Well, it’s July 3rd already and I just now remembered that it was time again to put together our monthly Montessori post. We’ve been having so much fun this last month, I almost forgot about it. Summer is officially here and with it all the craziness that comes with being a farming family. And at the same time so much fun! I think I somehow manage to forget how truly lovely Oregon summers are as I try to prepare for our busy harvest season, but then the beautiful weather rolls in and pleasantly surprises me.
Emmett and I have had a really good month together. I feel like I’ve got my parenting groove back a bit, and am adjusting to this new age and stage a bit better. He’s so much more mobile, more communicative and we are more and more able to be flexible in our daily rhythm. For someone who doesn’t always thrive in a strict routine, this is a gift straight from heaven.
After reading a couple really helpful books, and doing a lot of reflection on why things were feeling so hard, I feel like I’ve been able to access a new reserve of patience and enthusiasm for parenting an 18 month old (what!? 18 months!?). I really think just having the ability to go outside every day is a huge game changer. For a little boy with energy to burn, there’s nothing better than pulling on your puddle boots and tromping around in the yard. Emmett loves to throw the ball for Cash, ride around in his Gator, pick fruits and veggies out of the garden, smell flowers and play in the sprinklers. If there’s a tractor parked near the barn, you’d better believe we head out to sit on it every few days and if there is anything in the garden to be eaten, Emmett is the first to volunteer.
We’ve also been taking a lot of bike rides on the $35 1970’s cruiser Taylor bought and fixed up for me for Valentine’s Day/Easter/Mother’s Day. Emmett loves riding in his bike seat on the back, strapping on his helmet which he asks to wear every time we leave the house, and cruising down to the little schoolhouse down the road (and back again). We haven’t been riding to the farm pool because the heater is broken, but I’m sure it’ll feel pretty darn good as soon as the temperatures rise in July and August.
As I write this, I’ve just come back from rocking my little guy back to sleep after he unexpectedly woke up just a few minutes ago, and man I sure love that kid. I mean, I’m his mom, of course I love him. But aside from that, he really is just one of the best, coolest people I know. He’s my people, you know? Kind of like my husband, I just never get sick of him. Even when things are tough or we’re tired or stressed. He’s just one of my very best friends and I’m so grateful we get to spend our days together. It’s been a good month.
Zoology- This month’s theme was SO. FREAKING. FUN. I mean, animals, duh. I purchased a few new things- a couple Toobs, some flashcards from the dollar bin at Target and a sticker book I thought might be fun, but other than that, we already had SO much that I thought would work. I taped some photos of different animals on the wall near Emmett’s shelves and he’d ask about them almost every day. We read books at breakfast. Books at lunch. And lots and lots of books throughout the afternoon, before reading books before bed. We’re slowly making our way from board books to picture books, learning how to be nice and gentle with tender pages, and advancing to stories that mama doesn’t mind reading on repeat.
Emmett isn’t one to repeat much of what you say, but I’m blown away by how much he understands, and he seems to be making more and more animal noises every day. So far he does a good bear, giraffe, bird, crow, owl, rabbit, dog, cat, goat, cow, moose and chicken, just to name a few. He can point out even more when you ask which is which, and despite seeming to say the same things over and over again, is putting two and three word sentences together. Mostly “Dad goes boom,” “Go mama’s car,” “Throw Cash’s ball,” and his latest, “See Dad.” He says Mama about 4,657 times a day, and I say “Yeah Bud?” about 4,658 and I just love talking to him, even when I think the repetition might drive me crazy.
I’m pretty sure at least half of our book collection is about animals, so I only bothered to take photos of the books we checked out from the library, and the ones from the basket we read through during meals. There was a whole other basket full of animal-related books that lived in the corner of the living room, but those didn’t get frequented quite as much so I decided not to feature them.
I was really pleased with most of the books we got from the library this time, and I really just picked them all out kind of randomly. Emmett LOVED Charlie the Ranch Dog. I think we’ll end up buying that one. We read it every single day at lunch, and sometimes dinner. In the Wild was also really good for the age he’s at, with lovely pictures and little poems for each animal. And we are as obsessed as ever with the Bear books, so Bear Feels Sick was a fun new one to read.
Our Collection: This Moose Belongs to Me. Bear Snores On. Antlers Forever. Adventures of Barefoot Critters. The Diggingest Dog. Animals. Baby Bear, Baby Bear What Do You See? Animals. Are You A Cow? At the Zoo. Bear Sees Colors.
We originally intended to hit both the zoo and the aquarium this month, but the aquarium is over at the coast and I’m still not sure if I’m ready to brave that trip alone. Emmett is not a car enthusiast, nor does he like to sleep in the car, so long drives by myself aren’t the most pleasant experience. We did manage to make it to the zoo though, with my Mom no less, who flew in that morning, met us there for the day, then drove all the way home to Spokane with my brother that night. Now that’s a dedicated Grammy!
We had a really great time at the zoo, Emmett was pretty engaged with all the animals, especially the giraffes, hippos, elephants, crocodiles, and especially a giant horned owl that the zookeepers pulled out of a cage not three feet in front of us while we were eating lunch. He’s been an owl enthusiast for a while now and that just made his whole day. The other part of the zoo that was a big hit was the Zooliner Train. The train hasn’t been running the last few times we’ve been and he’s just started to get really into trains and Thomas, etc., so he was pretty pumped to ride. He talked about “Thom” the whole rest of the day and stopped to watch every time it passed us for the rest of the day. Grammy even bought him a little wooden zoo train with animal cars in the gift shop, which he absolutely loves.
Finally, just this last week we met some friends at the local carousel for a quick ride before heading to the neighboring park for Public Works Day. There were firetrucks, police cars, dump trucks, garbage trucks, bobcats, skid steers, you name a truck, it was there. Only every little boy’s dream, right? We checked out our fill of trucks, grabbed our free hot dogs and set up camp right next to the playground for a picnic lunch with our friends. Then the kiddos ran around and played while the mamas got to sit a chat for a while. It was a really lovely morning.
I just loved Emmett’s face on the carousel. He was all business. Ha!
One of my favorite “projects” we did this month was just a simple Eric Carle sticker book called Amazing Animals that I found at Michael’s. We’d pull it out once a week or so, and Emmett loved picking out the stickers, thumbing through the pages to decide where to put them, and then figuring out how to get them to stick properly. So many sticker books I’ve seen are basically just propaganda for whatever toy or character that’s splattered all over their pages, but I loved that this one had a wide assortment of simple, recognizable animals.
Another project we did a lot was matching trays. I had purchased some new Toob’s at the beginning of the month (Baby Zoo Animals, Coral Reef and Baby Sea Life), so every couple of weeks I’d set out a new bunch of the flashcards I found in the Target $1 bin, with corresponding animal figures so Emmett could pair them up. Usually once a day Emmett will pull the tray off the shelf and back up in to my lap so we can do them together. He requires a little narrating while he does the work, but he can definitely recognize which ones go together. I was so thrilled to find those super simple flashcards, and for so cheap! Those sorts of things can be really time consuming to put together yourself.
We’ve done a fair bit of gardening, playing outside, borrowed a good friends’ water table (though Emmett isn’t super into it) and always lots of practical life work indoors. Right now Emmett is very enthusiastic about food preparation and throwing things away in the garbage. He’s such a good helper!
On Emmett’s shelves this month from left to right: Train tracks + Trains, Animal Matching Tray #1, Animal Matching Tray #2, Box and Basket with Montessori Peg Puzzles, Farm Puzzle and Pieces (presented Montessori style), a stack of Thomas the Train mini-books and another puzzle.
Puzzles have definitely been a favorite this month. I’m so impressed by how much better Emmett is at doing them by himself than he was just a few weeks ago. I’ve helped less and less, letting him self-correct most of the time, and it’s so fun to watch him when he knows he’s got it right. I bought a big lot of like 8 Melissa and Doug puzzles on Craigslist a few months back for $20. They are well loved and well-used. Money well spent. I put two on his shelves at a time and rotated them throughout the month to keep things fresh.
Upstairs in the office we actually did away with the floor shelves we had and cleared out a couple bottom cabinets. Wouldn’t you know, Emmett has played with and enjoyed the very same toys that have been in the office for a while about twice as much in their new home. Go figure! He loves that he can open up the doors to discover what’s inside, enjoys playing with the toys inside the cabinets themselves, and has gotten pretty good about cleaning up. A little change of environment works wonders, I guess.
Coming up with this month’s playlist was super fun. I basically added anything that either talked about an animal or had a type of animal in the title, and it gave us such a fun and upbeat variety of tunes! I also added a few fun summery tunes and we listened to this mix almost daily. Well, this and the Trolls soundtrack. Sing to my soul, JT!
Next month, MUSIC! I just listened to a children’s podcast all about composers and Emmett has been really interested in his little wooden instrument set lately, so I’m excited to see what this next month brings! Perhaps we’ll have to check out some of the children’s music opportunities in Portland. I’d also like to say that this is the six month of our Year of Montessori Learning and I’m pretty proud of myself for keeping up with it! Not only the themes themselves, but putting together these lengthy posts. They’re a lot of work! Anyway, I think they’ll be an awesome resource to look back on, as well as use for any future little learners. I hope they’re useful for you, too!
How was your month? Did you dive in to all things animals?
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