Monday, 22 July 2013


Learning about volcanoes is always super fun!  We read several books from the library as well as watching eruptions on Youtube.  We talked about how volcanoes are formed and what causes them to erupt.  It was also important to discuss how they affect people and how we are safe and are not anywhere close to any active volcanoes.
Then came the fun bit.  L had already done the baking soda and vinegar science experiment at school so she was familiar with the reaction.  She hadn't done it in a model volcano before though!
We found instructions on how to make this model volcano at Storm the Castle
First you take a normal cardboard box and cut it down so the sides are just high enough to contain the eruption.  We left a high volcano sized bit at the back to paint the sky onto.
We used the leftover bits of cardboard and some scrunched up plastic bags to make the skeleton of the volcano.
I almost forgot the most clever bit.  Cut a hole in the bottom of the box the size of the bottle you are going to use.  This way you can fill the bottle up first and place the volcano on to of it.  Cover it in a plastic bag and place it in the skeleton for the next bit.
 Next we used paper mache (just flour and water) to glue strips of newspaper on and form our volcano.  L hates getting her hands gooey so I ended up putting most of the pieces on.  We used a hairdryer to speed up the drying process but still left it for a day.
 After painting it with acrylic paint we were ready to go.
 This was a big event so L invited some friends over to watch.   She mixed baking soda, dish soap and red food coloring in the bottle and placed the volcano over it.  Then she poured the vinegar in.

Soooooo exciting!!!  The first few times we did this our bottle was not high enough and the foam just went inside the volcano.  It took several tries to get it just right and we used up all of the vinegar and baking soda!
After all of the excitement had died down I gave L this sheet to label all of the parts of the volcano and color.  At the moment it is proudly displayed on her bulletin board.  Once she is ready she will paste it into her science journal.
We are going to Kelowna British Columbia in a few weeks for a short trip and there is an extinct volcano there called Mount Boucherie that we are going to visit. 
So what becomes of all of this lava??  Next up rocks......

Friday, 19 July 2013

Volcanoes and the layers of the earth

One of the first things on L's summer to do list was volcanoes.  I figured before we dove in and made a cool volcano erupt we needed to go a little deeper and learn about the layers of the earth.
First we watched a Youtube video of a song about the layers of the earth which L found quite catchy and easy to pick up.  We also looked at several diagrams in books and on the Internet.
Once she understood the different layers we made our own model out of modelling clay.
L started by rolling a small red ball of clay to represent the inner core.  She then proceeded to roll out a different color for each layer and cover the  ball with them with a little help from me.  It's important not to squish them too much and takes a little finesse.  We tried to make each layer approximately the width it should be in proportion to the other layers but we only had so much clay.
 The final layers were the water and then the continents.
 Once she had held the world in her hands we took a sharp knife and sliced it in half. 

 She was tickled pink that she had a made a real model of all of the layers of the earth and showed it to everyone she saw.
I found it a very effective way of demonstrating how the layers work.
She then wrote up what she'd done in her science journal.
A few day later we just happened on a documentary I think it was on the National Geographic channel all about going down through the different layers of the earth.  It was fascinating and perfect timing. 
Now on to volcanoes.....

Thursday, 18 July 2013

L Update

Poor L has been totally neglected on this blog since Little J came along.  I felt it was high time for an update!  Now that she is home for the summer we are making up for lost time and doing tons of activities together.
I really miss her while she is at school and am so thankful for the summers.
L has finished her primary Montessori programme and in September is going to be starting the Montessori elementary programme.  This took some serious soul searching for my husband and I as the school is a 45 minute drive away as well as a continued expense.  In the end we had no choice she is a Montessori child through and through.  She has such a joy and thirst for learning and knowledge that we want to encourage and foster.  The Montessori elementary programme is the obvious choice and we are so lucky that there is a programme available for her to attend.
I can really see an obvious transition from the 3-6 plane of development to the 6-9.  L is becoming so much more aware of her environment and the world in general.  She is full of questions such as " How did the first person get here?"  Yup she is so ready for elementary.
I am constantly amazed at what she has learned at school.  She knows all of her triangles and angles and is always pointing them out in every day life.  The other day she was naming the types of triangles and their angles of the pieces of cantaloupe she was eating for dessert.
Another thing she has accomplished that has blown my mind has been learning every single country on the map!!!  That's right.  At her school they learn the continents and countries by using puzzle maps.  Once they can identify all of the countries of a continent they get to paint it and then label them.  She managed to complete all of them.  I have taken pictures of all of the maps and am going to make a photo book atlas for her as a keepsake.

Her school has a set of bells which she has worked with since day one.  She has progressed passed matching and grading them onto to composition and her ear is amazing.  She can pick out songs on different instruments and play them by ear.

L has always loved words and began speaking and reading at an early age.  She is now confidently reading chapter books on her own.

Something that always seems to take me aback for some reason is her total support and genuine joy of her classmates accomplishments.  She is not competitive and all of the children in her school are so supportive of each other.  The teachers have really done a wonderful job of creating a peaceful, loving and genuine environment.

In many ways L is a pretty average 5 year old who is excitable, full of energy, challenging, sometimes whiny and can be supremely messy and unorganised.  However it is unmistakable when you meet her that she has a spark and something special about her.  Part of this spark has been fostered by Montessori and I can't say enough about how much of an amazing influence the Montessori method has had on L and on our family.

A couple examples of things that make her stand out as a Montessori child are:

When her Granny came back from Hawaii and gave her a bag of shells with a shell book the first thing she did was take them all out and classify them.

She loves to demonstrate works to her brother, rolls out a mat for him and when he tries to reach for them she says "hands in your lap"
Here she has turned Little J's dressing activity into a folding work.

While making cupcakes for Little J's birthday she says hey this one looks like Djibouti! Of course I said Ja what?  Her response: You know mommy the country in Africa. 

She seems so much older than she really is and sometimes I realise because of this we expect a lot of her.  I am constantly reminded when I see other non Montessori children just how much we expect of her and how much she does around the house and for herself.

At the beginning of the summer we made a list of things we would both like to do together.  We have already accomplished many of them which I am excited to share.

Of course this description is just the tip of the iceberg of our special girl.  As I look back on those first posts I realise how far she has come.  It has taken a bit for me to get over the fact that she is changing from a little girl into a big girl and I am excited to see what her next phase of development holds!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Yummy Kale Chips-a family affair

We have an over abundance of kale in our garden so we decided to make some yummy kale chips.
L and Granny picked the kale and L washed and tore it into bite size pieces. 
Baby J helped to wash.
Spinning the kale together.
Adding the dressing.  This was L's least favourite bit.
I put them in the dehydrator for several hours and the result was lovely zingy kale chips.
There are tons of different recipes around the Internet.  We used this one from Soma Studio.  They ended up being really tangy.  

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

On the shelves 12 and 16 months

Whew!  This post has been a long time coming.  It's seems that May and June have just been crazy busy and only now do I seem to have some time to catch my breath.  L is done school so Sweetpea is also on her summer holidays with her mother.
I finally managed to take pics of most of the activities that have been on the shelves over the last couple of months.  Of course these have not all been out at the same time but have been at one point over the last three months.
Open and shut.
This is super popular with both Sweetpea and Little J.  I put little finger puppets that I have from Ikea inside some of the containers for them to find.
Tennis ball cannon using a Pringles container.
This was more of a testing the waters activity to see if Sweetpea was ready to sort colors.  Both littles enjoyed manipulating the beads and container however I will bring it out again in another few months to see how the color sorting goes.
This animal basket used to be by the pottys.  One morning I started putting the animals along the edge.  The littles caught on so I turned it into an activity and put it on the shelf.  Little J enjoys doing this activity as well as making some of the animal noises.
Hat basket.  We play with this basket together or as pictured here the littles will also try the hats on when it suits their fancy.
Little J is obsessed with trying to put shoes on.  He will spend up to 20 minutes doing this.  Once he gets it on he will take it off and start again.  Watching him so reminds me that at this age it is all about the process and not the product! 
 He is also obsessed with trying to put his pyjamas, pants, shorts and diaper on.  While sitting on his potty he will spend ages in deep concentration attempting to get his legs into one of these things.  The other night he managed to get both legs into his sleepers! I was astounded however once again as soon as he got them both in he took them off and started again.
In a few months I will bring out this out again as a matching activity.

Little J got this cute ice cream set from Sweetpea for his birthday. 

They both enjoy putting the pieces on and off but are not ready for sorting by color or shape yet.
I love this cute little activity.  It's actually two activities in one.  The first is pulling the finger puppets out of the snack cup and the second is to put them in the muffin tray.  Little J enjoys pulling them out and putting them back in and will also put a couple in the tray.

Okay I think I'm all up to date now.  As I said before these activities have been rotated throughout the last three months and have not been presented all at the same time.
 They all focus on fine motor skills however the littles also have ample opportunity to work on their gross motor skills which I hope to document in a future post.
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