Glen Teachers’ Favorite Things! A Gift Guide for Any Season
Our amazing teachers are often asked how to support their child’s Montessori learning at home and which products they recommend.
The following products are some of their favorites:
Birth to Three
- Zutano Booties:
These booties for infants are the best we have seen in awhile, for a variety of reasons. Zutano booties are soft, and more like a sock. This means that they do not restrict your child’s feet and still allow them to feel the floor and different surfaces, unlike a firm shoe. In addition, these booties actually STAY ON THEIR FEET!! Now, I am not saying that they will never fall off, nothing is perfect. But the success rate of staying where they are meant to be, in our experience, is much higher than any other infant bootie/shoe/slipper we have worked with. Lastly, they have a snap closure which means it stays closed. There are other booties, similar to this brand, but with velcro and thicker fabric. They are just not the same. In this case, brand matters.
Click here to see Zutano Booties
(can also be found on Amazon – remember to purchase through AmazonSmile and The Glen can benefit!)
- Neoprene Lunchbox:
Spills in lunch boxes, milk in lunch boxes, lost lunch box with containers still inside? As busy parents, we all know these things happen. And what are we left with? Smelly lunch boxes that we just can’t get clean enough. A Neoprene Lunchbag is going to become your new best friend. Things still spill in them, they still get misplaced, but the difference is, they are machine washable and able to be put into the dryer. Not only that, but they are MUCH easier for the children to unzip themselves. As you know, we encourage as much independence as possible at The Glen!. This includes the children opening their own lunch boxes, and unpacking their lunch. These bags help children become successful with this task at an earlier age. They can be found in stores and on Amazon. There are tons of brands and patterns, see below for just one example (but one of the more durable brands).
Click here for an example of Neoprene Lunch Bag
- Camelbak Water Bottle:
In our Montessori classrooms, we transition children to open cups as early as possible. Many of our infants drink out of glasses, with our assistance. We also have had a few families who send in kids Camelbak water bottles, especially during the summer for consuming larger amounts of liquid. These are nice because they do not leak, are easy to clean, and the children do not have to suck quite as hard to get the liquid to come out. Straw cups also require a more mature mouth movement, which is better for speech development than prolonged use of bottles or “sippy cups”. The entire valve comes out and you can clean the inside of the spout. We all know how difficult certain cups can be to thoroughly clean, so this is a very nice feature. They also prove more difficult for the children to flip over, and squeeze the liquid out onto the table (I’m sure you have all seen that trick with certain cups or bottles).
Click here to see Kids Camelbak Water Bottles
We are constantly asking everyone to label their belongings. We have a lot of children, many of whom have identical coats, clothing, lunchboxes, and just about anything else you can imagine. And it never fails, when items come in without being labeled, they are easily misplaced or go home with the wrong family. Looking for an easy way to label your child’s clothes, bottles, lunchboxes, shoes, and anything else they may bring to school? Try NameBubbles labels. These labels stay on through just about anything. We have had families use these through multiple children, and the labels are still hanging on. Check them out, it looks like they are having a sale.
- Toddler shoes:
One of our many goals for the children in our classrooms, is for them to be able to put their shoes on by themselves. This skill is also a requirement for moving up to our Children’s House program. This skill also proves very challenging, especially when the children have shoes that make this virtually impossible. Shoe laces, hightops, tight sneakers, tall boots, all of these things and more can lead to frustration and a delay in being able to achieve independence with their shoes. In addition, cute shoes do not equal practical shoes for school. We get dirty, we run, we go to the gym, and the children need footwear that will help them be successful throughout their day. This link is an example of toddler shoes that we have found meet all of the above needs. They are the easiest to put on and take off, while being durable and safe for the children to be active in school.
- Board Books
Board books that are heavy duty and small for small hands are perfect. Non-fiction books with familiar characters, like moms and dads, are very popular with infants and toddlers. Books with real photos and realistic portrayals are best.
Clothing that children can use independently. Avoid buttons until children have enough fine motor dexterity to use them effectively. Loose fitting clothes are also easier for the children to manipulate. Another consideration for young children to dress for success is to choose clothing that is easy to launder and care for. A hands-on childhood experience is sometimes messy and and can pull our enjoyment of the activity from the moment if we are worried about the state of the child’s clothing.
- Food Prep
Young children love to help in the kitchen. Two items we have found to be especially successful for children in the classroom are wavy cutters and small spreaders.
- Fun, Durable Photo Books
Young children love to have photos of the people in their lives close at hand. Many of their first communications come as they point to the familiar faces in photo books and begin to tell stories about their lives. This type of photo book is perfect to keep those close at hand and ready to take on the go.
- Bob Books
Children’s House is a time focused on literacy. As children show interest and readiness for reading the Bob Books series is a wonderful step-by-step place to start.
- Fine Motor Activities
As much of our world is pivoting children’s activities to touch screens we need to balance those with activities that encourage fine motor development. Fun activities like coloring, painting and drawing strengthen those fine motor skills. Also, activities like Montessori dressing frames are perfect to hone those skills and gain independence.
- Food Prep
Food prep is also a popular choice for children ages 3-6 years old. The wavy cutter and small spreaders continue to be useful, but as children mature new tools can also be introduced. At The Glen the children enjoy using apple peelers, hand mixers, apple slicers, small knives (with careful supervision) and cutting boards and garlic presses.
- Museum and Place Memberships
We are fortunate to live in a community rich with museums and other places focused on providing quality experiences for children. Some of our favorites are
The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and Museum Lab
Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh
This membership includes the Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center and The Andy Warhol Museum
- Subscriptions Delivered through the Mail
A cooking club for kids that delivers the recipes, shopping lists, a quality kitchen tool, and information for kitchen skills lessons monthly.
A monthly subscription that allows you to pick between geography and science activities appropriate to the age and interest of the child.
There is a wide range of steps into reading books with bold type, picture cues, and recognized characters. Step 1 readers are very popular in our Children’s House classrooms.
This company offers a subscription package for every age level – 0 through 104! The company offers 8 different subscription packages, heavily focused on STEAM and world cultures. You can also add on a book to offer additional extensions!
Many of the previous food prep and monthly subscriptions have age appropriate options for elementary age children, as well.
Robots to teach creativity and coding
Ozobot makes products for coding fun for schools and for home. They have a variety of products that encourage coding concepts with and without screens.
Osmo is a device that allows children to take a compatible device and create a 3D, hands-on learning experience.
A board game that helps children as young as preschool learn to code.
This is a list of notable books from the American Library Association.
This is a list of books organized by guided reading and grade level.
What does it take to be a Montessori Teacher? Part Two