Thursday, February 25, 2010

From the Book Corner

E and I wanted to share with you one of our all-time favorite books.  I think she started "reading" this one to me when she was about 16 months old or so.  It is one we check out from the library at least once a month.

E loves the Maisy books, but Hooray for Fish is her absolute favorite book, and has been for some time.  I finally found a copy on, and it came last week in the mail.  She was SO excited!  And then proceeded to "read" to me the whole book.

The illustrations are bright and cheerful, just like the Maisy books, and there are so many different kinds of fish to look at.  Especially fun are the pages with many fish, one page has a pineapple fish and a strawberry fish!

Go check it out from the library!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

In the Kitchen

E wanted to help me out in the kitchen today, so we made Giant Breakfast Cookies from Heavenly Homemakers.  I was very excited to try them, and as I anticipated they were (and are) soooo good!  I followed the option of soaking my grains before baking the cookies - I've heard a lot about that recently.  Apparently, it is supposed to make the grains easier to digest and be healthier for you.  Frankly, little E can use all the digestion help she can get.  Other than the time waiting for the grains to soak, these cookies were quick and easy.  They are made with whole wheat flour and oats.  Honey is used to sweeten instead of sugar, and butter instead of oil.  I am not a breakfast cereal eater, and E does not like to eat breakfast cereal with milk, so we do lots of granola bars, fruit, eggs, and toast for breakfast.  I am happy to have a NEW, delicious, healthy, and quick breakfast option.

E: They are very all-too good!

Mama: 5 stars, we'll be making these a lot here in the future.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Lighter School Week

Tot School
E is 25 months

We had a lighter week of school this week.  Ahhh, winter and the germs we get!  We started off the week on Sunday night with a 24 hour stomach bug, and then progressed into urinary-tract-infection-land by Tuesday.  Sooo . . . we did a little school time, and a lot more reading and relaxing time.

Here are our shelves for the week:

Top Shelf: Alphabet stacking blocks and pom-pom transfer with a spoon.

Middle Shelf: Beads to string, Madagascar magnet book, and color box 2

Bottom Shelf: Push pins and styrofoam ball, shape puzzle

For some reason, I never had my camera when we were downstairs working, so I don't have a lot of pictures this week.  The big hit was the styrofoam ball with the push pins.  I bought fancy star shaped push pins, and showed E how to push them into the styrofoam.  She was all over it!  She did ALL the push pins - it was a box of about 25-30.

Another favorite activity is the magnet book.  E got this for her birthday from Grandma, and she LOVES it.  She puts all the magnets on one page, swipes them off, and does the same on the next page.  She especially loves the penguins (that's my girl!) and has to put them on first in every picture.

In other activities, we did some painting this week, in which E decided she MUST paint her hands purple.  I think I need to turn the easel around.  I was sitting and reading in the chair while she painted.  All of a sudden she came up to me and said, "Look, mama!  Purple hands!"  *sigh* upstairs to wash . . . .

We tried a little bit of yoga . . . .

A also worked on our gymnastics skills, since we missed class due to the stomach bug.  E will FINALLY do a summersault!  I have to help her, but previously she wouldn't even let me close.  Being upside down bothers her.  I also brought out a long ribbon and we practiced walking on the line.  She would only keep one foot on - she does MUCH better with the real balance beam.  So we decided to make it into a road for her cars.

My favorite picture of the week:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Itty Bitty Christmas Tree

E got a fun practical life lesson yesterday.  My parents had visited a home and garden show and brought her back a little pine tree.  This guy is maybe 6 inches tall.  So yesterday we went out and bought a pot and some soil.  E helped me put the soil in the pot, and plant the "itty bitty Christmas tree."  Then she helped me water it so it can "grow big and tall like E."  No pictures of the process, it was too messy to leave alone to grab the camera!  But here is our little tree.  Hopefully, we can get him to grow and be able to plant him outside.  Our yard is in DESPERATE need of trees.

Friday, February 12, 2010

From the Book Corner

E and I have some new favorite books to share with you today.  We recently found the Pebble Plus series at our library, and we LOVE them.  I have been looking for some simple non-fiction books about animals to share with E.  Specifically ones with great photography, rather than drawings.  Enter Pebble Plus.  I like the Eyewitness books, but they are way over my 2-year-old's head.  Too many things going on on the pages.  The Pebble Plus books are simple.  3 or so sentences per page, and some great huge photographs.  E's current favorite is the one about meerkats, part of the African animals series.  She tells me, "Meerkats are from Africa.  They eat lilards (lizards).  I love them."  They also have books about big trucks and construction equipment, plant systems, landmarks, personal health and hygiene, and weather/seasons.  I'm finding them to be a wonderful, age appropriate, non-fiction series.  We have to pick up at least one each time we go to the library.

On a slightly related note . . . do you know how hard it is to drag a 2-year-old book lover from the library WITHOUT any books because you forgot your wallet at home??  Yeah, it was a real fun morning.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Ongoing Debate

In my ongoing debate between keeping E at home for preschool or sending her to a school, I am leaning more towards keeping her at home.  Which has led me to much research and thought into HOW exactly I would do that.  This in turn has led me to look at repurposing some of the rooms in our home.  I love moving things around and re-decorating.  Maybe it's a girl thing, maybe it's just genetic.  My mom always "fluffed" our house when we were growing up.  You get tired of things and get in a rut.  Changing things around makes everything seem new again, even when it's not.  Unfortunately, in my house, with the furniture that we have and the layout that we have, my "fluffing" opportunities are few and far between.  So I am jumping at the chance to remake our office/exercise room (yeah, right, we never use that eliptical!) into a school room for E.  I have spent the last week measuring, pricing shelves, deciding where I would put certain things (like our computer, for example).  I have had great fun looking at my favorite homeschool and Montessori blogs, seeing how their learning spaces are set up.

I have also been doing a LOT of research into the Montessori materials themselves.  Which to buy now, which to buy later, which to make, and which to forget about.  I hear there is a yahoo group dedicated to making Montessori materials.  I guess I need to get a yahoo account.  I have decided I think I can inexpensively make things like dressing frames, sound boxes, and fabrics.  I am looking at making some of the sandpaper materials as well: land and water cards, rough and smooth boards, and perhaps the land and water globe - I have an old globe laying around that I could do something with.  I have also seen the constructive triangles that some people have made and think I could make those as well.

I don't, however, think I want to make sandpaper letters or numbers - cutting that much sandpaper does not appeal to me.  I think I will buy those.  Along with the pink tower, cylinder blocks, brown stair, red rods, geometric cabinet and solids, metal insets, binomial cube, and some of the cultural materials.  I have several spreadsheets dedicated to the decision of which materials to include at this time and I think I can get what I want AND get the schoolroom set up for price of about 2 month's tuition at my favorite of the Montessori schools we went and toured.

I am still trying to get the husband on board 100%.  He's about 75-80% there, but I want his full support before I go into something like this.  My biggest problem right now is trying to field all the "You want to keep her home for preschool???  Isn't playing with the other kids the whole point of preschool??" comments from well-meaning family and friends.  All I can say right now is that my mind is not totally made up.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Preschool Play-by-Play

I saw one of these on another blog somewhere, and I thought it would be good to see exactly WHAT we are doing with our school time. And maybe some of you out there that are more experienced than I can tell me if this is typical, or if I should be doing some things differently to get a more desirable result. I posted yesterday about my frustration with E's lack of concentration. I know she is only 2, but it doesn't seem like ANYTHING other than sometimes her animal figurines or our rainbow rice box can hold her attention for more than 3 minutes. The exception is books, she will sit for hours and ask you to "read another" and "read it again," but when it comes to playing or working on something, she will not stick with it for any length of time.

Here's what school looked like this morning:

8:50 - roll out mat and choose animals and zoo book

8:55 - "All done with the animal book, put it away."

8:56 - choose pouring beans

8:59 - "All done." choose spooning rice, refuses to use spoon. I switched out the rice for beans so she could use her hands. Her process was: move one bean, spend 1 1/2 minutes running around, fixing her shoes, finding stuffed animals, etc, repeat.

9:11 - put away the rice and choose nesting/stacking blocks

9:17 - ask for help putting the nesting/stacking blocks away

9:19 - choose color box 2 (still only 6 colors, I have yet to make the rest)

9:22 - I gave E a demonstration on how to line up the color pairs at the edge of her mat

9:24 - put away the colors and choose folding cloths, asked for help right away

9:27 - E refused to pay attention to my demonstration with the folding cloths, so I left her to herself, figuring I would come back later to demonstrate again. She was not happy.

9:30 - put away folding cloths and asked for help rolling up her mat.

There you have it, a total of 40 minutes this morning. I usually try to do some art, music, or sensory box time when she is done with her work, but today we had to make a trip to Target, so I'll have to tell her Daddy to give her those options when I am at work tonight.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tot School: Goin' it Montessori!

Tot School
E is 25 months

This was our first week really trying to use the Montessori philosophy in our tot school time. I didn't think it was working . . . until the last two days! She wasn't into working on anything. She would get something off the shelves, put it on her rug or on the table, and then refuse to do anything with it. And refuse to put it away! Her answer to everything this week has been "NO." Do you want to work with your stacking blocks? NO. Do you want to put them away and work with something else? NO. Finally on Saturday, we went down to do some work and it seemed to have clicked a little bit. She got out materials, and put them away. She hasn't been working with things for a very long period of time, but this is new. I expect that will come over time. Anyhow, here's what E has been working on this week!

Practical Activities:

The practical activities I had for E to choose from this week were: rolling out a rug, carrying a tray, pouring lentils, dusting, washing rocks, sweeping with a crumber, and folding cloths. We got to most of them during the course of the week. E had a great time playing a game with me learning to hold a tray steady while she carried it. I put some alphabet letters on the tray and had her walk over to her table and set the tray down without moving the letters. Then she got to take the letters off the tray, and bring the empty tray back to me to be filled with more letters.
Another activity that E really enjoyed was washing rocks. I put a tub of soapy water and a vegetable brush on a towel in the kitchen and showed her how to wash the rocks with the brush, then dry them with the towel. She LOVES rocks. It even got her to wash the red paint off of her hands from craft time earlier in the day. She told me her hands were "glowing," and didn't want to wash them.
Pouring lentils has proved to be very difficult for E right now, I think I will switch to larger beans. She can get it some of the time, but if she makes a spill, the lentils are just too small for her to easily clean up on her own. Sweeping with a crumber is also difficult for her, although she has a blast! She tends to make the mess larger rather than cleaning it up. We'll keep working on it. Any ideas on what to have her sweep? Pom poms are no good, because she just likes to cuddle and pet them, and things like rice or beans go EVERYWHERE, which just makes more for me to clean up later.


Sensorial activities for E this week were: the Melissa and Doug stacking/nesting blocks, color tablet box 1, and a shape puzzle. She is getting pretty good at the block tower. I can't wait until she gets to work with the pink tower - I think it will be so much more fun for her than these blocks.
E worked on color box 1 several times this week, even though it is way too easy for her. I demonstrated how to find a match and line the pairs up on the edge of her mat, which was my true purpose in starting with box 1. Today we are moving on to box 2, and she's still doing great. By the way, I made these color tablets out of paint chips that I laminated. I also put magnets on the backs so that we can use them with a cookie sheet if we want.
E never chose to work with the shape puzzle this week. It has been out for a while, I wish I had more shapes for her to work with. She did, however, spend a lot of time scooping, pouring, and feeling her rainbow rice box and our February Sensory Bowl. Those will occupy her for hours!


I am trying to do art with E every day we do school. We did a couple of paintings this week. Since shades of red was so popular, I put out shades of blue. She had fun, but it wasn't as big of a hit as red was.
We also did cookie cutter prints for Valentine's Day. We used pink, white, and red paint, and heart and flower cookie cutters. I am planning on cutting these up to make valentines for our relatives.
E spent a little time with her new playdough, but wasn't really into it this week. I'll pull it out again in a few days and see what she thinks then.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

February Playdough

This month's playdough selection is pink with red glitter. I also added some raspberry extract to it, so it smells sooo good! E loved playing with it this afternoon, even after they did playdough at Moppetts this morning. She's really starting to figure out how to use the cookie cutters, instead of just pounding them into a ball of dough.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February Sensory Bowl

I've decided to get on board with the playdough and sensory bowl of the month idea. It's not much work, and E will play with these things for HOURS!

For our sensory bowl this month, I used oatmeal. Then I added whole cinnamon sticks, some foam hearts, and pink and white sparkly pom poms.

E loves to take the pom poms and hearts out and put them in a small bowl. She also is really interesting in spooning things right now, so this morning I gave her a spoon and let her spoon the oatmeal into a smaller bowl and then dump it and do it again . . . and again . . . and again!

Tomorrow is my day of and I'm planning on making our playdough for the month. I'm thinking pink and glittery!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Book Drop #1

I finally got around to putting out my first book drop! You can check out the details on this post here, but it was One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss. I dropped it and the fun coloring activity at a park in my neighborhood. It was a beautiful day today and tomorrow and Thursday are supposed to be more of the same, so I hope someone finds it and takes it home!

To learn more about bookdrops, visit Our Random Acts of Reading.

Tot School: Rethinking

Tot School

As I have been doing more and more research into Montessori, I have realized I need to rethink how I am doing Tot School time with E. We are still up in the air about going it at home or sending E to a school, but pretty much everything she is ready for are things we can easily do at home now. I switched up her Tot School shelves this week to include more Montessori activities.

I am using David Gettman's book Basic Montessori: Learning Activities for Under-Fives. I am starting out with the activities for period one, although I know E is able to pass many of these activities. It's always good to start at the beginning, huh?

Here are our shelves for the week:
I went to Target yesterday and purchased a few things for us to use. I got a work rug - yay! It's a little on the large side (almost as tall as E!) but she is able to get it rolled out and it gives us plenty of room to work. I also got the little cream pitchers for pouring - they were only $2! I bought a plastic tub and a veggie brush so she can learn to clean veggies and rocks and other things on the floor in the kitchen.

Anyhow, here are our activities for the week.
pouring beans from one pitcher to another - we're using green split peas

my version of Color Box 1 - made with paint samples

folding cloths

geometric shape puzzle

alphabet blocks and nesting/stacking blocks

We are also going to be working on several other activities in the practical life section: carrying and rolling out a floor mat, dusting and sweeping with a crumber.

I am also considering moving E's school things out of the basement playroom. I like having everything down there, and I have a HUGE closet for storage, but she gets so distracted by all of her toys! I have some room up in the living room where her toys used to be that would be good for her Montessori activities, but there's no room for the table! I know distraction and a short attention span is part of being a toddler, but some days I feel like it's pulling teeth to get her to do ANY activity other than read a book. I need to "follow the child," and I do - we read A LOT! But I want her to experience other things as well. Maybe I should have made my word for 2010 BALANCE.

Throughout the week I will be posting how we are progressing on each activity. I am also planning on posting our February Sensory Bin and our Playdough of the month (once they get made!)