Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Montessori Beginnings-How I started with L (part 1)

I’ve recently had a few emails with questions on how I first began doing Montessori with L. I thought it would be easiest if I just responded in a few posts.
I would like to start off by saying that I am by no means an expert and have no formal Montessori training. Everything I have done with L I’ve learned from books, blogs and the Internet. These posts will be about how I personally have tried to incorporate the Montessori Method in my home with my daughter. I don’t know if what I’ve done is “right” or not but it seems to be working for us.

Practical Life

I think the best way to start is always with Practical Life. At around 14 months I started involving L in every day activities such as helping to prepare meals, baking, cleaning, doing laundry, loading the dishwasher, watering the plants, and cleaning the windows. Anything really. Children love to transfer things into other things so loading the washing machine is always a bit hit.

A few important things to remember when doing Practical Life with toddlers are:

-to make sure you have enough time and are not rushed

-not to expect perfection

-expect a mess

-have fun and stay in the moment it’s the process not the product that counts

Here are a few examples of what L and I have done.

Baking gingerbread cookies. We always put on aprons before we start. This way  she knows that we are about to do baking or cooking. Next we wash our hands.
The first time we did this L was still in a highchair so I put the bowl on her tray. I measured out the ingredients into measuring cups and L poured them into the bowl. She then stirred them all up and helped to knead the dough.
Once it was ready I rolled it out on her tray and she pushed the cookie cutters into it with my help.
When we were done I did a general clean up of the flour on her tray and then gave her a cloth to clean her tray and herself.  We then enjoyed a yummy snack together.
 As she’s gotten older and had more practice she is obviously capable of doing more steps herself.

Making Pita Pizzas. This is still a favourite for L. The key is to prepare everything ahead of time here. Get some whole wheat pita bread, tomato sauce, grated cheese and any topping you would like.  Chop them finely(this helps the veggies blend in with everything else). Depending on the age of your child you can give them one ingredient at a time or lay them all out in order from left to right. Also depending on how patient your child is you can either demonstrate each step first or make a pizza along side them. Think of the pride your child will have in making dinner for the whole family!! Make sure you let them help in the clean up as well. Give them a sponge or cloth to help clean their work surface.

Cleaning the bathroom. We just did this one today. I give L a cloth with soapy water and let her wipe down the bathtub, outside of the toilet, sink and now she also cleans her own little toilet. I spray the mirrors and she wipes them with paper towel. While she is doing this I use a proper bathroom cleaner to clean the all the other bits. This helps her to have a real sense of care of herself and her environment while contributing to the running of the household.

It’s also wonderful to have a place where you child can have their own cleaning supplies such as a cloth, sponge, duster, small dust pan and broom. Make sure these are usable and not just toys. Then they can clean whenever they get the urge. One time L cleaned our whole hallway with a small sponge!!

These are just a few examples which I hope some of you will find useful. Try to have fun and don’t force your child into doing anything they don’t want to do.

Two books that I found very useful are Teach Me to Do it Myself : Learning Activities for You and Your Child by Maja Pitamic and Montessori Read and Write: A Parent's Guide to Literacy for Children by Lynne Lawrence

Monday, 28 June 2010

All in Good Time

Most of L's friends right from the beginning have been about six months older than her.  Since moving to Canada L has had two close friends (both girls) who are six months older, one who has been immersed in the Montessori Method since birth.
I think because L's language and communication skills developed so early I often tend to forget how old she really is.  Only 31months.  Over the past few months I've been struggling with the fact that she just didn't want to get dressed or put on her shoes although she was completely capable.  Now just a few months later it's like a light has been switched on.  L loves to pick out her own clothes, put them all on by herself, get undressed, put her clothes in the laundry basket, put away her clean laundry and put her pajamas on all by herself.  This just happened.  
I am a first time mom with little to no experience with toddlers before L so I really have nothing before her to go on.  I just find her personal and natural development astounds me and constantly reminds me to just chill out.  It will all happen when it's supposed to.  No wonder her friends all wanted to put their clothes on independently.  They're six months older!  It has nothing to do with skill it's the time in their development when they naturally WANT to do something on their own.

I think sometimes being a mother trying to incorporate the Montessori Method into our everyday lives I try to get L to be too independent.  I have no training and I find it's a very fine line between letting a child do it themselves and trying to get a child to do it themselves.  With things like getting dressed I just didn't know it would happen like that until it happened.  I guess with me it's all a learning curve and it's all about observing and reacting.  Wow just think of all of the benefits a second child would get from my knowledge!!

On the other hand I would also like to say that I believe in giving L activities that will help her develop skills she hasn't yet mastered. A natural progression of activities. For example reading. I know people have different opinions on early reading etc. but if a child has learned all of her letter sounds by 24 months then the natural progression is to move on to letter sorts and then when that is mastered on from there. I think if a child masters a skill they should be introduced to the next step whatever age they are and they will show you if they are ready to take it.

Pilar from Montessori Matters just wrote a wonderful post along the same lines and there is also a great post over at Real Life Montessori.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Pressed Flowers

We are so lucky to be living with my mother who is such an avid gardener.  There are so many beautiful flowers in our back yard we just have to take advantage of them.
L got this cute little flower press for Christmas and has been desperate to use it. 

L and Granny picked some flowers and then put them between the cardboard pieces.  We tightened down the ladybug screws and left them for a few days.

L was delighted with her pressed flowers and glued them on to this black piece of card.  She then picked a little whit clover and used it as a paint brush. We both thought the result looked really cool.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Rose Petal Beads

I first saw these rose petal beads at Redbeet Mama.  We have an amazing rose garden that my mother has cultivated over the years and the roses are spectacular at the moment.
First we went out and collected the petals.
While we were doing this a tiny humming bird came by to get the nectar from the flowers.  She stayed for ages and I was lucky enough to get this picture of her.

Once the petals were collected we tore them into tiny bits, relishing in their beautiful fragrance and silky texture.  We took turns dropping them on each others hands.  I've been really trying to stay in the moment while doing things with L and this was so wonderfully enjoyable!
We then put them in the blender and added some water.  They turned into a paste which we stewed for about an hour.  The smell was heavenly.  Now you think I would have realised after all of the color blending activities we've done that putting all of those colors together would make brown!  I ended up adding some red food coloring to the mixture and next time we'll separate the colors first!
Once they had cooled off we poured the mixture over a cloth and squeezed out all of the moisture.  We then rolled the paste into little beads and left them to dry in the sun.

The next day I threaded through a tapestry needle to make a larger hole and then L used a regular needle(for the first time! She did poke herself a few times!)to thread them with some other wood and felted beads to make this bracelet.
(the purple ones are the rose petal beads)
We also made these beautiful hanging beads strings for our chandelier.
This turned out to be one of my favorite activities!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Balancing Butterflies

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Ariella from Childhood Magic for posting this brilliant balancing butterfly craft on her blog!
It is so super easy to do and soooo cool!  Anyone who hasn't tried it yet really should, I can't imagine a child or Momma who wouldn't feel the magic from these little guys.
All you need is some water color paper, paints, scissors, a few pennies and super glue.  I cut out the butterflies and L painted them.  Once they were dry I added a few more details to some of them. 
For the full tutorial check out the link to Childhood Magic.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Nature Bugs on the Nature Table

We had a great time making nature bugs last year(check them out here) and have been waiting for it to get dry enough to try them out this year.
Finally we had a dry day and went out to collect our materials in the woods, watching out for bears the whole time.(we did see some bear poo!)

Once we got home we got out the glue and began sticking.  Here L is making a dragonfly.  She mostly enjoyed covering everything with glue but nothing much stuck.  You need to be really patient with these guys.

Once they were dry they all flew over to our nature table and made themselves at home along with the wonderful bear puzzle and little glass snail.
This is also great practice for L to look and not touch as they are very "delicate" aka they will totally disintegrate if she does!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Amazing giveaway over at MommyMoment

There is a giveaway for a $100 gift certificate to Perrytech Montessori Materials over at Mommy Moment !

Finally some Montessori again

Although we've been very busy with our Macedonian visitors we've managed to get a few activities in.  Next week I'm looking forward to things getting back to normal and really having time to make up some new activities for L.

I've seen this dropper activity on lots of blogs and have always wanted to do it with L.  I finally found some of those bath mat things at the dollar store and she really enjoyed it.  Although she didn't do much on the clean up!

I saw this one over at Leptir's blog.  L was totally bugging me to get it finished so she could try it out.  I put a dot on the back for self checking but she still doesn't get it.  At the beginning she just tried to match the dot.  Arg... but then she got the hang of it.  Putting the clothes peg on was an added bit of excitement.

Baba and Dedo left some money for L so on our way back from dropping them off at the airport we went to Ikea.  We got her a little igloo tent, some finger puppets and these tiny beads with little different shaped bead boards.  Once you do a pattern on the board you are supposed to be able to iron it and get a shape but we haven't gotten that far yet.  For some reason she wanted to put a pile in the middle to choose from.  This was a great work for her as it helped her to work on her patience and just take one bead at once.  She actually sat and filled the whole outside of the circle which was no easy feat!
Our first lettuce from the garden!  L was soooo excited to cut some leaves off the lettuce.  Her and Granny check the garden and tend it everyday. Thanks to Granny L is turning into quite the little gardener and knows most of the names of the plants in our garden!

Friday, 11 June 2010

One of our favorite books a bit too close to reality!!

One of our all time favorite books is We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury.  The book is a wonderfully fun story about a whole family going on a bear hunt through tall wavy grass, thick oozy mud and even a snowstorm.  We have so much fun reading it and always act it out when we go on nature walks.
Well the last few weeks the story has hit a little too close to home.  We've had many reported bear sightings in our lovely woods and it even walked across our lawn the other night!
Needless to say we have been staying out of the local woods and singing loudly "We're NOT going on a bear hunt"!

While we we're driving over to the west coast this last weekend we did have the most wonderful luck of seeing this mother and two baby cubs on the side of the road.  We stopped to take some pictures and they just kept moseying along.

This is as close as I want to come to a real live bear!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Back to Normal/Favorite Books Post

I feel so out of touch  : )
My husbands family have been visiting from Macedonia for the past ten days so I've had little to no time for the computer.
They have sadly left now so I've been able to finally compile a list of everyone's favorite books that they kindly shared when entering the giveaway.
Thank you to everyone who shared. There are so many wonderful books that are new to me which I will be looking out for at our library.

Children of the Forest, Peter in Blueberry Land- Elsa Beskow

Sam McBratney-Guess How Much I Love You -Sam McBratney

Chasing Degas- Eva Montanari

Time for Bed- Mem Fox

The Eleventh Hour- Graeme Base

I Love You Because Your You -Liza Baker

Blueberries for Sal- McClosky

Charlotte’s Web- E.B. White

Child of Earth, Child Fairie-Jane Yolen

Wild Child-Lynn Plourde

Dirt Boy-Erik Jon Slangerup

Papa, please get the moon for me-Eric Carle

Love,Splat-Rob Scotton

Zen Shorts-John J. Muth

Llama, Llama-Anna Dewdney

Little Pea and Little Hoot-Amy K. Rosenthal

Old Turtle and the Broken Truth-Douglas Wood

The Secret Staircase-Jill Barklem

My Dolly-Woodie Guthrie

Roxaboxen-Alice McLerran

Madeline and the Gypsies-Ludwig Behelmans

Geckos Go to Bed-John J. Murakami
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