Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Laundry Sorting

Last week Tyler sorted and matched sock,s and this week, he sorted his own clothes! This is probably something he could have been doing for a while, but I'm not sure that he would have been too interested.

 Catching him in an in-between activities moment, I called Tyler over told him that I was sorting our laundry by clothing type and asked if he wanted to help sort his own clothes.I lay out a shirt, pants and jammies in a row for him and gave him pile of his clothes to match them to.  

He got into it! We clearly need to work on folding at a later date, but this is a start! I've demonstrated folding washcloths and dish towels before and he has no real interest yet.

After he sorted I thanked him for his help, offered to teach him to fold (no thanks), but he watched me fold for a bit. He then wanted us to bounce all of the clothes I had just folded on the blanket I laid out. I admit, we did it with his jammies. It was fun!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Interactive Montessori-Inspired Christmas Display!

In our home, the day after Thanksgiving is traditionally spent decorating the house for Christmas and it's also one of my favorite days of the year! Since having Tyler, the day is even more magical. Seeing Christmas through the eyes of a young child is a beautiful thing!

I created a Christmas-themed display last year as well, and though there are similarities, the activities have certainly grown with Tyler! The only thing this display is missing is a matching snow scene outdoors. Back home in upstate New York they've already had some of the white stuff, and though it's odd to decorate for Christmas when it's 65 degrees outside, I can't say I miss it yet!

Christmas Display 2011! There are other pieces of it around the living room that I'll show as well.

This is one of the works in the display which uses large fill-able ornaments and jingle bells. Ty adores the moose, and "moose" is his new word thing to say! He could care less about the snow man.
He unzips the back of the ornament, puts the jingle bells in, then zips it back up.
Then it's time to shake the moose and make lots of festive noise! Afterwards, he removes the bells and puts them back in the box. Sometimes moose heads back into the basket, but more often Ty plays with it and carries it around with him.

Ty's little Christmas tree is decorated with ornaments which he practices taking off carefully. After it tipped over a few times due to his rough pulling I can say he truly learned to be gentle! He also has a box with puff balls in it for putting in his tree. It's much easier than hanging the ornaments with their difficult little strings. I believe I got that idea from another blogger last year but can't remember who (if it's you let me know!) 

Tyler helped take everything out of the Christmas boxes and enjoyed exploring all of his "new" stuff. He especially adored this felt doll ornament. Precious.

This is a bin of his Christmas and winter-themed books. Our favorites are

The Mitten by Jan Brett
That's Not My Snowman by Usbourne Touchy Feely Books  
Little Tree by Chris Raschka (with poem by e.e. cummings)
The 12 Days of Christmas illustrated by Hilary Knight
Merry Christmas Mom and Dad by Mercer Mayer   
Caldecot Winner, Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
On a side note, "Owl Moon" is really special as it's autographed and dedicated to Tyler by the author. The author is a friend of our writer friend, Kate Messner! Kate is the (award winning) author of seven outstanding, well-reviewed children's books with two more on the way. I can't wait to add her new picture book "Over and Under The Snow" to our collection! It's a New York Times notable! Excuse the tangent but her books are well worth checking out!

 These classic Christmas toys were gifts from my parents last year and are such a lovely addition to the display!
Ty didn't care to try turning the jack in the box handle by himself last year, and I have to say it's a little tricky for him as he prefers his left hand, but this morning he mastered it!

His genuine look of surprise when Tigger pops up is priceless!
Getting Tigger back in is more difficult as you have to be willing to close your hand in the door a bit, but he almost has that down today as well. He is almost completely done with having to come ask us for help with this which I can tell feels good to him!

He is doing great with the top as well, though he has had that in and out of rotation all year as he loves it so much!

I added a basket of pine cones to the display this morning. We'll likely be doing projects with these soon.

Ty really enjoys watching the lights I wrapped all around the window! Luckily he hasn't tried pulling them down. He didn't last year, so here's to hoping he will keep with that trend!

This little work was created while we were emptying Christmas boxes. Tyler really enjoys tonging anything he can! Here he tongs little glittery ornaments into a Christmas tin. This now sits on his shelf.  

Removing and hanging small stockings from these holders is another work that Tyler enjoys!
He soon discovered an easier way to "hang" the stockings as well. He was quite thrilled with himself as you can see in the photo!

He also enjoys putting the stockings on his hands like mittens. More practical life, right?!

I hung a Christmas scene (dollar store window clings) on the dining room window for him to look at. We worked on labeling the pictures for vocabulary building and I'm sure he'll figure out how to remove them from the window and replace them as he sees fit, which will be great! I'd show him how to now but these things only stay sticky for so long...I hope they'll last through Christmas.

I also added a Santa hat to his dress up. Instant hit!

Ty has really enjoys the display and Christmas works created so far. He spends a lot of time playing in his display. The morning after we made it he must have forgotten about it because he came around the corner after breakfast and ran to it saying "Yeah! Yeah!". You would have thought it was already Christmas morning!

Linking-up with some fabulous blogs with many more great ideas!: Living Montessori Now, 1+1+1=1, http://onehookwonder.blogspot.com/ and Living Life Intentionally!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sock Matching

Putting laundry away the other day, with Ty wanting to try on many of the socks I had piled-up (he just loves funky socks!), I wondered why I was going to do the sock matching when it's something that Tyler could so easily (and excitedly) do?! I had tried the activity in the past with no interest from him, but it had been many months and I had nearly forgotten about the idea. He loves matching activities now so it would likely be well accepted. It was almost nap time, so l kept the socks out and allowed him to help me out when he woke if he wished.

"Sockie" love. And yes, we've been staying in warm jammies until (or after!) nap quite often around here! :)

The work was so simple that I probably don't need to say a word about it! We lay out one sock for each match in a line and he matched them appropriately. He talked about how Tyler socks were "small" and Mama socks "big". This was fun for him! If I was thinking a bit more I would have had him then put the big and small into their own piles, but we're going to do more laundry work soon I hope. Plenty of time for that another day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pink Tower Video: Start to Finish

Though Tyler (now 27 mos old) did the Pink Tower a couple times correctly when I purchased it in the Spring, I felt that he didn't truly grasp the meaning of putting them in order by size. I then decided to have him use only every other block for greater changes of success and understanding of the sensorial concept. There was also a time that I took them out of rotation due to a lack of interest. Last week I brought all ten together again and he was very ready for them, nearly correct on the first try!

 This video captures Tyler carrying the basket from the shelf, starting and completing the work, then returning it to the basket. He did the work several times and I didn't want to make the video too long, so returning it to the shelf isn't shown here. I can't get enough of the proud look on his face and the way he sits and examines the tower up and down to be sure it's correct! He typically says "small" "medium" and "big" though he skipped medium here. I'm not too concerned. :) You did it Ty!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Homemade Levers: Science Play

I've had the idea of making a lever for Tyler for months. As I've mentioned recently, he is quite a little scientist, especially with "physics", and I wanted to help him further his interests. I just had no idea how I was going to make a lever. It stumped me, and I couldn't spend any money. Turns out I was able to come up with two lever ideas that have worked for him after a little searching around the house!

The small lever. Made with Woodsies, cups and small wooden cubes (sorry, I can't find the cubes on the Hobby Lobby website, but they are in the unfinished wood section in stores). 

I used three Woodsies boards (which I painted white) gluing them together in the above fashion (this is the underbelly) with wood glue. I left space for the fulcrum so that it wouldn't simply slip away and cause frustration. It needed a little niche so it would stay in place decently (which was my biggest obstacle when thinking of how to design this). The fulcrum made by gluing was several cubes together to make a wall. They were then glued to another Woodsie. The edges were sanded down later after I realized it would make it more of a real fulcrum (fulcrum's are typically triangular).

First we used unit block cubes. He got the idea of balancing them pretty quickly as he had actually done the next (big) lever first.

 He then wanted to use rocks. Though these rocks vary in size and weight, we aren't getting too exact here yet, still experimenting with the ideas of light, heavy and balance, so we went with it. Later I will have him use things like pennies and other small objects which have the same weight and size.

The first lever I made a couple days before was simply a sanded down piece of pine I had in the basement centered over Ty's balance beam. I the board left it a bit rough so the books would stay rather than slide, but not so much that he would get a sliver. Though I gave a quick demo, he seemed to know what to do right away and excitedly dove in!

Balanced! I can never get enough of his proud expressions!

Balanced again! I can't even tell you how long he did this on the first go.

Experimenting by putting books in different areas of the board.

Whoa! Time to balance this out!

Got it!

The only issue with this lever is probably pretty obvious. The books have to be placed well so that they don't fall off, something that frustrated him at times because his tolerance for things not going right has been so low lately. That's why I made the small lever with cups, though we continue to use this as well...when he isn't completely exhausted that is!

I would love to hear other or similar ideas so I can continue to expand upon Ty's interests. Feel free to share links!  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The week's other Montessori moments!

This last week was kind of a rough one for my little guy. He has had some troubles sleeping the past couple weeks and has tended to cling to me a lot, but his fears of the dark, nightmares and being away from his Mama have really reached a peak. As a result he isn't getting nearly enough sleep (no matter what we try to ease his anxieties) and his frustration tolerance and ability to "use his words" are both pretty low at times. Regardless, Montessori activities always hit the spot with him and he tends to be calmed when working. I noticed this about nine months ago with him and its still just as true. Thank goodness!

These are some of the activities that didn't make individual blogs over the week:


Tyler has never used two of the mini cylinders at once, but since one block is so easy for him I figured that he could handle it. I gave him one block with cylinders differing by diameter and another by height.
He did great! These two are now together on his shelf.

I took out all ten of the Pink Tower blocks rather than using every other one. This was his first try...so close! He was really happy to use them all again and labels them small, medium and big as he goes along.

Coming in from playing outside, still in his helmet, Tyler rushed to use a newer work I had created. He just started using tongs and was simply dropping them into a bowl. Here he works on putting one in each spot for 1:1 correspondence as well as working those small motor skills!
He then wanted to tong other things, and grabbed buttons from his button sorting work. He first tried to tong them from the floor, then quickly realize it wouldn't work and put each button on his pants. I have no idea how he thought of this but it worked much better for him (though still kinda tricky). 
In order to decrease his frustration and allow him to be a bit more successful, I grabbed his Educo Baby Connects from the shelf and offered him these to tong. He appreciated this very much! He tongs these all the time now along with his puff balls.

I gave Ty a three period lesson with these letters before the following activity to be sure he remembered them. He did a really great job tracing and saying sounds at the same time...

...but the activity itself was pretty much a flop. He is getting into letters again, saying the sounds for 22 letters in an alphabet book (lowercase and uppercase) after just a few days of reading it and wanting to have us read many other books with letters. I wanted to do something creative (because three period lessons are kinda boring to him lately) and figured because he loves colors and to say them, he could match the colors with their beginning sounds. He kinda did it, but it was easy to tell that he was really confused and that it wasn't working for him the way I had imagined. If he had the verbal skills I think he would have said something like this: "You want me to take these white objects and put them on a pink card? And and orange object on blue? What the heck are you talking about?! No...really?!"

He has gone from ten to fifteen memory cards. I also made sure that they were all words he can say as we're working a lot of speech clarity. He says the name of each as he finds them.

I can't think of any new Practical Life activities that haven't been posted this week, but I do have to say that Ty is great at helping bring the garbage can up from the curb!

Pretend Play

Ty has been quite into his stuffed animals lately. Feeding them, piling them, feeding them, naming them....and he's also been quite fond of jumping on the mattress on the floor (which would be his low bed if he slept by himself). So it seemed natural that he would want to make his animals jump too! He makes every last one of them (there are about 25 of them on the bed) jump, and sometimes wants me to sing the Tigger song for each animal. It's a lot of fun! Then it's usually Mama and Ty's turn to bounce!

Another game we're playing with his stuffed animals is really a literacy extension. He recently bought "Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?" (Eric Carle/Bill Martin Jr) with some Halloween money Grandma and Grandpa sent him. So we follow the pattern of the story with his animals (it's the same as Brown Bear, Brown Bear). This picture doesn't show much, but here We were saying "Cheer Bear, Cheer Bear what do you see?" and then, in a different voice said "I see Ernie looking at me" and on to "Ernie, Ernie what do you see" etc, etc. He thinks is quite amazing!

Gross Motor

We took Ty to Open Gym for the first time in over a month. He is a mastered two-footed jumper now and went nuts on the floor tramps. I love having this place available for him to safely practice movement!

We have had fun pretending to be different animals! Here Ty is slithering on the floor like a snake. His other favorites are being a bird and an elephant...
...as well as a bear! He was going backwards all over the house, then decided to go forwards and chase me all around, giggling! This is now a favorite activity.

This day I watched him back-up bear crawl style to the wall and start to walk his feet up it. My husband spotted and helped get him into a handstand. Instead of telling Ty something is dangerous (unless it truly is) and that he has to stop, we spot and assist when needed. I trust that his body and brain know what they can do and what they want and need to work on.

In the same light, that's also why I allowed Ty to run (and once or twice jump) off of his slide the other day when he started to try. He happened to have the helmet and pads on from his trike and scooter board so it kinda worked out. If you ever thought, for some silly reason, that I'm a "perfect mom" I'm sure you're not thinking so anymore! My husband I think Ty may be hoping to participate in the 2025 X-Games so how could we hold him back?!

What you may have missed this week:

Linking-up with the usual (wonderful!) blogs. Check them out for more ideas!

New link-ups: Tots and Me