I've made the move to Blogger. Please join me over at http://onehookwonder.blogspot.com/
I've made the move to Blogger. Please join me over at http://onehookwonder.blogspot.com/
Sometimes it seems like I spend the vast majority of my day getting snacks for small people. Even though they can reach their own bowls plus a great many of our snacky items, I still get A LOT of requests to fix snacks. The last few days I've started setting out a "nibble tray" so that they are free to graze all day; it's a suggestion I saw in one of our Dr. Sears books. In our case it's more of a pig-out tray because when it's first set out both boys behave like two crazed polar bears fighting over a fat juicy seal.
Yesterday the tray came out right after breakfast:
We went outside to play in the miniscule snowfall, and when we came back in the boys had a special treat of cocoa and marshmallows. I left them with the treat and nibble tray and ran upstairs to check my e-mail.
Yes, I am a total dumb ass.
For the record, leaving small boys alone with bitty snacky foods and hot cocoa is not a good idea unless you like cleaning:
I set this up for the littles the other evening in order to keep them out of my hair while I cooked dinner. The idea came from Mary Ann Kohl's book First Art, which I've quickly become a huge fan of. Basically you wet down dark construction paper and let your littles experiment and explore by coloring/drawing on it with chalk. Kohl mentions that you could even have them wet their own paper with paintbrushes, but as I was in a hurry and didn't want a huge watery mess (inevitable with my boys!) I opted to just run the paper under the tap.
This kept Short Pants engaged enough that he wanted to do two chalk drawings. He had a lot of fun experimenting by turning the chalk on its tip and on its side:
Pita Pocket was more interested in scrunching up his wet paper than drawing, but that was ok too:
As Pita grows I'm looking forward to being able to set up a mini art center for the boys. Right now we still have to be careful about leaving crayons, etc. within reach without supervision. Oh, and Pita tends to bite the tips off markers!
We had a lot of fun celebrating St. Nicholas Day (for the very first time!) last weekend. Short Pants had been eagerly counting down the days and wondering what kind of treats St. Nicholas might leave for him and Pita Pocket. Our new St. Nicholas postcard arrived in time to be put on display; Short Pants thought it was *very* funny that St. Nicholas had his horse on the boat! I explained to him that some stories say St. Nicholas was able to calm stormy waters:
While The Mister was busy with a Christmas project in his workshop and Pita Pocket was napping, Short Pants and I made these yummy St. Nicholas Purse Cookies together. His main job was unwrapping all of the Hershey Kisses. I think about half of them made it into his belly rather than the bowl:
After dinner we read a short St. Nicholas story and then before bed the littles set out their slippers with carrots for St. Nicholas' horse. (we had explained to Short Pants that it's a fun story to play, like Santa, beforehand) Pita Pocket thought we were absolutely insane for trying to get him to stuff a carrot into his slipper! He kept pulling the carrot out and trying to put his slipper on:
I wanted to keep the emphasis on "getting" kind of low-key, so we only put a few treats in their slipper - the standard bag of chocolate gold coins, a new Christmas book, and a golden walnut jingle bell necklace. I used this tutorial for the necklaces; they came out so cute! I made one for each of the boys and another for a special little friend who wanted to know what St. Nicholas was leaving for her!
The littles were so excited the next morning to wake to their treats. This is definately a celebration that we'll be doing again next year. If any of you have special St. Nicholas Day traditions I would love to hear them!
Mari-Ann asked in a comment down in another post about needlefelting a figure. If there's any interest, I will gladly put up a tutorial next week. Please keep in mind that my figures are not exactly the work of some mystical needlefelting guru; I tend to keep to the simple. How about a sweet little tomten? I've been meaning to make one for our winter nature table since last year.
Wow, I can't believe that it took almost an entire week to do so few activities! Pita Pocket definately doesn't have a very long attention span yet, and I have to be careful to catch him in just the right mood, otherwise he's more interested in doing his own thing than participating in a mini lesson. No, he's not headstrong or anything. ;)
Last week Pita Pocket really enjoyed working with some new foam stickers I bought. I (of course) had to peel off the backs for him, but he loved sticking them to his paper and then pounding them with his little fist:
Pita Pocket worked with the two smallest pieces for quite some time. Besides just fitting them inside one another, he would fit them together and then shake them so he could hear the smaller one rattling inside. Then he'd take the smaller one out, put the bigger one back together and shake it again. So neat to watch him experiment with sound! The matryoshka also gave us an opportunity to talk about "big" and "little":
One lesson that *both* of the littles enjoyed greatly was sponge squeezing. So easy, and a good strengthening exercise for little hands. I just cut a sponge in half and set out a bowl with some water. I used the sponge to soak up some of the water, then showed Pita Pocket how to squeeze the water back out:
This actually ended up being a good practical life exercise on more than one count. Pita kept forgetting to hold his sponge over the bowl as he squeezed the water out, so he had multiple puddles to wipe up!
I would take one of the colors, hold it up and say the color name, then ask Pita to find me the matching color. We got through about half the colors, but then someone decided that he was more interested in saying "eeeee" (cheese) and getting his picture taken:
Lastly, we dropped clothespins into a large glass bowl. Pita Pocket started out standing, but then decided to turn it into a pouring sort of lesson. No matter - it kept him happy and engaged for about twenty minutes:
Thanks for reading!
Ok, I am making a rule that no one in this house is allowed to get sick again; it's putting a serious crimp in our Montessori lessons! Short Pants was feverish for a few days, then passed his cold on to me, so we were only able to do lessons twice last week.
One of his faves was a new sink or float lesson. We've done this before, but he loves "testing" new objects:
We also worked with his new materials from Handwriting Without Tears. Since Short Pants loves to put things together I thought he'd be all over these wood pieces for building letters. Unfortunately, we only built two before he was done. I'm going to go ahead and leave the lesson out for next week, as I think part of the problem was that he wasn't feeling all that great:
We also did some sort of a cross between Mystery Bag and Sterognostic Bags. I took several pairs of matching objects and divided them up - one into the bag, the other into the bowl. Short Pants matched them up object by object by reaching in the bag and using his sense of touch. We've done this a few times before and he always enjoys it:
I think I've mentioned before how much I prefer the toys from the Chick-Fil-A kids meals as opposed to other places - if we've got to eat on the run I'd much rather my boys recieve something useful versus a plastic toy that breaks the next afternoon. This neat little stamp matching sticker set came from there, and Short Pants had a lot of fun putting the stickers in the proper places and listening to me read the animal facts:
I know, I know. Every other flippin' blog you read has already posted about advent, complete with lovely candlelit pictures. I'm just late jumping on the bandwagon.
We're not religious around these parts, so for many years I've felt that the Christmas season was missing that magical component that I craved. Let's face it, a sweet baby who's the hope of the world laying in a manger is magical; an empty holiday that just means presents is not. Last year we celebrated Solstice for the first time, and that just felt right to me. We're looking forward to a Solstice celebration again this year, so with that in mind we lit our first Solstice candle last Sunday. Instead of counting down to Christmas, we count down to that magical evening that celebrates the return of the light. One candle will be lit at dinner each Sunday, with the 5th candle being lit on Solstice itself:
Lighting this candle each Sunday helps us to be mindful of our blessings and the wonderful world around us. It also (I fervently hope) takes some of the emphasis off the Christmas giftfest for the kiddos. As so many Waldorf and Waldorfish families do, we use this poem by Rudolph Steiner as our guide:
The first light of Advent is the light of stones.
Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones.
The second light of Advent is the light of plants.
Roots, stem, leaf, flower and fruit by whom we live and grow.
The third light of Advent is the light of beasts.
Animals of farm, field, forest, air and sea.
All await the birth in greatest and in least.
The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind.
The light of love, the light of thought, to give and to understand.
Though we don't use a wreath, I've changed our nature tray to reflect our countdown. Right now our basket rests on the colors of the sun and warmth, red and orange. We have some rocks from our property and shells we picked up long ago in Florida on display, and will add to it each week as we light our candle:
We don't "do" Santa for the littles, though we do enjoy telling the story. They just know that it's us who brings the gifts. ;) We also decided to add St. Nicholas day to our celebrations this year, which I'm really looking forward to.
So there you have it - our mishmash of holiday traditions. It's not for everyone, but I'm glad that we're finally finding something that works for us.
For some totally insane reason I decided to make new Christmas stockings for everyone this year. *cough even though I still haven't even starting cutting the blanket I claimed I was sewing for myself a few months ago cough*
Ok, I can actually blame my friends for this one. One of my friends has fabulous stockings she made for her family over the years, and another friend and I have talked for the last two years about how WE need to make fabulous stockings too. Only this year my other friend actually followed through on all that talking. Damn. So now I find myself on December 2nd with a bunch of felt layers cut out for stockings:
Random Christmas decoration missing a topper? Check
Nutcracker still in package? Check
12-year-old plastic cookie magnet? Check
Something seems to be missing....
Yeah, that would be my sewing machine. In its case. Down on the floor. Shameful, I know.
I'm supposed to be getting together with aforementioned friends for a night of sewing. I missed it the last time due to my sinus infection. Right now I'm the proud owner of a feverish four-year-old.
Is this whole new stocking project beginning to sound like a longshot to anyone else, or is it just me?
I figured Pita Pocket deserved his own category. ;) I'm not sure yet if this will be a weekly or just every other week kind of thing, but I thought there might be interest for some of you in the pre-Montessori lessons that I'm beginning to do with Pita Pocket. Our focus will be on motor skills (both gross and fine), sensorial activities, and practical life activities. I am choosing not to expose Pita Pocket to numbers and letters at this point simply because he's 21 months old. At this age, learning about spatial relationships, exploring the world around him, learning to do things independently, etc. are MUCH more important and relevant than ABCs and 123s. If you follow along with David Gettman's periods for Montessori lessons, you'll notice that the first few periods stress sensorial and practical life activities over language activities, and math doesn't even come into play at all during the first two periods. Right now my main goal is just to expose Pita Pocket to fun learning activities that will ready him to begin "formal" Montessori lessons once he's around age 3.
Last week we got out our peg board so that he could work on making towers. For some reason he got the deer-in-the-headlights look when I first brought out the camera:
Thankfully he quickly lost his inhibitions about being filmed:
Pita Pocket also worked on opening and closing different shapes of boxes that I found on sale at Hobby Lobby. I put a small plastic animal in each of them for him to find. He *really* enjoyed this activity despite his big brother's overly enthusiastic "help" at times:
In case you're wondering, that weird looking tube thingy in the background is a ball chute that I put together for Pita. It's just a shipping tube taped to the wall. We have a container of ping pong balls that can be dropped down the tube and into the basket at the bottom. Both of the boys really like this - we've even had a few matchbox cars go down the tube too!
Pita Pocket also worked at poking colored craft sticks through a slit in the top of an old oatmeal canister. He really had to concentrate as the slit was very small, and I named the color of each stick for him as he put it through:
Last week was a bit short on Montessori time as Bean and Boba arrived on Wednesday (yay!!) to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with us. Short Pants spent a lot of our time going back to old favorites like sifting animals out of sand:
I do have to admit that a small part of me sometimes says, "Dude! Come on! You've spent 20 minutes swimming walnut shells around in that fake lake - let's get on to something "real" like working on numbers, etc." Then I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that Short Pants is still learning, even when it looks like he's doing nothing but having fun (and who DOESN'T want their kiddo to have fun while learning?!). It is so easy with little ones to get caught up in what is measurable and easily defined - how many letters to they know, can they write their name, etc. What I absolutely love about Montessori is that it is without a doubt 100 percent a well-rounded education. Do I *really* want Short Pants to be able to rattle off his ABCs but not have time to do just as important things like learn hands-on what a shoreline is? Or that this wide world is full of amazingly different places with unique, beautiful animals? No, not at all. I'm so grateful to have found this wonderful method that allows Short Pants to experience so fully the joy of learning. :)
We took advantage of the fact that our entire home has been covered in ladybugs (both living and deceased) for several weeks now and did a lesson on ladybugs. I made my own lifecycle cards in a 3-part-format (so excited that I did this!) and Short Pants put them in order while we talked:
While I was still basking in the afterglow of my successful ladybug cards, I brought out a letter game that I put together. I cut a circle out of posterboard, divided it into 26 parts and wrote each lowercase letter on a wedge. Then I took 26 clothespins and wrote the uppercase letters on them. The idea was that Short Pants would not only be able to practice matching the upper and lowercase letters, but also improve his fine motor skills when he clipped the clothespins on the circle.
As you can see, it was a big fat flop. Maybe another week!
Lastly, Short Pants worked on a hammering lesson I put together. He hammered golf tees into a piece of styrofoam(ish?) stuff that came when The Mister ordered something. Then he set marbles on top of the tees. I've seen this on *many* Montessori blogs, so I won't credit anyone in particular:
As always, thanks for reading!