Forcing the Bloom

Happy, Healthy Mommy Blog

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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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Easy Q-Tip Cleaning and Math Activity for Toddlers

My rule for kid activities is always: quick and easy!


How many things can you do with q-tips?  It’s amazing.  My toddler enjoyed cleaning his toy cars with soapy water and q-tips.  These are very special cars to him and he meticulously cleaned and dried them.  For older children, you can let them polish silver pieces or shine shoes.  I remember I loved to shine my Dad’s shoes, even though I wasn’t very good at it.  He had NO idea that is a favorite Montessori activity.  For even littler children (under 2), you can give them clothes or sponges to practice cleaning.  We have also used toothbrushes in the past.

You can check out a video of this activity at my YouTube Channel, entitled Car Cleaning Activity.

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Here is an EASY MATH activity for children, toddlers and pre-k.  I picked up this neat ice-cube tray and noticed B was fascinated by it.  He discovered how to make ice (nice mini science lesson) and then we used it for a math activity.  B is putting one rabbit cracker into each cube.  He counts and adds the crackers, practicing one-to-one correspondence.  One in his mouth and one in the tray!  Do we ever have a “normal” snack?  No way!

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Favorite Toddler Activity – Cleaning!

My toddler’s favorite activity by far is cleaning!  In Montessori terms this is called Practical Life Skills.  Toddlers want independence and they want to help.  They like to mimic you and they want to do what you are doing.  As it turns out, they have a natural desire for order.  Cleaning activities are perfect.  They can participate in household activities that are meaningful.  Here are some of B’s favorite cleaning activities (always supervised): spray bottle of water and cloth for wiping, using toothbrush to clean big shell, dishes, change the garbage, and water plants.  B also likes to vacuum, change the laundry, empty the dishwasher, and help cook meals.  Lots of messes but it’s total worth it!
















Roll it, Pat it and Put it in the Oven!

My little guy (20 months) enjoyed helping me make homemade whole wheat bread today.  The last few weeks I’ve been learning to make bread.  It’s very satisfying to knead and pound dough.  I put my toddler next to me on a stool or in his high chair and let him maneuver the flour.  He likes to trace his finger through it and sprinkle it on our dogs.  Then I let him mix the flour and water and feel the sticky, pasty dough.  Ounce it gets completely covered with flour and is nice and soft, it’s like playing with play-doh.  We talk through the process of letting it rise and baking it in the oven.  He never takes the hot bread out of the oven but he likes to put on the oven mitts just the same.  It kind of makes me feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder!

Clean-up is just as much a part of the process as making the bread.  B loves to help wash dishes, wipe down the counter, and sweep the floor.  It’s amazing how difficult it is for me to let him do the work himself.  Maybe because I know I can do it MUCH faster and it’s easy to think the “activity” is over – now go play!  Today we worked for almost 30 minutes cleaning up dry rice that had spilled during a transferring activity (B will spoon the rice between two small bowls).  It was very challenging for him to push the rice into the dustpan!  Since he was intent on doing it and was not getting frustrated, I let him do it himself.  It was more challenging for me to keep quiet and not interfere!  He’s generally happier and more interested in helping the more I let him do things by himself.

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Homemade Wheat Bread












In the afternoon, we had to run lots of errands around town.  Everything goes much more smoothly (meaning no temper tantrums) when I go at a very slow pace, or I should say B’s pace.  I internally want to get the errand down AS FAST AS POSSIBLE.  I would think B would agree with me if he knew that meant more time on the playground when we are all down.  But that’s not how it works.  We have a much better time when I go at a slow, toddler pace.  That means, lots of breaks for snacks, singing, talking with people, checking out signs and picture, and generally observing the world.  At one store, B and I spent a LONG time swinging before getting back into the car.  We had to try both swings and switch back and forth several times.  Ah, I love how my toddler makes me a better person – someone who stops to smell the roses and not force the bloom!













Daddy was very patient with B while they decorated the tree!  Everything is more fun with a toddler when you’re willing to go at their pace!  Even the cat got involved.  😉



How To Make Your Own Cleaning Products

I’m the opposite of a germaphobe.  Growing up in a deli desensitized me from all things icky.  As a little girl, I was called upon to shimmy under tables and behind grills (that were turned off) to clean those hard-to-reach places.  My skinny arms were perfect for unplugging drains and any tight spot that hid old food.  The ew-factor held no sway for my dad.  It was a good joke to stick me in the large trash cans.  Instead of regular camp, I attended Dad’s Deli Camp!  I loved it.  So what if I needed a milk crate to reach the counter?  Those memorable experiences toughened me against all things germy but also made me crazy about cleaning.  Image.  So, the challenge of making my own cleaning products is not really pushing me out of my comfort zone.  Making my own cleaning products is therapy.  Here are some of Aunt Karen’s recipes that I can’t wait to try.
                                  HOMEMADE CLEANING PRODUCTS:
Dishwasher Soap: 1 load:  1 T (Tablespoon) Super Washing soda + 1 T Borax
Glass Cleaner:  1/4 c white vinegar in 24 oz spray bottle fill with water
Another Glass Cleaner:  1/4c white vinegar + 1/4 c isopropyl rubbing  alcohol
All Purpose Cleaner:   1/4c white vinegar + 2 T baking soda + water to fill a 24 oz spray bottle
Heavy Duty Cleaner: 1c white vinegar + 4 T baking soda + water to fill a 24 oz spray bottle
Dusting Spray:  1/4 c white vinegar + 1 tsp. olive oil + water to fill a 24 oz spray bottle