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Educational Play with Schleich I'm a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I'm not a teacher and I don't want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently...

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Say Eh-Oh to the new Teletubbies toys! There back!! Teletubbies made a joyous return to CBeebies last year, and this year marks the launch of the new range of toys. As you know I was sent a box just before Christmas, and today I can finally...

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Travel: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough Last weekend Nana and I took a rather lengthy journey north for a night away at the Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, with Little Dude in tow. The Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxurious country hotel...

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A Place To Enjoy My Garden I love my garden. I love the fact that I have a garden, especially with the recent gorgeous weather we've been having. Whilst I have a pretty compact garden, there's a lot going on out there. Plants, fruit...

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Cuddles With Ben Cohen Some days I have a really difficult job. Days like this for example. *Ahem* That rather nice young man is former rugby player Ben Cohen. Ben is a bit of an expert when it comes to cuddles. He has...

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#Montessori: Flockmen

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Montessori | Posted on 09-03-2016

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Where better place to start my new series on Montessori Play than with the gorgeous Flockmen.

I first discovered Flockmen on Instagram. I think it was a regram from someone I follow, and I remember thinking how versatile they looked, and how gorgeous they were. I contacted them to see if they were interested in working together, and was thrilled when they said they would send me a set to review. With an almost 2 year old and a 5 and a half year old in the house I saw a wealth of play possibilities, and was interested to see how each child would play with them.
Flockmen-CollageWell we’ve been making shapes, building armies, doing basic counting and math, and they’ve even been on a bus trip. We’ve had towers of Flockmen, rows of Flockmen, and even Flockmen playing with Happyland and being attacked by dinosaurs. They’ve been rather busy.

For me Flockmen are what Montessori is all about. A basic tactile object that provides endless play and learning activities. At just a few inches tall these little wooden figures have been used in a huge number of ways in our house in the last few weeks, and I’m sure there’s a huge number of other ways yet to be discovered.

I spend a lot of time on Instagram and if you search for Flockmen on there you’ll find them being used to build gravity defying structures, climbing trees, getting used in art and crafts, and even helping themselves to some cake. I am hugely inspired by what I’ve seen, but I’m also keen to let my children decide how they want to play with them, and to see what they can come up with themselves.

Flockmen arrive in a lovely hessian bag, and come in a choice of two sets – 16 or 32. For me there is no contest – I’d go for the bigger set every time as the play options are just endless. Prices start at just £19.99 for the toy that will truly last a lifetime, but if you take a peek in my sidebar, and on my Instagram, you might just find a discount code…

There’ll be more from Flockmen and the team behind them soon, with a few guest posts planned. Keep your eyes peeled!

A #Montessori Nursery

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Montessori | Posted on 29-01-2015

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Little Dude has always been a pretty rubbish sleeper. Early days he followed that typical “pattern” that all newborns have of spending large portions of the day asleep and waking for feeds at vaguely regular intervals. From there we have steadily moved into being awake longer and more often during the day – naps are for wimps you know – whilst maintaining a minimum of three wake ups each night. As with all parents we go through our check list of what he might want to figure out the fastest way of getting him back to sleep – nappy? milk? too cold? too hot? teething pain? fever? – but all too often the only thing he wanted was a cuddle and a bit of company. Now whilst there are few things in life as enjoyable as cuddles with my children, I’m less keen on the idea of doing it at 2am. And again at 4am. With the odd one scheduled in at midnight. And if we’re really lucky 3am too. Eight months in and I must say I was beginning to reach my limit for sleep deprivation.

Now I know a lot of you are probably keen to point out that your own children still wake in the night at eight months. In fact they continue to do so for much longer. And yes, I know some of you have children of 3, 4, 5 and beyond who still wake in the night. You have my deepest sympathies. But for me eight months was my breaking point. Little Man slept through – apart from when teething or poorly – from four months. Consistently. Every night. And still does at four. He also took regular naps at the same time every day. And can generally be encourage into a couple of naps a week even to this day. Foolishly I was hoping for a similar level of co-operation from Little Dude. Clearly I was rather naive in this hope. In the eight months since he was born he’s slept though maybe a dozen times. And those have been irregular and out of the blue. I’ve often likened parenting Little Dude to Russian roulette. You generally never know what is going to happen from one day to the next.

Like all Mum’s my child’s dislike of sleep has become my main focus and has probably turned me into something of a broken record. I’ve sought suggestions and advice from a range of people, and the Google has been thoroughly scoured for ideas. Sadly most have come back with the idea that its perfectly normal and he’ll grow out of it. “Yes but WHEN?” was my frequent reply, which isn’t very well received when you’re shouting it at a computer screen. The search for a sleep solution continued. I was obviously looking rather tired at the preschool gates last week when I started chatting to the mum of one of Little Man’s best friends. She has three boys aged four and under – god know’s how she remains sane – and told me how they slept as she loaded her eldest into the car. “They all slept on mattresses on the floor. It’s a Montessori thing.” At this point I was torn between thinking she was slightly crazy, and being willing to try anything.

I’ve been taking a lot more notice of all things Montessori recently after we changed Little Man’s preschool last September. He spent a year at a perfectly acceptable preschool, but being the only one with a speech problem he got a bit lost in the crowd. The staff didn’t have the time to really focus on his needs and the whole place was far too big for him. We took a look at the local Montessori Preschool and saw that it was considerably smaller, and upon emailing them found that there were a number of children with speech issues – Little Man’s new best friend included – and that all the staff had some level of speech training. Within five minutes of looking round I knew it was the right place and since starting there in September Little Man has thrived to the point that he rarely shuts up. Needless to say Little Dude will be heading there when he’s old enough so I’ve been looking into Montessori Methods and how I can incorporate them into our home. A quick search on Pinterest found me endless examples of Montessori Bedrooms, and photos of mattresses on the floor. Maybe this wasn’t such a crazy idea after all.

The concept of a Montessori Nursery is to set it up for the needs of the child, not the parents. Everything should be totally child proof and items should be at their level. You child should be free to roam around in there and be totally safe, as well as being able to reach anything they wish to. It’s about giving your child a sense of independence and control, whilst keeping them safe. It’s a totally alien concept to me and to anyone else I’ve mentioned it to, but I thought why not? Lets give it a go.

On Sunday I changed Little Dude’s bedroom into a Montessori Nursery. He now sleeps on his mattress on the base of his old cot bed on the floor. His farmyard wall stickers have been brought down so they’re all down the side of his bed. An ottoman has been put in the room to store bedding, but also works as a single shelf with a few of his toys on. I’ve used his old crib mattress to create a headboard – I just need to get it covered in some nice fabric. I also have one of those giant leaves from Ikea which I’m going to hang above his bed as a canopy but I think I need some help putting that up! I have some simple shelves coming next week which I’ll pop photos and pictures on, a long with some of his favourite books. There’s also a long pile rug too which he enjoys sitting on and fiddling with, and is comfy for us to sit on too in the middle of the night. I’ll add more cushions over time too, and eventually he’ll move to a regular single mattress.

Montessori-Bed-SussexMummy

On Sunday night he woke a couple of times as he usually does, but no more. He clearly wasn’t distressed by his new bed and didn’t seem concerned that he no longer has bars to look through. When he woke it was easier for us to comfort him without disturbing him as we just sat on the floor beside him and held his hand, instead of lifting him out the cot as we’d previously done.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night he slept through. From around 7.30pm till around 6am. There have been a couple of incidents where his dummy has dropped out at that’s disturbed him, but we literally pop in back in and he’s asleep again. No more sitting in there for hours wondering just when he’s going to relent and go back to sleep. Three consecutive nights sleeping through is completely unprecedented and has never happened before. Is it purely coincidence, or has the Montessori Nursery cured him lack of sleep? Only time will tell, but right now I’m rather enjoying all the sleeping.

Update: A poorly child never sleeps well so the good routine went out the window when a cold and an eye infection arrived. Hopefully we’ll get back to normal soon, but I can confirm that comforting a child on a floor bed is far easier than comforting one in a cot.

Montessori-Shelf-SussexMummy

Do YOU have a Montessori Nursery? What does yours include? What WOULD yours include?