Essential Online Safety Tips to Protect Your Children

As parents and caregivers, it is our responsibility to understand the importance of online safety and create a secure online environment for our young ones.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the significance of online safety, how to set up a safe online environment, strategies for teaching online safety to young children, and promoting healthy online habits.

Additionally, we will discuss how to deal with online issues and threats, ensuring the wellbeing of our children in the digital world.

Understanding the Importance of Online Safety

online safety and security for children

The first step towards safeguarding our children in the online world is understanding the significance of online safety. The digital age has brought about a multitude of opportunities and benefits, but it has also introduced new risks and challenges for young children.

The Digital Age and Its Impact on Children

The rapid development of technology has revolutionized the way we communicate and access information. Young children today have easy access to the internet through various devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers.

While this connectivity opens doors to knowledge and entertainment, it also exposes children to potential dangers, including cyberbullying, inappropriate content, and online predators.

As parents, it is crucial to be aware of these risks and educate ourselves on how to combat them.

Risks and Threats in the Online World

The online world poses several risks and threats that can impact young children’s well-being and safety.

Cyberbullying, which involves the use of technology to harass, intimidate, or embarrass others, has become a widespread concern.

Inappropriate content, ranging from violent or explicit material to online scams, can negatively influence children’s behavior and cognitive development.

Additionally, online predators may attempt to exploit the innocence & naivety of young children, making online safety education all the more crucial.

online safety and security

One of the most alarming aspects of cyberbullying is its ability to follow children beyond the confines of their homes. With the rise of social media platforms and instant messaging apps, bullies can target their victims 24/7, causing immense emotional distress.

It is important for parents to establish open lines of communication with their children, creating a safe space where they can share their online experiences without fear of judgment or punishment.

Exposure to violent or explicit material can desensitize children and distort their understanding of appropriate behavior. It is crucial for parents to implement effective content filtering and parental control measures to ensure that their children are not inadvertently exposed to harmful content.

Setting Up a Safe Online Environment

Creating a safe online environment is key to protecting our children from online risks. In today’s digital age, where the internet has become an integral part of our lives, it is crucial to take necessary precautions to ensure our children’s safety.

Let’s discuss important considerations for choosing child-friendly platforms and utilizing parental controls and privacy settings.

Choosing Child-Friendly Platforms

online-safety-and -security

When allowing our children to access the internet, it is essential to choose platforms that are designed with their safety in mind. Thankfully, there are numerous child-friendly websites and apps available that offer age-appropriate content and features suitable for young children.

These platforms often have dedicated teams that work tirelessly to ensure that the content is educational, engaging, and safe for children to explore.

Researching and selecting child-friendly platforms can help minimize the exposure to potential risks. By opting for platforms that have robust safety measures in place, parents can have peace of mind knowing that their children are navigating the online world in a secure and protected environment.

Parental Controls and Privacy Settings

Parental controls and privacy settings available on devices and applications are powerful tools that allow parents to manage and monitor their children’s online activities.

These settings provide an additional layer of protection and enable parents to have more control over the content their children can access.

With parental controls, parents can restrict access to certain websites or apps that may not be suitable for young children. They can also enforce time limits, ensuring that their children do not spend excessive amounts of time online.

Additionally, these settings often provide insights into children’s online behavior, allowing parents to have a better understanding of their digital habits and address any concerns that may arise.

Configuring and utilizing these settings can significantly enhance online safety for young children.

Teaching Online Safety to Young Children

Young children may not fully understand the concept of privacy and the potential consequences of sharing personal information online.

By explaining the importance of privacy and discussing the value of personal information, parents can begin to instill a sense of responsibility in their children.

When introducing the concept of online privacy, it is important to use relatable examples that children can understand. For instance, you can explain that just like they wouldn’t want a stranger to know their favorite toy or their secret hiding spot, they should also be cautious about sharing personal information online.

Furthermore, parents can emphasize the idea that personal information is valuable and should be kept safe. They can explain that personal information, such as their child’s name, address, or phone number, should only be shared with trusted individuals, such as family members or close friends.

Furthermore, parents can emphasize the idea that personal information is valuable and should be kept safe. They can explain that personal information, such as their child’s name, address, or phone number, should only be shared with trusted individuals, such as family members.

Children can develop a sense of ownership and responsibility over their online presence.

For instance, parents can explain that just like they wouldn’t give their address or phone number to a stranger they meet on the street, they should also be careful about sharing such information online.

Additionally, parents can discuss the potential consequences of sharing personal information online, such as identity theft or cyberbullying.

Overall, teaching young children about online safety requires a combination of explaining the concept of online privacy and highlighting the dangers of sharing personal information. By using relatable examples and age-appropriate explanations, parents can empower their children to make responsible choices and navigate the online world with confidence.

Encouraging Healthy Online Habits

Developing healthy online habits from an early age promotes responsible digital citizenship and ensures a safe online experience for young children.

Setting Screen Time Limits

Excessive screen time can negatively impact a child’s physical and mental well-being. Setting reasonable screen time limits helps children strike a balance between online activities and other important aspects of life, such as physical play, homework, and face-to-face interactions.

Promoting Positive Online Interactions

Encouraging positive online interactions fosters a healthy online environment for young children. Teaching them about empathy, respect, and good digital citizenship will equip them with the necessary skills to navigate online spaces responsibly. It is crucial to emphasize the importance of treating others with kindness and reporting any instances of cyberbullying or inappropriate behavior.

Dealing with cyberbullies

Dealing with Online Issues and Threats

Recognizing Signs of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying can have severe consequences on a child’s emotional well-being. Parents should familiarize themselves with the signs of cyberbullying, such as sudden changes in behavior, withdrawal from social activities, or reluctance to use electronic devices.

Responding to Inappropriate Content

Despite taking precautions, young children may stumble upon inappropriate content online. Parents must have open conversations with their children about what they should do if they come across content that makes them uncomfortable.

In conclusion, with the digital age continuously evolving, parents and caregivers need to equip themselves with knowledge and strategies to ensure the online safety of young children.

By implementing the strategies outlined in this ultimate guide, we can create a secure and empowering online experience for our young ones.

P.S. one of my favorite physical tools is a child-friendly webcam cover

Fun-shaped covers that slide over the webcams when not in use. Many are designed specifically to appeal to kids.

Hope this helps let me know if you have any questions.

The Benefits of STEAM Science for Your Children

STEAM science exploration

Do you find yourself thinking “What are some effective ways I can encourage my children to explore a variety of academic subjects and interests?” In today’s rapidly evolving world, children must be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in their future careers. One educational approach that has gained significant traction is STEAM science.

By integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics, STEAM education offers a holistic learning experience that nurtures critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and creativity in children.

STEAM science

Understanding STEAM Science

Understanding STEAM science and its benefits can help parents make informed decisions about their children’s education.

STEAM science is an interdisciplinary approach that combines different subject areas to provide a well-rounded education. It brings together the logical thinking of science and mathematics, the creative expression of arts, and the practicality of technology and engineering.

By merging these disciplines, children are encouraged to think beyond boundaries, explore innovative solutions, and develop a deep appreciation for the interconnectedness of the world.

The Five Components of STEAM

Science

This component focuses on inquiry-based learning, scientific method, and the exploration of natural phenomena. Students are encouraged to ask questions, conduct experiments, and analyze data to deepen their understanding of the world around them.

From studying the life cycle of a butterfly to investigating the properties of matter, science in STEAM education allows children to develop critical thinking skills and a curiosity for the unknown.

STEAM science experimentation

Technology

Children are exposed to technological tools and learn how to leverage them for problem-solving and creative projects. From coding and programming to using digital tools for research and communication, technology in STEAM education equips students with the skills needed to thrive in the digital age.

They learn to navigate through various software and hardware, understand the ethical implications of technology, and harness its power to bring their ideas to life.

STEAM science technology

Engineering

Engineering principles, such as design thinking and prototyping, are introduced to cultivate problem-solving skills. Students are challenged to identify problems, brainstorm solutions, and create prototypes to test their ideas.

Whether it’s building a bridge that can withstand weight or designing a sustainable energy system, engineering in STEAM education fosters creativity, critical thinking, and perseverance.

STEAM science engineering

Art

Creative expression through various art forms, such as drawing, painting, and music, is intertwined with scientific concepts. Students explore the intersection of art and science, discovering how creativity can enhance their understanding of the world.

They learn to communicate ideas visually, use art as a medium for self-expression, and appreciate the beauty in both the natural and man-made world.

STEAM science art component
Art in STEAM science

Math

Math is integrated into STEAM projects, enabling children to apply mathematical concepts in practical and meaningful ways. From measuring ingredients in a cooking experiment to calculating distances in a physics experiment, mathematics in STEAM education helps students see the relevance of math in their everyday lives.

They develop problem-solving skills, logical reasoning, and a deeper appreciation for the patterns and structures that underlie the world around them.

These five components work together to provide a holistic learning experience that prepares students for the challenges of the future.

By engaging in STEAM education, children develop a range of skills, including critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication. They learn to approach problems from multiple perspectives, adapt to new situations, and think outside the box.

STEAM science Math

The Importance of STEAM in Today's Education

As technology continues to reshape the society, it is benfical for children to be prepared for a future that requires adaptability and innovation. Here are two key reasons why STEAM education is of utmost importance:

1. Preparing Children for the Future

By providing children with a solid foundation in STEAM subjects, they are better equipped to navigate the challenges of the future.

Moreover, STEAM education goes beyond simply teaching technical knowledge. It fosters a holistic approach to learning, encouraging students to explore the interconnectedness of different disciplines.

2. Fostering Creativity and Innovation

By incorporating artistic elements into science and technology projects, children are encouraged to approach problem-solving from multiple angles, leading to more innovative and imaginative solutions.

Scouts in STEAM science

Implementing STEAM Science at Home

STEAM education is not limited to the classroom. Parents can also play an active role in nurturing their children’s interest in these subjects. Here are two effective ways to implement STEAM science at home:

1. Fun and Educational STEAM Activities

Building a model volcano, conducting simple science experiments, or designing a bridge using everyday materials are just a few examples of activities that can spark their interest and ignite their curiosity.

Engaging children in hands-on activities that incorporate elements of STEAM can be both fun and educational.

For instance, building a model volcano not only allows children to explore the principles of chemistry and geology, but it also encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

As they mix baking soda and vinegar to create a volcanic eruption, they learn about chemical reactions and the forces at work beneath the Earth’s surface. This hands-on experience not only makes science come alive but also fosters a sense of wonder and excitement.

STEAM science volcano experiment

2. Resources for Parents

There are numerous online resources available for parents to facilitate STEAM learning at home. Websites, mobile applications, and educational kits offer interactive materials and guided projects that can supplement classroom learning and provide opportunities for exploration and discovery.

One such resource is a popular website that offers a wide range of STEAM activities for children of all ages. From coding games to engineering challenges, this website provides step-by-step instructions and engaging content that make learning enjoyable and accessible.

In addition to online resources, educational kits are another valuable tool for parents. These kits often include materials and instructions for hands-on projects that cover various STEAM topics. By following the provided guidelines, children can learn about circuits, robotics, or even renewable energy.

STEAM science kits
STEAM science KIT

Here are some great websites and apps for children to explore STEAM

Websites(click on the highlights)

ScratchJr – a free introductory coding site for kids ages 5-7. Allows them to create interactive stories and games.

Tynker – a creative coding site and app for kids to learn programming and build games, apps, and more. Best for ages 7-15.

National Geographic Kids – games, videos, and activities to explore science, nature, wildlife, and more.

PBS Kids – educational games focused on science, math, creativity and more.

Smithsonian Learning Lab – explore artifacts and make your own creations combining history, art, and science.

Application's (click on the highlight's)

Toca Boca – open-ended creative play apps including lab experiments, city building, cooking and more. Ages 4-9.

Bloxels – kids can build their own video games with interactive pixel blocks. Ages 8-12.

Lightbot – program a robot to solve puzzles. Logic puzzles teach coding basics. Ages 4-10.

Lego Building Instructions – 3D guides and inspiration to build imaginative Lego creations. All ages.

Flipgrid – video discussion app for students to record and share STEAM projects or ideas with classmates.

Here are some websites where you can purchase science kits for kids to do experiments at home:

Scientificsonline.com – Sells kits focused on chemistry, forensics, physics as well as bundles for specific science topics. Quality kits for learning science concepts.

Pitsco Education – Hands-on project-based STEM kits covering robotics, green energy, flight and space, applied physics and more. Many kits utilize LEGO bricks.

SmartLabToys – Innovative science and craft kits focused on things like secret codes, spy gear, magic tricks, slime, and more “fun” science subjects kids find appealing. They sell on Amazon too.

Home Science Tools – Sells all kinds of lab materials, tools and science kits for hands-on STEM activities. Can shop by age or science subject.

Steve Spangler Science – A huge selection of kits for chemistry, earth science, biology experiments, packaged by age level or individual topics. Fun kits kids love.

Younger kids, subscription boxes like KiwiCo , Green Kids Crafts or Little Passports also deliver excellent STEM project ideas and supplies to your door each month.

Happy STEAM exploration! Let me know how it goes.

5 Engaging Ways to Inspire Your Kids to Love Reading Books

Creating a reading habit can start as early as birth, some say even before that.

Love of reading in children

Among many other reasons hearing language from books, even muffled in utero, gives babies data to tune their ears to melodic patterns, words, and pitches. This accelerates the acquisition of native language and responsiveness to verbal rhyming stories.

A group of researchers who study literacy education, reading instruction, and educational psychology Anderson, R.C., Hiebert, E.H., Scott, J.A., & Wilkinson, I.A.G. in their collective article in the 80’s said “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children”

For the love of reading

When I was young I discovered my love for reading through chapter books that were available to me at the time, books like Goosebumps, Sweetvally High and Bailey School Kids. As a parent, few things are more rewarding than seeing your child excited to read books. Reading unlocks new worlds for kids and feeds their imaginations. But with screens increasingly vying for attention, how can we instill a genuine love of reading early on?

Reading for fun together

Finding the Right Books to Support Your Child

Doctor Rudin Sims Bishop often referred to as the “mother of” multicultural children’s literature for her sociologically groundbreaking children’s literature research wrote an article in the 90’s – Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Doors here is a little insight into the article.

Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Doors

All books children read even for fun have a specific purpose.

Mirrors

Some books reflect children’s own identities and experiences back to them. For example, books with characters similar to them in terms of race, culture, gender, etc. This allows children to see themselves represented.

Love of reading

Windows

These types of books provide children with a view into the lives of people different from themselves. It exposes them to new perspectives, cultures, identities, etc. that they may not encounter in their daily lives.

Love of reading

Sliding Glass Doors

These types of books allow that child to go to another world, experience various other places, and open up opportunities for children to discover things they don’t know. It opens up children’s worldviews, understanding, aspirations etc.

love of reading Look inside space
Astronomy book for kids

Here are 5 tips to Help You

Start Early With Reading Aloud

Well before kids can read independently, read aloud together. Whether it’s nursery rhymes for infants or picture books for toddlers, reading together builds listening skills, parent-child bonding, and positive associations with books. Make it a cozy daily routine – something they look forward to.

Reading Together
Reading together
Reading Together

Surround Them With Reading Materials

The key is access and variety – books should be everywhere! Rotate library selections bi-weekly, leave colorful stories in the playroom, have a basket of bath books ready, download ebooks for road trips. Variety prevents boredom so include fantasy, nature guides, joke books – whatever aligns with their developing interests.

Reading corner for kids

Let Them Take the Lead

While guided suggestions are fine, allow plenty of autonomy for self-selected reading. Kids get more invested when they feel in the driver’s seat. Regular trips to the library or bookstore to pick their own materials – even if just looking at pictures initially – gives ownership.

Library/Love reading
Library/Love reading
comics for fun

Be A Role Model

Kids imitate parents. Let them catch you choosing reading for pleasure often – whether curled up with a novel each night or checking the news on a tablet. Discuss what you’ve read sometimes too. When kids see reading as a frequent activity done by the adults around them, it will stick!

reading for fun/adult

Make It Fun

Don’t force reading if interest isn’t there you are only going to make it worse. Instead, play up the entertainment element – silly voices during read-aloud, regular comic time, reading props like puppets. Find apps that make stories interactive. Sprinkling in rewards like reading movie nights incentivizes too! The goal is to show reading as a consistent source of family fun versus obligation.

Puppets for reading fun

With consistency and imagination, instilling reading love is completely possible from tiny ages on up. Bonding over books from the start creates connections sure to last a lifetime!

What tips do you have on this journey with your young readers? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

A Fun 5 Senses Mindfulness Walk For You and Your Kids

In a world full of schoolwork, electronics, and extracurricular activities, our schedules are packed from dawn until bedtime. As parents, we ferry our kids and navigate the days of the week school, clubs, and more. It’s easy to get caught up in the hectic pace of non-stop doing. You forget to take a minute for presence and connection often.

What would you do differently?

That’s why now more than ever, it’s important to be present in the moment – both as parents and children. Taking time for mindfulness allows us to reconnect with ourselves, our bodies, our breath, and our surroundings. Whether it’s 10 minutes in the morning, after school, or during an outdoor activity, setting the intention to be fully engaged in the present anchors us.

Tuning into the sights, smells, sounds and sensations happening right now cultivates calm and focus for both parents and children. Make time for mindfulness a priority in 2024!

Do you find yourself losing focus?

Don’t worry we are on the same invisible boat…mindfulness teaches us and our kids to focus on the present. This reduces anxiety and puts you in an overall good mood.

The relaxation response triggered by mindfulness calms our body and our nervous system. 

I Spy 5-4-3-2-1 (activity)

During your next nature walk, a trip to the park, or inner city movements with your child, have them use their 5 senses to connect with their surroundings.

Our neighborhood park nature trail.
Our neighborhood park nature trail.

See

Have them find 5 things they can see like birds, clouds, rocks, plants, etc. Really focus attention on each object.

Nature trail 5 senses. See
What can you see? Can you describe the object in detail?

1. Tree's 2. Gazebo 3. Dogs 4. An airplane

Touch

Now find 4 things they can touch like the grass, dirt, tree bark, leaves, etc… Notice the textures.

Nature tail 5 senses. Touch
What can you touch? How does it feel like? Is it soft, bumpy, or cold?

1. A Tree bark 2 An Acorn 3. A Sundial 4. Some dried sticks ( it's winter)

Hear

Next, listen for 3 things like wind, birds, running water, cars, people, etc… Identify each sound.

Nature trail 5 senses. Hear
Close your eyes, what can you hear? concentrate

1. Some loud birds 2. The wind 3. Police sirens

Smell

Then, sniff out 2 things such as pine trees, flowers, rain, pastry, etc… Breathe deeply

Park Nature trail 5 senses. smell
My daughter found the one flower that tried to bloomed in the dead of winter

1. The flowers she picked 2.Wet grass

Taste

Finally, taste 1 thing if safe like mint or wild berries. Or bring/buy something to quietly savor the flavors.

taste 5 senses
taste 5 senses

1. Pepper mint chocolate chip

This simple yet engaging activity helps build awareness in the present moment. It also utilizes all 5 senses. It is something you can also do by yourself.

Most importantly it will give you and your little one some focused quality time.

Photo credits go to my hobby.

Give it a try, let me know what you think.

A Taste of Turkey: Traditional Turkish Brunch in London

The word “brunch” is a portmanteau of “breakfast” and “lunch.” It’s thought to have first appeared in print in an 1895 article in Hunter’s Weekly, a British magazine.

In the late 19th century, breakfast was shifting from an early morning meal to a mid-morning meal on Sundays. So instead of eating breakfast early and lunch mid-afternoon, people started eating both meals consecutively later in the morning.

Brunch in London

Brunching In London

London has a thriving café and restaurant scene, with intense competition, leading to many establishments serving creatively designed brunch menus to stand out.

Reserving a weekend brunch table in advance is now often essential at hot spots. Many restaurants have special brunch events with live music as well. Brunch has become a social occasion that brings friends and family together frequently.

Brunching in London

So in summary, weekend brunch is now closely tied to London’s competitive and inventive restaurant scene, as well as its professional culture and love of posh experiences.

Brunching in London

The Delectable Sights and Flavors of a Turkish Brunch

I don’t consider myself an avid brunch enthusiast. I do enjoy experiencing all sorts of creative delights that London’s restaurants have to offer though.

This past weekend I experienced an incredible Turkish brunch that blew my eggs benedict obsession out of the water.

Me and some of my Family headed to Bursa Kebap Evi, a Turkish and Middle Eastern restaurant in London. As soon as I entered, the welcoming staff, vibrant hanging lamps, and aroma of freshly baked bread made me feel at home. I took my seat and that’s when the feast began. 

Out came a parade of small colorful plates presenting an incredible variety of Turkish breakfast essentials. There was kaymak – a moreish thick clotted cream, mild feta and salty ewe’s milk cheeses, golden dollops of honey and homemade fruit jams. Savory selections included spicy beef sujuk sausage, crispy borek pastries, and menemen – soft scrambled eggs cooked with tomato, parsley and spices.

Two stand-out dishes for me were the kaymak with honey and the gozleme stuffed flatbreads. I couldn’t stop drizzling more of that creamy sweet kaymak onto my breads!

To drink, I sipped on fragrant Turkish tea and one of the thickest, strongest, and most aromatic coffee, and that perfectly completed the dining experience.

The variety of mouthwatering small dishes opened me up to flavors much more intriguing than the standard bacon and eggs. It’s an incredible, communal-style meal that I would recommend to anyone looking to switch up their brunch experience!

brunch/breakfast

Turkish eggs (Cilbir)

Yally
Every once in a while we all can have the experience of a relaxed brunch with a traditional Turkish breakfast, right in the comfort of our home. Creating a beautiful spread of Menemen tomato dish and Turkish (Cilbir) egg dish, a simple yet rich combination. Don't forget to add some sides too. I can just see the figs, an assortment of olives, cheeses, savory filo pastries stuffed with cheese, and more....
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 2 people

Ingredients
  

6 eggs

1 cup plain yogurt

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika

1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper

1⁄4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried mint

Salt and pepper to taste

Hot sauce (optional)

Chopped parsley for garnish

    Instructions
     

    1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent.

    2. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, and mint and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the sauce simmer for 5-10 minutes until slightly reduced. Set aside.

    3. In a small pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Carefully break the eggs into the pan and fry until the egg whites are just set but the yolks are still runny. Season with salt and pepper.

    4. To serve, place some of the tomato sauce into bowls. Top with 2-3 fried eggs per bowl.

    5. In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, paprika, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Drizzle the spiced yogurt over the top of each serving.

    6. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve immediately with crusty bread and hot sauce if desired.

      Turkish Menemen breakfast

      Turkish Menemen Breakfast

      20 minutes

      Ingredients
        

      3 tablespoons olive oil

      1 medium onion, diced

      1 red or green bell pepper, seeded and diced

      3 garlic cloves, minced

      4 tomatoes, diced or 1 14oz can diced tomatoes

      1 teaspoon paprika

      1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

      1 pinch ground cumin

      6 eggs

      1⁄4 cup feta cheese (optional)

      Chopped parsley or dill to garnish

      Salt and pepper to taste

      Crusty bread for serving

        Instructions
         

        1. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened.

        2. Add red pepper and garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat if garlic browns.

        3. Add tomatoes, paprika, red pepper flakes and cumin. Stir to combine. Cook for 5-6 minutes until tomatoes soften. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

        4. Make wells spaced apart in the tomato mixture. Carefully crack the eggs into the wells. Cover the pan and cook for 8-10 minutes until eggs whites are cooked but yolks are still runny.

        5. Top off eggs with crumbled feta cheese if desired. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs like parsley or dill.

        6. To serve, place some Menemen onto serving plates along with a slice of crusty bread like sourdough or focaccia to dip into the eggs and sauce. Enjoy immediately while hot.

          Unlocking Creativity and Learning through Project-Based Art

          Unlocking Creativity and Learning through Project-Based Art

          For young children, for whom so much knowledge is new and exciting and so many physical and mental skills have to be acquired, the need for exploration, experimentation, and play is even more important. That is a quote from one of my favorite Author and early years consultant Margaret Edgington

          An important development occurs when children deliberately use and combine materials to create something they have seen or imagined. Project-based art is one of the strategies to help children achieve their learning journey.

          Art projects aren’t just about decorating cut-out shapes or coloring within the lines. When facilitated thoughtfully, the process of creating art builds critical developmental skills in young children. 

          This technique is called Negative Frottage. The children start with placing objects or materials with interesting shapes or forms on the canvas. Paint or drawing material is applied to the canvas/paper surface around and in between the objects. The objects are removed, leaving their contoured imprint behind as empty spaces with defined edges. The children then uses these negative space shapes as part of the imagery or composition.
          This technique is called Negative Space Frottage. The children start with placing objects or materials with interesting shapes or forms on the canvas. Paint or drawing material is applied to the canvas/paper surface around and in between the objects.
          Nurturing art means nurturing brains, hearts—and whole humans. More than painting skills or perfect shading, my students develop passion, responsibility, vision. And my job becomes less about instruction as the students flourish before my eyes. (2018)
          Nurturing art means nurturing brains, hearts—and whole humans. More than painting skills or perfect shading, my students develop passion, responsibility, vision. And my job becomes less about instruction as the students flourish before my eyes. (2018)

          What is Project-based Art

          As I am passionate about holistic approaches to learning, over the years I have very much enjoyed implementing project-based art in my early-year teachings. And I am here to share some of my experiences with you.

          Exploring with Salt-dough
          In this photo, my students and I are exploring salt dough - a fundamental art medium for teaching young children. The versatility of this simple yet enriching dough makes it an ideal starting point for nurturing artistic expression and fine motor skills development in early art education. (2019)

          A project-based art in early learning development refers to art activities or projects that are designed to promote learning and development in young children over a course of time.

          The interesting part is that you incorporate curriculums like Reggio Emilia into it. My daughter has been doing project-based art since she was six months old.

          The open-ended nature of art projects allows children to naturally direct the experience based on their developing interests and abilities

          My inquisitive 3-year-old daughter, who attended the same early learning center where I taught, loved art exploration. In this photo, my young students/ daughter and I are joyfully experimenting with mixing paint colors. As an early childhood teacher, I believe hands-on creative play allows children to make exciting discoveries.

          This approach is centered around the process of creating art, rather than the end product. The focus is on the experience, exploration, and experimentation with art materials.

          What are the Benefits of Project-based Art?

          Projects encourage creativity, self-expression, and problem-solving as children figure out how to use materials and try out their own ideas.

          They incorporate open-ended art activities that allow children to work at their own level and ability. This includes activities like painting, drawing, sculpting with clay, and exploring other sensory materials.

          Projects are designed to help children develop skills across domains including fine motor skills, cognitive skills, language/literacy, social-emotional skills, and general knowledge.

          Collaborative rice canvas art.
          In this photo, my young students are working with colored rice. Each child makes a distinctive mark on their collaborative canvas project. (2017)
          In this photo, my young students are working with colored rice. Each child makes a distinctive mark on their collaborative canvas project. (2017)
          By encouraging open-ended art exploration we can help children create beautiful art work.
          By encouraging open-ended art exploration we can help children create beautiful art work.

          Teachers/caregivers guide the process and facilitate learning, but allow children to take the lead and direct the experience based on their interests.

          art project
          In this photo, I was guiding an under-the-sea collaborative art canvas. Kids get ideas easily from books, music, and the interaction with the world around them.

          Projects can be individual or collaborative, last for a single session or be expanded over days/weeks as the child pursues an idea. Documentation panels can capture the process.

          This Under The Sea collaborative canvas work was done by 2 year old's, on wooden triangle canvas with acrylic paint (2017).
          This Under The Sea collaborative canvas work was done by a class of 2 year old's, on a wooden triangle canvas with acrylic paint (2017).

          Setting the Stage for Art Exploration

          How do we help facilitate a project-based art?

          The key is to start with designating an art area for open-ended exploration daily. Include a variety of tools and materials including paint, clay, collage scraps, markers, glue, tape, scissors, etc.

                Introduce children to 2-3 media/tools at a time. Demonstrate possibilities without prescribing outcomes to spark intrinsic motivation.

                 Observe each child’s developing approach. Ask open-ended questions, make thought-provoking suggestions, and encourage persistence.

          In this photo, I was introducing mixed media materials that can go on canvases.

                Document the process with photos, videos, written observations, and children’s own artwork. These will anchor reflective discussions.

                Keep finished pieces for a class exhibit or student portfolio highlighting the depth of learning. Display the documentation to showcase the process.

          3D mixed media wood canvas is done by 4-year-old kindergarteners back in 2019. The art piece was named City Nights by my students.
          3D mixed media wood canvas was done by my 4-year-old kindergarteners back in 2019. The art piece was named City Nights by my students.

                 Return to the project over days or weeks as desired, expanding on emergent themes. Projects can spark related inquiries across subject areas.

               Support children’s role as peer mentors by encouraging collaboration and meaning-making together.

          Growing artists develop both in and out of the classroom through nurturing their innate creativity.
          Growing artists develop both in and out of the classroom through nurturing their innate creativity.

          By facilitating project-based art explorations, we empower children to drive their own creative growth while developing skills critical for the 21st century. The journey is as meaningful as the destination!

          Where To Draw Inspiration?

          Active learning curriculums

          I have always used The Reggio approach to provide access to a wide variety of materials for inquiry and expression and used open-ended art spaces to allow mix media.

          Reggio learning is centered around long-term, collaborative investigations. Likewise, art projects can expand over days, weeks, and months as a child pursues an idea.

          The Reggio model, projects emerge from the interests and initiatives of each child. Similarly, art projects allow children to actively construct their own learning.

          The fulfillment emerges not just from the finished product but from observing the whole journey unfold.
          The fulfillment emerges not just from the finished product but from observing the whole journey unfold. (21017)
          This project driven by children's interests has gone through the introduction, planning, experimentation, exploring, and implementing stages.
          As they began working on landscape paintings, the children recalled images of what they had just seen outside
          This project driven by children's interests has gone through the introduction, planning, Experimentation, exploring, and implementing stages.
          After a nature walk where 4 year olds observed the vibrant blue sky and green grassy meadows, they returned to filled with artistic inspiration.
          As they began working on landscape paintings, the children recalled images of what they had just seen outside.
          As they began working on landscape paintings, the children recalled images of what they had just seen outside
          The children's finished landscape artworks depicting the wonder of nature they witnessed firsthand outside were as unique as their young imaginations.
          The children's finished landscape artworks depicting the wonder of nature they witnessed firsthand outside were as unique as their young imaginations. (2017)

          Nature and Our Environment as Inspiration

          Using nature as inspiration for art comes naturally to young children. Providing opportunities for outdoor sensory exploration and bringing natural items into the classroom breathes life into their artistic endeavors.

          They may use sticks, flowers, rocks, leaves, pinecones and other natural loose parts to print, paint, and even stick the material itself. Sometimes they may observe and replicate patterns from nature in their drawings. Other times nature inspires more symbolic representations or fuels their imagination.

          My 2-year-old at the time and her class mates using nature as inspiration for art.
          My 2-year-old at the time using nature as inspiration for art.
          Leafy green forest-inspired work done on cotton fabric, the children painted and then printed real leaves in green acrylic.
          Leafy green forest-inspired work was done on cotton fabric, the children painted and then printed real leaves in green acrylic.
          Leafy green forest-inspired work done on triangular wood, painted in different shades of green acrylic paint.
          Leafy green forest-inspired work done on triangular wood, painted in different shades of green acrylic paint.

          Famous Art Works and Influential Artists

          As children learn about influential artists that inspire emotion and imagination like Van Gogh, Monet, O’Keefe, Picasso and others, they assimilate new visual styles into their own expressions. Recreating famous artworks helps appreciate technique and fuels the genesis of new visions. Exploring varied artists nurtures original perspectives, cultural awareness, and timeless communication via art.

          Yellow-Red-Blue, 1925 - Wassily Kandinsky-Abstract
          Yellow-Red-Blue, 1925 - Wassily Kandinsky-Abstract

          Kandinsky Inspired Collaborative Shapes Abstract Art By 4 Year- Old Students

          This work was done by choosing Kandinsky as an inspiration. Just like the famous artist children used music as their inspiration. Listened to music during the process which took a couple of months to explore and accomplish. The black background paint was painted on thick wood(MDF). Other smaller and thinner triangular wood intricately painted abstract were placed by each child in art their chosen places.
          This work was done by choosing Kandinsky as an inspiration. Just like the famous artist children used music as their inspiration. Listened to music during the process which took a couple of months to explore and accomplish. The black background paint was painted on thick wood(MDF). Other smaller and thinner triangular wood intricately painted abstract were placed by each child in their chosen places.

          Pollock Inspired Drip Abstract Art Done by Children from Ages 2-5

          Number 8-1949- Jackson Pollock. Drip Period
          Number 8-1949- Jackson Pollock. Drip Period
          Let's start with the background which is a wide wood palette, the children collaborated in dripping, splashing, and tapping. A large number of students participated in filling up this big and ambitious canvas with vibrant colors. (My daughter at one and a half going on 2 years old. (2016)
          Let's start with the background which is a wide wood palette, the children collaborated in dripping, splashing, and tapping. A large number of students participated in filling up this big and ambitious canvas with vibrant colors. (My daughter at one and a half going on 2 years old. (2016)
          Influential artists who inspire emotion and imagination can be a key learning resource and tool for little minds.
          Influential artists who inspire emotion and imagination can be a key learning resource and tool for little minds.

          Here are some examples of open-ended questions you can ask

          Process/Technique Questions

          What made you decide to use those colors/materials for this part of your art?

          Another Ocean (Underwater) inspired Canvas done by children ages 2-5 (2019)
          Another Ocean (Underwater) inspired Canvas done by children ages 2-5 (2019)

          I noticed you chose a thicker paintbrush this time. How does that change the way the paint goes on compared to a thinner brush?

          How does the clay/dough feel as you roll it between your hands? What changes as you add more water?

          Thinking Skills Questions

          What is your next step going to be with your art project? How did you decide?

          What would happen if mixed different colors? different shades?

          The printing technique is one of the most fun techniques for children to do and it includes lots of sensory and pattern-making.
          The printing technique is one of the most fun techniques for children to do and it includes lots of sensory and pattern making,
          Another printing art project done by 2-3 year old children. (2018)
          Another printing art project done by 2-3 year old children. (2018)

          Feelings/Reactions Questions

          I can see you have been working hard adding lots of detail to your art – How do you feel about your work?

          What do you think other children will find interesting about this part?

          How does this color make you feel when you look at it? Do you think its a sad color or a happy color?

          The String-pulling technique, with soft colors(Food Coloring) and strings, creates a calming artwork. (2019)
          The String-pulling technique, with soft colors(Food Coloring) and strings, creates a calming artwork. (2019)
          The children made art with sweets. I think it invoked so much joy. (2019)
          The children made art with sweets. I think it invoked so much joy. (2019)

          Socio-Emotional and Therapeutic Benefits

          Promotes Self-Expression & Emotion Processing

          Open-ended art allows children to freely express inner thoughts, feelings, experiences, and emotions through visual symbols and creative choice-making. This helps them process joy, frustration, fear, anger, etc healthily. The teacher facilitates discussion and validation of their emotions as depicted through the art.

          With an array of materials creating mixed media that brings out different emotions to explore. That in turn builds emotional intelligence.
          With an array of materials creating mixed media that brings out different emotions to explore. That in turn builds emotional intelligence. (2019)

          Builds Confidence & Resilience

          As children envision what they wish to create and persist through challenges to complete their project, they build creative confidence and resilience. Taking risks, problem-solving, and directing the outcome bolsters independence and self-esteem. Celebrating mistakes and iterations as part of the artistic process helps normalize failure.

          With guidance, using diverse art media and techniques children create the most amazing work because unlike adults they concentrate on the process more than the end result. (2019)
          With guidance, using diverse art media and techniques children create the most amazing work because unlike adults they concentrate on the process more than the end result. (2019)
          With guidance, using diverse art media and techniques children create the most amazing work because unlike adults they concentrate on the process more than the end result. (2019)
          Acrylic Pouring technique used to my student's favorite way to make art, They have made quite a lot. It's simple expressive and fun in the process and they end up being beautiful works. (2019)
          Students need room to stretch their imaginations, learn from mistakes, build confidence through risk-taking. If I interject too much structure or redirection, those peer-to-peer epiphanies wouldn't unfurl the same way.(2019)
          Students need room to stretch their imaginations, learn from mistakes, build confidence through risk-taking. If I interject too much structure or redirection, those peer-to-peer epiphanies wouldn't unfurl the same way.(2019)

          Enhances Relationships & Social Skills

          Collaborating on group art projects requires communication, compromise, and learning from diverse perspectives. Negotiating roles and responsibilities builds empathy and community. Even in individual projects, discussing work and giving feedback promotes active listening, expressing thoughts, and respecting others.

          More Gallery of My Student Creativity Through the Years

          Another printing art project done by 3- 4 year old children. (2019)
          Dragging technique implemented by a class of 4-5-year-olds. Open-ended, child-led exploration allows assimilating techniques tailored to evolving talents and interests. (2019)
          Dragging technique implemented by a class of 4-5-year-olds. Open-ended, child-led exploration allows assimilating techniques tailored to evolving talents and interests. (2019)

          In summary, project-based art promotes creative self-directed learning through meaningful hands-on art experiences tailored to early childhood development and interests.

          As a caregiver/educator, few joys compare to witnessing the awe-inspiring creativity and self-directed learning unfolding before you as children dive into an art activity. Stepping back as they independently problem-solve through conceptual, technical, and collaborative challenges allows them to build confidence in their developing abilities.

          C.S Lewis and the Depth of The Chronicles of Narnia

          C.S Lewis and the Depth of The Chronicles of Narnia

          We have all grown up reading the magical fantasy adventure book series of The Chronicles of Narnia.

          C.S. Lewis was an immensely popular writer who left a profound legacy through his children’s fantasy works and Christian writings. His Narnia series established him as one of the most influential authors of fantasy literature.

          Biography here

          https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/zkdnvk7/articles/zccf6yc

          The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950)

          Prince Caspian (1951)

          The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)

          The Silver Chair (1953)

          The Horse and His Boy (1954)

          The Magician’s Nephew (1955)

          The Last Battle (1956)

          Before you keep on reading I do have a spoiler alert if you have never read them.

          C.S. Lewis tells the stories of various children who visit the magical land of Narnia, where they have adventures with talking animals, mythical creatures, and the lion Aslan, who is the true king and creator of Narnia.

          Lewis draws inspiration from Greek and Roman mythology, fairy tales, Arthurian legends, and British and Irish folklore. The books explore themes such as courage, loyalty, friendship, faith, sacrifice, and redemption. You know the ultimate good versus evil battle.

          The one thing I didn’t know was how it was inspired by Christian allegories.

          So while the books don’t explicitly mention Christianity, Lewis wove clear biblical parallels and archetypes into the stories.

          Here are some of the main ways the books allegorize Christian themes:

          Aslan the lion is seen as a Christ-figure. He sacrifices himself to save Edmund, rises again, and triumphs over evil, paralleling Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.

          The story of the children entering Narnia through the wardrobe is seen as symbolizing humans entering the kingdom of heaven.

          The White Witch represents sin, temptation, and Satan trying to rule Narnia through her magical power. Aslan’s victory over her represents Christ’s victory over sin and death.

          One of the beautiful things about the Chronicles of Narnia is that they can be enjoyed on different levels by readers of various backgrounds and ages.

          As a teenager, even though I didn’t know that specific word Portal Fantasy I understood the subgene in that way.

          Portal fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy fiction that involves traveling from one world to another through a portal, such as a door, a wardrobe, a painting, or a hole in the ground. The portal usually connects the real world (or a version of it) with a fantastical world, where magic, mythical creatures, and adventure await. The characters who enter the portal often have to complete a quest, face a challenge, or learn a lesson in the other world.

          How I understood it was as four siblings going through the traumatic experience of a world war and being separated from their parents. They found solace in their active imagination and created another world. It’s in the later books I started believing maybe Narnia is an actual place. How else will I explain that the old professor named Digory Kirke whom they stayed with was one of the first visitors to Narnia as a child?

          Where did C.S Lewis get his inspiration for The Narnia series?

          C.S. Lewis came up with the idea for Narnia from various sources of inspiration in his life, such as his childhood imagination, his love of literature, his Christian faith, and his experiences during the war. Here are some of the main influences that shaped his vision of Narnia

          An image of a faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. Lewis said that this image came to his mind when he was 16 years old, and stayed with him for many years, until he decided to write a story around it. This image became the opening scene of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, where Lucy meets Mr. Tumnus.

          A map of Narnia

          Narnia: Map of Narnia (Aslan version) by EverydayHeroesComics Artwork found here EverydayHeroesComics

          The name of Narnia, which he borrowed from an Italian town called Narni. Lewis saw the name on a map in an atlas and liked the sound of it. He also learned that Narni was the birthplace of a Roman emperor named Nerva, who was known for his justice and kindness.

          Children stayed at his house during the Second World War. Lewis hosted several groups of children who were evacuated from London to escape the bombing. He enjoyed their company and entertained them with stories and games. He also had a wardrobe in his house, which he used as a prop for his stories. He later dedicated The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to one of the children, Lucy Barfield.

          Aslan Quote

          More Spoiler Alert

          'The Last Battle' Debacle

          The Last Battle

          So, the battle in Narnia is the last stand of King Tirian and his loyal followers against the Calormenes and the false Aslan, who have invaded and corrupted the land. The battle ends with the destruction of Narnia and the appearance of the real Aslan.

          Narnia does end and all characters “die”, but the afterlife shows them continuing to live in Aslan’s paradise, which is the “real” eternal Narnia.

          The train station scene in The Last Battle is one of the most controversial and debated parts of the Chronicles of Narnia. It is the scene where the main characters of the series, except Susan, die in a train crash in England and enter the new Narnia, which is Aslan’s country and a representation of heaven.

          Lewis seemed to be conveying faith, redemption, spiritual reality, and the afterlife. It’s a heavy conclusion for a children’s fantasy series but speaks to the skill and vision Lewis had as a storyteller that he could end on such a powerful allegorical note.

          Susan Pevensie : The lost Queen of Narnia

          Susan is born in 1928 and is 12 years old when she appears in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. By The Last Battle, she is 21 years old, as the final novel takes place.

          Susan is a sympathetic and relatable character, who has faced many challenges and changes in her life. She has always been good.

          Yes, peter was older than her he was the firstborn of the Pevensies, but Susan had always wanted to be grown up, she had always been traditionally feminine. She is even called ‘Susan the gentle’.

          Susan Pevensie ' Chronicles of Narnia'

          I think Susan lost her way because she was confused and conflicted about who she was and what she wanted. She had grown up in Narnia, where she was a queen and a friend of Aslan, but she also had to return to England, where she was a normal girl and a student.

          She had to adapt to two different worlds, and two different stages of life. She had to deal with the pressures and expectations of society, and the temptations and distractions of the world.

          Yes, she tried to be normal and mature, but she also lost her innocence and joy.

          Despite all that, I still to this day do not understand why Lewis chose to leave her out. She could have joined Aslan and all of the others in eternal Narnia.

          I think that Susan still had a chance to redeem herself and to reunite with her loved ones. I think that Aslan still loved her and cared for her and that he would not give up on her. Susan still had a spark of Narnia and Aslan in her heart, and that she could rekindle it.

          In his Companion to Narnia, Paul F. Ford writes at the end of the entry for Susan Pevensie that “Susan’s is one of the most important Unfinished Tales of The Chronicles of Narnia.”

          C.S Lewis 'Chronicle of Narnia'

          All of the books in the chronicle were amazing. Lewis was a masterful writer, he achieved timeless multilayered stories. It’s clear these children’s fantasy tales have stood the test of time and can be appreciated on many levels.

          what do think?

          Maria Montessori’s Timeless Quotes

          Maria Montessori's Timeless Quotes

          Throughout her decades of work, Maria Montessori offered many insights into child development and effective teaching methods. Her quotes and words of wisdom still ring true today and provide guidance to parents, teachers, and anyone interested in nurturing children’s natural desire to learn. The following quotes highlight some of Montessori’s key philosophies and beliefs about education.”

          Montessori’s wisdom only seems to grow more relevant, offering lessons in fostering children’s natural desire to learn and become independent. Check out my other blog post about Maria Montessori by clicking here ‘THE MONTESSORI WAY: AN EXPLORATION OF MARIA’S CHILD-CENTERED APRROCH’

          The Montessori Way: An Exploration Of Maria’s Child-Centered Educational Vision

          The Montessori Way: An Exploration of Maria's Child-Centered Educational Vision

          Maria Montessori could have lived comfortably as one of Italy’s first female physicians but instead, she revolutionized how the world views early childhood education.

          When she founded the Casa dei Bambini in 1907, no one expected children from low-income families to become so enraptured by learning. Yet this humble Children’s House was the launchpad for Montessori’s educational vision that would soon circle the globe.

          Maria Montessori

          Montessori understood that true education goes beyond the intellect. That it must nurture the whole child.

          Her classrooms shimmered with discovery and purpose. Children scatter across the room choosing mesmerizing activities that call to their inborn curiosity. Pink Tower blocks and ready little hands for mathematical insight. Beautifully lettered Sandpaper Letters awaken an intrinsic desire for reading. Children teach themselves, led by their own developmental path.

          Maria Montessori Quotes

          The Influences Behind Montessori's Revolutionary Vision

          In the 18th century thinkers like Rousseau and Pestalozzi promoted “natural education” letting children learn by experiencing the world, rather than strict discipline and rote learning and this influenced Montessori’s focus on hands-on learning.

          Italian physicians studied child development stages and argued children learned differently than adults. Montessori was inspired by their work.

          Theories by Piaget, Vygotsky and others in the 1920s-30s reinforced Montessori’s views on cognitive development stages and social learning. These theories are now foundations of early childhood education as we know it.

          Montessori carefully observed children to see how they naturally learned best. This scientific observation led to her educational approach driven by children’s natural development.

          Maria Montessori

          Because more women entered the workforce in the 1900s, it created a demand for preschool education. Montessori methods appealed as a scientific childcare approach.

          In the 1960s many looked to alternatives like Montessori that were child-centered rather than teacher-driven. This aligned with cultural trends questioning authority.

          Studies showing Montessori students performing well in later grades gained interest from parents and educators.

          While controversial in some aspects, Montessori reflected several key trends in educational philosophy. Allowing children freedom with structure resonated with many parents and educators, leading to its worldwide popularity.

          The Montessori Method: Blending Science, Observation, and a Nurturing Philosophy

          This is education built around the sovereignty of childhood. “Respect all the reasonable forms of activity in which the child engages,” Montessori urged, “and try to understand them.”

          Its key principles include children having an innate desire to learn and develop themselves through purposeful activity. Teachers should foster this natural inclination.

          Children exploring in a Montessori classroom
          Children exploring in a Montessori classroom

          Since children go through sensitive periods for learning key skills during their development. Teachers should recognize these periods and focus lessons accordingly.

          Learning environments should be carefully structured with materials appropriate for the children’s developmental level and interests. Materials are designed to be visually appealing, hands-on, and self-correcting.

          Montessori classroom modern-day

          Teachers are guides helping children learn at their own pace, rather than top-down instructors. Children individually choose activities rather than learning as a class.

          Mixed-age classrooms with 3-year cycles allow older children to teach younger ones because this fosters peer learning and cooperation.

          Montessori schools typically have mixed age classrooms, hands-on learning materials, child-sized furniture, and a high degree of student self-direction. Subjects like practical life skills, sensory stimulation, mathematics, language, science, and culture are integrated.

          The Montessori method spread worldwide and influenced many educational approaches. It remains a popular early childhood education model today emphasizing learning through exploration, independence and following the child’s interests.

          From Italy to the World

          In the 1910s and 1920s, Montessori traveled widely giving lectures and training teachers in her methods across Europe, India, and the US. She also continued opening Montessori schools internationally.

          By the 1930s, Montessori methods were well-established with over 1,000 schools worldwide. However, her schools were forced to close in countries including Germany and Italy due to political tensions leading up to WWII.

          And after WWII, there was a resurgence in interest in Montessori methods, especially in North America. Maria and Mario Montessori contributed to rebuilding the movement.

          The Montessori Mission Marches On

          After WWII, many Montessori schools had been closed under fascist regimes. Montessori and her son Mario(Adopted) worked to reopen and establish new Montessori schools as interest in her methods was renewed.

          Teacher training centers were reopened to train a new generation of teachers in Montessori methods to staff the growing number of schools.

          And new Montessori learning materials were developed, expanding beyond the original materials to encompass new subjects.

          Montessori classroom material

          Mario Montessori oversaw teacher training and school establishment in India in the 1940s. This brought Montessori education to a massive new audience.

          Techniques were updated based on new educational research and observations of children. But core tenets remained unchanged.

          Grassroots interest drove rapid US expansion and over 200 schools opened between 1946 and 1960 as American parents embraced Montessori.

          The Montessoris gave lectures on their educational philosophy across Europe and North America to spread awareness.

          Books like Maria Montessori’s “The Absorbent Mind” detailed her approach and were translated into multiple languages for wide distribution.

          In 1947, Maria Montessori was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her global work in early childhood education. She did not receive the prize but the nomination recognized her achievements.

          Montessori has been described as determined and single-minded in pursuing her educational philosophy. She was tireless in lecturing, writing, and establishing schools globally.

          Despite not having children of her own, she was very maternal with her students and took great interest in each child’s progress.

          Montessori died in 1952 in the Netherlands at age 81. After her death, her son Mario continued promoting and developing Montessori education across the world.

          Influential books written by Maria Montessori and other authors about her educational philosophy

           The Montessori Method (1909) – Her first book introducing her methods and experiences at Casa dei Bambini.

          The Advanced Montessori Method (1917) – Details the expanded curriculum for elementary levels.

           The Secret of Childhood (1936) – Discusses children’s physical, psychological and spiritual development.

          The Absorbent Mind (1949) – Describes the mental powers of infants and young children.

           Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work by E.M. Standing (1957) – An early biography of Montessori.

          Montessori: A Modern Approach and Montessori in the Classroom by Paula Polk Lillard (1972) – Clear overview of the method with examples.

          The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies (2019) – Applies Montessori principles to children under 3.

          The Montessori Way written by Tim Seldin and Paul Epstein, Ph.D.. It is a comprehensive guide to Montessori education, from the early years through to secondary school.

          Maria Montessori: The Italian Doctor Who Revolutionized Education for Children by Margeurite Cootware (2017) – Biography for a young audience.

          Today there are over 20,000 Montessori schools worldwide. Montessori left a lasting legacy as a reformer of education centered around the natural development of children with student-directed learning and carefully designed environments. She is considered a pioneer in progressive education.

          On other posts we can explore more on setting up Montessori classrooms, setting up a Montessori home, finding books and resources, and exploring the approach.

          Check out my other related post by clicking here ‘On Top Curriculum For Homeschooler: A Guide’

          Cold Outside? Time for Beef Stew!

          Cold Outside? Time for Beef Stew!

          Beef Stew

          Beef Stew

          Yally
          It's getting cold out! In weathers like this, there's nothing quite as comforting and satisfying as a bowl of beef stew. The tender, melt-in-your-mouth beef, softened vegetables, and rich savory broth makes the beef stew the ultimate cold-weather meal.
          As the stew simmers away on the stove, the aroma fills the whole house with warmth. That first spoonful is so deeply flavorful and soothing. The red wine or dark beer adds depth and complexity to the broth. And the options are endless - potatoes lend heartiness, carrots and celery add classic flavors, while mushrooms provide an earthy, meaty bite.
          Beef stew is a blank canvas for improvisation. Swapping in different herbs, spices, vegetables or proteins means you can constantly change it up. From classic French-style beef bourguignon made with red wine to an Irish stew flavored with Guinness or an American beef stew with smoky barbecue sauce - the variations are endless.
          When you're looking for the perfect dish to take the chill out of winter nights, nothing satisfies quite like a bowl of hearty, wholesome beef stew. It's a timeless comfort food that warms you up from the inside out. Can you say nostalgia?
          Prep Time 20 minutes
          Cook Time 2 hours
          Servings 4 people

          Ingredients
            

          • 1.5 lbs beef stew meat cut into 1-inch cubes
          • 3 tablespoons olive oil
          • 1 onion diced
          • 3 carrots peeled and sliced
          • 3 stalks celery sliced
          • 3 cloves garlic minced
          • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
          • 1 cup dry red wine , Guinness or Rum
          • 2 cups beef broth
          • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
          • 1 bay leaf
          • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
          • Salt and pepper to taste

          Instructions
           

          • Pat the beef cubes dry and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches if needed, add the beef cubes and brown on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer browned beef to a plate.
          • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pot. Add the onions, carrots and celery. Sauté for 5-6 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
          • Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to coat. Cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the Red wine or Guinness, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Let simmer for a few minutes.
          • Pour in the beef broth and tomato paste. Add the bay leaf and thyme. Return the browned beef along with any accumulated juices to the pot.
          • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for 1.5-2 hours, until beef is very tender.
          • Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Serve stew hot with crusty bread.

          Notes

          There are lots of options for additional ingredients you can add to beef stew to make it even more flavorful.
          Vegetables 
          like Potatoes,
          Carrots,
          Parsnips,
          Turnips,
          Sweet potatoes,
          Mushrooms,
          Pearl onions,
          Shallots,
          Red or green bell pepper,
          Corn, and Olive.

          Herbs

          like Thyme,
          Rosemary,
          Oregano,
          Parsley.

          Spices 

          like Paprika,
          Cumin,
          Chili powder,
          Cayenne pepper.
          The nice thing is that the prep is very quick, so most of the time commitment is hands-off simmering time that allows the flavors to meld. With 20 minutes of prep and 2-3 hours of stewing time, you'll have the perfect cold-weather comfort food.