Creating a Montessori Entryway for your Toddler

Lately I’ve been obsessed with making my home a little more Montessori-friendly for my babe. He recently turned 15 months and I have realized how much his desire for independence has grown. He also recently began the toddler program at the Montessori school I teach at, and I want to provide him the opportunity to practice skills that he is working on at school.

He has shown quite a bit of interest in sitting on small stools and attempting to independently put on his socks and shoes. I didn’t already have a stool at home, so I did some research and found this amazing little bamboo stool on Amazon!

Many of the stools I found have a 12 inch seat height. But Noah is only 2 1/2 feet tall! This stool has a seat height of about 7 inches, so it’s perfect for his little legs. It cost $28.90, but was worth every penny because it is truly a quality stool. Durable and beautiful!

We live in a 1000ish square foot apartment, so space is limited. We’ve had to be very strategic about essential furniture pieces and arrangement. Right as you enter the apartment there is a coat closet, and next to that we had an empty stretch of wall that was perfect for creating a toddler-sized entry area.

When creating an entryway for your toddler, I think there are 3 essential aspects you will want to strive to include:

  1. Child sized stool for sitting to put on/take off socks and shoes. 7-8 inch seat height is optimal for toddler’s little legs! 10-12 inches works better for preschool age.
  2. Basket or tote for storing shoes. Your child will always know where to find his/her shoes. “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” Plus, helps to minimize tracking dirt into the house!
  3. Hooks at your child’s level for school bags, lunch boxes, jackets, hats, etc. Nothing promotes the development of independence like being responsible for one’s own belongings. This allows your little one to get his own things on the way out the door, and put them back upon entry into the house.

You could also place a little rug under the stool for added warmth, or a little mirror on the wall. Personally, I did not have space for these items so I just went with the simplest set up possible. I am very happy with how it turned out 🙂

The basket was $8 from Big Lots (I’m all about the bargains, if you couldn’t tell). Target has great options too, maybe a tad bit pricier. I purchased the wall hooks from Walmart. It was an unfinished wood that I stained to match the rest of our living room furniture.

And YES I KNOW. All three pieces are different shades of brown. Unintentional. But I like to think it adds character. The items in this area serve their intended purpose, and that’s all that matters. My little guy has his own place to get ready to leave the house.

Consistency, routine, and the development of independence are crucial – especially during the toddler years – and having these little accessible areas around your house allow your toddler to develop his skills and be a contributing member of the family.

There are so many ways to create a beautiful and functional, Montessori-inspired toddler entryway, but I wanted to share with you how we implemented this in our home. Hope you enjoyed, and I wish you a beautiful day!

xo Miss Claire

Toddler-Safe, Edible Finger Paint!

Painting is one of those awesome sensorial activities that I always want to incorporate into my one-year-old’s playtime. But being one year old, my guy is teething like crazy and still has a habit of putting his hands in his mouth quite a bit. Therein lies my hesitation with letting him use traditional finger paints. Even the “non-toxic” ones.

But did you know there’s a way you can let your little one paint, without having to worry about whether or not he eats the paint?! The solution is so simple, it’s ridiculous. And it only requires 2 ingredients:

  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Liquid food colors

That’s it.

Whip up the cream in a big bowl using a hand mixer. I usually add a few pinches of sugar to my whipped cream, but this time I didn’t. Divide the cream into smaller containers, depending on how many colors you want to make.

Squirt in a good amount of food coloring into each container – like 10 drops or more. I don’t even know, I didn’t count. The more drops of color, the more vivid the “paint” will be.

Mix the colors into the cream, making sure to thoroughly rinse the spoon after each color.

And there you have your beautifully bright, good enough to eat, finger paints!

Noah was SUPER cautious at first, but then he went all in. And then the inevitable happened 47 seconds later…

THE TASTE TEST.

Many bites followed the first. Safe to say this activity is toddler-approved.

Extra finger “paint” can be stored in airtight containers and kept in the fridge for up to two days, just like regular whipped cream.

HAPPY PAINTING (AND EATING). Xo

DIY Puffy Paint!

Are you ready to have your socks blown off?! Well you better be, because I’m going to share a recipe for the coolest homemade puffy paint that only requires 3 ingredients!

  • shaving cream (the foaming kind!)
  • liquid school glue
  • liquid food colors

And that’s it! You’ll also need some supplemental materials to actually make the paint, such as:

  • Medium sized mixing bowl
  • Spatula or large spoon
  • Measuring cup (I started with 1/2 cup, but ended up using 1 cup of each ingredient)
  • 4 small containers to separate out the paint for each color
  • A small spoon to mix each color

Please see below for a *beautifully stylized* layout of the materials you’ll need:

This recipe is SO SIMPLE. The first thing you have to do is measure out equal parts shaving cream and glue. I used 1 cup of each. Then mix them together until nice and fluffy. It should look like this:

Then you’ll need to carefully divide the white paint among the four containers.

I used 4 oz jars, and 3 drops of color in each jar. The colors turned out perfectly pastel. If you want darker, more vivid colors, simply use more drops of food coloring. I also used a small spoon to mix each color.

And that’s all there is to it! Now you’re ready to start painting!

I made a cute little rainbow, just to test the paints out. I left it overnight to dry, and guess what?! It was STILL puffy!! I’m fact, I hung it up on my son’s bedroom wall and he loves it!

This is actually the art project I sent out to my students this week. I had so much fun with it that I decided to share it with you, as well. Plus just look how beautiful those paints are. It provided the absolute perfect photo-taking-opportunity. I love a good art project photo shoot.

Here is the video I sent to my students with instructions on how to make the paint, in case you’d rather watch how to do it!

I hope you get a chance to try this fun and simple project out. It doesn’t take long, and is a great way to spend a spring rainy day indoors with your little ones!

Enjoy, and have a lovely weekend!

4 DIY, Budget Friendly Montessori Activities for Your Toddler

With the onset of this COVID-19 crisis, I found myself devoting a majority of my time to a young toddler with an ever-increasing capacity for concentration. His play has become much more explorative and in depth in nature. He will now sit with the same activity for 5-10 (and sometimes even more!) minutes at a time, where as even just a few weeks ago he would go from toy to toy, shaking objects and putting them in his mouth.

I needed to create some purposeful, engaging activities for him to explore. And with all the store closures and elongated delivery times, I decided to get a little creative with objects I already had around the house. Some of these objects are repurposed from household items, and some of them are available at very reasonable price from an “everything” store like Walmart or Target.

Here are 4 budget-friendly Montessori activities that I put together for my one year old to work with:

ONE

Five Ducks in a Basket – The inspiration behind this was actually the song “Five Little Ducks Went Swimming”. This activity serves several purposes. First and foremost, it is an introduction to the quantities 1-5. I count them for him, and put two and two together to make four, etc. Second, I use them as props to go along with the song. And third, Noah is going through a phase in which he loves to put things back into containers. He knows the ducks belong in the basket and will put them back inside when prompted.

I found the mini ducks in the baby shower section at Walmart. It was about $4 for a pack of 4, and I got 2 packs. The little basket was about $3 at Walmart as well, in the Easter decor section.

TWO

Hand Transfer – Eventually these little rubber, spiky balls could be used for color sorting, or transfer with tongs. But for now, I am showing him how to use his hand to transfer them into a mini muffin pan. The balls fit perfectly inside. Now if only I could get him to transfer all 12 without picking the pan up and flipping all the balls out everywhere…

The balls came in a pack of 12, and can be found in the party favor section of Walmart or Target for less than $5. They have other color schemes as well. I have had this mini muffin pan forever, but probably got it at Target. I found this one on their website for $8.99.

THREE

DIY Infant Coin Box – This is an idea I’ve seen all over the internet, but it was SO EASY to make. I just had to wait until my husband finished his giant tub of coffee and use a sharp knife to cut a rectangular slot in the top. (The plastic was surprisingly soft). It may not be as aesthetically pleasing as one from a Montessori retailer, but this was definitely much cheaper and he enjoys it just the same.

The plastic poker chips (which, by the way, I recommend supervising 110% while using the chips!!!) were about $4.99 for a 100-pack from Walmart. I only took out 6 blue chips and put the rest away. I store the chips inside the coffee container when not in use, as he hasn’t quite figured out how to remove the lid on his own yet.

FOUR

Treasure Basket – This is another classic Montessori infant activity. I first introduced Noah to this as soon as he could sit up on his own at age 6 months. The treasure basket he has on the shelf now is Easter themed. The only reason I haven’t switched it out yet is because he adores the plastic Easter eggs. He loves to open them, stack them, put objects inside them, and he tries so hard to close them. He will easily concentrate on the eggs for 20+ minutes.

Treasure baskets are great for seasonal objects or themes. I’ve used kitchen objects – measuring cups, small tupperwares, spatulas, sponges, small whisks. You can use fruits and vegetables or objects from nature. You can use different types of fabrics (wool, felt, velvet, cotton, leather). The opportunities are endless.

When your baby is younger, the treasure basket is more of a sensory/exploratory experience. As he grows into toddlerhood, the treasure basket becomes a great way to introduce categories and vocabulary.

____

I hope you are inspired to create your own Montessori activities for your young child. There are so many ways to educate and engage your toddler without breaking the bank. Many of the objects in these activities are things that you probably already have around your house, and if not, can acquire very easily.

If you have any amazing suggestions to add to this list, I would love to hear them and incorporate them into my son’s playtime!

Thanks for reading!