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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Sensorial and Practical Life Activities – Play-doh, Emery Boards, and Dried Beans!

Before I describe the activities B enjoyed this week, I would like to say that I usually do NOT put my toddler in our mobile chair.  We are just using it now since we are not at home.  I don’t recommend it.  B has been using a small table and chair since he was about one.  The table and chair promote independence and body control.  Anyway…

Here are three activities that B REALLY enjoyed this week.

1.)  In the first picture, B is playing with play-doh and dinosaurs.  When B gets bored with an activity, we add something new.  This time we added dinosaurs.  Instant imagination explosion!

2.)  In the next picture, B is putting all my emery boards back in the container that they came in.  It goes to show that you should always check your trash.  It’s probably worth an activity or two.

3.)  In the last picture B is playing with dried beans.  He actually asked for the beans.  In a prior post I showed how he likes to plow through them with his cars and bulldozers.  Here he simply enjoyed putting them in different containers and swirling them around his tray.  A bonus activity is picking them up off the floor and putting them in a container.

What is the most interesting sensorial (using the senses) activity you have tried with your kids?

 

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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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Montessori Shelf Work for Toddlers

Here are some new toddler activities you can do at home.  As you can see, we use a Montessori-inspired method of learning by keeping activities and toys on a shelf.  I rotate out the activities depending on B’s interest level.  B has learned to take activities down and put them back when he’s done.  He only takes one activity at a time.  We do many of the activities together but B also plays independently.  When not playing with these activities he is usually following me around the house helping with the chores, cooking and cleaning (as shown in my last post).  At two years old, B can pretty much help with everything.  He does laundry, makes snacks and meals, feeds the dogs, cleans up messes, and washes dishes – all with supervision.  I hope you find some of these shelf activities interesting.  I put much thought into what activities are placed on the shelf.  I try to provide a variety of easy and challenging activities and ones that cover math, language, practical life skills (such as transferring), sensorial, art, music and creative play.  I would love to hear YOUR ideas as well!

Here is our shelf downstairs in the playroom (right) and upstairs in B’s room.

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These two activities/toys were found on Etsy and given to B for his birthday.  Check out: Aroswoodcrafts and Richardsonrarities.

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The first picture below shows is a language activity.  I read the word and have B find and place the object next to the word.  The second picture is a sorting and counting activity with bears.  B loves feeling the bears.  He used to throw them but he’s gotten over that now.  The third picture is a practical life skill where B transfers the beads into the other bowl.  Always go from left to right.  The fourth picture shows a sorting activity where B puts all the spoon in one cup and forks in the other.  He likes real forks and spoons and it’s a challenge to keep the cup upright.  We are also working on the words “spoon”,” fork”, and “cup”.  The fifth picture shows some eco-friendly eggs that B can match and put together.  It’s too difficult to pull them apart but he can put them together.  The sixth and last picture shows a pinching activity with different sized clips.  B practices clipping the paper and exercises the finger muscles he will later use for writing.  Enjoy!

 

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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