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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Boxes, Beach, Biology

We are off again on another adventure!  Last year this time we were packing for New York City.  This year we are off to St. Louis!

Check out our other recent travels around Georgia and Washington DC.  My friend took some amazing pictures of our travels which you can find on her blog, Stupendous Strouts.  She has a gift for photography and managing/mommying three adorable children!

Our next trip to St. Louis is for my new job.  I’m an attorney, doula, and now college professor!  I’m very excited to be heading back to my alma mater and teaching a subject that I’m passionate about  – ENVIRONMENTAL LAW/POLICY.  I graduated from Vermont Law School (the #1 environmental law school in the nation!) with a dual degree in environmental law.  I will be working in the BIOLOGY department which is where I spent most of my sleepless nights during college.  I was a biology (B.S.) and political science double major.  My husband and I actually had dates at the Science Center.  We would stay up late splitting a Reese’s peanut butter cup and working on homework.  He wrote code while I wrote papers!

Before I return to my beloved Biology department, we are hitting the BEACH!  We’ll be beach bums for the entire month of July.  My husband wants to try kite surfing but I think we should get a paddle board!

In order to accomplish all of the above, our house has been full of BOXES!  Traveling makes you appreciate your home but clearing clutter is refreshing and living in a new place is energizing.  Traveling can be exhausting but it’s worth it.  Here’s to enjoying the journey!

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Eerie Images of Kids Watching TV

Did you see these pictures on CNN?  The photos of these kids watching TV are eerie…yet revealing.  At least, it validated my concerns about screen time for young children.  Let’s get outside this summer!  Read in the grass, hike, explore, swim!  How’s your summer going so far?

http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/11/living/gallery/children-watching-television/index.html

 


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Road Trip Ideas for Kids

Summers are all about the road trips.  Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?  

The real question is how to keep the kids busy until we are there, wherever there may be.  Beach?  Grandma’s house?  Camp?  We’re about to finish up our adventure in Washington, D.C.  Then we are off to the beach in a few weeks.  In the fall, we’re visiting St. Louis.  Whew!  I don’t even like to travel!  How is it that I travel more with children then I ever did before they were born?

Since I try to minimize screen time, I was very excited about this little find at the library – Playaway.  You can rent these all-in-one recorded book devices at the library or buy them online (playaway.com or Amazon).  The handheld devices are light and easy for my toddler to start and stop.  One device usually has one recorded book but some have a collection of short books.  You can get all types of books – children’s, young adult, classics.

My toddler has been enjoying listening to books via Playaway in the car and it’s a great activity for a long car trip.  Since your child uses headphones to listen, that means you don’t have to listen.  Sometimes I like to listen to music and stories with my child but sometimes mommy needs quiet time!  My favorite part is hearing my toddler burst out laughing in a seemingly random way when everything and everyone else is quiet.  It’s almost as good as hearing him talk to himself.  You could give your child an actual book to hold while they listen or just let them listen without any visuals.  Either way is fun.

What are some interesting ways to keep kids busy in the car?  Have any long car trips planned for this summer?

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Get Ready for Summer Reading: Encourage “WILD READERS”

Are your kids “wild readers”?  Are you?  I know I am!  For one, I read a book about reading.  But how do I share that love of books with my children?

I just finished Donalyn Miller’s “Reading in the Wild.”  A perfect book to get ready for summer reading!  This book is about how to cultivate lifelong reading habits.  Although Miller specifically talks about her experiences teaching 6th graders to love reading (beyond her classroom), I thought her insights applied to everyone, including me (mom).

I have to admit that I grabbed this book simply based on the title.  WILD READERS!  I want that for my kids!  Wild readers read because they love reading.  Nothing can stop them from reading.  They read whenever they get the chance.  They know what they want to read next.  They have favorite authors and series.  They are confident in their book selections.  They seek out reading communities and enjoy talking with over readers.

If you have a house full of wild readers or you want to help your kids become wild readers, this is the book for you.  There are an AMAZING number of things we do that we think encourage reading but instead squash our children’s interest in reading.  Do we give our children enough opportunities to read?  Do we allow them the opportunity for self-selection?

If you want to kick off summer reading with a BANG, I recommend checking this book out first!  Then hit the library.

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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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