Saturday, December 29, 2012


For several years, I've felt a nagging feeling in my gut every time I served my children hot meals on melamine plates.  The FDA says it's "suitable for public safety", but I don't buy it.  I did a bit of research on the topic and found some research studies on melamine use in the US.  Here's a snapshot of what I found:
Melamine resin, a hard thermosetting polymer made from melamine and formaldehyde, is widely used in the US in the form of kitchenware, including plates, bowls, mugs and utensils. Reports in the literature indicate that some kitchenware based on melamine resin leach considerable amounts of melamine monomer. A migration of up to 2.5 mg melamine/ 100 cm2 was observed under conditions that simulate an exposure to hot acidic foods…
My husband and I take such care in providing our kids with the most wholesome foods we can afford, so I'm just not comfortable with melamine resin or formaldehyde leaching into their foods.  So...I cleaned out the cupboards and did some online searching.  I found a gorgeous children's enamelware set at Nova Natural.  You'll probably remember enamel bowls and plates if you went camping as a child.  Enamelware is very durable, but can chip if dropped. Santa was kind enough to get a set (plate, bowl, mug) for each of the kids this year!  Believe it or not, I think the children were most excited about their mugs than any other gift.  We enjoyed some hot cocoa in the mugs that very day.  I'd say they're the perfect size for children ages 3-10. 

Santa did not forget about our youngest (who is 18 months already!)...He brought her a few enamel mini-mugs from Montessori Services.  Keep in mind, they are very small.  Probably useful for children ages 12 months-3 years.  She's been using her mugs for her milk, cheerios, yogurt, anything you can think of.  Being a Montessori teacher, I've also set them up on a tray for her to use as a transferring work.  Thank you, Santa!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Graceful Parenting

I happened to stumble across a beautiful little book called Graceful Parenting by Eve Dreyfus. The author's 7-year-old son illustrated the book with simple, thoughtful works of art.  This little book makes a great gift for new parents, teachers, grandparents, or anyone who touches the life of your child.  The book shares 25 inspirational ideas meant to guide caregivers in a non-threatening way. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Simple Ornament Gift

One of my favorite, but most challenging aspects of the Montessori environment is the multi-age classroom.  This is where I truly believe Montessori was a genius.  How do you help older children become caring, confident leaders?  Encourage them to interact with younger children.  How do you help younger children become more engaged, self-motivated learners?  Expose them to kindergarten-age students.
The multi-age classroom becomes a challenge, however, when planning art activities and whole group exercises.  Activities must be simple enough for the youngest three-year old, yet challenging enough to capture the attention of a six-year old.  Every year we plan a craft for the children to make as a Christmas gift for their parents.   Thanks to pinterest, I've found the perfect ornament for both three and six-year olds!  The only assistance the children needed was with controlling the proper amount of paint to be dripped into the ornament. 

Simply choose three or four colors of acrylic paint, drip them into the clear glass ornament, and shake or roll to achieve the desired effect.  We let them dry upside down on egg cartons so the extra paint could drip out.  Very easy and such beautiful gifts.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bringing Nature Indoors

In our part of the world, December typically brings cold, blustery days and not enough time outdoors.  My daughters and I felt the need to get our hands in the dirt, so we planned a "succelent garden".  This project is simple enough to do at home or in a classroom.  Each child could make their own garden.  Even my 18 month old enjoyed scooping and pouring.
The plants are very inexpensive.  The most costly aspect of this project was probably the cactus soil. 

Besides the bowl, everything I needed was at our local greenhouse. The glass bowl is from Walmart.  You could really use just about anything to house your garden.  The point of interest for the children was adding the layers to the bowl. Gravel, soil, plants, sand, rocks.