Wednesday, 29 September 2010

September nature table/playscape

It's almost October and I realised I haven't posted our September nature table.  For this month I decided to do something different and make a needle felted playscape for the nature table.
So here it is. 
 All of the woodland creatures who live in the tree stump can move in and out of holes and up the little staircase.
 When I finally finished it and put it on the table L looked at it in awe and asked "can I play with it?"
It was a nice feeling to be able to say yes!
I'm contemplating selling some of my needle felting but I'm not sure if there would be a market for it?
Oh also if you like this sort of thing then check out this link to see some amazing nature tables and playscapes!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Singing the blues for blue week

I think L summed up our blue meal perfectly when I asked her how she liked it this is what she said
"Well, I had fun....but I didn't really have fun."
L got a raging cold half way through last week and then gave it to me.  We still went ahead with blue week even though we weren't feeling that great.
So has anyone else ever considered how many naturally blue foods there out there(keep in mind we still have indigo and violet still to go)?  There are seriously hardly any!!
I though I came up with a brilliant plan by finding a recipe for natural blue food dye!! I added it to some leek and potato soup and viola mildly blue soup.

Yup that's all we had.   L declared she didn't like it and just ate the pita bread.  In the end because she was sick we cut up an assortment of veggies for her which she enjoyed a lot more.
For dessert we had blueberry muffins which we'd made earlier.  After the meal I felt sick and had to lie down. 
All in all I'd say blue meal =FAIL
Hopefully next week will be more successful.  I have a few ideas in mind.
To end on a brighter note.  Here is a picture of the fruit bouquet we made for the family potluck at L's school.
It went down a treat!

Friday, 24 September 2010

The Four Seasons Vivaldi style

Lately we've been listening to Antonio Vivaldi's The Four Seasons.
I painted four of these bare trees for each of us.  I then put on one of the seasons and while we listened to it we talked about that season and painted our tree how it would look at that particular time of year. 

I hung the finished products up by our kitchen table so we can talk about them and see them whenever we eat.  We can also see the changing season out the windows as we talk.
The next activity we did was focusing on a specific season and that was Spring.  We listened to the first movement and focused on the form.  In this movement there are four particular themes that you can hear.  We have a different scarf for each theme.  The green scarf represents the trees, colorful red birds, blue river, black and gold thunderstorm and pink and yellow sunshine.
At first I called out each theme as it came and L picked up the corresponding scarf and waved it like a tree or bird etc.
The second time she was able to hear the themes herself and had a ball running back and forth picking up the scarves as the music changed.
The order is trees,birds,trees,river,trees,thunderstorm,trees,sun,trees,sun and trees.  They are quite easy to identify after listening to it a few times and as I said even L got them after the second try.
I got this fantastic idea from here.

While I was searching for a recording of The Four Seasons on Youtube I came across this these amazing videos of sand animation.  The whole family watched them totally amazed and L and I wanted to try it for ourselves.
So here we are in our tiny bathroom in the dark : )
I used a deep white plastic tray and rested it between two small stools.  We added some sand and put a reading lamp underneath the tray.  I had the laptop in there as well and we watched the videos as we drew.

Here are some of L's impressions. 

This was so fun and cool and I know we're going to be going into the bathroom quite often : )  It would also be a novel way to learn how to write letters.
Check out the artists and art button on the right to see what others have done this week.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

How to Grow a Child's Brain

As I mentioned in a earlier post we went to a parents evening at L's Montessori preschool about How to Grow a Child's Brain.  My husband and I were totally impressed and I thought I'd share some of what we learned.
The presentation was by a wonderful Brain Based Learning Facilitator named Gary Anaka.  He entertained and enlightened us by using techniques such as Brain Gym exercises and audience participation with physical movements and repetition.  Even my skeptical husband was enthusiastically applauding and saying thank you at the end.
What I found most useful was the list of Brain Boosters he gave us to help grow a child's brain.  These are what I'm going to share with you.
What Gary said is our motive as parents is to grow your child a three pounder!  That's a brain we're talking about. Early childhood is the most critical time for brain development. Oh and for those of us over thirty he said our mission is to try and keep our three pounder : )

So here are the top ten brain boosters according to Garry Anaka

1.  Movement-the number one most important thing for a child's development.  Get your child moving and outside.  Walking, running, jumping anything to get them going.  This is why sitting at a computer or sitting watching TV are more brain killers than boosters.  Movement helps and is essential for learning.  It's amazing how Maria Montessori got it so right!

2.  Learning-a child needs to be constantly learning new things.  Repetition is the key so read those books over and over until your child can recite them back to you.  That is your child's brain growing!

3. Nourishment-It's essential that your child gets enough oxygen(fresh air), water and a proper diet.  Some brain boosting foods he suggested are walnuts, avocados, apples, blueberries,bananas, dark chocolate and dark leafy greens like kale.

4. Safety-a child needs to feel safe in his or her environment before their brain is able to start learning and developing.  If a child is constantly in the fight or flight part of their brain because they feel threatened they are not able to develop.  So the next time you are about to loose control and yell at your child or get into a yelling match with your husband take a deep breath and think of the negative consequences it's going to have on your child's brain.

5. Play for fun-I love this one.  Something that is so important is unstructured play, outside in nature.  This is where I love the Waldorf philosophy.  Gary says children should be allowed to play without parents always setting rules and structure to games.

6.  Reading-Reading to your children or having them read is so important.  Apparently it takes a child hearing 1000 stories before he or she is able to read. 

7.  Story Telling-This is also where I like the story telling elements of Waldorf so much.  He gave us a quote from Einstein "Imagination is more powerful than knowledge"

8.Experience-"rich experience grows a rich brain" Gary Anaka

9. Novelty-novelty grows the best brain so remember to spice up your routine and do something different every once in a while

10. Caring-I know that everyone who reads this blog does this already as they are taking an interest in their children.  Love, attention and affection.

So there they are.  Nothing we didn't know already but it's sure nice to have them all affirmed knowing we are on the right track and our child's brains are growing every time we do one of these things that comes so naturally to us.
Here are a few websites he suggests to check out: if you go to the SPECT Atlas part you can see fascinating brain scans showing the effects of different things on the brain such as drugs and alcohol and abuse.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Check this out!

Check out Sunbeams and Sanity's generous giveaway of Positive Discipline Cards but don't enter because I want to win ; )

Monday, 20 September 2010

Going Green

I've been looking forward to green week in our Rainbow Eating Adventure since the beginning.  We finally got to it and it was a great success.

We started off by making our famous "green" smoothies.  These are something we usually have in the morning but we made an exception for this occasion.

First a banana and some generous handfuls of yummy spinach.  L then puts in hemp protein powder and almond milk.  Usually we add a bunch of whatever fruit we have on hand(this is actually a picture of a different smoothie)but this time to keep the green color for our meal we didn't add any blueberries.  Add a little ice and you're good to go.  A great way to get leafy greens into your child's diet!
For our main course we had L's all time favorite pesto pasta.  I used spinach pasta for the first time and it went down a treat. 
Along with the pasta we had sugar snap pea pods, cucumber and green pepper.
We had kiwi and green grapes for dessert but I absent mindedly erased the pictures from my camera before I put them on the computer.  Oh well I'm sure you all know what a kiwi and grapes look like!
So that was green.  L ate so much that when she had her bath afterwards her round stomach looked like a little Buddha belly.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Polishing Silver

L was helping my mom clean out the cutlery drawer when they came upon her old spoon collection.  What a great opportunity to practice polishing some silver!
We used two types of polish.  Sensodyne toothpaste in one bowl and a baking soda and water paste in the other.
Here L is working hard scrubbing with the baking soda solution.
Rinse and dry with the tea towel.
I liked the toothpaste best and L liked the baking soda.  I think they were both equally effective.
A rare bloggy sighting of the spotted owl...I mean mommy!
Ahh polishing silver is so rewarding.  I love to see the spoons go from black and tarnished to shiny and sparkly!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

A day of learning for everyone

Well today was L's first day of Montessori pre-school.  The morning routine went along smoothly and she even helped to make her own breakfast and put he dishes in the dishwasher.  Long may it continue.  I did have to keep her moving along but we were nice and early and the whole process was positive.  Except for the last bit. 
When we did our cards the last one in the sequence was driving to school with a picture of a car.
 We went outside this morning and she said which way should I go?  Which door should I get in?  This confused me and I said where you car seat always is.  She says, "But I'm driving."  "I'm driving to school."
Somehow L had figured that the last bit was and then SHE actually drives to school!!!  I explained that she needs a license to drive and that when she gets bigger she can learn. 
Thankfully these were the only tears.  Once we got to school she was so happy and chatty and I left her with no problem.  When I picked her up she was playing in the playground.  She looked totally wiped but was having fun.  The teacher said she had a great first day and was very outgoing and chatty.  Yeah!
She was starving and after lunch I wanted her to take a nap but she went to her shelves and got out her napkin rolling activity and then proceeded to tell me how to do it.
I did eventually get her to take a nap though.  Phew!

The best thing about today for me though was not actually L's first day of school but our first parents night.  It was all about children's brain development and how to grow your child's brain and was presented by Gary Anaka a wonderfully dynamic Brian Based Learning Facilitator. 
The evening was so enlightening and my husband and I were both captivated. 
I'm so excited about what we learned that I'm going to talk about it in an upcoming post.
For now just let me say to you my bloggy friends that we're all on the right track!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Twas' the night before......

L starts Montessori pre-school tomorrow.  We've been anticipating this moment for ages.  Me for the past year!  It's such an exciting time for all of us!  My biggest curiosity will be what activities she chooses for her first day.  Oh how I wish I could be a fly on the wall.

It's felt like ages of waiting for L and I for this day to come so to help with the anticipation I created this sequencing activity for L's first morning.
While she was coloring I made up these little cards with pictures of each small event that will make up our morning routine.  I'm not sure how clear they are in the picture but we have everything from waking up to brushing teeth and putting her breakfast dishes in the dishwasher(we'll see how this one goes!)
We first talked about each pictures and then mixed them up and L put them in the order in which she will do them in the morning.  She's done this quite a few times over the last few days so hopefully it will come off smoothly tomorrow.  We'll see : )
Check out this wonderfully creative post by Cynthia over at A Montessori Musing place which sums up the excitement we feel.

Sunday, 12 September 2010


This week was yellow in our Rainbow Eating Adventure and it was the perfect color to brighten up a dreary, rainy Sunday.
L helped to husk the corn on the cob. Yum!  She also helped to crack and whisk up the eggs for our scrambled eggs.
Even my mom's friends are getting into the spirit lending us this fab yellow table cloth and napkins.
The new thing we tried was polenta.  It wasn't our favorite but at least we both tried it.  When we were grocery shopping L insisted on yellow tomatoes.
For dessert we had custard and bananas.  One of my favorites.  L took one bite and declared she doesn't like custard.  I've decided I have an odd kiddo who always chooses fruit and vegetables over anything else.  She ended up just eating a banana.  Granny was happy to eat her custard!

This trying out new things backfired on me last night when L and her daddy were eating some olives(which I can't stand).  L asked if I would like to try one and I said no thank you.  She says "well you have to at least try it"  Arg  what can I say to that when I use that on her all of the time!  So I tried to look enthusiastic as I gave it a small nibble and then tried to suppress a large gag! 
Check out what others are eating over at Sunbeams and Sanity.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Carnival of the Animals part two

We 've been working on our second Carnival of the Animals project for the past week.  What we were working on was a shadow puppet theatre and show!
I started off by finding coloring pages of the different animals and copying them into a word document where I could get all of their sizes to the same scale. I then printed them off and let L color and help to cut them out.

I pasted them onto a cardboard cereal box and cut them out again.  L then painted both sides black.  Once they were dry I taped pieces of wooden skewers to the back of some and for others taped a piece of thread to the back and tied a piece of skewer to the top for L to hold.
We took inspiration for our theatre from Childhood Magic, using a cardboard box, gluing tissue paper to it and taping a piece of white paper to the front.
L has been putting on the show for all of our neighbors and has been taking it SOOO seriously.  The best is her running commentary that goes along with each piece.
Here are a few shots of one of her shows.

This is a view from the back.  I cut a slit in the top so she could hang different puppets down to make them dance and jump.
I also cut out some tree silhouettes and some seaweed for the aquarium and taped them to the front paper.

Here are some of the other puppets.  She put the lion on our set of coasters for his rock and also used it for the cuckoo.
We had an absolute blast creating this whole production and L has preformed it for quite a few of my mom's friends getting better each time.  She now sings along with the pieces and says all of the animals sounds with the instruments.  Our friend made a video of the show and put it on a DVD which we will cherish forever.

We look forward to making up some more shows in our new little shadow theatre!
If you have any  questions about how we did any of the above just leave them in the comments section.

Tiny Talk Tuesday

L has been saying some hilarious things (at least to us!)lately and I wanted to record them before we forgot.

Having a conversation with Granny
G-where does Aunty S live?
L-in England
G-and what about Aunty K?
L-in Canada
G-Yes and what continent is that? North America
L-Good thing they don't live in Antarctica.  They'd be freezing!

L out on her bike with me walking beside her.  We stopped to chat to a couple of ladies along the way.  After a minute of questions L looks at me and says "Mommy, lets take off!"

Driving home from swimming in the car
L-Where are we going?
Daddy-We're going home.
L-I don't want to go home.
D-Would you like to live on the street?
L-Well, I might get flattened by a car!

Talking about going hiking
Me-I hope there are no bears there. (kind of serious comment actually)
L-Maybe we can all grow wings or buy some and then we can fly away like birds........or fairies.

Check out what others are saying at Not Before 7.
(I'm not sure how to get the picture to link directly by clicking on it. If anyone can help me I would really appreciate it. I'm pretty technically challenged )

Orange you glad we're not on blue week!

This Friday we had our Orange meal in our Rainbow Eating Adventure.
We started off with lentils which are called red lentils but as all can plainly see they're orange!
This led to some interesting discussion.
L peeled the sweet potatoes or yams as they're called here.
We don't have a completely orange table cloth so we used this African one my sister brought back from her travels. It was so much better because it has elephants and rhinos and other animals on it!!
We were happy to have Daddy join us for this meal, especially since he is such a huge carnivore!!
We dined on lentils, sweet potato, carrot (pita bread for dipping)and orange juice to drink.
For dessert we had mango and nectarines. Yummy! We were also going to have cantaloupe but when I cut into it unfortunately it was rotten : (

L helped to cut the nectarines which led to her first cutting incident.  It was my fault really as I gave her one of our new knives which are super sharp.  She just shaved a small piece of skin off her index finger and there was "blood" which is always exciting and called for a band aid(even more exciting).  Once the band aid was on she was as good as new.
This meal was fun but not quite as much of a success as the red one.  L loves lentils but like me she's not a fan of the sweet potato.  At least we both tried it.
We're looking forward to our yellow meal next week.

If you'd like to participate in the Rainbow Eating Adventure you can link up your posts over at Sunbeams and Sanity.
Happy Eating!

The Carnival of the Animals

We had so much fun doing activities centered around Peter and the Wolf that I decided to try out The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens with L.
It is a classical piece with fourteen short movements each musically depicting a different animal.
If you haven't heard of it before I would really recommend checking it out.  The pieces are a brilliant introduction to classical music as you can really hear the different characteristics of each animal. For example the clarinet plays the cuckoo sound of a cuckoo and the violin the "eehaah" of the donkey. The link above has a detailed description of each movement.

For L's first introduction I told her the name of the piece and that it was about different animals.  As we listened to each one we acted out the animal and talked about which instruments represented each animal. 
 L insists on wearing her feather crown every time : )

You can hear different versions of The Carnival of the Animals on Youtube.  Here is one example.
More of our awesome Carnival of the Animals adventures coming soon!!


Nature and Mother Earth are very important to us and we try to do our bit and tread softly.
Recycling is part of our daily routine.
Since we've been living in Canada L has been able to help with the daily recycling. 
When we were camping a few weeks ago when L finished her apple she asked where the compost was so she could put her core into it.

I decided it might be fun to make up an activity based on where we put certain things when we are finished with them.
I made up a container for compost, recycling and garbage and then drew some pictures of things that would go into each.
L had to decide which was the appropriate container for each item.

We then moved inside and she placed all of the items under their correct container.  This was a great talking point as she is also really interested in what things are made of at the moment.  She is constantly saying "is this made of glass? wood? metal? etc."
We also save all of our bottles and juice containers and once our box is full we take it to the bottle depot.  L helps with this and gets the money to put in her bank account to use for classes such as swimming or dance.

Rainbow Eating Adventure

We are participating in Sunbeams and Sanity's(formerly Making of a Montessori Mum) Rainbow Eating Adventure.
Basically each week you eat one meal of each color of the rainbow, take a pics and put them around your rainbow.

This week we're starting off with red. 
After coloring in her rainbow L and I thought up all different kinds of foods that are red and I wrote them down.  Then we went shopping.
I decided to make quesadilla's with a filling of dark red kidney beans, red onion and red pepper.  We used red tomato tortillas.
L made us some red strawberry smoothies with almond milk.
Here is our main course along with tomato and wild rice soup.  We set the table with a red table cloth and candles.  The only red napkins we could find were the Christmas ones!lol  We even put on red tops for the occasion.
For dessert we had watermelon which is one of our favorites.

Our first color has been a blast and both L and I got totally into it.  L ate so much of everything and kept saying thank you for making the quesadillas mommy and this is such a great meal!  Who can argue with that.
We can't wait for next week and are already planning what we are going to have.
This meal didn't challenge us too much as we already both eat all of the foods we used but in the coming weeks we're hoping to try out some new things.

If you'd like to participate in this magical rainbow eating adventure just hop on over to Sunbeams and Sanity  link your post with the rest and we'll all form a bloggy rainbow food connection! : )
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