Category Archives: Uncategorized

More Transferring Activities

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Charlie has really, really enjoyed transferring things. He likes to take all of my shoes from one room and line them up in the kitchen, move all of his (and my) books off of our big book shelf into the floor, carry our clean laundry into the living room while I’m folding it… I’m sure this sounds familiar to parents of toddlers 🙂

The other day, I was organizing all of my school boxes while Charlie napped (the worst thing about changing jobs as a teacher — all of the stuff that comes home!). I almost finished, but I was still sorting through my huge art bin when Charlie woke up. I mentioned yesterday that he really enjoyed a transferring activity with large pom poms when he was just about a year old, and he noticed the sparkly pom poms in the photo above almost instantly. I put a handful in a small mason jar I had nearby (too many at first! Start with fewer so the child can successfully complete the task and keep the extras in a bin nearby for backups (: ).

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I also had a strawberry huller from a stash I had bought for fine motor practice (for way cheaper than $4 each, but I wanted to link to one). I gave Charlie a lesson with the poms and tongs, carefully emphasizing how I was using the tongs to pick up the pom pom and place it in the next cup.

Charlie did not understand why he would use this weird, unfamiliar tool to move the poms when I could just use my hands. This is the same child who pretty much hates to use his fork, though he is capable of spearing food and feeding himself when he tries. I swallowed my pride and put the tongs away for later.

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I also had a bag of floral gems nearby I had taken out of a sensory bin (from my classroom), and Charlie was so intrigued. He wanted to touch each one. I placed a few in the jar, which made a satisfying clinking sound, and he loved simply transferring the gems from one jar to the next. I did notice, after several minutes, he put one in his mouth, so I put these up so that he can only use them when I’m giving him 100 percent attention, and put the pom poms on the shelf (without the tongs) for transferring.

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I noticed that Charlie started trying to pour the gems (and his W sitting! We’re working on it!), so the next step will be providing him with a pouring water or rice activity. Montessori Services has a nice selection, or you can borrow some ideas and recreate the sets with some objects from your home 🙂 When you set up a water pouring activity, just make sure you include a plastic tray (so you don’t mind if some spills) and a small sponge for cleaning up messes (you can cut up a regular kitchen sponge, but I’m trying to find a sea sponge I can cut up for Charlie because I love the way it actually grows larger!). You can color the water with food coloring or watercolors to make it easier to see, if you’d like. I need to find my big box of Montessori materials that has been in storage since we moved here, so I haven’t introduced this yet to Charlie. Let me know if you have any other tips 🙂

Also, I should note, that since these transferring activities are seen as preparation for handwriting, they would be done sitting at a table, and not sitting on the floor in front of the couch :), in traditional Montessori settings.

 

Toddler Transferring Activities

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Some of the most common works you will find in a Montessori 3-6 classroom, nestled among the practical life shelf, are transferring activities. I introduced Charlie to his first transferring  activity when he was around a year old, when I noticed he was showing an interest in picking up small objects with a beginning pincer grip. I had some large pom poms and cut a hole (take care to make sure the edges are smooth!) in a take-out container so that he could pick up a pom from the turquoise cup (he LOVED these metal cut-out containers from the Target dollar bin around Cinco de Mayo) and push it through the hole into the clear container. He was so interested in this activity for several weeks, and would stay engaged for several minutes. I actually created this activity before starting Montessori training, and when I visited my new school, I noticed the same activity was in the toddler room on the shelves 🙂

Shortly after this activity, I introduced a couple of other larger object transferring activities (his Easter basket had a parmesan cheese container with matchsticks which was not as successful), but he started to lose interest.

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Yesterday, when Charlie played with the play dough and matchsticks, I noticed that he was extremely interested in the sticks, and he started to move them back and forth between rooms when the play dough lost its allure. I remember my earlier attempt of the parmesan cheese container, and grabbed a spice jar I had laying around. I actually keep a big box in the closet of Charlie’s playroom for containers I know I’ll want to reuse, so I had an old plastic black pepper container as well as a glass spice jar from an old spice rack. When I first provided the lesson, I carefully took a stick from the jar and placed it through one of the holes in the lid into the jar. When Charlie took over, he took the lid off the jar and placed the sticks directly into the open jar (completely defeating the purpose of carefully coordinating the placement of the sticks into the little holes). I tried to put my judgment aside and follow his lead 🙂 (so important, but SO hard for this mama!). After I let him do that, fill the whole jar, empty them out, and repeat several times, he eventually grabbed the other jar with the lid on, and spent a very long time carefully placing the sticks into the slots. [You only need one jar for this activity, but I had two out because I found the glass one when he was using the other, and I liked that the holes were smaller :)] Another variation of this activity, which I saw when we went to visit Charlie’s future Montessori toddler classroom, is a cheese shaker with cocktail picks like these. Because of the knots on those picks, the child can take them in and pull them out without needing to open or close the lid, which I think Charlie would enjoy.

In true Montessori work, the child would have a tray for this activity, but we did not. At some point, Charlie was doing the work on a cookie sheet we had nearby, and that helped to contain the sticks if he spilled them out of the first container, but don’t let it be a deterrent if you don’t have one.

I hear a lot from other mamas about how quality children’s toys are expensive, and they can be (!), but these transferring activities use mostly recycled materials or things laying around the home, and you can usually find large bags of sticks or poms at the dollar store or Walmart and can reuse things like that for several different experiences. I hope this is helpful, and I would love to hear about some things you do with your kids with recycled materials.

 

Playdough Provocation

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Hello again, blogosphere! In the past 6 months or so, my little has grown up into a big 17-month-old toddler with a HUGE personality. When I taught early childhood in DC, I loved sharing provocations from my class’ learning on my old blog, Provocations and Play. I’d love to use this space to share some of the exciting ways Charlie and I are filling our days, if you’d like to read. My early childhood teaching was inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, and I am halfway finished with my Montessori training, so you will certainly see those influences in our play-based, art-infused experiences. 🙂

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This morning, I was struggling from a gluten reaction, and needed something to occupy the little man more independently than usual. I had made a batch of this gluten-free play dough a few months ago (it keeps wonderfully for me as long as it’s in an airtight container; though it did dry out quickly once we started playing with it) and added some Wild Orange oil for fun.

I had a stack of these colored match sticks left over with some art supplies and placed them with the play dough. They were an INSTANT hit. I did stay nearby since Charlie is getting his 2-year molars and wanted to bite the sticks, and I didn’t want them to splinter in his mouth. Charlie loved the match sticks, and it led to some other activities that I’ll post about later.

A couple of notes about set up: I started to use cookie sheets from the dollar store in my early childhood classroom, and it always works like a charm for defining a work space and containing messes. Also, I have made the play dough recipe linked above dozens of times, but when I made it a couple of days ago (intending to make lavender play dough), it ended up a sticky mess. I used a gluten-free blend flour and not rice flour, so I’m not sure if that makes a difference, but be sure to add the water s-l-o-w-l-y, and double-check your measurements, especially if you try to multiply the recipe and have a toddler running around 🙂

Easter basket

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I just finished Charlie’s Easter basket. We made one for him last year, but Easter fell on the first weekend after we got home from the NICU, and I don’t think we took any pictures. For years I thought the Pottery Barn Kids Easter baskets and bags were adorable, so I was excited to order Charlie a bag (and love that we can use it year after year) for his first real Easter basket 🙂 I picked up a couple of Easter board books from Marshalls, ordered him dinosaur pjs from Old Navy, and made a Montessori transferring activity and some gluten-free wild orange play dough. For weeks I looked for egg-shaped crayons at all of the niche  children’s shops in the areas, and I found them at Target (but they’re also on Amazon)!

Tomorrow we’re going to do a small Easter egg hunt in our yard with a few eggs filled with these bunnies which he loves.  I’m sure there will be some photos on Instagram 🙂

 

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Charlie is one

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We hosted a small brunch for Charlie’s first birthday on Saturday at my parents’ house. I had a lot of fun planning the decorations, and tried to use a lot of gold, since he loves everything sparkly. We decorated mostly on Friday afternoon when he was taking a late nap, and I swear he noticed every little thing I put up, and would go investigate as soon as he woke up!

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I made triangle garland with a triangle punch and my sewing machine, and cut the “Charlie is One” letters out at school. I made the runner with a piece of canvas and a potato stamper 🙂 I ordered photographs to make the giant 1 (there is another one on the playroom door since I ordered too many pictures!), and my grandmother helped me repot succulents into little mason jars to give out as favors.

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The tags say, “Thank you for helping me grow (love, Charlie).”

We served mini frittatas, yogurt parfaits, fruit skewers, bacon, sausage, and I made these apple, cinnamon and maple cupcakes (but cheated and made this icing). We also had a small bar with mimosas, bellinis and OJ.

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We had so much fun celebrating our little guy, and I swear as everyone was leaving he said, “thank you!” Thanks for stopping by 🙂

fall days

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Our weekend fall days have been filled with family, leaves, warmer-than-normal temperatures (making an easier transition for us from D.C.!) and apple chai from a local coffee shop.

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Pepere is his best buddy, but I’m pretty sure here he is making sure no one else is hiding in the leaves 🙂

trick or treat

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Happy Halloween! I had big dreams of sewing incredible costumes for us, but I was so beat from school that it just didn’t happen. We bought the chef jackets and Charlie’s lobster costume off of Amazon, and I bought the hats from Hobby Lobby.

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I was hoping my sling looked like a “pot” when I was wearing him 🙂

Also, did you notice our Jack O’Lantern bottles? I wish I had gotten a good photo of them when it got dark and the candles were lit, but I just painted old wine bottles (I tried spray paint, but a few coats of acrylic worked much better), and my sister and I painted on the faces. I melted the bottom of the candles with a lighter until some of the wax dripped off, and then jammed them inside. I loved them!

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IMG_0909 I have to go into work two days this week, and then I start full-time next Tuesday. As my (glorious, extended) maternity leave comes to an end, I am feeling very, very sad. The only way to describe it to my non-mama friends is to say that I feel like I am going through the worst break-up. I know Charlie will be okay, and is in wonderful hands, but I’m so heartbroken about how little time we’ll be spending together in comparison. On that note, the happiness jar is even more important this week because I know how much there is for me to be thankful.

  1. Sewing projects, especially with my brand-new sewing scissors.
  2. Chai tea dates with my mama and sister, Charlie in tow.
  3. When my amazing husband takes Charlie in the morning to let me sleep for an extra hour, and then my mom takes him so I can shower and blow-dry (!) my hair.
  4. Family nights around the fire pit.
  5. Fresh flowers at Trader Joe’s (they’re always so cheap, pretty and fresh!)
  6. Brand new Sharpies. Actually all school supply shopping for my classroom. This year, I need a laminator, velcro dots, new Mr. Sketch markers and a new Hoberman sphere that I use as a “breathing ball” for my kids.
  7. When Whole Foods has the perfect African-made bolga basket that I’ve been searching for.
  8. Remembering our honeymoon (the photo above is from a cafe in Marrakech), and being grateful for the perfect timing of my pregnancy with Charlie. As sad as I am that my leave is coming to the end, I know how lucky I am to have had maternity leave and then summer vacation.
  9. A husband who always thinks about me, even if it’s just to bring me home command hooks he knew I needed (without my asking).
  10. Our first successful night out leaving Charlie with my parents (with whom he calmly took a bottle and fell asleep!) while we enjoyed a delicious gluten-free (well, for me anyway) dinner at a new to us restaurant.

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(Photo of my sister and I from July 2014)

It’s been a busy weekend, and there are a few things happening this week about which I’m not so excited, so it will be a good exercise today to remember the things making me happy.

  1. Baby sisters who live 5 minutes away (especially after 10 years of being hours away!)
  2. Impromptu gifts of fruit tea and this bracelet from above-mentioned sister.
  3. Receiving fluff mail — especially when it’s our new favorite sling.
  4. Fresh local blueberries from our crop share.
  5. Driving an hour to meet an old friend and her family for dinner AND a baby who did not cry. the. entire. car ride.
  6. Babies with ticklish thighs. More specifically how my baby laughs when we tickle his thighs.
  7. When Trader Joe’s has their gluten-free grain sandwich bread AND gluten-free chocolate cupcakes in stock.
  8. Target trips when Charlie falls asleep in the sling while my mama and I are ogling baby clothes.
  9. Burnt hotdogs from the grill (just a little bit black; not totally charred).
  10. Shih tzu snuggles.

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