Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tot School: 17.5 Months

Tot School: 16.5 months

~17.5 Months~

As the Stink Bug is nearing 18 months old, I am beginning to transition some of our work into more "typical" Montessori style activities. Not that 18 months is a magical age or anything, it just seems to be that she is ready to be challenged in a different way, and it is a good "goal age" for my head to wrap around. I had set in my sights to begin to focus our time a little more specifically at 18 months (as long as she enjoys it) and want to continue with that in mind.

Some Montessori things that we will begin to work on include; more activities done on a mat, more pouring and transferring, and some more practical life activities. We will also begin some more traditional "direct" teaching activities. These will be more along the lines of color, alphabet, and object lessons. Sounds like a lot huh!? We will see how she likes it! All I can do is try, and if it doesn't work, adjust what we are working on!

This week we began using a mat (although I rolled it for her and showed her where to put it away) and we started our first transferring type activity.

In this activity, the Stink Bug was given two bowls. One bowl about half filled with dried split peas, and the second empty. I gave her a small scoop on the tray, and showed her how to scoop up the peas, and transfer them into the second bowl. She work on this until she was no longer interested (usually leaving some of the peas behind) but, that was ok with me.

I also modeled her the "control of error" by spilling a few peas on the tray myself, picking them up, and putting them back into the bowl. The Stink Bug did spill some peas and picked them up but, was not so diligent about getting them all picked up just yet. If you would like to learn a little bit more about control of error you can check out some good information here. I was very impressed with her interest in the activity and it was just difficult enough without overwhelming her! Yay for peas!

We gave salt dough another try this week. The last few times that I have made it for the Stink Bug to explore she wanted NOTHING to do with it. This week, she really opened up to the idea. So much so that she was willing to stamp things into it, and tear pieces off.

Gotta love learning while still in your pajamas!

She only tried to put it in her mouth once, and quickly realized just how gross and salty it was. Needless to say, she didn't try to eat it again!

The Stink Bug had a lot of fun pushing her finger into some little circles that I made for her with the bottom of a toy.

The Stink Bug also worked on her scooping skills in our rainbow rice table.

Of course, some times it's just more fun to do everything upside down!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years

I just finished reading the book,"Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years," by Elizabeth Hainstock, that I was given for Christmas. It has lots of good insight and ideas for a mom new to the ideas of Montessori. A rather short book at 115 pages but, it had some nice quotes to roll around in your brain. Here is one of my favorites!

"Too often the precious formative years from birth to six of age are wasted by parents and teachers who feel that the child is too young to learn. In many cases it is actually they who are too lazy to teach. Observe the mountains of information that your three-year-old absorbs from watching television. Can you then truly tell yourself that a child of this age is not ready for learning experiences? " pg 11 "Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years," by Elizabeth Hainstock.

Now to find something a bit more detailed to read! Any suggestions?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tot Art

Around the age of 18 months, tots scribbling may go from very random, linear looking, to having a more controlled look. You might start to notice that their scribbling changes from lines, into more circular patterns with lines interspersed as they gain more fine motor control. As this stage in development, tots will scribble simply for the kinesthetic enjoyment, not at an attempt to portray the visual world.

Here is a little piece of the Stink Bugs art!

Find out more about scribbling, and its importance here!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tot School: 17.5 Months

Tot School: 16.5 months

~17.5 Months~

I don't know if I have told you this or not but, my little Stink Bug has an ongoing love affair with craft pom-poms. She will ask to play with them DAILY. Although, if you didn't know her well you would think that she was asking for, "mom-mom" all of the time! This week, I decided to have her work on a few activities with them (instead of just dumping them all over the room -and in every toy- for me to find later).

She was "presenting" the "mom-moms" like they were a treasure to be had!

We worked on putting a pom pom in each space of our ice cube tray.

This week was the first time that she really got the idea down pat. She only made an error here and there, sticking two in one space, but quickly corrected herself.

My wonderful mother (or the Stink Bugs grandma, whichever way you look at it), was so sweet and made up a little activity for the Stink Bug this week. It could not have been more prefect. She was absolutely enthralled with it.

All my mother did was take an egg carton, cut a hole in the bottom of each egg space, and then stick a wooden clothes pin in each hole! This was great for fine motor skills, and one to one correspondence, as well as counting!

The Stink Bug even worked a little bit with squeezing the clothes pins open. This was a great way for her to explore then for the first time, without being pressured with how to "use" them. I especially love the fact that we are reusing and old egg carton that would have been thrown away! Thanks again mom!

"Bub, bub!" "Bub, bub!" is a new phrase around here. The Stink Bug really took a liking to washing her hands, and making bubbles this week. She repeatedly went to the bathroom sink and demanded more, "Bub, bub!" So, I let her. Many, many times.

Finally, I got smart, and scooped a whole bunch of bubbles into a plastic container (without any water) and let her explore them! She really had a blast and even enjoyed eating the bubbles....yuck.

I guess it is my own fault for giving her a spoon though...

...and a cup.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

It's Giveaway time!

I promised you all that I would make giveaways a regular part of things around here and that is NO LIE! So, it is giveaway time once again! This time I want to know which print you would like me to give away!

Head over to my Etsy shop Ash Tree Meadow Online, and have a look around. Then come back here and comment on this post about which print (and why) you would like me to give away! I will read all of the comments and post a giveaway for the one that gets the most love!

I will make another post with the giveaway details once you all have "voted" for which one you'd like me to give away!

Now head over to the shop!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tot School: 17 Months

Tot School: 16.5 months

~17 Months~

This week we started a little something new with our tot school routine. We began a color basket. Simply, a basket filled with different types of objects that are the same color for the Stink Bug to explore. This week we started with yellow, for no other reason than the Stink Bug has shown an interest in things yellow lately. Sometimes I think it is just easier to follow your child's lead than to try to force something just because you think that your ways is the "right way" or a book tells you to!

Here are some of the objects that the Stink Bug explored!

Right away she started playing with the pegs and peg board. I had not brought them out in a few weeks for her to play with so, it was fun to see her "discover" them all over again!

This week we had our first snow fall of the year. Not very much fell but, it was the first time for the Stink Bug to really experience the snow. Last year she was just to little to really get in on the fun! (Keep posted, I am going to do an outdoor, gross motor, post sometime soon. I just want to get a few more good pictures to add to it!)

We also tried something a little bit crazy for her age this week. I pulled out some spaghetti noodles and some straight "elbow" type of macaroni noodles. If you haven't guessed already, we attempted to try some lacing with them.

The Stink Bug did much better than I expected her to. She was able to lace the noodles about 10% of the time. When I held one of her hands steady (which really defeats the purpose) she was able to lace with much more success. I think, if I had done this activity with pipe cleaners that she would have had an easier time. I think that I will try this one again next week with the pipe cleaners.

We played in the rice table every day this week. The Stink Bug has really improved her understanding of the rule "keep the rice, in the table." I can pretty much let her play with it any time, without a mess now. She has also learned that if she spills it on the floor, she has to help pick it up and the table is off limits for the day. No fun.

I just couldn't resist sharing this one again....

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Nursery/Todder Room Tour

Here is a little tour of how the Stink Bug's room is set up and organized! I hope you enjoy it! If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Opps! I left out that we have a video camera monitor mounted above the window near her crib. That allows us to see what she is up to, and we are able to check it from our phones too. It is a wonderful blessing late at night when I want to tip toe into her room to check on her and risk waking her up. Of course, her daddy likes to check on her napping while he is a work! ;-)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Play is the Work of Childhood

I saw a wonderful quote by Fred Rogers recently that I think those of us homeschooling young ones can relate to, and need to take to heart some days!

play is the work of childhood

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”

-Fred Rogers

Miss watching Mr. Rogers? You can check out 26 free full episodes online here on PBS's website!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Just For Fun!

The Stink Bug has finally mastered the fork and I just couldn't resist sharing!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Teaching Montessori in the Home

Lately, I have really felt a drive to work in more Montessori style activities into our Tot School routine. I feel like I have been really lacking in this department.

I was lucky that for Christmas, I was given the book, "Teaching Montessori in the Home" by Elizabeth Hainstock. Have any of you read this? Any opinions on it? I would love to hear what you think! I can't wait to put it to good use!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Upcycled Entertainment Center Turned Play Kitchen

When the Stink Bug was first born, I looked into the cost of an all wooden, Waldorf style, play kitchen and was SHOCKED at the prices that I found. I looked into plastic play kitchens, and was more than a little turned off by the cost, and more importantly the look. So, in the end, I turned to DIY tutorials. I had seen quite a few cute, upcycled, play kitchen blog posts floating around and figured that I could do it myself with a little bit of elbow grease and some creativity.

The first step was finding an entertainment center for cheap (or free). I decided that I would be ok spending a little bit so, I check out Craig's List and was happy to find this little number for $35. Here is the model that I found. There wasn't a scratch on it! That didn't last long....

I took off all of the hardware and the doors to make my job a bit easier. Then, I set out to do some sanding -every nook and cranny that was going to be painted! This is super duper important to make sure that all of your paint adheres well and looks great!

Then, I primed all of the areas that I wanted to paint. If you want to leave any areas white (like the inside) I suggest painting two coats so that it looks nice and even.

This is a good time to cut any extra pieces of wood that you might need and prime them as well. I wanted to have refrigerator doors, as well as an oven door so, I found some scraps, and went to town priming. Then, while your doors and hardware are off, go head and paint everything that needs to be painted with its finial color. It is much easier to do while everything is dissembled.

You may also find that you need some extra hardware for your new doors, look to see what you can find around your house or check out what you can find on clearance at your local hardware store!

My favorite part of the whole project was getting to be creative with the decorations and fixtures. I collected knobs, shelves, hooks, and other great odds and ends that really made the kitchen fun. There were a few projects (like drapes) that I didn't get accomplished because I ran out of time (this was a Christmas gift for the Stink Bug). I may go back and add those at a later time.

I also filled her kitchen with some recycled items from our own kitchen. Here are a few spice containers filled with colored paper.

A little "mommy made" touch, which should look more like a window when I get the drapes made!

Some burners, painted on, and then I stuck a piece of clear vinyl over them to make them look like a glass top range. This picture doesn't look so great but, it added a nice look.

I kept the side of the kitchen unpainted so that I can use it for storage of some of the Stink Bugs toys. At some point I am sure these little baskets will be filled with play food and "pantry" items. I also kept the top and other side unpainted because I like that it still looks a bit like a piece of furniture in my living room. I imagine that I could put a little drape or tension rod across the front of it when company comes over if I really wanted to "hide" it.

Here is the finished kitchen on Christmas morning! We put her gifts around the kitchen, instead of our tree! Many of her presents were things to go with the kitchen. An apron, pots, and play food to name a few!

A nice height for the Stink Bug, even as young as she is.

Don't forget to wash the lettuce!

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