look at it.  He still does regularly, and talk with us about what he has done at school with the material that he sees being pictured.  This has  been a started for some great conversations with him.

After opening it to take a pic, he couldn’t actually put it down, He went through it again, from front to back!

So overall, 2 books aimed at the people that are not familiar with the Montessori method, but in which I have found great information.

Yesterday, I was working on adding some links that I readily need and use throughout this time of preparation of becoming a homeschooling mom using the Montessori method.

As I was browsing to get all the links I needed, I stumbled on a post that answer a question that I threw out there in the blogging world no longer then last week: How much is too much?, is it possible to have too much in the Montessori method, or does the fact that “freedom of choice for the child” , which is an important part of the Montessori method makes us have to overlook this question, and just provide them with the most at one given time?  I searched and ponder over this question for quite some time.  I asked questions to people who have influenced me into the Montessorian world, but I had not yet found the answer that made it click for me.

And THIS did it. I can totally relate to this post.  entirely.  My answer is now clear.  Too  much IS possible and a dangerous (and possible) downside to it if one isn’t being careful, and isn’t educated enough on the method itself.

I have a dual experience right now trying to dive into the homeschooling Montessori world : because I am a bilingual speaking person…

In english, the ressources are indeed overflowing and it is easy to become overwhelmed.  This was what triggered this question that I had: how much is too much?

I am a firm believer that clutter, and materialism is poisoning our everyday life.  And after reading this book:

it just confirmed what I always felt about the topic.  Granted, this book is fuelled more by the Waldorfian method and philosophy, but I think that many things said in this book does have an importance in childrearing, wheter method you choose to follow.

My reaserches on the Montessorian philosophy and method has help me find TONS of material, some good, and some not as good once you clearly understand the true purpose of the Montessori method.  Montessori has been used largely as a caracteristic of any educational activity, whether it IS indeed related to the Montessori method or not.  And it becomes quite easy to get overwhelmed (mind and enviromenet) with all of it, which is exactly what I DO NOT want.

Maria Montessori really stresses about the importance of the environement, and one of the caracteristic were that the said environement needs to be clean and inviting.  For me, there is nothing less inviting then clutter.

But part of my question still remain.  How to decide what is good and what is not?  How much is too much?  Even if you use only the basic and most true Montessori material there is, there is still a LOT of it.

I have started to read this book a few weeks ago:

It is, I think, the french version of “the Montessori Method”.  It covers the topics of how things worked in the Casa Dei Bambini.  And yesterday, I had a little time to really make my way through it a bit more.  And this also constituted the remaining part of the answer to my question.

In the first chapters, Dr Montessori says this: “Nous nous sommes tous trompé en croyant que l’enfant riche en jouet, riche en aide devait être plus développé.  La multitude désordonné d’objet aggrave, au contraire, l’état de son âme en semant un nouveau chaos.  Elle l’opprime en le décourageant.” pp.89-90

My free translation of this is:  We all made a mistake thinking that the child that is rich in toys and help would be more developped.  The abundance of material worsen his soul by creating a new chaos.  It dishearten them.

There, she said it itself. 😉

And yesterday night, while going through the chapters about practical life, senseorial and part of language, I noticed something.  What she talks about it the bare minimum.  And I think, from her recollections of the event she presents in her book, that this is what the children indeed HAD.

PRactical life were not shelves full of trays containing activities waiting to be chosen and used.  It was the way of life.  It was being done all the time, incorporated in every action of the children.  They were cleaning themselves up before entering the school (clothes and body…) and then taking care of the environement before starting the activities:  cleaning the table that needed washing, removing the dust that was covering a shelf, cleaning a plate that was forgetten, watering the plants, using technics that were taught to them beforehand, with material that was made according to their sizes.  The practice of these activity was to truly make it, everyday, all the time, when needed…  So the material needed for this was what you need to run an household.

Sensorial material was rather basic, and a big part of the school, at least for a while.  Educating the senses was the biggest achievment that they were working on.

Sensorial material consisted of this:

-Knob cylinders

-All the blocks (red rods, brown stairs, and pink tower)

-The 3 sets of colored tablets

-The touch tablets

-The baric tablets

-The thermic bottles

-Forms to be discovered by touch (mystery bags that can be used with geometric forms, but also anything that is small enough…)

-Taste bottle

-something that is the equivalent to the smell bottles

-sound boxes

and the Geometric cabinet with the 3 sets of cards

that was it.  The kids worked with that, finding extensions by themselves, and making the best out of this material.

I am supposing that at this point she didn’t have more because of a comment she made in her language chapter.  She was basically saying that the parents started asking her to teach the children to read and write.  She finally decided to go on with this, but waited at the beginning of the next school year to start at the same time as the children that were being educated in the common schools.  She ended up not being able to make it by her deadline of october, as her material was not ready.  So clearly, this was not available to the kids right away, and the Casa was not equipped with language material until later.

When she did start to have material to learn to read and write she had this made:

-Sandpaper letters

-Movable alphabet as we know it

-The digraph sandpaper letters

-The metal insets

-Some paper with phonetic words written on it.

-Various objects to write their names with the movable alphabets (which were initially made with paper!) which is basically nomenclature.

reading per se came a little later.

and again, that is it.

The children had enough to work on that for a while, and become better at what they did then their commonly educated pears.

THis is what those kids worked with, and they obvioulsy didn’t need more then that.  This kinda sets a limit for me, or at least shows me that really is important as far as material, and letting the child develop their imagination in using the material differently, but for a logical and educational purpose, one that we might even never have tought about.

I think this sets the tone for what I need to have an how to work with them.  There are tons of wonderful material out there, and marvelous ideas.  But I will start small, and add as we go, clutter, and overwhelming being my guide as where to go with the material.  I think that instinctly, I have already been working this way, the material I own and currently am making is all in these lists (I have yet to read the math part…) and I will not rush to print out and lamintate anything until these basics things are on my shelves.  Then, we will see.  I will follow the child…After all this is what she always said was important…

And now, about my french speaking experience…It is totally different than the previous I just described. ENTIRELY!

The author says that in her time, material was harder to come by, and you needed to really be creative and think what you did through: this I totally get. As much as the information is overflowing in english, and you can find the complete pink blue and green set at many places,it is not the case for french speaking people.  No albums that  I currently know of are available, and the material is definitly not as easily findable as it is in the english speaking world, whether you pay or not for it, and what you find is really basic. It got me a  little frustrated at first to really have such a hard time finding french material all ready to work with at the end of a click, whereas it was so easy with english stuff, but this has led me to a lenghty discussion with myself and the realization that more is not better, even in the Montessori pedagogy. This is indeed asking me a little more creativity and I realize that I do have to think my strategy beforehand.  Whereas when the material is readily available, you can just download, laminate, and cut,and voila, it is ready to be presented to the child.  However, when the material is harder to come by, you have to create it, whether you were inspired by somebody else, and it takes a lot more time to put it all together so forget about having a lot…what you have needs to be used at it’s entire potential, and this requires a little more planning, and long term strategy.

So my conclusion to all of this:  Well thoughts activities that are presented in a logical way, and at a perfect timing will bring us a longer way then having all the material in the world at arm’s reach.

I am still reading to find out more about the method and the logical sequence behind it all.  But the more I read, and the more I find that things are settling into their places.  I cannot say that I think Dr. Montessori was a great writer, sometimes her book are really heavy to read, but they are still the place where I find the best answers to my questions…along with some great post from more experienced Montessorians…

This was an easy project.

I bought 2 boxes that are stackable (easier to store…) at a dollar store.  Granted, they were 3 bucks each, but hey, that is 6 bucks.  Then, I used the little pieces of scrap wood that remained from making the ten and teen boards, and used those to create the separations in the box.

I had DH cut them really tight, and he glued them with carpenter’s glue (this is quickly becoming a must in here!)

Then I used some chipboard numbers, the same I have used for the number and counters.  Painted them black, and glued them with…yes, carpenter’s glue…( did I mention this thing is wonderful??).

Finally at that same dollar store, I bought 2 packs of wooden dowels. Never thought I would find that there, but it was in the craft aisle.  I had DH cut them at the same time as the wooden separations, so it didn’t ask too much of him 😉  .  I sanded the edge to make them more polished, and nicer to handle…and voilà.

The box was already coated with some varnish, but I didn,t do anything on the separations, and the spindles.  I could have, but we are rather environmentally mindful here, and the less toxic product around my kids and my house, the best.

I have pondered for a while as how to make those.  Why didn’t I use plastic?  Because we don’t have much of that in the house.  It would have certainly cut my production price, but we really do try to make environmental choices, and plastics have been, as much as humanly possible, thrown out the door.

So it must have cost me 8 $ total, the boxes being the most expensive items here, and it totally does the trick 🙂

I think it is a wonderful project to start yourself on.  Fast, and easy.

Hope that helps!

THis is a new activity that I have introduced recently to my kid, and they just loved it.  They cannot get over this experiment, as we call it, and are more often then not begging for more

Here is how it works:

Each child is given a bucket of water with some material to “test”

they drop an item into the bowl, and see whether this item will float or fall right in the bottom of the bowl

then, they put the item onto a laminated sheet of paper, according to the result of their test

lamination is kinda of a must here 😉

This thing is a hit!  Even with my 4 1/2 yo.

Les tables de Séguin sont utilisées pour apprendre les chiffres de 10-99.  Ça nécessite 4 plaques (2 pour les chiffres de 10-19 et 2 pour les chiffres de 10-90).

J’ai trouvé, dans un magasin de matériel artistique des planches de pin déjà sablées en petit format, donc plus facilement manipulable.  Elles ont été coupée pour former les planchettes.  (16 pouces par environ 4 1/2) .  J’ai également acheté des baguettes de bois (dans un magasin de rénovation) de 1/4 de pouce pour faire les séparations.  J’ai collé celles-ci avec de la colle de menuisier, ça fait un très bon travail.

Finalement j’ai déniché des étiquettes de bois, encore une fois au magasin de matériel artisanale qui ferait l’affaire pour les chiffres qui s’utilise avec les tables.  Un petit coup de sableuse et le tour est joué

Voilà le résultat pour l’instant:

ne reste qu’à peindre les chiffres sur les tables ainsi que sur les cartes, et donner un petit coup de vernis sur le tout.  A date, je suis vraiment satisfaite du résultat 🙂

We have been really busy lately

Here is what we have been up to:

First, I have finisehd the sandpaper numerals.  DS was super happy to have them to be able to work with them.

I went to an artist shop and bought already cut coasters to be painted.    The size was just right, and I didn’t have to fuss to have them cut by DH.  I painted them with the customary green, and glued the numbers on it.

I am not entriely happy with my choice of sandpaper.  I will have to change for the letters.  It is 120 grit, and it is too much.  I am planning on using 220 the next time around.

I glued the numbers with carpenter’s glue, and left them to dry with a weight on them for an entire night.  It worked like a charm

Touch tablets:

I felt like this was something that would be easy to do, and that I didn’t want to buy in a Montessori store.  Well, I am glad that I did.  This was a fun and easy projet.

Again, I bought 2 wooden plates at the artistic shop.  No need to sand, or cut, it is already done for me.  I then just had to glue the sandpaper pieces (again with carpernter’s glue) and voila.

Solar system activity

Since DS has been learing about the solar system in school, we have been talking and hearing about it a lot.  SO I setted up an activity for DS about that

I used library pockets to put the 3 parts cards in them

it is a hit.  But I hate the binding.  Next time, I will use a spiral!

I used an old IKEA dish dryer rack to put it in.  And I am planning to add other booklets about astronomy and geography to it.

Work in progress:

Sandpaper letters:

They are freshly painted.  I want to give them a coat of varnish to protect them before putting the letters on it.  DS cannot wit for these to be ready.

I used some thin wood sheet that i have found at my artistic store.  Again, they are already sanded, and in a reasonable format to cut.

And with the remaining, I started to work on Teen/tens boards

They need assembling.

ADAPTATION:

Since we are doing this on a budget, and I cannot have it al,l all at the same time, I need to focus on the things that I think will be used for a long time, tht I cannot do, or that is very different from other material I own.  The knobless cylinders where a big dilemma for me.  I really wanted the kids to be able to work with the extensions, but just couldn’t justify the expense.  So I decided to adapt the knobbed cylinders so that they can be used with the extension material of the knobless cylinders.  Granted they cannot be stacked, but they can be used for the rest.

on each cylinder, I placed a little colored dot that matches the knobless color.  If I feel like they don’t stick enough, I will cut a little piece of felt, and puch a hole in the middle for the knob.  I’ll see in the next few days how that hold.  But these blocks, they don,t come out enough often.  I think I have to place them somewhere else.

As far as work in progress, we are still working towards normalization.  They change way too much work in a short period of time.  I don’t know, but I sure hope, that this will change soon…

Last week was a week off.  We were unsure of what to do, but we ended up planning, at the very last minute, a trip to the Caribeans.  And when I say last minute, I mean making reservations 2 days prior to departure.  We had to run in order to get everything ready, but we made it, and let me tell you, it was all worthwhile!

We decided to leave the kids with their Grand parents, we really needed a 1 on 1 break, DH and I before ou 3rd one arrives.  Although we missed them A LOT, we really needed this break together to spend time on our own, and be able to breathe a little.  Next time, I can assure you  that they will come with us, but we were glad to have this moment of peace.  Now that I am back with them, I feel like I have a renewed patience with them, and it allowed me to put things into perspetive, something we sometimes forget in the nitty gritty of the usual life.  I SO needed that.

It is funny how we find inpirations and role models in places we would never thought, or when we are not looking for it.  I defintely found that while being over there.

I was waiting DH, who was playing volleyball, for lunch.  And while waiting, a young mother came to sit with her 2 daughters near me.  The oldest must have been 3 yo, and the youngest, I would say around 18 months.  This family looked so peaceful.  Both the kids were sitting at the table waiting for the buffet to open.  They were nor excited, or running around, there were, the both of them just sitting there, enjoyng the time with their mom.  I honnestly had a hard time picturing my lot being so calm, and yet so peaceful waiting for lunch at a table.  They would have been running around, which would have make me a little nervous and on the edge (which obviously wouldn’t have helped the situation).  But the mom was super calm, and they were just there being…Those little girls were just so adorable.  And they seemed so happy, it really struck me.

This image just stuck in my brain for the next few days.  I kept asking myself why do I have kids that are oh so much more excited then those 2, question to which there is no answer.  And then, then question turned around in my head, making a answer suddenly possible.  “What do this family do that help those kids be so peaceful, and clam, and yet so happy?”

And after seeing them on and off, I was able to answer that question.

– They are calm.  I have never seen those parents be stressed out, or over react for some things those kids did.  They were showing them how to BE calm.

– they were letting them FREE.  I have seen that 3yo just walk around on her own, under the supervision of her mom or dad of course, but still go walk and explore whatever she was feeling like looking at without having a parent hoover over her.  Sometimes, it even made me feel uncomfortable to see how far from her parent she was without them being worried.  They really looked like they had confidence in her that she  will not go too far, and act properly.

And then it hit me.  This is the freedom that Montessori talks about.  The one that allows the kid to be normalized.

These kids were calm, because they knew that they could go and explore whenever they felt free to do so, and their parents wouldn’t restrict them for touching, hearing, smelling…They can concentrate into one task, wheter it is playing in the sand, or walking out to explore without being interrupted by their parents.

I doubt these parents were “Montessorians” and yet, they were applying, in their everyday life, one of the most important rule of the Montessori frame of mind.  And this made me realize that you do not have to be hardcore Montessorian to raise your kids the Montessori way.  You just have to go by the”concepts”, and adapt them to your life.

And that, is one thing that has put things into perspective for me this week.   I feel like I need to kid my kids space, and let them BE.  I feel like I don,t need to apply with Montessori thing by the letter, but just adapt it to our life.

Something else just put things into perspective.

Materialism.

I have been in this place where people are happy receiving a tip of 1$.  They don’t have money, and they work really hard to get some, and yet, they are happy.  And we, we left with one suitecase each.  Containing clothes and bare essentials, books, and a few games.  And really, that was more then enough.  It felt good not to have too much choices, not to have to much stuff.  And upon returning, I felt this ure again of owning less, and giving the kids less.  Being able to be happy with what you have and not for what you get/buy/…

And this made me think about something that I have a hard time comprimizing with lately:  the amount of stuff that Montessori requires vs our want to diminish on the quantity of things to own.  I feel like that liberty that Montessori education requires doesn’t work with this mindset that I have of trying to limit the quantity of stuff to own.  To allow my kids the liberty of doing the activity they want to do, this implies that there is a need for a lot of things on shelves to grab one of my kid’s interest…but I want less.  How to deal with that?  How to compromize?

And this is one question I have yet to find an answer.  I am happy to have had the time to construct the question in my head, and clarify it.  But I have yet to find the answer that will work for us.

How much is too much?

This time away really gave me time to think, time that I was having a hard time to have lately, having to much on my plate.  And it really feels good to be able to put some orders in all thoses thoughts that have been running through my mind lately.  And I think those encouters I did really putted some words onto questions that I had inside me, but couldn’t formulate.

Nap time is over, time to go enjoy their compagny again.  I missed them so much, but yet, this moment was so necessary for me to be a god mother again…