Category Archives: For Parents

Why Play Is “Work”

Think playing isn’t developmentally critical? Think again! This infographic shows key aspects of why play is important, how children play in developmentally appropriate ways, and how all the adults in a child’s life (parents, daycare workers and teachers) can help them make the most of their time playing.


Lemon Volcano

This is a fun activity to do with the kids. It does require some adult prep, but the effort is minimal. Lemon volcanoes, combining smell, science and fun all in one lesson. The instructions are below, and more detailed information and fun tips are on the website.


  • Step One (Adults only) Prep your lemon by slicing the bottom off to make them sit flat. Flip the lemon over and slice out the core. If you are making an open faced volcano, slice the lemon in half.
  • Step Two Prepare extra lemon juice by slicing a second lemon in half and juicing it. Pour juice into a cup and set aside.
  • Step Three Place your cored lemon on a tray. Use your craft stick to mush the center of the lemon and bring out the juices. Be sure to keep the juice in the lemon!
  • Step Four Place a few drops of food coloring or liquid watercolors (do not dilute) in the center of the lemon.
  • Step Five Add in a good squeeze of dish soap to the lemon. This is not necessary but causes the bubbles to ooze and froth more and longer.
  • Step Six Add a spoonful of baking soda into the lemon. It should start to fizz. Take your craft stick and stir the lemon and lemon juice. It should start foaming really well as you stir it!
  • Step Seven To keep the reaction going alternatively add more baking soda, coloring, dish soap and the reserved lemon juice to the reaction. Squeezing the lemon to release the juices also enhances the reaction. Or if you are like my kids, just stick your whole hand in there and give it a good squeeze.

Science Activity for Kids: Lemon Volcano

DIY on the go

One of the biggest focuses for Small World Montessori School is practical life skills for children. This is a neat idea to help them learn to care for themselves, without overwhelming the child.  Small plastic storage containers that have the essentials for the activity, from snacks to getting ready for the day to play time. They are easily set up with what you have around the house and you can even have your child help!

Want to foster independence in your child?


Tala Wagner, a Montessori educator and mom, describes what fostering independence means at home, and how it shapes a child’s work in the Montessori classroom. Read on!

Montessori parents often tout the academic benefits of a Montessori education. Even more worthy of note is the character of the children who attend those schools. It is often said that Montessori schools foster independent, confident children. But beginning the journey of a Montessori parent takes a huge leap of faith. To talk about independence and real items such as knives and glass objects in the same breath might incite panic in families considering Montessori education.

But what are we really talking about when we say independence in the classroom? And what does te term mean for families at home?

Maria Montessori’s own vision for early childhood education was to be an “aid to life”. She wrote that “to aid life, leaving it free, however, to unfold itself, that is the basic task of the educator”. Many Montessori schools call the adults in the classroom “guides”. Adults in the Montessori classroom do not teach by disseminating information. They provide a prepared environment for children to reach their own discoveries, with plenty of failures and triumphs along the way.

In order to provide a personalized education, Montessori guides spend much time observing each child. They see what a child is mastering, what a child enjoys, and what a child needs more time practicing. So, for example, after months of watching a child handle glass bowls and cups with care, refine their motor skills through practical life works, and spend increasing amounts of time concentrating on works, a Montessori guide might introduce that particular child to bread or cheese cutting… with a knife.

So what is the point in fostering independence in our children (besides letting them use sharp objects)?

Our children know how to solve problems. Independence is an ability to discriminate between “this is tough” and “this is truly beyond my ability”. It is both a determination to trust oneself, and the ability to see getting help as a solution instead of a failure. Independence means empowering our children to trust themselves.

To cultivate a home life filled with independent opportunities, you do not have to be a trained Montessori professional, just an observant and mindful parent. Ask yourself what you can do to help your children help themselves. Do they need more time to get dressed without help or interference? Embrace little mistakes. Is there a low shelf with cleaning supplies so they can clean their own spills? Anticipate their needs. Is there a water source available so they can get their own drinks? Decide what works best for your home and your family. Find what you can do to nurture the independent spirit in your little ones.

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