Saturday, April 30, 2011

Miscellaneous Activities and Adventures!

Before I blog about Tyler's introduction to the Pink Tower yesterday, I'm forcing myself to finally get this miscellaneous blog out there! These are some of the random, mostly non-Montessori things that we've been up to lately that may be of interest.

Experimenting with an air-filled balloon on a windy day. I tied yarn to the balloon and tied that to an old baby link so it was easy for Tyler to hold onto. He really enjoyed this! We then tied it down with a pinwheel and observed both the pinwheel and balloon's movements.

I introduced this puzzle from Kid-O a couple months ago but he had no interest. He found it a while ago and has surprised me by completing it several times. I figured once a piece fit, even if it was too small, he may place a few incorrectly and be satisfied. I believe due to the cylinder work, he understands self-correction, each piece having a correct place, and has the focus needed to often work until the puzzle is completed.

We used pencils in the parmesan cheese container after the pipe cleaners became boring, an idea given to me by one of my readers (thank you!). We also used dollar store Easter egg picks which Tyler especially enjoyed.

I found small, decorative woodchips in the clearance section of Walmart which Tyler enjoyed putting into containers last month, along with his puffballs. They circular chips varied in size from less than pea-sized to grape size and he had to figure out which may fit, or not fit, in each different sized container openings. It was also fun to dump them back out of course!

Tyler has been using a child-sized trowel and garden hand-rake (both metal and purchased at Hobby Lobby) in a pile of woodchips from a ground tree stump that he enjoys playing in. He enjoyed scooping the woodchips and transferring them into containers. I would let him dig around in the garden if I weren't so paranoid about black widows! This and his sandbox will have to do until we move back North someday...

I showed Tyler how to place his stuffed animals on a blanket and pull them around the house. After a while, this always leads to Tyler wanting a ride himself. Very fun!

Some new favorite toys around our home have been Matchbox cars, a larger car, Matchbox airplanes and a mini-slinky.

We visited our city zoo for the first time since Tyler's birthday last August. Knowing how much Ty enjoys making connections between books and real-life objects, we brought along some books with zoo animals as well as his safari animal figures so that he could match them. His favorite animals are giraffes and he was especially in awe of them!

We also visited our Museum and Science Center for the first time and had a blast! Tyler especially enjoyed the kid's area with water play, building materials and hands-on objects. I was surprised how many of the adult interactive activities intrigued him as well.

Linking-up with Tot School

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Made With Love by Mom. Homeade Toys Part 2.

Montessori Materials (which I of course love and admire) are often wooden and beautiful. If you're looking for that in this post you may want to leave now! If you're interested in making fun, easy toys to entertain your toddler, no power tools or handful of cash needed, this is the right post for you! This being said, I did just buy several official Montessori materials for Tyler online today...his first. Swoon!

This is an activity that I dreamed up for Tyler to push pencils through. I used an oatmeal container and covered it with paper to make it a touch more aesthetic. I then cut slits in the lid as well as a large piece from the side for retrieving the pencils. That simple!
Finding the slot and pushing the pencil through

When he gets to the end, he has to really push it through all of the way with his fingertip to get it to drop. He does this activity over and over several times a day.

The least pretty of them all! A simple shoebox with a hole cut out of the side and a small ball. The object is to tilt the box the right way to get the ball to fall out. I cut the hole too large, allowing Ty to reach his hand in to retrieve the ball, so I did have to tape the top closed a bit.

Hmmm...I see the ball...

Tilt this way...and that way...

Out! This was actually a bit more challenging than I thought.

Simple shape sorter with a triangle, exactly as I did with the square long ago. I did attempt to make this with wood a while ago and it didn't go so well. My workplace for woodworking didn't allow me much success. Though not as lovely as a Montessori single shape sorter, I let it go and decided that this will work fine.

Hopefully he won't want to strangle me for posting a photo of him in his diaper in a few years...  :)

I hope someone finds this helpful. Ty is truly loving these simple new toys! You can find my first post on homeade toddler toys here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Beginner Fruit Cutting

Using a round-tipped toddler knife from his cutlery set, Ty occasionally practicing fruit cutting last month, a standard Montessori practical life activity.

We started with a banana. I demonstrated myself, then assisted him with the motion.

He seemed to find the feel of the knife cutting through the banana interesting.

Next we tried a soft pear. I cut into the pear a bit first, then let him put the knife in and continue the cut.

Due to some sensory quirks, he was reluctant to touch the juicy pear to stabilize it with his other hand, but he did manage to further my cut and get the idea.  

We've also practiced cutting using play-doh, which he enjoys as it's much less messy. Many also start with a block of soft cheese, though Ty is sensitive to dairy. I'm quite tempted to buy him the Small World Living Toys Peel and Cut Fruit or veggies. His favorite part about going grocery shopping is running around to  touch and explore everything in the produce section, so I think he'd enjoy these for two reasons. I'm trying to cut down on what I buy for him, but I just might talk myself into this one!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dying Rice/Pasta for Sensory Play or Art Projects

Dying pasta or rice is fast, simple, inexpensive, and the results are really fun!

What you'll need:

Uncooked pasta or rice
Rubbing alcohol
Resealable baggie or bowl and spoon
Food coloring
Wax paper or paper towels 

Add a couple tablespoons of rubbing alcohol and several drops of food coloring to pasta or rice. If using a bowl, mix with a spoon until colored. If using a baggie as I did, simply shake. Include your child, using something to protect their clothing, if possible! Lay plenty of paper towels or wax paper on a flat surface and spread out the rice or pasta to dry. Mine was dry in about half an hour with use of an overhead fan.

Somehow this reminded me of salt maps we made in sixth grade...

Lovely pastel shades just in time for Easter! If you'd like your colors to be darker, using more food coloring (and perhaps more rubbing alcohol) should do the trick. I used about 15 drops of color for each.

Instant attraction. He ran across the room to check out the bin and went right to work.

We used a funnel to assist with getting the rice into a small bottle.

Tyler especially enjoyed scooping and filling other containers with plastic Easter eggs!

Colored rice or pasta could be used in simple art projects for toddlers as well. Simply gluing pasta to cardboard or shaking rice onto glue by putting the rice into something like a parmesan cheese container are just two simple yet fun ways for toddlers to create.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Matching Nomenclature Cards to Real Objects

Tyler truly loves the fruit and vegetable Nomenclature cards I made for him a couple months back, using them several times a day. Last month, while I was making homemade applesauce, Tyler was desperate to get his hands on an apple, and when I gave him one, he ran to his cards to match it to his apple cards. This naturally led, a couple weeks later, to buying several items from his cards to use to create a work.

After a simple demonstration, Tyler got to work. Ty has graduated to four cards to match in his Nomenclature work basket, so here I also used four single cards with the matching produce.

Since he was about six months old, Tyler has shown a strong desire to make connections between what he sees in books or pictures to objects in real life. I would like to work harder to provide activities for him that expand upon his strengths and to, as is the Montessori way, follow his lead. If you have seen or done activities that he may enjoy, I would love for you to share with me please!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Slide Games

This isn't really a Montessori post, but a few little games that Ty and I have created that I wanted to share.

A basket of balls and a slide or a simple board are all you need for this first activity! This is one we've done since well before he was walking, as our little daredevil mountain goat was climbing his stand-alone slide ladder and going down the slide head first before the time he was about 9 mos old! He was also a huge fan of balls at the time, so this game/little science experiment developed naturally. We've talked about the concepts of "up" and "down" and Tyler often experiments on his own by putting other objects from around the house down the slide to see what they will do. Using both heavy/light and big/small balls for this activity provide additional  learning opportunities.

When he was younger I put the end of the slide into a kiddie pool so the balls didn't roll away as far and it was easier to retrieve them himself and roll them down again. I've found that putting a box or large container at the end to stop the balls is still fun for him now at 20 mos old.

As Ty gets older, we'll likely play a cooperaion/sharing game where we take turns being at the bottom of the slide to catch the ball, walking it to the person rolling, and returning to the bottom of the slide to catch, as well as moving further and further away from the bottom of the slide to catch.

Last month we took the idea of rolling balls down the slide a bit further, adding bowling pins for what we call "slide bowling". He gets a big kick of out this!

We also found a way to work on color recognition in a fun way! This large, soft die is from a game my parents purchased for Ty from Discovery Toys that he's not quite ready for yet. Tyler rolls or bounces the die down the slide, then we look at whatever color faces up and name it. Sometimes I look for something in the room or on our clothing to match the color to as well, then toss the die back up to him to start again.

Rcently Tyler has become quite entranced with cars, so look-out for a post on car ramps soon as I decide how to build what I've been imagining...