I stopped by the library and after reading a review by Montessori teacher, Meg McElwee (Montessori by Hand) of Montessori from the Start (which I finished reading about a month ago). I felt that maybe I just picked up the wrong book because I felt the overall feel of the book was closer to our culture's perception of pushing our children to be independant rather than the attachment method which has worked so well for us. So I picked out How to Raise and Amazing Child the Montessori Way (also reviewed by the same teacher) and I love it! I definately feel this method fits our family ideals of "less is more" and our appreciation for beauty: manmade and natural. It is a very easy, positive read based on the principle that you will know when your child is ready for the next thing. So even if you don't know anything about Marie Montessori or her method, I highly recommend this book to educate yourself or as a guideline for a way to educate your child.
After reading the first book, I made some hand-eye coordination puzzles for Anastasia. First I cut a small hole in a box--just big enough for a poker chip, rounded up 5 poker chips and taught Anastasia how to use them. She was able to do this around the age of 12 months. I also gave her some toothpicks and a red-pepper flake shaker and showed her how to put the toothpicks in the holes. It took her a little longer but she spent hours occupied with this, and by 13 months she mastered it. I was amazed at how she concentrated on these puzzles and liked the challenge they offered her. Now she can draw on paper with colored pencils with ease, carry around a bowl with fruit and eat it carefully without spilling, etc. I am amazed what little toddlers can do if given the opportunity, and I like how Montessori believes in giving them this freedom.
Raising an Amazing Child the Montessori Way has so many nice pictures that I feel captivate my dream house: organized, beautiful, clean and above all, peacefully pleasant to be in. I honestly used to think all the anti-plastic enthusiasts were borderline insane in our day... but they aren't the ones giving their children lead-laced plastic junk made to become garbage. I have a nice mix of plastic, wood, metal, and fabric toys, and am perfectly comfortable with this, but Anastasia definately prefers the more natural, non-plastic items. It is amazing to me! I think the important thing for me is to really give her all possible outlets for creativity and exploration, and to not allow the materialistic mindset of our culture to infect her. I feel this is at the very heart of the Montessori method, and I hope to model our home around these ideals. I find myself having to completely change my own mindset... it is hard not to want this or that: be it a finely made European doll house or a crappy China-made shirt on sale at Target for $5.
Ok, so on the same note-- sort of, I found the best blog of kiddie crafts: the Crafty Crow. I can't wait to do them all with Anastasia in the future but boy am I enjoying this 14 month age! I love her more everyday!