Friday, 31 July 2009

A few things we've been doing

I came up with this while draining the pasta. L's first attempt at lacing. She kind of grasped the concept with quite a bit of help from me. She didn't really get that we had to keep turning the strainer over to pull the pipe cleaners through. I think this activity would be really enjoyed by an older child. You could go to town and do some cool weaving.
Of course L now associates the pipe cleaners with making Cheerio necklaces so kept asking where the Cheerios were. I finally gave in and brought out that activity but she really just wanted the Cheerios.

We also tried a taste activity for the first time. This was really interesting and funny. I put two cups with a bit of salt water, two with sugar water and two with lemon water and then a glass of just plain water to rinse in between. Well L has never really eaten anything with any added salt or refined sugar so this was a big shock to her taste buds! I got her to taste each one and told her what is was (sweet, salty or bitter). I was planning to get her to taste the other cups and match them but after a couple sips she decided she didn't like any of them and drank all of the plain water. I don't really blame her. It was really funny watching her reactions.

And mommy's favorite no mess water painting! Gotta love it!

In answer to the question from My Child's Diary about L drinking and pouring water. I started off with a small glass and jug and just filled the jug a quarter full. Now I fill it half full and she has to ask if she wants more water. This way she doesn't have to worry about stopping pouring before the water is gone and overflowing the glass. If she started messing about I would just say we only use the glass and jug for drinking and take it away. She wouldn't get anymore drink for the rest of the meal. ( she has lots of drink available between meals) She soon realised that if she messed about she would go thirsty. Now we only have the occasional fork in the glass or she puts the jug on top of the glass.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Thank You!

Karen over at Mi escuelita Montessori has given me this award. Thank you so much! I love your blog also and you are so great at leaving comments.
The conditions of this award are: tell your readers 10 things about you that they may or may not know, but are true. Tag ten people with the award, and be sure to let them know they have been tagged (a quick comment on their blog will do). Don't forget to link back to the blogger who tagged you.
Here are ten true things about me:
  1. I love the Montessori Method mostly because of the order and structure
  2. I love to read
  3. Both L and I are vegetarians but my husband is not
  4. I'm a trained classical flute player and played professionally in a symphony orchestra for 10 years
  5. Before I moved to England I also taught children and adults to play the flute
  6. I really don't like cooking
  7. I owned two VW vans when I was footloose and fancy free!
  8. I can't wait to move back to Canada
  9. I love the outdoors
  10. I really enjoy writing this blog and connecting with other moms!

Now it also stipulates to pass this on to ten other people. I'm only going to do three for the sole purpose of not giving the same people this award many times over. ( I follow all of the same blogs as have already been nominated and think they are fantastic also).

The first one is Aayla do! Montessori. This is actually written by a close friend of mine who was key in inspiring me to start Montessori with L in the first place. She has some really great ideas and is really worth checking out. (she also owned a VW van in her footloose and fancy free days!)

The second one is Al Ain Notebook. I found this blog by accident when blog surfing and I really enjoy it. It is written by a mom who has a daughter close to the same age as L and is living in the United Arab Emirates for a year. I find her posts interesting and her photographs are amazing.

The third one is a repeat and I'm sure she's been nominated a million times but she deserves it and that is Making of a Montessori Mum. She was my initial inspiration for this blog and my "unknown" mentor in Montessori and blogging. Thanks again! : )

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Summing up 20 month practical life

Wow I can't believe another month has gone by. This is my last 20 month post so I'll do a brief summing up of where L is at with practical life activities.
We didn't get as much accomplished as I'd hoped but we are making progress in a lot of areas.
  • Potty training-accomplished. I'd say she's fully potty trained(except when sleeping). She'll only have the occasional accident now if she's really excited or distracted
  • Pulling her own pants down. Depending on what she's wearing. Sometimes she'll go to the bathroom and I won't even know until she comes to me when she's done. She still needs help pulling them up and washing hands etc. Today she'd even emptied her own potty before I got there. YIKES!
  • Getting dressed and undressed. Well she's tried a few times to put her top and pants on but is not really interested. She's able to take all of the bottoms off and sometimes her top with help. She can take her shoes off but is not interested in putting them on at the moment.
  • Sets table no problem but doesn't like to clear it any more hmmmm... we usually clear most and get her to take one thing. Also doesn't like to wipe it any more. Only occasionally, also needs to be reminded to push her chair in most of the time.
  • Still puts clean dishes etc. away
  • Victory on the water department. No more messing about. Pours and drinks water with no problems
  • Helps with putting shopping away, laundry, watering, weeding, putting dirty clothes in basket, rubbish in the bin

Now for goals I set last month:

  • L has no interest in helping to fold the clothes or put them away will try again this month
  • Only has a small interest in dressing herself
  • She's also done some dusting as I've put in a previous post

We also got around to washing the windows. She loved this of course, although because she needs two hands to use the spray bottle her aim is a little off most of the time. I'm just using water until she has more control in case she sprays herself in the eye!

Lots of helping with the baking. I decided to use L's little table for all of her food preparation because I think it's a lot safer than her standing on a chair. I just get everything I need prepared ahead of time now and then just put them out as she needs them. The other night she made pita pizzas for the whole family!

To be honest I haven't even thought of goals for next month yet! I guess we'll just keep on with the clothes thing and I'll try and include her more in food preparation. I would really appreciate any suggestions for other practical life activities anyone has done with their children at this age. It's definitely more work getting L to do all of these things for herself and takes a lot of patience but when I see her getting out her own things for her meal all by herself it certainly makes it all worth while! : )

Monday, 27 July 2009

Going on Safari

For Daddy's birthday we decided to go to a Wild Animal park close to our home. I really don't like zoos and animals in captivity but this one is the closest we could find to animals being able to live in their natural environment. It is set in 600 acres and even has an African Experience Safari where different animals roam freely.

Setting off. Now I did read on the website that the park was set in 600 acres but it obviously didn't register as we set off sans stroller. At the end of this path were about 5 flights of stairs down to the old manor house. Well we soon realised that it was going to be a huge trek. L the little trooper did a fantastic job and only had to be carried up the hills.

One of our favorite animals. We got a book about wild animals out from the library a week before we went so L knew all of the names of the animals and was so excited to spot them.

Trying to step on her shadow. She thought this was hilarious.

Out on the open plains. This was from the safari bus. It was so cool and as close as we'll be getting to Africa for a long time I think. We were exhausted by the end of the day but I think fun was had by all!

Friday, 24 July 2009

Silly mommy!

I decided to retire the chopsticks for a while and use the lacing beads for color matching. L is at the stage where she doesn't like change and will do the color matching but still asks where the chopsticks are all of the time so I brought them back. I was originally hoping she would match the patterns on the cards with the lacing chopsticks but we'll have to work on this activity a lot more before that will happen.

I also got this idea of spooning grapes into an ice cube tray from Leptir. L had no problem spooning the grapes in although she doesn't really understand why she can't just use her hand which is so much easier! But during the whole activity she was troubled, asking me where the ice was. Ice cube trays are supposed to have ice! Duh. So luckily I'd saved the ice and we switched grapes for ice.

She was much happier, although the activity quickly dissolved (literally) into a lot of sucking and licking. I just left her to it and went and did the dishes. She had a great time.

After reading Making of a Montessori Mum's post on circle time a while ago I got all inspired and decided to try having one with L. Well after diner one night it was just the two of us with lots of time before bed so I though yes I'll have an impromptu circle time. I got L all excited about the idea and put some instruments in a basket. We got the floor mat out and sat down and I began singing a song. Well after I'd finished and was all proud of myself L asked, "Mommy where's the circle?" Once again Duh! So I quickly grabbed bear and doll and added them to the circle. We passed them out some instruments and I did the pleases and thank yous for them. We sang another song together using the instruments and then L took one of the maracas from bear looking at me like, well he's not using it is he! We did a few more songs and then finished. L asked me once again where the circle was so I tried to draw one around us with my finger to show her. I realised it looked a lot more like a square.
So in conclusion (having been outsmarted by a 20 month old again) I'm either going to leave circle time for a bit or call it something else!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Collecting Leaves

We finally got around to getting out and collecting leaves at the park. I've wanted to try leaf rubbing for some time now. We took a basket for L to collect the leaves in and she absolutely loved it! We had to really watch her though because there are tons of stinging nettles along the path. She only picked up the leaves that had fallen on the path. Once daddy had gotten over his wanting her to only pick up the "clean leaves" we all really got into it. Somehow L also added picking up sticks to our agenda. It was really interesting to see her learning the size limitations of her basket when it came to the sticks.

Sorting out the findings. She even found some sort of large seed which she insisted on calling popcorn?

I have to just note here that I'm putting in the old college try when it comes to plants but I'm really very lacking in knowledge (probably the only person who's killed a cactus). I'm just trying to hold down the fort until we get to Canada and granny the expert can take over. (Does green thumb skip a generation?)

All three of us got started rubbing the leaves, although daddy and I ended up being much more into it than L. She did get in some Double Doodling though!
Our end result turned out to be really colorful and best of all we all had a great time!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

We splurged!

As anyone can tell by my cardboard creations we don't have a lot of money to spend. With only one of us working it is very seldom that L gets anything new. The boot fair was cancelled last weekend due to rain so we ended up going to ..... Toysrus!! That's right. Now this is not a place that we normally frequent but it does have something that I've been wanting to get for L for a while now. Just a few words about Toysrus before I continue. (I have to get my rant in). I've never seen such a great example of where society is going wrong. It's like Las Vegas for kids in my opinion. So much plastic and almost every toy is associated with a TV character. That being said they do have a tiny portion of one isle dedicated to Melissa and Doug toys. Yeah! So that's where we headed and picked up....

The Melissa and Doug tool kit. I've been wanting to get this for a while because I think L is ready to start working on her twisting movement and she also didn't have a hammer. Well you think this would have been enough for one kid but daddy had come along with us. (uh oh)
L still has her obsession with airplanes and daddy has been wanting to get a small airplane they can fly together. Well they just happened to be on sale. He looked at them and hummed and haa'd but we ended up just getting the tool kit. When we got to the car he was still talking about the plane so I said oh just get it. It can be an early birthday present. (ha ha) So he did. We had to get about a zillion batteries and charge them up and the we went out to test it.

This was such great fun and hilarious. We took it to an open space but there were still trees around and it was quite windy. It took daddy a while to figure out the controls and then the plane was off. It went higher and higher and then started drifting towards the trees. We were all yelling to try and bring it back but it ended up in some brambles. Luckily we could still see it. So hero daddy waded his way into the brambles with his stick Indiana Jones style and finally retrieved the plane. Serious entertainment!
Anyway I love both of these because they are things L and daddy can do together and he enjoys. She already knows the names for the spanner, hammer and screwdriver!

Friday, 17 July 2009

No rest for the wicked!

Thanks everyone for your helpful comments on L's nap situation. She actually stopped taking them when she was 17 months so it's been quite a while. There are a few problems. The first being that because I came to this Montessori stuff late L was already sleeping in a cot. Now she is certainly ready for a bed but because we are hoping to move to Canada very soon she won't be getting one until we move. So leaving her in her room on her bed is not an option. I couldn't leave her in her cot as I'd feel like I was just putting her in jail.
Secondly my husband does different shifts every day and always has done. As you can imagine this has made having a proper routine almost impossible. We always do meals and bed time the same but everything else really depends on when daddy is working. Although it gives L and daddy lots of time to spend together I hate not being able to have a proper schedule.
Anyway I think naps for us are a thing of the past. I was "cheeky mommy" today though as L had a nap in the car after a play date and then I took Making of a Montessori Mum's advice and got L playing with sand while I continued to read my book! love it!
I think sand and water are the way to go! Hopefully the weather will cooperate.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Edible activities and a Mommy at the end of her rope!

Here are some activities we did today. They both seemed to have a snack theme which L really enjoyed. The first was making a pasta and Cheerio necklace. I'm amazed she actually made this as she ate about 3 Cheerios to every one that she laced!

We also shelled peas. This was fun for both of us. I love fresh peas. I helped L open the pea pods and she took out the peas and put them in the bowl. This was a really good sorting activity.

Now this is not very Montessori but I have to share. L has refused to take a nap for quite a while now. The problem is by about 4 she is really tired (not to mention I need a break!). She turns from a charming little girl into a wild banshee (well it seems like it at the time anyway). I can only take so much before I loose my patience as I'm really tired as well. So for the last two days I did the "sneaky mommy" and hauled her into the car and got onto the motorway as fast as possible. Less than five minutes and she was fast asleep! Yippee I drove to the park put on Classic FM, rolled down windows and read my book for half an hour. That is all I need to be a good mommy again and L was back to her normal self. We played in the park when she woke up. I did this at 1pm by the way so it wouldn't effect her bedtime.
Does anyone else have any suggestions? or am I doomed to be driving up and down the motorway to protect my sanity??

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


Thanks everyone for leaving such great comments! Hopefully I've fixed the settings so there won't be any more problems. Like I've said in my profile I'm just "beginning" with all of this so any comments, advice, suggestions etc. are greatly appreciated. Now I just have to get my husband to understand that Blogging is very important and yes I do have to spend this much time on the computer!! ;)

Tuesday, 14 July 2009


I just went over to Making of Montessori Mum and found out one amazing thing and one very disappointing thing. The amazing thing is that she passed on an award to me! Thank you so much. I was totally shocked but really happy to know that people are reading my blog. That brings me to the disappointing thing. She mentioned that she couldn't leave any comments. I don't know if anyone else has had that problem but I hope not. I've changed some settings on my comments so I hope that makes a difference(??). One of the reasons I started this blog is to get feedback from other Moms! How frustrating. The other thing is that I was going to ask if anyone one could suggest something but then I realised they wouldn't be able to leave a comment!! AHHH Help anyone?


Yesterday and today have been art days. L has been asking to paint so yesterday we tried a few things from some other posts I've seen. First of all we made toilet paper tube stamps (courtesy of 4 Crazy Kings) and dipped them in paint. Then we moved on to shaving cream thanks to Making of a Montessori Mum. After the initial dislike of getting her hands dirty (I have a strange kid who doesn't like mess or being dirty except at meal times!) she was off.

Then she decided to use the stamps in the shaving cream. I know where she gets this aversion to being dirty as all of this time Daddy was standing in the side lines twitching. He hates when she does painting and can't wait to wash her!

Daddy's and my sister's birthdays are both coming up in July so I decided to try these silhouette paintings to give them as gifts. You can find out more on how to do them here. Well I was all gung ho at my local Crafts mega store when I asked for contact paper. The girl looked at me like I'd grown a third eye or something. She had everyone in the store looking and there was nothing. So as I had my heart set on doing it anyway I had to come up with an alternative. In the end I cut the silhouette out of cardboard and then taped it with painters tape onto the canvas. L and I painted the canvas, although she was very attracted to painting the cardboard. When I took it off it was a disaster as I'd figured it might be so I then took the negative part and painted inside with a single color. I was then able to do some small touch ups. I think in the end I'm happy with the results. I wouldn't recommend doing it this way though unless you have a lot of time on your hands and no other alternative.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Perseverence and what we've been up to...

Towards the end of L's 19th month we tried a couple of new things. The first one was of course potty training. I'm happy to report that it has gone extremely well and I would say that she is fully "trained". She will either go to the bathroom when she needs to or if we're out she will tell me "I have to go pee". Can't ask for more than that. I'm still helping her pull her pants down but we're working on her doing it on her own. At the moment I'm just more anxious for the pee to go into the potty!
The other thing was having L pour her own water and drink out of a glass. It was not that she wasn't capable of doing these things before it was that she would mess about with the water and drive me nuts. Well we've made a lot of progress on this and she now very rarely bothers with the water other than to drink or pour it into her glass. We do still get the occasional fork or spoon in there though but I just take it away.

Some other things we've been up to are:

Locks and keys. L loves to try and open my car door so I bought her this little lock. It's a bit hard so I also bought her a bike lock that was on sale. With this one I've just tied them both to a string and threaded it through a lid so nothing gets lost.

We love the mystery bag!

There was a post on The Wonder Years a while back about scooping ducks out of a bowl of water. I bought these ping pong balls for L to try but she was too smart and took the easy way out and just picked them up with her hand and put them in the scoop! So I tried this activity instead and she seemed to grasp what I wanted her to do. We now do the scooping in the bath tub which is much more challenging and fun.

Yesterday I decided to put these geometric shapes into a bag and get L to take them out and match them. She already knows the cube and cylinder(which she calls a sillylid) from playing with the blocks. I introduced the ping pong balls as spheres which she didn't like because obviously they're really balls mom! and I started calling the triangles triangle prisms and then felt silly so we're just calling them triangles for now. Anyway she matched them no problem so I then took a turn and pulled out a cylinder and asked if she could find one. She was able to find it and the sphere no problem and didn't have too much problem finding the others either so we'll keep trying it this way from now on.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Making a rainbow and treasure bottle

The last few days have been really fun because we've had G.A.S. (aka Great Auntie S) staying with us. We did lots of projects and even went to a castle!
A few days ago I was perusing some blogs and found this fantastic idea on Unplug Your Kids.
Coloring rice!!! Love it, love it, love it! It was so easy and all three generations had a great time making it. I won't write out the instructions as I've posted a link if any one wants to try this.

We decided to make a rainbow. First we put the food coloring in and shook up the bags. I put tape across the tops just in case. It was also really cool to do the secondary colors and see how the two colors blended to make a new one.

Once we had all the colors for our rainbow L layered them according to one of our favorite songs I Can Sing a Rainbow.

Here she is singing and pointing out the colors. (anyone who is really observant will notice we got two of the colors mixed up!)
We also made the "treasure bottle" from Unplug Your Kids. I took a picture of all of the objects so L can see what she has to find. I have to say this was a really fun project for me as well and I can imagine I will be trying to find all of the objects after L has gone to bed! : )

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Phonics Box

L has always been really interested in books and knows all of her books by title. We get three new library books every couple weeks she quickly learns their titles as well. I thought I would see how she responded to learning the phonics sounds. About three months ago I started making the sandpaper letters ( I know I have no life!). With each letter sound I also made three picture cards to go with it.
I introduced these to L at around 17 months and she loved them. Once we got going she picked them up quite easily. I keep them all in a small box we call the "phonics box". I don't keep them out but often ask her if she'd like to do them or she will ask for them.
I've sort of combined the Montessori Method with Jolly Phonics where the sounds are introduced in seven different groups. At the moment we are on the third group.

Once she'd learned the first group I introduced the magnetic letters as well. She loves to say them and match them to the sandpaper letters. As these are home made out of paper we didn't start tracing them right away because she constantly had her hands in her mouth. We've only recently started tracing them so we have a bit of catching up to do there.

After she'd learned the first two groups I introduced some words. I put the card over the word and she sounds out each letter. This takes a lot of concentration for L and we only do it in very short stints. We also match the magnetic letters with the word and picture. We've only just started doing this one and I'm taking it very slowly at L's pace. We also play the eye spy game which she is just cottoning on to!

I'm not sure when she'll start reading but I'm sure after a while everything will just click. She often points out the phonics she sees in books, and when we're out and about. I wish I could get some small figures for her to spell instead of just pictures but I can't seem to find any.
I would love to hear what anyone else has done with their children when introducing reading!

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Fun on the Farm

For the last little while, well long while actually daddy has been having to do extra work on what are supposed to be his days off. So we have been seriously lacking in fun family outings. Well that finally changed last weekend when we went to the beach and this weekend we went to the Rare Breeds Centre. It is a fantastic place where children can get up close to the animals. Not only are there your typical farm animals but there are also rare birds, a butterfly tunnel, alpacas and even chipmunks! As well as the farm bit there are acres of woodlands and cool playgrounds. We always have a good time and with the beautiful weather today was no exception.

Strangely L had no fear of any of the animals except this sleeping piglet. We had to coax her to pet it.
Guinea pigs with lots of cute little babies.

Feeding the rabbit some lettuce.

Feeding the goat some hay. Funnily enough he wasn't interested : )

Friday, 3 July 2009

Color Matching

L loves her "lacing chopsticks" so much but she's really mastered putting them on and taking them off and also putting all one color on so I was looking for an extension activity. I spent some time with my new best friend (cardboard that is) and came up with this. I saw something similar on an old post from Chasing Cheerios.

The tubes are made of pasta and just painted and the posts are BBQ squewers. She was so excited to see it on her shelf and wanted to do it right away. I showed her how to try and match the colors. It's quite a difficult concept to understand that when you put one on it goes down to the bottom so you have to always work from the bottom up. She can do it if I point to the colors as she puts them on. I think I was a bit over zealous and should have started with blocks of color. I may make a couple sheets that can go on top of that one with different patterns.

We also started and extension of the color tablets. She can easily match all of the colors together in box 2 so we've moved on to matching hues. This is obviously much harder but I was surprised that some colors were easy for her while others were very difficult.
A new Montessori school has recently opened in the village we plan to move to in Canada and we are hoping L will be able to attend once we get there. I can't wait for her to be able to use real Montessori materials!

Playing blocks with daddy. This is very entertaining for me to watch because my husband really gets into it and loves to build intricate cities while L loves to knock them down!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

A Great Day!

Today was one of those days which my friend over at Aayla Do! Montessori describes as a Happy Happy day. One of those days when everything falls into place and your kid is mostly agreeable. I think it helped that L didn't get up until 8:30 this morning (yippee!!) and the weather is great here.
We started off with dusting L's Montessori shelves. One of the things on my 20 month to do list. We started by taking all the activities off the shelf and then doing a good dust. We then moved on to the rest of the house until she lost interest.
The potty training is also going well. Today we went swimming in the outdoor pool at our Leisure Centre. It was fantastic until I asked L if she had to go pee. The answer was yes so we made a quick dash to the change room where I had to get the potty out of the locker then take off her armbands and then her bathing suit!! All the while thinking she wasn't going to make it. Finally we got into the bathroom and onto the potty and it was a false alarm!! Ahhh. Oh well at least it has taught me to put her in her two piece bathing suit from now on.

In the afternoon we both had a lot of energy (probably because she was being so agreeable) so we practiced jumping over the line. L had great fun with that as she's really into jumping at the moment. We also tried to walk the line which was really thin.

I then put some music on and she had another session of "rhythmic gymnastics" or ribbon dancing. This is so much fun and I highly recommend it!

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