I sewed these placemats for baby girl this week. It’s the start of more practical life lessons around eating. There is so much that can be taught here! When my third daughter started Montessori school part-time she was 15 months old. For lunch the children sat at a long weaning table with embroidered place settings. They ate off real plates and used real glasses for water. There were 12 of students and two teachers. It was amazingly peaceful and beautiful.
My placemat design is busy I admit. But I was using pre-cut placemats I had in my stash of unfinished projects intended for the girls to sew. I made the silverware, plate and cup appliqués and cut them by hand. This was practical, utilitarian sewing done spur of the moment. To accomplish it I’ll admit, I sent the big girls to watch TV with their baby sister. Chips and salsa were eaten in front of the TV piping out pre-teen Disney shows that I hate. But it happens sometimes. My husband came home and made dinner. I hid in the basement sewing and having a beer. For dinner, baby girl had this placemat to try for the first time. The small accomplishment was therapeutic for me.
She was proud of herself, serving herself and eating her lunch. She LOVES to pour her own water. Yes she spills some. Yes she wipes off the floor when it happens. We couldn’t believe it ourselves the first time she went to the cabinet under the sink, grabbed a towel and wiped up the floor by herself just because she sees us to do it. Children like to clean. Montessori definitely capitalizes on that “care of the environment” desire that comes naturally at this age. If you set the space for them, children can do nearly anything we can do. So no, my cabinets do not have child locks. My cleaners are mostly vinegar and water so there is nothing toxic or breakable in that cabinet under the kitchen sink. Plus I’m aware of her and what she is doing.
The weaning table and chair was handmade by talented amazing dad. He makes a few extra of these in his spare time and I right now I have two in my basement for sale. If you are local and interested, hit me up with questions about it.
Corell dishes have been my favorite kid dishes for all my littles. Actually it’s what we all grab first, despite me having an obsession with multiple sets of dishes from Pottery Barn, Anthropology and more. I like pretty things in my kitchen. And I like pretty things for toddlers. Here’s a post from 2012, before we renovated, peeking into our kitchen drawers with more items made for children than adults. When you keep an eye out for small kitchen prep items at places like Homegoods or even just your grocery store (I found the glasses above at Kroger) you’ll be surprised what you can find that is the same as you see in Montessori catalogues. Check thrift stores for plates and bowls that won’t care about get broken. Corell dishes have very little lead in them so I like those. You can even buy them by the piece at Wal-Mart.
The last picture of baby girl eating chicken nuggets was an intentional quick lunch after a big walk. I was hoping to wear her out and feed her fast, before a good long nap. Good long naps don’t ever happen for me. Since she was a baby she has only slept on me, being worn by me, in the car, or next to me all night. I must confess I like her warm body too. Sometimes I just hold her instead of trying to lie her down. I know how fast all these moments go by. I wanted another baby for so very long…well I just hold her, A LOT. Still, even 18-months later.
But lately I’ve been feeling the urge to try something a little different. Therefore I made this floor bed space for her using a play fort my little middle no longer wanted in her room. It’s perfect and by golly….baby girl loves it! She slept for two hours in here after those chicken nuggets and a good walk. She’s even been sleeping there at night. But I miss sleeping with her so I sit on the sofa in her room waiting for her to wake up and take her to bed with me. I’m just as attached to her as she is to me. However I think she was ready for some good sleep. So here you have it. The sound machine is magic in our noisy house. I love a floor bed opposed to a toddler bed because I can get in there with her to read books and nurse.
Speaking of being attached…she really is my little buddy while the bigs are at school. We lined our shoes up after our walk. We both probably need new shoes. She is taking to the work mat philosophy really well. It’s kind of natural to her, like cleaning up a spill on the floor.
Montessori homework for big kids looks like this… a model to scale of the solar system, plus studying different forms of ultraviolet light and radioactive light. My daughter vetoed me sharing that photo of her drawings. Homework isn’t normal protocol. It is rare for my oldest girl to have homework. But my 10-year-old struggles to get everything done at school so I get the joy of occasionally playing homeschool with her on Sundays.
My older girls had a science fair recently. My oldest girl did her project on comparing how different brands of marshmallows burn over a campfire. She compared them based on their ingredients, being vegan, and the different animal gelatins in them. Yes pork and fish gelatins are in your average marshmallows! I’m always surprised how much information is gathered for these projects that seem so simple in concept. I always learn something from my children. For the science fair they set up and presented their experiments at school. I did not get any pictures. When I got there to pick them up from school it was all broken down and they were hoping in the car with their used posters. And that guys, is independent learning. They presented their findings to their classmates. Parents were all at work or at home when it happened and it was over by pick up time. They both spent a full Sunday doing research and experiments in preparation. During dinner we heard all about other science projects and what they learned from the other students.
We are also starting to have some really cool dinner conversations with my oldest daughter regarding what she is being exposed to in social studies and geography. Mature thoughts are being expressed and questions about religion from other cultures, evolution theories, current events and more are being discussed. This is exciting big kid stuff!
For the science fair my other older girl made a battery out of pennies. The variable she compared was vinegar to lemon juice as the conductor for voltage. It required more adult help but once the making of the battery part was finished she prepared her report herself, working on it for hours non-stop. For a person who has a hard time staying focused that was a big deal! I have no idea where we would be without this alternative learning opportunity we call school.Bringing home completed work is a big deal when the children are younger and eager to share their day with you. In first grade it is really exciting! My little middle just finished up the study of animals, and a unit on South America. I drank that entire cup of coffee while she went through every piece of work in two separate folders. She made a puzzle of South America that wowed me. Plus I love kid drawings and stick people They make me happy.
Speaking of happy my oldest and little middle girls made this sun bread together. It’s from the book Sun Bread, shared by a teacher at school. The girls even got out my wheat grinder and milled the wheat to make the flour, since all the other flour in the house was gluten free stuff. This picture was before it went in the oven. And they cleaned! My Kitchen Mill wheat grinder hasn’t been that clean since it was new! They make my job look easy. Maybe having drawers of kitchen supplies for them since 2012 is paying off.