Monday, 29 June 2015

Goodbye, DIY Moveable Alphabet

It's time to say goodbye to our DIY Moveable Alphabet, which was a staple on our shelves for a good three years.  This was our very last activity last year - Ladybug Girl was five.  

Her answers to the question "what do you pack for a sleepover?"
She had her first sleepover guest then, and I cut out this picture from a workbook page as a prompt.
In case you're a new reader (*hey*) and wondering what the heck a moveable alphabet is, it's a classic Montessori material that helps kids write before the reading skills kick in.  Montessori believed that expressing oneself comes naturally before reading someone else's words.  Spelling is not even corrected until elementary years (I had to get used to that).

Friday, 26 June 2015

Sensory Lessons from A Smurf Village

My six-year old has discovered Smurfs through a game app on her iPad (hello, new generation!).  She plans her little village and checks it everyday like a master planner.  Before she sleeps at night she has to have "one last check to collect resources, pleeeease mommy"  

 You know how the experts say to follow your child's interests, right?  In a sneaky #playforreal plan, I "suggested" she take a break from her iPad and make her own Smurf village.  

Her eyes lit up and we got planning!

I rolled out our trusty sensory drawer bin, and brought it to her room (my house has been a huge decluttering project mess in the other areas lately).  Looking around for materials and thinking aloud, I grabbed some tree stumps from her nature corner and asked her what we can use for the roofs.  

Nowadays I see that she's changing into a new stage of interests and just as I suspected when she turned two, I'm observing this changing person and am trying to follow her lead again. 

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Grab the Number Stick! Game

Continuing to share how we play with number sticks.  I try not to get too "teacher-y" with them since she already has Montessori beads at school and I haven't had success trying to be a serious teacher at home!  This one is perfect for after-work brain-tired play time.  It's so easy it's almost lazy.

The secret is to get someone else who doesn't know number sticks.  In our case, it's our Daddy.   
Ladybug loves beating her daddy and he loves heckling along. 

We dumped all our number sticks in a bin and got ready to play.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Japanese Toys I Wish I Had

This summer we joined the mass excursion to Japan for the cherry blossoms.  I ended up bringing home a camera-full of my weakness : children's toys and books of the really cute, well-designed kind.  

Beautiful wooden legos which would probably get dirty in my house

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Instructions for Giving Kids Instructions?

I notice a pattern when I'm giving Ladybug Girl instructions - that I kind of suck at it.  For someone who considers myself a pretty clear communicator, it's embarrassing to keep unlearning the same lesson in hindsight over and over again.

It's so laughingly simple, I need to pass this on so I can remember it.

You know how good corporate communication rules say instructions are like a K.I.S.S. = Keep it Simple, Stupid. Short and Sweet?  I thought I did that every time.

For example, this activity I asked her to help me with  - tearing parsley for cooking.  I hand her a bowl and ask her to break off some parsley leaves.  In my head, I was a fun empowering mama.  

Until I watched her tear stalks (photo above) and I stepped in to correct her.  "No, not like that...".  

I could literally see her wilt in disappointment.  On bad days, moan "awwwww" in frustration with herself.   In an instant I had taken away the independence and confidence I was hoping to create.  By correcting her.

Because I didn't give the right instructions in the first place!

She grudgingly went back to work.  But she didn't enjoy it anymore.

So for kids, the simple rule is to K.I.S.S. - Keep It Short & Show [me].  

If I had started with less talk, more actions and literally showed her how to break off the leaves without the stalks then I imagine the process and the result would be much more pleasant.  

After all, in Montessori teacher-presentations-to-students, sometimes no words are used!  It's all action so that the child can concentrate on understanding one thing at the start.

Whenever I remember to show her an example, it always works out best.  Without fail.

Such a simple thing to remember, right?

Damn epidural.

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