You're probably wondering what back-to-school, Maria Montessori and Google could possibly have to do with the subject of homes.
It's not just a naked gambit for search engine traffic, I promise. (Not just a naked gambit.)
Today's Google doodle celebrates Montessori education -- of which Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page are prominent, appreciative graduates -- in a way that reminds me how lovely toys can be. The simpler the toys are, the warmer they are, and the richer they are in imaginative possibilities for children and decor-minded adults.
Here's the Google doodle, illustrating typical Montessori toys:
The cursive lowercase G is a sandpaper letter meant for a child to trace with her finger, feeling its rough contours. Here's a noncursive version of Montessori-style sandpaper letters, available for about $15:
A similar cursive manipulative (about $25) is offered by Kid O, a New York-based store that sells a lot of simple, attractive designs including a puzzle like the doodle's triangle-and-square peg puzzle ($12):
Cylinder blocks similar to the blue ones in the doodle, but in graduating sizes and a natural wood color, sell on Amazon for about $24:
The last image in the Google doodle is a trinomial cube, and honestly, I think it's beautiful enough simply to sit on a shelf as an objet d'art, educational value be darned. (Plus, the one pictured below is only $38, though you can find a more finely crafted version at Nienhuis for, gulp, $189.) Doesn't it put you in mind of Piet Mondrian and his iconic grids?
By the way, if you like what you see here, I strongly recommend that you take a look at the selection of handmade Montessori-inspired items on Etsy. I don't know that they all strictly hew to the Montessori philosophy -- some look to me as if they lean more toward Waldorf education (not, obviously, that I'm any sort of expert). But either way, they're simply beautiful. Here are a couple of them to inspire you: