Forcing the Bloom

Happy, Healthy Mommy Blog


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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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Taking School Outside

Do you ever take (home)school outside?  I’m curious how many homeschool families take their lessons outside and what that looks like to you.  What are some creative ways to have school outside?

I took B to a park and we had “lessons” of sorts with chalk.  We practiced colors, shapes, numbers, and letters.  He also loved drawing on the ground.  For a toddler who is WAY more interested in everything to do with SPORTS, his renewed interest in art was an added bonus.  I love seeing bigger kids artwork at the playground too!  I’ve seen alphabet trains, mazes, hopscotch, and cool animals.

We also talked about the season – AUTUMN.  We looked for leaves changing color and collected acorns.  We counted the acorns and delivered them to squirrels.

Beside chalk and nature walks, what are some other cool ideas for taking school outside?

Here are a few pictures of our “lessons” in the park and you can also check out the video entitled Art in the Park on my YouTube channel.

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Montessori Moments

What are your Montessori moments this week?  Here are some of ours.  Of course, you can have more categories such as fine motor skills, memory, geography, or science.  Below are just a few we are working on – Sensorial, Art, Practical Life Skills, Language, and Math.

SENSORIAL

Playing with dried beans and sand.  Usually some sort of vehicle is also involved.  Dirt has also been a big hit recently too.  We find a dirt pile under a trees and B plays contentedly for a long time usually digging, scooping, sweeping, etc.

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ART

How many things can you paint with?  Brushes, marbles, cars, sponges, empty paper towel rolls?  Here B made a painting with q-tips.  He enjoyed folding the paper in half and making a reflection.  He REALLY loved displaying his art and showing Daddy.  We asked him what he made and he responded, “Ducks!”

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PRACTICAL LIFE SKILLS

Typically practice life skills activities in our home include cutting fruit, buttering bread, making smoothies, vacuuming, etc.  Some toys can utilize practice life skills as well.  This  jeep and drill toy lets B practice taking the screws and bolts on and off.  Very entertaining.

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LANGUAGE

B liked this phonics game.  I put a variety of objects in a bin and he had to decide which cup they should go in – the “A”, “B”, or “C” cup – based on the beginning sounds.  The apple piece and bagel were eating and he insisted the cap go back on the bottle, but otherwise he understood the game and had fun.

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MATH

B enjoyed putting my cut out numbers in order from 1 to 10.  He can count higher but we are working on mastering order (when the numbers are out of order) and value.  We also count everything and enjoy playing with shapes.

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Simple Sketches = Endless Learning

My toddler loves my quick, crayon sketches and they are a great tool for learning.  Yes, that’s MY drawing – not his.  He’s only 2!  If your kids are older, you can use their drawings.

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Sequencing, Early Math, One-to-One Correspondence 

Our conversations about the sketches I draw usually sound like the dialogue from “When You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”  He asks me to draw trains or a race track.  And then he needs a parking lot (simple lines with numbers) for the cars after they race or a station for the train passengers.  I’ll ask him to “park” his race car on a certain number.  I’ll say, “You parked 6 cars!  What if two drive away?  Then how many do you have?”  He’ll answer without thinking about it – “Four!”

Language, Geography, Memory 

And then, as with the train picture above, he’ll need shapes or dinosaurs to go on each car.  Then we’ll talk about who is first, last, and in the middle.  We’ll talk about  how we get on and off the train.  I can see him thinking about our recent train rides.  He’ll ask me to draw people at the station and we’ll count the people that I draw.  Then he’ll pick a place on the wall map for the passengers to visit.  Then he pulls out his animals to see which animal lives in that part of the world.  Then he’ll want to know about the weather there and what the animals eat.  And then the animals will need a train to ride or maybe a race track to race on.  And then…it goes on and on!

 

Of course, I REAL train ride with the grandparents is more fun than a sketch!

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Adventures in NY City

I’m excited to visit New York City!  We leave Saturday and will be there for several months.  We found a furnished apartment on the Upper West Side.  It would be much EASIER to stay home and let my husband visit us on the weekends (I seriously considered this).  BUT, I also tend to choose the more (or most) difficult option.  Beside, it will be an adventure!  Hadn’t I been asking for an adventure?  Yes, I’m 5 months pregnant.  And, yes, I’m pulling my toddler out of preschool (Montessori toddler class) for a few months.  I’m disrupting his life and routine.  And, yes, the BIG APPLE is very different from our suburban life.  We’re going from big house to tiny apartment and trading our car for the subways and buses.  BUT, this will give me great blog material!

Since we leave this weekend, I’m taking the opportunity to review my Summer 2014 goals for B (28 months) and make new ones for NY City.  Here is an assessment of my success with our Summer goals.  And as I mentioned in the past, I’m shying away from a curriculum per se.  I do, however, prefer structure – aka a list of goals or suggestions for things to work on.

Summer Goals – June through July (27-28 months old)

1.) Potty Trained   – no, some progress but still working on this

2.) Count to 20 – yes, he likes to count!

3.) Practice writing – yes, we practiced, not much but a few times

4.) Build vocabulary – yes, I’ve seen large growth in his vocabulary

5.) Join book club at library – yes, we enjoyed visiting the library about twice a week

6.) Attend vacation bible school – yes, we attending all the meetings

7.) Start geography and science – yes, we did several activities in these areas

8.) Make nature table – no, didn’t even start

9.) Weekly art projects – yes and no, we did art almost every week but not all the weeks

10.) Get ready for baby – yes, B went to all my appointments, we talk about his little brother everyday and he seem to get it

Here are my NY City Goals – August – October (29-31 months) 

As you can see, some of the goals are specific and some are open-ended.  I’m sure I will need to adjust them.  

1.) Observe B daily – watch B work or play silently and write down his interests, help him cultivate his interests

2.) Be a conscious role model – be more aware of B watching me and be a role model of good behavior

3.) Make the library our second home – find a library close by and visit regularly

4.) Independence – encourage and develop potty training, self-care, language and life skills

5.) Explore – learning on the go – trips to museum and parks, no rushing (go on toddler time), talk and learn as we go

 

Here are some fun pictures of our Montessori-inspired (and other) activities this week.

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Montessori At Home: Toddler Activities

I’m slowly incorporating Montessori into our home!  It’s sort of addicting!  It’s so much fun that I’m almost obsessed with finding more activities.  There are moms out there doing some pretty cool things with their kids.  You can find neat DIY ideas on Pinterest, YouTube and WordPress – pretty much everywhere.  Moms love to share ideas :).  Here are just a few of my recent favorites: Racheous, JadyMahoganyHomemakerPinterest searches.  So, what are we up to?  This past week has been an explosion of words.  Baby B is 16 months old and this week I have really started to hear a few words clearly.  This week I heard “water”, “itchy”, “out”, “kitty”, “doggie”, “daddy”, “mama” and “moo”.  Everything before sounded like “dadadada”.  He could identify lots of things but I think now he’s getting the hang of language.  I think using sign language helped but that’s another topic.

LANGUAGE ACTIVITIES

Since Baby B is working on words, I created a word display and a word basket.  All things I’ve seen other at-home Montessori moms doing.  Very cool.  I made a place that he could easily see while playing and displayed the word “cow“.  He says “moo” for cow.  After I made the display, we went over it together.  1.) I had the word written out on a dry erase board.  2.) I spelled out cow with magnets.  3.) I put up a picture of a cow.  4.) I displayed a plastic toy cow.  5.)  I let our dog stand in the picture because he looks like a small, baby cow (seriously).  Baby B loved it!  Later when we were talking about a cow he ran over to the display and yelled “moo!”  We are still working on saying cow but that will come.  As long as he loves learning, I’m in!  I also created a word basket (sorry no picture).  I put a few objects in the basket that were common and around the house.  I used a cup, ball, rock and small foam bird.  We sat on a pillow and I showed him each object while I said the word slowly.  He played with them and put them in his mouth.  Then I asked him to find each object I named and hand it to me.  Good time to practice please and thank you.  As you can see, the game can be expanded very easily.  You could talk about colors, numbers, stories and matching.  There are many possibilities.

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SENSORIAL ACTIVITIES:

We are experimenting with homemade play dough this week.  I made a batch of whole wheat play dough.  The recipe was from Elizabeth G. Hainstock’s “Teaching Montessori in the Home.”  That book has lots of great activity ideas.  I borrowed it from the library along with “Teach Me To Do It Myself” by Maja Pitamic.

Play Dough (Clay) pg 84

3 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 cup water (with coloring), and 1 T oil

I used whole wheat flour and it turn out fine.  Baby B liked to smash it and pull it apart.  I gave him a small, wooden hammer to pound it.  We also practiced pounding with our hands.  I rolled it into long snake-like strips and let him practice cutting with a toddler knife.  Today I saw him cutting his dinner food so I think it helped!  We also did finger painting with Veggie Baby Finger Paint by Wee Can Too.  I bought this at The Baby Grocery Store along with several healthy snacks.  He loved finger painting and stayed at it much longer than he does with crayons.  He didn’t even try and eat it!  Amazing.  🙂

Play Dough