Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Creativity Building with Random Objects

Last week Ty headed into the basement with me for a moment, and refused to come back up until I carried a large fan cover that he dug-up while down there. I had no idea why this was but it wasn't a big deal and I figured that he had something interesting in mind. Right away he was quite creative with this random object and seemed to figure out at least one new way to use it each day. It's been a week now and he's still playing with this!

First he found that he could spin it.

Then he found that he could sit in it, hold the sides, and jerk his body backwards or forwards to make it move across the room. Very fun!

I admit I had a hand in this one. I showed him how to throw a ball into the fan cover while it was spinning. My husband joked that I'm teaching him how to gamble.

He then decided to stand in the middle of it and balance, then to lean over and make it move while standing.

One day he put all of his safari animals inside and spun them around like they were on a merry go round (not that he has a clue what a merry go round it as they seem to all be extinct)!

I've really noticed Ty's creative side coming out lately which is so exciting to watch! Observing him with this fan cover makes me really think that it may be time to get him a Bilibo , an item that has been on his Amazon Wish List for quite some time, though I'm also trying to think of other interesting objects around the house that I could give him that may work in a similar manner.

What random items have you found your little one being creative with?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Montessori Monday

We have been up to a lot this week...more than I realized untiI started to put this blog together, and this isn't everything! Though we have another pretty sick feline member of our family at the moment, we are pressing on while also giving him tons of love and care. Hope these ideas are helpful!


We colored on sandpaper this week to explore crayons on a textured surface. Ty liked coloring on something so different, and it led to us exploring the smoothness of his table and the rough feel of the sandpaper.

After seeing a $16 rough and smooth board while browsing Amazon the next day, I decided this would be an easy thing to make on my own to expand upon our sandpaper coloring. I simply used a scrap piece of wood, sanded it down and glued strips of sandpaper to it. We worked on identifying rough and smooth. He's very tactile and enjoys this quite a bit!


Another woodworking project I found a moment to work on was making a ramp. I simply cut a board and glued two dowels to each side to ensure that objects would stay on the board. A couple months ago I was devising plans to make a toy that held several ramps at different angles, then decided that this would spark more creativity and exploration.

This was built just yesterday, but already we've explored by putting cars, planes, blocks, animals, balls and puff-balls down the ramp. We've laid it flat on the floor and had it at all sort of angles, using furniture to prop it up on. We notice the speed differences at each angle and how each different toy goes down. Ty finds the lower, slower angles especially interesting. So much learning for such a simiple toy!


We also have started using this Jr. Ramp Racer from EverEarth. I bought it a couple months ago but Ty had no interest so I put it away until recently. He now enjoys it quite a bit!


These are the contents of an open and close basket that I put together. He didn't care for it at first, then I realized that he couldn't really see the contents of the basket (the basket was much too large) and put the objects in a smaller basket. He immediately went to it and it's become a favorite, even over his jars the past couple days!

This is a personal care basket for Tyler that holds his toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb and a brush. This is kept in the bathroom in his reach. He enjoys brushing his hair (and mine!) as well as brushing his teeth (especially with his new vibrating toothbrush) so this has been very well received!

One rainy afternoon, looking for something new to present him with, we tried scissors for the first time. He needed considerable help to get his fingers and thumb in the right places and he didn't care to hold the paper with his other hand, but he did make several cuts on his own! For some reason afterwards he kept staring at and exploring his fingers as if they were completely new to him; it seemed to open up possibilities for their use in his mind!

Ty has really taken to putting on shoes. We typically put our shoes in the closet upon entering the house, but it seems that we've gotten lax about this for some reason lately. I'm glad though, as this has prompted Ty to want to put shoes on by himself...his own and ours! He was so proud the first time he got his sandals on himself...he came walking into the kitchen, got my attention and pointed at them with a big smile! I have now taken his lead and created a dress-up area for him, but I'll talk more abou that in another post.

For a couple weeks I've been asking Tyler to put his dishes in the sink, which he's great about, and I've found now that if I open the dishwasher, he'll put it right in!

Ty has also enjoyed helping us put away groceries, mostly in the fridge as our other food is kept in higher cupboards.

The step-stool that I purchased for Tyler to use to get a better look out the window has come in quite handy for other acts of independence. We recently decided to use take the tray off of Tyler's chair for meals and to push him up to the table instead, shoving a phone book underneath so he can reach. If we say it's time for a meal, he will run and grab his step stool, pull out his chair and proudly get himself in. He also does this if dinner is taking too long to cook and he wants to eat now...hint, hint...
Ty quickly discovered other uses for his stool. If his dinner is cooling on the counter, he realizes that he can use his stool to try to get it when he's too hungry to wait. He also found that when I'm filling our Brita containter, that he can use the stool to get up and play with the water! I didn't know he knew how to use it! I've tried to let him stand on a chair to play in the sink, but he knows he isn't supposed to stand on chairs and refuses! A Learning Tower is a big want right now.

I've managed to remember to involve Ty in more of our meal preparation time this week, letting him help to mash a banana for his banana oatmeal with a fork.

We tried spooning beans for the first time this week, which went well! After a while he also enjoyed transferring from bowl to bowl by dumping which was fine too.

I've done some rearranging in the house and decided to move this table, which was in his quiet room holding his single shape sorter before, into the kitchen to use as a Montessori activity table (along with his Montessori shelves which are also in the kitchen). I left these beans out for him on the table yesterday for spooning.


We bought this scooter-board for Tyler for Christmas. He enjoys running around with it, pushing it (sometimes giving his safari animals rides), and this week I bought it outside and taught him how to sit and move it forward with his feet. He thought this was pretty neat!

This is Ty on his Kangaroo Climber (highly reccomended). He has always enjoyed pulling himself up the landing to slide down, walking up the slide and using the tunnels underneath, but more and more he's also been climbing on the outside to get in. Better than climbing over the back and sides of the furniture, but he still does that too.  :)

Linking-up with Tot School and One Hook Wonder

Monday, June 20, 2011

Book to Card Matching

Since Ty was a baby (and a highly visual, book-lover) I knew I would do something similar to this activity when he grew older, but was never quite sure how I would go about it or what books I would use. Seeing a couple of my favorite bloggers making matching cards to go along with the book "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" (by Eric Carle) made it perfectly clear how I would go about it! Thank you!

We don't have "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" in our collection, but we do "Polar Bear, Polar Bear" so we used that book instead. I really enjoy Carle's art in his books and each animal stands out so wonderfully without a lot of distractions in the background. Truly perfect for the focus of this work.

I hesitate sharing how I made the cards, because I'm quite sure it's breaking some sort of copyright law, but I'm going to take a chance because I know the question will be asked. I first took photos of each page of the book. Then, using Photoshop, I merged two photos onto one 4x6 photo. [To do this, have only the two files you want to merge opened, go to File--Automate--Photomerge]. I printed, laminated and cut each card. I really love how they turned out enjoy the wallet-size of each. The cards are more vivid and beautiful than the actual book!

Tyler's task is to match the cards to the book. I wasn't sure if this would be too difficult as there are so many cards, but he has done really well and took to it quickly. He enjoys matching everything around him so this activity really builds upon his skills and interests.

Ty also decided to match his jumbo safari animals with the cards and book as well, which wasn't surprising. Often when we read a book and he knows we have a object in our home that is the same as one in the book, he'll run to grab it and bring it back to match. This activity fits him so well! 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Homemade Father's Day Gifts

First of all, Happy Father's Day to my own father! Thanks for everything Dad, especially all of the recent support. Also, a big Happy Daddy's Day to my husband who is such an amazingly fun, dedicated, giving father to Tyler. Ty seriously couldn't ask for a better Daddy, and I'm so lucky in that way as well! I am able to be a better mother because of how great he is as Ty's dad and all of the support he gives.

We tend to go pretty low-budget on these holidays, and I enjoy being a bit crafty, so this year I helped Ty create some very homemade gifts for his Daddy. I can't wait to see what he comes up with all on his own in the coming years!

I knew that I wanted to create a frame of Ty and Daddy photos for his office at work, and dreamed-up this popsicle stick photo collage. I was so happy with how it turned out! Don't mind the boxed-out faces on my husband; he is a recognizable person in many cities due to his job and I don't want his (or our family's) identity revealed. I've promised to never show his face here.

To create the collage, I took the needed amount of popsicle sticks and taped them together on one side. Tyler then painted the other side. With wood glue, I pieced together the frame, starting from the outside base.

After printing and arranging the photos, I then cut a piece of cardboard and glued the photos to it, then taped the cardboard and photos to the popsicle stick frame. I glued a piece of ribbon to the back to use for hanging. I love that this looks very much like something a little kid would make, but it is also sturdy and pleasant to look at. My husband really enjoyed this and the photos I selected of he and Ty.  

Ty also painted a masterpiece for his office using brushes and a sponge.

Afterwards, I decided the painting could use another color and mixed some green for Tyler to use. He decided to only paint a letter "T" for his name, looked at me as if to say "It's finished" and walked away. I love that he signed it!

We couldn't wait to give Daddy his presents this morning. Ty also made a card with crayons and stickers, and we gave him a bag of red Swedish Fish, one of his favorite treats. Happy Father's Day to a fabulous Daddy!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Jars and Lids Activity

Sorry for the recent absence. It seems that when one big event hits, another one isn't far behind. I've pulled my chin up, dusted off the dirt and am back, changed, but a stronger person than ever. While neither the internet or blogging has really been on my mind until today, Ty and I have been up to a few things in the last couple weeks, so here's to starting to catch up!

For this activity I used four, different sized thick glass jars that I've been saving, as well as their lids. Ty's work is to figure out which lid belongs to each. He also practices screwing the lids on and off. This is a sensorial activity that allows him to focus on differences in size, as well as practical life work.

Ty has also come up with several other creative ways to use his jars which I love to see. Several times I've found him lining them up, I believe in the same manner as he lines his Pink Tower blocks.

He has also found that putting the smaller lids into the biggest jar and rolling it across the floor is interesting, as the lids make a neat clattering noise as it rolls.

The other day he decided to put them into his drum (the lid can be removed) and found that they fit quite nicely and was pretty happy with himself!

I adore that something so simple and no-cost has become one of his new favorite activities, and of course it practices recycling as well!

Linking-up with Tot School

Monday, June 6, 2011

Goodbye Sweet Girl. A Tribute.

This post is going to go way out of my normal topic range, but in a way, this blog is also about family and the life that we've created. I also hope that by writing this and paying tribute, it will help me start to heal.

We lost one of the furry members of our family last night, our sweet, beautiful cat Juliette. It was unexpected and quick, which makes her passing so much more difficult to take. I was with her when she passed at the vet, who did everything he could, and while I'm glad I was with her, those difficult images and moments will never leave my mind. At the moment they, as well as every regret I've ever had as a cat owner, every little thing I can try to beat myself up with, is taking far too much space in my mind. We buried her this morning with bread ties and notes of love, holding hands and telling her of the immeasurable joy she brought into our lives, and telling her how much we love and miss her.

Juliette found us when she was about a year old. We later found out that she had been released into the coldest NY winter night we'd had that year, by college students who had abused her. She miraculously found her way into our warm apartment building, and when I heard a little meow from the vestibule and opened the door to investigate, she ran straight into our apartment and claimed us as her new owners. She somehow must have known the soft hearts my husband and I have for felines, and really, she wasn't taking no for an answer anyhow!

Juliette, or "Baby Girl" as I often called her, was a cat with a big, loving personality. She had a rough time trusting us fully due to the abuses she experienced before us, but with time she opened up and let us hold her, and just recently, would even sit on your lap for a bit. I feel good that we took her from a bad place and allowed her to trust so fully and need to remember that. She was a loyal cat, which seems strange to say about a kitty, but she was. When I became pregnant with Tyler, she suddenly started sleeping in bed with me, purring, and wanted to be around me all of the time. Before he was even born, she enjoyed laying on his piles of clothes, kneading and purring with such joy. When Tyler was born, she would often sit on the bed next to his crib and watch him sleep through the rails. Though the other three cats we have were quite skittish of Tyler and would keep themselves far away, often hiding in the basement (and still do), Juliette was around so much that Tyler started to crawl around and act like a cat, and recently started mimicking her rolling around on her back in the sun. Though she was never a mother, she was maternal through and through, even swatting our other cats when they were out of line.

Juliette was a cat who knew how to find and tear into a package of cat nip with ease, and reacted to it in the craziest ways. She loved the simple things, like playing with bread ties on the kitchen floor and around the table legs. She could often be found basking in a ray of sunlight on the floor, rolled over to expose her soft, spotted belly, exquisitely happy and warm. Juliette was so in love with lying under the Christmas tree that each year we would keep it up extra long just for her, often until half of the needles had fallen off. Playing with her with a shoelace was an enormous amount of fun that seemed could last all day. Juliette was great at "making bread" as we called it, kneading into soft blankets for up to half and hour at a time if not more, especially when those blankets were covering us. She would often sit on the counter and watch us cook and seemed to supervise each move we made in the kitchen. She was a cheese and bread addict. You always knew that if you tore into a package of cheese to expect her to come running into the kitchen from wherever she was, meowing for a taste and pushing her head into your hands until you gave her a bit. I'll never forget her happy little love bites she gave our hands when you would pet her or she was waiting for food. The beautiful, relaxed way she would sleep on the matress in Ty's quiet room during his nap, smiling, and sometimes even hanging out after he woke.When she first entered our lives, she would jump onto the toilet and then way up onto the ledge of the shower stall to watch us shower, and wanted to be pet so badly she didn't care about getting wet.

Though I know she got less attention after Tyler was born, I need to remember that we gave her a good life, even if it was one that ended much too early. She had expensive, yummy wet food to keep her well. A cat tree throne and soft places to call her own. Hands that loved her rather than hurt her. Cats and people she believed she ruled over, and did.

Goodbye my sweet Juliette. I will miss stroking your soft, beautiful fur and am glad I did during lunch on what would be your last day, as you sat in the window watching birds. You nestled into my hand so sweetly and happily, as if you weren't in suffering at all when I drove you to the vet that night and pet you the whole way there, talking to you with soft love and reassurance. You were always so receptive to our touch and attention. You were so playful and cute that just a couple hours before you passed you played with me and a shoestring, jumping up with your front paws to try to catch it.  It has only been sixteen hours without you and I can't believe how much I miss seeing you. I never knew how many tears I would cry and the depth of pain I would feel without you. I hope that your suffering was not long, as we know now you hid how badly you felt. I hope that you felt the love we had for you. I hope that you heard me and felt my hands when I was rushed back to see you in your final moments, that you knew you didn't die in the presence of only strangers. We will never forget you baby girl. You will continue to take up a big, soft place in our hearts...forever. I miss you so much. Love, pets and nose kisses, sweetheart... Please may you rest in peace baby girl.