Monday, 30 March 2015

Sight Word Splash!

Things have been a little quiet here on the blog as I've been busy planning and celebrating birthdays - more on that later.

It's Montessori Monday today and while I write a lot on here about the Montessori Units and activities that I set up mainly for Rohan to explore, I'm also still conscious of the need to support his big brothers as they learn new concepts too. Whilst not strictly Montessori, this activity has been a big hit in our house.

Hamish has been introduced to Sight Words this year and in the last few weeks they've really sparked his interest. He's very keen to practice them daily and gets really excited when he moves up a level.

A little while ago I shared this post on the SAHT Facebook page and it got me thinking about a way we could use this outdoor space and some chalk to practice his sight words. Combine that with the fact that it has been ridiculously hot here in Darwin - and I mean hotter than usual at this time of year - and I think I came up with the perfect activity!
We cleared out the carport and wrote Hamish's previously-mastered and currently-working-on sight words all over it. Then we filled a whole heap of water bombs!

Hamish had to choose a word, say it out loud and then splash away...
I love the way he closes his eyes on impact.
Liam had to have a go too...
and Rohan went with a stomp-on-any-word technique...
They loved, loved, loved this. So much so we had to restock the water bombs and do it all over again!
And then we just threw the rest at Daddy - fun!

How do you practice sight words?

Monday, 16 March 2015

Our Backyard : A Montessori Inspired Unit

I've learnt a lot about Montessori in the last few months.

The biggest lesson has been about the importance of following the child. That is, watching them closely and taking note of the activities or topics that interest them as well as the specific skills and abilities they are attempting to master. The next step is to then provide materials or provocations that are about their interests, will further develop their skills, or - better yet - do both. 

And that's how this unit came about.

To continue with Rohan's interest in animals, I had planned a unit about Arthropods but what gradually evolved was a really special unit that was led by Rohan's interests and one that had us outside exploring our backyard.

I started with a packet of plastic bugs that were just begging for some cards to match with...

...and a cute magnifying glass to examine them with.
I also had this puzzle that incorporated shapes...
...So I found and displayed some more puzzles with basic shapes, a simple number puzzle, our shape-sorter with blocks, our lock box and some playdough with a butterfly cutter.
We love a good reading area...
...This one included all the books I could find that featured insects.
You know how much we love Eric Carle, so The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Bad-Tempered Ladybug were definitely in there.

The second thing I've discovered is that the best learning happens when we are still in our pyjamas! I just love that when he leaves his bedroom and walks through the playroom he's so inspired by what he sees he needs to go to work straight away.

Rohan really enjoyed building towers with the shape blocks, so the big tub of wooden blocks came out too. He went around the room building towers...
To complement the number puzzle, I included this simple sorting activity and some ladybug counting...

Then I found this puzzle at the toy store and the whole unit changed. 
This big floor puzzle was the only one I could find that featured insects and arachnids, but it was the frog and lizard that caught Rohan's interest.

So, we started talking about frogs and had fun with this Frog Life Cycle kit that Hamish got for Christmas the year before...
He was mainly just matching to the cards I found online, printed and laminated...
...but we also talked a little bit about the cycle of eggs, tadpoles and frogs.
(I've also learnt that if I'm going to photograph activities on the floor I really need to vacuum the rug first!)

Then we headed outside to see if we could find any frogs. We spotted a butterfly...
We watched this cute little bird come and collect some of our dog, Ebony's, fur. We inferred that she was taking it back to her nest to make it nice and warm and soft for her eggs, but she flew away too quickly for us to follow.  
We had fun exploring colours and shapes everywhere we went......and got very excited when we found 'backyard' creatures whilst out and about. The nice lady at T2 was kind enough to give Rohan a handful of butterflies from their Christmas promotion to bring home for decoration.
In our backyard we found a dead beetle and a feather that we examined under the microscope...
The bug book featured above helped us to identify what we found and learn more about them.

Remember the snake in our farm unit? Well this time Rohan enjoyed hiding the bugs in our Lego drawers! He was actually really good at matching the colours too - and boy does it give you a fright when you think that plastic spider lurking in the black Lego drawer is real!

So now the challenge for me is to balance my love of a good themed unit with maintaining a focus on what he loves to learn about. Luckily, this little guy gets pretty excited about everything - especially animals.

Do you Montessori? How do you determine what activities to put together for your child?

This post is currently linked up to these great blogs and websites:

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Ten for Tuesday - The Photo a Day Edition

I started sharing a Photo a Day on Instagram nearly three years ago.

At first it was just something fun to try and a reason for this non-photographer to share an occasional picture on a new social media app. Over the years it's become a creative outlet - something that's just for me. I've learnt a lot about photography and I've found an incredible online community of supportive, creative individuals most of whom are other mums supporting each other as we embrace everyday and taking a minute to focus on the beauty amongst the chaos.

The added bonus is that when you put all the pictures together - and for the last two years I've completed all 365 days - it's a wonderful collection of our family memories throughout the year.

I participate in Fat Mum Slim's Photo a Day Challenge. Each month/week Chantelle releases a list of prompts and you simply have to post a picture that, for you, encapsulates that prompt and hashtag #fmsphotoaday.

Sometimes I'll use my DSLR but most of the time I just use my iPhone - all of the pics below were taken with my phone and edited using Chantelle's Little Moments app (which also reminds you of each day's prompt).

So today's Ten for Tuesday is a collection of the shots I've taken for March - all of which I've been busy taking over the last week because I got several days behind!

With some prompts I like to faff about and try to get a little arty...1. 'Remedy' | 2. 'Young' | 3. 'Part of Me' | 4. 'Sweet' 
Sometimes I just share candid shots of what everyday looks like for us... 5. 'Open' | 6. 'Make'
And sometimes it's a combination of the two... 7. 'Out the Window' | 8. 'Starts with R' | 9. 'Geometric' | 10. 'Floral'
Have I inspired you? I really cannot recommend sharing a photo a day enough if you're looking for a way to express yourself creatively - or just capture your everyday family fun.

If you'd like to follow me on Instagram you'll find me here.

If you'd like to follow Chantelle to get the prompts, see her amazing photography and see the daily 'Fab Four' you'll find them all here.

Tell me, How's your week been?

Monday, 9 March 2015

Montessori World Play Mat

If you've been reading my blog for a little while you'll know that my youngest is really interested in animals.

With his little collection of animals has come an interest in where they live.
Knowing his collection of animal figurines was set to increase significantly with both Christmas and his birthday occurring so closely, I asked my incredibly talented Mum if she could sew a world play mat for Rohan's Christmas present.

I sent her a couple of pictures I'd seen online and asked her to use the specific Montessori colours for each continent. Here's the incredible result in action...
Rohan loves putting his animals on the map, asking "Where dis libv?" when he's not sure. 

We've researched the ones we I wasn't sure of and have learnt some interesting things like how to tell a leopard and a jaguar apart. (Answer: the jaguar has a spot in each of his rosette markings, the leopard does not.)

We've done this so many times since Christmas. Makes this Mama's zoology-loving heart fit to burst!

This post is currently linked up to these great blogs and websites:

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Ten for Tuesday - The Catch Up Edition

I've been so bad at taking photos this week that I thought I'd throw in a few I haven't shared on the blog yet as a little 2015 catch up.

1. Butterfly in the garden. | 2. Big boys back to school. | 3. Our first International Food Night of the year - Korea whilst watching the Asian Cup final. | 4. Some post-holiday redecorating has been happening - we got this painting of our favourite beach... | 5. ...and new dining room chairs to go with the new-old dining room table.

6. Loving this arrow I've added to the boys room - $9 at Kmart! | 7. Rohan's moved out of the cot and into a big boy bed. | 8. So excited that this pic was shared as part of the Fab Four for #fmsphotoaday... | 9. ...because I'm just loving his 'new' room. | 10. We've been very focussed on animals and where they live this month. He likes pointing out the flamingos! 

How's your week been?

Montessori Inspired Farm Unit - Part 2

Remember this post way back in November? It's without a doubt my favourite of our themed Montessori units so far.

I had promised to do a little Part 2 featuring some of the extra things we did during those two months - and here it is!

As part of our farm unit we also talked about where food comes from.

We made our own butter.

And spread it on freshly baked homemade bread.
We also cracked our own walnuts to use in cooking Banana Bread.

The boys really loved testing their strength with this one and we ended up leaving the nuts and cracker in the playroom for whenever it took their fancy. It was even a big hit with some friends we had over for dinner.

The next time we do this unit I'm planning on letting the kids plant their own vegetables in the garden.

City folk, like us, could even incorporate a farm stay into the unit. It's been a while since we did - I had to dig through the archives for these pics.

These are back in 2006 when Michael was 11 and Liam was 4 months old. 

And this one is from 2008. Michael was 13 and Liam was 2. The same month I fell pregnant with Hamish and the same year we moved to The Territory...
The great thing about this unit is that there are so many possiblities for expansion.