Overhead Projector Play and Learn

ohp, play, learn, overhead projectorPin it

Inspired by our recent trip to the Light Play! Exhibition, I have been even more desperate for an overhead projector for our play and learning at home. Lucky me! I have a teacher-friend who has managed to get me an old overhead projector (OHP) from her school as they are upgrading. As a result, I have been looking for inspiration for what we can do with it (especially things that we cannot do on our light table) and thought I should share my finds!


ohp, overhead projector, letter tiles, diy, light tablesource

Creating activities with letter tiles. This could be adapted for numeracy and a form of Montessori-inspired moveable alphabet. I think the added element of light and projection would make the activities more engaging.

alphabet, ohpsource

All kinds of transparencies (printable, diy, etc) can be used for letter recognition, letter tracing, and sight words.


ohp artsource
colour mixing, ohpsource

I particularly love the possibilities of art through sculpture with light and shadow:

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Of course there are all kinds of opportunities with tracing too:

tracing, ohp, overhead projectorsource
tracing, overhead projector, ohpsource


Geometric patterning:

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fractions, ohp, lightsource

Matching and sorting: here they match shapes and sort colours. This could be adapted for any number of educational activities!

ohp, light, matching, sortingsource


Exploring natural items:

agate slices, nature, light, ohpsource

Viewing x-ray images from a different perspective. Also HERE is a great idea for DIY x-ray images.

xray, x-ray, ohp, overhead projector, light tablesource

Expanding Play

Shadow puppets!

shadow puppetssource

Block play with an overhead projector.

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blocks, sky line, ohpsource

Projecting background images for imaginative play! How fun!

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& what about small world play! (with loose parts too)

small world, loose parts, play, ohp,source

I am so excited to try some of these activities and extend our play and learning with light. I hope you saw something that inspired you! If you have any other ideas, please share below! You may find me linking up at these great sites!


Exploring Light, Shadow and Reflection

We went to our local art gallery which has a brilliant light play exhibition at the moment. I also browsed through the inspiring Reggio Emilia exhibit ‘The Wonder of Learning: the Hundred Languages of Children‘. It was incredible but unfortunately did not allow photography. I wish I could have had a child-free look and took notes!

light, shadow, reflection, reggio, light table, ipswich art museumPin it

Anyway, back to the Light Play! exhibit. What they had on display was packed full of ideas that can be adapted for learning and fun at home. It is the epitomy of open-ended exploration, inquiry and play.

light table, reggio

First to attract Lucy were the light boxes. There were so many opportunities for learning and exploring.

How do the objects change when placed on the light box?
Are their many shades of colour? Why?
Can you change the colour of an object by placing another object on top? Why?

Note the tower of measuring cups that a girl created over the time we were there.

light table, reggio

Lucy was attracted to everything colourful. I loved that many of the manipulatives on the light tables were simple, attainable and affordable items light cups, measuring spoons and shot glasses. There were lots of mirrors as well to add another dimension to the experience. They also had these great transparent geometric solids:
view through geometric solids

light table, zoobs, sparkle, toys, reggiozoob sparkleI saw some Zoobs (sparkle variety) at a local store and wondered how they would go on a light table. I really loved how the containers to hold them were transparent too.

 ohp, overhead projector, reggio, light
Cameron went straight to the overhead projectors (OHPs) which looked impressive taking up lots of wall space. I have an awesome friend who is giving us an OHP soon so it was great for inspiration.

New questions came up like:
How do the sizes of the materials change on the projector?
Why are some objects brighter than others?
Why are some items that are colourful not colourful on the projected image?

ohp, reggio
I saw a few adults creating patterns on the OHPs too. One child spent most of their time getting in front of the projected image and marveling at the colours on her shirt and skin.

ohp, reggio, light, overhead projector
Lucy was more fascinated by the OHP itself. She kept pointing at and questioning it.

reflections, reggio
The reflections corner was completely bypassed by both Cameron and Lucy (unless you count Lucy donning one of the sparkly wigs.

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Cameron’s favourite area was the shadow sculptures. He loved shining the torch on the disco ball and making it reflect off all the walls. I used the sculptures behind him to show him how translucent objects can cast coloured shadows and how moving the torch further/closer and side to side affects the shadow.

light table, web cam, reggio
This is the only area that would be hard to replicate at home – the webcam + projector light table. It’s was very engaging. Cameron spent a lot of time with the liquid timers (see below) in front of the web camera and watching it on the screen, in the mirror and in front of him. They were mesmerising.

light table, liquid timers, reggioSet of 3 liquid timers at Edex

It sure gave me a lot of inspiration for materials, experiments and play with light/shadow/reflection in our home. I definitely want to set up some shadow play after seeing Cameron’s enthusiasm. I hope you gained some inspiration – thank you for reading!

You may see me linking up here.

On our shelves

our montessori inspired shelves

What is new to our shelves this week? Well creative endeavours are still dominant, but after a little toy rotation, our play/work space has some new trays and activities:

letter K k learning

Cameron knows most phonemes and letters, including both lowercase and uppercase. I say most because a few he’s not confident with. One that he is confident with (but gets confused with because it sounds like ‘/c’) is k. This tray is meant to help him work on that.

There is a letter printable from 1+1+1=1 laminated with a whiteboard marker, a stamp, puzzle piece, beanbag, fridge phonics magnet and sandpaper letter. The only items I’ve added are keys, koala, kangaroo and kookaburra. These are all very familiar to him. Lucy very much loves the fridge phonics alphabet song, hence her little hand in the picture.

montessori shelves toddler preschooler

A new activity to our shelves is one of the rare one’s that both Cameron and Lucy can enjoy together. I ended up separating out the larger pegs for Lucy in her own basket to simplify things.

peg mosaic boards

Both of the kids love this and this has been a daily activity for both of them.

montessori sensory toddler rice

This is a simple rice sensory tub for Lucy. It’s messy but she gets very engaged with it. I plan on varying the things that are in it.

marble transfer

This transferring activity was one that Cameron did when he was younger. Now he counts the marbles, concentrates and takes his time to balance them. He initially got frustrated with this activity because the marbles would fall as he was putting another one on.

light table play

Another activity that both of the kids have been doing together every day is playing with these links and reusable ice cubes on their light table in Cameron’s room.

What have you been up to? I’m linking up to these great linkys.


Exploring New Mediums

exploring new mediumsPin it This week we have been exploring a few new mediums and having some creative fun! Cameron is right into drawing, painting and otherwise creating animals, people and scenarios.

sensory corn flour shaving foam After seeing it on pinterest and then on Teach Mama, I knew I had to try foam dough. No cooking required and two cheap ingredients! Sold! All you have to do is mix roughly equal parts of corn flour (corn starch) and shaving foam. It is a really fun sensory experience! I couldn’t help but join in. sensory Cam decided to add our old mud kitchen materials in and they spent ages making ‘cupcakes’ (complete with pink foam icing) & ‘cookies’ and there was lots of mixing & measuring. shaving foam sensory play If you follow me on instagram, you would have seen Cam exploring charcoal for the 1st time. He has been asking for and using this since. Just this evening he used it to draw an outline that he coloured in with paint. charcoal By far the favourite new (well, new set up, we use chalk on the easel and sidewalk chalk outside) medium for us was a new blackboard and dustless chalk. It is great for me because Cameron is very into drawing and can go through tons of paper. With the chalkboard he can experiment all he likes, I can take photos to document his pieces and he can rub it off and go again. Lucy likes it too and is drawn to the colourful pieces. chalkboard blackboard chalk Lastly, I added some great tempera paint palettes to our art resources. Both Lucy and Cameron really enjoyed this! Lucy struggled with the idea that you have to add water to your brush first but was very happy when she worked it out. tempera paint palette Cameron is really interested in drawing and creating animals lately. He has been talking to me about extinction and about the different fur/scales/skin/claws/hooves/horns/tails/etc that animals have that are different to us. Here he painted a rainbow dinosaur. It may be just a ‘mum-thing’ but I can see it! I hope this painting scans well as it’s really sweet. 1004756_10151822627988969_634902344_n_20130715215528553 How has your week been? Have you tried anything new recently? I’d love to hear about it! I link up to these great sites.

share creative ideas

Montessori for my Preschooler

Montessori Preschooler ActivitiesPin it

After sharing several Montessori inspired toddler activities (and here), I thought it was best to try and round up some of the recent works my preschooler has been up to!

Cameron (3.5 years old) is not fond of me taking photos of him while he does activities. I tried to get him on video and the result was hilarious. Here are some of the works on his shelves (including some you may have already seen):

Melissa and Doug construction jigsaw puzzlesThese 15 piece jigsaw puzzles are challenging for Cameron

solar system shadow matchSolar system shadow match from 2 teaching mommies – a bit hit!

making plasticine peopleMaking plasticine people

Hammer tap a shape toyCam is creating more elaborate designs with his hammer tap a shape activity

Montessori-inspired sortingSorting white beans, corn kernels, sunflower seeds and pepitas with his fingers

Kiddie kutter strawberry snackUsing his kiddie kutter to prepare a strawberry snack

Sandpaper numbers and spindle boxCam has regressed with numbers and lost interest. We are going back to basics and trying to have fun.

Australia map puzzle and states nomenclature cardsLearning the states and territories of Australia with our map puzzle and nomenclature cards from Our Worldwide Classroom

Fine motor diy Montessori preschool This is definitely a favourite and it requires a lot of concentration

Garlic press sponge activitySqueezing water out of sponge pieces with garlic press

language centre for Montessori preschoolerNew language area with shape stencils (our alternative to Montessori metal insets)

art materialsSome art materials are stored up higher where Lucy cannot reach

Most of what Cameron does isn’t easy to photograph or is just part of our everyday life (food preparation, cleaning, folding, collecting firewood, sorting washing, etc) and a lot of free play, particularly outdoors. However, I hope this inspired any of you looking for activities for your preschooler! I’m linking up to Montessori Monday (you can see the sites I sometimes link to here)

Lazy Rainy Morning

diy, montessori, fine motorLucy threading craft matchsticks into a parmesan shaker.

Today is Monday, but no ordinary Monday. We have Michael home because of the extended weekend. It’s been steadily raining all morning so we have been doing quiet activities and pottering about. Lucy has a great little attention span for a 14 month old. She finished the above activity three times before interrupting Cameron.

baster, transfer, montessoriTransferring with a turkey baster. Hard hat optional.

The above pic was taken near the end where he was just playing. Initially it was set up with blue and yellow for transferring practice and colour mixing. He did this for quite some time before donning his rainboots and an umbrella and playing in the drizzly rain outside.

reggio, toddler, nature, exploration
reggio, toddler, nature, exploration

I’ve started doing more semi-structured introductions to new language and concepts with Lucy. For example, here we explored a shell, a starfish, a geode, an amethyst crystal and a sea urchin . It’s just about introducing the language to her in general (i.e. A smooth, white shell. A bumpy, rough, orange starfish.. you get the idea).

How was your weekend?

Our Montessori-Inspired Playspace

Montessori playroom playspace homeschoolPin it
I update our playspace quite frequently as Cameron and Lucy’s needs change and develop.

This time I created the start of a little block area and rotated a few toys.
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I do not sort our toys and materials strictly by subject. Mostly it’s just about what fits, what goes together and keeping Lucy’s items down lower.

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That said, we have a good mix of manipulatives, musical toys, numeracy materials, language materials, imaginative toys, construction toys and sensory items.

montessori, materials, toys, playroom, home

montessori, materials, toys, playroom, home

I have moved a table to the middle of the room, where it is now getting much more use from both Lucy and Cam. Lucy sits at it mostly for fun and snacks whereas Cam will do art and activities there.

art, language, montessori, playroom, environment

Collage and basic drawing is a big hit with Cameron and Lucy adores scribbling. She’s really just big into doing anything Cam or I do.

baking, muffins, preschooler, montessori, home

I don’t often bake so I’ve been making a concerted effort to do so with Cameron. We have made and loved a couple of recipes from Wholefood for Children on Kylie’s (from howwemontessori.com) recommendation.

horse riding, farm, montessori, reggio, playgroup

If you follow my instagram, you would have seen our farm trip including Cam’s pony ride. It was as much fun for me as it was for Cameron.

montessori, cylinders, toddler, home, playroom

Lucy is loving puzzles. I uploaded a video snippet of her doing her increasing circle puzzle last week. She also loves the mini knobbed cylinders (mostly block 1 where both the diameter and height increase).


Would anyone be interested in a more thorough look at our play/learning spaces? Any questions? I always love seeing other peoples spaces so please share in the comments 🙂

You can see Cameron’s Montessori-inspired Bedroom here and my first efforts at creating Montessori spaces in our home here.

Nature Exploration

At the moment I’m assessing and planning several of the kids spaces in our home. One that is clearly needed in our new home is somewhere to gather our tools and resources for nature exploration. Having a proper backyard has transformed our daily life. We spend so much time outside.


What tips would you recommend for nature investigation? Would you suggest baskets? a shelf? something else entirely? I have space (particularly outdoors undercover) but am thinking of practicality… would a basket be best? Because it is portable?

I’m thinking several baskets [say one for ‘tools’ (such as magnifiers, bug catchers, clipboard, containers) and another for relevant reference books/guides and another for record keeping (i.e. flower press, nature journal, photos of prior finds)] on a shelf?


As we have only just moved to a place with a backyard full of nature enriched opportunities; we have never established a routine with incorporating nature into our lives. At our last home, there was very little to discover and nature enriched experiences were planned and few & far between.


Now I want to set up an area that can hopefully inspire a more organic and frequent exploration of nature. What would you include for a curious 3 year old boy? What has made for great investigation and memories in your home? What is used time and time again?

Any advice and guidance would be so appreciated!


If you follow my pinterest, or even my facebook page, you would likely know that I am very inspired by the Montessori method and Reggio Emilia approach of learning. As both a mother, and an aspiring early childhood teacher, these methods have many factors that I agree with and value.

reggio, reggio emilia, hundred languages of children, documentation

Documentation within the classroom is one aspect of the Reggio Emilia approach that just plain makes sense to me. It is, quite simply, pictures, recordings, notes (both from the child and the teacher), photos, videos, and other representations of the children’s work.

It might sound simple, but it is such a great tool that enables teachers, children and their parents to reflect, examine and talk about the work that is going on pertaining to an area of learning or a particular project. Having it displayed can offer various points of view, and can help solidify learning and open up more possibilities and opportunities to expand on their knowledge.

Although documentation is typically a Reggio-inspired practice, I think it resonates well with Maria Montessori’s notion of observation. It is really just a visual representation of the many elements of observation, is it not?

So here is my first attempt at documentation, with a little display of Cameron’s first representational drawings of people:

reggio, reggio emilia, drawing, documentationIt has been so sweet finding little people like this randomly around our play area and hearing the stories behind them.

As well as merely preserving different memories of learning, I love the idea of documenting children’s projects at home for all the reasons that Reggio-inspired schools document their students work.

montessori, toys, materials, home, documentationLucy is ONE in a few days! Can you believe it? She’s such a character, I will definitely have to update how she is going asap.

Tomorrow is our last day in this house! We are moving this weekend and saying goodbye to our home of four and a half years! I’m so excited, our new home is going to provide some amazing opportunities (it’s much cheaper so we can save for a home) and has a lovely big yard! Next time I update (which will be a while as we settle in and get internet hooked up) will be at a new location! & hopefully with some great photos of our new space!

Art for Children

authentic, art, creativity, reggio, montessori

We finally have a new rental home and are on our way to being packed up and ready to move. I have been thinking a lot about the spaces I want to create for Cameron and Lucy at our new place. A biggie is our outdoor space considering we have only had a tiny square of grass outside at this house.

But I thought today that I would share some of my thoughts on art for children and some of the inspiring ideas and images that I’ve found as I have been doing the Playful Learning Spaces eCourse.

A while ago our creative space looked like this:

montessori, reggio, art

Missing from this picture is our document organiser full of different papers and of course their easels. Since then there have been some changes but I’m going to be making even more changes (including having both an outdoor creative area and an indoor one) at our new place.

Art, whether it’s modelling with clay, doing collage, stamping, painting or mark making, is a big thing in our home. Even Lucy, at less than a year old, can spend a considerable amount of time exploring art materials.

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field journal

Consequently, I try to purchase only quality art materials. How gorgeous is this nature journal with art materials? I want to create something similar for Cameron now that he is making recognisable drawings/paintings.

variety, reggio, art

all the colours of the rainbow

Variety is something else that I really try to offer to my children. Different papers (textured, coloured, sizes, watercolour paper, canvases), collage materials (sequins, googly eyes, natural materials – pressed flowers & leaves, stickers, foil, papers), crayons (soy rock crayons, beeswax stick crayons, crayon pencils), paints (poster, acrylic, dot painters, watercolour, natural pigments, homemade) just as a few examples.

waldorf, reggio, montessori, art

waldorf art cabinet

Accessibility of materials is a big issue when children are young like mine. I want Cameron to have the freedom and ability to access any materials we wants at any time, yet I have to make it safe for Lucy.

montessori, reggio, waldorf, art

toddler art caddy

Something that I think would really transform Cameron (& Lucy’s) art experience, that I have yet to try, is making art more portable. Whether it is an art caddy, like above, or something creative like this DIY art portfolio in a DVD case.

portable, diy, art, reggio, montessori

DIY art DVD case

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afternoon art

I think sometimes, simplicity is key.

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& beauty.