Thursday, 29 April 2010

Birds of a feather....

I so love all of my bloggy friends.  They make my life so much easier!  L and I started learning about birds a few weeks ago and luckily for me we weren't the only ones!
We have floor to ceiling windows in our kitchen which look into the back garden.  We can watch the birds at the feeder and in the bird bath while eating and have started looking them up in our two bird books.

I made up this little chart of the three different environments we see most of the birds in.  Every time we see a new one we look it up in our bird book, find a picture on the Internet to copy and L pastes it on wherever she's seen it.  So far we haven't seen anything too exotic but it's still really quite exciting when we see a new one. 
Bear and her mom over at The Adventures of Bear have also been learning about birds and I got this yummy idea for edible birds nests from her.
We also made these gorgeous birds nests as shown on The Magic Onions.  L's is the one on the left.  We first talked about what type of things birds would use to build nests.  To make our own we used some yarn, wool batting to fill in the nest and I made some wool eggs for them.  I love how they look on the nature table.
Another brilliant idea from The Adventures of Bear!  We made up some snacks which birds would eat.  Sunflower seeds, berries, spaghetti for worms and banana for the tropical birds.  We then used some tweezers, tongs and chopsticks as bird beaks.  L had the most fun when we took turns pretending we were baby birds being fed by their mother.  The unanimous conclusion was that hands are much easier!
Seems like bird study is very popular this time of year as most of the books were also signed out at our library.  We did find a really cute one called In the Nest by Anna Milbourne which was perfect for our nest building.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Montessori Resources

I don't have a list of Montessori resources or favorite books on my blog(mostly because I haven't taken the time to learn how to do it). I've had several requests asking me what books I would recommend. Well thanks to the lovely Mari-Ann over at Counting Coconuts she's done all the work for me and posted a fantastic list of resources for anyone who has any questions about the Montessori Method.
Check it out here.
Thanks Mari-Ann you are a total Superstar!!

The only other book that I loved and got so much out of that I didn't see on her list is Montessori Read and Write: A Parent's Guide to Literacy for Children by Lynne Lawrence.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Snack time

I've been wanting to set up an area for L to get her own snacks for a long time now. I finally got around to getting the containers. L has four choices which will change every week or so. This week it's dried cranberries, hemp granola, cashew nuts with raisins or an apple.

L takes the snack container of her choice to her table then the measuring cup and a little bowl. She puts enough in to fill the bowl then puts the lid back on and replaces the container.

I'm amazed at how well this is working. I think she absolutely loves the fact that this is all her responsibility. She can get whichever snack, whenever she wants and has the control. Interestingly enough she only gets them out at her usual snack time and doesn't ever take too much. Basically she doesn't abuse it at all and always puts everything back where it's supposed to go(unlike in other areas). We are however still working on her sitting at the table the whole time until she is finished. I tell her once you get up that tells me that you are done and if she gets up I take the snack away. This has led to some serious hissy fits but I'm hoping she'll get the idea soon.
I'm also trying to figure out how and where to keep out some water for her to help herself to but haven't found a space or appropriate container yet.

Monday, 26 April 2010

A bit of our week

I've decided to cop out on the whole "reading" the Montessori way (ie. learning to write first) and am just following L's lead. I'm taking the easy way out and hoping she'll get the right schooling when she goes to school in September. For now we're just doing fun sounding out games like this fishing for words game and lots of the eye spy game.

L catches a word and then matches it with one of the figures.

We've also been learning about living and non-living. This has lead to several funny conversations. Like when Daddy got home and I asked her if he was living or non-living and she said "Daddy's a carnivore!" hehe. She also woke me up the other morning by saying "Mommy an elephant eats food, drinks and has babies so it's living" Good morning to you too!

We then moved on to plants and animals. She totally gets the animal bit but had a harder time getting her head around the fact that plants can't move(on their own) after some good discussion and looking out in the back garden I'm pretty sure she's got it now. Too funny the things that come up when talking to a two and a half year old!

We've also been doing some more work with the blindfold and she's much more comfortable wearing it. Today we did some blind tasting and guessing what the food was. This was easy for her but when it came to my turn she always told me what she was going to put in my mouth. I still tried to act surprised. One day she's going to learn how to play a joke and tell me one thing but give me another!

Saturday, 24 April 2010

The Life of Bees

A few weeks ago I borrowed City of Bees from the library. This DVD peaked both my and L's interest and I decided to do some research and put together some activities.
I found a lot of great resources here and one of them was a template to make your own bee. I cut all of the pieces out of construction paper and used wax paper for the wings. I really helped L with her bee because I wanted the end product to be realistic for further use.

We talked about the different parts of a bee and counted how many wings, legs, eyes etc. they have. Did you know a bumble bee has five eyes! I used some hexagon pieces from our Settlers game to create a small piece of the hive for the bees to fly into and do their various work.

We of course also talked about how bees make honey and then had to sample some for our snack.
I saw this counting game on Chasing Cheerios a while ago and adapted it for bees. Each bee has it's own number and each time you roll the number the bee moves closer to her flower to get the nectar.

The other day L was playing in the back yard and came to the door with something in her hand to show me. She was so excited "Look Mommy a bee!!" I tried not to freak out and quickly realised it was no longer alive. Phew. Then I got excited myself and pulled out the magnifying glass and all of our bee materials. We had a blast examining a real bee and comparing it to our diagrams and pictures.
Some other things we've done are to talk about the different types of flowers bees like and watch them pollinate and get nectar from them. We also drew pictures using the diagram as a guide to know how many parts to put on them.
This has been a real learning experience for me as well as L. I realised how little I knew about bees! We are planning to do some more bee activities in the next little while before we move onto something else.
Here are some of the books we've been reading:
Honey Bees by Deborah Heiligman

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Nature Challenge continued

Ahh the open water, smell of pine, wind in your hair and the spray of water on your face.
Priceless! SUNDAY
Evening walk along the beach to watch the sunset and build stone inukshuks.
Okay technically I failed this challenge because although we spent the whole afternoon at the park I forgot my camera!

Helping to get the bed ready to plant our vegetables.

Along comes Timothy snail....he was a really curious and brave snail before he slithered away.

Earth Day hike with a friend : )

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Happy Earth Day!

May we all learn to walk a little more softly on Mother Earth.

Thank you Childhood Magic for the idea and tutorial on how to make this wonderful Earth lantern.

Montessori Blogs

So has posted a list of 50 must read Montessori blogs. I have to say that this makes me happy for numerous reasons. First of all I'm all for anything that spreads the word about Montessori education and philosophy. My dream would be for Montessori to be mainstream practice and available to every child. Secondly I don't know much about Onlinedegress but they deemed the topic of Montessori education important enough to make a list of (in their opinion) 50 must read blogs. And thirdly there are at least 50 Montessori blogs out there that anyone can access to learn more about the Montessori method! Yippee!

As for my blog being on there I feel like a bit of a fraud just because my blog has the word Montessori in it. I'm just like it says a Beginner at all of this and get most of my ideas from other people. That being said I feel there were a lot of blogs that are my "go to" Montessori blogs which are not on that list which really should be. Anyone who hasn't checked these out really should.

The Adventures of Bear-she constantly astounds me with her amazingly creative activities and I always want to try them with L.
Mi Escuelita Montessori-Karen's blog is so colorful, happy, positive and not to mention she comes up with so many great activities.
Leptir-this blog is written by an actual Montessori teacher in a classroom who posts about the activities she presents to her class. She is so original and creative.
A Montessori Musing Place-written by another Montessori teacher with years of experience and knowledge. She covers many topics very relevant to parents and has also started another fantastic blog The Montessori Child at Home which features some of her students and how their parents have encorporated Montessori aspects into their home environment.
Montessori Matters-this is the one blog that I specifically look to for new posts when I go on the computer. A Montessori teacher in the trenches telling it like it is. I love her insightful, sometimes cheeky and brave posts.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Spring Nature Table

This months nature table has been a lot more of an organic process than some of our other ones. It kind of keeps evolving as we discover different treasures and new things start growing.

By far my favorite thing on it though are the beautiful star lanterns. I first saw these over at my favorite blog and she was kind enough to do her own tutorial on how to make them. I'm now addicted and can't stop making them : ) I'm looking forward to the summer when I can put them all around the garden and light them up at night.

These ones remind me of waterlilies in this photo. We put electric candles in them for safety sake and L is fascinated. What a wondrous glow they produce when we turn them on every night.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Montessori Monday

This week we've had some blasts from the past. I made this felt dressing doll for L when she was 19 months. We brought it out again and it's interesting for me to see the difference now in how she works with this activity. Instead of just trying to put the clothes on the doll she makes up different scenarios and picks the outfit to fit the outing. Too cute! I'm thinking of making some more outfits for her so the poor dressing doll can go more places!

Tracing shapes. I cut out some shapes from some old margarine container lids for L to trace. This was her first time tracing like this and she enjoyed it. Once she tires of tracing with the pencil crayons we'll trace with our fingers and count the sides. Then I'm hoping to eventually get her to recognize the shape by feel only.

Another oldie but goodie I brought back is the mystery bag. This time I put in different items we found on our nature walks. At first L just brought out the items and named them.

I then introduced the blindfold for the first time. L picked something from the bag and had to guess what it was. This was funny as she wanted to lift the blindfold as soon as she took the item out of the bag. She had no problem guessing the items because they are all so different. I wouldn't say L loved the blindfold idea but she did it. I'll keep introducing it slowly.

Mmmm BBQ

Okay BBQ's aren't technically my favorite being a vegetarian but we do enjoy preparing our veggies.

Friday, 16 April 2010

A few of my favorite things

Here are our nature pictures for the last week. Karen from Mi Escuelita Montessori also tagged me to name five things that I love. Luckily they go hand in hand.

L riding her strider bike. She just learned how to take both feet off here and glide for the first time.
I love seeing my girl learn new things on her own!
Collecting leaves in the forest to use for leaf rubbing.
I LOVE being in nature.
L and her granny filling pots with soil to plant some seeds.
I love that L gets to spend so much time learning new things from her granny.

Frolicking at the lake. This was such a beautiful sunny day.
I love how little girls put their arms behind them and run with such joy and abandon!

A playdate at the beach. This was so much fun with about 10 other moms and kids. They all started off dry but soon the sock and boots were off and they were paddling in the ocean and making sand castles. What a wonderful wet, sandy mess!
I love living so close to the beach and can't wait until the summer when we can go swimming!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Guilty pleasures

Well as you may know L hasn't taken a nap during the day in over a year. The problem is by around 4:00 we are both totally wiped and L's concentration is nil. It's a bit better now that the weather is good and we can just spend time outside but on the other days we sometimes peruse Youtube.
Here are some of our guilty pleasures
The Iguana Song-I dare you to watch this and not have it going through your head for the rest of the day. This little guy's got swag! We also love the Rhino Song.

The Elephant Song-this song is so totally cute and funny. Eric Herman rocks!

The Sound of Music-this is my all time favorite movie and I figured it was time to introduce L to the brilliance that is Julie Andrews. I make popcorn and we have a movie night/afternoon. We mostly skip to the singing bits and she pretty much knows all the songs. Today we were at the park and she was rolling down a big grass covered hill. She stood up put, her hands out spinning in a circle and sang "the hills are alive with the sound of music" Ahh what a proud moment for me and I have to admit I got a little tear in my eye.
What are some of your "guilty pleasures" with your kids?


The last time I did a sweeping activity with L was about 10 months ago. She was interested but didn't quite grasp the concept. Since then the dustpan and broom have been readily available to her but she hasn't shown much interest.
Last week when we came inside there were smile piles of dried mud on the floor from her boots. L decided to get her dustpan and broom and to my amazement swept up all the piles perfectly and deposited them into the bin. Of course the next day I got out some colored rice and set up a sweeping activity for her.
This really got me thinking though. How did she just all of a sudden know how to sweep? I find it absolutely amazing how children develop all on their own. Sometimes it doesn't matter how much I show her she will not get something and then all of a sudden one day she will get something with no prior knowledge or practice.
What an amazing journey to watch and it's incidences like these that remind me to trust in my child and her development.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Montessori Monday

I am so happy to finally have my laptop back! Oh yes and my husband ; ) he's finally finished his training. So now I can post whenever I get the urge.
For Easter we got L an African safari book that has puzzle like pieces you can put in and out and also stand them up to put in an African plains scene. I decided to get L to pair them up with these African animal cards I found at a boot fair ages ago. L really enjoyed this but it was very easy for her. After she paired them up we sorted them into meat eaters and non-meat eaters.

We haven't done anything with color tablets for ages so when I found these old paint samples I'd brought from England I thought I'd see how she did with color grading. Amazingly this was really very easy for her and she did three different color grades in a few seconds. I used the uncut paint sample for a control card that she would turn over to check her work.

I also got these plastic shapes ages ago for sorting. They are supposed to be used to link together to make jewelry. L can now do this so we've been having fun making all sorts of things. I also took it as an opportunity to introduce patterns. I think L sort of gets it but she wasn't in the best frame of mind for it. I think next time I will take the rest of the basket away and just use a few pre-selected ones to make the patterns.

I saw this brilliant idea for counting on The Wonder Years and thought I would change it up a bit using our ladybugs and not putting dots on. Just in case it's not clear in the picture the numbers are written on the top of the stick and L has to pick one from the glass. She then places the correct number of ladybugs on the stick. She liked this one a lot and has brought it out several times.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Children in Nature Awareness Challenge in Action

Feeding the birds. We have floor to ceiling windows in our kitchen and living room which look into the garden. We can watch the birds eat and take a bath while having lunch and snacks. We are also looking the ones we spot up in our bird book.
Pouring rain all day so we decided to search for worms. This one was swimming! L asked if worms have eyes so we looked up the answer once we were inside.
Finally sunshine and time spent beachcombing.

Not sure L is in this picture as she was just a running blur most of the time at this wonderful LEED park(more about this park in another post!)

Okay today the weather has been amazing so we've spent almost all day outside doing things. Couldn't resist putting this picture of these two amazing eagles up in their tree on. L was standing right beside me looking up into the beautiful sun!

So far this challenge has been wonderful and has made me totally aware of spending time outside no matter how bad the weather. We do spend a lot of time outside anyway because of the amazing place we live in but this has made me even more aware of it. Looking forward to the weeks to come. As you can imagine L is absolutely loving it!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Children and Nature Awareness Challenge

Cathedral Grove (photo credit laszlofromhalifax)

We are participating in the Children and Nature Awareness Challenge over at 5 Orange Potatoes. To find out the full details please click on the link. Here is what it's about in a nutshell

Lets show the world how we do it; in honor of Children and Nature Awareness Month, go outside everyday, rain or shine; then take a picture each day, for the rest of April, of your children outdoors and post it. Just a single picture will do; words aren’t even necessary. Lets spread the word and go outdoors!

We started yesterday and I am taking pictures but will post them all in two posts on the weekend. Today was particularly challenging as it was pouring all day but we managed to do it! I hope all of you will be inspired to take up the challenge as well!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Cantaloupe.... who would have thought?

There has been a Practical Life explosion in our house the last few weeks. L seems to be at the point where she wants to help with everything, especially preparing food.
One thing we've been doing quite a lot is cutting up and eating cantaloupe. As we were sitting down to eat it one day I got to thinking how many skills L is refining with the whole process so I decided to make a list...

  • getting her apron out of the drawer and washing her hands
  • after I've sliced the cantaloupe into cutable pieces and taken off the rind L cuts the long bits into small pieces practicing her cutting skills now with a relatively sharp knife
  • sorting the pieces of cantaloupe and the rind into separate bowls
  • putting the bowl of rinds into the compost, learning about recycling and composting
  • putting the bowl of cantaloupe onto the table
  • washing down the counter with a cloth and washing her hands again
  • taking off her apron and putting it back into the drawer
  • setting the table for a snack
  • dishing out pieces of cantaloupe using a serving spoon into her bowl(not as easy as it sounds those things are slippery!)
  • eating the yummy fruit and having wonderful conversation with her family
  • clearing the table and putting the dishes in the dishwasher
  • wiping down the table

Whew sounds like a lot when you write it all down! It's quite amazing really how a fruit can be do delicious and such a learning tool at the same time.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Easter Fun!

Here is a picture of our Easter nature table. The rabbit and sheep on the left are my creations and the eggs were a family effort. I'm not sure if you can see but Daddy seemed to be into a tropical theme. He painted a toucan on one and an Easter bunny in a Hawaiian shirt on the other.

We hard boiled most of the eggs but after reading the tutorial over at the Magic Onions we tried blowing a few. This was hilarious as my husband doing a typical man thing just kept blowing as hard as he could to get the yolk out. He seriously blew a gasket and had a sore neck after. Men!!!

L took great pleasure in painting her eggs.
Something else we did was make these egg like decorations out of tissue paper and glue/water. I blew up a small balloon and L and I used paint brushes to put on the bits of tissue paper we'd ripped up. I was surprised at how well L did with this. I tried to make mine all flat and perfect while hers was all bunched up and blended together. Once they dried and I took out the balloon hers was soooo much nicer than mine. The texture was amazing and the colors were all blended together.
Here is a picture of one I made using L's technique : )
We had tons of fun making these yummy gingerbread cookies!

The Easter tradition in our house is that we decorate all the eggs and then on Easter night the cheeky Easter bunny comes and hides them all. L has to go and find them in the morning. Not one mention of chocolate or candy. We also have some lovely decorated cardboard eggs from England which are larger. This year the sheep and a little lamb will be hidden in them for L. Granny also bought her some small gardening tools to help in the garden.
Hope you all have a very Happy Easter!

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