Why I’ve Decided on No Media For My Children

So, this is probably going to be a controversial post.  I know when I would read things about no TV I’d get defensive.  “It’s too hard to have no media”, “sometimes I just need a break”, “it’s a great educational tool”, “it’s the only way I can get some work done” were all things I’d think.  But I’ve come around in my thoughts and seeing the effects of no media on my children has affirmed that this is the right decision for us.  What you decide for your family is totally up to you.  One answer doesn’t fit all.  This isn’t a post to tell you what to do.  It’s a post to tell you why I’ve changed my mind.

So, recently we’ve made the decision to stop all exposure to television and media for our children until they’re older (no set age yet).  The overwhelming evidence shows that media exposure (television, computers, ipads, ipods, smartphones) is harmful on the developing child.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends “children under the age of two watch no screen entertainment at all because television ‘can negatively affect early brain development‘”

Research published in the world’s most reputable medical and scientific journals shows that the sheer amount of time children spend watching TV, DVDs, computers and the internet is linked with significant measurable biological changes in their bodies and brains that may have significant medical consequences.

How much TV are kids today watching?

By 7 years of age the average child will have watched screen media for over a year of 24 hour days!  The average European young person by the age of 18 will have spent 4 years of 24 hour days in front of a screen.   By the age of 80 these children will have spent over 13 years of 24 hour days just watching TV.

40% of infants are regularly watching television by 3 months of age and by the age of 2 years 90% are.

Children in Britain between 11–15 years spend 55% of their waking day watching screen media, that’s 53 hours a week, seven and a half hours a day.

How does media and screens negatively affect children?

Studies have demonstrated a deleterious effect of watching more than one to two hours of television per day on academic performance [31]. Excess television viewing causes poor peer relationships and thereby increases the risk of social isolation, anxiety disorder and agoraphobia [32]. Studies have shown that TV viewing may play an exacerbating, if not causal, role in the development of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder [33] and that excessive TV viewing in adolescence is a risk factor for development of depression in young adulthood. [34].  http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ989518.pdf

Good evidence suggests that screen viewing before age 2 has lasting negative effects on children’s language development, reading skills, and short-term memory. It also contributes to problems with sleep and attention. If “you are what you eat,” then the brain is what it experiences, and video entertainment is like mental junk food for babies and toddlers.

Just having the TV on in the background, even if “no one is watching it,” is enough to delay language development. Normally a parent speaks about 940 words per hour when a toddler is around. With the television on, that number falls by 770! http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/Why-to-Avoid-TV-Before-Age-2.aspx

Let’s break that information down:

The effect of media on socialization:

Using media reduces the amount of time a child spends interacting face to face with others.

Over the last twenty years social interaction (eye-to-eye contact) has gone down while eye-to-screen-contact has gone up. Just before the year 2000 life became literally virtual: people would spend more time in front of a screen than spending time interacting with other human beings

For every hour spent in front of a screen, there is a reduction in face-to-face time with the family by 24 mins.  A study by the University of California–Los Angeles has found that “social disengagement is now rapidly increasing, as side-by-side and eye-to-eye human interactions are being displaced by the eye-to-screen relationship.

A study of brain function in adults found that when using the internet, the areas of the brain associated with empathy showed virtually no increase in stimulation.  In particular, there seems to be a decline in the subtle skills of reading the nuances of other’s emotions.  The biggest drop in empathy has been found to be after the year 2000. College kids today are about 40 per cent lower in empathy than their counterparts of twenty or thirty years ago.

The University of Michigan study concluded that the rise of social media may also play a role in the drop in empathy, ‘The ease of having “friends” online might make people more likely to just tune out when they don’t feel like responding to others’ problems, a behavior that could carry over offline.’ Electronic media has also contributed to a social environment that works against slowing down and listening to someone who needs a bit of sympathy.

Television affects language development:

Despite claims that educational DVDs and videos are beneficial to young children, a study published in the medical journal Pediatrics found that the use of such productions might actually have a negative effect on language development.  Even ‘educational’ television programmes, DVDs and videos have shown no positive effects on children age 2 and under whether they were educational or non-education media.  Even if parents sat and watched the show with the children it made no difference to the outcome. Researchers have found that for every hour spent watching specially developed baby DVDs and videos such as ‘Baby Einstein’ and ‘Brainy Baby’, children under 16 months understood an average of six to eight less words compared to children who did not watch them.

Media has a major effect on the brain:

…the World Federation of Neurology as “[computer games are] halting the process of frontal lobe development and affecting children’s ability to control antisocial elements of their behaviour … alarmingly, computer games stunted the developing mind”.

Even just a few minutes of television viewing has a negative impact on the intellectual functions carried out by the by the frontal lobes of the brain in 4 year old children.  “‘Just 9 minutes of viewing a fast-paced television cartoon had immediate negative effects on 4-year-olds’ executive function”  and “A new study is even more specific, reporting ‘widespread reductions’ in the condition and size of brain cells in ‘major white matter pathways… throughout the brain, including the orbito-frontal white matter, corpus callosum, cingulum, inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, and corona radiation, internal and external capsules”

Media exposure causes sleep disturbances:

A study of 2068 children found that television viewing among infants and toddlers was associated with irregular sleep patterns. The number of hours of television watched per day was independently associated with both irregular naptime schedule and irregular bedtime schedules. (Thompson and Christakis 2005) Another study of 5-6 year olds found that both active TV viewing and background ‘passive’ TV exposure was related to shorter sleep duration, sleeping disorders, and overall sleep disturbances. Moreover, passive exposure to TV of more than two hours per day was strongly related to sleep disturbances

Researchers have reported that when children aged 6-12 were deprived of their media, their melatonin production increased by an average 30%. Melatonin is a sleep-promoting hormone produced in the brain.  “Exposure to a screen media was associated with lower urinary melatonin levels, particularly affecting younger children at a stage of pubertal development when important changes in melatonin’s role take place.”  Does your child have trouble sleeping?  Try cutting out their media exposure, especially before bedtime.

Media exposure affects a child’s attention span:

Early television exposure is associated with attentional problems at age 7. Children who watched television at ages 1 and 3 have a significantly increased risk of developing attentional problems by the time they are 7. For every hour of television a child watched per day, there was a 9 per cent increase in attentional problems.

The study concluded: ‘Childhood television viewing was associated with attention problems in adolescence, independent of early attention problems and other confounders. These results support the hypothesis that childhood television viewing may contribute to the development of attention problems and suggest that the effects may be long-lasting.’

Media exposure affects academic performance:

Television viewing amongst children under 3 is found to have ‘deleterious effects’ on mathematics ability, reading recognition and comprehension in later childhood. Along with television viewing displacing educational and play activities, this harm may be due to the visual and auditory output from the television actually affecting the child’s rapidly developing brain (Zimmerman and Christakis, 2005). A 26-year longitudinal study, tracking children from birth, has concluded that ‘television viewing in childhood and adolescence is associated with poor educational achievement by 26 years of age.

For every additional hour of television at 29 months there is a correspondence years later to a 7% and 6% unit decreases in classroom engagement and math achievement.  “Higher levels of early childhood television exposure predicted less task-oriented, persistent, and autonomous learning behavior in the classroom.”

Media is associated with less reading:

We have heard over and over how important reading is to a child’s development, however “Pre-school children spend three times longer in front of a television or computer than they spend reading”.  Researchers have found a link between the use of computer games and lower attainment in reading and literacy.

a European based study of 15-year-old students in 31 countries concluded that those using computers at school several times a week performed ‘sizeably and statistically significantly worse’ in both maths and reading than those who used them less often

The effect of media on physical health:

a study published in The Lancet, conducted at the Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand, tracked the television viewing habits and health of 1,000 children over 26 years. It found that children who watched more than two hours of television a day between the ages of five and 15 developed significant health risks many years later

Each extra hour of watching TV is associated with an extra 1 kg of body fat. Harvard researchers reported that “beyond merely displacing physical activity, TV appears to slow metabolism and burns fewer calories compared with other sedentary activities such as sewing, reading, writing or driving a car”.  Watching television actually makes us eat more.  “A recent US study found that even children who watched a below average amount of television (less than three hours a day for an average of 2.7 days a week) ate roughly the equivalent of an extra meal a day more than those who watched none”.  Watching television candisrupt the natural link between appetite and eating.

Media also increases our risk of cardiovascular disease:

Children watching 2 to 4 hours of TV a day had 2.5 times the likelihood of having high blood pressure compared with children watching 0 to less than 2 hours. While those children watching 4 or more hours of TV were 3.3 times more likely to have high blood pressure

Media can also affect the hormonal development:

The lead author speculated that girls are reaching puberty much earlier than in the 1950s. One reason is due to their average increase in weight; but another may be due to reduced levels of melatonin. Animal studies have shown that low melatonin levels have an important role in promoting an early onset of puberty

But can’t media be educational?

Infants may stare at the bright colors and motion on a screen, but their brains are incapable of making sense or meaning out of all those bizarre pictures. It takes 2 full years for a baby’s brain to develop to the point where the symbols on a screen come to represent their equivalents in the real world.  

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a report stating: ‘children learn more from live presentations than from televised ones. … Young children learn best from—and need—interaction with humans, not screens. … Unstructured play time is more valuable for the developing brain than electronic media.’

‘When learning from videos is assessed in comparison to equivalent live presentations, there is usually substantially less learning from videos’ (Anderson and Pempek, 2005). A phenomenon called the ‘video deficit’ is being used to describe the observation that toddlers who have no trouble understanding a task demonstrated in real life often stumble when the same task is shown onscreen

Studies have found that “‘the introduction of home computer technology is associated with statistically significant and persistent negative impacts on student math and reading test scores”

Malamud and Pop-Eleches (2010) compared the educational effects of government provided home computers on Romanian school children, and concluded that children given these home computers ‘had significantly lower school grades in Math, English and Romanian but significantly higher scores in a test of computer skills’.

Researcher have concluded, after examining certaim measure of cognitive development, that, “An 11-year-old today is performing at the level an 8- or 9-year-old was performing … 30 years ago … “. The decline was attributed in part to the growing use of computer games.

Also a child cannot learn a new language from watching TV.  Language learning requires interaction.  Studies have found giving babies just 12 sessions in front of a Mandarin-speaking instructor dramatically increased their ability to differentiate Chinese sounds. However, this effect is not there if the exposure to the language is by TV or radio, instead of a human.  Going back to the earlier studies I mentioned, TV watching is actually associated with poorer language skills.  being. http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2011/03/01/why-your-kid-cant-learn-foreign-languages-from-watching-tv/

Don’t children need to be exposed to media so that they are able to function in a technological world and know how to use it when older, especially in today’s workforce?

Research has actually found that even monkeys are comfortable with, and capable of using, the same screen technology that children are exposed to.  Technology today is rapidly changing.  The media children are using right now will not be the media and technology they will be using as adults.  Researchers at Harvard Medical School have stated, “There is no data to substantiate the claim that young children need to learn to become comfortable with screen technology.”

But the TV is just on, no one is watching it, it’s just background noise.

In case you thought you could turn off Barney for your baby but keep the Bachelorette re-run buzzing in the background, think again. For the first time, the AAP statement weighs in on “secondhand TV,” the group’s version of secondhand smoke. Up to 60% of families report that the television is always or often on, even when no one is watching. “When you think no one is really watching, someone is watching, and it’s your child,” says Brown, citing research that shows young children playing with toys while an adult show is on will look up at the screen every 20 seconds. 

My personal observations:

I used to try to just limit tv and media.  But I was finding it easy to just put it on when my children were being difficult, which children often are.  And just a few minutes would quickly become an hour or two while I got engrossed in my work.  Not to mention the tantrum that resulted when it was turned off.  I also could see how much of an influence it would have on Pumpkin 1.  She’s start talking like how she heard the characters in the show talk.  She started calling me “Mom” like Franklin calls his mother even though before I was always Mommy.  These were innocent things as she mostly only watched Franklin, but they were having such a profound effect on her that I can only imagine how darker or more serious shows would affect her.

I decided that it was better to go all out no tv then to do limited.  At first it was hard.  She was cranky and bored and driving me nuts.  It seemed to take 2 or 3 days to get it out of her system and then she changed.  She started playing independently with her toys for hours.  Her imaginative play increased.  Her tantrums reduced.  She was happier and more engaged.  I was able to get work done without having to entertain her or turn on the TV because she was able to play on her own.  When I let her watch a movie one Sunday, the effect was so noticeable.  The next day from when she woke up she was miserable, cranky, throwing tantrums about everything.  I was actually shocked by the change in her.  After a day of no media she was back to herself.

Pumpkin 2 has seen very little tv.  He will sit for forever and let you read stories to him.  I’ve seen a real difference between my children and my daycare children.  They can hardly sit still through a story whereas my children sit as quiet as mice, completely enthralled in the book.

So are we going to freak out if our kids see a little TV for a relative lets them play on their electronic device?  No, it’s not banned outright.  It don’t think it’s good to be obsessive about anything.  But in our home, we’re working hard to make it media free for our children while they’re young.  We’ll revisit our decision as they get older.

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My Etsy Store

So I’ve been MIA for a while.  I was busy finishing some afghans I was crocheting as Christmas gifts and then the holidays were busy and…..I opened an Etsy store.  I started off with a peg people color grading activity that sold out fast.  Now I’m selling other wood Montessori and Waldorf inspired toys.  It’s very exciting and I’m very passionate about my items.  They’re all natural, carefully sanded and finished with my own homemade finish of beeswax and jojoba oil.  It leaves a lovely dark shine and jojoba oil won’t go rancid like olive oil will.

I hope you will pop over and check it out.

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Montessori Wood Infant Toy, first knobbed cylinders, natural peg and cup toy

Montessori Wood Infant toy - Ball and Jar, Natural Wood toys for toddlers and infants, develops object permanence and fine motor skills

Wood Kitchen Pantry Toy set, Waldorf inspired natural toys

Teaching children to read and write – The Sound Game

When you decide to start homeschooling, if you’re starting with no outside schooling at all, this is the main challenge and probably the most intimidating; teaching your child to read and write.  We know they have to learn their letters, we know they have to learn to sound them out, we know they have to learn to write their letters.  But how does one put it all together?  How to you make a child learn and comprehend and develop a love for reading?  In traditional schooling one teaches a child to sing A,B,C,D….and the names of the letters.  Then they teach them the sounds of the letters and how to write them and read them.  Montessori approaches things different.  How I am teaching Pumpkin 1 is according to a little booklet with a long name put out by NAMATA written by Muriel Dwyer called, “A Path for the Exploration of Any Language Leading to Writing and Reading; As part of the Total Montessori Approach to the Development of Language”.  (see link to purchase, the booklet is inexpensive but shipping is rather steep)

The first step is to help develop the vocabulary of the child through interactions, stories, songs and poems.  Use lots of language with the child, their little minds at a young age absorb language and no word is too difficult for them to learn.  It’s amazing how many new words a child picks up a day.  Reading and singing to a child should not be neglected and should be a part of every day.

When a child is 2 to 2 1/2 one can begin the Sound Game or I Spy Game.  The purpose of this game is to help a child understand that words are made up of sounds and to attune the child’s ear to hear all the different sound that make up a word.  You start off very simple by holding an object and saying, “I spy/I am holding something that starts with ‘buh’.  What is it?”  And the child responds with, “A ball” or “A bear” or whatever it is that you are holding.  Play this game several times a day as the child is interested.  It may take some time before the child catches on so don’t hurry this stage or move on before the child is ready.  Gradually you can make it more difficult.  You can have two objects for the child to choose from, moving up to three and on until the child can identify the object anywhere in the room.   Then you can move on to asking the child what the object starts with.  It took Pumpkin 1 a while to catch on.  Everything started with “buh” to her and I worried that she would never get it.  But then, suddenly, last week, she got it.  And she started asking what everything started with.  It’s so exciting when this happens and you can see their little minds working with this discovery.

The next stage of the game is to identify the sound at the end of words and then you move on to the sounds in the middle of words, starting off with words with 3 sounds, such as “hat” and gradually getting more difficult.  The final stage is to see how many words the child can think of that begin with or contain a sound.  Don’t worry about how “c” and “k” make the same sound or that “ch” is two letters.  This is only about sounds, the focus is on the exploration of the spoken word.  Dwyer stresses the importance of playing this game without any reference to symbols or letters, at all.  She says in italics, “Please, please do not attempt to introduce the letters to the children at this stage.”  and in all caps “DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO INTRODUCE THE LETTERS AT THIS STAGE” and again “IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT THE WHOLE ‘THE SOUND GAME’ IS EXPERIENCED WITHOUT REFERENCE TO ANY SYMBOLS, WHETHER THE SANDPAPER LETTERS, THE MOVABLE ALPHABET OR TO READING, AS THE AIM OF THIS GAME IS, AS STATED BEFORE, TO MAKE THE CHILDREN AWARE OF THE SOUNDS THEY USE IN SPEECH”.

Now, I must admit, I started off wrong.  I was introducing letters.  The fact is, it’s really hard not to because we think that’s what we’re supposed to do.  There is a lot of pressure to have your child “know their alphabet”.  Little Johnny’s mom will say, “oh Johnny can recognize all his letters, can Suzy?” or someone will point to a letter and ask your child, “what letter is this?” and you feel like you’re failing because Suzy doesn’t know her letters yet.  But if you’re following Montessori you’re teaching a different way and when the time comes, Suzy will fly through learning her letters, picking up two or three letters at a time and, if you’ve thoroughly done the Sound Game, should know all the letters in 2 to 3 weeks.  Then Suzy will quickly move to writing with the moveable alphabet because she already knows all the sounds the letters make.  So I’ve gone back, removed any letters and am focusing on just sounds with Pumpkin 1.  I’m taking to heart Dwyer’s words, “Do not rush this work for it is the foundation for all that will follow and must be thoroughly covered.”  It’s not about having your child learn things at a young age, or ahead of others, it’s about building a solid foundation so that your child understands and comprehends and builds connection with what comes next.

There are more sounds in English than just 26 letters of the alphabet.  Here are the  key sounds and symbols.

a as in am

b as in tub

c as in tic

d as in lid

e as in egg

f as in if

g as in mug

h as in hut

i as in if

j as in jam

k as in ink

l as in full

m as in am

n as in in

o as in on

p as in up

r as in run

s as in toss

t as in mat

u as in up

v as in move

w as in win

y as in yet

z as in quiz

qu as in quilt

ai as in aim

ee as in see

ie as in pie

oa as in oat

oo as in book

ue as in blue

ou as in out

oy as in toy

er as in her

ar as in car

or as in or

th as in moth

sh as in push

ch as in much

au as in Paul

The Sound Game is so easy to play, you don’t need anything special, though some people like to collect small objects for each sound to use as they create interest in the child.  However, I find this game is played at the strangest times, like when Pumpkin 1 is sitting on the toilet, or when I’m making dinner.  Sometimes we play it while waiting in the car or going for a walk.  That’s what makes it great, you can play it anywhere at any time and it doesn’t cost you anything

Once the child has master at least 2/3 of the sound game, then the sandpaper letters are introduced, followed by the moveable alphabet so that the child can express herself freely and then by the child discovering that she can read.  If a child fails to progress or is not interested in writing or reading, it is often because the proper foundation was not laid with the Sound Game.

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.

 

Daily Routine Cards

I’ve been thinking for a couple weeks about putting up a daily routine for Pumpkin 1.  It’s been hard getting her ready for bed at night.  We have a routine, but sometimes Daddy gives her a bath and sometimes Mommy, and since she’s at the “I only want Mommy” stage, she’ll throw a fit when Daddy goes to bath her.  After she’s in bed she also wants a billion things, “need hat!”  “need glasses!”  “need water!”  “no yike shadow” and last night, “no yike birds singing” lol.  Also in the morning it’s a bit of a rush.  Daycare kids are here before she gets up so she needs to get up and pottied and dressed quickly.  I hate rushing her, I love the mornings with her, but the other kids need me too.  So my hope was a visual routine would help her stay on track, be fun and be something she could follow as she gets more independent as well as give her a sense of security whether it’s Mommy or Daddy getting her ready for bed.

So first off I needed to find some routine cards.  I can’t find the set I actually used to post but these are the same, only in black and white.

 

Next I printed off the ones I needed and laminated them.  I was going to mount them to card stock first but I forgot, so I might redo them down the road.

Then I attached adhesive magnets to the back.  Then came the hard part, what to put on the wall for them to stick to?  I was going to use a cookie sheet from the dollar store but it wasn’t long enough and looked silly.  I thought and thought about what I might have that was magnetic, and then it came to me – can you see in the picture what I used?

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Metal rulers!  My mother always had a metal ruler.  So I asked hubby to pick some up at Staples (as he had to pick up some calender pictures I had laminated).  They’re the 12″ ones and were like $2.50 each approx. They also have 16″ ones.  I used the Command removable hanging strips to attach the rulers to the wall, and voila!  A magnetic daily routine chart.

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Pumpkin 1 was very intrigued by it.  The top two rows are the morning routine and the bottom two are the evening.  I wanted it to go from left to right then down as a form of pre-literacy training.  I posted it in the hallway between her room and the bathroom so it’s easy for her to refer to for bathroom things and bedroom things.  Now I’m just wondering if I can paint the rulers so they look a little less like, well, rulers!

Anyway, she went to bed very easily and didn’t ask for anything!  However, I’m not holding my breath.  It might just have been a fluke.  Pumpkin 2 helped me install our routine by bending a card and eating a wrapper from the Command strips.  He was very intrigued as well.

By the way, the previous owners did the terrible paint job.  Makes me cringe.

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.

Object Permanence Box

Here’s my son discovering the Montessori Object Permanence Box at 8 1/2 months.

Here he is a month later and he has it down pat (of course everyone still wants to help him 🙂 )

You can also see the difference in my responses as I’ve been trying to not over praise.

Montessori Printables

There are lots of Montessori printables for free or for a small price online.  If you’re on a budget these are great resources for educating your child.  My favourite site for Montessori printables is Montessori Print Shop.  They have tons of resources and lots of great free stuff.  Here are some examples of free materials for use with toddlers or preschoolers (click on the link or the picture).

Bird Match Up

I Spy Pages

Small, Medium, Large  - FREE Printable Montessori Materials for home and school.

Big, Medium, Small

Imagine Story Cards - Free Printable Montessori Language Materials for Montessori Learning at home and at school.

Imagine Story Cards

They also have tons of materials available for a couple of dollars.  Here are some of my favourites for toddlers and preschoolers (click on the photo for link).

Air Land and Water Sorting Cards - Printable Montessori Science Materials for Montessori Learning at home and school.

Air Land and Water Sorting Cards

 

Color Sorting - Printable Montessori Materials for home and school.

Colour Sorting

 

Seasonal Sorting Cards - Printable Montessori Materials

Seasonal Sorting

 

Objects and Shilouettes - Montessori Cards for Montessori Learning at home and school.

Objects and Silhouettes

 

Counting Cards (Spring) - Printable Montessori Materials for home and school.

Counting Cards (Spring)

 

Toddler Geometric Solid Cards - Printable Montessori Toddler Materials for Montessori Learning at home and school.

Toddler Geometric Solid Cards

 

Toddler Young and Adult Sorting Cards - Printable Montessori Toddler Materials for Montessori Learning at home and school.

Toddler Baby and Adult Sorting

 

Color Grading Cards - Printable Montessori Sensorial Materials for Montessori Learning at home and school.

Colour Grading Cards

So head on over to the Montessori print shop and download some new materials for your little one.