Toddler Community Update: Nov. 16, 2015

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What a rainy and blustery week we had this week. The children had a great time jumping in the puddles (the ones with rain/snow boots on) and kept warm by constantly running, climbing, and moving. On Remembrance Day we had the great privilege and delight to watch the Lancaster and the Mohawk fly over our playground twice. The eleven toddlers all stood, stared, and pointed through the entire fly over. Today the winds were too fierce so we took to the gym and climbed the gymnastic mats, played catch with the balls, and ran around following the black lines painted on the floor.

We have several materials out this month that focus on household pets and so, on Thursday, we went on a field trip to Upper Elementary West and visited their rabbit, Leonard. The toddlers were thrilled to watch Leonard bounce around and listen to the Upper Elementary students tell them how he is cared for. With so many pets in the school we will be taking these small trips throughout the next few weeks.

One of our Toddler Community parents asked for some advice on holiday present purchases. As we all have people in our families itching to purchase gifts for our children, and as many of us will be buying gifts in the next few weeks, we will give some advice on how to guide your gift purchases, which you are welcome to heed or not.

As Montessorians, we believe that all things (toys, clothing, books, furniture, etc.) incorporated into our children’s lives should be beautiful, austere, purposeful, and made with natural materials. Instead of overwhelming our children with more, more, more, we instead choose higher quality items and less, and we organize our child’s home environments so that they can access these beautiful things relatively independently.

For toys, this means we search for toys made of wood or metal that allow children to manipulate and explore, and we stay away from plastic, bright lights, and electronic noises. Children under six-years-old should have no exposure to screens. (This is almost impossible but in no way should your child have their own screen — ipad, laptop, leapfrog screen). If you want to discuss screen time with us, we can in the future.

For clothing, we look for clothing that is free of branding (Disney, Dora, Marvel, etc). and that allows toddlers to dress independently and move freely.

With books (board books or paper books) we love stories that have children as main characters, beautiful illustrations, and we also include non-fiction books filled with facts.

Furniture should encourage your child’s participation in life at home, be made out of natural materials (non-plastic), and again be something they can use independently.

Now, you say, “that’s all great but give me a list of what to buy, will ya?”

Consider when making your purchase this lovely saying: “Buy them something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.” And that is it.

For our toddlers and toys here is a brief list and links to a few great articles:

Great brands of toys:
Hape, Plan Toys, Grimm, Moover, Melissa and Doug.

Great Store:
Citizen Kid on Locke St. in Hamilton. Go there, buy anything, you will be pleased.

– small knobbed wooden puzzles
– 12-piece wooden puzzles
– nesting dolls (they all loves these in class)
– large wooden lacing beads
– wooden ride on toys or balance bikes
– micro scooter
– stacking toys (check out the Grimm brand)
– wooden train set
– dollhouse
– farm animals and a barn
– doll and doll carriage (check out Corolle dolls and Moover doll carriage)
– art supplies
– broom and dustpan (check out the new Melissa and Doug “Let’s Play House, Dust, Sweep and Mop”)
– table and chairs or stool to eat with the family
– muddy buddy outdoor splash suit

Great Article  (ideas apply to the Toddler age group as well).

Some other great articles:

I’m sure you all have great ideas for this as well. Feel free to email back some of your ideas, links, pictures, stores (in Dundas?), brands, etc., and I’ll compile and send them on. We are all in this together after all.

Finally, it’s most important for your children to learn that it is what we give, not what we get, that is important, and that time spent with loved ones and homemade gifts are just as nice as bought items. Involve your children by having them help you make your cards, wrapping paper (all their paintings from school can be used for this), help them make presents (like ornaments, picture frames, homemade cookies, etc.) that they give to the people that matter to them. Make this holiday season about family time, service to others, and compassion to those less fortunate.

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