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.

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