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.

Β 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.

shadows, reflections, reggio
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.

Montessori at Home Pinterest Round-Up!

montessori at home, montessori, pinterest, pinterest boards, ideas

Β  I love Pinterest. It can be used for all kinds of things: party planning, gift wishlists, a virtual cookbook, a blogroll, DIY ideas, etc. I, however, primarily use it to collate inspiring ideas, activities, information and spaces for learning … Continue reading

Favourite toys and where to purchase

I have had a few people asking for recommendations for toys/materials and where to get them. You can see my previous toy recommendations for a 9-12 month old here. If you have a specific item you want to know more about, let me know πŸ™‚

Lucy is almost 15 months old (in a week) and her everyday toys and materials are:

montessori, toys, wooden, toddler, preschoolerClockwise from top left:
Clogging Track by GoGo Toys (purchased this second hand)
Peg and Stack Board by Fun Factory (from Entropy)
Stacking Bowls by Q Toys (from Kidsmile)
The last 3 are all from Classic Baby:
Colour Stacker
Increasing Circle Puzzle
Lock Activity Box by Mamagenius

Aside from these toys, she really enjoys drawing (with her Lyra Ferby pencils), playing with musical instruments and with play silks.

Cameron is almost 3.5 years old. It’s harder to single out his favourite toys as he spends a lot of time playing outdoors and more free, imaginative play. So he spends less time with toys and materials and more with ‘untoys’ and loose parts (i.e. rocks/dirt/sticks, binoculars, a piece of hose, safety glasses). The toys he does use frequently are blocks, duplo, diecast vehicles, his fireman toys, and Schleich animals. Of course, art materials are a daily thing too, particularly collage, fine tip markers, and plasticine.

Half of the toys I have are 2nd hand, the other half are gifts from others or Christmas/birthday gifts. Aside from the stores above, I shop online at Ebay, Fishpond, and Etsy.

I have my current wishlists for Cam and Lulu, as well as the toys I have purchased in advance for Christmas/birthdays on pinterest. Do you buy in advance? Do you have suggestions or questions?

What are your children’s favourites?

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.
reggio, mirror, blocks, construction, playroom

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.

montessori, materials, toys, playroom, home

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).

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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 πŸ™‚

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

Farm Animals, Aussie Animals and A Wild One Too!

ipswich nature centre, wombat, montessori, homeschool

We now live right around the corner from a nature centre. We have already taken advantage of this and visited twice since the move. Cameron is fascinated by the animals and loves learning more about them.

australian animals, matching, montessori

This matching activity is very easy for Cameron but the challenge now is learning the names of some of the animals he does not know well (i.e. bilby, echidna, tasmanian devil). We work on starting sounds of the animals he is very familiar with (‘w’ wombat, ‘d’ dingo, ‘k’ kangaroo/koala/kookaburra). Many of the matching and sorting activities I have made for Cameron are easy to develop into something more challenging and interesting for him.

play dough, diy, recipe, montessori, farm animals, schleich

For Easter I bought Cameron and Lucy some Schleich farm animals (they got plenty of other traditionally Easter related gifts from us and others too) which have been a regular play thing. Yes, Lucy is nomming a gumnut in the photo above. These figures have really helped Cameron learn the different names for female, male and juvenile farm animals.

schleich, farm animals, montessori

After a lot of play with the dough and animals, we decided they needed a bath.

qld, ipswich, snake

We had our first wild snake visit our yard! So scary, considering Cameron was downstairs playing and saw it first and screamed out to me. Our new place backs onto vacant land and a river so I sort of expected snakes. It was a good wake up call to teach Cameron about wildlife. Thankfully he is naturally cautious and respectful of animals and insects.

coin activity, diy, montessori, toddler

Lucy has started more activities. Above are some photos I snapped of her first coin activity. She didn’t even notice I was taking pictures, she was so engaged. Ring stackers are a big hit with her at the moment too. She isn’t sorting by colour or size but she loves removing and replacing the rings of her stackers:

stackers, toys, montessori, home

I have been organising a few activities for both Lucy and Cameron. We went to a baby farm animal petting zoo which Cameron (& I!) loved so decided to expand on the farm animals we know and their young in a fun way. I made up this bingo game! I’m yet to print it out and play but I will share when we do!

montessori, printable, free, farm

Would anyone be interested in this Farm Animal Bingo as a printable? If I get interest I will create a file to share with subscribers πŸ™‚

Toy recommendations for a 9-12 month old

I always love seeing what toys and materials other families recommend, so I thought I would share the toys that Lucy tends to favour. As a Montessori-inspired household, she of course has access to all of her toys on low shelves. She also has access to some of Cameron’s toys as well as general toys like blocks, musical instruments, our play farm and various animals and cars, etc.

montessori, toys, infant, toddler

Her absolute favourite toys that get played with daily are:

– a wooden postbox toy from the Early Learning Centre
– this ball tracker which I was lucky enough to find 2nd hand (apparently called a ‘GoGo Toys Clogging Track’)
– her DIY Montessori object permanence box
– this music box by ‘U Wood Wooden Toys’ that I got from ebay

montessori, toys, infant, toddlerSome more toys that get regular play and I would recommend are the peg stacker, advanced ball return (she’s only just started to work on this at 11 months), pop-up toy, increasing circle puzzle and the windmill stacker (which mostly just gets pulled apart at this stage but she will consistently choose it).

1st birthday, montessori, toys, gift ideas, toddlerLucy’s birthday is this month and aside from some clothes and books, she will be getting the above from us. The cabbage patch baby doll is a soft toy. The wheely bug, colour sorting stacker and lock box are all from Classic Baby.

Most of what she plays with are more open-ended toys and ‘un-toys’ and she spends a lot of time crawling through our play tunnel, following Cameron and I, playing peekaboo & climbing everything.

What would you recommend for a 9-12 month old? What would you suggest for a gift for a one year old’s birthday?

Easter Gift Inspiration

Have a look at my Etsy Treasury ‘Easter Gifts Inspiration’ for some gift inspiration for your 0-5 year old. Beautiful quality gifts made with natural materials. (I’m not affiliated with any of these sellers, I just like the items. I have purchased from a couple of them in the past)

Rainbow Nest - Counting Eggs - A Rainbow Counting Set Inspired by Montessori and Waldorf Philosophies - MamaMayI
Rainbow Nest – Coun…

$19
Wooden Easter Bunny Toy - Waldorf Wood Animal Toy -  Natural Rabbit Push Toy for Babies and Toddlers - Montessori Inspired Eco-Friendly Play - KeepsakeToys
Wooden Easter Bunny…

$24
Gumnut Gnome Baby - A little felt gnome tucked gently into an Australian gumnut. - Rumpelfeltskin
Gumnut Gnome Baby -…

$6
Wool Easter Egg PlaySilk Felted Spring Basket Waldorf Montessori toy / choose your color - newtknees
Wool Easter Egg Pla…

$22
Easter Sale - Waldorf Toy - Pastel Sorting Bunny,  Wooden toy / Educational  Montessori Toy - TheEnchantedCupboard
Easter Sale – Waldo…

$12
My Stone Collection III - Watercolor Print 8 x 10, Sticks, Stones and Feathers, Pink, Yellow & Grey Nature - todaysunshine
My Stone Collection…

$22
Wooden Egg w/ Hole Rattle- Beech - sevenacretoys
Wooden Egg w/ Hole …

$30
Easter Bamboo Velour Teething Toy - BrightLifeToys
Easter Bamboo Velou…

$12
Rainbow Draw String Backpack - colourbazaar
Rainbow Draw String…

$9
Miniature  Bunny Rabbit Wood Match Box Set - Puzzimals
Miniature Bunny Ra…

$12.49
Wood play eggs and cups montessori color matching game - laughingcrickets
Wood play eggs and …

$26
Wood Toy - Easter Bunnies - Secret hidden bunny tree - 4 piece set - Waldorf wooden toys - CeadarHillHeirlooms
Wood Toy – Easter B…

$26.08
Wood Teether Bunny wooden toy natural baby toy - littlesaplingtoys
Wood Teether Bunny …

$12
wooden knitting fork with hand painted rainbow wool - indigoinspirations
wooden knitting for…

$23.5
Wooden bunnies, waldorf wooden rabbit - Halushka
Wooden bunnies, wal…

$12
hand felted wool felt crayon roll assorted colours for boys & girls fits 10 Stockmar Block beeswax crayons - masajesaf
hand felted wool fe…

$22

Treasury tool by StylishHome.

{Imagine}

Cameron is very into dramatic play lately and I’ve found him being quite crafty with regards to what he uses for dress-ups and pretend play.

Some of the items he has are for kitchen play, doll play & he has some play tools (+ some real ones in the garage)

Some thrifty, simple ideas of items to add to your dramatic play set up that I thought I would share are:

– an old wallet with play money (either play money from a discount store – I laminated mine – or free printables like here) & old cards

– rubber gloves (both disposable and non-disposable)

– some un-wanted keys

toilet paper roll super hero cuff

– old hats, bags, telephone, typewriter, diary, brochures, etc

– binoculars

– diy masks

– envelopes

– pegs

– safety goggles & goggles

What else would you include?

Some of what we have been up to

Sending off packages for the cultural exchange:Image
Mike made a Montessori object permanence box for Lucy:Image

She loves it. She concentrates so hard!Image

Lucy has been exploring a variety of treasure baskets with all kinds of goodies. Pants optional πŸ˜›Image

Cam’s shelves at the moment:Image

Cameron started a Montessori-inspired kindy once a week and is loving it:Image

Mike also made a pull up bar for Lucy. She is pulling up to stand on everything but this is just a tad too high at the moment:Image

We have been doing endless activities. Cameron is at the point now where his attention span is really growing and he asks for activities often. He is loving everything Christmas related. Here he is sorting pom poms by size. Image

He is loving puzzles at the moment and is constantly repeating them. We have definitely found the learning sweet spot!Image

Matching alphabet bean bags to sandpaper letters. The letters here are the only ones he knows by name (some by phoneme) consistently. He isn’t very interested in letters at this point. Image

These 10-piece number puzzles (from 3 Dinosaurs printables & 2 Teaching Mommies printables – we are using some of the Christmas ones at the moment) are a massive hit at the moment. They are done several times a day.
Image

All in all we are keeping busy and doing well. Cameron is 3 at the end of the month and Lucy is now 8 months old.

Lucy is clapping and vocalising a lot. She loves music and bops along to everything. She still has no teeth (Cam had teeth at 5.5 months! – he was working on his 7th and 8th teeth by now :P) but boy can she eat!

Cameron has adjusted so well to kindy. Next year he will be doing two 5 hour days in the preschool room.

I hope to update after Christmas with my birthday plans for Cam.

Head over to Kylie’s blog How We Montessori (my all time favourite blog – a must read for Montessori mamas and non-Monte mums alike) for my review of the eco-friendly Glob paint kit.

Lucy Snapshot (6.5 months old)

Lucy is a delightful baby and is growing up too fast!
She is a real mover. She sits herself up with ease and strength. She shuffles to get wherever/to whatever she wants. She rolled early and was rocking on all fours super early; so I should have known.
Lulu has started vocalising a lot more. She is often babbling away, a favourite being “dadadadad” just like Cammy at her age.
She is content to do whatever is offered and is not fussy. She adores her brother and really likes being around her cousins too. You can see how badly she just wants to be doing what they are doing.
She can get a little attitude about some things. Primarily food. She will also yell at you if you take a toy/item from her or leave the room without letting her know.
Her fine motor skills have come a long way in the past few weeks. She is keen to feed herself and she really loves and gets engaged with treasure baskets that I make up for her.
Her favourite toys are her Skwish, Cam’s playsilks & rainbow taggie. Other toys she will sometimes pay an interest too are her Haba trix toy, little wooden cars and her puzzle ball.
Mike is in the process of making a Montessori object permanence box and a pull up bar similar to these:
I will share photos once they are complete πŸ™‚ I have bought her a Montessori advanced ball return for Christmas. I’ve asked Mike to make some other materials too.
I will hopefully do a “Cameron Snapshot” soon πŸ™‚