Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Salt dough handprints

We finally got around to making salt dough hand prints.  I have to say this was much easier than baking!  I quickly mixed up the dough using 1 cup flour, 1 cup salt and about 1/2 cup water and then let the littles play with it.  Baby J seems to love salt and kept trying to eat the dough.  Sweetpea had more sense and after one taste she concentrated on other things.
 Having the baking treasure basket on the shelves has really made a difference since the last time we baked.  Sweetpea can now use the rolling pin properly after repeated experimentation on the carpet!
 "Oh look there's our hand prints cooking!"
The final product.  Super cute!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Beach Sensory Bottles

The weather has been gorgeous lately so we've been taking advantage and heading down to the beach in the mornings.  Baby J has his nap while Sweetpea has her snack and then we play on the beach for a bit.  Luckily Sweetpea doesn't put things in her mouth any more so it's a really fun experience.
I brought down our sensory bottles to fill up with beachy things. 
Here Sweetpea is putting small stones into the bottle.  She loved to put several in and then pour them back out again.
 Once Baby J woke up he joined in on the fun.  This is the first time that he has sat on the sand and played.  He loves to put things in his mouth so I had to really keep an eye on him but he so enjoyed the sensory experience of playing with the sand, shells and pebbles.
I love this picture they look like two little mushrooms!
 Here are the bottles we made up.  Sand, shells and driftwood.
Once we got home I made up a treasure basket with the bottles, two large shells and a cool piece of drift wood.  It's wonderful to have a piece of the beach to explore even when we aren't at the beach.  The best part is when we are done with them we can just return them to the beach!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Baking with Babies

Okay I guess at 14 months Sweetpea is technically a toddler but Baby J did help out with this and it just sounds so much cuter!
On Friday we made gingerbread cookies.  While Baby J was napping in the morning Sweetpea and I made the dough.  Once again I brought the highchair up to the counter.  I sooo wish I had that Learning Tower.  Anyhow we made it work.  She helped me to pour the dry ingredients into the bowl and stir them up.  Quite a bit ended up on the floor and some on her face which made for some really cute photos.
Next we moved on to the wet ingredients.  I measured everything out on the counter and then moved the bowl to her table to let her stir and put things in.  She was super good at the stirring! 

After it was all mixed together Sweetpea got to explore the new texture and of course sample it!!
 Wiping up her table.  Sweetpea is not a huge fan of using her cloth to wipe up after meals, however she seemed to really enjoy using the sponge here.
 We put the dough in the freezer, waited for Baby J to wake up and had lunch.
After lunch it was time to make the cookies.  I had them sit at their table and gave them each a bit of dough.  I just have one little rolling pin so I took turns showing them how to roll.  The pic looks good here but neither of them totally grasped the concept and kept wanting to hold onto the middle bit.
 I helped Sweetpea to push the cookie cutter into the dough and she pulled it out.

 The pictures make it look all calm and like they are proper little bakers but the whole thing lasted less than five minutes and it was of course mostly for exploring.  I let them explore with the dough and utensils while demonstrating how to use them until they both ended up just eating it.  That's when I knew to call it a day.  I put the finished products into the oven and Sweetpea brought a batch of her first cookies home to Mommy and Daddy. 
Over the weekend I made up a treasure basket of all of the things we used in the baking process.  On Monday when Sweetpea discovered the basket she kept coming into the kitchen and showing me each of the items with great delight!  It was like she was trying to say to me "Hey I know what this is for!!"
I just want to put a disclaimer here to say that of course although this was tons of fun it was also super messy and took lots of patience on my part.  I really prepared myself ahead of time to focus on the process and not the product.  Sweetpea is also a very calm, appeasing little girl and does not throw things or mess about with them which makes doing things like this much easier.  I'm sure it with be a whole different experience with Baby J!!
I have linked this post to Montessori Monday over at Living Montessori Now.  Press the link to check out other Montessori activites.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Sweetpea 14 months (Practical Life)

Sweetpea will be fifteen months in a few days so I thought I'd do an update on what she's been doing at 14 months.  In the last couple of weeks she's taken a huge leap in comprehension and although she is not saying a lot she is certainly understanding a great deal.
As far as works on the shelves Sweetpea is in what I call the "cross contamination stage".  Meaning she has absolutely no interest in doing the work however she loves to take pieces from the works and walk around with them then drop them when she finds something else that looks more interesting.  We are ending up with things scattered all across the house.  We have been working on doing a general tidy up before meals which is working well.  She will generally help to put things back into baskets and we are working on her remembering which baskets contain which items.  For example if she finds an animal in the kitchen she will need to make the connection that it has to go back to the animal basket by the pottys.
So not being interested in the shelf work we are focusing on practical life work at the moment.  Sweetpea LOVES food so it is only natural that most of our work is centred around food.
I have put out a basket on the shelf which contains her place mat and bib.  Just before a meal or snack I will let her know it is time to eat and ask her to get her place mat please.  It only took one demonstration for her to catch on and now she will bring them both over for every meal.  She was also most times dropping the basket on the floor when she got out her place mat.  I let it go the first few times as I wanted her to focus on just getting what she needed and putting it on the table.  Once she had mastered that I asked her if she could put her basket on the shelf.  Of course she didn't know what I meant so I went over and slowly replaced it on the shelf.  The next meal when getting her things she dropped the basket and low and behold she replaced it herself without me saying a word! She now will put the basket back every time.
She has mastered these skills now so I will be adding another step very soon.  I am also planning on  making bibs the children can put on and off themselves..
A super fun activity that Sweetpea cottoned on to super quick is peeling her own banana for snack.  I saw this idea on How We Montessori .  The banana is cut into pieces and I have cut down the length of the peel.  Sweetpea just rolls the banana out and puts the peel into the bowl provided.  How cool is that??

Sweetpea has also been helping with food preparation in the kitchen.  At the moment it is easiest for me if I put her in the highchair but I would love if my husband could make a Learning Tower for the children.
Here she is helping to wash the green beans.  The object is to wash the beans in the water and then put them in the bowl, however washing is just way to much fun and the clean beans were washed several times.

Washing the kale for the soup.  I love how she gets to experience the different textures.  She wasn't a huge fan of the kale and kept tyring to deposit it off the side of the highchair.

I also introduced her to scrubbing a potato with a little scrub brush but it wasn't a hit so we will try again another time with a carrot maybe.
Since Sweetpea has pretty much mastered eating her own food with a spoon, eating finger food from a side plate and returning it when using the spoon and drinking from a glass the next step is using a fork.  She practises at snack time.  Most times she will try and stab the food and I will help her to apply the pressure needed to get the food onto the fork however in this pic she successfully had a go at it on her own.
Usually Sweetpea and I are able to work in the kitchen in the morning while Baby J is napping and we are both enjoying doing practical life activities together!

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