Monday, 27 October 2014

Montessori Inspired Food Unit

If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know that food is a big deal in our house.

I love to cook (most days) and the Hubby and all our boys love to eat- a perfect situation, really!

We have a lot of toys relating to food and it seemed only fitting - as I was rotating through our toys - to make a food-based unit.

I gave the playroom a bit of a reshuffle. I moved the Ikea kitchen more central to make it the focus and flipped our shelves sideways- firstly, so they'd fit and secondly, it looked a bit more 'supermarkety' to me.
I used the shelves to display our toy foods (most of which are from the Duktig series from Ikea), our cash register, some stacking cups, a money box and hammer toy.
These Duktig fruits and vegetables are adorable...
The 'putting the coins into the moneybox' activity was a real hit.

This unit prompted a lot of tea parties...
Rohan makes the cutest pouring noises!
Keeping with his love of matching things to their cards, I printed and laminated some fruit and vegetable cards to go with the items we had.
I also collected all of the books we have that feature food. Our favourites are The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch. 

The two puzzles we have that feature food actually only have junk food. They were very popular!
The colour-matching Popsicle activity featured here was a favourite and is great for fine-motor skills development...

Other practical life activities included threading - this one is toothpicks into a shaker container...
and this one is threading shoelaces...
We also had our trusty pouring - water this time...
And the pizza making station was very popular! I just kept an old pizza box (this is a kids size from Pizza Capers) and cut a circle of felt for the base and a variety of felt shapes for the toppings plus a playdough roller cutter.
All the boys love choosing their toppings or taking orders and delivering the pizza requested - such a fun game that you can add money and making change to depending on the child's age.
Our sensorial activities were these sound cylinders...
scent bottles that I'll blog about soon...
and a super-cute Icecream-cart playdough kit that I found at the supermarket. It even came with 'whipped' dough for the cream on top.
In Montessori categories our activities were...
Playing with toy Australian money
Playing shopping with the cash register

Fruit and vegetable match cards
Books about food

Practical Life
Money box with coins
Play kitchen
Play shopping
Tea parties
Threading sticks
Threading laces

Playdough food
Scent bottles
Sound cylinders

Fruits vs Vegetables

Do your kids love to play with food?

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Ten for Tuesday

1. I'm keeping this guy home from school - for a number of reasons - until the cast comes off. He's driving me nuts! Week and a half to go! | 2. Lots of playing in pyjamas happening - they've been cooking up a storm. | 3. I bought this guy a watch so he'd know when to stop playing and come and meet me after school. He's now timing everything! | 4. This guy helped Daddy mow. SO cute!

5. Jamie Oliver's Insanity burgers and perfect chips- again! SO good! | 6. This month's bookclub book done in 20 hours. Could not put it down. | 7. I use 6 egg yolks in Tiramisu, seems only right to make... | 8. ...a six egg white Pav at the same time! | 9. We had friends over to christen the new BBQ and watch the Bledisloe - kids had so much fun together. | 10. Man, what a game. We had to watch the replay too. Never write-off the ABs. Feeling sorry for the Wallabies, though.  
 How's your week been?

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?