Monday, 20 October 2014

DIY Montessori Sound Cylinders

When I first embarked on my journey into Montessori learning, I was a little overwhelmed at the range - and price- of the 'essential' equipment required.

The more I read and explored, the more I discovered other parents who, like me, were keen on implementing Montessori approaches in their home and were finding ways to do it without spending a lot of money. And there are a lot of good ideas out there!

Another Montessori activity that I've DIYed are these sound cylinders.
A traditional sound cylinder is wooden or opaque and filled with a substance that makes a sound when shaken. They are presented in pairs (for example, a set of six pairs) that contain the same substances but the cylinders are marked with different colour.

The purpose of the activity is to shake a cylinder of one colour, then shake the cylinders of the other colour until you've found the two cylinders that make the same sound.

When I first set this activity up (it was a while ago too- how little does Rohan look in these photos?), the only containers I could find with tight fitting lids were clear. These are Decor brand mini-snack containers from the grocery store.

I do intend, at some stage, to make them opaque but for now they are working really well.

I have filled each pair with the following - pasta, popping corn, rice, dried beans, barley and sand.
Early on (these photos were taken last October when Rohan was 22 months old) we'd shake and match using the materials inside to help us talk about the sound and what was making it.
Now that he's older (2 years and 10 months), I hide one set of containers behind my back and shake one at a time. He then tries to match them by shaking the second set in front of him. When he thinks he's got it, I show him the cylinder and he can use the visual clue to self-correct his answer.

I think I'll look at concealing the insides the next time I present them. Any ideas on painting/covering these containers?

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Ten for Tuesday (x2)

I missed last week with the blog out of action, so this week's Ten for Tuesday is doubled!

1. More farm yard fun | 2. He's very taken with this book with real images | 3 & 4. We made our own bread and butter- fun and delicious! | 5. Anniversary flowers from my gorgeous hubby. Where have 12 years gone?

6. This guy lost his first tooth! An event overshadowed by... 7. ...a second surgery on his arm. He was absolutely terrified this time round. | 8. Subway makes everything better- even day surgery | 9. Avengers playdough set - winning!
10. Turning a nappy box into a race car | 11. They invented a new car- push the figures over the line with the race car to get points! | 12. This kid is horrible when he's hungry | 13. This kid started Kindy (I forgot to snap a picture during Kindy!) He loved it, was very hungry after and seems very troubled by this fish cracker!

14. Joy is weekends spent in the backyard... (these are their "she's got the camera out again" faces) | 15. ...and impromptu pyjama dance parties! | 16. Too many nice things at Missoni for Target- couldn't resist | 17. Firing up the new Kamado Joe BBQ | 18. Laksa love | 19. Planning some Halloween fun | 20. These two are getting lots of quality time together

How's your fortnight been?

Monday, 13 October 2014

Montessori Inspired Transport Unit

I set up this unit back in April and there were a few factors that made this particular themed unit work really well. 
Firstly, I got these great new shelves that fit under the back of our kitchen bench perfectly. More space for more fun activities!
This unit coincided with school holidays which meant that the activities had to suit all three littles at their various ages (7, 4 & 2).

Mainly, we had a lot of our vehicle related toys out for open-ended play. (I'm guessing all of the vehicles and people were being used elsewhere when I took these pics!) Not sure Maria Montessori would approve of all this plastic, though! We have the Fisher Price airport...
Little People Village...
and train...

We also have a big collection of Thomas tracks that make for a very creative play session...
This little train track is a favourite of Rohan's (2).
It opens up to reveal the track and has train storage.

This unit meant that I could also include more advanced construction kits for my seven year old.
The balloon powered cars were fun for everyone with extra explanations of the science involved for the biggest little.

Books are perfect for all ages too...
We had sight words displayed for our early learner...
and a sand tray for practicing letter writing...
This activity used cars to introduce colour...
My two year old was able to match the colours...
While my five year old could see how many car of each colour there were...
A couple of our favourite colourful wooden toys came out to play too...

We introduced colour into our practical life activities too. This one is using tongs...
And this one is pouring water...

I reused the black rocks from the space unit to make a road-surface sensory box. It looks quite dull in this pic but always got lots of use and had plenty more cars added to it over the month.
This simple counting activity was my favourite. Puffs of smoke from trains? Cute! Works particularly well with the Thomas trains as they have numbers too.
The third and final reason this unit worked so well is that our local Aviation Museum has an Open Cockpit Day at the end of April.

This was our second open cockpit day and the boys just love getting to sit in the planes...

They have additional aircraft fly in for the day...
As well as their usual collection of planes and helicopters...
As of this year they now have an F1-11 on permanent display...
Still couldn't convince my kids to climb through the belly of the B52 with me. They think it looks too dark inside (which it is a bit).

(If you're thinking of visiting next year my tip is get there early to avoid the queues - and the heat. The tarmac outside heats up quick and that hanger gets pretty steamy!)  

Getting to wear a real pilot's helmet made this dress-up loving little pretty happy...
Here's our activities arranged in Montessori categories...
Lining up trains
Counting smoke puffs
Colour one-to-one
Colour counting

Sight words
Sand tray
Open-ended play

Open-ended play

Balloon-powered boats
Field trip - Discussing how planes fly

Sensory box
Rainbow puzzle 
Colour matching
Field trip - sitting in aircraft

Practical Life
Tonging stones
Pouring water

Tell me, do your kids love planes, trains and automobiles too? Is it just a boy thing?

Monday, 6 October 2014

DIY Colour Match Popsicles

I'm back with another super easy tutorial for a DIY Montessori inspired activity today.

This one uses felt and Popsicle sticks to make the cutest color matching activity I've seen. You can buy these online but it really is so easy to make.

First you need to collect your different coloured felt and sticks.

A proper rainbow is made up of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. I only had a basic purple and decided to stick with it.

For each colour, you need to cut a strip of felt to fit up and over the length of your stick, leaving enough space for a handle to peak out.

Pin the sides of your felt together to hold it in place while you stitch.
Sew up one side, and curve the corners at the top, before stitching down the other.
I trimmed the outsides of mine to ensure they were even and give them a rounded top.
I also wrote the names of each colour onto my sticks as I have a 5 (as well a 2) year old using these and I wanted to introduce these as sight words too.Present the activity to your child with the sticks on one side of the tray and the tops on the other.  As well as being a great way to introduce and identify colours, the feeding of the sticks into the felt is a great fine motor skills task. Rohan (2) loved the challenge.

So, so easy and lots of fun! What's your favourite colour?