Sunday, 20 December 2009

A month of firsts

Since moving to Canada it seems like L is just having one new experience after another. I've decided to put most of her Montessori activities on the back burner for Christmas since so much is going on. Daddy isn't working at the moment so we have to make the most of our family time.

A few weeks ago L got her first Strider Bike. This was a greatly anticipated moment. My good friend sells them and has been telling me how amazing they are for ages. Well she wasn't wrong. L took to it like a duck to water and LOVES it. The only problem is trying to get her off it!! She will go out for walks with us through the woods and along the beach path and ride the whole time. For those of you who have never seen one before they are tiny bikes with no pedals so small children can become confident with balance and steering first. Check out this great website

Off roading in the forest with her good friend Aa Girl! This was her first day on the bike and she was already tackling the bumpy trails.

L has also been helping Granny a lot. Here they are putting seed out for the bird feeder.

We got our first snow a few days back and my husband was so excited they were up and out at 8am making a snowman! Thankfully the snow has all melted now.

Another big first was taking L skiing. My husband is a big skier and was so happy to finally get L on the slopes. Well it didn't turn out exactly as he'd hoped. She had one of her many two year old moments and cried and whined through the whole thing. She was one of those kids that other people look at and think thank god she's not mine! Talking to her about it now though she says she loved it and wants to go back. Hopefully next time will be better.

The fun never stops around here though as just when we thought we were ready to send her to the Gypsies she turned into a lovely angel yesterday when we went to this little farm where they make their own cheese. Hopefully the angel L will continue today as we've planned to go skating which will be another first.

Monday, 14 December 2009

A wonderful experience

Today I had the privilege of observing a Montessori classroom for the first time. It was everything I'd hoped it would be and more! There were about 13 children in the class and two directors and it was a busy hive of activity.
There was such a relaxed yet industrious atmosphere in the classroom and the directors were amazing. I was really impressed to see the children so happy and content with their work, seamlessly going from one activity to the next. The directors seemed to have this amazing ability to be able to help and guide several children at once while keeping calm and in control. Observing them really helped me to understand how much intervention and guidance can be used.
This visit has totally affirmed my confidence in the Montessori method and the Montessori classroom. The only thing is that the experience was a bit bitter sweet because they are full to capacity at the moment : (
I know this is the right environment for L to learn in and am excited for her to have the opportunity to be part of their Montessori community.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Finally some Christmas activities

It's taken us a while but it's finally beginning to look like Christmas around here. My mom made L this beautiful advent calendar last year and she is so excited about it. The pockets are tiny so I've been putting in things like stickers, raisins, tiny oranges, stamps and little reindeer clothes pegs that she uses (with help) to hang up Christmas cards. We also have a tiny snowman snow globe for the 24th.

I made up this Christmas tree matching activity where she needs to use a magnifying glass to match the teeny tiny Christmas tree with it's big partner. I got a little over zealous when shrinking the trees and they are really tiny! I thought the magnifying glass would be more powerful.

I put this large die in her advent calender and made up this activity to go along with it. The Christmas pictures all have numbers on them and when she rolls a number she has to put an almond on the corresponding picture. When we did this yesterday she had no interest in it at all. Hmmm we'll try again another day hopefully with more success.

I saw this idea over at Sunrise Learning Lab and modified it a bit for L. I stuck on the Christmas trees ahead of time and cut out the stars. It was great for talking about big and little and the top where the stars go and underneath where the presents go. We put dots of glue on the trees together and then she stuck things on. When she was done she said, "It needs a Santa." Luckily I was able to find one of her advent Santa stickers. I really like how it turned out.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

L's new environment (long)

A little while ago I received a comment asking how I set up L's shelves and how we schedule our day. I've taken some pictures of our initial set up in our new home. This is still a work in progress but here is what we have so far.

L's activity shelves are in the office/study with the computer and piano. On these three shelves she has her activities. On the bottom shelf are her instruments and puppets. On the second shelf are her lacing beads, Christmas tree activity and a phonics matching activity. On the third shelf is her phonics box with sandpaper letters, Russian doll, button snake and puzzles basket. I will change these up as I make new activities and others get old. The puzzle basket and instruments will always stay.

On these shelves I have some activities and also her toys. My mom rocks and saved all of our now retro Fisher Price toys! She's also got her animals, frogs and insects in separate baskets plus her dominoes, dressing board and Melissa and Doug Rainforest puzzle. I will also change these up every few weeks. Her new floor mat is rolled in the corner.

The kitchen is a work in progress. This is her shelf for setting the table. Unfortunately we still don't have a small table for her so she is sitting up at the big table for all of her meals and snacks. This is fine for when we all eat together but allows her less independence. At the moment she only partially sets her table sometimes but we are working on it as she settles in more. She also sometimes clears her dishes into the dishwasher and cleans her place. She now has a little cloth on a plate that she has out at every meal to clean her mouth and hands and the table.

I love this bit. My mom has a huge closet and L has a whole side to herself. Her socks and underwear are in a basket and all of her swimming stuff is in another basket. Now I have to say that up until today she has had absolutely NO interest in getting dressed or getting her own clothes. It has been a nightmare trying to get her dressed every day. Today however for some reason she actually showed an interest in putting on her own clothes! Wonder of wonder.
I hope eventually to have her pick her own clothes and also help to put the clean ones away. She loves to put the dirty ones in the laundry basket.

This is also a new and really cool thing for us. We just set up our cloakroom with a low hanging rack for L's coats. She can now get them and hang them up herself and she also has her hats, mits and scarves in a basket.

Basically I think the most important thing is that everything has it's own place that she can access and it is always kept there. As time goes on and L gets older she will hopefully do more and more things for herself.
As for our routine. We we totally don't have one. We never really have. L's activities are always accessible to her and when she brings one out I will sit with her or get her started. Sometimes this is hard because I want to do something else. Sometimes I will just say no we can't do those right now but we can do them at this time. I will also instigate activity time when we have a set free period throughout the day. Like tonight she did four activities with extreme concentration just before she went to bed. It works for us.
As for just beginning with a 3 year old I would take it very slow, set aside a shelf just for Montessori and set out one activity at a time. After you've introduced it he can take it out whenever he likes as long as he puts it away when he's done. Every day you can put a new activity out so he looks forward to seeing what is out. Once he gets the idea you can add another one. Just make it clear these are not toys but activities and need to be used in the proper way.
You can also start with Practical Life activities and slowly get him to do more and more things by himself. Prepare his environment so he can do things on his own. It's a slow process so don't expect too much at once. Hope this helps a bit.
I'd also recommend reading this post from What Did we do all day?

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

What we've fit in

Well things seem to still be quite hectic here!! Trying to fit everything in has been difficult and I'm afraid I haven't had time for any "inventive" activities. I will be doing a post on how we've set up our new environment for L very soon to answer a question in a previous post.

Does anyone ever get a great idea for an activity and spend a lot of time preparing it just to have their kid ace it the first time they do it? This just happened to me. Before we left I made up some paper apples and butterflies to work on putting things in order of size. We've never done this before so I thought it would be a good time to introduce it. Ha ha! Apparently she just gets it! She did them all no problem first time and also brings out her new Russian dolls many times during the day. So now I'll have to think of another use for the cutouts.

L also has a great time washing things while taking a bath. Last night it was her animals but we've had tropical frogs and all sorts of insects in there as well! She scrubs, washes then drys them and puts them away. Montessori in the bath!

We've also been out collecting holly and greens for our wreath and reindeer box. The weather has been beautiful and crystal clear but COLD! We're not used to it.

And today we went to the Vancouver Aquarium. It was AWESOME!! This is just one pic but we got to see beluga whales above and below water, a dolphin show, otters, amazing jelly fish and tons of other stuff. We also got to see a 4D movie which was soooo cool. I thought L might be scared but she just sat on Daddy's lap the whole time holding her glasses mesmerized!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Settling In

Wow, moving to another country takes tons of work and energy!! It's been almost two weeks now and honestly I'm exhausted. L is starting to calm down but she is still pretty much all over the place. We have some semblance of a routine but with so many new things and people and a dog!! she's still over stimulated. Although she has her Montessori shelves set up her concentration isn't enough yet to do many activities. We've been doing lots of puzzles, music(yeah I have a piano now),and the great thing about living with my mom is TONS of practical life.
The other day L helped my mom clean the bathroom and cleaned her own toilet, helped change the beds and vacuum. My mom also usually eats an orange every morning for breakfast and has shown L how to peel them. L loves it and is now the official peeler.

The first day we were here we heard a loud noise from my mom's closet and ran to see what L had done. Well she'd unearthed this old sweeper from the 70's and was excitedly sweeping the floor. This girl loves to clean!

My sister got her this great Melissa and Doug dressing board. Most of the things on it are quite stiff so we help her mostly with undoing things and she can do them back up.

Among other new practical life skills L is learning she also now feeds the dog her breakfast and dinner. She loves pouring in the dog food and carrying the bowl over to the dogs' mat.

So although we haven't been doing many other Montessori activities L is having a lot of "real life" experiences.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

From the airplane

Although I've tried to wipe the memory from my mind : ) I thought I'd post about some of the things we did to keep busy on the 10 hour airplane journey. I actually managed to take a lot of pictures (nothing else to do!). Thank you so much to everyone who left comments about activities. I used a lot of your advice. Here are some of the things we did.

Sewing a button snake. I think this was originally on What Did we do all day? but I saw it on Counting Coconuts. I made one ribbon for each of us and this kept us busy for quite a while. I just kept all of the bits in a pencil case which kept the whole thing contained.

Shape matching. I just bent some pipe cleaners into different shapes and cut out some shape pictures from the Amazing Sticker Book. I also brought this lid from a shoe box to keep everything contained and we didn't drop or loose anything!

I got a great suggestion from Montessori Moments to bring some small presents to unwrap. My awesome aunt gave L a whole bunch and I brought them out at different times during the trip. They were all a huge hit. Here is a cool sticker activity with different farm scenes.

We also did some counting but by this point she was really tired so it didn't last too long.

The super cool Farm in a Tube. Thanks Auntie S.

We also did coloring, reading books, a really hard 3D magnetic puzzle and had tons of snacks. She also took a 2 1/2 hour nap which was the best part of the trip! he he
All in all she did really well and the cabin crew actually commented that she was the best behaved child they'd had on a long journey. We survived but it's not something that my husband or I want to repeat any time soon!

Friday, 27 November 2009

We did it!!

Okay we've officially been here a week now and the haze is beginning to lift. It was absolute chaos trying to get over the jet lag and acclimatize with a 2 year old but things are looking a bit better now.
I have many things to post about but we realised when we got here that we forgot a plug converter for our camera charger. That is today's mission along with buying a car.
L is now settling in nicely and I have her Montessori shelves set up. She is doing a lot of new practical life things which is great. Will post as soon as I can retrieve my pics.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Not Long Now!!

Thanks everyone for the great advice. In the little spare time I have I've been making some projects up for the trip. I will take my camera and see if I can get any pics along the way. We're leaving on Thursday and still have TONS to do. My next post will probably be from Canada! Yippee!!
Poor L. The other day she was doing some baking with Granny and went to get her dustpan and broom to clean up a spill. Of course it wasn't there and she said "Oh no! It's already in Canada!"

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Help! Need advice please!!

Okay it looks like all of our years of hard work are about to pay off as we are hoping to book our flights to Canada for next week. (If all goes well!) It's really exciting and there is a lot to do but at one point I realised that we were going to be stuck on a plane with a 2 year old for at least 9 hours! YIKES!!!!!!!

So I'm begging for any suggestions anyone has to keep a toddler busy in a confined space. We also don't have a lot of carry on space.

Any comments would be greatly appreciated. : )

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Back to Montessori

Okay, sadly Halloween is over but we had a blast. Here are some activities L has been doing over the past couple of weeks.

Years ago I made a board game and made tiny pieces for it out of Fimo. Sadly it's too heavy to take with us so I thought I'd get some use out of it before I we leave. First L sorted the pieces into colors and then by object. Okay yes we did use the left over Halloween plates. (Helps with the withdrawal symptoms). I find it interesting how she mostly sorts all of one thing before moving on to the next.
Ages ago my mom made L this awesome button board out of felt and a cheap frame from Ikea. I just re-introduced it to L a couple of weeks ago and she can now open and close the buttons.

Okay I think my girl is a bit unusual with her obsession with puzzles! She got this small 30 piece puzzle in a Birthday card and after about three goes with help she can now do it all on her own. She does this puzzle almost every day and sometimes a couple times a day. I can't keep up with her! This is also the first puzzle that she's used the picture for a guide.

So I knew this gift from Granny would be a great hit and it was. I first saw Mighty Minds over at Aayla do! Montessori and asked my mom to get it for L. What a success. The other day she worked straight for 45 minutes and did 14 of the cards! I sit with her and only help if she gets frustrated and then will put maybe one piece in to guide her. She also finds them a bit slippery and sometimes has a hard time lining them up so I will help her by holding one of the pieces.

I love this activity because the first 15 cards have places to put the shapes she needs before starting the puzzle. She now also puts them back after she has done each card. I think I'll have to take them out one night and try to figure out the harder puzzles before she gets to them so I'll know how they go! How embarrassing!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Thank You!

Many thanks to Karen over at Mi escuelita Montessori. Please check out her blog if you haven't already. She does some great activities and finds some wonderful materials.
Now, the rules to accept the award are simple:
1.) Post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his/her blog link.
2.) Pass the award to 5 other blogs that you have recently discovered and think are great!
3.) Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
Okay after a lot of thought. These are the blogs I'm going to pass this award on to. I think most of us Montessori blogger Moms follow the same group of blogs so there will probably be some repeats. I think it's just because there are so many fantastic blogs out there.
Thanks to these bloggers and all of the others I follow for continuously inspiring me and teaching me about Montessori, life and raising children.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

L's Spooktacular Halloween/Birthday Party Part Two

Here is L's cake. I couldn't resist using the little tropical frogs. It was seriously experimental as I used blueberry jello for the pond and pistachio pudding for the grass. Yum yum.

I think one of my favorite bits of the party was after we sang Happy Birthday and L blew out her candles we started to sing Five Little Speckled Frogs. When we got to the jumped into the pool bit L took the blue frog and jumped it into the pool. Then all of the other children joined in and finally all of the frogs were in the pool. They loved it.

We had 17 adults at the party and we asked them to bring a carved pumpkin with them. We put them all around my uncle's back garden and the effect was breathtaking. A big thank you to Uncle Jason who took all of the night pictures.

Once it got dark we had a disco with sparklers and glow sticks and everyone danced the night away. It was totally fab! Now what am I going to do for next year.....

L's Spooktacular Halloween/Birthday Party Part One

I think I was truly blessed when my daughter was born so close to Halloween. Anyone who knows me knows I go a bit mad and absolutely LOVE Halloween parties. Since this would be L's last birthday in England I thought I would go all out. What fun!

We decided to have a night party and luckily the weather cooperated so we could have most of it outside. Here is L in her giraffe costume. The bizarre thing is that when I asked what she wanted to be she said "a giraffe" and I thought oh ya sure. Well the next day when I was talking to my mom she was so excited to tell me that she found a costume for L and yes wonder of wonders it was a giraffe. If only everything in life was so easy : )

We had lots of games set up outside. Here is the ghost skittle area.

A spooky center piece for the adults buffet table inspired by Chasing Cheerios.

and the piece de resistance.... the spider pinata. Here it is hung up inside

and here it is in action. The kids had a go and then we blindfolded the dads who all had a go. What fun.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Giveaway tip

Just to let everyone know that there is a fantastic miniature giveaway over at One Hook Wonder!!

You might be a Montessori mom if...

I saw this post over at Walk Beside Me and What Did we do all day? and wanted to add some of my own.

So here goes. You might be a Montessori mom if...

You look at your recycling bin and only see "materials"

When you see more than two of something you automatically think sorting activity!

You're constantly chanting the mantra "process not product"even when your child isn't around

You ask for a laminator for your birthday!(guilty)

You have all of your friends and relatives trained in Montessori gift giving.

and finally

You find you have no cupboard or shelf space left for regular household items!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Preparations for L's Spooktacular Halloween/Birthday Party

This past week has been a crazy rush to finish all of the preparations for L's Halloween/Birthday party. It's seriously time consuming when you decided to make all of the decorations and activities!

L's first time cleaning out a pumpkin. Yes she had to use a spoon as she wouldn't let any bit of the guts touch her fingers. Talk about taking after her daddy!

Decorating her pumpkin. A very serious business.

Way back I had the great idea to make a pinata. Last week I realised I must have been out of my mind! Here are the beginnings of a spider pinata filled with little trinkets, stuffed animals, stickers and raisin packets.

Gluing on little pieces of tissue paper. Yes I must be mad!

Stay tuned to see pictures of the finished product plus pics of the Spooktacular event.....

Monday, 26 October 2009

More Halloween activities and a silver lining

Here are some more Halloween themed activities L has been doing. The ever messy spooning bugs out of colored rice(thanks itty bitty love). I used the old egg carton tray from a previous color sorting activity and I should have know that L would try to spoon the bugs in by color! She did the best she could but of course me not thinking about that at all didn't change the colors to match the bugs!! This is such a sweet activity and I'm afraid I can't remember where I saw it. It's so simple to just cut out different shapes and let her get creative making Jack-o-lantern faces. After she got the idea she added cheeks, ears, hair and even a hat with the shapes provided.

Now this is what happens when you leave your child alone for two minutes with a colored rice activity! Two minutes and I came in to find her having a wonderful time sprinkling all of the rice over the carpet. I have to admit it looked cool and it must have been seriously fun to do! So I got out the vacuum cleaner right away. Now this is the good bit. L has always been terrified of the vacuum. It makes a really loud noise and she always either cuddles with me while my husband does it or huddles on the couch. Well the colored rice did the trick. She just couldn't resist having a try when she saw how much fun it was to suck it all up.

She did most of the carpet and even wanted to help me do the kitchen. What a breakthrough! I'll take colored rice on the carpet any day if it means my little one is now wanting to help with the vacuuming!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Autumn fun with Granny

We found this amazing farm on the weekend that does a children's introduction to Halloween. There was a beautiful Halloween display inside a huge barn with pumpkins and hay bales. There was also a Halloween palace that the children could go through that was brightly lit with witches doing funny things, friendly ghosts and black cats. It was really well done and L wasn't scared at all.

Here she is picking her pumpkin.

The amazing corn maze! So many things to discover around each corner.

Across the road was a duck pond with a tree tunnel path that lead to an enchanted forest.

What a magical place!

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