Saturday, October 29, 2011

Silent Saturday

Learning to buckle is hard work.

(PS- I am a stickler for car safety and the fact that the buckle was twisted drove me crazy. But she was focused so I waited until she asked for help before fixing it. Learning to buckle is hard work for moms too!)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Homemade Calendar for Preschoolers

Last school year, Ryann had a hard time being dropped off at school. As the spring progressed she got more and more anxious at drop off and even cried a couple times. At the same time she started to say she hated school and didn't want to go. I didn't want her to be miserable at school so I asked her teacher for some help getting to the bottom of her discontent.

Her only suggestion was that Ryann seemed fixated on who was picking her up each day. Some days I picked her up, some days her Papa and once a week (sometimes twice) her dad would pick her up for his visitation. While I verbally lead Ryann through each day, she needed something more to make the pick-up schedule concrete in her head. Her teacher suggested a calendar.

Great, I thought! Buying a calendar should be easy. So as soon as possible we trekked to Target and combed through all the calendars they had. As I looked though, I realized how kid unfriendly your average calendar is. There was just so much going on. Too many dates, not enough emphasis on the days of the week and in general too many distractions from the current day. All of this is too much for a kid who can't read and doesn't even have a firm grasp on the days of the week or the passing of time.

I wanted a weekly calendar that made it easy to differentiate each day without reading but that would also show the rhythm of the week ahead. I needed to be able to label it with the name of the person picking her up and that needed to be easy to understand for a pre-reader as well. Once I figured out what I needed, I left the calendar section and gathered materials to make my own.

I used multicolor foam sheets, glitter foam sheets, stick-on velcro squares and markers.

Each weekday is represented by a different color. Saturday and Sunday are the same color to show that they are weekend days and there is no school. I wrote the day of the week nice and bold at the top of each foam sheet.

Then I cut the glitter foam sheets into strips and had Ryann pick the colors for each person's name. She picked orange for me because it's my favorite color. Purple for Papa because it's her favorite color (and Papa is her favorite!). And blue for her dad because he has a blue shirt, she said. Ryann helped me write the names and attach the velcro squares to the backs. We also put velcro on the days of the week so they are easy to change around as the schedule changes.

We hung the calendar up on the wall, keeping the weekend days together so it was easier to understand than a traditional calendar. 

Once the calendar was in practice it was like magic! Ryann immediately stopped saying she hated going to school and within a week was no longer being ultra clingy as I dropped her off in the morning. Confidence in the weekly schedule helped her relax into her school day and have fun.

This project is easy to customize for any schedule. Depending on your child's ability level, you could populate the whole week with activities! I chose to focus on only one thing as Ryann's introduction to a schedule and the days of the week, but it will be easy to adapt as her understanding grows.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Silent Saturday

Maria Montessori would not approve. But sometimes moms need to clean the kitchen and this is what happens.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Back to school

And back to blogging! I took an unplanned break from blogging this summer and while it was necessary at the time, I miss this space and still have lots to share.

For now, Ryann started back at Montessori school last week and she transitioned back into the classroom so seamlessly it was actually surprising. She spent much of the summer missing her teachers and friends but I wasn't sure if that was going to translate into an easy transition. 

Something about being 4 years old is making all the difference though and she's having lots of fun with no tears at drop off.

Monday, April 11, 2011

My first guest post

I have entered the territory of "guest poster" and I'm so excited! My good friend and mommy blogger over at Busy at Home let me post a story about a project Ryann organized. Head over to Busy at Home to read my post and also check out Susan's other posts as they are never less than inspiring.

Stay tuned for a post about Ryann's toy room makeover as well. Yet another major project organized by a three-year-old. I will show you guys what we did and what I learned about interior designing with a preschooler later this week.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Montessori in the news

The Wall Street Journal wrote a great article about Montessori.  I'm sure you've seen it by now, but I love this article. It doesn't give any misinformation about the method, discuss pros and cons of traditional school or other education methods. Instead it simply says: These creative people all had similar education, is there something worth looking at here?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Love and Lunch

In a desperate attempt to make any food more palatable to my 3-year-old connoisseur, I often send her with fun lunches. Due to my inability to plan ahead, this more often than not includes such quick and easy things as cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Her fruits and veggies are carefully separated with silicone cupcake liners shaped like butterflies. And I have a bunch more ideas I plan to break out as the school year unfolds.

There are things I can't make palatable thrown in there too of course. Like edamame, which can send her into hysterics if she notices it's there, or pretzel rods (I keep trying though!). Or sometimes I have to pack an unplanned extra lunch one week and end up throwing together anything and hope she'll eat it.

One day when came to school to pick Ryann up the head teacher said, "I wish someone would pack butterfly sandwiches in my lunch!" To which I said, "Aren't they cool? Ryann picked out the shape" but for some reason inside I cringed. I suddenly became acutely aware that I was one of those working moms who overcompensates for not being home with an adorable lunch. In that moment I didn't feel judged by her teacher, but I felt this weight of the realization that while I felt like I wasn't overcompensating, maybe I was. And even if that wasn't what I was doing, maybe other people saw it that way and was that the way I wanted to be seen?

Then I read this lovely post about showing your kids you love them over at Simple Kids that put me back in the proper perspective. One of the many ways Kara listed to show your child you love them (rather than just saying it over and over) was to write notes in their lunch box. I realized that as the mom of a pre-reader, my love note WAS the lunch. A lunch packed with care means so much more than just lunch. Of course Ryann's teacher was just expressing how good it feels to have someone pack you something you will enjoy, just for you. Apparently Ryann showed everyone in the classroom her butterfly pb&j that day. It meant a lot to her. And it means a lot to me to be able to make her day special.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

We have a winner!

The winner of the Montessori folding cloth/napkin giveaway was generated by

Commenter number two was Leslie!

Leslie said...
These are lovely! I've been wanting them forever for my Montessori based Sunday School program! I'm in! Thanks for the giveaway!

Congrats Leslie! To claim your prize, please email

Friday, January 7, 2011

Quick reminder--Montessori giveaway

Don't forget, this is the last day to enter the Montessori napkin giveaway!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Montessori Folding Cloth, Napkin Giveaway

This giveaway is closed.

I've said before that our morning routine could use some work. Ryann is hard to wake, and then getting through all the steps on the way out the door can take forever. Our whole routine is rushed and parent-led, which is unproductive and frustrating for us both.

I recently started getting out all the things Ryann needs to make her own cereal, before she wakes up. This way, I can go get her before I'm finished getting ready myself and she has more time to leisurely make and eat her breakfast while I have more time to leisurely put myself together. It's so wonderfully child- and mommy-friendly.

Isn't it cute? I thought the napkin made it classier. Like you would want to sit down and eat your Cheerios if you had a napkin. Ryann won't eat Cheerios even then; I'm not sure how she survived babyhood without Cheerios... but I digress.

Buying napkins for the dinner table reminded me of folding cloths, the cloths used in Montessori classrooms to practice folding. I've seen Ryann steal away washcloths and trace an imaginary line before folding them. It seemed like napkins would be an awesome thing to practice with, as well as spruce up the table.

However, there aren't many usable options for folding cloths on the internet, I've found. They are all drab, expensive and not something you would wipe your mouth with. I assume because they are made for classrooms and not dining rooms. So I made my own with a sewing machine and cute napkins from Target. And I'm giving away four!

These napkins are 100% cotton and goldenrod yellow with dark red contrasting tread, so it's easy for kids to see where they should make the various folds. Each cloth has a different one of the traditional folding patterns on it for lots of practice before mealtimes. 

To enter, just leave a comment before Friday at midnight (EST). For an extra entry, "like" the Real Life Montessori page on Facebook and leave another comment saying you did. I'll announce the winner on Saturday.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Projects in 2011

I'm not usually one for resolutions, but this year I just happen to be starting a few new things in January.

I work part time at a University and my schedule changes each semester. This spring will have Ryann eating lunch at school two days a week. In the fall she only packed a lunch on the day her dad picks her up from school and I'm sad to say I was not always on the ball. Most weeks I would have a moment of panic on Tuesday mornings trying to find something to pack in her lunch box that she would actually eat. We don't eat a lot of packaged foods so it was a challenge coming up with something other than pb&j every week. Now with two lunches a week I feel I need to step up my game and get organized.

Enter, the bento!

Kotobuki 280-129 2-Tiered Bento Box, Panda Face

I bought this Bento Box because I feel like the cute design will help sell the lunch to my picky eater, but it's really not necessary. I have long been a fan of site like Just Bento and of Japanese culture (with three years of 日本語 under my belt, I should be!) so I have been looking forward to packing bentos for a very long time.

A bento, for those unfamiliar, is simply a boxed lunch. Not much different from a Western lunch other than the type of container and food, but I do believe the presentation of said food is generally considered more important in a bento. I plan on packing a combination of Japanese and American food choices and I hope it helps Ryann expand her palette. Once we receive Ryann's bento box, I will post pictures of a few of her lunches.

Speaking of pictures, another one of my loves is photography and I've started a big photo project this year. A friend of mine has inspired me to do a 365. One photo every day for a year. You can check out my progress here if you would like to see a little more of everyday life in our house.

And finally, in 2011 I will be doing my first giveaway! Monday Tuesday I will be giving away items that follow the Montessori method but are used every day. It's so lovely when giveaways fit a theme, isn't it?