Tuesday, 29 October 2013

LJ's Montessori Toddler Room

We've been doing some re-arranging around here.  Both L and LJ have moved on to another stage of development and we needed to make some changes in their rooms to keep up with their needs. 
The first thing we did was to move the Ikea bunk bed frame that L was using into LJ's room.  A little modification and it makes the perfect toddler bed(and climbing frame)!  LJ is still able to enter and exit easily either by the little door or by just climbing over the edge but it is so perfect because it contains him while he is sleeping.  LJ watched the whole move and was absolutely beside himself when he realised that this was now going to be his bed!!
I love that he is now old enough to have blankets, stuffies and pillows.  It makes his sleeping space so much cosier. 
Beside his bed is a basket of books.

LJ's shelf area hasn't changed all that much.  I keep a few activities for him which he does when he wakes up or when he's not quite ready to sleep and sometimes he just spends time in his room on his own.  I've also moved the ball tracker into his room. 
 Although the ideal thing is to hang artwork etc. at your child's level I have tried time and again only to have it torn down and either ruined or risking an injury.  So in the end I settled on hanging this beautiful wool village scene I got from Ecuador just a little above his reach.  It is so colourful and vibrant and LJ can see it perfectly from his bed.
The other big change in LJ's room is the dressing area.  We have gotten rid of the change table and replaced it with this little shelf.  On the top we are trying out a little care of self area.  LJ can brush his hair and there is a little bowl that I put a tiny bit of water in for LJ to use for his washcloth.  I am trying out the mirror as well to see if he will leave it be or have it off the wall all of the time!
On the bottom shelves I put out his outfit for the day.  I will leave giving him a choice of two outfits for a couple more months or I know he will just try to put everything on!
Once again there is a tiny stool to sit on while getting dressed but at the moment he just uses it to jump into his bed!
He also has his laundry basket where he puts all of his dirty clothes.

So there it is.  Still very simple and uncluttered.  It is also still my favourite room in our house, so calm and peaceful.  Now if only I can get L's room to have the same feel.....

Friday, 25 October 2013

The Montessori Payoff

I wanted to write a post to record a special moment that happened in our house the other night. 
L has been helping in the kitchen since she was a toddler and has been a Montessori child almost from the start.  Sometimes it has been supremely challenging and exhausting allowing and including her in everyday events such as cooking dinner.  Granted she does not always help. Sometimes she just plain doesn't want to and sometimes I'm just way too tired and don't have the patience but for the most part she does something.
Over the past year I have tried to give her more and more responsibility when making meals.  The other night all of the hard work and perserverence came together.
One of L's favourite dishes to eat and help make is soft tacos.  In the past she has grated the cheese and carrots, chopped spinach and put the tortillas on the plate.  Recently I have taught her how to use the can opener and cook the refried beans on the stove.
This specific night I was super tired and just couldn't get my but off the couch to start dinner.  I asked L to get the beans and can opener out. She yelled at me from the kitchen that she's done it and I still didn't feel like getting up.  I asked her to get the carrots and cheese out of the fridge.  All I could hear was angry protests from the kitchen.  I relaxed for a few more minutes.
When I finally got my but off the couch and dragged it into the kitchen I was blown away.  L had opend the can and had the beans cooking on the stove.  She'd gotten out the grater and had grated all of the toppings and put them on a plate and had gotten the tortiallas ready.  In a nutshell she had made dinner for herself and her brother ALL BY HERSELF without being asked.  She took the initiative and just did it.
Ahhhh I was soooo proud and so was she!

Practical Life - 17 months

I'd forgotten just how wonderful this age is.  LJ wants to do everything for himself and I am trying to give him as many opportunities as I can.  I can remember L at this age being the same.  It must be so wonderful to have every experience be so new and novel and so exciting to realise you can now do so many new things by yourself!
Helping to prepare carrots from the garden.  LJ is scrubbing and taking his job very seriously and L is topping and tailing.  I find LJ is always much more focused when he is working with his big sis.
This used to be L's cupboard but she's now tall enough to reach everything if she uses her stool so it's been passed over to LJ.  I have set it up so he can set his own table.  On the top shelf are all of the items he needs for his table setting and the bottom shelf holds all of the aprons.  I have to admit that just like the Montessori shelves I only allow access to this cupboard at meal times and keep it closed with an elastic the rest of the time or he'd be in there constantly.
LJ loves to be one of the family and put his dirty dishes in the dish washer then push the drawer in and close the door.
 Now that Sweetpea is not with us LJ eats all of his meals at the big table with me or the family.  He is still able to set his table.  He brings over the items and at the moment I arrange them for him but soon I will introduce a place mat that he can put his setting on.
I got this super cute little laundry basket for LJ's room.  He can carry it himself when it is empty and he's been putting his dirty clothes in there for a while now.  So many times when I come in to his room after his nap he is in there trying to put on all of the clothes in the basket and has probably been awake for ages!
The going out area.  I set up this special area especially for LJ in our laundry room.  He can reach the hooks to get his jacket and is able to put on and take off his own boots.  I help him with his jacket and start the zipper for him and he is able to finish pulling the zipper up or down.  Every little bit he can do himself makes him feel so proud and confident. 
I just bought the super cute stool for him to sit on but he's still not quite big enough so at the moment he is more comfortable sitting on the floor.
Allowing LJ the opportunity to do so many things for himself really makes him feel like a part of the family and a capable human being.  I find that the only limitations he has are from me.  These pictures represent the "ideal" or the good days.   It does take a lot of work to keep the home environment "prepared" all of the time and sometimes it just doesn't happen.   I don't always have the cupboard neatly stocked ready to go and a lot of the time Daddy will get LJ ready for bed and all of the dirty clothes will be left in a pile on the bathroom floor(and cloth diaper for that matter!). 
 I think the important thing is to be aware of  our little persons needs and capabilities and try our best to let them experience that feeling of being able to "do it themselves" even if it isn't all of the time.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Toddler Art

It was high time to change the art in LJ's bedroom.  I was excited to try something with both L and LJ this time.
I first found a silhouette of a frog and seahorse on Google images and printed them out.  I cut them out and traced them onto black contact paper.  Once I stuck them on the canvass I let the kids have atter.
As I was browsing the Internet I saw a brilliant idea for toddlers and painting.  Instead of having them dip the brush into the paint pot and make a huge mess the idea is to just dab drops of paint all over the canvass for them to paint.

It worked a treat and LJ really enjoyed painting the canvass with very little mess and stress for mom.

L of course chose her own colors and animal for the canvass.

After the paint had dried we peeled off the contact paper and were left with beautiful artwork!

LJ loves the new art hanging on his wall and is constantly pointing to his painting and telling me it's a frog!.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Montessori Shelves-Table Work

LJ is in a good routine with his Montessori shelf works.  I first introduced only works done on a floor mat to him and he has been really good at getting out the mat and unrolling it (with some help) and also putting it back at the end of his work cycle.
I thought it was time to add in some table works to the mix.  I added a small place mat to his mat box.  I like the idea of using a work mat for all of his Montessori works so he can differentiate between those and other toys he has.
I placed this spooning work on a small tray.  It consists of a wooden bowl, plastic container with lid and a large measuring spoon.  I used Heritage O's for the spooning because he still loves to put everything in his mouth and I thought it would be safer than beans.  I also couldn't bear to think of the clean up if we used rice!
When he was first introduced to the work he went to eat one and I quickly said "Let me show you" and demonstrated how to spoon.  He was delighted and from then on was only interested in spooning and not eating.  He did this work the first time for about 20 minutes.
 After several days of spooning I introduced pouring.  He gets the idea but is not overly interested and does it a couple of times and then messes about with the Heritage O's. 
The ever favourite pom poms in ice cube tray.  LJ loves this one.  I only put one table work out a day and always put it on the same tray so LJ knows which is a table work and which is a floor work.  There still is some confusion though sometimes as LJ wants to do all of the works at the table.  It is a work in progress.
I was surprised at how well he can manipulate the tray.  He hasn't had one spill.  I think it is because of the high edges.

Linked up to Living Montessori Now's Montessori Monday.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Toddler Practical Life-Pita Pizzas!

Tonight LJ and L made their own pita pizzas for dinner.   It reminded me of when L used to make her own pita pizza. Seems like ages ago. This was the first time LJ has done this and I was amazed at how well he caught on and the lack of mess.
 I had L set up a little table in the middle of the kitchen.  It is the perfect height for LJ to stand and L to sit at.  I prepared all of the toppings ahead of time and put them in little bowls. 
Cleaning up after.  My little guy loves wiping so much that he kept on going wiping down his chair the oven and the cabinets.
LJ's first pita pizza.  A little Master Chef in the making I think!

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