More Montessori Inspired Toddler Activities

Thank you to those who pinned my previous Montessori toddler activities. I thought I would share how Lucy spent her morning:

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Also, a quick word on water beads.. this was my 2nd time rehydrating water beads after letting them dry out.

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It works perfectly aside from producing some odd shaped beads (with flat spots, funny teardrop shapes and ovoids)

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Still lots of fun 🙂

Montessori Inspired Toddler Activities

I love pinterest. My favourite thing about pinterest is finding DIY activities and ideas from all kinds of sources that I wouldn’t otherwise come across. Most of the activities that I do with Cameron and Lucy are inspired by or a variation of something I’ve seen on one of my favourite blogs or pinterest.

Montessori Toddler Activities

Lucy thoroughly enjoys repetitive and structured activities. She will choose an activity over a toy most times. I have watched lately that she is gaining more control and think that these activities will be a good fit:

Montessori Toddler Activitiesonetwothreefour

There are many blogs and blog posts out there that share some great Montessori inspired toddler activities, toys and environments. Here are some of my favourites:

What activities does (or did) your toddler love to do?

I often share at these great linkys.

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?

Farm Bingo Game

I made a farm bingo game up and want to share the printable with you! Go to my facebook page and ‘like’ (if you’re already a ‘liker’, I would really appreciate you sharing my page) and either comment or message me asking for the link to download the printable 🙂

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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:

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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.

art journal, nature journal, reggio, montessori

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.

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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.

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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.

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DIY art DVD case

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afternoon art

I think sometimes, simplicity is key.

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& beauty.

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?

Our Evolving Spaces

We were going to be moving but Mike’s job wasn’t the right fit for our family; which was so disappointing. And as a result I really felt like I was stuck in a rut with this house. We have rented this house for over three and a half years now and have accumulated too much stuff. Everything felt cluttered and disorganised.

So, I have been simplifying and re-organising every room (still have much to go!) and trying to create more Montessori-inspired spaces.

We switched the play and living rooms so that the play areas are on tiles. This has freed up lots of space because I also pushed our dining table against the wall where the 6ft fish tank was (it’s now in the living room).

The space above has had a few changes and more to come. I finally found some appropriate sized glasses for Cam (he had grown out of the espresso one’s that I purchased after he grew out of shot glasses) and bought some proper smaller bowls and plates for him (up until now he has had plastic ones). Cam now sorts his cutlery and puts away his own dishes from the dishwasher. He loves sorting our cutlery too now and puts them all away while I put away the rest. We also purchased another step for him (Ikea 2 step stool) so that one can be out here and the other in the bathroom.

These smaller shelves now hold our instruments and Lucy’s toys are on the bottom shelves. The black box at the top is full of her other toys. The light table is to the right for now and (not pictured) I have bought a coffee table with a shelf under it to hold his sensory tub (which is currently space themed with mini rockets, rocks, homemade moonsand and various scoops/cups/tweezers/etc).

Here are Cam’s shelves. The top four are storage (mostly art supplies and practical life activity items). His 12 shelves hold his dough & materials, collage/gluing/stickers box, cutting practice tray, nature basket, puzzles, more puzzles, Montessori cylinders and sandpaper letters, a blank spot which will house his nesting boxes which are on their way, his farm & animals, some duplo, play silks and play foods.

Cam is just about ready, I think, to start using regular kids scissors. He has truly mastered these beginner ones.

This box gets a lot of use. Not all of the art supplies fit in the boxes up the top of these shelves; I’m only storing the things we use regularly (different types of paints/mark makers/stamps/papers/contact paper/etc). The rest is now neatly stored in a chest of drawers in our spare room.

I’ve added more helpful things for Cam as his abilities & interests have evolved (i.e. a laundry hamper, writing materials, appropriately sized soap to wash himself before I thoroughly clean him, etc)

Cam asked to do all four mini-cylinders at once. It was a bit too challenging & asked for help after finishing a little over half the pieces, but he put them back on their shelf without prompting. I am going to need to purchase a smaller work mat for him, he can’t roll this one independently & I’m going to try to get him using one now. Up until now I have only used it with him a handful of times.

Lucy is loving batting at toys and likes this handmade organic crocheted rattle (from etsy) for grasping practice.

Stay tuned for more. Please feel free to ask questions and/or make suggestions!!

Toddler Yoga, Organisation and Fun!

I purchased the book ‘Little Yoga’ by Rebecca Whitford (after seeing it on one of my favourite blogs – An Everyday Story) for Cameron as he really likes imitating whole body movements lately.

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It was an instant hit! He asked us to re-read it several times and surprised me with some of the poses he tried.

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I have been finding little ‘lists’ and ‘notes’ from Cameron like this one lately. He has become very interested in letters and numbers and the written word.

Cameron adores ‘helping’ me with everyday tasks. I have created this board for him. It is at his level below his clock next to the kitchen.

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It has each of our daily tasks with a drawing (poorly drawn, but hey – he guessed them all aside from the table cleaning one) laminated and magnetized so that he can see what we need to do & remove each task as the day progresses.

I am in the process of re-organising everything in our home and changing the playroom in particular to make it more Montessori-inspired. I will post photos when I’m done!

Rambling about my almost-2.5-year-old

Cameron’s play has really evolved in the past few months. I hear the loveliest stories from him and it is fascinating to watch his imagination unfold and flourish.

The importance of open ended toys and play has been clear in this house. For example, Cameron played with a jug (pretending it was a blender, making all kinds of concoctions) for over half an hour today.

The thing that I love about his play now is that it is often a glimpse into how he views the world and how he is processing things.

My favourite thing is experiencing how he views me. Through his play I get to see him impersonate things that I do and say. It is a real eye opener, and makes it all the more clear what a profound influence we have on our children.

Cam helps me see that I’m doing a good job; when my mind is accusing me of the opposite.

Manners have been a biggie lately too. I had been getting frustrated by Cameron interrupting conversations when I realised that it was my fault. He has never been expected to wait, or taught how to excuse himself.. So what could I expect?

Now it is something that he almost always does well. We do need to work on whether the reason for the interruption is important, however 😛

Cameron has been very keen to be involved in food preparation. Until recently it was more of a novelty. He has started to work on or perfect – buttering toast, peeling an egg, cutting a banana, helping make smoothies and omelets, etc. he gets such pride from it.

Other practical life activities (sweeping,cleaning windows and surfaces, pouring a drink, spooning, brushing his teeth, removing his clothes, and more) have always been of interest to him. But it’s only in the past few months that he has shown any interest in putting on clothing, washing himself properly, helping with the washing and folding, feeding our cat (he used to enjoy it.. But as a game rather than a proper task) and fish, as well as more, I’m sure, that I can’t think of now.

Cameron has also started to show an interest in writing (writing ‘o’ and ‘m’ – his 2 favourite letters) and his pencil grip has matured too. His love of art hasn’t lessened and he now names his drawings as he draws them.

Cam has also found a newly sparked interest in numbers. He used to count sporadically.. I would often hear him saying “1, 2, 1, 2, 1- yayyy”. Every effort to include numbers & counting into our play was met with disinterest.

In a clear display of toddlers learning what they want, when they want; Cameron counted to 9 one morning when getting dressed for the day. I was counting his buttons and he took over from 3 and counted to 9! “you can count?!” I questioned him with surprise and he answered me with a full belly laugh. Along the same lines, he now likes to ‘trick’ me with colours. Pretending he doesn’t know or hasn’t heard what I have said is extremely funny, apparently.

So Cammy now counts to 12 and counts backwards too (exclusively for rockets, which he is obsessed about). He likes to count things in books that we read now as well.

Speaking of books, I purchased a second hand book sling for the playroom and have been amazed by the positive response from it. I knew it would make reading more accessible for us, but I had no idea how much so. Until now his books were all on his bookcase in his room.

It also seemed to coincide with a change in Cam’s attention span and ability to follow a narrative. I would never turn down reading a book to him so some days we will read ten or so books in a row. He now asks questions as  we read (“is she sad?” “where did it go?” etc); it makes it all the more enjoyable for me.

Cam & his cousin with a wild wallaby

So much of what Maria Montessori believed in has became so clear in my observations of Cameron. I have always believed in much of what Montessori stood for, but as I’m moving along in this parenting journey I’m finding myself so passionate about it.. Because I’m watching the magic of Montessori (even in a less than Montessori-pure environment, within our home) with my own eyes.

I will be back to talk about and share some photos of Lucy (who is almost 11 weeks old).

(Sorry about the poor quality photos guys, and the lack of posts. I have become more of a blog reader than a blogger, hah)

Happy Mother’s Day!

I got smiles and cuddles for Mother’s Day. I’m so blessed!

My gorgeous rosebud has been giving me cute little smiles.

& I found a whole heap of hilariously cute pics like this one on my iPad, courtesy of our cheeky Camburger.

I hope you are feeling as happy as I am and that you are having a lovely weekend!