Monday, June 29, 2009

3-C's: Cleaning, Cutting and Concrete

It was a 3 C day. Aa. started out very intent on cleaning. She has access at all times to a drawer of facecloths and a drawer of cleaning rags. The inspiration hit her and Aa-girl started by wiping down her rocking horse. She then moved on to her push cart (great for learning to walk by the way!) and it went on from there. As you can see her purple ball even received a good buffing.
At breakfast time Aa. prepared her own fruit. I have been meaning to purchase her a special "knife" which has a handle on the top and a wavy blade on the bottom. If anyone has read the book "Montessori From The Start" by Paula Plk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen then you may have seen the photos of the most adorable little 18mo. old guy cutting apples with something similar. Turned out that Aa.-girl's Mama (my mother-in-law) had this handy device. Very similar except that the handle is at the back. It worked so well that I now need to see if I can borrow it for a very long time!
Well, it was the last day of school yesterday so we wanted to make Aa.'s wonderful Montessori "Teachers" ( I put teachers in question marks because as those well educated about Montessori philosophy know, the adults that guide children in a Montessori fashion do not actually teach, the child teaches himself!) All the previous day I was trying to figure out what we could make that would be both meaningful, useful and decorative. Late in the afternoon an image of a stepping stone popped into my head. We quickly headed out to the dollar store so that Aa. could pick out some decorations for it and to the hardware store to lug a 50lb bag of quick dry cement home and set to work.
Here's a pic of the main items we used: a plastic pot tray as a mold, the screen from a dollar store splatter screen, quick dry cement, old measuring cups (one for water, one for cement), wooden spoon, ice cream pail to mix cement and water in, water source.
Fearing the caustic nature of cement, I did the measuring and pouring of cement and water, Aa. did a small amount of mixing.
I spooned half of the mix into the mold, placed the splatter screen on top and then Aa. spooned the rest of the cement on top to fill the mold. The splatter screen acts to reinforce the stone.
Now for the really fun stuff: Decorating!
The only problem we had was that I had purchased quick dry cement and while we were decorating it became increasingly hard to push the decorative items into the top of the stepping stone because it was hardening so fast! I'm wondering if some of the gems and stones will stay put for very long?! Aa. had so much fun and the look on her face when she gave her gift to Miss Kathy and Mr. Aaron was a heart melter.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Pee Pee Protest?

It's 11:00 pm and I'm exhausted! It's a weekend and when Aa.'s daddy is home on weekends the familiar schedule with it's comforting and orderly activities gets tossed out the window. I'm beginning to see how this change within the week affects Aa. more now that she's increasingly exerting her 2 year old will.
A. has been out of diapers in her waking hours and consistently using the potty or toilet for the last 8 months. She attends a montessori preschool for 3 hours 2 mornings a week. At school she goes to the bathroom by herself which includes pulling down her pants and underwear, using the potty, wiping, pulling her clothes back on, turning on the taps, washing her hands with soap, rinsing her hands, turning off the taps, and drying her hands. At home I was still under the impression that she needed help with a few of these steps due to Aa.'s frustration level when attempting or not attempting them. Once I found out about her independence at school I decided to take a little harder line on giving her independence in the bathroom so I've been encouraging her to do it all by herself for the last week. All was going quite well until this weekend; 10 pairs of wet underwear and pants today alone, countless screams of "NO" and tantrums relating to mommy not being right beside her in the bathroom. I guess at school she wants to be like everyone else and at home to be our loved little baby girl. Or, does it have something to do with daddy? She rarely sees him during the week so maybe it's a protest when he's around. Time will tell and we'll get through this hurdle.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Walking on Water and Mentioning the Unmentionables!

Today we started out by extending A.'s scissor cutting activity(Motor activity,S ensory). I added thicker pieces of paper, thin plastic squares, stiff ribbon, raffia and some yarn. When I was putting it all together I tested out all of the materials by attempting to cut them with her scissors myself. I tried to emulate what I thought her skill and technique would be like and found all of the objects to be cut quite easily. A. had a different experience however! She was getting very frustrated and started to tilt her scissors to the side and rip everything apart. The stiff ribbon , thick paper and raffia seemed to have just the right balance of being challenging but not to the point of frustration. Yarn and plastic were verging on tantrum level frustration so those will be saved for future use! Lesson learned: start off easier than you think they may be ready for because you can always increase the challenge. Now I may have alienated her from cutting with her scissors for a while because I made it too challenging. ;0(
I remembered that A. had lids with built in stamps from a paint set that had long ago been used up and discarded. (Sensory, Motor) We pulled them out and she created for a while. I watered down some paint and poured it into a sponge set on a plate. She learned to gently press the stamp onto the sponge to pick up a bit of paint and then leave her mark. Not bad for a first try. Next session I think I'll make two different colored sponge pads for a more dramatic effect!
Inspired by Jen at Montessori Beginnings, I made up A. a fishing hole. (Motor) So Cute! It consists of:
A plastic tablecloth cut out in a pond shape, sea creature finger puppets with paperclips slipped onto them, A dollar store fishing rod with a magnet "hook", Basket for the creatures, Tray
She caught them all in no time, probably helped immensely that she can walk on water!
I attempted to extend A.'s Sorting By Category activity (Cognitive) by adding another category. She now has pompoms, balls and clothespins. Well that was done in about 15 seconds so I think I'll either have to add about 3 more categories for a total of 6 or start doing a category matching activity such as match the baby animal to the mommy animal. It was interesting to see A.'s developing Order of Mind. She chose to pick out one category and put it in a bowl and then move on to the next category and the next after that. I wonder if this means she will start to finish one type of food on her plate and then eat the next one in succession. I myself like to sample a bit her and a bit there!
A couple of months ago I introduced lacing beads to A. (Motor)She seemed interested but grew frustrated easily. I think part of the problem is that I neglected to reintroduce it enough times. So I've backtracked to using a chopstick instead of the lace as suggested by my inspirational friend Jen. It was a great hit. Soon We'll get back to the laces and if I do it right I'll be hearing "A. did it!" instead of "It's too hard, it's too hard!!!" accompanied by wildly flapping arms.
This is not a practical life activity as endorsed my Maria Montessori! When I state that I'm going to go get dressed A. likes to race ahead and pull out my "unmentionables" and give them to me to put on. Today I neglected to tell her I was going to get dressed and she came in while I was half done. Not seeing how she could help, she proceeded to put on most of my underwear. She managed to get one on correctly and the rest ended up on her hips.
To understand the amount of underwear she managed to get on (18 to be exact) check out the wad on her backside in the mirror! My underwear never looked so cute. I also just noticed that it looks like her feet are disappearing into the carpet! wooooaaaahhhh.....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cutting it up with the Juice Queen

The day before yesterday was a beautiful day. Now don't get me wrong. Everyday is a beautiful day, however yesterday had that flow that happens when your child/children are happy, easygoing and self-motivated. Happy Happy day! We woke up and right away A. pulled her paper cutting activity (motor skills) down and set to work. I didn't have the heart or inclination to stop her so that she could get dressed and eat breakfast. If she wants to work on something and we don't have any pressing plans then she can go to it. (please pardon the low photo quality. Camera was out of batteries and this is what you get when you try to use your cheap webcam for photos!)
Little tummy soon realized it was hungry so still not dressed she had her fruit. I then asked her if she would like to glue the resulting small pieces of paper from cutting that we had been collecting in a container every time she did the paper cutting activity (motor skills, creativity). By this time it was overflowing. That sounded like a good idea to her so with gluestick in hand (we tried the squeeze bottle but it was almost too difficult for me to get the glue to come out) furious pasting ensued. And I'm not exagerating, it was a furious pace with quick gluestick strokes and paper slapping down onto the artwork. I guess creative inspiration took over for the methodical, thoughtfull approach.
yeah, batteries! Camera in fair working order. Here's the resulting masterpiece. It of course had to be put up on the fridge asap! ( In this collage I see a man rowing a boat, a chicken, and an old lady holding a machine gun. What does that say about me I wonder?) What do you see?
Later in the day, did I say it was a beautiful day? Sunny on the inside and sunny on the outside, we went out to do some gardening. After watering which A. is gloriously happy to do (haven't met a 2 year old who isn't) we decided to harvest some herbs.(motor skills, sensory, practical life) This required giving the oregano plant a good haircut and smelling it's scent for future identification. Aayla ran into the house and came back with her paper cutting scissors so this was all her idea. Way to go mom, why didn't you think of that?! This is actually a picture of her trimming the oregano plant the next day after the newly exposed underleaves had scorched in the sun. She wanted to clear the plant of it's damaged leaves so one by one with meticulous care this time she did just that.
Today, alas, it's a rainy day. Even so I keep hearing "Playground"?, "Go to the playground"? Wet playground equipment may need to be experienced to be a deterrent. However maybe she'll like it and then I'll be in trouble! As on most mornings A. makes her own "juice"(practical life, motor skills). It's a great activity which she is very exuberant about. She has her cup, a packet of powdered fizzy vitamin drink which I open for her, a shot glass with a liquid mineral supplement (raspberry flavor being the favorite), a shot glass with her liquid chlorophyl supplement and a shot glass with her liquid kinder vitamins, a small jug with water and a spoon. She pours everything into the cup and mixes it with the spoon to see the fizz. Drinking it may take place immediately or drag on throughout the day but most days I'm happy to say she gets her needed nutrients!!
Here's A. doing her Sorting By Category activity(cognitive skills). You initially choose 2 different categories such as "animals" or "office supplies" for example. The objects in a category are identical but vary by color so that the child won't try to sort by color. Each object is sorted according to category into 2 bowls. I've only given her 2 categories, each with 5 identical objects. I'm way behind on adding another 1 maybe even 2 categories to make it more challenging for her. As it stands she has 5 pencil erasers and 5 pompoms. Tonight I'll add another category and reintroduce it to her tomorrow. Until then... Happy Montessori mommying!

Friday, June 19, 2009

I'm Jumping In!

Well, I've done it! I'm a blogger now. My now 2 year old daughter Aayla (pronounced Eye-luh) is well into the "Aayla do!" stage, wanting to do everything for herself. Well, I say "go for it Aayla!" I see my purpose as her mom is to create the environment and help her to cultivate the confidence to be as self-sufficient as she can which will help her to feel that she is a valued member of our family and the human family as a whole. Her and I have been incorporating the Montessori method from the moment she was born but I now find myself slacking off in my Montessorial duties. I haven't given her a new formal activity in about a month! I want her to develop to her highest potential so I feel very guilty. I've been inspired by my dear friend Jen from to start a blog of my own. I am determined to use this blog as a kick in the pants so to speak; a motivational and inspirational journey documented so I can look back and reflect in order to increase my effectiveness as a Montessori mom. I hope "Aayla do!" Montessori blog can motivate and inspire others as well. Here we go!!!!
Some memories from the past
This is the first formal activity I introduced to Aayla at 4 months old. It was the first introduction of the work mat and basket as well as piqueing interest. What is that red thing?
Here's Aayla at 7 months old, half in and half out of of her floor bed. It took her a long time to try it (she has slept in her floor bed since 8 weeks old) but eventually she would venture out of the bed in the middle of the night and then be too tired to make it all the way back. We'd come into her room in the morning to find her in this position quite often!
Again at 7 months trying out her own dining table and chair for one of the first few times. She enjoyed it immensely and still does.
Fast forward 3 months and she's now drinking out of a little shot glass and attempting to pour water into it from her jug as well.
10 months: so many things can be green!
The Montessori method has been invaluable for my daughter, giving me a framework to follow so that I can be fairly confident that I'm not holding her back from developing her innate talents. This has given me great piece of mind and her the chance to blossom!