Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Montessori Inspired Space Studies

{I'm behind schedule again. Let's pretend it's Montessori Monday somewhere in the world!}

If I were to run these themed-units over again I would definitely do this one first.

It makes sense really, to introduce the concept of Earth and our place in space before diving into detailed studies of continents (see Africa here) or countries (see Egypt here).

We did this unit back in February and it actually ended up staying in the playroom for longer than a month – firstly, because we were having a lot of fun and secondly, because a few of the things I ordered online took awhile to get here (the joys of Territory living).

We had a couple of beautiful puzzles. This one was just right for Hamish (then 4)

and Rohan (2) could do this one with help.
I made a sensory box with some black fish tank rocks, glow-in-the-dark stars and moon, a star shaped cutter, a globe soft ball, mini cush balls, various rocks and gems and a space toob.

We also made a new batch of our space dough that I blogged about here.

Lots of star and moon shaped cutters made for a fun experience.
Our practical life activities included spooning “planets”...

and transferring pom poms with tongs– one per star...

For language we had these great cards which had multiple uses: Liam (7) could place then in order from the Sun outwards and, as there were two of each card, we could also play match/memory. This helped us learn the names and gave us frequent exposure to their spelling as well as the visual image of each celestial object.

For practicing numbers we had a constellation tracing activity – Liam and Hamish could do this one, Rohan just practiced using a pencil.

A huge favourite with Hamish was the number matching rocket. You rolled the dice to see which number had to be covered and then find the correct shape.

As I was conscious of having presenting topics a little out of order, I set up a geography/culture section with our mini globe, the continent cube and some nesting boxes.

Because I found so many great links to shapes in the space-themed activities I wanted to use, I also decided to include a shape sorter and a stacking shape puzzle (seen above) – both of which were a bit of a challenge for Rohan at that stage and not particularly of interest to the older two.

This topic also led itself to including some fun themed lunch and snack ideas too. We made a rocket sandwich...

and a Solar system tasting plate...

and because I like lists...


Build a rocket

Constellation dot-to-dot


Solar system cards 



Continent cube

Nesting boxes


Sensory tub

Space dough

Rocket sandwich

Solar system tasting plate

Practical Life

Spooning planets

Tong transfer

and Science concepts exist throughout. Yay, Science!

Do your kids love space? Got any great activities for the next time I do this?

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Seven Stages of Dealing with a Child in Pain

You've heard of the seven stages of grief? Well, the last six days I have experienced the excruciating range of emotions that accompany watching your child experience pain.

Last Thursday evening we were playing in the backyard. Hubby had just returned from a three day fishing trip. We'd all missed him terribly and were playfully jostling for his attention. He'd filleted some of his freshly caught bounty and it was slowly baking in the oven, bathed in lime and butter. 

Mr 8 was talking non-stop about the highlights of his week. The two youngest were insisting on dressing up and I thought I'd take advantage of the soft, sinking light to snap a few pictures in the backyard.

This one was taken seconds before it happened...

He's dressed as Human Torch - from the Fantastic Four. He's about to try to fly and shout "flame on", only, as his feet touch down on the ground he trips and falls forward onto his arm.

I know instantly that it's broken from the unnatural angle at which his elbow is hanging. I peel back his costume and shout for my husband.

This is when the first stage begins...

1. Clarity
I know exactly what to do and do it instantly. Call an ambulance? No, we decide driving will get him there faster. While his father is comforting him, attaching a makeshift sling and moving him to the car I move instinctively, thinking with perfect clarity- I put on a bra and shoes, find warm clothing for myself (because hospitals are always freezing), find clean clothes for Hamish (in case he gets to come home) and pyjamas (because I know in my heart it'll be at least one night). I grab the iPad to entertain the other two and every muesli bar and packet of snacks in the pantry for their dinner.  I even remember to turn off the oven.

2. Frustration
When you want to be somewhere instantly, the time it takes to make the journey is incredibly frustrating. Add to that the sheer agony of listening to your child scream with pain and time seems to stop. Every other traveler on the road seems to be moving tens of kilometers under the speed limit. It is, literally, the only time in our lives I've told my husband to drive faster.

3. Helplessness
Waiting at the counter of the emergency department. Waiting - after they've moved husband carrying child into the children's area - to give mundane details like Medicare numbers and addresses. Waiting for X-rays. Waiting for orthopedic surgeons to drive in from home. Waiting for an operating theatre. Being told we'll have to wait until morning.

4. Exhaustion
We were moved to the children's ward just before midnight. Matt had taken the other two home a couple of hours before. Hamish's fear and pain and frustration had softened to exhaustion like mine. I was able to convince him to go to the toilet, put on his soft pyjamas and hop into bed. He closed his eyes and was asleep instantly- the benefit of morphine coupled with exhaustion. Complete exhaustion has the opposite effect on me and I woke nearly every hour.

5. Calm
They shook me awake to take us down to surgery. They gowned me up, asked Hamish to chose a bear and then we chatted to anesthetists and watched Giggle and Hoot. With a cannula in, he was wheeled in the "room with the bright lights" as I'd been explaining to him. All the better to see you with...  They helped to put him at ease, showed him the lights and special camera and then put him to sleep while I stroked his hair and promised I'd be right there when he woke up.

6. Fear
They'd told me to go back to the ward. Grab a coffee. Get something to eat. I barely made it to the lift before bursting into hysterical sobbing. 

I'm a planner. I'm the kind of gal you want to organise your picnic. I'm really good at thinking of every possible eventuality and preparing for it. It's rare that I don't think about what well do if it rains, or how to repel the insects.

So, on that early Friday morning every possible outcome ran through my mind. Reactions to the anesthetic, complications during surgery, permanent damage, the list goes on. I returned to a ward full of other people and I have never felt more alone or more afraid in my life.

7. Relief
That moment when he opened his eyes and looked for me.

I'm finding, however, that unlike the stages of grief these do not end with acceptance. 

Every moment since then has been various combinations of the above, taking me on a wild roller-coaster of emotional hell:

I experience calm and clarity when dealing with nursing staff, taking more X-rays and monitoring his medication,

Helplessness when he would just lie there in pain,

Fear when he wouldn't stop vomiting,

Relief when a visit from a good friend cheered him up and he managed to actually eat (though, I defy anyone to willingly eat hospital broccoli!)

Helplessness returning home and leaving him at the hospital with his Dad,

Relief to finally sleep and then hold him in my arms again the next day,

Frustration when it took four hours for the hospital pharmacy to furnish us with meds before we could leave to come home,

Helplessness when he refuses his medication. When they wear off he's unbearable- I'm calling them pain shit-fits,

Exhaustion when I finally convince him to take his meds and we go back to sleep for another hour or two. 

I'm still completely and utterly spent. And drowning my sorrows in bad television and chocolate ice cream. Here's hoping this ride finishes soon.

Disclaimer: I kinda feel like I should apologize or explain my need to blog about my kid being injured; that I should justify why I took photos of him sitting miserably in a hospital. That I should try to justify myself before I get comments such as 'what kind of mother does that?' 
But, you know what? In those darkest moments I needed my friends, my community and the way my friends share is through images. The way I share is through my writing and this blog. Every single person who reached out to me on Facebook and Instagram gave me a little more strength to get through this. And feel entirely vilified and very grateful.  

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

10 Alternatives to Traditional Lullabies

I love singing to my kids at bedtime.

I’m not renowned for my voice. I used to joke that my eldest son was faking falling asleep before I'd finished just to shut me up!

Still, there’s something very soothing and a little bit magical about the beautiful words of a peaceful song echoing through a darkened room before those final whisperings of 'good night' and last kisses to tiny foreheads.

Over the years, we seem to have allocated one song for each child that has become “their” regular bedtime song, but we still like to mix things up occasionally. I find "Hush little baby" can be a bit tiresome after the hundredth version, so some of our bedtime song choices may not be your usual slumber-time pics.

Here are our...

Reverse psychology at it’s best! This one is a winner.

Yep-another one from Mary. That Poppins woman knows her stuff!

“Sweet dreams 'til sunbeams find you” ...say no more.

Sometimes I wish I had a voice double, like Audrey did, but I’m getting better at this one.

The song John Lennon wrote for his son, Sean, is the perfect thing to sing to your boy/s. Mine like that I use their names at the end.

This is the most beautiful song. I change the lyrics to “in my baby’s eyes” and insert ‘he’ and ‘his’ where appropriate. It is, however, a challenge for me to get through that last verse without sobbing.

I wrote a whole post about how this song makes me reflect on my role as a mother and the importance of the task at hand. You can read it here.

My lovely in-laws discovered this one for me. When I ask my boys “How much does mummy love you?” they always reply “moon and back”  (If you don’t know why read this book asap) This one is by Dolly Parton. So sweet. I’m still learning this one.

You can leave out the Steve Tyler-style wailing and keep it quiet and soothing. This a beautiful song whether you sing it to your partner or babies. I don’t want to miss a thing, either.

I’m not a fan of Garth Brooks at all, but my Hubby likes a few of his songs as he grew up listening to them and this is the one he has sung to all four boys (with ‘he’ and 'him' inserted in all the right places). Hamish used to sing along with him when he was still sleeping in the cot – just beautiful.

Over to you now- what's your alternative lullaby of choice?

Monday, 15 September 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

Remember my friend, Rachael?

She's been doing some big things with her blog- Sew Today, Clean Tomorrow - since she did that tutorial for us. Her last Beginners Quilt-Along resulted in such seriously gorgeous quilts that I'm tempted to give it a whirl.

Well, Rachael has tagged me in an Around the World Blog Hop. This little bit of internet love sharing is making it's way all over the globe. So from beautiful Tasmania, you are traveling here to the steamy 'Top End' of Oz. Welcome to the Territory! 

First, here are my answers to the questions...

1. What am I working on? 
After a very busy first half of the year- where the poor blog suffered a bit of neglect, I'm working on increasing my posts and providing more fun and inspiration - for me, my boys and my readers.

I'm currently attending the Clever Cookie School of Blog. I'm learning so much and slowly tweaking the blog to have it look and function like I dream it can.
Last week I discovered how to make cute little graphics like this one...

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 
There are a lot of mummy blogs out there and I'd like to think I have a unique voice- because I'm me and because I'm raising boys. 

I've recently had an epiphany that what I'm trying to do here on the blog and in my everyday actions is to make the ordinary extraordinary

I've started an Instagram campaign where we can tag our pics #sahtmakingtheordinaryextraordinary and share the little bits of extra we are putting in to make life magical for our children and ourselves.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?
I really, really loved the community of creative, inspiring people that I'm meeting online. There's often an incredible solidarity between mothers too.  I wanted in. And when someone takes the time to comment on your blog- to let you know they liked what you had to say - it's like a big virtual hug!
4. How does my writing/creating process work? 
Mostly, I'm just reporting in on something we've done- our little extraordinary. 

I don't consider myself a 'writer' but sometimes the words just come to me and I have to let them flow. That's what happened with this post and I'm really proud of it.

Secondly, I'm tagging these amazing women to join in and sending the love on it's way...

Sarah - Creating Contentment
Like me Sarah is the mother of four boys - and one girl! - and she works very hard to make the best life for herself and her children.  Her blog chronicles her journey both as a mother and as a person seeking to find contentment in all aspects of life, including the challenging parts.  Sarah's words and stories are always inspirational and her attitude is what I wish mine could me.

Barbe - Fashionista in Suburbia
Barbe is my fashion guru. We met doing the Fox in Flats Style Dares and sharing selfies on Instagram. Barbe has this ability to put together the most stylish outfits and makes cool look incredibly effortless. She is the reason I now own a leopard print scarf, pants and ballet flats!

Melanie - The Juhala Adventures
Melanie is my Instagram friend who makes me want to Homeschool. Her house is fun of full and learning, her photos are full of joy and anyone who practices Christmas carols from September has me as their number one fan. Throw in that she's a sci-fi/Star Wars geek like me and we are clearly meant to be BFFs.  

So, what happens now? Hop your way over to these blogs next Monday to see their answers to the questions above and be sure to say "Hi!" from me.

DIY Montessori Button Board

Montessori materials can often be expensive. However, the more I read online, the more I'm inspired to make my own simple activities.

One of the things I've made is a Montessori Button Board. The purpose of a button board is, obviously, to teach children how to undo and do up buttons in order to help dress themselves but it also helps with concentration and fine motor skills. The beauty of this one is that it also incorporates colour and shapes. It was also really easy to make.
First, I cut out a variety of different shapes from different coloured scraps of felt and arranged them on a larger piece.

Onto each shape I added a button hole. I'm lucky enough to have an automatic button hole function on my sewing machine. All I needed to do was read the manual, then I did a practice one on some scrap fabric.

It works by putting your chosen button into the back of the foot.
This makes the button hole just the right size on your fabric. As long as you start it in the right spot it pretty much does the rest for you!

Putting a pin at the end helps prevent you from ripping through the stitches when it's time to make the hole.
Then you tape your button into position on the backing felt.
And stitch it too...
I took the threads through to the back and tied them for extra strength.
 Then your little ones can practice doing up buttons.
My button choice was limited so, instead of matching button to shape colour, I chose to sew each button on with coloured thread to match the shapes. Not as easy to match for little ones, but we'll get there.

Rohan is now 2 years and 8 months and he can get them off by himself. On is trickier, he likes to just place them on top when the buttons aren't co-operating!

Ta da!

Do you Montessori? I'd love to hear your tips on easy materials you can make yourself.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

My Plan for the Ordinary

I had an epiphany the other night while doing the ironing.

It is, actually, rather unusual for me to have such moments of clarity and insight whist performing a menial household task and no, sadly, this will not encourage me to iron more.

I was thinking about my life, this blog, my 'niche' and trying to determine what exactly it was that I was hoping to achieve with my one wild and precious life. (How great is Mary Oliver?)


Then a phrase popped into my head that summed up everything it is I am trying to do...

"Make the Ordinary Extraordinary"



Of course, I want my children to know that the little things are important. That the little things are worth noting, sometimes celebrating. That the little things can be the most wonderful things.  But, for me, it's not just about the little things. 

It's about the ordinary things. It's about breakfast, lunch, dinner. It's about housework and weekends and books and television.

It's about taking those everyday things and making them a little bit more magical.
That's the reason why we don't 'just' watch the Superbowl, or 'just' screen a Harry Potter movie, or 'just' have a picnic, or 'just' have friends over for lunch.

And that the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little bit extra.

One more motivational quote, because they're better in threes...

And I want you to join me.

If you're on Instagram share a picture of you and your family adding that little bit extra to make the ordinary extraordinary.  

Tag them #sahtmakingtheordinaryextraordinary so that our awesome community can see them and I'll be sharing my favourites at the end of the month.

If you're not an Instagrammer, I'd love you to share your story with me via email. (stayathometerritory@gmail.com)