Saturday, May 30, 2009

Future Master Griller

Alrighty . . . scrounge through your kitchen drawers (and maybe even your bathroom drawers) and find all of your tongs, 'cause we're tonging today!

Here's what you need: tongs (any size, any type), bowls, and items to be "tonged". :) Keep scrolling to see what items we "tonged"!

Here's why you should do it: This will help with fine motor skills and help increase concentration levels. It's also great training for all the barbecuing they'll be doing this summer. . . ha! :)

Place the items to be transferred in the left hand bowl (as a pre-cursor to reading) and the tongs in the middle so your child will naturally choose which hand they are more comfortable with.

Transfer all items to the right hand bowl, and then back again. Some children (especially younger ones) will/can do this over and over and over again. Let them continue transferring until they are tired of it.
Another variation: These are those plastic shaped ice cubes that you can find at the dollar store. Lawton tonged AND sorted by color this time. (Green fish in the green bowl, blue whales in the blue bowl, and purple starfish in the purple bowl.

Then he tonged and sorted the same color, but different shapes. This is the only compartmentalized (is that a word?) tray I have in the house. If you don't have one, you can find them for cheap just about anywhere. They are great for sorting!
Tonging fun, sparkly, shiny pom-poms. . .
And then, what in the world are these?
Plastic grapes that I plucked off the stem (from the dollar store!) Get creative - you've got a ton of stuff lying around your house! ***Just to clarify - these plastic grapes WERE NOT lying around my house - I used them in my teaching days. But hey, if you like plastic grapes decorating your house, that's cool.
This was his favorite thing - tweezing! Maybe because it was more of a challenge and the fun star shape was appealing. The star is just a shaped soap holder thingy with pony beads in each suction "cup".

Happy tonging!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Eat your SHAPES, please!

Alright, this is a bit random, and quite a stretch for "Montessori", but I just had to share anyways! Today, as I was fixing lunch, Lawton requested a turkey roll-up (just a whole-wheat tortilla, turkey and cheese), and a fruit roll-up. Then, my wheels started turning . . . he could have a CYLINDER lunch! So, I scrounged the pantry and came up with this . . .
A turkey roll-up, carrots, pretzel rods, fruit roll-up, cheese, and (as a stretch) a banana! Believe it or not, he ate everything but the banana and was stuffed! I never know what/how much he will eat! For dessert, I was going to let him have a ho-ho (which I have NEVER purchased until last week . . . I can't have dessert in the house because I will eat it), but he was too full!

Other CYLINDER ideas: hot dogs, pickles (whole), penne pasta, a carton of yogurt, Vienna sausages, Cheetos
So, then I thought I would make Carolina a SQUARE lunch!
A grilled cheese sandwich (which I later cut up into teeny little squares), cheese-its, a piece of cheese (which I didn't end up giving her because of the grilled cheese and instead gave her grapes)

Other SQUARE ideas: Sun chips, cheese cubes (even though technically those are, indeed, cubes - not squares - I have issues with that . . .) ravioli (close enough), brownie square

Then, I thought I could have a CIRCLE lunch!
A Boca burger (which I later put on bread - I didn't have a CIRCLE bun), pickles, blackberries (a stretch - but they have little "circles" within the berries, sliced strawberries, sliced grapes (unsliced grapes are technically ovoids . . .) and maybe Ruffles chips, but since it was the end of the bag of remnant birthday chips, there were just fragments left . . .

Other CIRCLE ideas: any sandwich cut with a cookie cutter or a press-n-seal sandwich maker, bologna, provolone cheese, wagon wheel pasta, sliced bananas, cookies


some TRIANGLE ideas: quesadilla triangles, pizza slices, sandwiches cut in triangles, Doritos, pineapple tidbits (a stretch), cheese triangles, watermelon slices

some SEMI-CIRCLE ideas: omelets, quesadillas (uncut), mandarin oranges, apple slices

some SPHERE ideas: meatballs, melon balls, cherries, oranges, new potatoes, scoop of ice cream, cheese ball chips

some OVOID ideas: hard-boiled eggs, grapes, kiwi

Here we are enjoying our lunch outside!

This can make mealtimes a little bit more fun . . . and teach/emphasize shapes to little ones.
Do you have any other suggestions I could add to the list?

Monday, May 18, 2009

What rock have I been under?

I feel pretty confident that many of you may already know about this children's author/illustrator, but for some reason, I am just now catching on to her works . . . and she has authored a lot of books! You see, I love books, children's books specifically, and we have so many that we don't have places to put them all! There are three to four shelves of books in the playroom as well as a stack of big books resting against the play kitchen; a wagon full in the living room; Lawton has two full shelves in his room and a box or two that I rotate in and out from my Scholastic acquired "school" books, along with the stack of library books usually on his floor; and Carolina has board books busting at the seams from her room! Just typing all that makes me a little bit embarrassed . . . but blessed. Books are something I'm passionate about if you can't tell.! :)

Anyways, do you guys know about and love Karen Katz? She has a fun website that you can go to HERE.

We checked out this book, Princess Baby, the other week and it is soooo cute! This might be a foreshadowing of things to come!
We have checked out Counting Kisses as well. . .
For her birthday, I broke down and bought Where is Baby's Birthday Cake? It has sparkly illustrations and flaps on every page. At her Kindermusic class, during "book time", she would always go for this one particular book (not this one) with sparkly illustrations. So, of course, when I saw Karen Katz + sparkly illustrations + flap pages + birthday, it equaled me purchasing it! She loves it! :)

What Karen Katz books do you love? I need a list of some to search for the next time we go to the library! Am I the only one who has been under a rock?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A-B-C . . . easy as 1-2-3!!

For Carolina's first birthday, I made her an personalized ABC book. I made Lawton one, and to be fair, I HAD to make her one, too. Not that this is a very original idea, because I didn't make this up myself and you have probably seen others like it. Eight or so years ago, I remember seeing one that my friend Melanie had made for her first daughter and thought, "One day I want to make one like that for my kids!" So, three short years ago, I set out on a quest, and you can now, too!!! :)

She loves her very own book filled with pictures of herself! The proof is in the picture! :)
Here's what you need: Photos . . . lots and lots of photos! Stickers . . . lots and lots of stickers! Paper, an album, and an organization system/plan! (and a deadline - because I get things done under pressure!)
Here's why you should do it: This is more meaningful than any toy that you could ever give your child. I guarantee that you will NEVER get rid of this and it will capture sweet memories that you might not ever organize otherwise. This format allows organization for some basic language building for important people, items and places that you will want to teach your child anyways. After they look at this book long enough, (trust me, they will) they might even start to associate the letters with the beginning sounds of the pictures on the page!
All righty . . . let me tell you how I organized myself.
1. Find a scrapbook with slide-in clear protector pockets that you like. Lawton's was a 6x6 inch book, Carolina's is 8x8. If you want to stay simple, (and it is more portable) go with a 6x6. I couldn't find one though until AFTER I had committed to an 8x8. There is more space to fill on 8x8, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on you!
2. Put sticky notes on each page(s) of what letter it will be. I used two pages for A,B,C,D,G,H,K,L,M,P,S,T, and W. All the others only had one. I used different colors of paper for each letter, so a double page (like D) would have the same color, but single pages would be two different colors (like Q would be pink and R would be red.)
3. Look through all your photos that you have printed out that you would like to include and then go through all your saved photos and print them out.
4. Insert the photos in the designated pocket pages (loosely).
5. Go through your sticker stash you might have and cut them out (keeping them on the paper) and insert them in the designated pages.
6. Go to your local craft store and buy some stickers . . . when they are on sale! (this can be addicting - don't blame me for your final bill! :) Cut them apart and organize them. I just have to say - my Michael's is getting a TOTAL new facelift/expansion. I am so excited . . . I will have to stay FAR, FAR AWAY!
7. Find out who/what you are missing and then fill in the gaps. Think about all the important people - their little "friends", all family members, pets, foods, etc. Take pictures or find stickers to finish it out.
8. Once you have all the things that you want to include, THEN cut pictures to size and layout and affix your pictures/stickers.
Here are a few sample pages from Carolina's book to get your mind a joggin' . . .
Drew, digger, diaper, dump truck (I was trying hard not to be gender biased . . . but I did include princess stickers like Cinderella, etc. in hers - that weren't in Lawton's!), ducks,
Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Daddy, Dandy, deer
Grandma, Granddaddy, glove, grill, guitar, grapes
giraffe, Goofy, Granny, Gran-D . . .
x-ray (a sticker), xylophone
yawn, yogurt
zoo, zipper, zebra

Of course, you could do a totally digital book at Snapfish or something like that - it would probably be a lot easier and cheaper - but I like to scrapbook. I will say, having the different types and textures of stickers adds a lot of interest and intrigue. Their little fingers are drawn to the textures and variations of media on the page. However, a digitally made book would be AWESOME if you wanted to make it . . . I mean what baby/child wouldn't LOVE to look at a whole book of themselves and their favorite people and things? :)

And here's why I did it . . . for my sweet baby girl (as she is looking at her book)!!
Promise . . . it's as easy as 1-2-3! maybe . . .

**If you want to do this and would like to find out more ideas of things I put on each page, let me know! I would love to pass it on!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chestnuts, Shells and Stones

Some of you may be thinking, "What kind of crazy title post is she using now?" because, you know, sometimes I try to be creative . . . However, this title is straight out of my four inch thick Math I album that I had to make myself from my Montessori training. (Yes, you read that right, four inch thick Math I album . . . it was a long two years)

Anyhow, this is a fun game that can be played with just one child or a whole slew of them. Bless you if you have a slew of kids that live at your house that would all enjoy this game. whew.

Once you play this game once or twice and they get the hang of it, you can play it while fixing dinner, ironing the three foot tall pile of laundry that you keep meaning to get to, or while you catch up on your DVR'd Oprah shows and eat leftover Easter candy that you snuck out of your kid's Easter basket. I won't tell if you don't.

Here's what you need: three bowls, one filled with chestnuts, one with shells, and one with stones. (of course, use whatever you have - I just so happen to have these "natural" objects from my teaching days) You will also need a basket or tray for transporting, a rug, and number cards (if your child can recognize numbers.)
Here's why you should do it: First of all, this helps them count objects and have one to one correspondence. If your child is ready, it will help reinforce numeral/quantity correspondence and help learn how to follow oral directions (AMEN!) and exercise their memory skills.
Set the bowls of chestnuts, shells and stones at a location away from your rug. There is lots of movement back and forth, which is so fabulous for the young child. Lawton NEVER stops moving, jumping, thrashing, wiggling, or running, unless of course the television is on. Hallelujah for television sometimes! :)
Give the basket to your child and say, "Bring me two shells"
They will go to the basket and get two shells and bring it back to the rug. If they got two, count out the two in the basket, and then have them count them out onto the rug. If they brought back fourteen, (which will likely happen to some of you), count them out, say something like, "Hmmm. I need two shells. Is this two?" and more than likely they will realize that they goofed and will go back and try again. Never say, "That's wrong!", but gently guide them to keep trying until the amount is achieved.
Keep giving oral directions as long as they are interested. You can go as high as your child is capable, or just stick with one, two and three objects for the very young child. (not going in numerical order - just random numbers . . .)
(Carolina had to "taste" all the objects!) :)
Want to step it up a notch? Put a number card on the tray/basket and say "Go get this many stones." and proceed as above. (They have to be able to recognize a numeral)
Want to step it up even another notch? Put the number card on the rug and say, "Go get this many chestnuts." (They have to look at the number, recognize it, and remember it as they go across the house or across the room to "fetch".)
Want to step it up ANOTHER notch? Say,"Can you bring me six stones and three shells?" (They have to remember two sets)
Set the objects on the rug.
You can play this for as long as your child is interested - and have objects. :) You really can keep them entertained and busy - and not even be in the same room as they are! Happy fetching!