Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sound sorting

Did you see the post about collecting little objects? Well, this activity uses objects - and kids are enamored with these cute, mini, choking hazards. :) (Just thinking about my ten month old "vacuum cleaner" and why we don't do things like this when she is awake!)

Here's what you need: groups of objects (We used three different letter sounds - but if you are just starting, just use two) and felt "rugs". I just used a felt "sheet" from the craft store and divided it into thirds.
Here's why you should do it: This, like I spy, helps your child isolate and listen for beginning sounds. This activity is just another extension of I spy, but this time attaching a visual, written letter with the sound that is heard. You can also introduce some new vocabulary, too!

First, dump all the objects into a bowl or container.
Lay out your letters and your felt "rugs". (I would not do these letters for someone who is just learning letters/sounds. Note how confusing these letters look to a young child who is learning. Circles and sticks are all over the place! :)

Say the name of the object and choose the right letter sound. You might have to emphasize the beginning sound for them, especially at first when they are training their ears to listen for beginning sounds.
Here is the finished product!
Here is a close up of some of the objects - poodle, puppies, paper clip, present, pan, pea, pacifier, pineapple, pin (bowling and safety), pizza, praying mantis

Here is a picture of some easier sounds to start with. Happy sorting!

Monday, March 23, 2009

I love me some Mo!

A few months ago, on my other blog, I wrote about Mo Willems, one of my favorite children's authors. I was thinking . . . this would be fun to share with all my new blogging friends on Momtessori . . . and I will add in some of my other favorite children's authors from time to time, too.
Who, you may ask, is Mo Willems? He is the funniest children's author/illustrators that I have read in a long time! I LOVE his books and Lawton thinks they are the funniest thing! They are so expressive (who, me, loves expressiveness? hmmm.) and you just can't help but giggle at the story lines, the characters, and their expressive expressions. :)

I first discovered Mo one night when Chad and I were on a rare date or Christmas shopping or something and we were perusing some children's books at Davis Kidd. We came across Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale and read the entire thing cover to cover, laughing out loud in the bookstore. Poor Trixie takes her Knuffle Bunny (or lovey in our house) to the laundromat with her Dad. Somehow Knuffle Bunny gets left at the laundromat, and she tries to communicate to her dad that her beloved Bunny is lost, while going boneless (you know you have all experienced "bonelessness") trying to convey her deep despair. If your child has a lovey and it has ever been lost, you can totally relate. Being reminded of this, I bought Carolina a back-up lovey just in case hers ever gets (gasp) LOST. I am sad that I do not own this precious book.

Knuffle Bunny Too is equally funny. Loved it.
We checked out The Pigeon Wants a Puppy the other week at the library. I'm not sure how many times we have already read it, but it still is cracking me up. (it doesn't take a whole lot, though.)
There is an entire Elephant and Piggie series, (click HERE) Cute, but not as cute as the other ones I have mentioned.

HERE is his blog for fun . . . Go check out some Mo at your local library!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Not your Grandmother's laundry . . .

Seriously. Does anyone still hang their clothes on the line to dry outside? I don't think that I have seen a clothes line at any of my friends houses last time we were over for a play date. Growing up, we would always hang our sheets and towels outside and I vividly remember my Grandmother's clothes pin bag and going to help her hang clothes on the line. Drying clothes on the line - at least in my small circle- seems like an era gone by. But . . . your kiddie needs to learn how to operate a clothes pin - if for nothing else but to let you drink your coffee in peace one morning! ha! :)

Here's what you need: Clothes pins of any type (I have several ideas for you - keep scrolling!) and a straight lipped bowl or glass

Here's why you should do it: This activity will help develop their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and help increase their concentration levels. Hopefully they will like it so much they will do it over and over again and let you drink a second cup of coffee to better face the day!

On this post, I am going to show you increasing levels of difficulty instead of "stepping it up a notch" or "stepping it down a notch". You'll see . . .

Start with 8-10 clothes pins inside your selected container. Make sure that the width of the "lip" and the height will correctly accommodate your pins.

Take the pins and place them on the rim of the container. A very young toddler could do these pins (there is no pinching!)
Ta da! Lawton started pretending that these were the members of our family and was naming them as he was placing them on the lip. How I wish I had gotten this out two years ago . . . I guess Carolina will benefit, huh?
These are "typical" clothes pins.
He's proud as punch that he lined them up so neatly . . .
These clothes pins could probably be found in your office supply section of the store. (I don't really remember, though. I bought them when I was teaching about six years ago . . .)
He liked matching the colors as he was clipping them on.
This is where it finally got challenging for Lawton. These teeny tiny clips are tricky! He did a few and then said he "was tired". umm hmmm. I have left them out though and he has already tackled them again. Maybe in a few days he will have the hang of it!
Just to show you the scale - my beautifully manicured fingernails (hear the sarcasm?) and the too cute clothes pins. You can find these probably at a craft store or the dollar store. Again, six years ago, people. :)
I thought of these kind of clips after Lawton was sleeping. You probably have these on hand in your desk drawer!
Oh! Guess what?! When we got back from camping last night, (sorry for the delay in posting), we had a package waiting for us! Lawton was so excited - he didn't know it was coming! Here is a book that I got to go with the butterfly kit.

And here is the kit! This kit came with a coupon that I have to send in to get the caterpillars. I saw that some kits are shipped with live caterpillars, too. I'm glad that I got the coupon kind, though, since ours came while we were gone! Caterpillars are coming soon . . .

Friday, March 13, 2009

Want to join me?

This is not a post about what we've done already, but what we're going to do! Maybe you can follow along at your house, too!

Here's what you need: A butterfly growing kit. Click HERE if you want to order one yourself and experience the fun at your house. I've never done this, but I've heard how much fun they can be and the reviews sound like it is an awesome experience! The kit comes with live caterpillars (or coupon for them) and within three weeks, you will have butterflies!

Here's why you should do it: How exciting to see science - a beautiful and fascinating life cycle - up close and personal (in your house!!)?
But here's the real reason that I, personally, have decided to grow butterflies at this particular time - Easter. As I was researching on line and pondering all the busyness that is coming up this spring, I realized that Easter is on April 12, a month away. All the information says that you will have butterflies within about three weeks. I'm not sure how the shipping and all that will pan out, but hopefully we will have butterflies near Easter.
Why the big deal about Easter you may be asking? I am hoping to use these magnificent butterflies as a tangible example of Jesus to my very concrete three year old. Just as the caterpillars will be delivered to us very small, Jesus was born on this earth just like me and you. The caterpillars will grow and eat for the purpose that they must fulfill, just like Jesus did. The caterpillars will then form a cocoon, seemingly sleeping, or dead, and await the day for his calling, just like Jesus did. And then, what a glorious day when the butterflies emerge "from the tomb" and are released, just as Jesus ascended to heaven!
I'm not sure if Lawton will grasp the correlation between the wonderful story of Jesus and the life cycle of a butterfly, but I'm sure we will both learn a lot and make some fun memories in the process!
Let me know if you're going to participate at your house - it will be fun to follow every one's progress together! :) I'll be sure to post pictures of the progress once we get started - stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spooning (but not with your hubby . . .)

Although I'm sure that your husband would appreciate some spooning . . . sorry, this is a clean site. hee hee! Seriously - your kiddo will enjoy spooning - however hard or easy you make it!

Here's what you need: two bowls (identical if possible), a spoon or ladle of some sort, and something to spoon!

Here's why you should do it: It helps with fine motor skills/eating skills and helps increase their concentration. Confession: Lawton has NEVER eaten cereal with milk - he prefers it dry - and refuses to eat soup. He also prefers drinkable yogurt and hates ice cream because it is cold (crazy!), so . . . the boy hasn't had a ton of practice "spooning". I know - I'm a terrible mother. He is a sensory guy - doesn't like mushy things (cereal with milk), doesn't like for his hands to have food on them. Is anyone else's kid like this? Please, please say yes.

Here is your set-up. Now, in a Montessori classroom, this would be on a beautiful tray with color specific or themed bowls and contents and sitting in a specific area on a shelf in succession of easier to harder activities, or "works". whew. Seeing that I don't have a nice shelf to put a nice tray on and actually leave it there, I just got these bowls out of my cabinet and put it on the table. :) Oh, and notice the beads? If you did this cutting activity, then hopefully you will have some beads to spoon yourself!

Notice - always put your contents into the bowl on the left, and then have them spoon into the right bowl. Why? What's the big deal? This helps to lay the foundation for pre-reading skills . . . we read from left to right. When in doubt, always think about how we read - from left to right, top to bottom. Oh, and the spoon? Set in the middle. This allows the child to choose what hand feels comfortable. If you were to place it on the left hand side of the place mat, they would pick it up with their left hand. Same goes for the right. . . Lawton actually switched his hands in the middle (even though he is completely right handed). You'll see what happened later when he switched hands . . .
What a heaping spoonful! And look! This can be mesmerizing. . . Once they get everything in the right bowl, transfer it back to the left. They can go for as long as they want!
Yep. Things can go flying across the kitchen when you get carried away. Guess what else he found under the stove? A car, a straw, and a scrap of paper - and a few dust bunnies. Never mind the crumbs on the visible areas of the floor.
Here's another idea to get your juices rolling . . . a ladle and some fun balls!
This was actually harder for him than the beads - I think it was the ladle.
Wow! Three in one spoonful!
Another thought - dried beans and a starter spoon
This spoon is a tiny baby spoon and these are the tiniest disposable plastic containers. You can't really tell the scale in this picture.
"What are those small white ball thingys" you might be wondering? I actually have no idea! When I was teaching I stocked up on all kinds of cool dried goods from the ethnic store within our local Farmers Market. Any ethnic store would be sure to have lots of cool "spooning" items! And who knows? If I knew what it was and how to cook it, it might be good! :)Want to take it down a notch? Just set out two bowls with some large items (like fava beans) and just let them grasp and transfer from one bowl to the other. They might do it over and over and over again - and that's great! Let them!

HERE are some neat spoons of varying sizes and shapes that you might not have handy in your drawer . . . Enjoy!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A (paint) chip off the old block

Don't blame me if you decide to repaint your bathroom . . . and don't tell your husband that I'm the one that suggested you check out some new paint colors once he is the one doing all the work! hee hee!

Here's what you need: If you do all the activities below, then you will need strips of paint colors (one of each color you want to use) and then two of each individual color. I went to Home Depot and used the Ralph Lauren square swatches and the Glidden paint samples with six colors per strip. I'm sure you can make other paint company's swatches work. Oh, and I'm pretty sure they thought I was crazy because of the wide variety (and quantity) of BRIGHT colors I was choosing! :)
Here's why you should do it: First of all, for the very young child, it will help them learn their colors. If you keep on going with all the activities, a whole new vocabulary of colors can be introduced. This will also help with visual discrimination and an awareness of the big, beautiful world around them!
Here's how you get started: After you have perused and collected the FREE samples from your local hardware/paint store, you will have to do a little bit of prep work. On all the strips, I cut off the words first because they were a bit distracting (I love my paper cutter!!) and then I cut each color apart. (I didn't touch the individual squares of colors.)
Alright, let's get started! First, put a mixed up stack at the bottom of your work area. Take the first one and put it at the top of the rug. Take the next color and if it is a match, put it beside the matching color. If it's not a match, then put it below the first color. Keep going through the stack, holding up the color to the other colors until a match is made. This is an important process because it will teach your child to have a process and order to figure out all that life presents, not just when they are matching colors (think deductive reasoning, processing, etc.)
Here's a shot of the work in progress . . .
Want to take it down a notch? (This is for the very young child) Just start with the three primary colors - blue, yellow and red. Be sure to say, "This is blue, this is yellow this is red." You can play this game with the colors once you have matched them.
A box of these colors (color box 1) is sold for $26.00!! You have yours for FREE!The next step up: Add in the secondary colors: orange, green and purple
Add ImageThe final step: All the colors, including some shades (pink and gray) and then brown, black and white.
A set of these materials (color box 2) in a Montessori classroom would be $55.00! Yours is FREE!And then I thought, ya know, Lawton has known his colors for a long time and had him do this activity just so I could show you guys- BUT - he needs to be exposed to the other important colors of the world! You know, olive green, sage green, lime green and forest green (my camera did not do these colors justice). We will need to revisit this a few more times before he gets it down pat! :)
And then there's rose pink, turquoise, maroon and lavender - important colors for a three year old boy to know, right? ;)
Alright - here's yet another color activity that is fun, too! Remember all the cutting from the beginning of the post? Here's where we are going to use all those colors . . .
Choose one family of colors and spread them out at the bottom of the mat.
Then choose the darkest color and put it first (it's easiest to do it darkest to lightest than the other way around). Grade them from darkest to lightest. This was Lawton's first attempt, and once he looked at them all side by side, he realized that they weren't right. (Bless his heart, he had a fever but still wanted to play while we did this)
Here's they are corrected . . .
We went through and graded all the different colors - see a shade you like for your bathroom? Ta da! The finished product!

(for storage purposes I put each color family in its own envelope. If you mix them all together, it will be a NIGHTMARE and you will never want to do this again. promise.)

Oh, and remember the strip of paint names that I cut off? You can save that to check your work and make sure you (your child) graded them correctly!

And a set of these color tablets (color box 3) for a Montessori classroom? $155.00!!! Yep, yours are FREE! (not as pretty - but it works!)

Okay - what everyone really wants to know - the winner of the cookbook is . . .

#1 (yes, really) - Andrea Manor! I used and this was the only clip that I could figure out how to paste in here . . .

True Random Number Generator Min: Max: Result: 1 Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Congrats to Andrea! Just e-mail me at chadandlaurabeth(at)yahoo(dot)com and let me know how to get your awesome new cookbook to you!

Thanks for entering everyone! I will do giveaways here and there so keep checking back in!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Who's cookin?

If you are giving up chocolate or sweets for Lent, I will go on and apologize right now. 'Cuz if you keep reading, you might get a huge hankerin' for some of these Yum-O chocolate chip "picnic cookies"!

And before I go on even more, I want to give a huge shout out to Hollee, my sweet friend from college who designed my new header! I love it and it gives the blog such a clean, crisp look (I think). Thanks Hollee!

Oh, and be sure to check out the winner of the shakers at the end of the post!

Here's what you need: the recipe (as found below) or this awesome cookbook,
and the following ingredients:

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup, 2 T. flour
6 oz. chocolate chips

Can you see the excitement on his face?
You might be wondering, why are you posting this recipe for chocolate chip cookies? Well . . . the main reason is because they only make about 15 cookies! Many of you might think, that's a bad thing - you can never have too many chocolate chip cookies! However, when you love them as much as I do, and your husband doesn't eat sweets (crazy I know) and your three year old only gets them when he eats a decent meal (which isn't often), GUESS WHO eats (almost) the entire batch of cookies?? I'm not going to answer that question. I like to bake, but because of the aforementioned problem(s), I only bake when I can give it away.

Another reason - I love this cookbook (and so does Lawton)! Santa brought it to him for Christmas and on a weekly basis he will get it out and peruse it saying, "What can we make today, Mommy?" It is very kid friendly, has good basic recipes, and each step is illustrated with Poppy and Sam. If you are familiar with Usborne books, then you will know who Poppy and Sam are and their Farmyard Tales. If not - these are great books!

If you have been looking for a good Children's Cookbook, I recommend this one. You can buy it HERE. Here's a look at the inside . . .
Here' s why you should do it: First of all, the end product should be reason enough. Ha! But, it gives you a good opportunity to spend some quality time with your child, and it gives them a good basic knowledge of cooking! They will learn some math (measurement) and work on some motor skills (stirring, sifting, dumping, etc). I'm not afraid for my son to be cooking in the kitchen . . . his wife will LOVE me one day - and who knows - he could be the next Ace of Cakes!

Alright - the details . . .
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. The cookbook says to grease your cookie sheets - I just lined mine with parchment paper (did you know this is the secret to fabulous cookies?)
2. Put the sugar, brown sugar and the butter into a large mixing bowl. Stir them together really well with a wooden spoon.
3. Continue stirring them together briskly. You are trying to get the mixture as smooth and as creamy as you can. (Make sure you stick out your tongue as illustrated to get the mixture smooth and creamy! ha!)
4. Break the egg into a small bowl and beat it well. Pour the vanilla into a measuring spoon, then mix it in with the egg.
5. Pour the eggy mixture into the mixing bowl and stir it in (using a wooden spoon). Then sift the flour into the bowl and stir the mixture.
6. When you have a smooth mixture, stir in 4 oz. of the chocolate chips. You'll use the rest of them later. ( I just dumped - and I'm sure more than 4 oz! Who knows what 4 oz. looks like - and can you have too many chocolate chips? ummm . . . no!)
7. Put a heaped tablespoon of the mixture onto a baking sheet. Use up the rest of the mixture.
8. Flatten each cookie slightly with the back of a fork.
Sprinkle the top of each one with some of the remaining chocolate chips.
9. Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes, until they are pale golden brown. They should still be slightly soft in the middle.
10. Leave the cookies for a few minutes, then use a spatula to lift them onto a wire rack. Leave them to cool . . . and try not to inhale them all with a nice, big, tall, cool glass of milk! Yummy!
Just so you know . . . Lawton did not eat his spaghetti for dinner that night (which he loves) and didn't touch the ONE meatball we required him to eat. Meanwhile, Carolina inhaled FOUR meatballs! (diced up, of course) So. . . Lawton didn't even get to eat his cookies that night! I sent them to his school to share for snack - the temptation was too great for me!

And what was Carolina doing while we were baking? Trying to find any crumb she could under her high chair! :)

Alright, for the winner of the (very small) giveaway -
#22 Leah J!!!
e-mail me at chadandlaurabeth(at)yahoo(dot)com so I can mail you your shakers!
Thanks everyone for entering!
Guess what? I just decided to give away one of these cookbooks because I love it so much!
Leave a comment - and spread the word to your friends! Thanks for stopping by - winner will be announced on Saturday!