Thursday, 26 September 2013

Montessori Shelves and Using a Work Mat

Little J is sixteen months now.  L is back at school and we have managed to get back into some kind of routine.
Now that LJ and I have time in the morning to ourselves I have set up specific shelves for his "Montessori" works.  There is really not much difference between these activities and the ones in his cubicle shelves, however what is totally different is the process in which he does them.
I wanted to introduce a separate area so LJ could understand that anything taken from these shelves needs to be done in a certain way.
As you can see on the right of the first picture he now has a basket with work mats in it.  When first introducing a new work on these shelves I introduced the use of a work mat.  LJ gets the work mat and I help him roll it out.  He then goes to the shelves and selects a work.  It is important that he takes the whole basket or work and brings it over to the mat.  He then must take the work out of the basket to do it.  After he is finished he must put the work back into the basket and return it to the shelf before selecting another work. 
At this point I am not so interested in the actual works he is doing as the whole process.  What is important is that LJ knows he needs to use a work mat to do one of the works on his Montessori shelves.  It is also important to take the whole work over to the mat and of course to return it to the shelf.  I was quite surprised how quickly LJ took to the whole process.  Of course I am there to give him a gentle reminder to bring the whole basket or to help him remember to put the whole work away before getting another but in general he does really well.  I am also there to supervise if things start to go a bit "crazy"  I just sit back quietly and observe and only step in if I must say if he starts walking away from the mat with part of the work.

I generally keep four different works on the "Montessori shelves" and rotate one out every couple of days.  I've also found that once his Montessori work time is over (which is decided by himself) I remove the baskets from the shelves.  I've found that this helps in not having him continually go back to them and take pieces out later in the day.  If he would like to do more work and we both have some free time then he will get his work mat out and point to where I keep the baskets.
 The "Mystery" Bag.  Later on this is used to stimulate the stereognostic sense by having the child locate a known item in the bag without looking.  At the moment LJ is just using it as a bag of discovery although I think he will be soon ready to try the "mystery" aspect.
 Color matching.  I got these little wooden cups and bulbs from the craft store and painted them as shown.  The object is to match the colored bulb with the pot.  I decided to just paint the inside of the pots with the color to make it more of a challenge.  LJ mostly loves to manipulate these and sometimes matches the colors depending on what type of mood he is in!
We are blessed with living very close to a wonderful market that has goats on the roof, fresh fruits and veggies, yummy ice creams and best of all tons of super cool wooden toys.  I have to restrain myself every  time I go there to not buy up the store!
This adorable little fishing game came from the market.  LJ loves it and so does L.  This is quite a process to set up as he has to remove the "water" then add the fish before he can go fishing.  Once he has caught a fish he must put it in the red bucket.  LJ does this work several times throughout the morning.

 Lacing beads.  I wasn't sure if he was ready for this but low and behold he is!  It took him a little while to work out after several demonstrations but he is now able to make necklaces.  I taped a piece of straw onto the end of the shoelace with yellow tape to help LJ push it through the bead and also for him to easily locate the correct end.
I introduced a basket of wooden African animals along with smaller plastic animals for matching.  LJ knows the names of all of them so I figured matching wouldn't be much of a problem.  I made the mistake of saying can you find the mommy zebra.  Well that started off a frenzy of mommy and baby kissing as well as LJ kissing all of the mommy animals.  Seriously too cute!

 LJ loves to roll up his mat and put it away.  We sing a little roll, roll, roll song as he does it.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Autumn Changes

Midway through August I realised that I needed to make some changes before September came along.  Although we had a wonderful summer and the weather was amazing it was also exhausting for me.
Ever since having LJ my health has just not been as good as it was before.  I had to make the excruciatingly hard decision to not take Sweetpea back this autumn.  I realised that it was just too exhausting for me and I really need to take time to work on trying to get my health back as much as I can.

So it's just going to be LJ and I again now that L is back in school.  It was very sad to say goodbye to little Sweetpea and I'm also sad about not being able to do all of the Montessori activities I had planned over the summer, however I know in the long run that I made the best decision for me and my family.

L has started Montessori elementary and so far she loves it!  I get these convoluted stories about what happens at school and it's impossible to decipher fact from fiction these days.  The other day when I picked her up she said to me " Mommy I am respectful of my clothes".    Haha not something you are going to hear from a regular grade one child I'm sure.  Now if only she'd respect them enough to not leave them all over her bedroom floor!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Little J 15 months activities

Phew finally midway through September and I am just now able to catch my breath!  Where did the end of the summer go?  It seems like August just started and the next thing you know L is in school and the leaves are changing!
Here is a catch up post on what Little J was up to in August at 15 months.
Scrubbing apples.  We have a wonderful apple tree in our yard.  Both L and Little J enjoyed eating the apples from the ground as well as helping to make blackberry and apple sauce.  This picture looks so civilised but it quickly turned into chaos as Little J decided it would be way more fun to tip out all of the water and roll the apples off the side of the deck!
 Painting al fresco.
On the shelves.  We didn't really have any strict "works" over the summer.  I found it way too hard with L around as she always wants to interfere with what ever Little J is doing. 
From the top left we have:
The shoe basket.  LJ is still obsessed with shoes and dressing himself.  We also have worked on sorting the shoes into pairs.
Stacking boxes, shape sorter and then the ever popular open and shut basket.  I keep rotating different containers in this basket.
Bottom left is a emergency vehicle puzzle with little knobs to develop the pincer grip.  An etch-a sketch type drawing board which we had when L was little.  It is great fun to draw and then push the lever across to erase all of your work! 
Melissa and Doug tool box.  Hammering is the number one favourite at the moment.  Little tow truck with wooden sorting shapes.  The tow truck has a magnet on it to attach the shapes to.  This is from Ikea.

These are just a few of the things that Little J got up to this summer.  What is not shown is LJ's love of climbing.  He will climb anything and everything.  The number of times I've been out of the room for two seconds and when I come back he is actually on the kitchen table searching for scraps!!  He certainly keeps me on my toes!
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