Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Montessori Holiday Presents

As the holidays approach, I've had a couple requests to talk about how we communicate to others about what kind of toys we prefer for Henry. It's a delicate situation, for sure. It's difficult to sound sufficiently and authentically grateful for others' generosity while simultaneously saying, "We prefer not to have plastic or battery-powered toys." We're lucky because our families ask for lists of things. When I gave them the list last year (see below), I tried to include a range from very specific items to general brands and/or stores that tend to sell more natural things.

Hi All,

I hope this message finds you well!

Matt and I have been thinking a lot about Henry's first Christmas, which is right around the corner! We're ecstatic that we're going to get to see both sides of the family. He's growing so much and we don't want you to miss anything.

If you need/want some gift ideas, here are a few links that might be helpful (I apologize that I just got around to sending this and it's almost December!):
  • Object permanence boxes are interesting for babies
  • This box with pull down drawers looks fun
  • This catalog has lots of kid-sized things that children can use to participate in family life, such as things to use in the kitchen, garden, etc. He'll be doing a lot of that once he hits the 15-month mark
  • Haba toys (available on Amazon) are beautiful wooden toys
  • Plan toys (available on Amazon) are also beautiful wooden toys
  • The Wooden Wagon has some beautiful wooden toys
  • I love this beautiful marble run
  • Nova Natural is also a good site
In Montessori environments, we try to use toys made from natural materials instead of plastic and prefer simple toys to over-stimulating ones.

We're also socking away money for his college fund, so you could always give him an empty box with tissue paper and donate to the fund instead!

The biggest gift of all is going to be playing with all of you! He loves to blow raspberries on bare stomachs, so beware! (And he will lift your shirt to expose your stomach...)

Biggest hugs,


This year, I want to try to think ahead to generate a list of the major things he might need from 2-3 years old. He already got a bike from one of his grandmas as an early Christmas present (which will be his only Christmas present from her). What else might he enjoy in the upcoming year?
It seems like the major categories are: art, music, gardening/outside, woodworking, toys, and cooking.

Wow. Thinking through all of this makes me dwell in possibility about what our life should be like as Henry continues to grow. It feels like our time at home should be filled with practical and creative pursuits: gardening, looking for bugs, watering plants, sweeping, collecting dried leaves for the compost, hanging dishtowels up to dry, fixing things around the house, building things, drawing, painting, sewing, reading, cooking, baking, canning--the list goes on!

And yet this is not what my life is like right now. My free time is mainly spent in front of the computer: blogging, running e-courses, responding to e-mail, and doing my professional work on the computer. I don't feel like my current priorities compromise Henry's childhood. I mainly do these things while he's napping (from 12-2pm) and after he goes to bed (from 6:30-9:30pm).

When his nap goes away and his bed time gets later, I'll need to figure out how to spend less time in front of the computer and more time living my life alongside Henry. I'm looking forward to it!

What else should I put on his list for year 2-3?

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Jen said...

Not knowing if this is Montessori appropriate or not, I wanted to say my nearly 2-year-old has recently started to love her baby doll. She enjoys "feeding" the doll, putting the doll to bed, etc.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing! My daughter is almost exactly a year younger than Henry so this is perfect. Now I don't have to do as much work finding things for her "wish list".

Carrie said...

MORE BOOKS!!!!! :)

Maureen said...

Thanks so much for this Sara!

BB said...

All of these things are expensive!!! Do you give gifts like this? You send Montessori toys to your nieces and nephews?

I would be shocked if my sister (or sister in law) sent me a list like this by email. Unless you really expect someone to buy you expensive toys (like grandparents), I would just say you want books and are really excited about reading, and you would love to see their favorite children's books.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, BB: The items on Henry's wishlist range from $0.95 to $39.95. There are things for $4, $5, $9, $10. I personally think that's a good range for grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

To answer your question, yes, I try to always give Montessori-ish gifts to the young children in my life. When we're on a super-strict budget, I'll go to Target and buy a wooden puzzle.

Nora said...

Hi -

Saw this and thought of Henry.

Cowgirl in the sand said...

Great list !

Cowgirl in the sand said...

Great list !

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