Sunday, October 30, 2011

Other Montessori Moments...

Thankfully I have had this blog ready to go since Friday and am linking-up to my usual sites a bit early this week.Our oldest cat, Goku, who has been part of our family since just before my husband and I married over eleven years ago, looks like he may be ready to pass away. He has been quite sick, with good days and bad days for many months. He almost passed away in June, the same time we unexpectedly lost our kitty, Juliette. We don't want him to go, and Tyler is going to be heartbroken, but if he is suffering we also wish him peace. If Goku does pass, I'll likely take a break from blogging for a bit as we all work through our mourning.

While I'm going to mainly stay with one activity per post now, I think I may also create one post for the leftovers from the week...things that I don't think really merit an entire blog but would likely be useful for those looking for ideas!

Instead of needing me to play the color search game with him, Ty can now match items to the paint chips anytime he wants! I found one object for each color and tried to choose really random things that he wouldn't be too distracted by. For example, if I had put a blue ball in the box he would run off and play with it...if I put a black car in the work he would just want to roll it around. He is really happy about this work and always gets the best, proud look on his face when he completes it!

I was rotating toys and creating works during nap time this week when little Ty woke earlier than expected. I had toys and materials scattered around the living room! I do find that helpful at times though, because he lets me know what he wants and doesn't! He found our bugs and color patterns and wanted to work with them, so I put them on a tray for him to work on again.

Here he also found and wanted to put beans into a small mouthed jar. Not easy!

I mentioned recently that Ty wanted to play with his entire box of Memory cards recently. While that isn't an issue (face up), it's a bit too much to do on his own. Here I put ten cards with their matches in a box for him to do on his own. I need to separate the matches and show him how to lay one set down and then match the others to them. Right now I am laying the first set out for him, probably because I'm a bit of a control freak. I have to see what he does on his own!

Sorting buttons big to small, big buttons in the big bowl and small in the small bowl. I am likely going to have to add medium soon as it seems too easy. He sometimes starts then just starts dumping them all from bowl to bowl.

This is a big proud Mama (and Tyler!) moment! Ty spilled beans and was able to sweep them 100% independently and dump them in the garbage!

Oops! Some messes are too big to start fixing with a hand broom. Ty was putting the rice back in one handful at a time so I then showed him how to use him hands together to pick-up more rice at once for efficiency. This is still my favorite way to buy some time when I'm cooking dinner and I keep a bin on top of the fridge. His dumping between two containers gets out of hand at time!

Exploring Outdoors
On a visit to one of our favorite parks/playgrounds, we noticed a little trail we had never seen before. Ty decided to run the length of it, reminding me of all the years I ran Cross Country. A little heartwarming moment for Mama! 

This log became an instant balance beam.

When I asked him if he could find the tallest tree, he looked up like he never had before...and couldn't stop looking. He seemed amazed with how high up the trees went!

Ty has spent a lot of time looking out windows lately. There has been a lot of bird and squirrel activity and he's very interested. Not so interested when it's dark out. Then he gets scared and wants us to close the blinds.

Gross Motor

     Some large muscle highlights this week were working on pedaling a trike, roller skating, working on his overhand throwing aim and wheelbarrow walking        


For more wonderful ideas, check-out posts from 1+1+1=1 Tot SchoolLiving Montessori Now and The Wonder Years.  

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Making Real-Life Connections: Fun on The Farm!

We recently took a little drive into the country to visit a farm that we went to last fall. This year we found out that they were having a Pumpkin Festival with lots of free activities, so off we went! Ty had a really good time and experienced several new things!

The first thing Ty noticed were the gourds. He really enjoyed gourds that we picked and put in his Autumn Display last year. He was quite smitten with the gourds two in his hand here, not letting them go for anything. I was glad to not have to think too hard about which to get him. It's great that he can choose so easily now!

In the little store, a sweet dog was taking a nap. Ty was so excited to see the doggie night-night and got down low to get a better look. He has shown to be such a huge animal lover!

Well, an animal lover as long as the in-person animals aren't too large. He was a bit unsure about this horse, and when the horse leaned in to smell him rather hard, Ty had, had enough. I on the other hand really enjoyed petting him or her. Up until then I had been quite scared of horses (I had a scary incident as a teenager), but this big, sweet love cured me fast!

Just some adorable shots of Ty looking out over the farm yard. It was lovely to be in the country with wide open spaces. This is certainly where I feel most comfortable and at ease.

 This litle circle of bricks made for a lovely way for Tyler to practice his balance, as well as to keep him occupied while we waited for the hay ride.

Tyler enjoying his first hay ride through the fields!

Pretending to take a spin on this ancient tractor. His late Great Grandpa would have really enjoyed this shot!

There was a turkey and a rooster that Tyler enjoyed immediately. I love for him to see all of the animals that he adores in his books in real life to see how they really sound, look, walk, and how big or small they truly are. You can't beat it!

One of Ty's favorite animals lately are bunnies. While he sees them in his books and through cages in the pet store, he's never been able to touch one. This may have been his favorite part of the whole trip!

Finally, before heading home, Tyler picked him pumpkin! It was just the right size for him. Until we carve it this weekend, it sits in his Autumn/Halloween display with his gourds, always ready for him to touch, lift and carry around the house.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Let 'em go nuts on an Art Wall!

Year ago when I worked in day care, I had a little dream of creating a huge coloring wall, or spreading a long line of butcher paper across the floor for my future child to go crazy coloring on. I thought it would be so fun for a little kid to be given such space to create!

This isn't a totally new idea in my blog, as I talked about vertical work several months ago, but we only did Crayon coloring on one wall and stickers on another. This time I gave Ty markers, colored pencils, finger crayons, stickers and stamps and let him go nuts! If I had a bigger open wall area to hand more paper I would make the coloring space much larger! This seemed to be plenty for him to work with right now.

He hit the stamps first, which proved to be a bit of a challenge at first. They are regular scrap booking stamps, and though he does fine with them on a table, it took a little work and figuring to adjust his wrist and grip to work vertically. He was a stamping machine once he figured it out!

He really went wild with the markers! So much space to move his arm around and make big marks!

I had put his finger crayons away a couple weeks after his birthday (August) as he just didn't seem all that interested in using them after a while (or any crayon for that matter). I thought it may have been a total birthday gift fail by me. I tried again here and he now adores them! I can't believe how much coloring he did at once time with these. He had filled up so much of the paper by the end! 

I put some seasonal stickers (from my stash of old address labels and stickers that I get from March of Dimes) on the edge of the wall for him to use as well.

All ready for him to stop by and create again after nap! I did end up flipping the paper though so he had a "new" canvas to work with as he didn't show a ton of interest in the lower half.

Have fun!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New Great Blog Discoveries!

Here's a list of my latest and most favorite discoveries in the big wide world of blogging!

First, if you don't have a copy of John Bowman's Book "Montessori at Home", I highly recommend buying yourself one! It's such a bang for very little buck! He has a brand new site and now a blog too, which you can find here: Montessori at Home: Book Blog The book is for sale on the site as well!

Moving Smart explains how "children develop intellectually, emotionally, socially, and of course, physically" from movement while providing activity ideas. Really top-notch blog by an expert in the field.

The Mommies Made Me Do It is an activity blog by a mother with a (quite adorable) three year old child. I really enjoy her ideas and blogger style.

early play is a fabulous activity blog written by an early childhood educator. Definitely one of my top overall favorites. All of the quotes are wonderful and inspiring in themselves.

No Time For Flash Cards is one that I feel I'm pretty late to the party on, but I'm glad I finally discovered it! I can't wait to dig deeper into some of the older posts and to peek at all of the linked activities.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Whisking-up some Bubbles

This idea was given to me by "Discovering Montessori" who commented on one of my posts last week. The instant it was mentioned I knew Ty would love it! Ty has been bummed about it being too cool to play in his water table outdoors (and our floors aren't conducive to water play inside unfortunately), so a lot of Practical Life with water has been quite attractive to him. I'd let him play in the sink but he knows that standing on chairs is unsafe and won't do it. We need a Learning Tower badly!

All that was needed for this work was a bowl, a whisk, and some dish soap! I placed a tray underneath and provided his sponge for cleaning-up spills. We once had a small whisk that would have been better suited for Tyler, but it disappeared from one of his drawers in the kitchen and hasn't yet been found... Kids are so good at hiding things!

He alternated between his left and right hands... We're still not sure which way he will go!

Examining some bubbles on the whisk

Learning a skill that includes bubbles, water and grown-up tools! What's not to love for a toddler?! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Who needs a parachute?

Many schools and day cares have a parachute for group play, and for good reason. There are so many social and learning games you can play with them! For home use they're a bit pricey, and unless you have a really large family, they're too big to use anyhow. No worries though, a sheet or light-weight blanket is all you need!
The first day we played "popcorn" simply using balloons and shaking the sheet to either make them stay on or fall off. Ty went nuts with this. He played for almost half an hour going full speed until his arms were so tired he could barely lift them!

The next day we added about one hundred puff balls to the mix! Ty also decided to add some stuffed animals at the end. Anything soft/safe and not too heavy works great! Ty was wonderful about helping pick up the puff balls. He wanted to do it over and over again so badly that we didn't even need to ask for his help!

Today, after using puff balls, we tried teddy bears. It was so fun to watch the teddies bounce and fly! Ty was so interested in watching them that sometimes he forgot to shake!

This has easily become Ty's favorite activity this week. He regularly drags our sheet off of the bed and into the living room, and is shown here with a container of puff balls as well! Ready to go Mama! Let's play!

Other games to play with the sheet that we're trying soon:

Play "Ring Around The Rosey", holding onto the sheet.

Sit with the sheet on your laps and lift the sheet up with your legs.

Lift the sheet high and have one person run under and through the other side, or let them get in the middle and drop the sheet onto them.

Practice following directions such as "lift it up to the sky!" and "bring it low to touch your toes".

So much fun and incredibly easy to do! When it's just me and Ty at home, we use a small blanket to make it more manageable and it's just as enjoyable!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Beauty of a Montessori Mind at Work!

Ty woke over two hours earlier than normal this morning. This Mama really, really needs rest. I had gone to bed a bit early to assure I would get it. Sigh. Nothing is a sure thing. I pushed through the first few hours, feeling kinda short-tempered, dragging, grumbling a bit...really not like me at all. Then I observed Ty at work this morning! What a mood changer!

First off, ignore the photo quality if you can. I was too lazy to go grab my camera and just used my phone. Sometimes when I get up, even if I'm not really involved much with what he's doing, it distracts him and he stops to follow me. Being Montessori-minded, I of course really hate to break his focus. 

Okay, that said, and I'm not sure how much of this intro is necessary, but Ty started off by putting puff balls down his shirt. We had just been using them for a gross motor activity that I'll blog about soon. Putting things down his shirt is a new (and adorable) way of exploring for him lately.

Then Tyler ran off to pound pegs into his M&D hammering/peg toy, a newer interest for him. After a bit of intense pounding, he made the connection that he also uses a hammer to pound things with his M&D Pound and Roll toy (an old favorite) and ran over to use it there. He then grabbed some puff balls to put down the pound a roll toy and noticed that they rolled down too, but that sometimes they got stuck, so he tried to pound/roll some balls down to get the puff balls out. Okay, nothing too incredible, though I really liked his problem solving. I could tell his brain was fired-up.

Tyler then started alternating between the two hammers, looked at me (quietly observing from across the room) and held one hammer up saying "big!" then the other saying "small!". Indeed! The handle on one is almost an inch shorter and the hammer head a bit smaller! Nothing that I really thought he'd take note of. Ahh, sensorial works are sinking in! 

It seemed like he wanted me to participate, so I moved closer and made some vocal observations. After a while of experimenting with the puff balls and pound and roll balls, he suddenly reached over and said "big!", touching the biggest Pink Tower block in a basket on the nearby shelf, then found the second smallest and said "small". Aha! Something else that's big and small!

He soon decided that he would demonstrate this idea to me further, lining the Pink Tower (we are only using five right now) horizontally saying "big" and "small". I also gave him the word "medium" for the middle block, something he paid more attention to today than last time I told him. He started using it correctly quite quickly. He then decided that he would put his extension cards in order as well. I can't say he uses them very often, so I was happily surprised. He talked again about his hammer sizes as well. Connections, connections! His brain was so ready to do this, and all on his own!

He then decided to match the cards to the blocks and did it perfectly.

Ty then built the tower vertically. He did this over and over, laying them on the cards then building them back up. After he was done with this, he started talking about how some of his puff balls are big and small as well!

Though I'm still awfully tired today, that beautiful Montessori moment really rejuvenated my spirit. It's one thing for Tyler to do a work that I've prepared, but those moments when he uses that knowledge so eagerly in other ways, independently, is always such a special delight. Montessori works!