Gardening with Young Toddlers

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Before embarking on the summer adventure of gardening with my 15 month old, I  did some research about the best ways to set up gardening activities for this age group. I was looking for some magical list of activities that would make this adventure clear-cut.  I found several lovely examples of children assisting their families in the garden (I especially love this one- fridabemighty.com), but ultimately what I discovered is that there is not a clear-cut way to present gardening activities to a young toddler. The best way to do it, is simply to include them in the tasks that need to be done and be o.k. with your toddler getting dirty and with the tasks taking much longer. 🙂

Here are a few of the fun ways that M got involved with gardening during our summer gardening adventure.

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Helping Mommy scoop out dirt to make space for a basil plant. “Hmm, this dirt looks mighty tasty.”

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Making off with mommy’s wheelbarrow.

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Raking rocks with the rake lovingly referred to as the “broo” (broom).

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Picking the basil that we planted earlier in the summer. I let M eat it, but this has led to M trying to eat leaves from lots of non-edible plants. I’m still glad that he got to eat something that we grew.

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Running off with the ivy that mommy and grandma had just removed from the side of the house.

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Spraying water from the hose (definitive favorite).

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Scooping dirt to make room for begonias .

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Watering the plants.

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Adventures with Pouring

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Works that we set up for our children will not be done perfectly and they should not be done perfectly for that matter! Maria Montessori was adamant that children should receive  brief lessons with minimal language as long lessons and lots of language distract children from truly watching what is to be done with the work. Once a child has received a lesson, she is free to interact with the material and explore it. A child should only be stopped if her safety, the safety of another or the safety of the material is in question. These aspects of the Montessori philosophy sound so wonderful in theory, but I’ve found it difficult to let the exploration unfold at times.  Continue reading

When Toys are No Fun

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Have you ever noticed that your toddler is more interested in “helping” you fold laundry or cook dinner than she is in playing with the toys you so lovingly purchased? I have! Montessori noted that young children/humans in general are desperately seeking to be included in their communities. One sure-fire way to be included is to do something meaningful in the household.  Here are some fun Montessori works involving real, every-day tools that will engage your toddler in meaningful work.

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Make Regular Toys into Montessori Works

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Maria Montessori referred to children’s activities/toys as the children’s works. She did this as a way to respect the play/activity of the young child as extremely meaningful to their growth and development. Montessorians do not expect children to be constantly “working,” we simply view children’s play as children’s work.

Here is a way to save money and turn some toys that you already own into Montessori works.

  1. Montessori works have a clear goal.
  2. Montessori works have a control of error (this lets the child know if she has completed the work without an adult telling her so)
  3. Montessori works are attractive and contained for ease in carrying them and organization

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