When my oldest, now 7, was a baby, I was very excited about creating a Montessori atmosphere in my home. I love Montessori’s philosophy and the beauty of Montessori materials. But at some point I realized that what many of Montessori’s “practical life” and “sensory” activities are trying to replicate occur quite naturally in the home. Maria Montessori was working with institutionalized children who did not have the luxury of the rich learning environments found naturally in today’s middle class American homes.

There’s nothing wrong with creating Montessori materials for your home, but if you’re short on time, trays, and baskets, don’t feel like you’re cheating your child. Just open your spice cabinet.

My 17 month old and I spent about 25 minutes smelling spices this morning.

Nice fine motor component – taking off the lid. 

 Mmmmmm. . . red pepper flakes

Mmmmm. . . rosemary

Putting the lid back on.

Here, Mom! You smell.

Sad because he spilled spices on his toes and he doesn’t like the mess.

After a good 20 minutes he expanded the activity from smelling to dumping. He pulled out a measuring cup and started pouring spices into it. This is when I got tired of the activity. I wasn’t in the mood to clean up a huge spice mess. Or to waste my spices. Plus I was tired of standing up. So we moved on.

Sometimes when I’m browsing Pinterest and all of the amazing mommy blogs, I start to feel like I should do more for my kids. My point in sharing this is to recognize the good stuff that happens spontaneously.

So tell me, what are some of your natural environment learning successes?


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