This Saturday, I'm excited to introduce Bella's Casa, a Montessori learning community and Etsy shop. Jae, one of the wonderful co-owner's of Bella's Casa, recently answered the following questions from me.
Me: Why don't you start by telling us a bit about what you do at Bella's Casa.
Jae: Bella's Casa is a learning community for parents, as well as an Etsy store selling hand made Montessori materials for infants and young children. I am a former Montessori teacher and I created Bella's Casa as a resource for all parents who want to create (or enhance) learning spaces and activities that will grow a child's mind and instill confidence. I also offer mobile-making classes in the Atlanta area, as well as offering an e-course for parents on creating a Montessori environment in the home for babies and very young children.
Me: Part of your work involves helping parents create spaces at home to include children in everyday tasks. What is one of your favorite easy-to-do tips for that?
Jae: I have found that focusing on the reading space is a simple place to start. Over and over I find that books are all in a row on a shelf with only their spines showing, which doesn’t generate interest and reading. As soon as a cozy space with books on display (cover showing) takes shape, the child is engaged an interested in the books. It can be as simple as a basket with a few books - check out my Pinterest Board for ideas. Also I encourage rotating the books periodically (tap into the library as a resource!), which will keep the reading space fresh and inviting.
Me: Along with your consulting services and e-workshops, you also have an Etsy shop that sells Montessori materials. What is your favorite item in your Etsy shop?
Jae: My favorite thing to make is also my most popular product (that works out nicely - I'm grateful!): the Montessori Visual Mobile Series. It is a package of 4 mobiles. This exact combination took a while to come together: at first I was selling each mobile individually (but that didn't feel right because they all go together to make a complete series for the infant's developing visual sense); then I tried just selling the parts needed to make the mobiles (but then I realized: which new parent has the time and patience to thread the specified shade of embroidery thread through a styrofoam ball 120 times and then repeat that for the next 4 balls to make the Gobbi Mobile…especially when said parent is struggling just to get enough rest while caring for a new baby); then I tried selling the mobiles completely assembled and ready to hang (but this wasn't quite right either because it didn't allow for the parent to put on their own finishing touch and feel a sense of ownership of the mobiles they were offering to their infant).
Creating the mobiles takes time and patience and lots of steps - including wrapping the white spray-painted dowel with black adhesive for the Munari (black & white) Mobile, creating invisible and durable seams with exact cutting and double-sided tape for the Octahedron Mobile, sewing pieces of the dancers together on the Dancer Mobile so they dance in the air currents, and balancing each of the mobiles.
Me: Last, but not least, is there anything new coming up for Bella's Casa?
Jae: Stay tuned, and you will notice an expanded newsletter and a more focused blog. Both the newsletter and blog will be part of the new selection of packages of ideas and support for parents. The packages will offer different levels and options for tapping into fresh ideas from Bella’s Casa to inspire your child. Stay tuned for fresh seasonal art project ideas and the unveiling of the new selection of packages.
Jae has generously agreed to give away one set of black and white contrast animal art cards. (The Kiddo had a very similar set when he was a baby, and loved them!) To win, go visit Bella's Casa, poke around a little if you like, and then come back and tell me you did so. I'll pick a winner on Wednesday.