Montessori-in’ up – Part 1

Great to see you!  We have so much to catch up on…

It’s been a crazy month & a half:  Hubby’s birthday, hubby finished his huge summer “assignment”, we ran down for a quick trip to San Diego to visit family, came back just in time for hubby to have one “recovery” day before his single “teacher work day” this year (joy of budget cuts…), had Br’s 4th birthday party, Br had his first day back at preschool & our first opportunity to take part in a Montessori birthday walk.

Then I discovered my little blog had been hacked…Grrrrr. (we’re okay now).


More on all that later….

For now, I have an assignment.  A lovely blogger, Deb Chitwood of, & John Bowman, of the wonderful book Montessori At Home, have asked us to share our ideas on doing Montessori stuff at home for their upcoming ebook Mom Bloggers Talk Montessori: Favorite Ideas and Activities.

We’re definitely still in the “figuring it out” phase (hmm, wonder if I’ll ever make it out of that phase?), but in the last few months we’ve done a few things around the house to “Montessori up” the place. Continue reading “Montessori-in’ up – Part 1”

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“Where were my toys made?”- the aircraft edition

I’d written up a brief summary of this activity in the comments for a link-up for the Smart Summer Challenge “Me on the Map” over at Teach Mama, so I figured I should actually get around to writing the blog post about it.

smart summer button '11

This is a simple activity I’ve done with Br (3 3/4) a few times.  He seemed do get a kick out of it, and it resulted in his first actually decent joke (I’ll save that for the end.  But don’t get your hopes too high. It is still a 3 y/o’s joke).  Oh, and some geography knowledge & awareness…. :)

The activity is “Where were my toys made?”  All you need is a pile of manufactured toys and an atlas (or world map, or globe).  We’ll deal with the issue of global outsourcing later…

We peaked at the tiny writing on the bottom of the toys in Br’s aircraft bin (yes, we have enough small metal vehicles there is a subset of “aircrafts” in its own bin.  Br was the first grandson. And he REALLY likes all things mechanical)

Checking where the plane was made
Checking where the plane was made

I opened the atlas to the “Asia” page (We had done this activity before with some trucks. But, really, would any of you NOT have opened it automatically to Asia?) and we found the country listed on the bottom: in this case, Thailand.

We grouped the items by country and next to the atlas, relative to where the countries were found on the map.  There wasn’t as much “diversity” with the airplanes as there had been with the trucks (apparently Thailand has a bit of a monopoly on mini aircrafts?), so we had only 3 piles: Unknown (didn’t list a “made in…”), China, & Thailand (by far the most).

Where were my toys made?
Br decided he wanted to lay down in the picture. Man, nothing like posting pictures to the internet to make you notice you need to shampoo the carpet....

One of the aircrafts also listed it was designed in Sweden, but made in Thailand.  I showed where Sweden was on the inset world map, and we traced how far the information would have to travel (using the big map, so it was more impressive)- through Russia, China, etc. We had a brief discussion about “designing” & “making”.

Atlas world map inset

Here’s a link to the atlas we used:  Usborne Children’s Picture Atlas *This has been a favorite of Br’s since he was probably close to Bl’s age (lots of great pictures of animals, people, and landmarks around the world, as well as pages explaining different types of areas to be found in the atlas)

This also gave us an opportunity to “hypothesize”- working on both the vocabulary and the concept.  We have 2 helicopters that are exactly the same.  When I got to the second one, I asked Br what his “hypothesis” was on where it was made, and reminded him what a hypothesis was.  Br said he didn’t know.  I told him MY hypothesis was Thailand.   I explained to him the reason I hypothesized Thailand: because I could see the other helicopter that was the same in our Thailand pile (and most of the aircrafts were made in Thailand).  If they looked the same, they were likely made in the same place.

* I sell the Usborne & Kane-Miller books, so if you buy through this link, I will receive a small commission.  But I SELL them because I BUY them.  :)

Oh yeah! The joke: We’d gotten some “Animals of the World” cards at the dollar are of Target.  When we were looking through them the other day, it said the Sifka Lemurs were from Madagascar. One of Br’s trucks was made in Madagascar.  Br responded “Maybe the Lemurs made my trucks!”

I’d warned you not to get your hopes up. :) Maybe I should explain: my standard for “decent”= makes sense.

Do you have any suggestions for other activities we could try with our Atlas?  We’d also love to hear if you try this and how it went!

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How my toddler mistook me for a cow (a “lesson” in sign language)

I’d ordered a new toy the other day from Zulily. * My hubby was suckered into graciously made a wooden kitchen for our boys for Christmas.  I went a little crazy getting wooden food to go along with the kitchen at Christmas, but there was a few “food groups” that weren’t well represented.  But then I saw this set: Early Learning Centre-Wood Dairy Foods Set.

The set warned it was for “3+” (small parts- the removable milk bottle lids & the eggs are both ~1 – 1 1/2 inch diameter), so I “hid” it by putting it up in the “freezer”:

Early Learning Centre-Wood Dairy Foods SetBut Bl spotted it and LOVED it.

He loved taking the lid on & off the yogurt (though it is British, so yogurt is spelled “yoghurt”) and holding the little spoon.

He loved drinking with the “egg cup”.  I tried to explain to him what an egg cup was for…

He loved pulling apart the eggs.  Okay, he yanked at them until he got frustrated (hey, it’s brand new velcro & slippery eggs!) then passed it to mommy to pull apart, then stuck them back together, & we did it again. And again…

(There was also a little “egg carton” with the set, but ours had some weird smudges on them.  I’ll  let you know how their customer service response is…)

He enjoyed pulling apart the cheese. And saying “cheeesssee”.

He really, REALLY loved the milk bottles and their cardboard carrier.  He loved pulling them out of the carrier & putting them back in.  He loved pulling the lids off & putting them back on.  He hauled them around in the carrier, would stop, pull them out, start to walk off, them go back & put them back in.

At some point I told him it was “milk”.  This is when things got slightly insulting.

Now, we have done a bit of sign language with both boys.  You know, the important words like “more”, “food”, “helicopter”….  (I’ll try to update this later with links to our favorite signing resources).  The earliest sign Bl learned was “milk”, which we really used for “nurse”.  Bl is at the age where he is starting to communicate with “words”, and gets VERY excited about it.  When I mentioned the bottles were for milk, Bl held aloft a milk bottles in one hand, simultaneously signed “milk” and in his most excited (read: loudest) toddler guttural hollered “MOM… MOM… MOM…”

Bl pointing out the similarity between me & a cow
Bl pointing out the similarity between me & a cow

I pointed out the cow on the bottle.  We had discussions on “cow milk” vs “Mommy milk”.  I even showed him the “cow milk” in the refrigerator.  He would not be dissuaded.

Bl signing milk 1
Bl looking at the cow on the bottle, signing "Milk",.... and still yelling "MOM"....

I am about ready to start hiding the set when company comes over.


Don’t know about Zulily? It’s a site where they do special Baby/Kid/Mommy deals.  They feature some amazingly cute items (& all sorts of tastes), and sometimes have some intriguing educational products & wooden toys.  Some of the deals are phenomenal, some are just okay.  The deals usually last 3 days.  Shipping is $7.95, so keep that in mind in figuring the “deal” (I usually only end up ordering if there are a few things I find that I want), and takes about 3 weeks (at least from my experience).  It’s free to sign up.

If you sign up through “my link”: (and, yes, still free), and you ever end up buying anything, I’ll get a $15 credit (which I can use to buy other toys I can review) : win-win!

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