Sunday, 23 January 2011

Fairies in the Woods

A while back I posted about the beautiful woods we have across the road from our house.  L and her Granny take the dog around the trails a few times a week and always check to see if everything is where it should be.  The other day we were cleaning out the crawl space and I found a bunch of fairies I made out of Fimo years ago. Unfortunately they were covered in mold so I thought the woods would be the best place for them.

We really enjoyed finding new homes for them.

I realised after that I didn't really get any pictures of their wings which they do have, all except the wizard that is.
Fingers crossed that they enjoy their new home and that the people who are lucky enough to spot them just enjoy them and leave them be!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Continent Boxes-Swap and Upcoming Giveaway

When I was first learning about Montessori I thought one of the coolest things was the Continent Boxes.  I still do! Of course I figured that L would be doing them at her school but when I asked her teacher about it she didn't know what I was talking about.  They only have Continent Folders left over from another teacher from a different school.
I was pretty happy actually because after seeing so many fantastic ideas in the blogworld I secretly wanted to make my own.  So now I plan to make them first for L and when she has covered them I will donate them to her school.

This is where you come in.  I'm almost finished Australia(thanks to some great Aussie friends) and once I completely finish the printables I will be putting all of them up for a giveaway.
Also I'm looking for people who would like to do a Continent Swap.  I've seen some very successful ones done in the last little while.
I am looking for people who would like to swap things from South America, Africa, Asia and Antarctica for things from North America(mainly Canada) plus any of my printables I have made from all of the Continents.

If you are interested please leave me a comment with your email address or just email me at

Stay tuned for the upcoming Australia printout giveaway.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Streams and Vines board game

L loves to play games or do activities after dinner and before bed.  I've been wanting to do a variation on Snakes and Ladders for ages and after seeing one in the store for $19.00!! I was spurred on to finally create it.
Our version is called Streams and Vines( including one waterfall).  The little girls(cut out from a cute Christmas card)have to make their way home, sometimes getting a shortcut by climbing the vines and other times getting a setback by flowing down the stream or if they're really unlucky falling down the waterfall!
 I wanted to make up a game for L to practice her counting but also added the element of some cards for her to practice her reading as well.  The cards say things like "Get on a frog and hop back three spots" , " Get a ride on the bird to the nest" or "Move up 4 spots".
This game was so simple to make and the best part was it was totally free!!  I just painted a piece of cardboard, cut some paper up for the cards, used a frog, needle felted bird and die we already had and recycled the little girls from an old Christmas card.  L loves it and after the first couple of games has got the hang of it.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Bath Flutes

One of the best gifts L got for Christmas this year are these water flutes.  She uses them in the bathtub and we both love them.  As well as having fun playing there are so many learning opportunities.
You tune the flutes by adding water up to the line of whichever note you would like.  L is able to see how making the tube smaller by adding water makes a higher sound and filling with less water makes a lower sound.

They also come with music sheets which have color coded notes.  You tune the flutes and then L just follows along with the colors.  L can play Mary Had A Little Lamb and Old MacDonald.  She can also make up her own songs.
This is not a review post.  I just thought I'd share how much we both love this Christmas gift!!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Die Moldau

Being a musician myself one of my hopes is that I can instill the same love of music in my daughter.  My approach to introducing L to music is not to have her know all of the composers, when they were born and what they look like.  To me at three years old those things are irrelevant and not necessary.  I would much rather have L really listen to and appreciate music.  Have her be able to really feel something when she hears a piece and be able to listen well enough to hear different changes in melody, instrumentation, tempo and dynamics. 

To start L's introduction to Classical music I have used program music.  This type of music is composed to tell a story.  I think this is the easiest way for L to hear how composers manipulate music and instruments to represent different things or ideas.
This week our piece was Die Moldau, a gorgeous symphonic poem by Bedrich Smetana which describes the sights and sounds along the banks of the Moldau or Vltava river that flows through Prague.
L and I listened to the music a few times and talked about the different "themes" such as a Peasant wedding,  the great castle and even water nymphs.  We then looked at some pictures from the Internet.

Once we had an idea in our heads we set to work painting our scenes.
Here is our voyage along the Moldau river.
(I've included the timings in for each scene from this Youtube recording)

The piece begins with two flutes each playing fast moving notes to represent two little streams or tributaries that flow into the Moldau.
You can see our pillow boats on the side waiting until we get to the bigger river.
The stream pattern is then passed on to the lower strings to represent the streams joining(00:53) and flowing into the main river.  This is where we get in and listen to the main river theme played by the violins (00:59).
Okay we're on our way.  First off we pass by a grand forest and we can hear the the French horns and trumpets introducing the "Hunting in the Forest theme"(1:54)
We then float along the banks and can hear the music from a Peasant Wedding(2:48).  We moor our pillow boats and get off to dance with the guests.
We dance until late into the night and the moon comes out.  We climb back onto our boats just in time to float past some water nymphs frolicking in the moonlight which is played by the two flutes again(4:27).
We continue along and hear the river theme again(6:38).  The river gets choppier and choppier as the music gets more agitated(7:17).  Finally with great excitement we go down "The Rapids of St. John" and the huge waterfall(8:18).  Phew we held on tight and didn't fall out of our boats!
Around the bend and the "Ancient Castle Vysehrad" (8:31)comes into view introduced by a regal theme played by the brass.  We wave to the people in the castle and stare in awe at it's grandeur.
Then it's time to move along the river as the music becomes calm again(10:00) and we've finished our journey.
L was so excited to take Granny on the Moldau she woke us all up at 6:30 with the pillow boats ready!

Here are some other posts on the music and compositions we've explored so far:

I've linked this post up to The Adventures of Bear's Artists and Art series.  To see more in the series go to the button on the right side bar.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Recycling Christmas Cards

We have been using our Christmas cards to make thank you cards.  We did this last year and I cut out bits from the old cards for L to make collages.  This year she did all of the cutting, pasting and designing herself.

We've also been making little boxes out of them.  For any of you who don't know how to do this I made a little photo tutorial.
 First cut your card in half.  Then draw an X on both the inside bits.
 Fold up each end almost to the center of the X.
 Then do the same for the sides.  Not quite as close to the center this time.
 Cut along the lines created by the folds just until they intersect.
 Fold the two side pieces in and then fold the end over top of those pieces.  Do this on both sides.  You may need a bit of tape or glue to secure them if your ends aren't very long.
 Do the same for the other part of the card and you have a cute little box with a lid to store precious Christmas ornaments or treasures in!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Benjamin Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra

I have been teaching a music appreciation and understanding class at L's Montessori school.  The children are between the ages of 3and 5.  It has been great fun and we have spent the last few weeks learning about why music is written, how it makes you feel, rhythm, dynamics, and the orchestral instruments.

Each week we talked about a different family of instruments using three part cards(Woodwind, Brass, Strings, and Percussion) had some demonstrations and got to try some of the instruments out. 
Once the children were familiar with all of the instruments we listened to The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra by Benjamin Britten.  This piece was originally written for an educational documentary film on the instruments of the orchestra.  It begins with a simple theme played by the whole orchestra and then by each family of instruments.  Britten highlights each instrument individually in a series of variations.

I presented this piece by laying all of the instrument cards out on a mat in their family groups.  As the piece began I pointed out which group was playing.  Once the individual instruments were introduced we all "air" played them along with the music.  This was super fun as we started with a tiny piccolo and ended standing up playing the timpani. 
It's a fairly long piece and I wasn't sure if it would hold the children's attention but amazingly we "air" played every instrument in the orchestra!  It was great fun and a good way to familiarise the children with the instruments without actually having them all in the room.

Here is a link to a description of the piece and the order of the instruments and here is a link to the piece on Youtube.
You can also print out these Instrument Nomenclature cards from Counting Coconuts that Mari-Ann so generously shared. 
Happy Music Making!

I've linked this post to the Artists and Art series at The Adventures of Bear.  Clink on the link in the right sidebar to see more.
Related Posts with Thumbnails