Forcing the Bloom

Happy, Healthy Mommy Blog


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Using Puzzles for Scissor, Sorting and Tracing Activities

Maybe you don’t need to consign those old puzzles just yet…

This Melissa & Doug puzzle is not a challenge for my toddler anymore.  It’s perfect for my 8 month old.  I found a way, however, to expand its use and let my toddler get more out of it.  Here are some ideas for this puzzle…

Cutting 

1.) We drew shapes on construction paper so that the shapes and colors matched the spots on the puzzle.  First we practiced cutting the shapes to match the puzzle pieces.

Sorting 

2.) Then we matched the cut out shapes with the puzzle holes.  (You can also count them as you go.)

Tracing 

 

3.) Last we used the big puzzle pieces to practice tracing shapes with crayons.  The big knobs were very helpful!

I wonder what else we can come up with for our other puzzles!

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Montessori Trays: Why they work

What’s up with the trays?  The first thing you will probably notice about a Montessori-inspired home or Montessori classroom is the TRAYS.  In our home, I use whatever is available – wooden trays, wooden bowls, woven baskets, plastics serving dishes, etc – usually picked up at a consignment shop like Goodwill.

I didn’t really understand the purpose of the trays until my three-year old had friends over who pulled everything off our shelves and threw things on the floor.  We actually didn’t mind but Boaz busily put everything back into their correct places.  Order and placement is ingrained into his habits and nature.

His learning experience begins when he enters the room.  How are things organized?  How are they grouped together?  The next challenge – can he pick up the tray with the activity and carry to his table or the floor to play?  This requires balance, coordination, and focus.  When he’s done, can he put it back without dropping it before getting a new activity?  Again – focus, attention, patience.

Don’t give up before they start!  At first, they may throw things on the floor.  After awhile they understand the process.  And this process – organizing toys and activities on shelves with trays or other containers – makes clean up quicker!  It also promotes continual learning development from the minute they enter the room.  That’s why we love Montessori trays!

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God’s curriculum is Nature

Do you ever need a theme other than nature?

We have been enjoying our playtime in nature during the recent warm, spring weather.  It’s difficult to tell who enjoys it more, me, Noah (5 mon), or Boaz (3 yrs).  I can’t say enough good things about my toddler’s reactions to nature.  I enjoy incorporating nature (sand, ocean animals, more animals) into our shelf work (Montessori-inspired).  Sometimes my toddler needs a little encouragement as we drive by the playground and head to the beach, woods, or water areas.  The playground equipment calls to him.  We go there too, after we play in nature.  Since I talk it up so much, I thought I’d show some pictures to prove we really do it!  You’ll see some pictures of a scenic park off of a lake where you can walk along the water, through the woods, and down to a beach.  We discovered a pair of ducks and built (rather destroyed) sand castles.  At home, I made activities with sand and toy animals – matching games, words games, and sensorial activities – to bring nature into the house and continue the theme.

I think that God’s curriculum is Nature.

 

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Toddler Letter Activities

I am always working on letters with my toddler (almost 3 years old).  The general learning pattern so far has been 1.) identify letters and the phonetic sounds 2.) learn beginning sounds of words 3.) learn to sound out words and 4.) learn ending sounds of words.  Sounding out the ends of words is still very challenging.  Even though he is learning to sound out words, we still go back and focus on specific letters to encourage mastery.  It is very motivating for him to work on things that stretch his learning as well as things that he has mastered.  And of course, the number one learning activity for letters is READING out loud together!  We read everyday and visit the library every week.  Here are some shelf work ideas involving LETTERS.

How are you teaching letters and early reading to your little ones?

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Snack-time Montessori Style

Snack-time is the perfect opportunity for toddler independence.  You can set up a snack area for your kids at home where they can pick out and dish up their own snacks, just like shown in the pictures and video of my toddler’s Montessori school.  This gives your child an opportunity to practice self-control and responsibility.  If they spill or make a mess, cheerfully let them know they can clean it up on their own or with your help.  They need to know it’s okay to make mistakes and exercise their “ME DO IT MYSELF” attitude.  Learning to carry food and dishes is an excellent motor skills activity.  Make sure to have cleaning supplies appropriate for your child available at all times.  We have a cleaning basket in the kitchen with a small broom, dust pan, cloths, and an apron.  They will love learning to do it themselves!

 

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Ideas for Pre-k Homeschool Room

Here is a peek at our little pre-K, Montessori-inspired toddler room with new shelf-work ideas.  Below is link to a YouTube video showing you a view of the room.  B (31 months) was most interested in the sensorial tray that included small sea creatures and rocks laid out on blue felt (an ocean theme).  If possible, he’s become MORE interested in sensorial activities recently.

B will start back at his Montessori school on Monday and attend two days a week.  I’m interested to see how he transitions back into the classroom after being away for several months, especially considering his recent developments.  Within the last three months he has become more talkative, social and he’s now potty trained.  I hope that our “Montessori in the home” approach has the effect of supporting a smooth, productive transition and that the classroom will encourage further growth.  I always have mixed feelings about sending him off to school but I’m looking forward to a little “me” time.  I just never like being apart from him, if you know what I mean!  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Frying Pan Artwork

B (now about 2 1/2 years old) likes to paint THINGS.  He’s not so much into just painting on a piece of paper, although he will.  He is VERY motivated to paint something, such as a wooden airplane or a pumpkin.  In this project we painted wooden balls (it’s what we had available).  Knowing that the balls would roll away, I put them in an old, lightweight frying pan.  B had fun using his paintbrush and turning the pan to get paint all over the wooden balls.  Then I added some cut out paper shapes on the bottom of the pan.  SIMPLE, EASY, FUN!

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