Earth

Montessori cosmic education teaches children about the interconnectedness of all living things. In the first plane (0-6) this is experienced with sensory learning and connecting with nature. Sensorial experiences are also incorporated in the classroom to deepen the understanding of our planet.

Once the child is introduced to cosmic nesting boxes and sandpaper globe, we begin our study of the planet Earth. These topics are introduced in the form of Unit Study in the classroom. Not all unit studies will interest all children, so it really depends how deep you delve in the unit study topic based on your child’s interests.

Waseca Biomes Cosmic Nesting Box

Cosmic education starts with macro (whole) and moves toward micro (parts) of the Earth. The lessons in early childhood (3-6) includes: Land, Air, Water Sorting, Sandpaper Globe, Montessori Puzzle Maps, Study of Planet Earth, Botany, Science, Geography, Geology, History, and more.

In our Monti-Story Box, we decided to look at the layers of the Earth. The book we chose for this box, represented illustrations of planets to as accurate as possible and the activities are simple but purposeful. There are 5 activities pertaining each curriculum of Montessori classroom and 1 art activity based on the artist study of the box.

Transfer with tong activities prepare hands for writing. It promotes and strengthens tripod grasp. This activity builds concentration and allows repetition. With repetition comes normalization.

One to one correspondence with ten frames. Ten frames are a great graphic tool to teach children place value. This graphic organizer can also be used for simple addition and subtraction activity

Always pick a book with realistic illustrations for younger children

Pointillism, also called divisionism in painting, the practice of applying small strokes or dots of color to a surface so that from a distance they visually blend together.”

Impressionistic lesson of Layers of the Earth. We used avocado pit for inner core, ketchup for outer core, gravel for mantle, and apple skin for crust

This box also comes with sensorial activity, paint, parts of Earth layers three-part cards, digital downloadable instructions. All of this you can get for only $50 in our Etsy Shop

Resources

Layers of the Earth Definition Cards

Kandinsky Inspired Art

Earth Explosion Activities

Interactive Earth Craft

Planets Needle Felting

Independence is NOT a Basic Human Need

Lately, on social media I am seeing a trend, almost a push to make toddlers into these mini adults. While I do believe toddlers are extremely capable and can do a lot of things, but this perceived independence associated with Montessori is really a misconception of independence. There are things toddlers are learning to do in the area of self-care, which is a very big sensitive period; however, these tasks aren’t mastered in this stage, nor it should be forced as a level of mastery. That is developmentally not appropriate.

Toddlers are more in a stage of collaboration versus independence. We collaborate so they can learn the skills that they will need to be independent.

Independence is a big mistaken goal of an adult. In United States, there is this push to make children independent early on. My favorite one is that they should be able to sleep in their own crib by themselves. From early on, we force independence. It isn’t an independence that comes naturally without healthy connection. That’s a forced goal by adults who are terribly misguided by social media and false advetisement.

Brain does, what?

A child’s most important and basic need is a need for SAFETY. They feel safe when they are closer to their primary caregiver. In the first stage of child’s life, a child is completely dependent on us for food, love, warmth, safety, cleanliness. When these basic needs are met, child develops TRUST. Child’s need for safety is so much greater at this stage that we are still researching and learning the full effects on brain when these needs are not met. Studies have confirmed that when infants and children need for safety and love goes unmet, they produce a stress hormone called cortisol. ” Children who are continuously exposed to traumatic and stressful situations, which is if they are left alone to cry for longer period of time, or when their emotional and attachment needs go unmet, they develop a hyper-reactive stress response. This destroys the developing brain’s architecture and has harmful effects on a child’s ability to learn.”

Yet, we push for sleeping independently and playing independently. Why? What exactly are we afraid of? That our children will be too attached to us!

Is independence in toddlerhood a realistic goal?

A simple search on Google on this topic gives us all the tools, tips, and strategies to make our toddlers independent. However, none talks about the connection. I wonder when or why this push for independence in the mainstream became so big.

When our children are infants, we are in tuned with their need for connection but suddenly when that same infant begins to talk and walk, we begin to think they should be doing more. They should be cooking breakfast, eating independently, playing alone by themselves, putting their shoes on, clothes, giving themselves a bath etc. We start the process of making them adults. I am not saying that they shouldn’t be doing all those things when they are ready or that we shouldn’t introduce those care of self-care lessons; I am saying that it shouldn’t be a goal. It should be a natural process that simply happens because of prepared environment not from the frenzy of an adult deciding that today my child will put his socks on by himself and will achieve the mastery in a week.

In toddlerhood, children are beginning to gain a LITTLE independence. And I want to emphasize on this word, little. In this stage, when child’s basic need of connection is met, he will exert independence and will. Doing this with a healthy connection will develop healthy autonomy in our children.

“Children who successfully complete this stage feel secure and confident, while those who do not are left with a sense of inadequacy and self-doubt. Erikson believed that achieving a balance between autonomy and shame and doubt would lead to will, which is the belief that children can act with intention, within reason and limits.”

So, if your toddler isn’t ready to be independent yet that’s okay, they are fulfilling their strongest human need, a need for connection. Let them be a little closer to you now so they can develop a healthy independence.

A Day of Gratitude

Why do we have segregation in Montessori?

Thanksgiving is turned into a day of gratitude. A mere symbol to be grateful for bountiful food, football, Black Friday shopping, and really celebrating the excess. However, nobody remembers or even thinks that when Pilgrims reached this New World in the Mayflower, it was followed by the annihilation of the Native Americans. They were slaughtered because they were different. Their way of living, their religion, their skin color, their language were different from the Pilgrims, so they felt like a threat. Apparently, being different is a crime.

Are we so different now?

Come to think of it, we are not so different even now. The death of Black Americans, Muslims, Asian Americans, the deportation of Hispanics, and keeping them away from their children doesn’t weigh on any of us as long as we are sleeping comfortably in our beds knowing our children are safely tucked in their beds. We do not care about these issues or sometimes we care but we don’t do anything about it. But, those are still major issues and sometimes require a different kind of courage and resources to stand up. However, we don’t do anything about the micro-segregation that most of us have faced in our society. We accept it sheepishly because we think speaking up will be too much effort.

Segregation in Montessori is as real as the air we breathe….

What about the segregation we often encounter in our Montessori world? It is sad to say but it is the truth that the Montessori world is a highly segregated world. The idea that it is for rich white people isn’t wrong. That stereotype is very true and not just in private Montessori schools but also the so-called charter Montessori schools. Shouldn’t Charter schools accept everyone?

Is this even developmentally appropriate?

Recently, we had an interview in a local Montessori school for my 2-year-old. First of all, the whole idea of a 2-year-old interview seems preposterous. My son was invited for an Open House which is basically vetting out the process of anybody that doesn’t fit their “Montessori Box”. He was invited along with 6 other children and they were asked to go to the classroom all by themselves with a brand new person (a teacher, an assessor). Everything about this process is developmentally and humanely wrong! A toddler is not equipped to be separated from their primary caregiver and judging them on how well they will separate from parents isn’t a realistic expectation.

My son passed this test but at the cost of what, I wonder. How much harm did I do? How did he feel? Did he feel that I abandoned him? His fears seem so real and I couldn’t help to think that something in our mother-son connection was broken that day. The shame and guilt that followed were so big for me to recover from. I felt helpless because if he doesn’t go through this process then he may not get in and our financial conditions require me to go back to work. The schools that prey on parents’ fears like this are NOT Montessori in my opinion.

He was invited to a second interview, this time in the full functioning classroom with students. The teacher didn’t come out of the classroom to greet my child or make him feel comfortable one on one. We walked into the classroom and my son totally freaked out to see all the children and this time a brand new teacher, not the teacher who he was with the first time. The trauma he felt was so visible on his face. He was anxious and wanted to get out and at this moment he wanted to be with his safe person, which wasn’t me. He wanted to be with his dad because he identified me as the person who dropped him in this strange place before.

It broke my heart and I don’t think I will be able to gain my child’s trust the same way again. My husband and I were interviewed and the series of questionnaires felt like a big vetting process. I was asked if I had any complications during pregnancy or if our family had any mental disorders, if my son was ever told to be diagnosed for special needs, if he needs speech therapy, and the list goes on.

The idea is to segregate any neurodiversity. Neurodiverse children are not welcomed. Everybody should fall into the category of their “normal”. Needless, to say that this particular Montessori school is 98% White population even though they claim to be a “Charter” school. There are other charter schools in the area but when it comes to diversity of any kind they are all the same more or less.

Nobody talks about desegregation in schools

How many times do you open Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest do you hear about segregation in Montessori? None, of the influencers or content creators, talk about the topics that really matter. What do we focus on, wooden toys, prepared home, things that we can just buy with a swipe of a credit card. And lately, there has been a trend of talking about “Risky Play” and once again completely ignoring neurodiversity. Not all children are into risky play and continuous posts about showing off toddlers rock climbing or independently doing things that may not be developmentally appropriate for all, leave parents feeling inadequate in themselves.

Segregation is happening everywhere and all the time. From the smallest world of Montessori in social media to Montessori schools.

We must speak up and start small. We must start with our Montessori world and stand up to schools that are practicing these unethical ways of choosing students. Only then we can honor Dr. Montessori’s work and bring the change. We must believe in our hearts, “All are Welcome, Loved, and Respected.” Honestly, the whole idea of “Normal” when it comes to children seems highly “Abnormal”.

Resources on Segregation in Montessori

https://journals.ku.edu/jmr/article/view/5848

https://news.ku.edu/2021/05/13/examining-racial-justice-and-equity-montessori-research

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In November

“November is a month in which nature prepares to numb”. This month reminds us to be more grateful for all the wonderful blessings in our lives, to slow down and enjoy simple things in life, to give more, and to be more present. We all have something to be grateful for and when we shift our mindset from what is lacking to what is already here, we manifest more joy in our everyday life.

One of the most important things we do every night with our son is to practice gratitude. Before we go to sleep, we count all the things we are grateful for, which for my toddler means he is grateful for his quails, his trucks, and the little blankie that he sleeps with. However, that is not the point but the point is to really appreciate little things in our lives by being more grateful than complaining.

November is also my favorite month to do some fun shelf work. Some of the Montessori activities that we are doing this month are simple nature-based activities. Here are a few ideas from this year and the previous years for you to try at home.

Sensorial Color Matching

Practical Life Acorn Spoon Transfer

Math: Roll the die and match the number of leaves on a tree

Study the real leaves and changes in colors

Parts of the leaf puzzle

Leaves: Three Part Cards

Creating a gratitude tree or a gratitude jar

Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving history

Parts of the Turkey Three Part Cards

Kandinsky Inspired Fall Tree Activity

Make your own turkey craft

Download this Freebie Kandinsky Inspired Fall Tree from our November Monti-Story Box

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Montessori Pre-Writing Material

One of the classic Montessori pre-writing materials is Metal Insets. The design of this simple material is genius. By tracing each shape in the set, a child actually learn every stroke of letter formation. Not only that, but this work also builds curiosity in geometry and encourages art appreciation. Now, wouldn’t you call this material genius Montessori design too?

So, what is Montessori Metal Insets? Montessori Metal Insets are made of metal consists 5 straight line shapes and 5 curved line shapes. We recently launched our wooden shapes inspired by the original Metal Insets in our shop.

In Montessori, we emphasize learning the proper technique for handwriting. Research shows that tracing letters is not as effective as preparing the hands for writing. The typical tracing activities involve tracing broken lines. Children would be so focused on the tracing part that they forget the letter formation and shape. “It is important to remember that learning to write letters starts with learning the motor plan for the letters and being able to fluently link the successive strokes to form the letter”

The Metal Inset builds:

  • correct pincer grasp
  • control of small movement
  • the result of pressure on pencil by forming dark versus light lines
  • geometric sense and artistic abilities
  • concentration
  • hand-eye coordination
  • movement of tracing curved shapes and straight shapes which directly transfers to letter formation

The beauty of this material is that there are 7 different presentations with the same material. This work is explored in early childhood for tracing and then in the elementary classroom to understand plane geometry. I love the versatility of this material. It can be used in so many different ways. Here are some of the resources on Montessori Metal Inset Extensions

Jack-O-Lantern Shapes for Matching Lesson

Metal Inset Extensions Cards by Missy Montessori

Montessori Services

Living Montessori Now

Folktales

Folktales are an ancient form of art. This is the way generations of humans shared their wisdom, morals, values, and the meaning of all the unexplainable things around the world. Stories was the only form of communication and literacy. People gathered around the fire and told stories about the stars, earth, rain, animals, and so worth. These stories usually had an important message and wisdom to share, to inspire people to do the right thing.

If we think about it, we are still quite similar to our ancestors in that terms. Even today, we prefer a good story and are much more likely to remember them compared to simply stating the facts. Perhaps our story delivery has changed, we certainly don’t gather around the fire to tell stories but we use media to tell our wonderful stories.

For this, reason this month’s Monti-Story Box is African Folktale. We chose African Folktale for this beautiful book, Bringing Rain to Kapiti Plains, which tells the importance of rain in a small community of Africa. Rain is the most essential for farmers in the poor countries. This story depicts how everything is linked in our ecosystem and one event like draught  can affect people and animals.

Folktales are a great way to introduce different culture and art in our kids’ lives. Lets look at some of the activities included in Monti-Story Box and some additional ones that you can do with your child.

Fine Motor Activities such as pre-writing board and puzzle are a great way to strengthen the pincer grasp. Moreover, puzzles help understand the pattern and putting two parts together.

 

Adinkra are visual symbols with historical and philosophical significance originally printed on cloth which royals wore to important ceremonies

Montessori three part cards, also known as nomenclature cards are important Montessori literacy materials. You will find these cards in every area in the Montessori classroom. They can be used in so many ways. Children use the big cards with pictures and text as flashcards to learn new words, they can be used for object – picture matching lesson, picture-picture matching. Refer to my previous post on the importance of these lessons for reading development.

Also, check out our private Facebook group to learn how to present these three part cards in a Montessori Way. The group is only open for Monti-Story Box customers.

Art activities are a great way to learn about different culture. Children can make masaai bead necklace with paper plates, African mask with paper towel roll, or animal silhouette painting. In the Monti-Story Box, we included a canvas of Masaai stick figure art along with paint.

Masaai Stick Figure Art

 

Additional Resources for Incorporating African Unit Study

Free Africa Unit Resource by Living Montessori Now

African Recipes to do with kids

Africa Shelf Ideas from Trillium Montessori

Additional Books to include in your unit study

Africa Fact Cards & Parts of the Animals

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to learn how to implement Montessori at home. Our goal is to help you get started with your Montessori Journey

All Emotions are Healthy

Did you know that our body responds faster to our basic emotions than our thoughts? The next time your toddler throws himself on the floor with an emotional meltdown, watch which emotions triggered that behavior. Emotions can move us to react quickly. When our children are feeling scared, tired, hungry, sad, or overwhelmed, they often express that in form of tears, meltdown, or asking us for extra love. Children do not know how to express what they are feeling and often do not know what they are feeling. More so, it is a cry for connection. It is a way our children is telling us to be PRESENT.

When little children are overwhelmed by big emotions, it’s our job to share their calm, not join their chaos.

L.R. Knost

Toddlers are learning to self-regulate their emotions but before they can do that, they need us to help them co-regulate those emotions. “Feelings and emotions begin deep inside our brain.” They can affect our body in many ways that we are not even aware of. For toddlers, these emotions can be scary. Think about it, they’ve only been here since only few years and experiencing those emotions for the first time can be such an overwhelming experience.

Social Emotional Development is often neglected component in early childhood education; however, it is the most important skills for our children to learn. We cannot expect our children to be never angry, what we can do is teach them how to cope up with those emotions in a healthy positive way.

This process begins with us. We need to assist our children by co-regulating their emotions. Follow the steps below for co-regulation to help your toddler develop a healthy relationship of expressing and embracing all emotions. “All emotions, including anger, fear, and sadness are important for our growth. They are natural and make us who we are. So embrace them all.” – Elinor Greenwood.

Creating a peace corner can help your children by providing a safe space to regulate those emotions in a positive way. In Montessori environment, peace corner holds a very special space. This is the place where children learn to calm themselves down, resolve a conflict with a friend, or simply learn to make silence. To find out how to create a peace corner in your home environment, be sure to order our upcoming Monti-Story Box. This box will include activities to help your child identify their emotions and self-calming strategies. It also includes detailed step by step resource to create a peace corner.

I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.

Louisa May Alcott

July Monti-Story Box is All About Emotions. This box includes many activities for your toddlers to help identify their emotions and for you to help your child create the calm within themselves.

Joys of Toddler Led Walks

Seeing the world through the eyes of a child is the purest joy that anyone can experience.

Constance Zimmer

Children are meant to explore and learn from their environment. Once they start walking, they are meant to walk to refine their gross motor skills and experiment with their body in a safe environment.

In our modern world, we are consistently dependent on vehicles and gadgets to make our lives easier. Although, those are all wonderful inventions they also make us more dependent. Children are constantly being transferred in strollers and car seats hindering their natural growth and development. Child’s inner need to move and explore is obstructed by modern equipment like strollers.

“Surely, in our modern world, loving parents do not obstruct an infant’s positive moves to develop an independent and fully functioning body. Unfortunately, we do so everyday. Our present commercialization of childhood contributes to these obstacles in the infant’s path as she works to develop her body for full use and independent movement. We have manufactured every manner of conveyance and confinement for young children…some of these items were developed for safety, others for the convenience of adults, and still others from the false idea of what promotes meaningful skill development in children.” 

Montessori From the Start

Benefits of Toddler Led Walks

  • Promotes independence & freedom
  • Lets your child discover new things in the environment
  • Child feels equal and contributing mem
  • ber of the family when given the choice of walking together

Tips to Promote Safety During Toddler Led Walks

Safety is the most important aspect of child led walks. It is important to let our children know about the safe behavior and model those safe behavior during our walks.

How to Avoid Power Struggles

It is important to be consistent and clear about ground rules during child led walks.

-Give children positive choices to let them feel empowered and make a decision.

-Follow through by modeling what you say

-Avoid saying simply “No” without any explanation or offering an alternative.

Examples of Choices:

  • “I see a car approaching on our road, would you like to hold my hand or daddy’s hand?
  • “I would like you to do my hand so we can make sure we are both safe. Would you like to hold my right hand or left hand?”
  • “I can see that you love collecting things. How about we place them in this basket and when it is full, we know to stop gathering more?”
  • “I love that you are using your listening ears and the way you stopped when I asked you to. Could you also show me your walking feet?”

When we approach our children with respect and stop being a dictator, we form a relationship of mutual understanding, love, and respect. Children want to do the right thing only if we understand that parenthood isn’t about raising a “mini me” but it is about honoring our child’s unique self and seeing our children as humans first.

At the end, always remember to enjoy the present moment with your child and have some fun along the way!

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Montessori Pre-Reading Activities

Reading is an advanced mental process, which requires some complex cognitive skills such as analysis and synthesis.

There are four stages of Language Development:
Stage 1: Spoken Language
Stage 2: Phonemic Awareness
Stage 3: Creating Words
Stage 4: Reading

Before a child can tackle reading, we need to expose them to the skills that will aid in the process of reading. Pre-reading activities prepare younger children for reading later. Visual discrimination, auditory discrimination, sequencing, pattern recognition, sorting, spoken language are all precursors to reading. All of these activities aid in the process of reading development. For younger children the more concrete these activities are, the better they grasp these concepts.

10 Pre-Reading Activities Ideas

Reading Aloud

This is the most simple and easiest activity you can do with your child. Even if you cannot get time to do anything else, you can only read every day to your child. Reading aloud with your child will help him or her emotionally, socially, and academically. It will create a lasting bond and will promote a healthy emotional state in your child. Research shows that children who are read to every day have a better grasp on reading.  

Note: You can read to your child anytime at your convenience. It doesn’t have to be at bedtime. Find the time that works for your family!

Object to Object Matching

This is a very concrete activity for toddlers and the easiest to prepare with what you have around the house. The idea is to have the exact same objects to match. For example, if they are matching spoons both spoons should look exactly alike for the initial experience. For this activity, have a basket of objects that look the same and then line a set on the left. Name each object as you line them and then model matching each object. Place it all back in the basket and then have your child repeat the activity. It is very important to show the entire process from start to finish to your child. Putting the work away is also a big part of learning.

Note: For a young toddler keep the objects limited to 2 or 3 set for matching.

Challenging Version of Object-Object Matching

Object to Picture Matching

This is the same concept of matching but this time we are adding a bit of a challenge by doing it abstract. Pictures are not as concrete as the objects. What we see in 3D and 2D are two separate experience. Thus, for a younger child it is a bit of challenge and a good practice to distinguish objects from 3 dimension to 2 dimension.

Backyard Birds Matching

Picture to Picture Matching

Now, we are taking away the concrete completely and introducing only abstract concept of matching. This lesson comes after the child has successfully matched objects to picture.

Patterning

Patterning is such an important skill for children to learn for reading. When we are reading a language or learning a new language, it is all patterns of letters put together to make a word or a sentence. Patterning helps children make prediction to what comes next and use logical connections.

Story Sequencing

This is a very important preschool activity. Sequencing help children understand the patterns of things. For example, using your daily schedule for sequencing can help children understand what to expect next. This is also an important skill for reading because then a child can compartmentalize the concept of first, next, then, and last.

Sorting Activity

Any sorting activity you can find around the house will help your child understand to put things into category. A basket of spoons, forks, and knives can be a great sorting activity for a younger children to understand the concept of organization. Not only it prepares the mind for reading but also for writing and math.

Sorting by Colors

I-Spy Games

I-spy games are great for working memory and building that visual discrimination. In order to read we need to have phonemic awareness and also we rely on our memory of hearing that sound or word before. This game can be played at various stages. For this activity have a basket of different object that the child is familiar with and then you can do I-spy for each object either by color or touch. For an older toddler or Pre-K student who is learning the phonetic sounds, you can say, “I-spy an object that starts with the sound “s”. You can mix it up by doing the ending sound or middle sound depending on the child.

Conversation Cards

These are great addition for pre-reading shelf. They help build inference knowledge in children. Oral language development is a first step to reading development. Conversation Cards also helps child understand the concept of questions and answering.

Sand paper letters

The sand paper letters is the way we introduce letter sounds in the Montessori classroom. Tracing the letter and associating it with letter sound prepares the hand and the mind. It build the muscle memory as child internalize and remember the sound by tracing the symbol.

In Montessori classroom, we follow the above order for introduction to letter sounds. This order is color coordinated as shown above.

Childhood is not a race to see how quickly a child can read, write, and count. Childhood is a small window of time to learn and develop at the pace which is right for each individual child.

Maria Montessori

Purpose of Knobbed Cylinders

Knobbed Cylinders are one of Montessori’s genius and original material. Montessori classroom sensorial area begins with this wonderful material. This material is designed to teach children to visually discriminate between dimensions. There are four variations to Knobbed Cylinders, helping child to develop that mathematical mind to distinguish by size and weight. As the child practices with this work, they gain muscle memory and can able to distinguish each cylinder by touch. The Knobbed Cylinders comprised of 10 cylinders again for developing that mathematical mind that Montessori refers to in many of her writings.

Set A: Cylinders are decreasing in diameters successively from thick to thin while the height remains constant.

Set B: Each cylinders are decreasing in diameters from thick to thin and the height from tall to short

Set C: Each cylinders are decreasing in diameters from thick to thin while increasing in the height from short to tall.

Set D: The diameters stay constant only the height decreases from tall to short.

How to Present this Material:

1) Initial presentation begins with Set A as it is easier for children to match.

2) Invite the child for the lesson. Walk over to the shelf and name the material first before picking it up. Model how to carry the material to the work rug or to the table.

3) Place the material gently on the rug in front of the child. Present the material from left to right, thickest to thinnest.

4) Remember to use slow exaggerated hand movement and no words.

5) Take each cylinder out and mix them up. Tell the child that when we take them out we mix them up. (Point of Interest: Show the child how softly you can put it down on the rug or on the table)

6) Trace each cylinder around with your fingers to demonstrate the difference in diameters before putting them back.

7) Tell the child you will put them all back one by one. Model how to put them back.

8) Model how to put the material back on the shelf when you are done. Tell the child now it is his turn to work with the material.

Once the child has enough practice with each set isolated then we can begin with mixing up two sets, three sets, and then all four sets . One of the extension is to work with each set with a blindfold and then work with all four sets with a blindfold as child progresses with this material.

I hope this post helps your understanding on how to present this wonderful material to your child. Please write in the comments on what you would like to see more in our posts. Thank you for following this blog!

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