Etsy is an amazing place for handmade learning materials. We buy a lot from Etsy because I love the materials and despite not being able to make all our materials myself I love the handmade feel and touch. These are a few of my favourite new finds.
Etsy is an amazing place for handmade learning materials. We buy a lot from Etsy because I love the materials and despite not being able to make all our materials myself I love the handmade feel and touch. These are a few of my favourite new finds.
We can set up elaborate activities, we can buy expensive toys, but what is it that children are really drawn to? Some of the best activities are right at our fingertips, already in our home.
I'm talking about practical life. Not all children are attracted to food or kitchen activities. However children in the sensitive period for practical life can and will find satisfying activities in the home - if we allow them.
If Otis can reach his materials he will often do practical life activities on his own - made a spill, get his mop. But the best way to engage him is just to ask "want to help?". More often than not I will receive a yes.
Oh, there is so much to learn from practical life. Social, environmental, physical. And it's something that is visible, tangible, worthwhile - practical life activities have an end result. A clean window, watered plants, food to share and eat.
Practical life activities don't need to be planned for. Often I find the time I plan for Otis to participate is the time he isn't really interested. However we need to be prepared. It helps to find time to show children skills. Otis has had so much practice peeling and cutting that all I have to do with salad is to get out a few bowls and help get the salad items from the refrigerator. He makes salad in the 40 minutes it takes me to make lasagne. If he hadn't previously learnt cutting skills I would need to take more time to show him. The more they do, the more they want to do and the more proficient they get.
Concentration. Fine Motor Skills. Life skills. A happy and satisfied child.
Sometimes we have to adjust our expectations. The first few times Otis made a salad it consisted of carrot and lettuce. He was uncompromising. Now we've added a few more ingredients and even home made salad dressing. His salad isn't perfect but it's nice, simple and tastes good.
Practical life. It's not hard or unachievable. It's fantastic!
We've had these books in our home for a couple of months. They are useful for pulling out when we come across a relevant topic.
There are a few reasons we find these books so useful. They are the perfect length/size/level of detail and are easy to follow. The books are primarily for parents with children in a Montessori school or school with a Montessori approach. They explain how the topic is covered at school and provide activity and extension ideas for the home. In most books there are examples of materials that can be made at home. As there are so many topics they are relevant for so many stages in development. I also really like the format which is attractive, clean and clear.
There are more in this series however we currently use; My Montessori Coloring Book of Shapes, My First Montessori Book of Numbers, My First Montessori Book of Shapes, My First Montessori Book of Patterns and My First Montessori Book of Leaf Shapes by Mary Da Prato.
We use the My Montessori Coloring Books of Shapes most often. Most pages are simple geometric shapes for colouring.
"Inspired by the Metal Insets, My Montessori Coloring Book of Shapes is a fun at-home activity book designed for children to practice filling in geometric shapes using the pencil grip to reinforce work done at school. The pencil grip photographed in the "For Parents" section of the book helps families support their children's fine motor development outside the classroom.
Filling in geometric shapes with a continuous colored pencil line prepares students in the Montessori Primary Casa, or classroom for three through six year olds, for cursive handwriting. My Montessori Coloring Book of Shapes helps children refine and perfect their fine motor control while simultaneously reinforcing what is practiced in the Casa. This publication also defines Montessori prerequisites for successful handwriting that can be implemented at home." - Mary Da Prato
"Children are naturally interested in the leaves in their outdoor environment. In the Montessori Casa, or classroom for three to six year olds, students are introduced to the Botany Cabinet which contains puzzle leaf shapes to compare with nature and trace with a stylus for fine motor control. Additionally, Leaf Card Set activities strengthen identification and abstraction skills in preparation for reading and writing." - Mary Da Prato.
My First Montessori Book of Patterns has been much fun. Mainly for language (some of the patterns have fun names such as hound's-tooth, herringbone) and we have been doing lots of searching for patterns in our home and matching and working on pattern identification.
The books we have in this series are thoughtfully written and are refreshingly for the Montessori parent - such a rarity.
I have been making mini books for Otis (above picture from here). He loves them and cannot get enough. I think it's part due to their small size and they are handmade which I feel Otis really appreciates that I made them for him. Most importantly they are hitting that sweet spot - easy enough for him to enjoy and have some success yet challenging and engaging!
I love that these materials are easy to make and can be useful to a child for a long period of time. From letter recognition to reading full words. I'm not sure Otis is fully comprehending the concept of opposites just yet either. If I was making them for more children I would laminate, I love how durable laminate is however knowing these are for Otis only I left them as card.
Above is a series for Opposite mini books. Two cards stapled together - however they could just as easily be made as matching cards. Below are Phonics Mini Books (I printed these on card and punched holes and secured with hinged rings). I have made about half the alphabet and I know that I am going to need to make them all. Ideas/inspiration found here. The mini books have been made from pages printed from here.
Each set is stored in a basket on his shelves. I would love to make some fabric pouches for them. It's so nice to sit down with Otis and read these together. To mix it up a little with some Phonics books I put a wrong letter card in the book - to see if he notices, it always brings a little giggle.
Bunny ears, bunny ears, playing by a tree, criss-crossed the tree, trying to catch me.
Bunny ears, bunny ears, jumped into the hole, popped out the other side, beautiful and bold.
Putting shoes on is such an important part of getting dressed. Shoes come on and off many times a day (sand pit, inside/outside, mud, in the car) and the child being able to do this independently is key.
Although I feel everyday practice is a great way to learn, I would not be comfortable providing Otis with shoes with laces until he is competent tying laces. I don't think he has to have it mastered as pulling the laces tight and tying tightly is more difficult but if he can tie them I would be happy. For the time being Otis will continue with velcro shoes although his soccer boots have laces and we will provide him with lots of opportunity to practice.
At the moment he cannot practice by himself he still needs lots of help to remember the steps. Watching his hands though I feel his is capable it's just the remembering part. And by practising he will create that muscle memory!
I've decided to stick with him practising with one of my shoes. It has longer laces than our children's shoes which will make it slightly easier (and it's relatively clean). There are a lot of DIYs to make shoes and several versions parents can buy but really, the real shoe is working better I believe than a cardboard shoe would.
The Bow Tying Frame found at school would be a great help - I really hope Otis is drawn to it and uses it. The five bows allow the child greater opportunity for repetition. The red and white ribbon allow the child to easily differentiate between the two.
I absolutely love this idea to use a skipping rope to show the child how the tying/bow works. The child obviously needs that hand/finger practice but this is great to show them/to help them visualise how to do it, to get the rhythm going!
1. Near North Montessori School. Chicago.
6. Near North Montessori School. Chicago.
7. George Washington Elementary School. A Public Montessori program in the City of Kingston, New York.
8. Montessori School of Beaverton. "The Discovery Garden offers opportunities for flower arranging, matching leaf shapes, dissecting plants and identifying botanical classifications; tasting (fruits and herbs), harvesting and cooking; exploration, contemplation and group lessons."
I recently visited Indooroopilly Montessori Children's House (thank you Donna and Gemma for having me) and I loved so many of their outdoor features. I decided to see what other Montessori outdoors environments could be inspiring. Near North Montessori shows what can be done with very little outdoor space. The climbing wall looks ridiculously fun. Bozeman Summit School and Ottawa Montessori School are also both amazing!
I know that a lot of parents of young children think about emotional intelligence. How do we give children the ability to be aware of, control and express their emotions, how do we prepare them for reading other people's emotions, to discrimination between emotions, empathise with others and potentially diffuse conflict?
Both of my children have had emotions puzzles in their classrooms and there are books on the topic. But what if there was a resource that covers a wide range of emotions that was also modern and fun to use? I know a many parents would love to learn more about children and emotions but don't know where to start.
In consultation with parents and educators Marie-Claire from So Awesome has developed Emotions Children's Wallet Cards. This is a really unique product, they can be used in a proactive way, as a discussion starter, thought provoker a point of reference at home and schools, preschools and special needs classes.
. The Emotions Wallet Cards feature 36 emotions! Each emotion has been photographed and illustrated. Genuine expressions are used from real children ages 0 to 13 years.The deck is intended to introduce children and adults to the wide range of human emotions and to help strengthen social-emotional skills, helping young children navigate their way through the social emotional language of the people they meet everyday.
The Emotions Wallet Cards are the same great quality that we know from the So Awesome family of Wallet Cards. Non-toxic (third-party approved for safety, materials and durability), for all ages, made from durable plastic, made in the USA and Montessori-infused.
The So Awesome Wallet Cards are also known for being modern, colourful and gorgeous. This deck features photography from Rhiannon McCalmont and illustration from Marie Thorhauge. Placeholders have been used here but more about the photographer and illustrator can be found here.
In addition to the Emotions Wallet Cards Marie-Claire has also developed Emotions Scenario posters and an Emotions Companion poster. The posters really extend the use of the cards. Children can study the pictures and match their cards to the poster and in the scenario posters they can study the pictures, identify emotions and discuss how each of the children are feeling.
Funding pledges start at just $1. Kickstarter is all-or-nothing funding for creative products, supporting new projects is quick and easy. The campaign is open until April 29, 11 am EST (US).
If you are interested in making a pledge it is important to note that in the $45 reward you can get all of the the new decks which ship in the US for free or ship $5 world-wide. This is really great value. If you would like to see these cards in your home or school your help is need now.
"If you know a teacher, if you know someone in the special needs arena of education, please tell that person, we've heard a lot of need for something like this that is affordable, that is genuine, that is beautiful and we hope to bring all those things to you in this deck." - Marie-Claire from So Awesome.
You can back the campaign here. Please share this link with anyone you feel might be interested.
So Awesome would like to thank each and every backer! If you have backed this campaign I encourage you to leave a comment in the comment section of this blog post. We will select one (1 only) lucky backer to receive a matching reward for a friend, $100 in SO Awesome store credit and $100 SO Awesome store credit for a non-profit or school of their choice. Comments will close 8pm 29 April 2015 Australian Eastern Standard Time.
Have you given much consideration to Grace and Courtesy lessons with your children? It's a topic I haven't written very much about but it's often on my mind. It is more of something we interweave into everyday life rather than something we prepare for and focus on. We build upon it as the child gets older but it's never too early to model. Grace and Courtesy lessons are presented at (Montessori) school but most if not all are best reinforced at home and so relevant to the life of the whole child. As with many skills grace and courtesy needs to be modelled constantly, our children look up to us and will often pick up on and follow our behaviours. I have also come to think that many grace and courtesy lessons are cultural and would definitely differ from family to family. Here are a few opportunities we take to teach grace and courtesy in our home;
Some of these are fun to role play. Otis loves playing shops so this is a great way to practice ordering and general courtesy.
I also need to note that the purpose of this approach is not to have an obedient or perfectly behaved child. For our family the purpose is to empower our children with skills and words. Giving them the gift of being able to appropriately handle social situations. Allowing them to be respectful to themselves, family and friends - to all of those around them.
This is just a quick list - please feel free to add any Grace and Courtesy lessons that I may have missed or that you use at home.
I love a book that brings my children together. It is a wonderful thing when I find Caspar reading to Otis. So much love! Here they are reading The Animal Book by Steve Jenkins.
Steve Jenkins was recommend to me here by a reader - I can't find the comment but thank you for the suggestion! Also by Steve Jenkins the boys are loving The Beetle Book as above and Eye to Eye. All are visually brilliant and engaging. The illustrations attract the children and the information keeps them there. The text and facts are in short bursts which is perfect for my reader who can only manage small amounts of text at a time. The books don't need to be read from start to finish, the kids can open and investigate any page they like.
Home by Carson Ellis is simply charming. The illustrations are charming and the story is charming. "Home is a house in the country. Or home is an apartment. Some homes are boats. Some homes are wigwams…" There is something a little old world and quaint about it. I think it stretches the child's imagination and enhances diversity, knowledge and acceptance of other cultures.
Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World is a lovely book to have on our shelves for Caspar (7 yrs) who is learning about nature in a bit more detail. Anatomy, life cycles, water cycles - all natural processes are conveyed in image and text. This book is also pictured below. It has been useful for so many of his research projects and it is also very beautiful. The only downside is it is very American - featuring American species. It would be perfect to have an Australian edition.
Nature's Day: Discover the World of Wonder on Your Doorstep by Kay Maguire is also worthy of a mention here. It is more of a book that I pull out to read to the children. It is a perfect book for gift giving because of it's presence - it is large (at approximately 30 x 30 cms) and the cover is stunning. Inside the cover the illustrations are simple and nice and take the reader through the seasons and asks us to appreciate the changes that occur around us. I find the book too long to read to my children from start to finish but it's easy to open up to the current or upcoming season.
Some of these books are new releases so I hope you enjoy our recommendations.
As you can see the kits are heavily influenced by Montessori and the lesson plans would work perfectly in a Montessori home and in many cases a classroom. Stickers, puzzles and a sensory tub - a delight to a three year old.
The kit doesn't just contain materials for formal lessons but lots of materials intended for and suitable for free play. The sensory tub we made with the Instant Snow has been on Otis' shelves for two weeks - he has used it every day (we have needed on occasion to add water to revitalise the snow). He loved this stickers which are great for fine motor skills as is the above pictured penguin puzzle. Small model animals are always a hit too.
Your can see all of the materials included in the kit here. The kits can be purchased individually or as part of a monthly subscription. At our pace I think the kit would last a month - there are seven lesson plans but each with many variations and it definitely leads to further exploration of the theme.
All of the materials are at his current skill level with the exception of the lessons differentiating the South and North Pole. I believe this lesson would be best suited to an older child who has a good grasp of geography and will be something we can cover later.
All of the materials can be used in further lessons and play and their life extends well beyond the month. Most of all I love how easy the Brainy Kit is. The lesson plans and having all the materials present is just the best. It's fun to be able to teach Otis something new without having to plan or really think too hard about it - selecting all the materials, laminating, selecting a book or puzzle - it's all done. I also love the theme, it is very engaging.
Thank you to Brainy Kits for the opportunity to review this product. It was something totally new to us, we've never really focused on such a theme before and we all enjoyed it.
I have just a short post for tonight. I thought I would share some fun links but I have a post almost ready for tomorrow reviewing a Montessori subscription service - so please check back in tomorrow if that is something you would like to read.
This weekend Meg Hicks and I joined forces on an Instagram account. Come and see us at kylieandmeg!! It's such a fun process. So far I have been taking the pictures and Meg has been writing the captions. I love how expressive Meg is. I am still on Instagram at howwemontessori if you'd like to see what we have been up to on an almost daily basis.
I recently found this absolutely amazing and beautiful Montessori blog Emil and Mathilda - please check it out if you have a toddler, I think you will like it too!
I am interested in learning more about how children move and how this impacts their learning. We have this rocker and we also have an Ikea swing outside. Swinging or rocking - my children love it. This rocker - I think it's from Germany is amazing.
As usual this is a great read at MariaMontessori about some of the interesting things that occur in a Montessori classroom.
I am currently reading a few books in this series. Let me know if you would like a review. I haven't seen them written about or mentioned before so I have been very interested.
My little nephew has just started crawling and pulling himself up on things. It reminds me how useful pull-up bars are - this is a cute post by Nicole on how a pull up bar is working in her home.
Do you have any favourite Montessorish/children's homes? This is an old interview but it's a constant source of inspiration for me.
On a more personal note in the last couple of weeks Otis has been able to buckle up his car seat independently. It's a huge step and it makes getting in and out of the car a breeze. As above he can now also cut his own oranges! All of these tiny steps of independence really add up. I noticed one of his little school friends tying his own shoe laces so perhaps it's time for us to think about laces too!
It's obviously important that any work we do at home doesn't conflict or duplicate the work done or the work that will be done at school. However as Otis is only at school for half the day (9am-12pm) and there is still a lot of time at home where he is interested in working. I would go so far to say that he is ready for a second three hour work period.
Besides the natural environment his undeniable attraction is to letters, numbers and shapes. There is lots of identifying these in our environment, there is lots of 'I Spy' and counting, there is a lot of language work just around these three areas of interest. There is lots of reading, lots of playing all focused on letters, numbers and shapes.
So I try to facilitate with lots of time for free play with materials to help develop these interests. Where he can select any puzzle he likes - but an Alphabet Puzzle is on offer. An environment where we count at every opportunity and identify numbers all around us. Where shape books, stencils, puzzles, geoboards and pencils and paper are on offer.
An environment where he has the freedom to choose his own work and an environment that supports his developmental needs and interests.
I am also starting to think about the right time for Otis to transition to extended day at school. In Canberra it's likely this would have commenced this term but at his current school not until term three or four. Different school have different policies which makes it incredibly difficult to determine when the time is right for your child.
I never would have thought to put spinning tops on toddler (Montessori) shelves if I hadn't received a little wooden handcrafted top (below) from a friend. When Otis was younger I presented spinning tops in a tray, this is a good option for a child learning to use the tops as the tops are contained in the tray and the child doesn't need to spend all their time picking them up off the floor. You can see how I presented them in a tray in this post at 38 months.
Now Otis is pretty good with the wooden top and he uses it directly on the table top. The little metal top has a finer point and is a little more difficult. I love having these little tops around as they are almost irresistible, when you see them it's hard not to pick one up and give it a spin.
They are really good for both of my children who are learning to write and need further coordination and strengthening of the hand and fingers. They are also lots of fun on a rainy day.
Otis is a typical three year old. There are times often months when he is happy to brush his teeth and then suddenly he starts refusing. He will put on his shoes independently for weeks then he starts asking for help. Montessori has taught me a few ways to promote care of self activities so I thought I would take some time to share.
Knowledge and Skill. The child needs to have knowledge of and the skills required to complete the task. In most cases the child will need the steps of the task broken down. The child depending on their stage in development may be only able to complete part of the task, for example a child could get their shoes out and slip their feet in, a parent could pull the straps and the child can attach the velcro. Or the parent rinses a face wash cloth and the child wipes their own face. As the child completes each step the parent can start preparing for the next. I suggest parents provide the least amount of assistance required for the child to complete the task.
Environment. Without a supportive environment it's difficult for a child to complete care of self activities. The easier it is for the child the more likely it is that they will participate. Step stools to reach basins, low mirror, drink station, snack table. The child needs to be able to reach and access all of the materials required. The environment also needs to be orderly so the child can find and return all of their materials. Cups and glasses need to be cleaned, snacks need to be restocked. There needs to be a place for everything. If there is no hook or place to store hats, towels or free hangers for clothes it's likely (in our home) these would end up on the floor.
Time. I have found that young children cannot be rushed. If I ask Otis to hurry often this results in distracting him to the point it actually slows him down. Children need adequate time to complete their activities. They need time and space (hovering doesn't help) to get dressed, put their shoes on etc.
Expectation/Habit/Routine. These are all so important for the child know what is expected of them. If it is part of the child's routine to brush their teeth after bath time then it becomes automatic. The child knows what happens next and knows what to do. It becomes habit and routine to the point they just do it without thinking and move on to the next thing.
Consistency. I know this can be terribly difficult sometimes especially if you need to get out the door in a rush. However as much as possible we need to respect the child's right to complete the task themselves. Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed. If a child can tie their shoes then they should have the opportunity to do so every time. It doesn't help if sometimes you tie their shoes then other times you expect them to do it.
Beauty. This is really relevant to the environment and materials. Children (and adults!) are attracted to beauty. If the environment and materials are beautiful, if they are attractive, it's more likely the child will use them. Beauty means different things to different people but for many people this means using lovely natural materials. Nice baskets to store clothes, gorgeous plates, tablecloths, aprons, napkins etc.
Interests/Likes. A child isn't going to prepare their own snack if they don't like the food on offer. I use interests and likes as incentives for the child to become involved. I know it isn't always possible but Otis is heavily involved in clothes and shoe shopping. He selects his favourite toothpaste from the shop. I keep his interests and likes in mind when selecting materials.
These tips don't and won't solve all of our problems however they address most of the barriers to children being involved in care of self activities.
This week we made two new additions to the bathroom. A box of tissues and a bin. Although Otis has been here before a lesson on blowing and wiping his nose and a discussion on the importance of hygiene was required. Otis isn't currently coughing or sneezing however are these are good grace and courtesy lessons. The children have access to tissues in the cupboard but when a cold strikes it's best we put them in a more visible location.
Without a bin prominently displayed my children tend to 'pile' the tissues on the counter, so a bin near the mirror helps. The mirror is key, Otis needs to be able to see himself clearly in order to effectively wipe his nose. He also need access to fresh face towels to clean his face. It's kind of working, let's say his nose blowing and wiping still needs improvement. This is a cute nose blowing post from Itty Bitty Love. I cringe when I see parents restrain their child to wipe their nose (totally disempowering) - this article has more on the Montessori approach. My main tips to Otis are to fold the tissue in half (most often in Montessori they are already folded in quarters), blow and wipe in the centre of the tissue, put tissue in the bin and wash hands. Otis has previously used folding cloths to practice folding which helps a lot.
So what are some other key care of self lessons/activities for this age group? Otis has some of these mastered however in most areas there is still work to be done/reinforcement required. For example Otis can completely dress himself however occasionally he will wear elastic waisted pants that also have a button - he is still learning to do the button.
Dressing and Undressing - I include in this selecting appropriate clothing (occasion and weather), buttoning as mentioned, putting on shoes (Otis is still using velcro shoes and hasn't attempted laces yet), putting away clean laundry (in the basket or on a clothes hanger) and putting dirty/worn clothes in the right way and in the dirty-clothes basket. It's also worth mentioning Otis now recognises when he needs to wear a hat and about sun protection - even at home plays in the shade unless he has a hat on. We are also working on recognising when we need to pack a rain coat.
Toileting - Complete use of the toilet including dressing and washing hands when finished. Replacing finished toilet rolls (yes - this too!).
Applying sunscreen/lotion - Using bottles, applying, rubbing in and determining when required.
Brushing teeth - This also includes applying toothpaste to the toothbrush, rinsing and Otis has just started learning about flossing.
Brushing/combing and washing hair - Otis has been able to wash his own hair in the shower however in the bath he has only just started washing his hair himself including pouring water over his head to rinse his hair himself.
Bathing - This includes washing and drying. Washing face and wiping eyes and ears, cleaning in-between toes and all the tricky parts. Also preparing the bath (putting the plug in, with supervision turning on the tap and putting in bath salts/bubblebath) and hanging up robes and towels.
Hand-washing - Thorough hand-washing with soap including under nails (using a nail brush) and completely drying the hands.
Feeding - This includes self feeding, using a napkin to clean hands/face, getting snack and pouring a drink. Packing and preparing snack or lunch box and filling water bottle for school or outings. Setting the table and putting away dirty dishes. This also including selecting the right food for their body (recognising which foods to eat at snack time, lunch time and which foods are treats) and acting on thirst (water is best).
Managing injury/applying band-aids - Including removal and disposal of band-aids. For a long time we had to keep the pack out of reach and just leave one or two in the children's bathroom however Otis can now be trusted/lost interest in band-aids and will only use them when necessary, now we keep an entire packet accessible.
Self awareness - This includes the child recognising and acting on pain, tiredness, sadness, anger includes staying calm and being aware of their emotions and feelings.
Managing belongings/Preparing and packing school bag - Otis doesn't do this independently but each morning together we check he has all he needs for school (change of clothes, water bottle, snack box and fruit, sunscreen, hat).
Exercise and rest - This is a bit of an odd one to include here however I believe it's important for children to know about exercise/physical activity and rest. This includes introducing physical activity every day as a habit (after school my children throw or kick a ball, hit a tennis ball on a string, ride bikes, go swimming, practice soccer with a goal net, use a swing) and also know that they need rest (feeling their body is tired) and to go to bed, sit down. We try to incorporate meditation (guided) and a little yoga into this.
It's also worth mentioning cutting hair and nails. Before cutting Otis' nails I will ask him if his nails need cutting. This brings it to his attention. Leading up to having a hair cut we will have a similar discussion about his hair getting in his eyes and needing a trim.
I know most Montessori parents will already be convinced however the importance of care of self activities cannot be overstated. They prepare the child for life long good habits, they empower the child and build self confidence and self worth. The care of self activities the child can be involved in changes through stages of development but we cannot deny the child the opportunity to be as involved as possible.
Please feel free to add or discuss care of self activities that you may be working on with your child or children.
A couple of months ago I ordered some materials from Indigo Inspirations. I wanted to give my children (aged three and seven) lots of inspiration for crafting and making. I wanted natural materials that were really beautiful. I picked up the Wooden Knitting Fork with Hand Painted Rainbow Wool, Hand Painted Wool Fleece for Wet or Dry Felting, Wool Fleece Felting Kit (it comes with felting instructions) and some Hand Dyed Wool Felt. But I could have ordered so much more. We quickly tried wet felting which you can see here.
I originally thought of Caspar (seven) when I selected the wooden knitting fork. However it was Otis that asked to use it first. Otis has done some French Knitting before usually sitting on my lap and working together. With the fork I started the knitting and gave a bit of a Montessori style demonstration. It was hard for him for the first few minutes. It may be easier to demonstrate with the child sitting on your lap as they can clearly see where to put their hands. It helps if the child has the same dominant hand as you - with Otis I try and demonstrate with my right hand being dominant (he is right handed, I am left). Although Otis does/has changed hands while knitting. Slowly and deliberately I demonstrate in silence. And then Otis takes over holding the fork and slipping off the knots. After a bit of practice he takes over doing the figure eight around the fork and pulling through.
As you can see Otis' knitting is loose and uneven, tension isn't a word I'm going to use with him just yet. He has dropped a few stitches and has often wound the wool too many times around the fork. No problem - it's really easy to continue, this is a time to relax and allow the child to enjoy the process, enjoy their success. This is great work for building concentration, fine and gross motor skills, coordination and confidence - they can make something really useful and really beautiful.
Please note that this is not a sponsored post. I did not receive payment or goods for hosting this giveaway. This is a product that we really enjoyed and wanted to share with you. This giveaway is for one Wooden Knitting Fork with Hand Painted Rainbow Wool.
To enter please visit Indigo Inspirations on Etsy and have a look at all of the gorgeous products Jo has on offer. Come back to this blog post and leave a comment in the below comment section. We would love to hear about the handwork/making/crafting you are doing at home or in your classroom.
Please only one entry/comment per person. The give-away is open internationally and will close on Monday 16 February 2015 at 8PM Australian Eastern Standard Time.
Thank you for all of your comments. I know Jo appreciates all of your kind words. Comments have now closed and the recipient will be notified shortly.
What do your children do while you cook dinner? Often it's the time that Otis doesn't want to be working or playing independently. It's nice to have him by my side and I can always find something for him to do. It usually involves carrots - peeling, cutting. We can always add carrot sticks to a meal. Sometimes he likes to play in the sink but there is always some mashing, grating, peeling, slicing to do. I think this might have been Otis' first time peeling a potato and it took a fair bit of concentration.
Around the internet I am loving;
The sweetest Montessori sewing cards.
21 month-old Charlotte peeling an orange. This is actually quite remarkable, watch her hands!
I recently purchased this from Etsy and I love it. I wish we had one when Otis was little. So good on so many levels (coordination, fine motor, wrist rotation, hand strength). I wanted to see and hold it before I recommend it, the one we received is good quality and the thread is very smooth.
The Rhythm Board - a tactile and intuitive way to teach rhythm - Kickstarter campaign.
This is a really heartfelt post from Sara.
Please feel free to leave a link if you have any recommended reading.
1. Montessori Letter Work, 2. The Red Letter Alphabet Book, 3. Les lettres à toucher de Balthazar (Letters to Touch) French, 4. My First BOB Books: Alphabet, 5. Around the World from a to z, 6. Eating the Alphabet, 7. My First ABC Board Book, 8. Museum ABC (of this in small board book), 9. I Spy: An Alphabet in Art.
Otis was thrilled last week to again be doing letter/sound work at school. He loves playing I Spy and I realised there are still so many letters that he doesn't know. It also made me realise that all of our alphabet books have been out of rotation for some time!
I love the Montessori concept of sandpaper letters and I think it's a fantastic idea to include tactile letters into a book. Montessori Letter Work, The Red Letter Alphabet Book, Les lettres à toucher de Balthazar (Letters to Touch) in French and Around the World from a to z all contain tactile letters. I also believe using sandpaper letter books can be a nice complement to the work being done at school - the letters don't need to be used in any official way if the child isn't up to that stage yet.
I also really like the My First ABC Board Book as it shows crisp, clear images with a white background. This allows the child to focus on the images and not a story line or background noise.
We know in Montessori children learn the lower case letter first and the sound of the letter. So while we have Museum ABC and I love the concept it is all upper case letters. It's also so much easier for the child if the objects have phonetic spelling. We also have Animalia which is an outstanding book however it's for a much, much older audience.
I've also thought about homemade alphabet (initial sound) materials that might be appropriate for Otis. I love these examples for home;
Out of all the alphabet books I pulled out today Otis selected this one, ABC Canberra: A Beautiful City. We purchased this in Canberra and it is all photographic of things familiar with Canberra. It's nice to look back on.
Wow! What a busy week it was. The boys started back at school which meant our days were really full. As Otis spends the mornings at school (he finishes at 12) we have one-on-one time until it's time to pick Caspar up (he finishes at 3). It's been so nice to have quiet, concentrated time with Otis.
Our afternoons have been spent doing lots of practical life and fun, relaxing work. Above on Tuesday Otis learnt to use the egg beater - which is genius, so easy for him to use once he got the action and coordination right.
Our afternoons are often filled with washing, cleaning and cooking. Luckily he is more than willing to help. The washing trolley is a current favourite.
Wednesday. Otis has been working with this knitting fork for a couple of weeks and is pretty pleased with the results. For full disclosure he has made a few mistakes, which we are embracing. He wants to make a skipping rope but we'll have to wait and see.
Painting is always relaxing. No rules, no instruction just Otis and some pots of paint - and lots of paper.
Thursday. I find using our senses in a really directed way is an instant stress relief. We could have used these in cooking but instead we just sat down and crushed the leaves in our hands and smelt them, Otis is also trying to learn their names and using common garden herb cards.
Below is one of Otis' current favourite games - the shopping game. It's a little bit of numeracy work (mainly number recognition) but most of all it's fun role play. To make this game I cut out and laminated images from a grocery store catalogue and we use play coins and notes. When Caspar (aged seven, not pictured) plays this game he adds up the items and then gives the correct change.
Friday. The boys spend so much time outside playing soccer, kicking or hitting balls or just chasing each other around. Often Otis takes his balance board outside or just plays quietly with it on the deck.
I'm wishing you a happy and successful February!
Bathrooms are a room where independence is so important. And yet we let the bathroom slide a little. Thinking, it's ok, the boys can reach, they can see the mirror. However it became apparent that it wasn't ok and there were a few changes we could make to encourage independence and get this bathroom a little more like our previous bathroom.
The wall behind Otis isn't fully tiled which makes attaching things to the wall a little more difficult. So we've put a smaller mirror (but it attaches very strongly with a suction cap) on the shower wall, along with a small basket for toothbrushes and toothpaste and occasionally a brush or comb. To thoroughly clean their teeth and brush their hair, apply sunscreen or moisturiser, kids need to be able to see themselves up close. Caspar has started independently flossing so he definitely needs a mirror.
A low hand towel serves as a reminder to dry their hands. We have a small pump soap dispenser, plenty of clean wash cloths (Otis goes through this pile almost daily), nail brush, freshly made bath salts with a scoop, bath toys and a step stool. I've tried more greenery here but for some reason it invites ants. As I've mentioned previously low soap holders (that attach to the tiles with a suction cap) in the shower. Nothing more than common sense but so easy to skip over.
Any other tips for encouraging independence in the bathroom? I know I've covered this before too, but this is the toothpaste we love and recommend.