Friday Five: Practical Life Edition

Friday Five Practical Life

1 | Transferring Emperor Penguins   2| Flower Arranging

3| Matching Containers with Lids    4 | Setting the Table     5 | Cutting Playdough

1 | Transferring  with Tongs is by far our #1 favorite practical life material in our Montessori homeschool.  I’ve changed it out time-and-time again to match all sorts of themes and it’s always the one they pick first and do over-and-over again.  Even my son who is technically too old for this type of work loves to do it.

2 | Flower Arranging is a very inexpensive tray to put together and it’s so beautiful on the shelf.  My children love to make a “bouquet” for me and I love to receive them.  Asher started this work before he could even walk.  Come to think about it…I think it’s almost time to get this out for Lila.

3 | Matching Containers with Lids is an easy tray to put together and you could even thrift all of the containers.  This one would keep my boys busy for a long time and it’s a great one to alter to fit different ages.  For example, only give 2 containers at a time to a toddler or 7 containers to a 3 or 4 year-old.

4 | Setting the Table is an excellent skill to teach your little people.  I purchased this plastic place mat at Target and traced around the setting placement with a sharpie marker.  Later, have them set the table for you at lunch or dinner.  Then, you have a little helper too!

5 | Did you know it’s easier to cut playdough than paper?  Have them start on playdough first and graduate to paper.  Cutting is a great skill for them to master before Kindergarten.

To find other Montessori MOMents Practical Life ideas click here.

Now it’s your turn to share your Friday Five.  It can be Practical Life ideas or anything else you are feeling at the moment.  I’m still struggling with WordPress and installing the InLinkz plugin so please share your link in the comments and I’ll add it to my post.  Right now Asher is running a 103.7 fever so I’m choosing to snuggle him and figure it out later.  I hope you’ll link up next week when we do Friday Five: Science Edition. Have a great weekend!!!

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1 | We Don’t Need No Education                                            2 | The Work Plan

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3 | The Adventures of Bear                                                4 | Discovery Moments

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5 | My Little Princess World

Montessori-Inspired Preschool Flower Unit

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We had a short preschool mini-unit at our house the other week.  It was only one day, but we had just enough time to learn a little bit about flowers.  I made a practical life tray where the kids threaded flower petals onto a string.  This tray was prepared by taking apart a dollar store lei.  (They have lots of leis in the stores right now for summer parties.)  I tied one of the flower petals onto the end of the string to prevent the child from pulling it all the way through the string and off the other side.

I also made a counting circle from a paper plate, which the kids loved.  I think I’ll be making many more of these.  I divided the paper plate to where it looks like pizza slices and then drew various numbers of flowers on each slice.  Next, I wrote the corresponding numbers on the clothes pins and the kids pin the correct number on the correlating slice.  This helps the child with coordination, pincer grasp and counting.

We also read a lot of books about flowers.  Ava’s Poppy, Planting a Rainbow and my personal favorite: One Little Seed.  I also have a really cute and easy arts & crafts project that I’ll try to share with you tomorrow.

If you want to take your flower education even further, here are some other great ideas:

  1. Discovery Days and Montessori Moments has two wonderful Botany posts:  Stem Week and Flowers.
  2. Montessori Print Shop has Parts of a Flower 3-Part Cards, a Flower Nomenclature BookPollination & Seed Dispersal Cards and FREE Seed & Plant Matching Cards.
  3. Living Montessori NOW has Montessori-Inspired Flower Activities and Free Flower Printables and Montessori-Inspired Flower Math Activities.

I hope you guys are having a great week.  It’s been a little crazy over here, but I’m really working on simplifying my life and letting go of some of my high expectations.  I’m vowing to take care of myself a little bit more.  I think as moms, we get so caught up in caring for everyone else that we forget to care for ourselves.  Or at least I do.  I hope you’ll take a MOMent for yourself this week.  You deserve it.

Pinning on Bunny Whiskers

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How was your first day of Spring?  Ours was interesting.  Asher was quite angry and explosive today.  I guess he didn’t get the memo that Spring is supposed to be all rainbows and unicorns.  Tomorrow, I’m going follow Spring’s lead and experience rebirth.  I’ll start anew, full of optimism and hope it rubs off on my little rage-a-holic.

Here’s the first of my bunny themed trays I put out for Asher’s preschool group this week.  It uses fine motor skills to pinch the clothespins and place them on the bunny’s face.  Did you know that these Montessori trays, that promote fine motor skills, will help your child write later?  It’s building strength, control and coordination in those little fingers.  I’ve also noticed it helps them cut with scissors too.

So, now it’s your turn to tell me.  How was your first day of Spring? 

Valentine Craft Using a Dropper

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One of the skills listed on my Kindergarten Curriculum is to learn how to control a dropper.  This can be made into a tray like shown on Simply Natural Mom or a dropper is a fun way to create art and in this case, Valentines.

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What you need to make these heart-shaped valentines: 

  1. a dropper (we repurposed two dropper bottles from herbal supplements.  I’ve also heard from other moms that you can ask your pharmacy for empty dropper bottles when you pick up a prescription.)
  2. water dyed with food coloring (we used red and pink)
  3. coffee filters cut into the shape of hearts
  4. a tray (I bought a pack of two aluminum baking pans for $1 at Dollar Tree)
  5. black sharpie marker

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John Robert (6.5 yrs) is able to control the dropper really well.  He was able to make really beautifully marbled valentines.  Asher (4 this month) is still working on his control and most of his valentines turned out to be a lake.  It also shows a lot about their personalities because John Robert is more cautious and likes things neat, while Asher is my mess-maker and insists on doing everything “his way.”

After the hearts dried, I traced their hands in sharpie marker and added their name and year.  These will be the Valentines given to the boys’ grandparents.  We’re also making these Star Wars Valentines for their friends.  Another really cute idea we’ve used in the past is this “I love you from the tips of my fingers to the tips of my toes” card.

Last year, we went on a mother-son date.  It didn’t exactly go as I had dreamed so we’ll probably do something different this year.

What do you do with your children to celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day Themed Montessori Trays

Valentine’s Day holds a special place in my heart.  My most memorable Valentine’s Day was spent walking the cobble stone streets of Florence, Italy.  It was during our second year of marriage and I was studying Interior Design in the ancient city.  We found the most wonderful chocolate shop in Piazza della Signoria where we indulged in fine dark chocolate. After, we stopped by a flower stand in Piazza della Repubblica and hand-picked the most gorgeous bouquet for our tiny studio apartment.

Our Valentine’s Day looks a little different these days.  We typically spend it with the kids and we make crafty, heart shape decorations.  We celebrate our family love and how lucky we are to have each other.  Love is a marvelous gift and I never take it for granted. This Valentine’s Day, I prepared a little surprise for the two little boys in my life.  All of these trays were made with Dollar Tree purchases mixed with items I already had.  I think I spent $7.00 total for all of the materials.

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^Sorting Hearts by Color [hearts and plastic sorting tray from Dollar Tree, wooden tray is the lid to an Ikea box, purple bowl is from the boys' play kitchen.]

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^Tonging Red Plastic Hearts [toy muffin and loaf pan from boys' play kitchen, hearts from Dollar Tree, sugar cube tong from Crate and Barrel and tray is a lid of a gift box.]

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^Pin Punching Hearts [I traced a heart-shaped cookie cutter on sheets of Dollar Tree foam pages, the "pin" is a cupcake pick from a cupcake decorating set at Dollar Tree.  It seems like a safer alternative to a sharp pin.  Also, I get to use the leftover picks in a Valentine's Day themed bento box lunch.  The tray is a lid to a wood Ikea box.]

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^Hanging Hearts on a Tree [I purchased this last year from Joann's.  We also use this tree during the year.  When one of us does something nice for someone else, they get to hang a heart on the tree and we watch it get filled with "love".  The tray is a gift box.]

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^Lacing a Heart [I cut a heart out of the DT foam page and punched holes with a hole puncher.  The tin bowl is from the boys' play kitchen and I used red and white twine with scotch tape wrapped around the ends to prevent unraveling. The tray is a cardboard lid.]

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^Creating Self Designed Patterns Using Stamps [The stamps and ink pad came in a set at Dollar Tree, I cut strips of paper and wrote types of patterns on them (ie: AB, AAB, ABB, ABC), the bowl is from the boys' play kitchen.]

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^Pouring Plastic Hearts [This is a wonderful work for small children.  The hearts are the same Dollar Tree ones used in the tonging tray and I re-used a Tupperware bowl and tin pitcher from the boys' play kitchen.  The tray is another lid to a wood Ikea box.]

IMG_6866_2^Threading Heart Beads on a Shoelace [The beads are from the craft section at Dollar Tree, the shoelace is from the Melissa and Doug Shoe Tying Toy, the bowl is from Target's dollar section and the tray is a cardboard box lid.]

IMG_6867_2^Tying a Bow [This work is recycled from our 12 Days of Christmas Montessori Trays.  I changed out the ribbon to a pink one.]

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^”Send a Valentine” Mail Center [I'm re-using our writing utensil caddy from Target's dollar section.  I also found the adorable little mailbox tin in Target's dollar section last week.  I hand-cut hearts out of cardstock for us to decorate for each other and leave them in the mailbox.]

So, what do you think about the Valentine Themed trays.  The boys haven’t seen them yet so I’ll keep you posted on which ones are the most successful.  Do you have plans for Valentine’s Day trays?  What are you dreaming up?  I’d love to hear all about it.

Happy {very early} Valentine’s Day! xo, Lori

Christmas Themed Montessori Trays

December is almost here and along with it comes all of the wonderful holiday arts & crafts projects, yummy smells of holiday baking and holiday themed education materials.  I created a page full of our 12 Days of Christmas Montessori Trays from last year.  You can find the link in my top navigation bar or by clicking here.  I hope you enjoy sifting through them to find out what works for your family or school.

It can be easy to become overwhelmed during this holiday season.  To be honest, I was overwhelmed just typing this post with my kids constantly interrupting me.  It’s important to remember that you don’t need to do it all.  Just one or two holiday themed trays along with a baking session or holiday music will make this season perfectly magical for your little ones.  I hope you’ll take the time to relax and take a MOMent.

Sending you holiday love all season long.  xo, Lori

Weaving – Montessori Practical Life

Asher returned to an oldie but goodie this week.  Out of nowhere, he picked out the weaving tray and wove all day.  Our school room as gotten a little out of control as we’ve added more and more materials.  It’s time to purge the easier Practical Life trays that the boys have mastered long, long ago.  I planned on packing them away in the attic to pull out later for Lila, but then Asher started returning to them this week.  Now, I’m at odds as to what to keep and what to store away.

He also found his trusty wrist band.  I love seeing him wear it.  It reminds me of his unique style and love for accessories.  It reminds me of these photos when he was just a wee little thing.

How do you pick what to purge out of your school room?

This post is linked to Montessori Monday.  Click here to see more Montessori Monday posts.

Montessori Basics

        

{Asher and John Robert cutting their egg with a fork and knife}

In the world of the numerous themed Montessori trays, I sometimes think the core philosophy which Maria Montessori developed gets overlooked.  It’s about preparing our children with the practical life skills to successfully function in our society.  It’s helping them become as independent as possible.  The numerous amount of trays can be overwhelming for some mothers so they think they can’t follow the Montessori Method, but really…nothing can be further from the truth.  Montessori is innately simple.  It’s us who make it complicated with our Montessori-inspired trays and sensory bins.

Here are the Montessori Basics that can simply be implemented in your home:

Hand washing:  Encourage independent hand-washing with a Hand-Washing Station. Include a step stool, easy to pump hand soap or bar of soap, a fingernail brush if you have one and an easy to reach hand towel.

Dressing:  Have them practice dressing and undressing themselves.  Teach them how to use buttons, snaps and zippers.  Show them how to keep their clothing orderly and where to place dirty clothes.

Meal Time:  Give them the opportunity to properly use utensils, including a butter knife.  Include them in meal preparation.  Let them set the table.  Place snacks and a water station at their level where they can independently make snacks for themselves.  We have two snack stations in our home; one in the pantry and one in the refrigerator.

Cleaning:  Provide towels, sponges and a hand-broom at their level so they can clean up their spills.  Allow them to practice washing and drying dishes.

I love the themed trays as much as the next Montessori enthusiast, but for those of you who are feeling overwhelmed by Montessori, don’t be…YOU CAN DO IT.  Follow the simple Montessori truths that are at the core of Maria Montessori’s philosophy.  Anything more is just an added bonus.

Anyone else have suggestions on how to simply implement Montessori principles in the home?

This post is linked to Montessori Monday.  To see more Montessori Monday posts, click here.

Independence in Small Children

Are you ever surprised when you see your small child doing a task you didn’t think they were ready for?  On January 23, Asher asked me for an orange, but told me he wanted to peel it himself.  I started to say, “It’s pretty hard to peel an orange,” but then I caught myself and told him, “You can do it.” 

Honestly, I thought he wouldn’t be able to get his little fingernails under the peel or maybe he would give up after peeling a small portion, but he did it all and he’s been peeling oranges ever since.  He peels multiple oranges a day all by himself.  It’s funny how these small accomplishments make both of us proud and this new independence will come in handy when baby #3 arrives.  Maybe you have a 2 or 2.5 year old that is ready to peel oranges.  What do you think?

I love celebrating small moments like these…the small moments that make up life.

p.s. I’m completing goal #30 this week from my 101 goals.  I’ll be offline until Wednesday, February 1st.  I have posts scheduled for all of this week, but Monday and Tuesday of next week will be postless.  :)  No internet for an entire week…Wish me luck!

Sifting Snowflakes

  

  

     

Hello everyone!  Sorry for my absence, but I’ve been sick over the past few days.  I’m glad to be back and feeling better.  The weather has been pretty nice here lately, which has been my one saving grace.  The boys have been playing outside a lot.  We even took our learning outside…and I’m glad we did because “Sifting Snowflakes” was a lot of fun, but a bit of a mess. *Especially for Asher.*

A little while ago, one of our Christmas cups broke.  It was one that had water in the lining of the cup with glitter and snowflakes.  I saved the snowflakes, because I knew they would come in handy for a Montessori work.  All of the other items came straight from my kitchen.  I purposely placed 10 snowflakes in the snow (aka flour) so they could count them when they were done sifting.  It was their self-correcting way to know if they got all of the snowflakes. 

JR (5.5) only did this work once, but Asher (2.5) did it 5 times in a row.  He loved everything about it.  He even loved the messy part.  He tried really hard to keep it in the bowl, but every time the snow blew out of the bowl he couldn’t help but giggle.  Plus, I loved hearing him repeat, “tap, tap, tap” as he tapped the side of the sifter.

It’s already feeling like Spring here, but knowing Texas weather…we’ll be hit by a blizzard next week.  How’s the weather where you are?

This post is linked to Montessori Monday.  Click here for more Montessori Monday posts.