100 Sticker Chart

I’ve been working on counting to 100 with Pumpkin 1.  She’s pretty good but struggles with the teen numbers.  We have a magnetic 100 chart but she wasn’t too interested in it.  She does however LOVE stickers.  Like really loves stickers and will chose new stickers over a new toy.  I had an inspiration to do a 100 sticker chart.  I found these on amazon but I didn’t really want to order anything else right now (on a strict budget) and didn’t want to pay shipping.  I was at Walmart and found coloured blank circle stickers which were perfect to make my own.  With a marker and a blank 100 chart I printed off I was all set.

It was a big hit.  Even Pumpkin 2 wanted his own.  It’s also great work for fine motor skills

 

The sticker set did have over 300 stickers and we used them all in one sitting between my kids and my daycare child.  I’ll probably pick up some more to do this again.  I was thinking of maybe a fill in the missing number 100 chart or having the numbers all mixed up rather than in order.

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Bringing Montessori Outside Part 2

I already feel like winter is looming and it’s only June.  That ominous, “Winter is Coming”.  I know the next few months will fly by and I want my kids to soak up as much of beauty and nature and sun and warmth they can.  Official school activities are not priority right now, gross motor play is.  We recently started going to a new park the kids love.  No one is there during the day yet so my kids have the park to themselves.  The other parks we go to are frustrating because a school or daycare will show up with 30-40 kids and just take over the place and my shy kids fell overwhelmed or they’re older kids who are too rough and use bad words and so we leave.  Anyway, we’re trying to do school outside as often as we can.  Here are some more ideas for bringing Montessori out into the sunshine.

This DIY spindle box is so simple.  The container is from the Dollar Store.  It’s a tackle or hardware box.  I use these a lot for storing things.  And popsicle sticks, also available at the Dollar Store.  Often I change up the “spindles” for other things – straws, sticks, counting bugs, etc…

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In fact you can use nature for counting.  These are pine cones the kids collected.  The numbers are regular magnetic ones.

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Toobs are great to bring outside or any other small plastic animals.  This is Vertebrate and Invertebrate sorting.

We recently got a Backyard Birds Toob from Michael’s.  We already had the bird book.  The kids like to find the birds in the book. They also are painting pictures of the birds to make their own bird book.

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This is a sight word game from Amazon.  It’s a way to make learning sight words more fun.

This is so simple to do but it takes dexterity for the kids.  They have to remember to weave in and out.  It was too hard for Pumpkin 2 and a challenge for Pumpkin 1.  The tidy part you see was me showing her how.  It’s really great for crossing the midline and spacial reasoning.

We tried out a ball run with cut pool noodles and Boomerings (and you thought Boomerings were a baby toy).  The balls kept getting lost in the cut grass so then we did water.

Next we’re going to try building something with trough.  I need to get some more Boomerings though.  They’re super strong and sturdy.

I have lots more ideas in my head for outdoor learning I can’t wait to share with you.

 

Follow my Pinterest board for lots more Montessori ideas.

 

 

Colour Mixing Science

I found these test tubes and stand at the surplus store and knew that they’d be great for many activities.  The colour mixing was really fun and you could really observe the colour change.  Also using the pipette it was great for developing fine motor skills and strengthening the pincher grasp for writing.

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A Playdough Kind of Day

Rainy days are great playdough days.  It’s easy to make your own playdough and it smells and feels so much nicer.  You can find my go to recipe for playdough here .

Playdough is not just fun sensory and imaginative play, it’s great for strengthening finger muscles and improving fine motor skills in preparation for writing.

 

Pumpkin 2’s First School Day.

I decided on the spur of the moment today to try doing some school activities with Pumpkin 2.  He’s 2.5 now and a real handful.  He’s so different than his sister and can drive me crazy yet be so sweet and adorable.  He’s high energy, always on the go, always doing whatever he wants no matter what I say.  I’m hoping school time will help him learn to focus better and redirect some of that energy.  We do try to get outside daily and he got some gross motor toys for Hannukah.

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His first activity was the Geo-Cabinet.  We did the presentation tray with cards and then the circle tray.  He really enjoyed it and it was just the right challenge for him.  And yes, he has one circle incorrect but he corrected it.

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Next he did the Pink Tower.  He did it all correctly the first time, though the second time he didn’t.  Go figure.  But he was very proud of himself.  He loved to be using the materials he usually is told to not touch (which he touches anyway).  He did handle them very carefully.  Hopefully getting to use them will help him learn to respect them since he had a habit of throwing everything for fun.

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Then we tried the brown stair.  He had more trouble with this one, I think because he just wanted to put it together to drive his toy car on it so wasn’t focused.

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He really enjoyed the Knobbed Cylinders.  He did them all.  They were just the perfect challenge for him.  I really love this material.  I find it so pleasing and satisfying.

Here’s a video of him at work.  I love the concentration on his face.

 

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His final work was matching Toob insects to their picture.  This was actually a bit of a challenge for him.  Matching objects to pictures helps children learn that things can be represented in picture or 2d form.

All in all it was a great 1st day.  Pumpkin 1 didn’t help him too much which I was afraid of and she kept telling him, “good job!”.  It was cute.  We did his school work in the morning and hers in the afternoon during his nap time.

 

Flags, Pompoms and Boomerings

I find practical life activities impossible to leave out because my 2 year old gets into them and makes a mess so we don’t do them as often as we should.  This is a cheap easy one to set up.  The tray is an ice cube tray from the Dollar store.  The pompoms are from there too.  She’s using tweezers from Scholar’s choice that came in a large container of them, I’ve given some away.  They’re easy to use for little hands.  This activity helps build finger strength for writing and fine motor skills.

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Pumpkin 1 LOVES this flag map from Affordable Montessori.  I thought the price was really reasonable and the quality is better than expected.

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I don’t even know the flags so I’ve been learning them.  It’s amazing how fast you pick up something when it’s hands on like this activity.  The map has a key on the back with all the flags and country names but of course you can’t check the back when you’re using it so I made a printable version.

You can download it here: flags

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Have I said how much I love Discovery Toys? Oh, I did?  Haha, they’re just so wonderful.  I love toys that engage and challenge my children, that teach them math, reading, logic, reasoning, prediction, memory, and so many other skills plus they have a life-time guarantee so I don’t have to worry about anything breaking.  We incorporate many of the Discovery Toys into our homeschool activities.

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Today Pumpkin 1 was really engaged in making patterns with the Boomerings.  These are so great, they can be used from infancy right on up until childhood.  They’re really strong and durable and there’s an activity set that comes with different activity cards for matching, patterning or math. Putting them together also is great for her fine motor skills and strengthening her fingers.

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You can even use them for dress-up!  Princess Pumpkin!

Is that really schooling?

Pumpkin 1 has discovered lacing beads and it’s her new thing.  She likes to make Mommy necklaces to wear.  At first she struggled to lace them but now she has it mastered and can do it more quickly.

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Some might say, “Is that really schooling?” and yes, it is!  Lacing isn’t just a life skill but it helps refine the fine motor skills in preparation for learning to write.  To lace a bead a child has to hold their hands really steady and it also requires coordinating both hands to work together.  Also anything that gets a child concentrating is important for the Normalization of the child.  There are many activities like this, that some would define as just “play” but are actually learning and preparation for further learning.  Trust the child to know what they need to learn and follow their sensitive period.

We purchased the below lacing beads (click image for link).

When purchasing lacing beads you want to make sure that the inside of the bead is smooth so that the lace doesn’t get caught and frustrate the child.  There are lots of other lacing beads out there.  Melissa and Doug has a set, but some of the reviews say that the inside isn’t smooth.  For a younger child you can start off with large hollow pasta noodles and a pipe cleaner.  Another option is the below toy from Hape.

Some people tape the end of the lace so that it’s easier to put through the bead as it’s more rigid.  And don’t forget to tie a knot in the other end.  I found this was the best way to tie the end.  Just a knot or two, the beads still came off with any pressure and upset my daughter after all her hard work.  This kept them on securely.

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Eventually we’ll move on to smaller beads as she refines her fine motor skills.  Since she loves making necklaces so much, we might try these, they’ll be a lot lighter around Mommy’s neck!

15 Months – What’s Pumpkin 2 Up To

Here are some activities Pumpkin 2 has been doing.  He’s now 15 months.

This is from 14 months.  It’s a large to small circle puzzle.  He also has a 3 shape (square, circle, triangle) puzzle.  They’re purchased from here.

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These are also from 14 months, they’re dowels and rings.  Pumpkin 2 really loved them.  I got them out a little late due to being sick so he was already able to do them with ease.  Also purchased from the above link.

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This is Pumpkin 2’s first experience with playdough.  It’s home made playdough from the recipe on my blog here.  We scented it with cinnamon and cloves.  He’s poking it with a baby gum massager which has bumps on it that make a pattern in the dough.  He also ate some of it too lol.

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This is Pumpkin 2’s favourite activity (other than toy cars, he plays with toy cars most of the day saying “voooo voooo voooo”).  He gets this activity out several times a day.  The seasoning shaker and mini dowels were both purchased at the dollar store.  He had just finished dinner so you can hear him burping lol.

His other favourite activity is to take all the pieces from the division puzzles and blocks and put them in the hole of the rolled up carpets or put a piece in some random place that takes me forever to find.

 

Dollar Store Montessori

Here are some DIY Dollar store Montessori inspired activities:

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Sugar shaker and mini dowels.

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Yogurt container and pompoms

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Cream cheese container and mini pompoms

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Yogurt container and popsicle sticks

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Baby puffs container and dowels and tongue depressors

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Bread pan and wash cloths (folding activity)

A Tea Party

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A tea party is a great way for a child to learn practical life skills while having fun.  Recently my mother passed on to me some of her chin tea cups which belonged to my grandmother and great-aunt.  One cup even belonged to my great-grandmother.  When I was a little girl my mother and I would make sugar cookies and then I’d get to pick a tea cup and we’d have a tea party.  Now I get to do that with my daughter and she just loves it.  With lots of thought she chooses her cup from the china cabinet.  One way to really build a child’s self esteem is to entrust them with something special and fragile, trusting in them that they’ll be careful (but don’t give them something you’ll be upset about if it does break).  The delight on their faces, mixed with seriousness at the task is wonderful.  Pumpkin says over and over to herself, “carefy, carefy, fagile”.

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Of course she spills a bit and clangs the tea cup a little too hard, but with practice she’ll learn to have the control over her hands to be gentle.  You can purchase tea cups and saucers for less than a dollar at Goodwill.  We also have a teapot and sugar bowl and creamer from there.

Children love to smell the teas I have and pick one to make.  An older child can pour cooled tea from the pot (don’t let them pour hot tea!).  There are also adorable small one or two cup tea pots that a younger child could use.  Pumpkin 1 is able to pour the milk from the creamer into her cup and put the sugar in and stir.  That’s her favourite part.  She stirs with the relish of childhood.

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And don’t forget to dress up!  Everything is more special in a pretty dress.  The memories of the tea parties from my child hood are always sweet to me.  It’s a simple and beautiful way to make memories with your child.  And tea parties are not just for girls.  Boys enjoy them too.