Forcing the Bloom

Happy, Healthy Mommy Blog


Leave a comment

Montessori Toddler Classroom

I loved spending time visiting our Montessori schoolroom.  B attending Christian Montessori School at Lake Norman 3 days a week.  This week was Teacher Appreciation Week.  I volunteered to help the kids paint a stool and flower-pot for our teacher.  My 25-month-old thought it was pretty cool to have mom at school.  He was not happy when I had to leave – only to return a few hours later.  All the toddlers enjoyed the painting activities.  They loved being outside and getting messy.  The paints washed off easily.  Fingerprint flowers were a big hit and easy for the toddlers to manage.  Then, I couldn’t help explore the toddler room.  I always get inspired seeing new activities.  I especially loved the “around the house” items, such as  an old phone and keyboard.  Don’t throw away your keyboard!  It’s a perfect toy!  I hope these pictures give you some good ideas for spring and/or activities around your Montessori-inspired home!

IMG_2830 IMG_2851 IMG_2852 IMG_2853 IMG_2854 IMG_2855 IMG_2856 IMG_2857 IMG_2858 IMG_2859

 

Advertisements


3 Comments

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.

IMG_2162 IMG_2164 IMG_2165

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.
IMG_2161

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_2168

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_2169

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_2166

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

What are your favorite letter activities?

 

 


Leave a comment

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

 

 

 

 


Leave a comment

Pairing Games for Toddlers

B has mastered several activities recently that have been challenging for months!  I’m excited for him but now I need to find more activities.  I introduced matching so that we could then work on sorting, which is a precursor to math.  A good icebreaker was sorting my shoes.  B loves my shoes!  He tries them all on, even my high heels.  One day I decided to mix them all up and have B pair them together.  He did not really get the concept at first but he liked the game.  A few weeks later I introduced an activity from a Busy Bag swap.  One mom had made pairing coins.  She cut and glued felt designs on wood pieces.  I brought them out several times but B did not seem interested so I put them away.  When I brought them out recently, he paired the designs together perfectly.  He went from seemingly uninterested to mastery!  It just shows how some toddlers learn – B absorbs information through observation until he feels confident in attempting the activity.  I’ve noticed his learning style in music class as well.  He observes quietly during class and then waits to practice clapping or signing or dancing when we are at home.

IMG_1798

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made another matching game based on B’s interest in transportation.  The First 100 Machines has always been a favorite book.  I made two copies of the front cover and laminated the copies.  I cut one of the pages up so that he could place the matching vehicles on the laminated page.  B really liked this game and had fun playing with Daddy.  I’m planning on trying this idea with other books.

IMG_1797

IMG_1784

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are busy gearing up for the holidays!  B thinks it’s funny when I see “Jingle Bells” but otherwise does not seem to notice the holiday changes.  Amazingly, he has left the tree and the presents alone.  I’m sure next year will be different.  🙂

IMG_1796 IMG_1795


4 Comments

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.

IMG_1762 IMG_1764

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!

 

IMG_1767

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.  😉

IMG_1768


Leave a comment

Toddler Activities: Busy Bag Ideas

I was very excited to have a second Busy Bag exchange with a group of awesome moms.  I am part of a mom group through Meetup.com and one of the organizers in the group hosted a Busy Bag Swap party, the second one of the year.  These parties are great!  Each mom picks a simple craft activity and makes one for each mom attending the party.  At the party, each mom shares their toddler craft.  So you go with let’s say 12 Button Snakes and you leave with 12 different activities!  How cool is that!  I have slowly been pulling out the activities and adding them to our Montessori shelf.  I like that these activities were educational, simple to make and cheap.  I made the Button Snake and was excited to discover I had most of the material already.  I recommend having a Busy Bag swap with your friends!

A few of the Busy Bag activities: 
IMG_1696

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are links to several of the activities we received at the Busy Bag party:

Money Saving MomButton Snake

Some What Simple – Wacky Sacks 

The Rigneys – Felt Board and several other ideas!

Intrepid Murmurings – Pasta Sorting

Fun & Engaging Activities for Toddlers – Texture Boards 

Playful Learning – Chalk Blocks

Wise Bread – Moon Sand

Here are some other Montessori activities we have on our shelf this week, including a holiday activity.  On the top shelf we have two small puzzles, an empty feta cheese container filled with puff balls, a plastic dish filled with holiday mini-clothes pins, several heart shaped cookie cutters, and a block of flower arrangement foam with golf tees and a hammer to stick in the foam.  On the second shelf we have a basket of large foam letters, an old chai container with a hole on top for sticking in q-tips, more puff balls to place in a water color tray, and an empty Odwalla jug with red popsicle sticks to be placed inside.  The bottom shelf has art (a fireman to color), a shape sorting box (Ikea), and blocks.  Whew!

IMG_1699 IMG_1723 IMG_1701

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I enjoy doing shelf work with B.  We sit together on the rug and talk about the activities.  He is very careful to take work down and put it back.  B is 20 months and often does not want to do what I think he should do with the activity – or at least what I had planned.  It’s tough to keep my mouth shut!  I show him the activity and then try and keep quiet.  I try and let him play and explore the material however he wants.  This is as much a learning process for me as for him!  I can NEVER guess what he will find interesting.  That’s also what makes it interesting and challenging for me!

Another favorite activity these days is taking pictures and videos so that B can see himself.  He laughs at himself and asks to see pictures of Nana and Papa (Grandma and Grandpa) on the phone!

IMG_1685 IMG_1688 IMG_1722

 

 

 

 

 


1 Comment

Learning ABC’s with Letter Tubs

A confined toddler on a tiny airplane could spell disaster.  My toddler has been on a plane four times in the last two weeks.  Luckily, half those times he was asleep.  Some of the places we have been include San Francisco, St. Louis and Miami.  My little 19 month toddler is BUSY and changing all the time.  We had to be very creative on the plane and in the airport terminals.  I packed a bag of new goodies that he hadn’t seen before and surprised him on our trips with these presents.  The LeapReader Junior was a big hit.  I also brought 5 new Matchbox cars.  I brought a old wallet and small calculator he hadn’t played with and I also brought a couple of old favorite toys, like our Ikea cars.  We made it but I’m ready for him to have his own seat.  Do you have toddler tricks for traveling?

One of our trips was to visit family, including Aunt Karen.  She is a big inspiration for this blog and a great resource for interesting challenges.  Some of her challenges to me have been to make my own laundry soap and date bars.  One this trip, I spent a day following Aunt Karen around her home learning very cool ways of staying healthy and saving money, all of which I will post about later.  Aunt Karen runs a daycare in her home and has years of practice keeping toddlers busy and learning to read.  I was very fascinated with what I call her “Letter Tubs” and plan to make some of my own.  She saved old yogurt dishes and labeled each one with a letter of the alphabet.  Then she filled each tub with tiny objects that started with the corresponding letter.  For example, the tub for “F” had a tiny fence, frogs, flowers, felt and feathers.  Each tub also had a big letter and small letter, which were usually magnet letters.  You can also make Color Tubs using the same concept.  I will post about the other activities Aunt Karen shared with me including sprouting, raising active yeast for bread, composting in the back yard, art projects, bike riding and play dough just to name a few.  Just as soon as I get back from my next trip to DC!  Any suggestions for long car trips with toddlers! 🙂

Image Image 1 Image 2 Image 3