On the Shelf: Food Preparation Mini Series (2-6 years old)

Practical Life lessons include care of the self and care of the environment. The purpose of Practical Life lessons is to develop an awareness towards physical movement, purposeful use of mind, reverence towards the environment, and aesthetic appreciation. Food Preparation is such a fun area to teach many practical life skills. Food Prep is a big part of Practical Life Lessons. In the classroom, I would always have a food prep activity on the shelf rotating it every month by season or the unit study we are doing. However, at home food prep lessons are always on going. My toddler loves to stand in his learning tower and help out while I am cooking. As much as I love doing that with my son, I also like to have some independent activities that he can gradually master and establish a sense of achievement.

Lessons of Food Prep include: scooping, pouring, grating, washing dishes, setting the table, following step by step directions, cause and effect, problem solving, and sharing the love of food.

Preparing your own breakfast

When children prepare their own food, they are more likely to try it and develop a healthy love for eating. Eating is a very social part for humans. We gather at the dining table at the end of the day not just to eat but to bond and involving children in the art of cooking is the best way to get them to form healthy habits.

This is just a mini series of cooking for 2-6 year old. There are so many ways you can get your child involved in the kitchen. These are some of the simple lessons to get you started if you haven’t done it already.

Pouring Milk (self-serve)

Strawberry Jelly Bread Flowers

Cooking is not just a practical life lesson but it is also a preparation in developing a mathematical mind. When children finish a food prep activity they are actually following an algorithm. All the measuring and problem solving prepares their mind for complex mathematics later on. Thus, cooking has always been an integral part in the Montessori classroom and in our home.

Snack Prep. Cutting your own veggies

Citrus Tasting

When planning a food prep activity, it is important to follow the child. For a 2 year old or younger these activities are guided lessons and requires a lot of collaboration. As the child grows older, he or she can do these tasks with less guidance. However, it take a lot of practice and supervision of parents to do some of these activities.

Banana Slicing for Breakfast

Coffee Grinding

These activities are deeply fulfilling for children. It develops their sense of self-achievement and nourish’s inner drive towards self-empowerment.

Cinnamon & Nutmeg Grating

Egg slicing for Breakfast

As a part of Food Prep and developing independence, it is important to have a functional kitchen for your child. Functional Kitchen can help your child practice these activities independently such as setting the table, washing dishes, and putting away silverware. These are all part of food prep and very important lessons to begin your food prep journey at home.

You can find some of the food prep items I use on my amazon account below.

Cloth Diapering 101

Our Cloth Diapering Journey

When you hear these words “Cloth Diapers” it flashes an image of white foldable diapers that needed safety pins to fasten. However, cloth diapers have come a long way and there are many varieties of diapers to choose from. I am not going to talk about the every type of cloth diapers out there in the market but I want to give you a scoop on how we did cloth diapering and cut our diaper cost to $500 for the whole year. I want to share our easy cloth diapering set up that will make you feel confident to go this route and help you save some money.

Benefits of Cloth Diapering

Aside from the usual money saving benefit, cloth diapering is also beneficial for the environment. The disposable diapers are not biodegradable, which means they cannot be broken by bacteria. For us cloth diapering happened when we noticed our son getting a severe rash from the brand name diapers in the market. We tried every brand and no matter what we did his little bum would suffer with rashes. From the amount of diaper rash cream,which is full of zinc oxide to the cost of diapers itself, it felt absolutely counter productive. We heard of cloth diapering but we weren’t sure if we could take on so much work load with a little baby. However, it turned out to be very easy and affordable system of diapering for us.

Things you need for Cloth Diapering

  1. Cloth Diapers (roughly around 24-28 diapers)
  2. Diaper Pail
  3. Diaper Pail Liners
  4. Diaper Liner
  5. Diaper Inserts
  6. Baby Detergent.
  7. Toilet Sprayer

Firstly, let’s talk about the types of diapers that we used. There are many types of cloth diapers out there: hybrid, pre-folds, pocket, and all in one. We opted for pocket diapers which comes with two inserts. Usually when you buy pocket diapers the inserts comes with it. We used three brands for our son, Bum Genius, Nora’s Nursery, and Alva Baby. Bum Genius Pocket Diapers are around $19.99 per diaper. Alva Baby diapers were around $40 to $42 for 6 diapers depending on the print you choose. We didn’t buy all 28 diapers from the start. We bought 5 Bum Genius, a pack of 6 diapers from Alva Baby, and a pac of 6 Diapers from Nora’s Nursery to give it a try to see which one we liked more. We ended up liking Alva Baby and Nora’s Nursery more because of its fit, three snaps versus two in Bum Genius, and the affordability. All of these diaper brands have adjustable sizing so you can use them from infancy to toddler years.

Diaper Pail Liner were from Amazon for $18. They are resueable liners so I usually throw the whole bag in the washing machine for a wash along with the diapers. I have two liners so when one goes for wash I can use the other one.

Pail Liner and Wet Bags

We also use Wegreeco Biodegradable Diaper Liners for solids. You can throw the whole liner in the toilet and they are flushable. It made our life so easy as we didn’t have to worry about solids. Any solids that accidentally landed on the diaper, we would spray it down in the toilet with the toilet sprayer. The dirty diaper will go in the diaper pail until it is a laundry day.

Unwashed Diaper Set up

For any stains on the diapers, we used the Biokleen Bac-Out. It is a plant based, live enzyme solution and it works like magic on poop stains.

For washing the diapers, I would wash it once or twice a week depending on how many diapers we went through that particular week. My first wash is just a quick wash with cold water. The second cycle of wash, I used Seventh Generation Liquid Detergent and a couple of drops of Dettol. Dettol is an antispetic liquid that I bought it off Amazon. The link is below in my amazon store.

That’s it! It is that simple to do Cloth Diapering. Here is my storage unit for Cloth Diapers. I bought this Door Shoe Organizer from Target for $9.99 and it fits almost all of my diapers.

Shoe Organizer for Diaper Storage

Our Recipe to Make Cloth Wipes

 ½ cup water (filtered preferred)

-2 tbsp coconut oil

-2 tbsp baby wash. (We use Honest company baby wash)

-1 drop of Lavender and Melaleuca essential Oil (We used DoTerra brand for our essential oils)

Click on the amazon link below to find all the products.

All About Primary Colors (12-18 months old activities)

Montessori Shelf

Before I introduced all primary colors, I started with introducing by isolating only one color at a time. First, we started with a unit study Red, then Blue, and then yellow. I will have to post those at a later time for reference. This unit study exceeds my expectation as I made some of the materials by myself and used some of the materials from different lessons I already had. With doing Montessori at home, it is extremely important for us that we are not buying expensive materials for all the skills that my little bug need to learn. There are many ways you can create your own beautiful materials at home at much cheaper price and they work great. Do not get me wrong, I do buy Montessori materials from Montessori websites as they are beautiful and durable and let’s face it, sometimes it is just too hard when you are trying to make everything. There are some lessons that are authentic Montessori and then some I added from Amazon because I thought they went well with my unit study. Here is a sneak peek into our lessons on the shelf:

Color tablet and clothespin

I made this inexpensive lesson with the Dollar Tree wooden clothespin and a wooden board I found at Michael’s Arts and Crafts for 59 cents. With some acrylic paint, there is a lesson that helps with hand-eye coordination and strengthens child’s visual discrimination. I also like this lesson as it promotes bilateral hand use.

Wooden Peg Lesson

This lesson was another DIY with inexpensive material find at random places. The peg board was created free by my husband. He found this piece of wood for free at Home Depot and I bought Pegs from the Michael’s Arts and Crafts store for $2.99. This lesson is another great lesson for hand-eye coordination. It strengthens child’s finer motor skills and prepares their hand for pincer grip, which is an indirect objective of this lesson for later writing development.

Threading Wooden Spools

I found these wooden spools at a local thrift store for $3.00 and wooden dowel is from the Dollar Tree. This is a great lesson and it is also a little challenging lesson for little ones. My son is only 12 months old and his finer motor skills are not as refined as probably any other older child. However, this is the lesson I’ve seen him getting out the most and trying to thread the spool. He can easily thread one at a time after working at it for a few minutes and he almost succeeded with all three spools. The reason I did not remove it from the shelf is because it provides him a challenge that is just right. He is not frustrated with the lesson yet and since he is going back to it over and over, it reminds me that this is what he needs to do right now.

Sorting by Colors

Simple sorting activity with birds and flowers. Sorting is such an important skill to prepare a mathematical mind. This activity will eventually build up to sorting by initial sounds, shapes, textures, patterns and more.

Basket of Music Instruments

Basket of simple music instruments. For this unit, I chose all the red, blue, and yellow instruments from the Melissa and Doug Kit that I bought during Christmas. My little man loves music so I try to incorporate opportunities to make music when I am planning my unit study.

Geometry Puzzle

This is just a simple knob puzzle that I bought from Montessori N Such. You can see from the picture that it is a much loved lesson. He mastered this puzzle at nine months but he still loves it a lot.

DIY Coin Box

This one is just a paper box from the Dollar Tree where I cut out a little hole to turn it into a coin box. We also have a Montessori Coin Permanence Box but this is a little twist to fit our unit study. This is a good lesson for hand wrist movement, developing fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and teaching the child when object disappears out of sight does not mean its gone forever.

Threading Pipe Cleaners

Simple DIY to help more with fine motor skills. This jar and the pipe cleaners are from the Dollar Tree.

Wooden Color Blocks

Wooden Acrylic blocks for open ended activity. These block I found them on Amazon and they’ve been a favorite for many activities. You can take them outside to see nature with these colored blocks or stack them or use them as building blocks. They are very versatile and a good addition to our unit. I’ve also used them for storing materials as they are perfect size.

These are only some example of our Primary Colors unit study. If you like to see more of our lessons in use, you can follow us on Instagram @trulymontessori.

10 Ways to Create an Environment that Promotes Concentration

  1. Create an aesthetic environment full of natural materials, clutter free, clean, and complete.
  2. Follow the child and his/her interests.
  3. Model Concentration when presenting a new activity.
  4. Peaceful music in the background helps ground the child and bring them to the activity. When communicating with your child, use a calm and peaceful tone.
  5. Play silence games and model making silence.
  6. Model joy while working and present the activity with slow, exaggerated hand movement. OMIT WORDS!
  7. Do not interrupt child’s work/play. It is how they explore the world around them unless if it is destructive, disruptive, and dangerous.
  8. Create a self-calming space, a reading corner, and a designated art table. This helps bring the order in child’s mind, which in turns helps with concentration.
  9. Opportunities to do work outside and safe access to interact with the environment can build inner connection with the nature.
  10. And most importantly, observe silently!

Beginning of our Montessori Journey

Learn about our Montessori Journey

“Life is full of moments”

Sandy Gingras

Truly Montessori has always been my dream that is now coming to a reality. Let me begin with a short introduction of myself and my family. My name is Disha Bonner and I live with my beautiful family in Florida. I am happily married to the love of my life . We have a beautiful, strong willed, curious, fun little guy in our lives who just makes everyday a joy.

A little about my teaching background, I’ve been a Montessori Teacher for 10 years. I also taught ESE (Exceptional Student Education) in the public school and have been an elementary teacher in a magnet school. My Montessori training began while I was teaching ESE. I yearned for alternative learning style and knew that the public school education does not working well for everybody. I stumbled upon Montessori and absolutely fell in love with this teaching method.

My first training was as the primary guide (3-6 years old). I loved this age group as these children are discovering the independence and the world around them. It was fascinating to see them work and guide them in their journey of discovery. Later on I was hired as the Curriculum Coordinator to help other teachers with classroom design and curriculum development. As I gained more experience in the Montessori world, I finished my Masters in Montessori and also went for my second training as the elementary guide. This is the second period of development that Montessori puts a lot of emphasis on as she calls it a ‘peaceful phase”, which is the age group of 6-12 years old.

I taught in the Lower Elementary classroom in the fully accredited AMS Montessori Charter School for the rest of the time that I taught until I met my son. When I had my son, I knew that I wanted to implement Montessori from birth. Thus, our home became a Montessori Laboratory. We curated an environment to promote independence and a love for learning in our child from the birth.

This blog is about our Montessori journey and how it works in our home. It may not work the same way in your home but we want to give you a little glimpse of our prepared environment and we hope that it can inspire you to create your own Montessori space for your child.

This is the first post on our new blog. Subscribe to get notified when I post new updates.

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