DIY Mirror Table

As a homeschooling mother I’m always adapting, always learning, always trying to improve.  Lately I’ve been incorporation more Reggio into our lives.  I find it has many similarities with Montessori but allows more open-ended exploration and more of the arts.

Mirrors are used a lot in Reggio.  They allow the child to view themselves and to view their work from different angles.  They promote exploration with reflections and symmetry.  We had this little table in our room and I thought it’d make a great mirror table.  A trip to the dollar store later it was all set up.

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The table is this one from Walmart.  It’s only $15 CAD.

The mirrors are from the Dollar Store.  They’re $2 each and are about 9 3/4″ squares.  I also got some command strips for hanging pictures frames.

The mirrors fit perfectly on the table leaving a little ledge for the standing up ones.

What I did was attach 4 to the table with the command strips so that I could later remove them without damaging the table.  I put them on to one side so that there was a rim of the table to balance the standing up ones on.  For those I put two at a 90% angle and taped them and then taped one on either end.  I put them up on the table and taped the backs to the table.  Two strategically placed pieces of tape on the front two end pieces keep them from sliding back.

And now the exploration can begin.  The first thing Pumpkin 1 said was, “Mommy I made a star!”

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Follow my Pinterest Board for more Reggio homeschooling ideas:

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Real Tools

My daycare kids and Pumpkins love to play doctor.  This play is enhanced with the use of real doctors tools.

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I had to sneak the photo so I wouldn’t disrupt their play.

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Waldorf promotes using natural toys that aren’t too realistic to inspire the imagination and to not awaken the dreamlike state of the child whereas Reggio encourages the use of real tool for children.  It’s up to you which way you lean for your family.  Here is a wonderful Reggio inspired blog that discusses real tools:

http://www.playathomemomllc.com/2013/12/creating-play-spaces/

I purchased our doctor’s kit tools from Amazon.  Click the picture for the Amazon link.

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I also put in some medicine measuring spoons and medicine dispensers that look like a needle I picked up from the grocery store pharmacy section.

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What are some other real tools you could give to your children to enhance the depth of their play?

Corn pit

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I finally got the corn pit set up.  Pumpkin 1 loved it.  She had fun hiding all her farm animals in the corn.  Great sensory activity and so many ways to play.  I’ll probably also use the corn for a sensory bin for my daycare children and for some pouring and scooping exercises for Pumpkin 1.  I did add some scoops and cups after the photo was taken.  I got the corn at TSC.  It was $12 for a 55lbs bag which was enough for our kiddie pool.  She’s pretty good at not throwing the corn, but I do have to watch her.  However, it’s not hard to scoop into a pile with your hands and put it back in.

The Playroom

The below pictures are from the web.  If you click on them they’ll take you to the website they’re from.  I’ll post pictures of my playroom soon.  It seems to be ever evolving so I’m never satisfied with it.

The Reggio Emilia approach to education views the environment as the third teacher.  Maria Montessori also emphasized the environment as an important part of learning.

“The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and
invite the child to conduct his own experiences.”

There are several principles I think are important to consider when planning your playroom.

Relaxing:  I don’t like when a playroom or classroom is full of bright, contrasting colours, posters everywhere, colourful mats, etc.  It’s just too over stimulating.  A child can’t focus in such an environment.  The playroom should be soothing, relaxing and appealing.  I believe children have an innate sense of style so decorate in a way you’d decorate other rooms of your home.  Paint the walls in a soft, pale colour.  Pink has been shown to be soothing.  A soft white, neutral beige or a pale blue are good choices.  Decor should be simple too.  You can use colour here, but don’t over due it.  The decor should complement, not distract.  Flooring, the same, not over colourful or stimulating.  You want the materials to be the focus, not the decor.  And don’t forget a comfy corner for reading or resting.

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Accessible yet safe:  The room should be designed for children.  Low shelving and child sized furniture.  The child should be able to reach and take out the majority of the toys, materials, and craft supplies themselves.  You may need to have some things out of reach, but keep as much as you can available to your child.  However, keep safety in mind.  Tall shelves should be braced so they won’t tip, avoid sharp corners, plugs should have covers, and if you have young children, toys and materials that are accessible should be safe.

Simple:  Limit the toys.  Does your child really need 20 Barbies, 50 dinky cars, 100 stuffed animals?  Probably not.  Get rid of the excess and try to limit things to a few, quality toys.  See toys as an investment in your child’s development.  Focus on toys that teach and encourage learning.  Also toys for imaginative play and open ended toys.  Limit noisy, battery operated toys. You can also rotate toys.  This keeps things interesting & leaves more room for organization.

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Organized: And organized environment leads to an organized mind.  A place for everything and everything in it’s place.  Organization allows your child to see what materials are available to them.  Don’t cram the shelves, invest in organization aids such as shelves, baskets and containers.  Teach your child to put away a toy in the right place before taking another out.  Having a clean, organized environment encourages your child to respect their playroom and toys and to absorb these qualities themselves.  It also helps reduce behavior problems due to over stimulation and frustration.

Natural light: Your playroom should be well lit with natural light.  If your playroom is in the basement, for safety reasons there should be windows but you can use mirrors to increase the natural light.  Don’t use florescent lights.  Use indoor lighting that isn’t harsh on the eyes.

Great sites for inspiration

http://theimaginationtree.com/

http://www.playathomemomllc.com/

These two sites have tons of great activities you can do with children from babies to preschool.  They’re  more in the Reggio Emilia school of thought on education but they compliment the Montessori activities.

When I decided I wanted to do Montessori with my children, I was overwhelmed.  There are so many materials (expensive ones too) and ideas that I didn’t know where to begin.  What activities do I focus on with my daughter?  What materials should I purchase?  What ones can I make?  I didn’t know where to start.  But I found this “curriculum” (if that’s the right word for it) http://www.montessoriathomebook.com/Home.html/  I ordered the e-book (at only $10)  and it’s AMAZING!  It has everything I was looking for.  The philosophy of Maria Montessori, what I should buy, what activities to do at what age, other materials that are great, books, even aps to download for children.  And tons and tons and tons of DIY activities.  There are also links to blogs and stores.  I highly recommend it for anyone who is thinking of doing Montessori at home.

This morning we played with the Magnetic Mighty Mind.  It’s great for working on shapes and matching.  I like the magnetic set because the pieces stay in place for little hands.  I gave her a cookie sheet to play on.  The set comes in a tin and you can put the cards in the lid and work on it as well.  I was surprised because last time she played with it she didn’t get the matching concept, but today she was doing it.

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