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DIY Crochet Bird: Party ideas for little girl’s birthday party & DIY craft projects

This DIY crochet bird is a perfect present for friends who attend your little girl’s birthday party. Diana said her little daughter loves birds, so she decided to make crochet birds for her daughter’s guests. At the end of the party each little guest will take a bird home, but Diana realized that her daughter loves them so much, she has to make one more birdie for her daughter. Items needed: 1. Worsted Weight Yarn: two colors (one for the beak and one for the actual bird) 2. Size G crochet hook 3. Solid black eyes - 6 mm (0.24 in) 4. Stuffing 5. Yarn needle Notes: 1. Do not join at the end of each round. 2. Use a stitch marker (I used yarn) to mark the beginning of each round. Abbreviations: mr - magic ring ch - chain sc - single crochet st(s) - stitch(es) rnd: round yo: yarn over sl st - slip stitch Pattern: leave a long tail (you'll make feathers later) and make a mr, ch 1 6 sc in the ring (pull yarn to close it) rnd 1: 2 sc in each of the 6 sts you made (12) rnd 2: 2 sc in every 2nd st (18) rnd 3: 2 sc in every 3rd st (24) rnd 4 - 6: sc around (24) rnd 7: 2 sc in every 4th (30) rnd 8: 2 sc in every 5th (36) rnd 9: 2 sc in every 6th (42) rnd 10 - 12: sc around (42) rnd 13: decrease every 6th (36) rnd 14: decrease every 5th (30) rnd 15: decrease every 4th (24) rnd 16: decrease every 3rd (18) Put the eyes on 6 rows down from the mr. Leave 3 st between them. rnd 17: decrease every 2nd (12) Stuff the bird. rnd 18: sc around (12) rnd 19: decrease each (6) Fasten off. Don't sew the bird yet. Beak: You'll make the beak a row below the eyes in the 3 sts between them. I start by making an outline (a little triangle). After you make the outline, you can keep sewing until you fill in the beak. I usually sew right in the middle (from the bottom of beak until very top). When you're done, pull yarn to the very bottom of bird (where you fasten off) and through that whole. Make a nod, stuff the rest of the yarn in the bird, and sew the bird.  Feathers on top of head: You'll make the feathers from the long tail you left at the beginning. Insert hook anywhere you want on top of the head (I keep it close to where the tail starts), yo, pull and sl st. Now make a ch of 6 or 7 (this is the smaller feather). Insert hook in same st you started, yo, pull and sl st. Make a ch of 10 or 11 (bigger feather). Insert hook where you started, yo, pull and sl st. Fasten off. I make a little nod here and stuff the rest of the yarn in the bird. You can make the feathers longer by making longer chains. Image Source: Kristen Lisa Photography 

Nautical Baby Shower: Simple DIY baby shower ideas Part 1 |Ahoy! It’s a Boy Lifesaver |

Boats. Flags. Fish. It’s a boy! If you are looking for boy baby shower theme ideas, nautical themed is a perfect DIY project for you.   Summer is going to share with us a simple DIY “Ahoy, it’s a boy!” AKA “Diaper” lifesaver for her friend’s baby shower. This lifesaver can make any party more fun! Items Needed: Diapers (I used 42) Scissors Sewing needle Stapler, Super Glue, or Hot Glue Gun Cardboard (2 boards) Thin red yarn Thick red ribbon Decorative White Rope Step One: Roll up one diaper and tie it with the red yarn. Leave extra length on the knot (about 6 inches). Then roll up another diaper, and using the extra length from the previous knot, tie the two diapers together. Do this with all of the diapers. Place the groups of two diapers around in a circle, pretty side up, and keep adding groups until you reach your desired shape.   Step Two: Slide one of the boards under your ring of diapers, and place the other board on top. Then flip the diapers so that the underside (less pretty side) is facing up. Step Three: Using the sewing needle and red yarn, weave in and out of the groups of two diapers, connecting them. This will make the diaper ring nice and snug. Step Four: Trace the diaper ring onto the cardboard and cut along the lines you made. This will be the backing to your life preserver. Step Five: Place the cardboard backing on top of your diaper ring. Sew the diaper ring onto the cardboard, making sure not to puncture the diapers. Step Six: Once the diaper ring is fastened to the cardboard backing, flip it over so that the pretty side is now facing up. Add the finishing touches by gluing on the ribbon and rope. Image Source: Kristen Lisa Photography  

Best Montessori Floor Bed Mattresses

Best Montessori Floor Bed Mattresses

Home is the best space for children to begin developing an understanding of themselves and the floor bed can help turn your child’s bedroom into a learning environment! Sleep is such an important part of a child’s life. Here at Sprout, we want children to develop the skills for a healthy relationship with sleep. The Montessori Floor Bed helps foster independence and confidence in children as you allow them to learn boundaries! For the ease of parent and child, the Sprout Montessori Floor Bed can be flipped to grow with your child, making it a long-lasting part of their formative years. If you’re looking for the best floor bed mattress, below you will find our floor bed mattress recommendations. In order to allow a child greater independence to use the floor bed without assistance, we suggest a mattress thickness of 4-8 inches. We encourage this because a thinner mattress allows the child greater independence to get in and out of the Floor Bed without assistance. If you’d prefer a thicker mattress, perhaps consider your child’s height and if they’ll be able to utilize the bed on their own.                                                                  Most Recommended by Customers These mattresses have been shared with us the most! They fit well into our Montessori Floor Bed AND are comfortable! 5 Little Monkeys Waterproof cover, allergy proof, 8” thickness (can be found at Costco) Twin $499 Full $799 @mintsnips said “Five little monkeys is the most comfortable mattress ever! Fits in our sprout toddler bed perfectly. Over a year in and we love it!” Purple Children’s Mattress Made from hypoallergenic materials that are CertiPUR-US and Clean Air GOLD certified. Has a Machine washable cover Twin $499 7" thick @claireturner206 said “Kids @purplemattress💜💜💜 our 14 month old loved it immediately. 7” off the ground” Nest BKB (Big Kid Bed) BKB Lifetime warranty mattress made specifically for kids. Twin $299 7" thick Full $499 7" thick @loveofknowledge17 said “We use a Nest bedding twin BKB mattress with our Sprout floor bed. It’s 7” and comfortable enough for me to lay with as needed.” Ikea MEISTERVIK Available in store or online Twin $125 4 3/4" thick Full $159 4 3/4" thick @lareinalab said “We love the MEISTERVIK mattress from Ikea! It's really comfy, I fall asleep there all the time lol Works great with their mattress topper too!” Newton 5.5-inch thickness and dual layer removable cover. Crib $249 5.5" thick   Low Cost Here at Sprout, we think that Montessori should be accessible to everyone! Here are some mattresses that were recommended within a lower price range.  Milliard Crib Mattress Flippable for baby or toddler Firm side for newborns and infants, softer side with memory foam for toddlers Crib $87.99 5.5 inches thick Juniper Kids’ Mattress Purchased from Costco. Medium-firm Feel 6-inch Height, Made With Certipur-us Foams Free Of Flame Retardants, Heavy Metals, Formaldehyde, and Phthalates Twin 189.99 6" thick Full 269.99 6" thick Nod by Tuft and Needle Purchase on Amazon.  Twin $195 6" thick or 8" thick Full $260 6" thick or 8" thick @natycanaveral said “Nod by Tuft & Needle, full, 8”. I bought this mattress because it is free of harmful chemicals: It has a Greenguard Gold and CertiPUR-US certification. Is made in the US, good quality without breaking the bank!” Linenspa 6-inch Innerspring Mattress Firm Twin $79.99 6" thick Full $104.99 6" thick @emerlee85 said “Linenspa!!!! Really affordable and such great quality! We got my daughter a floor bed for her third birthday!!! She has slept like a champ ever since!” Dream On Me Orthopedic Firm Foam Standard Crib $69.53 5.5" thick Organic For those of you who want organic mattresses, these were recommended from our customers!   Essentia Luxury mattress. Made in a GOLS and GOTS certified organic factory, 20 year warranty, 6 inch mattress with memory foam. Crib $649 4.5" thick Twin $1,299 6" thick Full $1,599 6" thick Sleep On Latex Mattress Made of Organic Latex Foam, Organic Cotton and Organic New Zealand Wool. Has many health/ safety certifications and a 10 year warranty Twin $700 8" thick Happsy Made with organic cotton, wool, and latex and 100% certified organic. Made with zero glues or adhesives. Twin $899 10" thick-This mattress is thicker than we recommend and sits above the frame. @lilamontessori said “Of all 3 reputable organic mattresses we purchased for the kids, to my surprise, Happsy is the most comfortable mattress. It fits our floor bed fantastically.” My Green Mattress GOTS and GOLS certified materials. Twin $699 9.5" thick-This mattress is thicker than we recommend and sits above the frame. Crib $259 6" thick Brentwood Home 1” of memory foam and 5” of supportive base. Medium-firm. Praising reviews of use by young toddlers, and specific customers have used it for a floor bed. Twin $349 6" thick Full $449 6" thick Other Recommendations From Customers Casper Foam mattress. 10 year warranty Twin $395 10" thick-This mattress is thicker than we recommend and sits above the frame Home of Wool Fully customizable mattress Starting at $783 5" thick @soillovessunshine said “We love our Home of Wool @homeofwool floor mattress! Wool is the perfect material for such kind of bed - keeps you warm (but not hot) on the floor in any season! And it's so comfy! 😍” Savvy Rest Luxury Mattress with latex. GOTS certified. Twin $1,099 8” thick Nook Pebble GREENGUARD Gold Certified. Crib starting at $199 4" thick Obasan Organic Made with quality organic materials Twin $1099 6" thick @montessori.inspired.mama said “We bought an @obasansleep mattress for our toddler and baby floor beds (also for our own bed) we chose this because it is an organic mattress free of any bad stuff” LuuF Slightly thicker than we recommend Twin $499 9" thick While a mattress between 4-8 inches thick might be ideal for your learning child, for reference, a thicker mattress will look more like this in your Sprout Floor Bed frame:   Avocado Mattress Info: When considering a mattress, it is important to find a mattress that fits the frame well- for both looks and for safe use. We have heard of experiences with customers purchasing the Avocado mattress that worked just fine, but we also had customers share experiences with the Avocado that have been negative. The Avocado mattress has a high degree of variance that can make the mattress either not ideal in the frame, or not fit at all. Below are photos of the mattress on top of the frame, or squished into the frame. Their posted measurements of the mattress would allow the mattress to fit, but Avocado's allowed variances keep this from being certain.        "We make our mattresses a tad bit larger than crib dimensions so they fit snug, eliminating gaps between the mattress and crib and we also allow for up to a 1" in variance from the advertised dimensions"- From Avocado.    _______ If you haven’t gotten a floor bed yet, get yours here! To read more about the benefits of a floor bed, check out this blog post with a foreword from @montessoriinreallife! If you’re looking to make the transition to a floor bed, we have a blog with some tips and tricks from Sprout customers for making the switch more seamless here! How has switching to a Floor Bed changed your child? Comment below!
Transitioning to a Floor Bed- Some Insights and Ideas!

Transitioning to a Floor Bed- Some Insights and Ideas!

Sleep is such an important part of your child’s life - and yours as a parent! When it comes to sleep, there are so many options available that it can be overwhelming. Would a crib or a bassinet be better? Is co sleeping a good option for you and your family? When is it best to transition your child to a new bed? While a floor bed doesn’t provide a solution to every sleep problem, it can help simplify some of the questions and challenges inherent with helping your little one(s) sleep well. The thought of using a floor bed instead of a crib can be a big paradigm shift, so we want to address some common concerns and questions about how and when to use a floor bed with your child. We understand that this change can be a daunting one, so we hope the insights and considerations that others have shared about their families can help make for a smoother transition for you and your little one.   Check out our YouTube video on tips from a sleep expert when switching to a floor bed! Some of the Benefits of using a Floor Bed A floor bed is a way to honor your child's autonomy and natural curiosity. Because the bed is low to the ground, it offers your child mobility and freedom. They can play with toys, read a book, and even have some autonomy with their sleep. “...the child should be given a low couch resting practically upon the floor, where he can lie down and get up as he wishes." - Maria Montessori Our founders had this to share with their experience using a floor bed: “We used a crib for our first two babies. Now that we have a floor bed for our third, I almost forgot how things used to go. I would have to try to quickly transition my baby from my arms into the crib, which rarely worked. The “free fall” feel that inevitably happened as I tried to lower them to the crib would startle and wake them. I would have to bend over the crib sides and try to comfort them as best I could without actually being able to hold them. My back would start to ache, but our baby still needed some sort of touch for reassurance. Sometimes I would pick them up and we’d start the whole process of “rocking to sleep and trying to quickly get them into the crib before waking” all over again. Other times I would try to ignore my aching back and just endure for a few more minutes so that my baby would settle down and fall asleep. Using a floor bed makes such an amazing difference for our family! I can snuggle with my baby, then gently transition out of the bed. If she starts to stir, I can easily move closer to her and help her settle in before I go out of the room. My husband also loves that he can lay right in bed with our baby and that he doesn’t fall asleep sitting in a chair. And our baby loves the independence! It’s pretty incredible to watch her “ask” to be put to bed when she’s done playing at bedtime (she will crawl onto her bed and try to lay down or grab her blanket to let us know she’s ready). I also feel like it provides a much more natural transition to helping babies sleep more independently.” Change often requires a Transition Period As humans, we seem wired for consistency. Maybe you have a favorite park you like to go to, a specific spot where you like to sit when flying on an airplane or seeing a movie, or a favorite dish you order at a restaurant. Even though these seem like small things, it can be distressing when something is different from how it usually is or doesn’t go as we expected. We have routine and rhythms, and when we adults find those disrupted, we often need a little time and space to adjust. This is even more true for kids. So, if your little one’s sleep arrangements are changing, there may be an initial transition period. The routine is being disrupted and your little one is responding to that. These challenges don’t mean that the change is bad or that you made a poor decision, sometimes (most times!) things just have a transitional period while your child adjusts to their new environment. As a child gets bigger, they may outgrow the need to be close to the floor. One thing you can do with our floor bed is avoid unnecessary change by raising the floor bed as it can be flipped to grow with your growing child. When to flip the bed varies from child to child, though we recommend waiting until they can safely (not head first!) get on and off the floor bed independently. A flipped floor bed from @happylittlechildhood Common Challenges and Insights from Others’ Experiences We asked for feedback from those who have a floor bed about what their experience has been. We appreciate so many who were able to provide their insights by sharing their experiences! Some common themes that emerged include helping the child stay in bed, what age worked best for transitioning, and some of the unforeseen benefits of using a floor bed. Some common suggestions of what to do before transitioning included letting your child pick their sleeping accessories, sticking with a routine, prepping their room with books, and just preparing yourself mentally for the transition phase. For a younger child who might be co sleeping or sleeping in a parent’s room still, it can be helpful to transition in phases; focus first on helping your child use the floor bed for naps and once that is going well, start using it for nighttime sleep. If your child is old enough, you can also talk with them about it. We even had one person who pretended the bed was talking and told their child how excited it was to have him sleep in it! Many parents mentioned their little ones getting out of bed and playing or trying to leave the room. @heathergrif028 said that her 7 month old would crawl off her bed during bedtime. They offered verbal direction and put her back in her bed. She said it took about a month for her daughter to adjust to staying in the floor bed. She said “it wasn't a sudden thing, though she slowly got out of bed less and less. It still very occasionally happens, but isn't often.” Some families noted that their little one initially would get out of bed and sleep on the floor instead at first. @growingupwithgrant said that it took 2 months for their son to sleep in his floor bed, and during that time he slept on the floor often. She said, “We just let him sleep on the floor if that's what he wanted! We transitioned to a floor bed when we moved into a new apartment, so I think he was just nervous about all of the changes. One day, my husband fell asleep on our son's bed while watching him and from that point on, Grant has slept in his floor bed!” @mrsbrightsideandsirmaxwell shared their experience with their 21-month-old daughter. They made the transition about a week prior to us asking them about it. They have found that this change brought on a new family experience of tucking their daughter in at night. “We can now cuddle in bed together. She still needs us there when she is falling asleep at least for her nap but at night it’s just cuddling for a bit and then we leave the room. She did fall out once and we now keep her favorite teddy bear on that side to keep her from rolling out as a barrier. Works great! She also has better naps in the floor bed than in the crib. We actually started the cuddling for her to feel safe in the new room and new bed. A lot of “new” at the same time. And we all love it and actually “argue” who gets to put her down for the night because we both love it. The first night we did wait in bed with her until she was asleep. The last 3 nights we left when she was sleepy, said good night again, and announced that we were leaving before we left the room. Worked really well without any tears and she sleeps through the night. Our plan is to gradually shorten the time of us in the room but for now, we all seem to enjoy it.” @outsidethetoybox said that one part of switching to a floor bed was that their nap routine changed and that their daughter “used to get out of bed and wait at the door when she woke up, but now she just stays in bed until we come get her. We switched to a floor bed around 14 or 15 months and she is 21 months now.” Regarding naps we had @beckyrodioduncan sharing the joy of a floor bed with naps being that “there's nothing sweeter than that post nap smile when they climb out of bed on their own and come to you.” We want to mention that regulations require us to recommend waiting until 15 months to start using a floor bed. Many Montessori families choose to transition their child to the floor bed prior to that by ensuring the child's bedroom is a safe place for an infant to be unsupervised. Ultimately, we know that parents know their child's environment, capabilities, and development better than anyone and we trust parents to do what is best for their children.  The overall feedback from our customers seems to point to a smoother transition when they switch early on. Some customers mentioned that their child was so ready for the change, they aren’t sure what took them so long to do it! Other parents waited until their child was older (around 2 years or more), but felt that the transition was perhaps more difficult because their child was accustomed to the routine of using a crib. A Sleep Expert’s Input As a pediatric sleep consultant and occupational therapist, Jessie Sweeney, OTR/L and owner of Supporting Littles, shares her insight. When asked about sleep and independence, she said that “every child and parent is unique and, therefore, there is never a one-size fits all method or answer. The concept that all babies should sleep in a crib is a socially constructed idea in westernized society.” She continued by stating that the floor bed “provides a gradual and gentle transition to a baby who is bed-sharing or co-sleeping, more SLEEP for parents if parents are currently dealing with frequent crib transfers, allows parents to continue nursing to sleep if they want to, and is low to the ground allowing the baby to feel some autonomy by being able to get in and out of bed independently and eliminating a dangerous fall risk.” Lastly, when discussing the transition from another bed or bassinet to a floor bed, Sweeney shared the importance of conscious preparation of the space and that “anything inappropriate for the crib is going to be inappropriate for the bedroom.” Some examples given of things to consider were to “check if window coverings are out of reach, outlets are covered, furniture is bolted to the wall ... that there is nothing the baby can climb on, and that there are no "cracks" between the bed and wall.” (One of our floor bed options is designed specifically with a higher side to address this concern, whereas our floor bed with the two low side options are for when the head of the bed is against a wall but the child can get into or out of the bed from either side). If you are interested in more information on safe sleep and ideas of how to support 0-3 year olds, you can check Jessie Sweeney’s website www.supportinglittles.com. We hope that this has offered some helpful insights. If you have additional questions or want to share your experience using a floor bed, we would love to hear about it! Feel free to comment below, send us a dm on Instagram at @sprout_kids, or email us at hey@sprout-kids.com.
What I Learned from Spending a Week Outside with My Toddlers

What I Learned from Spending a Week Outside with My Toddlers

I’ve heard of the benefits of unstructured time outside repeatedly. I’ve seen the Instagram posts with children playing in their immaculately prepared outdoor spaces - gardening, climbing on their play structures, sliding, swinging, and carefully transferring water in their sensory table or mud kitchen.I’ll be honest; it felt a little out of reach. My backyard is not perfectly manicured; we don’t have a play structure, the garden is just a bed of dirt and weeds, and while we have a beautifully ample and open space to play, it didn’t feel like it was enough. But in a moment of motivation, I decided to dedicate a week of our lives to spending as much time outside as possible.I want to take a moment to acknowledge the privilege that comes with this experience. I work flexibly from home, I am able to spend my day outside with my children. Not everyone reading this is able to do this, so I am not here to tell you to replicate this experiment. I am here to share what I’ve learned and how it affected our family.Here are the challenges and joys we experienced! Less Screen Time I think I share the same sentiment that many other parents feel—I want less screen time for my kids, but I also want a break now and then. On my first day outside, I immediately felt defeated. We had been out for one hour, and I was ready to be done. Needing some motivation, I decided to listen to a podcast by Ginny Yurich about how she started the movement 1000 Hours Outside1. She said that, on average, children consume 4-6 hours of screen time a day. What if children spent that much time outdoors?I found a new goal and a new motivation. Instead of merely spending as much time outside as we could, I wanted to spend at least 4-6 hours outside every day for one week. And that’s what we did. Better Sleep Sleep has been elusive in our home. My one-year-old still was not sleeping through the night. I woke up every morning feeling exhausted. On the first day, we spent a whopping seven hours outside, he even napped on a little cot outside for his morning nap, and to my surprise, he slept all night long.Our experience is backed by the National Sleep Foundation. Exposure to natural light supports our sleep patterns2. Being outside helps regulate the body’s internal clock and allows the body to wind down at night. When my son started sleeping, I was floored. I took it one step further. We didn’t turn any lights in our house on after the sun went down. We woke when the sun rose and slept when it went down. My goal was for my son’s sleep to improve, and it did. He slept all night every night for that entire week. What I didn’t expect was that my sleep also improved and I woke up feeling refreshed and ready for the day. More Stamina When we first began this journey, my children seemed to tire quickly. They would run (and crawl) around for an hour and seem to lose interest in what I had set up. As the week went on, I found their concentration and stamina outside began to lengthen. I observed my one-year-old in a pile of sticks, leaves, and pine straw for 30 minutes. He never once looked up at me or needed my entertainment. I was blown away by his focus and fascination with the nature around him. My children began to get curious—testing the sounds the rocks made when they banged together, looking for worms in the garden bed and watching them slowly disappear into the dirt again, or simply crawling into my lap and silently listening to the birds sing in the morning.While this may sound idyllic and unattainable, many scientists agree that time in nature restores our energy and enhances our ability to feel calm and focused. Stephen and Rachel Kaplan developed Attention Restoration Theory in the late 1980s, which proposes that exposure to nature improves our ability to concentrate, restores mental fatigue, and can even quicken recovery from injury or surgery3. Though the precise reasons behind these effects are difficult to delineate, many studies have validated the theory over time.As a tired and often overwhelmed mother of two small toddlers, I found it relieving to see that my children could entertain themselves, find beauty in the world around them, and find a calm yet energetic state while I sat and drank my coffee or did my work on the patio. Not only do children benefit cognitively, but they also benefit physically. Balance, coordination, core strength, posture, immunity, bone, and muscle strength are all developed and strengthened during active play outdoors. More Social Connections After the first three days outside, I was bored. I had been staring at the same backyard for three days. I was ready to do something new. With my commitment to this experiment, I reached out to friends and planned outdoor playdates. We spent time at parks and out on walks. I was able to connect with friends, and our children could run and play. I had to fulfill these hours outside, and I couldn’t do it on my own. I had to solicit the help and company of other parents. Without this goal of spending at least 4-6 hours outside, I could have easily isolated myself in my home for an entire week without seeing another person. I was challenged to spend my time in a new way and to seek out the support of other families. My children enjoyed our outings and seeing their friends, but I was most surprised by how refreshed I felt. Children and adults need human interaction, connection, and shared experiences. I needed this more than I realized.  Our Challenges   While we did see all of these benefits, I won't say that it came without effort, because things did not always go how I imagined. Day two of our week outside didn’t go according to plan. My two-year-old wasn’t feeling well and she just wanted to lay in her cot that we had set outside for downtime. We got a pillow and blankets and she watched a movie on her tablet while we played outside. As the morning went on, she continued to feel sick, so we went inside and I decided to cut our hours short for the day. Sometimes, despite our beautiful intentions, circumstances change and we have to adapt. In this experience, I learned that my goal should be to be as intentional as I can about how my children spend their time, but plans can be altered, and goals can be set aside for another day.  My Takeaway Our week outside was transformational. Even after our week was over, we continued to spend several hours a day outdoors. There are days when we get busy, illness, or the weather keeps us inside, but my takeaway from this experience is that my children need to be outside for unstructured play for a significant amount of time. They need time to explore, move their bodies, and appreciate the world around them. “In nature, children learn to take risks, overcome fears, make new friends, regulate emotions, and create imaginary worlds. It’s important that the adult allow children both the time and the space to play outdoors on a daily basis. It’s important that we give them the trust they deserve and the freedom they need to try out new theories and play schemes.” - Angela J. Hanscom, Balanced and Barefoot4 This Earth Day, I invite you to spend more conscious hours outside. Go to a park, call a friend to join you on a walk, or simply go out to your backyard or explore your own neighborhood. I’d love to hear about your experiences outside! Footnotes 1 "Yurich, Virginia (Host). (2019, January 28) “The Origin of 1000 Hours Outside”" 2 Suni, E. (2022, April 7). Light & Sleep: Effects on sleep quality. Sleep Foundation. Retrieved April 21, 2022, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/bedroom-environment/light-and-sleep 3 Ackerman, C. E. (2020). What is Kaplan’s Attention Restoration Theory (ART)? PositivePsychology.com. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/attention-restoration-theory/ 4 Hanscom, A. J. (2016). Balanced and barefoot: How unrestricted outdoor play makes for strong, confident, and capable children. New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
Montessori-Friendly Summer Reading List

Montessori-Friendly Summer Reading List

For teachers and parents, books can be a powerful tool to help students and children understand what they see and experience out in the world. Montessori-friendly books are ones that are rooted in reality and inspired by real world experiences. Illustrations portraying things that they see out in their everyday lives can illuminate the beauty in the ordinary – a sunset, a butterfly, a rainstorm, or a simple walk in the backyard. Our Montessori-Friendly Summer Reading List is perfect for the summer classroom environment or for reading at home with loved ones. Summer Days and Nights by Wong Herbert YeeBest for Ages 2-6 years old This book follows a little girl as she entertains herself with the sights, sounds, and fun activities of summer days and nights. We love books that highlight the joy and small details that make summer such a fun time of year. Summer Evening by Walter de la MareBest for Ages 0-5 yearsThis book is part of a series depicting each season. There are beautiful illustrations alongside de la Mare's poem about a summer evening. This is a beautiful book to enjoy animals, colors, and very little text that allows the reader to enjoy the beauty of the illustrations. We love artistic interpretations through words and illustrations that are inspired by the beauty of nature! Wave by Suzy LeeBest for Ages 2-5 yearsThis is a gorgeous, wordless book about a girl at the beach. The illustrations perfectly capture the many emotions the girl experiences when playing in the waves. We love books that spark the imagination by allowing children to put their own words or feelings into the story. Mama, Is It Summer Yet? by Nikki McClureBest for Ages 3-5 yearsA little boy, eagerly awaiting summer, asks his mother if it is summer yet. They watch for the signs of summer, like birds and the flowers. Reading books that promote new vocabulary and observation skills can help children navigate their world A Lullaby of Sumer Things by Natalie ZiarnikBest for Ages 4-8 yearsThis is a perfect book to end a summer day in preparation for bedtime! This is a wonderful rhyming book that can help your little one wind down from a fun-filled summer day. We love books that support our little one’s routines by helping them relate to families and children! We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen & Helen OxenburyBest for Ages 2-4 yearsThis is a classic book about a family outing to find a bear. The illustrations are beautiful and the simple text encourages children to join in! This is a personal favorite in our house. We read this book daily Before and After by Matthias Aregui & Anne-Margot RamsteinBest for Ages 1-5 yearsThis book makes connections between everyday things, like a chicken and an egg. The large illustrations are perfect for children who are not yet reading. Children can benefit from books that make connections between objects children see and interact with in their everyday lives. Summer Color! by Diana MurrayBest for Ages 4-8 yearsThis book is about two children who go on an adventure in their backyard and discover the colorful landscape of summer. We love when children are inspired to discover nature and read books that are relatable! Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate MessnerBest for Ages 2 to 5 yearsThis book uncovers the hidden world under our feet! It is perfect for families starting a garden in their backyard! We love offering books that spark interest in new ideas and appreciation for what we don’t see! The Backyard Bug Book for Kids by Lauren DavidsonBest for Ages 3-5 yearsLearn facts about the bugs in your very own backyard! There are pictures and activities–perfect for your bug-lover. We love books that inspire observation and education about what can be found all around us! What are your favorite summer books? Comment below to share!
Meaningful gifts for children

Meaningful gifts for children

How can something be meaningful in a world where we have so much? With careful observation and conscious consideration, I believe anyone can have the opportunity to be impacted by meaningful gifts. My children and I were blessed by such an experience one winter. As a single mom who was also attending school, I was struggling to make ends meet. I remember the fear I felt as the seasons began to change and the holidays were approaching. After observing their lack of winter gear in snowy Utah, a woman in our neighborhood bought my children winter coats. Through her observation, she was able to give an impactful gift that not only made a difference to my children, but also to me. Her thoughtful gift made a life-long impression. While every gift may not have the same impact as my neighbor’s did, I believe that well thought-out gifts do have the potential to have a lasting impact. Thoughtful gifts can help to create treasured memories, build connections, or foster a child’s confidence. In spite of this, gift-giving for children can, at times, be challenging for both givers and receivers. We want to share some insights that others use as guidelines to help as you thoughtfully consider gifts for the loved ones in your life. Giving meaningful gifts Tangible and intangible gifts can both bring value to the recipient, be tailored to interests and needs, and make the recipient feel seen. Meaningful gifts can have a lasting impact for the giver, receiver, and even the parent of a child who receives such a gift . As you consider a gift for a child, @pattyrosemc suggested to “ask, how will this spark [the] baby’s imagination - if you can’t think of anything, buy something else.”We gathered insights on gift ideas that foster growth and development for children from our Instagram community. When asked, 79% of respondents said they prefer experiences over toys. Experiences can be as simple as the gift of time and memories together, such as a camping trip. Other experiences can be combined with tangible gifts like a quilt that is used for storytime, a notebook with a letter to the recipient, or a stuffed animal to remind of a zoo experience together. Some of the experience gift suggestions were: Zoo memberships Tickets to places like an aquarium or museum An art or science subscription box Nature observation items Child-sized kitchen tools and a set aside time to cook together A kite and a trip to the park A musical instrument and a music class The other 21% said they appreciate tangible items that foster growth and development. @nelsonninjas recommended that people “ask the parents! Nobody wants stuff they don’t need!” When it comes to toys or tangible items, melllellla said "I try to focus on minimalism and celebrate by giving one or two really meaningful, thoughtful, long-lasting items instead of a large number of poor quality gifts." These tangible items can bring a great opportunity for development or learning experiences for children. Some suggestions were: Wooden blocks Books Art related items (washable paints, dot markers, construction paper, stickers, etc) Age-appropriate puzzles A growth chart to track them as they get older Magnets (tiles, letters, numbers, etc) Balls Animal figures @sonnysmontessori Requesting gifts that align with the way you want to parent When our Instagram community was asked, 93% of respondents shared that their child had received a gift that didn’t align with the way they wanted to parent. It can be difficult as birthdays and holidays approach to know how to have a conversation about gifts with your loved ones who may get a gift for your child. It is natural for parents, grandparents, and family friends to want what is best for a child, and that conscious concern extends to gifts for the child. Despite their united intentions, loved ones sometimes don’t see eye-to-eye on what makes something the ‘best’ for a child. With these differing opinions, how do you communicate prioritizing a child’s development when special days or holidays are coming up? While I am always grateful for the thought behind gifts for my children and the investment in their celebration or holiday, I also don’t want people spending money on something that isn’t a good fit for our home. Have you ever felt this way? How to have the conversation with friends and familyWhen it comes to having a productive conversation while also respecting feelings, there are a couple different ways to approach it. Here's what our followers had to say about how they communicate with those close to them about gifts:@xamybradshaw approaches the conversation by saying: “as parents, we aren’t a fan of traditional plastic toys…we prefer__ because __”. Giving insight on your ‘why’ can be a helpful way to have the conversation. By giving the reason behind your gift preferences, you can help others understand more about your parenting methodology. Helping loved ones understand methodology or principles can help lay the groundwork for future experiences. @kascondra mentioned telling people ‘If you need inspiration...’ and then would send over a wishlist that she prepared. This can be helpful as it takes the pressure off the purchaser, and the receiver knows that items in the home will align with what is wanted in the home. @anyaruthmckenzie and @nylex1 mentioned times that they have received gifts that they wouldn’t have preferred but they’ve been able to make them special toys that come out when grandparents are over or for long car rides. This can give the toy a purpose while making it not accessible all the time. By making it a special toy saved for special times, you can also make a strong connection between the gift and the giver. Large item group gifts Another way to communicate about items that you feel will be beneficial for your child is to suggest a group gift. Sometimes desired items can come with a higher cost than people would be willing to spend individually. One suggestion is to invite your loved ones to get your child a group gift. Lian shared her insights on group gifts and how she has tackled them. She shared suggestions such as emailing everyone involved, sending a link of the desired present, sharing about the cost, and asking contributors to gift whatever amount they feel comfortable with. Afterwards she suggests sending pictures of the child opening and playing with the gift and with a “personalized video thank you from [the] child to them.” I have sent pictures or FaceTimed to share my child enjoying a gift. Especially when the giver lives long-distance, I have seen this bring a greater depth into the joy of gift-giving. Sprout giftsLian also mentioned a memorable gift was her son’s "learning tower -- he's now able to help with baking and cooking and he's gotten very good at chopping and mixing and mashing"@samanthajhendrian mentioned how they avoided grandparents ‘spoiling’ their little one for their first birthday, by setting up a group gift with everyone pitching in on a Nugget. The top 3 most giftable Sprout items suggestions were: The Sous-Chef Toddler TowerLexico Book Display ShelfWeaning Chair & Table Set     However you choose to communicate about presents with your loved ones, you can take the opportunity to teach gratitude to your child for people’s gifts. Reminding your child who gifted them a specific pair of pajamas or a book can help those items become special to your little one. When used, your child can mentally link the item to the gift-giver and make it more meaningful. Whether tangible or intangible, giving a gift to a child can show that you support and care for them. By thinking about what gift would make a great impact on that unique child, you can choose a meaningful gift that is tailored to their needs and can provide lasting benefits. Is there a way you’ve found success when communicating about gifts with loved ones? Or is there a gift that you’ve given or received that you feel fosters growth or development? Share below!
Our Community-Sourced Montessori Friendly Kids Book Recommendations

Our Community-Sourced Montessori Friendly Kids Book Recommendations

As a parent it can be hard and time consuming to find a new worthwhile book for your child. Some of the best children’s books can come from perusing your sister’s shelves or from asking your online mom group for suggestions. While you can find a few gems that way, you don’t always get a variety or very many. This is how we came with the idea to provide a large community-sourced book list. To do this, we asked our Instagram community for their most recommended children's books in hopes of learning what books parents and children truly enjoy and learn from. We got over 600 responses! Whether you’re looking for a baby book, a toddler book, a preschool book, or something for an older child, hopefully this list can provide new ideas and help as you create a love of books and learning together. We have categorized the books so that you can more easily find what you are looking for! To get all categorized recommendations, enter your email below and you will receive the full list. Here are some of the books and the value that they can provide to your child: Global Babies by The Global Fund for ChildrenBest for Ages 3 months to 3 yearsGlobal Babies shares how each child is unique and special, all around the world. Infants and toddlers tend to enjoy looking at other babies to observe expressions! The words in the book are simple so that you can add your own information about the country. By having REAL pictures of REAL babies around the world, your child can be introduced to different cultures, clothes from around the world, and global diversity. (Montessori-friendly) Here We Are by Oliver JeffersBest for Ages 1 to 7 yearsHere We Are is a great way to discuss caring for the Earth and the people in it. The book shares facts about the Earth and bodies while showing people in the world from all their varying styles, cultures, and lifestyles. As you continue to share these concepts of individuality and kindness early on, you could be surprised by how much they understand. Why Johnny Doesn't Flap by Clay Morton and Gail MortonBest for Ages 4 to 8 yearsWhy Johnny Doesn’t Flap gives a unique perspective from the eyes of a neurodivergent child that explains why his neurotypical friend doesn't avoid eye contact or flap their arms, but why he connects to him anyways. This book about autism for kids can be a great way to introduce your child to the autistic spectrum or a unique opportunity for young readers with autism to see themselves as the main character. The Rabbit Listened by Cori DoerrfeldBest for Ages 3 to 5 yearsThe Rabbit Listened can be a great way to open your child's eyes to ways to deal with hard feelings. It is an important skill to learn how to comfort people and through this book you can reinforce the importance of compassion as a skill. This is a good option for an introductory children’s book about feelings. The Day You Begin by Jacqueline WoodsenBest for Ages 5 to 8 yearsThe Day You Begin is a book that can be used as a tool to discuss starting a new school as well as diversity, differences and acceptance with your children! This book can be a great picture book about diversity as you continue conversations on race, language, abilities, personalities and more. Through reading this, you can highlight the benefits of everyone being different. Hands Can by Cheryl HudsonBest for Ages 2 to 5 yearsHands Can offers pictures of children as they use their hands to practice various gross motor skill mastery. Through rhyming and engaging imagery, your child is shown some of the simple and complex things they can mimic as you explore this book together. (Montessori-friendly) You're Here for a Reason by Nancy TillmanBest for Ages 4 to 8 yearsYou're Here for a Reason can introduce your child to the difficult concept of understanding hard feelings or depression. This can also be a good resource for adults as they read it! This heartfelt book can help remind your child of their importance and individuality. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric CarleBest for Ages 6 months to 5 yearsBrown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is a great way to introduce colors and animals to your child! In fact, this is one of the most recommended books for babies under 1 that they’ll keep enjoying and recognizing as they get older. By keeping the same pattern of words but changing the animals out there is a level of predictability for your little one, which can keep them from getting distracted. Let's Find Momo Outdoors by Andrew KnappBest for Ages 2 to 5 yearsLet's Find Momo Outdoors is a fun look and find book with real photos! Your child can look for the animals and objects on every page which allows you to discuss the purpose of various items with them. This can help them practice their looking skills and increase their vocabulary. (Montessori-friendly) Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskeyBest for Ages 3 to 7 yearsBlueberries for Sal is like a field trip to yesteryear. The book is set up with a parallel structure between a child and a baby bear. With black and white illustrations the book keeps the focus on the story. This can help as you find simple things that can increase the attention span for children. Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris HaughtonBest for Ages 2 to 5 yearsShh! We Have a Plan is a playful book that shows 4 friends trying to carry out their plan to catch a bird. Your child can act out the actions as you read the book to them and maybe even repeat some of the lines along with you! This book can be a great way to help encourage a love of reading. The Cool Bean by Jory John and Pete OswaldBest for Ages 5 to 9 yearsThe Cool Bean is a great children’s book about friendship and inclusion. While sharing what makes someone ‘cool’, it shifts the focus to small acts of kindness having a large impact. As they read this book it can reinforce many skills and ideas of being considerate and inclusive. There are so many books available to you that hopefully this can give you an idea of quality books for your children through personal recommendations. To see more book suggestions from the community, share your email below. Loading…