Do you want to raise confident, caring, and resilient children? That starts with not reading and mathematics but teaching children social emotional awareness. Social Emotional Awareness means:
Learning about me
Learning about others
Learning about coexisting on this planet
Research shows that about 80% of the job success is social emotional awareness. It is our ability to learn our emotions and manage them in a positive way helps us understand and relate to others’ emotions. Our daily interaction with the world is based on our social emotional awareness.
For toddlers this is a new feeling and something they struggle to understand. They feel it in their bodies but do not know what it means and how to deal with those big emotions. When toddler is going through this big emotional wave, it is best to ride it out instead of redirecting or interrupting that behavior. However, adding some social emotional learning activities can help your child understand their own emotions. It will give your child appropriate vocabulary to express what they are feeling.
This week on our shelf, we’ve added some fun social emotional learning activities. Here is a small glimpse of how we are supporting our son’s social emotional awareness.
Make your own Calming Bottle
This calming bottle is a part of our self-calming/peace corner. It helps children to slow down and observe the movement of confetti
Being able to identify each face with the emotions is a big step for toddler. This subtle differences in faces with emotions helps the children to understand more about feelings. The wooden emotions discs and matching cards are included in our Monti-Story Box.
Sorting by Colors
Give the emotions some colors so child can understand this abstract concept. Let your child drop a pom-pom in a cup based on their feelings.
This coloring activity is a part of our Monti-Story Box but it is a great self-calming strategy
Identify My Feelings
This is a great way to let your child choose how they are feeling. This is also an activity included in our Monti-Story Box
Playdough is the best sensory and calming activity for toddlers. I often make a simple salt dough at home and provide some cookie cutters in a tray. This work sits on our shelf.
Our recent Monti-Story Box includes most of these activities for your toddlers and preschoolers.
Did you know that our body responds faster to our basic emotions than our thoughts? The next time your toddler throws himself on the floor with an emotional meltdown, watch which emotions triggered that behavior. Emotions can move us to react quickly. When our children are feeling scared, tired, hungry, sad, or overwhelmed, they often express that in form of tears, meltdown, or asking us for extra love. Children do not know how to express what they are feeling and often do not know what they are feeling. More so, it is a cry for connection. It is a way our children is telling us to be PRESENT.
Toddlers are learning to self-regulate their emotions but before they can do that, they need us to help them co-regulate those emotions. “Feelings and emotions begin deep inside our brain.” They can affect our body in many ways that we are not even aware of. For toddlers, these emotions can be scary. Think about it, they’ve only been here since only few years and experiencing those emotions for the first time can be such an overwhelming experience.
Social Emotional Development is often neglected component in early childhood education; however, it is the most important skills for our children to learn. We cannot expect our children to be never angry, what we can do is teach them how to cope up with those emotions in a healthy positive way.
This process begins with us. We need to assist our children by co-regulating their emotions. Follow the steps below for co-regulation to help your toddler develop a healthy relationship of expressing and embracing all emotions. “All emotions, including anger, fear, and sadness are important for our growth. They are natural and make us who we are. So embrace them all.” – Elinor Greenwood.
Creating a peace corner can help your children by providing a safe space to regulate those emotions in a positive way. In Montessori environment, peace corner holds a very special space. This is the place where children learn to calm themselves down, resolve a conflict with a friend, or simply learn to make silence. To find out how to create a peace corner in your home environment, be sure to order our upcoming Monti-Story Box. This box will include activities to help your child identify their emotions and self-calming strategies. It also includes detailed step by step resource to create a peace corner.
July Activity Box is All About Emotions. This box includes many activities for your toddlers to help identify their emotions and for you to help your child create the calm within themselves.
Children are meant to explore and learn from their environment. Once they start walking, they are meant to walk to refine their gross motor skills and experiment with their body in a safe environment.
In our modern world, we are consistently dependent on vehicles and gadgets to make our lives easier. Although, those are all wonderful inventions they also make us more dependent. Children are constantly being transferred in strollers and car seats hindering their natural growth and development. Child’s inner need to move and explore is obstructed by modern equipment like strollers.
Benefits of Toddler Led Walks
Promotes independence & freedom
Lets your child discover new things in the environment
Child feels equal and contributing mem
ber of the family when given the choice of walking together
Tips to Promote Safety During Toddler Led Walks
Safety is the most important aspect of child led walks. It is important to let our children know about the safe behavior and model those safe behavior during our walks.
How to Avoid Power Struggles
It is important to be consistent and clear about ground rules during child led walks.
-Give children positive choices to let them feel empowered and make a decision.
-Follow through by modeling what you say
-Avoid saying simply “No” without any explanation or offering an alternative.
Examples of Choices:
“I see a car approaching on our road, would you like to hold my hand or daddy’s hand?
“I would like you to do my hand so we can make sure we are both safe. Would you like to hold my right hand or left hand?”
“I can see that you love collecting things. How about we place them in this basket and when it is full, we know to stop gathering more?”
“I love that you are using your listening ears and the way you stopped when I asked you to. Could you also show me your walking feet?”
When we approach our children with respect and stop being a dictator, we form a relationship of mutual understanding, love, and respect. Children want to do the right thing only if we understand that parenthood isn’t about raising a “mini me” but it is about honoring our child’s unique self and seeing our children as humans first.
At the end, always remember to enjoy the present moment with your child and have some fun along the way!
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Dr. Montessori have mentioned a lot about the different planes of development. She has spoken widely on the importance of planes of development and the sensitive periods in each planes. Below is a chart by Aubrey Hargis that helps us understand these planes a little better.
The first period of child’s mind is what Montessori called it “The Unconscious Absorbent Mind” which lasts about the age of 3. In this period the child just absorbs through their senses. They learn about the world unconsciously and absorbs from the environment without any effort. This is a very sensitive period in child’s life and it is extremely important for us to prepare her environment carefully as this environment will transform her to an independent child.
The second period of child’s mind is called “The Conscious Absorbent Mind”. This period is still in the first plane of development but this period is between 3-6 years of age. In this period, the child is no longer a helpless infant who is mastering her neck muscles but this is the period of learning and refining those skills that she learned as a baby. This is period of repetition where the most cognitive development will take place. In this period, most children learn to read, develops the memory, and can do multi-step lessons.
The second plane of development which is between 6-12 years of age, which we call it “The Mathematical Mind”. Dr. Montessori also refers this phase as peaceful period. In this period, child has a reasoning mind and it all about big ideas, social justice, social connection, and also an ability to do conscious learning. In this phase the child is no longer absorbing from the environment. In this plane, the child is actually memorizing, analyzing, computing, and organizing.
Hope you enjoyed this brief overview on planes of development. Please share it with your mom friends who and give some love to our blog and our instagram page!
Reading is an advanced mental process, which requires some complex cognitive skills such as analysis and synthesis.
There are four stages of Language Development: Stage 1: Spoken Language Stage 2: Phonemic Awareness Stage 3: Creating Words Stage 4: Reading
Before a child can tackle reading, we need to expose them to the skills that will aid in the process of reading. Pre-reading activities prepare younger children for reading later. Visual discrimination, auditory discrimination, sequencing, pattern recognition, sorting, spoken language are all precursors to reading. All of these activities aid in the process of reading development. For younger children the more concrete these activities are, the better they grasp these concepts.
10 Pre-Reading Activities Ideas
This is the most simple and easiest activity you can do with your child. Even if you cannot get time to do anything else, you can only read every day to your child. Reading aloud with your child will help him or her emotionally, socially, and academically. It will create a lasting bond and will promote a healthy emotional state in your child. Research shows that children who are read to every day have a better grasp on reading.
Note: You can read to your child anytime at your convenience. It doesn’t have to be at bedtime. Find the time that works for your family!
Object to Object Matching
This is a very concrete activity for toddlers and the easiest to prepare with what you have around the house. The idea is to have the exact same objects to match. For example, if they are matching spoons both spoons should look exactly alike for the initial experience. For this activity, have a basket of objects that look the same and then line a set on the left. Name each object as you line them and then model matching each object. Place it all back in the basket and then have your child repeat the activity. It is very important to show the entire process from start to finish to your child. Putting the work away is also a big part of learning.
Note: For a young toddler keep the objects limited to 2 or 3 set for matching.
Challenging Version of Object-Object Matching
Object to Picture Matching
This is the same concept of matching but this time we are adding a bit of a challenge by doing it abstract. Pictures are not as concrete as the objects. What we see in 3D and 2D are two separate experience. Thus, for a younger child it is a bit of challenge and a good practice to distinguish objects from 3 dimension to 2 dimension.
Backyard Birds Matching
Picture to Picture Matching
Now, we are taking away the concrete completely and introducing only abstract concept of matching. This lesson comes after the child has successfully matched objects to picture.
Patterning is such an important skill for children to learn for reading. When we are reading a language or learning a new language, it is all patterns of letters put together to make a word or a sentence. Patterning helps children make prediction to what comes next and use logical connections.
This is a very important preschool activity. Sequencing help children understand the patterns of things. For example, using your daily schedule for sequencing can help children understand what to expect next. This is also an important skill for reading because then a child can compartmentalize the concept of first, next, then, and last.
Any sorting activity you can find around the house will help your child understand to put things into category. A basket of spoons, forks, and knives can be a great sorting activity for a younger children to understand the concept of organization. Not only it prepares the mind for reading but also for writing and math.
Sorting by Colors
I-spy games are great for working memory and building that visual discrimination. In order to read we need to have phonemic awareness and also we rely on our memory of hearing that sound or word before. This game can be played at various stages. For this activity have a basket of different object that the child is familiar with and then you can do I-spy for each object either by color or touch. For an older toddler or Pre-K student who is learning the phonetic sounds, you can say, “I-spy an object that starts with the sound “s”. You can mix it up by doing the ending sound or middle sound depending on the child.
These are great addition for pre-reading shelf. They help build inference knowledge in children. Oral language development is a first step to reading development. Conversation Cards also helps child understand the concept of questions and answering.
The sand paper letters is the way we introduce letter sounds in the Montessori classroom. Tracing the letter and associating it with letter sound prepares the hand and the mind. It build the muscle memory as child internalize and remember the sound by tracing the symbol.
Knobbed Cylinders are one of Montessori’s genius and original material. Montessori classroom sensorial area begins with this wonderful material. This material is designed to teach children to visually discriminate between dimensions. There are four variations to Knobbed Cylinders, helping child to develop that mathematical mind to distinguish by size and weight. As the child practices with this work, they gain muscle memory and can able to distinguish each cylinder by touch. The Knobbed Cylinders comprised of 10 cylinders again for developing that mathematical mind that Montessori refers to in many of her writings.
Set A: Cylinders are decreasing in diameters successively from thick to thin while the height remains constant.
Set B: Each cylinders are decreasing in diameters from thick to thin and the height from tall to short
Set C: Each cylinders are decreasing in diameters from thick to thin while increasing in the height from short to tall.
Set D: The diameters stay constant only the height decreases from tall to short.
How to Present this Material:
1) Initial presentation begins with Set A as it is easier for children to match.
2) Invite the child for the lesson. Walk over to the shelf and name the material first before picking it up. Model how to carry the material to the work rug or to the table.
3) Place the material gently on the rug in front of the child. Present the material from left to right, thickest to thinnest.
4) Remember to use slow exaggerated hand movement and no words.
5) Take each cylinder out and mix them up. Tell the child that when we take them out we mix them up. (Point of Interest: Show the child how softly you can put it down on the rug or on the table)
6) Trace each cylinder around with your fingers to demonstrate the difference in diameters before putting them back.
7) Tell the child you will put them all back one by one. Model how to put them back.
8) Model how to put the material back on the shelf when you are done. Tell the child now it is his turn to work with the material.
Once the child has enough practice with each set isolated then we can begin with mixing up two sets, three sets, and then all four sets . One of the extension is to work with each set with a blindfold and then work with all four sets with a blindfold as child progresses with this material.
I hope this post helps your understanding on how to present this wonderful material to your child. Please write in the comments on what you would like to see more in our posts. Thank you for following this blog!
What does it mean to nurture child’s spirit? Dr. Montessori talked about the spiritual embryo in her numerous writings and we often just look over and go straight to the materials. Have you ever wondered what she meant? How do we guide our child in his/her journey of spiritualism? These were all the questions I had ever since I learned that I was pregnant with my child. I always knew that I wanted to raise a spiritual child but didn’t know where to start.
On Montessori’s tomb it says, “…spiritual renewal and to the progress of humanity through child”, these words do make me ponder deeply what did she mean to do with her work? Spiritual renewal and progression of humanity was Montessori’s goal not the fancy wooden toys and extravagant Montessori set ups. This is especially important when we are facing such adversaries like Covid-19, with Black Lives Matter movement, and the political divide that we are facing in this country. If humanity stands any chance, we must begin at birth. We must begin with nurturing the spirituality in each child. When I speak of spirituality, I am not speaking of the religion. Spirituality is something we already have before we were born. We are born as this spiritual being and what we need from our environment is to continue to nurture this light within us.
Ways we encourage spirituality in our home:
Modeling quiet time every morning and in the evening. We do not necessarily pray but we sit quietly and just observe our breath. With a toddler that is less than a minute sometimes we have a set time and space to do that. We want him to understand the value of making SILENCE.
We encourage non-materialistic values. Our son do not get toys or too many materialistic things. We do buy him things that he needs for his growth but for wants we do practice the concept of LESS IS MORE.
Communicating positively and using mindful words. Words are so important, not just what you say to your child but to your own personal self. Sometimes our inner dialogue is so negative, “I am not doing good enough”, “I should be a better mother” “I should always stay happy in front of my child.” That inner dialogue has a vibrational energy that is felt by your child. Change your inner dialogue because you are doing an amazing, wonderful job raising your child.
Let the child explore safely and freely. We are just here to guide our son in his journey of self discovery. We prepare the environment so he can discover his true potential freely.
Reading mindful books about peace, kindness, emotions, diversity, and people. We also practice gratitude in our daily life. Simple gratitude such as, “We are grateful for each other.” ” Grateful for pancakes in breakfast.” “Grateful to spend time and read together.” “Grateful for a beautiful walk outside.” Once you start practicing gratitude everyday, your whole mind set and mood changes because we all have so many things that we can be grateful for. Right now, I am grateful for the internet so I can connect with so many wonderful, positive people in the world.
We get lots of outdoor time as being in nature really makes us feel connected to our inner self.
We talk about kindness and model what that looks like by doing kind things for our friends, families, neighbors or even helping out a homeless person or by simply giving a smile to people we see in a grocery shop
We express our own emotions, all emotions, in front of our son in a positive way. If I am angry, I tell my son how I feel and I firmly believe that my son needs to know that I am not always happy and I too feel sad . It is okay to feel those things as all emotions are healthy and necessary for our ultimate growth.
Nurturing the Prepared Adult. Nurturing my own self by doing things I enjoy and caring for my mind, body, and spirit is the most important lesson that I can show my son. It is important for him to see the value of enjoying simple things. Sometimes I simply put on music and dance to the beat in front of him so he can witness his mother enjoying something she likes.
Lastly, we let our child wonder. We let him explore the world with his senses and let him observe the world in awe. This is so important as we want our child to have reverence for all life around him, for this planet, and for himself as he is the greatest MIRACLE that was ever created.
The month of October is so much fun with the anticipation of holidays and the change in weather. It brings out the joyous spirit in everybody. There are so many fall related activities that we can divulge into with our toddlers but being a Montessorian for such a long time, I’ve learned the simplest activities bring the best engagement among children. Children do not need fancy gadgets, materials, or apps to learn. They learn the best by experiencing the world with their senses and by having a parent who is PRESENT.
Most parents think Montessori is hard to do at home as they do not have Montessori materials. However, Montessori is very simple. Dr. Montessori made most of her materials with the homemade materials she found. Her first color tablets were not made of fancy wood, they were made of spool and thread. Likewise, we can keep the Montessori spirit by keeping it simple and real.
For this fall, I’ve put together a series of activities that you can do with one pumpkin. One pumpkin can cost you about $2.oo or less but you can do so many lessons with that one pumpkin.
Pumpkin Scrubbing lesson was always a popular lesson when I taught in the primary classroom but with toddlers it is a fun lesson too. This lesson has water and scrub involved, two things toddler love to play with. Toddlers love sensorial experiences especially playing with water. This lesson also let them explore the big pumpkin with their senses. It is a simple lesson to put together for an engaging experience.
Scooping Pumpkin Seeds & Baking
Scooping and Transferring are both a very engaging activity for toddlers. Toddlers also love to do what you are doing so don’t hesitate in getting them involved with your baking projects. Whether it is baking a pumpkin pie or simply baking pumpkin seeds, it can be an enriching experience for kids. Also, it involves so much math as each step is an algorithm in itself.
That empty pumpkin can turn into a great volcano project with some baking soda and vinegar. The possibilities are endless when it comes to pumpkin. They are so versatile and cheap to use for many projects. In the picture above, we turned our pumpkin into a volcano before painting it and turning it into a Jack-o-Lantern. My son loves to pour lately so this was a perfect addition to our study of Pumpkin
Another great activity is to learn the parts of the pumpkin. Little children loves the big words and by using correct vocabulary for each part this can turn into a great language arts lesson as well.
Pumpkin Painting with edible color
My son is only 14 months old and he loves to explore with his mouth. Therefore, we do not use paint but always looking for edible things to turn it into paint. For this activity, I used the following recipe to paint the pumpkin:
Recipe for Edible Paint
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 tsp of corn starch
1/2 cup of water
Turmeric for Yellow color & Beet Juice for Red color
Pumpkins can also turn into a great shape sorter, drum, boat, or a candle holder. You can also buy different shapes, colors, textures, and sizes of pumpkin to create a sensorial experience for your child.
Pouring Lesson with Pumpkin Seeds
The beauty of Montessori is truly in the simple things you can create with resources you have available. That is the best Montessori education for children.
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Do you want to start a Montessori Unit Study? Do you see the value of integrated learning that covers all essential areas of education for a child? If your answer is yes to any of those questions, then I have some simple tips that can help you get started with planning and organizing your Montessori unit study for your toddler.
Geometry Unit Study
What is a Unit Study?
A unit study encompasses all subject areas under one theme by using the Montessori method. It includes materials, presentation, control of error, points of interest, and aims of the lesson (direct & indirect). Unit study is a good way to plant a seed of a big subject by breaking it down into smaller areas such as math, literacy, sensorial, practical life, art, and more. Each lesson subsequently builds upon the same unit and expands the child’s experience with that subject.
Let’s Make Music
How to develop a Unit Study?
The most essential key to developing a Unit Study is OBSERVATION. Before you design a unit study for your child, you need to observe what he or she is doing. What are the things that interest them? What materials do they normally gravitate to? A Montessori teacher is trained in the art of observation and with the help of this observation they can build a successful unit study for children.
Once you have a theme in your mind there are these few tips that can help you organize your unit study.
The above image is the basic framework to begin planning your unit study. We can incorporate the concrete and everyday materials for Practical Life and Grace & Courtesy lessons, Sensory experiences will help a child explore the topic with senses to gain further information, pre-math activities or early math activities is used to reinforce important concepts, having books and nomenclature cards on the unit you are studying helps children learn new vocabulary and aids in early literacy development.
Here are some examples of Unit Studies we’ve done at home with my toddler.
Welcome Fall Theme
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
10 Things to keep in Mind when setting up your shelf
Materials should be place left to right, easy to hard, concrete to abstract
Remember less is more. Do not clutter the shelf with too many items as they can overstimulate the child.
Child’s sensitive periods and age.
Keep the skills you are teaching isolated (1 lesson = 1 skill) This keeps the difficulty level in check.
Materials should be natural, clean, and complete.
Fine-Motor Skill Activity
Gross Motor Skill Activity
Independent Exploration of Activities. Keep the Control of Error in mind when designing an activity.
Planned presentation (Every week I have one or two activity that I am going to present formally to my son).
Something child has already mastered (I keep one activity that he loves and he has mastered because this helps me bring him back to the activity when he is too worked up or not interested to sit and work).
Leaves and Apples
These are not an extensive version of my unit studies but a glimpse of how to get started. I am more than happy to help you plan your own unit study shelf. Write your comments below or reach out to me via email for any questions. You can also DM me on Instagram on how I set up this individual shelf. The Instagram link is below. Follow our daily Montessori activities for more tips and ideas. Thank you!
“Measurement of the Earth together with the consciousness of the reciprocal relationship between Man and the objects of the environment, and between the objects themselves.” ~ Maria Montessori
Geometry is seen as an abstract subject by many and sometimes given to babies and kids at a much later age. However, geometry is everywhere. We live in a world full of patterns and shapes. A butterfly displays symmetry, a soda can shows cylinder and volume, a house looks like a rectangular prism, and a rock can be an ovoid. Geometry is a part of us and when we look at the cosmic world, we see Geometry in us. This is why in Montessori education Geometry starts from Birth with Gobi Mobile and Octahedron Mobile. We can continuously see Geometry being a part of the child with Montessori materials. These materials enhances natural curiosity in among children. The child is engaging all of his/her senses and without realizing it, adding new senses such as the stereognostic sense and the basic sense such as the sense of mass, that is of heaviness or lightness.
Shapes on the Shelf
The way I design my shelf is from Left to Right, Easy to Hard, and Concrete to Abstract. The purpose is to prepare the child for reading indirectly.
This was a simple DIY Sensory Shapes Board. I created this with different materials around the house and hot glued it on a piece of wooden board that I found for free at Home Depot.
My little bug had so much watching the light reflect through these shapes. I love these wooden acrylic glass shapes because they are so versatile. They can be used for stacking, building, and for learning the names of different shapes. I found them on Amazon. (The link is at the bottom of this page).
Wooden Shapes Puzzle
I kept the lessons pretty simple and complete on the shelf. The reason I keep lessons complete on the shelf is because when he enters the sensitive period of order, he can put the activity back when its finished. It also teaches him to complete the task before returning it on the shelf.
This was a simple vertical dowel activity with shapes. This was also an Amazon find.
Finding Shapes in the nature engages child’s all senses and can make Geometry alive by relating it to real life objects.
Shapes Sensory Bin
Montessori Imbucare Box
This was by far the most loved lesson on the shelf. My little guy loved flipping the lid after he finished his lesson.
The simple rock washing activity is so peaceful and grounding activity for children. It involves geometry and sensory work.
Kandinsky Inspired Art
Kandinsky is famous for his geometric concentric circles in art. So, we created this easy version of Kandinsky for toddler. He painted on the laminating sheet first and then stamped different size circles with lids.
Making Stained glass with shapes by sticking sponges on the contact paper. These different color sponges from dollar tree are so versatile and you can create so many different activities with them.
This is the iconic Montessori lesson, one you will find in every Montessori classroom. This is such a great work for visual discrimination, learning the different diameters, thickness, height, and great activity for fine motor skills. This lesson is a pre-writing activity as it helps strengthens the hand and the activity is completed from left to right.
Art with Geometric Shapes
Sacred geometry involves sacred universal patterns used in the design of everything in our real lives. Although, we are limited to explore this subject with toddlers in depth but it shouldn’t stop us to introduce a little piece of geometry in our kid’s lives.
Below are some of the links of the work for older children that I created. Sacred Geometry unit was a very popular unit study in my classroom. Here are few glimpse of our work and some freebie to incorporate it in your classroom or in your home.