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.

 

 

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Rocker Board

My kids have rediscovered the rocker board.  Pumpkin 2 likes to roll his cars down it.  Pumpkin 1 now has the balance to rock it.  It’s great exercise and strengthens the leg muscles as well as helps improve balance.

You can read about our rocker board here

If you’re in Canada you can purchase your own here and support a home business.

Freedom to Explore

Getting the toys he wants, himself.

Getting the toys he wants, himself.

Today we parents tend to worry, a lot.  Because of media we hear, it seems so often, of children getting injured or killed by some random thing and so we feel like we have to put our children in a bubble of protection lest the worst should happen.  Thus our infants tend to be confined, a lot.  Confined to a crib, confined to a swing, confined in a playpen, confined in an exersaucer, confined in a bouncy seat, confined in a high chair.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with these things, but restricting a child’s freedom for much of the day isn’t healthy.  A baby needs to move, roll, push, crawl, explore.  They need to exercise.  We also often put them in seats that hold them up in a position that isn’t natural for them at that age and can be detrimental if the child is allowed to sit in that position for hours.  Children who aren’t able to stand should not be left in an exersaucer or jumper for more than 15 mins at a time and they should not be placed in one until they’re able to hold their heads up on their own.

I made this mistake with Pumpkin 1.  Because we have dogs and wood floor, I felt safer with her in her swing or her playpen.  She was in an exersaucer a lot from about 5 months.  She was confined to a playpen for long periods of time.  It wasn’t until she was crawling that I let her explore her world as she didn’t want to be confined any more. I began to realize the importance of movement and the importance of not protecting her every second.  When she started to walk I didn’t hover to keep her from falling or bumping her head.  I let her climb on sturdy chairs herself and go up and down stairs.  She learned quickly to duck near the table, how to fall without hurting herself, and she’s been going up and down stair stand since at least 18 months.  She’s only fallen from the bottom step.

I did things differently with Pumpkin 2.  When he was born we had a playroom finally finished.  From the time he was little I’d let him lie on the floor with toys around him.  He learned to roll over several months sooner than Pumpkin 1.  I was amazed that even as a little baby, 4 months, he could get across the playroom and get a toy he wanted.  Now at almost 9 months he gets into everything.

4 1/2 months

4 1/2 months

He has the freedom to move, grab, mouth, discover and explore his environment.  His favourite thing to do is pull the kid chairs down on himself.  I think it makes him feel strong and powerful 🙂  Yes, he still spends time in is high chair watching me cook.  He spends time in his playpen as the rest of the house isn’t as babyproofed.  But I make sure he gets time every day to have freedom.  With obesity rates what they are today, it’s never too early to let your child get moving and exercising their body.

The Montessori method advocates allowing children to explore their environment, to teach a child how to be safe rather than locking everything up, within reason of course.  Many followers of Montessori don’t even use cribs.  Their babies sleep on a mattress on the floor.  Their room is completely babyproofed and so if the child wakes, he or she is free to roll off the bed and explore.  Floor beds are not something I’ve done as we have baseboard heaters, but I think they can be great in a safe room.

So what about your home?  Is there a space that you can make safe and give your baby the freedom to move and explore in?  A young baby may only need a small space, but a moving and crawling baby will need a bigger space.  Babyproof the area, put out low shelves with toys your baby can get out himself, a low mirror on a wall is a great addition.  If your baby is pulling up then a sturdy low table is excellent, or even one of those activity center tables.  And perhaps a floor bed is right for your baby.

Freedom.  It helps foster independence, curiosity and intelligence as well as build coordination, balance, and improve health.  Give your child a daily dose.

Waldorf Style Rocker Board Review

I was so excited to give this gift to my daughter (and son, though he’s only 6 months) for Hanukkah.  I didn’t even have to show Pumpkin 1 how to use it, she figured out right away how to make it rock.  “Wee wee, wee weee” she did it for quite a while.  I turned it over and she then had fun sliding down it.

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These are amazing, open ended toys that will give your child hours of fun.  Too often in Montessori we focus on the fine motor skills, but the gross motor skills are important too, especially for preschoolers.  A rocker board, also called a moon board or a balance board, is a great way for children to develop their balance and gross motor skills.  In the winter we don’t get outside to play as much as we should and so I was looking for ways for Pumpkin 1 to be active indoors.  The board can be a slide, a chair, a bed, a teeter-totter, a bridge, a cradle, a boat, a wall, the imagination is endless.  And it’ll grow with your child.  It’s a toy all ages will love (I even tried it out myself 😉 ).

My little gypsy crawling under it.

My little gypsy crawling under it.

A good place for a nap

A good place for a nap

Pumpkin 1’s favourite is to make it a bed (she’s all about pretending to sleep) and I have to rock it and sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat.

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Row, row, row your boat

The board is made from plywood laminated into a curve and can withstand 145lbs of pressure.  The boards’ edges are all rounded and they are finished with either a scratch resistant polyurethane varnish or a natural, non-toxic shellac varnish.  I choose the shellac finish.  It’s very sturdy and durable and will last for years and years.

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This is one toy you won’t regret purchasing.  If you google it you’ll see tons of excellent reviews for rocker boards.  And here’s the great news.  Tim at “The Carpenter’s Son’s Apprentice” is offering a discount to my readers!  He’s got a wonderful online store http://www.thecarpenterssonsapprentice.ca/index.html  He is really great to purchase from with amazing customer service and fast shipping. This is a bonus for my Canadian readers as I haven’t seen these boards available anywhere else in Canada and shipping from the U.S. is expensive.  He also ships to the U.S. for my American readers.  There’s still time to have it for Christmas if you hurry.  Here’s the link for the promo:  http://www.thecarpenterssonsapprentice.ca/Store/Store-MoonRockers-PumpkinsPromo.html