Forcing the Bloom

Happy, Healthy Mommy Blog


Learning Letters

My 22 month old is working on letter recognition and phonics.  We have letter activities all around the house.

B thinks it is hysterical when I pretend that our foam letter “H” is very hot.  I toss it up in the air and yell “hot, hot, hot!”  He wants me to do it over and over again.  And I do.  B has “H” and the word “hot” down solid because we made it a fun game to learn the letter “H”.  Now if we could just figure out “cold”.  It took me awhile to realize that B was saying “hot” and meaning “cold” when the weather turned cold and things like his car seat were very cold.

The point is that we try to make our letter activities a fun game.  This week we matched magnet letters in a muffin pan and integrated letters into the felt board.  B loves playing with his felt board.  I recently bought a set of felt vehicles.  I wasn’t sure how to make it a letter learning activity until this week when we talked about the first letter of each vehicle.  I wrote the letter on our chalk board and then B found it on our alphabet sheet.  B was very excited to find the letters.

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Here are some of our other letter activities around the house.  On our shelf I put out a small mirror with a few magnet letters on top.  B likes laughing at himself in the mirror.  We talked about the letter sounds that he found on the mirror.  Sometimes I hide letters in the purse shown next to the mirror.  B is working on zipping as well.







I have a basket of large foam letters.  I put the letters out on the floor and B finds the letters as I call them out.  I ask him to stand on the letters or hand them to me.









We have a basket of small foam letters in the bathtub, along with numbers.  B likes it when I line letters up on the side of the tub and ask him to find them.  When he finds the right letter he throws it in the water and we yell “bye, bye D” or whichever letter we’ve picked.








Finally, like many families, we have magnet letters on the side of the refrigerator.  We also have a LeapFrog Letter magnets.  I have two set of alphabets for matching.  Sometimes I make a short word on the frig and B matches letters underneath mine.  I will also trace the letters onto an index card or piece of paper and B will fit the letters into my traces.  I try to put a picture of the word next to the word.  If the word is mom, I’ll put a picture or me.  Or if the word is sun, I’ll put up a foam or sticker sun.










You can also make Letter Tubs and Letters with salt or sand.

What are your favorite letter activities?




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Merry Christmas Montessori Style!

Merry Christmas!  We had a wonderful morning opening presents with family.  This year was special because it was B’s first Christmas were he actually understood the concept of opening presents.

With all the gifts under the tree, an empty paper towel roll can be just as fun!  Goes to show the power of DIY activities.











Christmas Montessori-style in our home means most of the gifts are put away after an initial romp and brought out slowly as part of the regular toy circulation.  After opening presents Christmas morning, B became tired and overwhelmed by all the new toys and quickly fell asleep before lunchtime.  At just under 2 years old, he is sensitive to order and simplicity.  Me too!  Everything was cleaned up and put away before he got up from his nap and he didn’t mind one bit.  The old(er) activities were just as fun.  A few of the new trucks made an appearance later in the day but only one new toy at a time.  This helps minimize messes and allows B to clean up his own mess without getting overwhelmed.

On our shelf this week we had a couple of holiday inspired activities.  I pulled out some wooden Christmas mice that were fun to line up and organize by size.  We talked about the concepts of “large”, “medium”, and “small”.  I gave B a box filled with balls and he practiced opening the clasp.  B also enjoyed sorting the red and green popsicle sticks that I had stuck in a small stocking.  His new toys included a Brio train set, Tinker toys, a wooden truck, two battery-powered trucks, and puzzles.  I think that was everything.  His stocking had stickers, plastic bugs and lizards (for counting) and a book shaped liked a truck.  Christmas afternoon we went to a park to play.  By 6pm B was asleep again!  He normally goes to bed around 7:30 pm or 8 pm.  All the stimulation of Christmas wore him out!  Me too!

What are your holiday family traditions?  Do you open presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?  Stockings?  Have traditions changed as kids got older?  Favorite Montessori-inspired ideas for the holidays?  I’d love to hear from you!  Happy Holidays!!

Here are some other links to Montessori-inspired holiday activities:

Montessori Home – 5 Great Montessori Ideas to do with Your Children 

Racheous – Holiday Hop

Pinterest Holiday Board by Missmatchedcows

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Toddler Activities with Egg Cartons

It is especially fun to create toddler activities with recycled trash!  Cheap, homemade (of sorts) and DIY are some of my favorite descriptions for toddler activities.  So, egg cartons are perfect!  I keep a stack of different kinds of egg cartons in my craft cupboard.  They are great for sorting, counting, and art activities.  They are also great for holding small items and organizing your drawers or cupboards.  Ice cube trays also serve similar purposes.  Here are some basic activities with egg cartons but you can do so much more!  One-to-one correspondence activities such as placing wooden balls, puff balls or wiffle balls in cartons are early math activities.  You can also color code the egg baskets or assign numbers or letters.  You can use them for more complex sorting or use them as paint dishes.  I still remember uses egg cartons when I was in elementary school for painting projects.

Here is B (21 months old) is placing wooden balls in a 6-egg carton.  He did NOT like the activity with puff balls so try different materials and don’t get discouraged.  I usually have to introduce an activity several times before B wants to try it.  We counted each ball as he placed them in the carton.  I’ve seen other people write numbers or letters on the balls and in the cartons for a matching activity.  We’ll build up to that.


egg carton activities from forcingthebloom

egg carton activities from forcingthebloom












Here is B with a 12-egg carton.  He enjoyed filling it with wiffle balls.  No puff balls, please!  Maybe it’s boy thing?   A major part of the activity is taking the carton off the shelf and putting it back when B is done.  He knows he can’t get something new until he puts everything back.  The practice of moving things on and off the shelf helps with body control.

egg carton activities from forcingthebloom

egg carton activities from forcingthebloom












Here are some more ideas from other Montessori mamas using egg cartons !

Living Montessori Now  – Color Walk

Our Natural Journey  – Repurposing Egg Cartons

Kindergarten Basics – Upcycle Egg Cartons to Building Blocks + links to many other egg carton ideas!

Gift of Curiosity – Math with Egg Cartons + several other cool Montessori activities

Any other ideas?  How have you used your egg cartons?

We’ll revisit this theme again in the Spring!  Say, around Easter time!  You, me and that crazy Easter bunny.  This will be the first year B really gets to open Christmas presents and will understand the idea of an Easter egg hunt.  Can’t wait!  Have a Merry Christmas!!

Christmas Tree from forcingthebloom

Christmas Tree from forcingthebloom