Thursday, November 5, 2009

Halloween my favorite "Holiday"!

I'm one of those do it yourself kind of women. Halloween to me is all about getting crafty and making costumes so you can jump into a fantasy for an evening (or a week!). Time is short around here so I had to focus on A.-girl's costume of course. I made a point of asking her way ahead of time what she would like to be for Halloween. The instant answer was "A tree!" Hmmmm, a tree, how the heck am I going to do that? It was fun going shopping for the supplies. A lot of felt, some little craft apples, a few blocks of floral oasis, some silk leaves, velcro and hot glue (love velcro and hot glue, they make life simple and fast!) and I thought I had it all figured out. After staying up most of one night making the "tree top" I was so excited for A. to try it out. WHAT a DISASTER! It was so huge and wouldn't stay on her head- poor thing! In order to prepare her for having to wear a head-piece I kept saying that "it'll be just like wearing your bike helmet." Then it hit me, buy a cheap bike helmet and stick the branches in it! Oh, what a life saver! I took all of 1/2 hour to redo her tree top head-piece complete with perching bird. I'm so proud of her, she wore it for over an hour at a halloween party and for 3! hours at another halloween event. If this sounds like I'm tooting my own horn then " toot toot" because it was a geat success! People even wanted to pose for pictures with her, it as so cute and hilarious at the same time. The funniest thing was she let them!
Happy little apple cheeked apple tree!


Friday, October 30, 2009

Out of the Loop- missing my baby

Wow, I feel like a stranger on my own blog! It seems like forever since I wrote anything or visited anyone else's blogs. Even as I write this I'm feeling like a "fish out of water". I miss seeing the inspiring activities and musings and the heartfelt words of other moms, Montessori or otherwise. I have to thank Jen from Montessori Beginnings for awarding me her giveaway, lucky number 7 did it! 1000 stickers of real life animals and objects, we will definitely have hundreds of hours of fun with that once I get my new business streamlined and A. can be home with me more! Turning over A-girl's Montessori education to a professional for the most part has been bitter-sweet. I know that she is progressing in so many areas, especially socially very quickly and that makes me very happy. However it's so strange to not know what my little girl is doing every moment of the day and how she is reacting and creating. I'm like an information addict when it comes to what she is doing while at Montessori preschool. I can't wait for the Teacher/parent meeting week after next! I sit here looking at her Montessori shelf in the living room and it seems like a ghost town. I feel like I'm failing her. I always said that I'd never put my child in daycare because I didn't want anyone else raising my baby. Now it's almost like that and the only thinly veiled excuse that makes me feel any better is that she's in a good Montessori school. Well, that and when she says to me "I had fun at school today!" or "I want to stay at school!" How often do you hear that from a public school child?! I'm betting not too often.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

So busy so lots of practical life!

I started a new business! (more on that in the future once I get my website up; it's for toddlers!) so A. has had to amuse herself a little more than usual. She also gets to go to her Montessori preschool every weekday morning now that I am working ( Thank-you Canadian Government for paying for Montessori school!) I'm finding that now that I'm busy getting all of the work done in setting up my new endeavor and I'm not observing her at all times she does more activities! She has been helping me do many things around the house. I almost think she has intuited that I need the help now!? She just had to do the vacuuming on the hard floors because in her own words "because it makes it beautiful".
Then because the carpet attachment is too heavy for her to push she used her little carpet sweeper to do the carpet.
She later went upstairs and her Papa was mopping so she helped with that too. (no pic) What a sense of importance and accomplishment she had in helping her family clean the house! The next day A.-girl decided to unzip a "bean" bag pillow I have and to take a lot of the corn out of it. So of course I said "well you made the mess so you please clean it up". Her new word of choice right now is "OK!", which makes life so easy! Everything is Ok, OK affirmative and positive! Broom in hand, she swept it into a semblance of a pile and we picked it up together and put it back in the pillow. Phew!
I've of course been feeling guilty not spending as much time with A.-girl as we are used to. I'm trying to find activities that will still challenge her, make her feel a sense of accomplishment and make her and my life easier. What better ones than practical life which you can incorporate into the daily routine of what you need to do anyway. Case in point, cutting with a knife: at breakfast time instead of cutting up her cantaloupe for her, I cut it into long strips and asked her to get a fork and knife from her dish drawer. One presentation and she was happily focused creating nice little cantaloupe cubes.
I hope in a few weeks everything will get back to close to "normal" after the growing pains of starting a business subside. In the meantime we will be doing lots of practical life activities (as I write this A. is cleaning the chair I'm sitting in because "maybe it has bugs in it"!) and she will get to stay for some longer days at her preschool which are contributing to her increasing independence and social skills. I like to try to look at the positive side of things, however I miss my little girl and look forward to whipping up some great activities for her at home when my time frees up!

Monday, September 21, 2009

We love Masterminds... Beads well, that's another story

Eons ago my husband and I bought a puzzle game called "Super minds" thinking it would be good for the future. I can't even remember where it came from. I got it out the other day to see what it actually was and got very excited when I looked at it. It is for kids age 5-9 but after looking at their marketing materials in the box I realized they have a version for "3-8" year olds called Mighty mind. As they state in their description of Mighty Minds;
Starting with the simple concept of manipulating two wood half circles, the child builds a full circle. Then by following a logical numerically programmed sequence of patterns, the child learns how to manipulate 32 wood geometric shapes to build pictures of increasing complexity.
So since we had bought the advanced set, I had to glean from the ads for Mighty Mind how to set up some puzzles from beginner to advanced. All I needed was some cardstock, a pencil to trace around the tiles and some colored felt pens. The mighty mind set has little colored spaces to first put the tiles that you need to use to build a particular puzzle. You then use those tiles to build the shape of that puzzle.
Here's some of the beginner puzzles I made from the absolute easiest to a slightly harder one.
The difference between these puzzles and a normal puzzle of course is that there is no picture scene being put together with the pieces. You just use geometrical shapes, each piece one whole color, to make shapes. A.-girl isn't interested in doing puzzles very often but as soon as she saw this activity she was hooked! They even have a magnetic set for traveling. We will be getting one before the next long trip!
We also tried sorting some beads by color. Well, that went well for about 5 minutes. A.-girl was so focused and then....beads everywhere! On the second and third attempt sthe following day the beads just went straight onto the floor so this activity has been "shelved" so to speak!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Real life and practical life

Have you ever truly seen a little worm poking its head out of an apple? It is of course a common image in children's books but an elusive one in real life! A.-girl was so delighted to see this little guy peeking out of his appledom. If only it had been a caterpillar, we would have read Eric Carles "The Very Hungry Caterpillar". Maybe I should have anyway!
After 2 weeks of sitting in it's crock, our batch of spicy garlic sauerkraut was ready. MMMM! So A. and I put it into jars to keep in the fridge. She stuffed the jars using her tonging skills (not! She does not like tonging activities) and then used her little fists to pack it in. She then poured in the juice to cover the kraut and after I cleaned and dried the jar she put the lid on. We then bottled the leftover juice to drink. Spicy Acidophillous coctail!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Recongizing a Pattern Sequence

My husband was delighted to discover while reading a childrens magazine to A. that she could recognize a pattern sequence and determine what object would come next in the sequence. I was excited to make this activity to further her skills in that area!
I started out by making four sequences out of foam silhouettes, each with 5 objects in a pattern. One sequence has only 1 object but in 2 different alternating colors (c/c/c/c/_, 1 sequence has 2 different objects in alternating order (A/B/A/B/A/_, 1 sequence has 2 different objects in the order of: A/A/B/A/A/_, and the last sequence has 3 different objects in the order of: A/B/C/A/B/_. I provided only one answer for each sequence on a separate blue foam square. She then has to put the foam answer square in the spot where the blue box is located at the end of the sequence.
I first introduced the activity by laying all of the pattern sheets out at once and the answer squares in a basket on the work mat. I made it both a cognitive and language activity because it seemed to me that in order for her to understand the sequence she would need me to demonstrate by naming each object while touching it as I went along the pattern from left to right. "barn, barn, pig (pause) barn, barn____" " I wonder what comes next". I soon realized that with all of the sheets out at once it was too chaotic and she had trouble recognizing the pattern. As soon as we did only one at a time on the work mat she had no problem deducing the pattern sequence.
I can see almost endless possibilities for extensions of this activity. I plan on next adding in too many answer squares so that the probability of guessing correctly is very small. I will combine more than one object with more than one color for each object and also increase the number of objects and the length of the pattern so as to make the patterns more and more difficult. I wonder if introducing new words by making new patterns with objects that are new to A.-girl would be good, or would I be combining too many things into one activity?!
Here's A.-girl doing a classic old favorite; her nesting/stacking boxes. She probably brings these out on a regular biweekly basis. They are a regular fixture in the living/montessori room (yes the montessori area is in the living room, we live in a VERY small area!) even though they take up a lot of room as when the are stacked up they make a beautiful sculptural piece. realized after introducing the Recognizing a Pattern Sequence activity that this activity actually incorporates pattern recognition because the boxes are colored in a certain sequence which is repeated. ie: orange, red, purple, dk blue, lt. blue, green and repeat. I now wonder if she was paying attention to more than just the size of each box when fitting them together or was she also looking for the correct color in the sequence? It couldn't have hurt in preparing her for her new Recognizing a Pattern Sequence activity!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Have You Seen This Man?

"Emergency" alert: purple skinned male of unknown ancestry, standing 7cm tall with dark purple hair and blue eyes. Has a penchant for red and purple clothing and lives in bathroom walls. Last seen accompanying a little girl to a doggy park. He may frequent the produce section at grocery stores. Only certain people can see this man; usually people between the ages of 2-4 but he is thought to make himself visible to some older individuals.
If you see this man, please comment to this blog as a little girl named A.-girl claims he has befriended her and due to his strange interstellar pimp-like appearance has caused some concern. ;0)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

She made a boot!

It's "A. and Daddy day" Yay! You may remember we started having the weekly special day for them as inspired by the "Pee Pee Protest". So I'm home alone (relaxing sigh) and I just remembered that A. made a boot. Maybe it's just our household which includes extended family (A.'s Mama and Papa); and what grandparent isn't impressed with everything a grandchild does) but we were blown away by what she did. She was doing her cutting activity which involves just getting out the scissors and cutting away at the paper I have provided at that time. It usually degrades into paper tearing but oh well. She says to me "Mommy I'm going to make a boot". Well, I just thought Ok, sure that probably won't happen because you aren't even 2.5 years old yet, but of course I said " OK, I can't wait to see it!" So a few minutes later she excitedly is trying to get my attention (because I admit I find it hard sometimes to observe her doing her activities at all moments) "Mommy look at my boot, I made a boot". And here it is. I was shocked! She was so proud she went to show everyone and they were all shocked as well. It's so cute that little green boot!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Summer Holiday: glimpse #1

This is totally out of chronological vacation order but... well to be honest these are the only pics I can access at this time so you get to hear about our choke cherry picking expedition. A short drive from Grandpa J's house and we were in Choke Cherry Heaven. They were hanging from the branches like grapes! There was evidence that the bears had been dining recently so we kept an ear out in case they decided to come back for dessert. Aa.-girl picked them directly into her mouth and then experienced that mouth drying effect as only choke cherries can do and then decided she would rather put them in the bucket! It's not often you can get a kid to pick and put them in the bucket; woo hoo!
After tiring of picking, after about oh... 5 minutes! She started to explore around and found a birds nest. I swear she's a birds nest diviner/dowser! How often do you find a birds nest on the ground? Once every few years? Maybe once every year if you're lucky? Well she has found 6 this year! I'm kicking myself for not getting a photo of the nest with the beautiful little red cherries that she nestled in it.
Of course being Aayla-do she wouldn't be a happy girl if she couldn't at least help carry the bucket! Maybe I'll have to change the name of my blog to "I would like to do it- Montessori" as she no longer states her emphatic "Aayla do!"
Quite a haul, it was easy pickings!
Once we got these glistening beauties home they were gently heated until the skins split and then the juice was squeezed out and put into the fridge. What resulted was a nice thick pink jelly-like "pudding" with none of the dry mouth effect. Yummy, all natural, sugar free pink Cherry pudding makes little girls happy. (And big girls too) ;0)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bees and Butterflies need to take baths too

We've actually been back from our vacation for a week now. It's taken that long to get back into the groove of being home and doing activities. It still feels like summer vacation. Just before we left for our trip A.-girl and I decided to give the Bees and Butterflies a place to take a bath. The birds can't have all the fun! I had a couple of bucket-fulls of nice smooth river rocks that were used as table decorations at our wedding. They had been sitting around doing nothing so why not become landing pads for Bees and Butterflies to take a drink, cool down and maybe bathe? We also used a beautiful blue ceramic pot tray and a low birdbath holder ( at least that's what I think it is)
All A. had to do was put the rocks in the tray...
(We figured the family rock was one of the most important)
Then put in some water...
and leave the rock tops above the water for the little guys to land on,
and then wait... and wait... and wait...
We're still waiting. No bees or butterflies have graced our bath. Possibly we'll move it to a high bee populated area like under the Sedum plant in the front yard. A.-girl wonders if the water is too cold!?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Thanks so much!

Yay! My first honorarium so to speak! Jen from Montessori Beginnings has tagged my blog as one that she enjoys. Thanks so much Jen, you inspire me too!
Conditions of this award are: Tell your readers 10 things about you that they may or may not know, but are true. Tag ten people with the award, and be sure to let them know they have been tagged (a quick comment on their blog will do). Don’t forget to link back to the blogger who tagged you.
Let's see, 10 things about me!?
  1. The sunflowers growing outside my window brighten every morning, so I love sunflowers.
  2. We're seriously considering having another child!
  3. I have an undying passion for raw cacao.
  4. I try to learn something new from nature everyday
  5. I'm learning about wildcrafting so that my family and I can enjoy super nutrient dense food at no cost.
  6. I want to move to the middle of nowhere and live fully self-sustained and off of the grid.
  7. I eat mostly raw foods (until my husband comes home and says "Let's make popcorn"
  8. I am so thankful for the Montessori method. It's given me a way to raise my child with less confusion and self-doubt. Being able to nurture a happy, respectful, resilient and wonder-filled child in this crazy world is such a great relief and blessing.
  9. I miss my Volkswagen van! Now I am going to acquire a Delica or a Toyota Hiace, and fully enjoy the economical advantages of a diesel engine in a fully camperized 4 wheel drive vehicle that can fit many children!
  10. I think my husband is brilliant!
Now comes the really fun and actually hard for me part, tagging 10 other blogs that I really respect and enjoy. I don't find that I have enough time to frequent and find many montessori inspired blogs so I'll list 5 of the ones that I don't see listed on other blogs too often but that I love (They are mostly crafty blogs but they have wonderful ideas:
  1. filth wizardry: So many great craft and activity ideas. Her kids have a super duper time!
  2. one inch world: Crafty, creative and fun
  3. over the crescent moon: Honest, real and real fun
  4. little eyes on nature: A beautiful blog about sharing nature with children. The blog author is also the principal of two montessori pre-schools which she calls enviro-nature pre-schools. Awesome!
  5. Sadly lost blog!: Oh NO! I was so happy to link whoever visits here to this blog. It is a spectacular kids art blog but I have lost the link and name. ;0( I must find it again and if I do I will definitely mention it then). It's too good to not spread the word!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pickle Pinching, yes you read that right!

I was digging through "the drawer". You know, the one that is so full of junk that you can barely open it. So when you finally do open it you have to make sure nothing is sticking up in the wrong manner before you close it which would forever prevent you from opening it again?! Well, I came across our Pickle Pincher. That is the name it is marketed under! It is of course, for getting pickles out of jars and it works really well but we don't eat enough pickles for it to have a coveted place in the utensil drawer. I thought I'd try it out as a motor skill transferring activity. You have to press the red button plunger on the end of the pincher which causes 3 little metal prongs to protrude outwards. You then have to line up the prongs around the object and depress the plunger to grasp the object. I wasn't too sure if it would be too challenging but she did it without too much difficulty.
She preferred to place the object from the first basket onto the table with her fingers and than to "pinch" it with the pickle pincher to transfer it.
Aa. was into it for the first go around but it has sat on the shelf since. I have realized that I'm failing in the area of re-demonstrating activities.
I'm thinking of making a chart of all of the activities we have on the shelves and then marking when they are used so I can keep track of what is being accomplished (or not) and what I need to do to facilitate or extend the activity. Does anyone have a chart like this? If so I'd be interested to know how you set it up . If you don't have a chart how do you keep track of what's being used, learned, mastered etc.? Please share!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Love is Everywhere...

On our vacation Aa.-girl and I were as I see it, blessed by the universe with gifts of symbols of love wherever we went. The first one was courtesy of a log in our campsite. I saw it and thought "wow, that's pretty cool" Love Log is what we dubbed it.
Then we came across this rock on the path of our long day hike. Coincidence? I for one don't believe in coincidence. Being 2 years old and pure of heart Aa. of course just took it all in stride. Of course all is love Mommy!
The third made itself known in the grass outside a little community artisans store. My non-coincidence belief was strengthened.
This next one was dug up by Aa.-girl in a public sandbox outside the artisans store. Some people might think that this is getting a little weird by now. I however was delighted and awe-inspired.
This last one was found at Grandma and Grandpa T's house when we arrived back from our camping trip. What better way to end a camping trip than to be reminded that Love is Everywhere by the love nut!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Crafty Camping Day 2

Camping day 2 involved a challenging hike to the top of Yeoward Mountain in Beautiful British Columbia, one craft activity when we limped back into camp and then going to bed at the same time as Aa.-girl. Worn out indeed!
We were up at 6am to try to beat the heat on our long hike. This was a change from the last 2 weeks as Aa. has been sleeping in to ~8am (so wonderful after the 5:30-6am awakenings before that) (I can't complain too much though because Aa.-girls Mama lives upstairs and more often than not she'll just go straight up and wake up Mama for breakfast) Love Mama! So either Aa. is in Vacation Mode or she's having a growth spurt.
We started the hike at 8am and promptly became separated from the group due to some mis-communication. So with 30 lbs of hiking pack and 2 year old on my back I was plodding as fast as I could to try to catch up with most of the people I figured were ahead of us. Some backtracking and attempt to use tracking skills from watching "Mantracker" on the National Geographic channel occurred. It was quite frustrating and a little unnerving not knowing which paths to follow. Some ground would not give up it's secrets as to wether any hiking boots had tread upon it. I became reserved to just hike alone with Aa.-girl and find our own way to the top. (There was some two finger loud whistling and some yelling at the top of lungs but to no avail) At last we came around a corner and there was Grandma and some of her women friends taking a break! Yay, yay yay!! We had gone the correct way! We then had a well deserved break and Aa. hiked for about 20 minutes on her own two legs which was a welcome rest for me. I felt as light as a feather after lugging her around up the mountain for an hour at top speed.
A couple of hours later found us in an alpine meadow teeming with beautiful flowers. So wonderful! The picture doesn't really do it justice.
Epic Sky
After a well earned lunch atop some lichen covered rocks, we made our way ever upwards, Aa. hiking on her own again. She became inspired to frolic in the flowers.
A little further up and we came to a patch of snow! Aa. was so excited and didn't want to leave the snow to finish the hike. We inticed her by suggesting that there may be more snow patches up higher on the mountain... and there was! At the very top was another patch which was special because it was watermellon snow. This is snow that has a pink tinge from an algae that grows on it in alpine regions and smells like fresh watermellon. I'd always wanted to see it and there it was. It smelled wonderful and made me wish for some watermellon to eat. When we pointed out to Aa. that the snow was pink and smelled like watermellon she exclaimed her patented "YEEEAAAAHHH!!!"
The view from a few hundred meters from the top.
We marked our accomplishment with an inukshuk.
We made! 3.5 hours and 2130Meters up! Now we have to go back down! I'm quite proud to say I carried 30lbs of kid all the way up the mountain. Many people asked if I wanted help but I was headstrong and determined to do it. (Boy did I pay for it later... and the next day and the next day and....)
Gorgeous Alpine flowers
The most precious thing about having Aa-girl with me on the hike was that; unlike me who has my eye on the goal ahead, she never forgets to stop and smell the flowers...
Once I limped back to the campsite (literally) we decided to do an easy and fun craft again from the book "Camp Out" while dinner was being prepared. It is called "Fern Smash T-Shirt". One plain shirt, a piece of cardboard the width and length of the body of the shirt to slip inside of it, a few choice leaves, a piece of paper and a blunt rock for smashing and you're ready to go.
You just slip the cardboard in the shirt to prevent the back of the shirt from being printed, lay some fresh leaves in a nice arrangement on the front of the shirt, lay a piece or paper over the leaves and start smashing the leaves with the rock while making sure to smash each part of the leaves while keeping them from moving around.
We were surprised at how well it turned out. I neglected to suggest to Aa.-girl that she wear her art smock while doing our camping art activities and she got paints from the leaf printing onto the shirt. It turned out to not be very water soluble paint so now she has a fern smash t-shirt with some leaf print paint dabs. It will be a fun reminder of a wonderful camping trip!