Creating an area for Painting

Are you thinking of adding a painting easel in your home? Or are you frustrated with the amount of space the easel takes up in your house? Many of the easels designed for children are bright, garish colors, plastic, and oversized. Who wants that as a centerpiece in you family space? Today we want to share an alternative to an art easel in your home. Children love to paint and draw, and giving them a large surface to do so allows for strength-building arm and hand movements as well as an open ended creative exercise.  Consider this new install we did at @thestudiojune for a possible art area in your home.

Here are the items we used. 

Towel bar  – Make sure that your towel bar can be easily unscrewed from the end so that paper replacement is easy.

18” paper roll

Clear contact paper

Vinyl floor mat 

Umbra Photo Wall Clips

Three by Three Magnetic wall pocket strip 

Perch by Urbio stumpy magnetic container

Paint cups


Sensorial Clutter

I have been speaking with many clients lately about sensorial clutter. We see the piles of papers or the over crowding of furniture, but we often miss the clash of sounds, different lighting, and over crowding of shelves and wall space.  Young children don’t miss these things.  They unconsciously absorb it.  They are not able to filter out clutter like adults can.  We will all be taking a break from work in the next few days.  I challenge you to take a few moments Friday to remove some sensorial clutter from your home.  

I recently found this article about one teachers observations around simplifying her classrooms. She offers some inspirational imagery.

A Home that Supports Family Bonding

In my Family Friendly Interiors work, I often encounter families who want to create a playroom just for the children.  When I hear this, I strongly urge them to reconsider.  A room designated just for toys often goes unused.  Children like to be where the action is.  They like to be around their parents, even if they are playing parallel to their parents, they like to be near.  Humans are social animals and we enjoy company.

Rather than a playroom, I recommend a library, a study, or a family room.  There are many ways to create a space for each member of the family within each of these scenarios.  A shelf or cabinet for children can be added in any of these rooms and creates a welcoming atmosphere for all members of your family.  Creating space for a child to play in the same room where you are reading supports feelings of togetherness and connectedness, strengthening the family bond.
Another room where it is important to work together as well as parallel is the kitchen.  The best way to encourage your children to participate in the kitchen is with a Learning Tower.  Once we added the Learning Tower, my child was instantly invited to take part in food preparation and cleaning.  I have made so many meals along side a dish-washing toddler.  As they grow taller, we were able to lower the platform, keeping them engaged in a meaningful and purposeful way.
Have you created a family friendly space in your home?  Tell us about your FFH for a chance to win a Learning Tower!
Together with Little Partners,we are giving away a Learning Tower to help you create a Family Friendly kitchen.  Follow the Rafflecopter link for your chance to win!

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Montessori in your Home

It is wonderful to see how many families are embracing Montessori philosophy and bringing it into there homes. There are many blogs by moms about how this is working for them, some Montessori trained, some self-educated, and all with a unique point-of-view to share. One key element to consider when bringing Montessori home is the prepared environment.
The environment is its own “teacher/guide” for children.  It is through living in a prepared environment that children learn.  Each environment they experience becomes part of their education.  So whether you choose to home school or not, Montessori education can be in your home.  Montessori teachers strive to make their classrooms home-like, comfortable, and liveable. As I read blogs of Montessori home-schooling families, I see them describe the desire to create a classroom with in their homes.  Interestingly, in Montessori philosophy, if your home is prepared for little ones to live there, you do have a workable classroom in your home, no need for an extra room. To those parents wanting to create a Montessori homeschool, I recommend seeing the whole home as the classroom.
Tips to maximize your home as an educational space:
1. Know that every space is valuable to learning.  Whether it is the kitchen where you bake together or the bathroom where your child learns self care, these spaces are full of learning opportunities and they do not have to be set on a tray and described as “work” to be educational.
2. Limit the clutter.  Children are constantly taking note of their surroundings.  It does not serve their developing brains to be surrounded by piles of paperwork, laundry, or the many other things adults are able to ignore.
3. Allow freedom of movement and choice.  When your children have access to activities such as art materials, building supplies, and books and are not told what to do and when, they are able to follow their own instincts and teach themselves.  It is through this auto-education that they learn to challenge themselves, fail and repeat in order to succeed, and develop self-reliance.
4. A corner in every room.  Reserve the bedrooms for sleeping and dressing and make a space in every community room in the house to invite and educate your child.
The kitchen: child sized tools and low cabinets with their dishes.
The bathroom: a basket with tooth brush and hairbrush
Family room: a small comfy chair and a basket of books Living room: toys on shelves
Don’t forget the outdoors.  An often overlooked focus in Montessori education is a connection with nature…gardens, walking paths, feeding the birds, daydreaming…it’s all important and very much a part of their day.
Preparing your home this way does not mean your child will learn calculus by just being at home.  Of course, as the parent, should you choose to home school, the activities you have in different areas of the home will be very carefully selected in order to make sure the right presentations are happening at the right time.  For those of you not looking to homeschool, but wanting to create an educational home, you have less pressure on the particular lessons your children learn.  None the less, it is important to keep you home tidy, organized, and rich in opportunity.
 This week to celebrate the launch of Family Friendly home, we have partnered with Little Partners to offer a Giveaway not to be missed.  This week we will give away their Tri-Side Learn & Play Art Center!
 And next week….wait for it…a Learning Tower!
You have many chances to win, just follow the Rafflecopter link below and register.  Then check back next week and and register again!  Good Luck!

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Gearing up to Pack Lunches

I love to cook, bake, eat…but when it comes to packing lunches for school, I feel like I’m always at a loss.  I don’t know if it’s the pressure of creating a balanced, tasty, yet convenient lunch that will travel well and not need too much refrigeration or if its the little part of me that hurts inside when I use a prepackaged food item because I was just not prepared enough or creative enough?

I’m sure some of you can relate.  Now, it’s not that I spend my days fretting about this, these are just some of the feelings that have come up when I walk to the kitchen and open the lunch boxes after the children have gone to bed.
This year we have created a system for the children to pack their own lunches!  Yay!
How did we do it?  The past two years we have asked the children to pack their lunches on Sunday nights and occasionally other nights when we knew the morning routine would be tight.  This year, before school started, we had a family dinner, discussed our goals for the upcoming year, and during that time I laid out a new nightly routine.  After dinner the children would take care of their evening responsibilities (sweeping the dining room floor, clearing and wiping the table), pack lunches, shower, brush teeth and go to bed.  We continued with conversation about what makes a healthy meal.  Two weeks in…it seems we have adopted a new routine!
My hopes and dreams for a packed lunch:
1. I want lunch to be healthy and tasty.  When I make dinner, I make two!  The second one cools while we eat, and then once the kids start packing, its ready to be put into lunch containers.  I recently did this with bean, rice and cheese burritos and even individual pizzas.  I just double the pizza crust recipe and pretend I am cooking for a family of ten! 😉
2. I want to limit prepackaged items (a. to reduce waste, b. to limit processed foods, c. to cut down on costs) – I have invested in SmartBaby containers since the children were toddlers.  I love the snapping lid, the leak-proof gasket, and the stainless interior.  We continue to use these for everything from sandwiches to yogurt.

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3. I want my children to enjoy the lunch that is packed.  Every day can’t be a favorite, but I try to include some of their favorites every week.  We have a grocery list posted in our family message center. The children can add a favorite food to the list so that I remember to pick it up while at the store.

Now that the children are packing their own lunches, I take the time to add a little note after they have gone to bed. Sometimes I write a little something on a post-it note. Recently the kids prefer a joke or fun fact so  I use these from Lunchbox love (promo code LBLNOTES for  20% off).  We enjoy them so much, we gave them out as Valentines last year!
We have partnered with Lunchbox Love to bring you a set of notes to get you started!  Register below!

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Ready to get your Lunch-Packing game in gear?

Energy and Movement

My career as an educator started many years ago in a toddler classroom.  I had yet to get my Montessori training, but I was doing my best to understand what I was to do and why the children were doing what they were doing.  I remember the lead teacher explaining to me that I was to get each child to sit down by themselves and work with one activity at a time.
In a class where the children just seemed to run and jump around, I could not fathom, how this was possible.  When I think back to that image, I still get overwhelmed with the energy the had, so much energy and not sure how to direct it.  That is the key, what I learned after two Montessori trainings, three children of my own, and a number of years in the classroom…they need a purposeful place to direct their energy.
I can clearly state that I had no idea back then, and I apologize to those children who wasted their time jumping circles around me.
But now, I can see it, creating an inviting space lures them in.  Dr. Montessori wrote that we are to “engage the whole personality”.  this is done by creating interesting and purposeful opportunity.  A parent had her first visit to Studio June this week and as she explained her love for our Studio after just one visit, she said, “every thing is so beautiful, and it gets even more enticing each time I open a box, or look inside a door!”  Her child seemed to feel the same way, excited to return the next day and dive right back in.
We have discoveries for the children.  We allow opportunity to explore and discover.  We do not spell out all the details, we rely on the child’s natural attraction to tiny details to grab their attention and pull them deeper into concentration.  An environment that upon entering may seem a bit understated, but with the first reach for the shelf offers a world of exploration.
Interesting things to discover is not enough, though.  They need more!  And for most children that means movement.  The mind and body must work together in order for a child to gain meaningful knowledge.  One popular activity at Studio June allows the child to stand and work.  Sitting is not always an option for a young child who has just learned to walk, sitting is not usually their preference.  So we meet that child where he is.  At Studio June we have a magnetic board with beautiful magnets we change out weekly.  I like to put a photo copy of the magnets on the board to encourage matching.  While standing at the board the child discovers the different magnets, each week a new category (mammals, trucks, farm, fruits, veggies).  This can be a language activity where you introduce the names, a matching and visual discrimination activity, or a movement and memory activity.
I recently discovered a new set of magnets from Your Food Story.
They sell a set of fruits, vegetables, and grains.  Each magnet is a photograph of the food. The wood magnets are beautiful and fun!
I have teamed up with Your Food Story to offer a giveaway of a full set of their magnets: Fruits, Veggies, and Grains!Your food story

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Choosing the Right Table and Chairs

One way to create the perfect space to inspire concentrated play for your child is to have the right table and chairs.  This is an important feature that can not be overlooked.  It is difficult to purchase and item knowing that your child is just going to outgrow it.  However, it is important to keep in mind that the correct size table and chair will support your child’s natural intellectual and movement development, just like the correct size of shoes will support his development of equilibrium.

What are you looking for in a table and chair?

  1. When seated in the chair, your child’s feet should be flat on the floor.
  2. When seated at the table, the table height should be between his chest and his belly button.
  3. The table surface should be easily cleaned; formica top or finished wood surface
  4. The chair should be sturdy enough that is doesn’t wobble, but lightweight enough so your child can move it in and out from under the table and pick it up and carry it.
  5. The first weaning table should be heavy so that it does not move easily, but tables for 1 years and up should be able to be  carried by one or two children.
  6. Choose a work surface large enough for your needs: 18” square is good for one child, but for two or more children consider 24” square or 20”w x 30”d or even larger.
Child age General Use Table Height Chair Seat Height
6 months to 1 year The introduction of solid foods 12” 5”
1 years – 2.5 years Eating, arts and crafts, eye-hand coordination activities, practical life activities 14”-16” 7”-9”
3 – 5.5 years Arts and crafts, puzzles, practical life activities, counting, writing work, board games 20”-24” 12”-15”
6 – 9 years Arts and crafts, science experiments, math, writing, board and card games 27”-30” 14”-18”


For more on the weaning: