Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hi All

We are on Christmas break and I forgot to let everyone know! I should be back and running with Montessori Monday on Monday the 5th.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! And Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From My Family to Yours

Merry Christmas!

Hope you have a blessed holiday!

Wednesday's Website

This website tracks Santa's progress around the world...showing "real" pictures/glimpses of him on Christmas eve. It is too fun and quite a thrill to share with your kids on Christmas eve! So if you go in for all the Santa-ness of Christmas, be sure to check this out!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Training Tuesday

This one was an obvious choice for this week! Gift wrapping...of course! Joshua has been pretending to wrap gifts with all his old baby blankets since my birthday in October. So we just figured we might as well put him to work. You may recall that Josh was buying gifts for all of us with his coin rolling money/allowance. So I saved out all those gifts for him to wrap.

He did pretty good! Lots of tape and I am not sure everything is completely covered but he sure did work real hard at it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Montessori Monday

It is Christmas this week so I just have a quick and easy one today!

After the holidays, cut the picture part of a few of your Christmas cards off and punch holes around the edge with a hole punch. Tie a length of string onto one of the holes. Using a needle, a taped end, or an end dipped in glue and allowed to dry overnight, have your child lace/sew the cards. This is a great activity for practicing early fine motor skills. Save them from year to year, keeping only the best/thickest cards!

Friday, December 19, 2008


Here is one of the many latest creations by Joshua. As you may know, he is obsessed with Star Wars. In October, he received a grocery bag stuffed full of Lego Star Wars kits from a family friend whose son no longer wanted them. If you have ever gone down the Lego aisle See! you probably realize that this was hundreds of dollars worth of Lego kits. We were very thrilled and appreciative!
What I love about this picture is that after building a Lego kit he is able to figure out how to build his own version of a Star Wars ship and he created and designed this one entirely on his own.
Love it!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I am Officially...

LAME and Boring!!!! If you want to play along just bold what you have done!

1. Started your own blog 2 in fact...
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band School and Video Game variety!
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland (Disney World)
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo (to Josh)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child I adopted a Grandma at a Nursing Home as a child and she died the night before I met her. TRAUMATIZING!
16. Had food poisoning Worst I have ever felt in a shortish time!
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked Safety People Safety!
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill Mental health is just as important!
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run Playing with Josh, that is!
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (in general)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke As long as video game Karaoke counts!
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted at Cedar Point when I was about 5
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business When I was a Girl Scout we started a book making business.
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check My Mom would be so proud!
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy I still have all my Barbie dolls.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job I guess I was laid off but I felt fired!
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle Which may be why I have not broken a bone...
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper I was on the cover for 1st day of school 2 years in a row when I taught in Big Rapids MI!
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating Have you met me? oh
88. Had chickenpox TWICE!
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous Bozo~I was on the show.
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake Nope but I have swam in several of the Great Lakes though!
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone not that I ever use it...told ya...LAME!
99. Been stung by a bee Nope...never!
100. Read an entire book in one day Most every book I read!

HT: LaPaz Home Learning

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday's Website

Tons of activities, crafts, printables, etc... It is based out of the UK but is certainly packed full of many wonderful ideas for any family!

Check it out!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Training Tuesday

Hand washing!!!!!!


So I noticed Joshua soaping up his hands the other day! I was standing off to the side unnoticed and he was just rubbing and rubbing the soap. I was soo proud, that is, until he leapt off the stool and raced out of the know without using ANY water at all!

Of course, I called him back in and we embarked on the latest Training Tuesday session. Well now he is racing through the hand washing but at least he is using soap and water! If only we could get him to also dry his hands on a towel......


Monday, December 15, 2008

Montessori Monday

Idea from Montessori Play and Learn by Lesley Britton.

The Trans Game~

I made this game by filling 3 empty baby food jars. One with water, one with dirt, and one with air! These jars represent the different places transportation occur; air, land, and water. Then, I printed off cards that depict different modes of transportation like these!

All the child needs to do is sort the cards next to each jar into the appropriate type of place for transportation to occur. Make sure to mark the back of the cards with a symbol for self checking!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday's Website

Here is a fun one to help with lunch or to find different cooking ideas you can use with your kids!

I especially appreciate the easy to follow directions and often times diagrams!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Montessori Monday

Idea borrowed from Montessori Play and Learn by Lesley Britton~

I have been planning on making a timeline with Joshua for a longtime! Lesley Britton has a couple of different timeline ideas that she recommends for different aged children.

For the 3-4 year old
Create a timeline of your Child's day.
For the 4-5 year old
Create a timeline of your Child's life. She suggests using photographs to represent each year.
For the 5-6 year old
Create a timeline of homes through the ages. You could easily find pictures online of homes such as caves, Roman Villa, Tudor, Victorian, and Modern Homes.

We have already done the Child's day timeline about 2 years ago. Josh loved keeping track of what he was doing on it. With the Child's life timeline I would like to adapt it a bit to reflect his different milestones, especially as a baby. I think this will be helpful with his understanding of Little C and where he is at developmentally. Josh is a bit frustrated with Little C's lack of vocal skills etc...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

More Human Body Work

Josh decided to create a skeleton all on his own! He chose to use paper, scissors, glitter glue, and markers. I added paper fasteners when he could not come up with an idea to attach the body parts. He cut out and decorated most of it entirely by himself. I only helped with the hands and feet.
Love it!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Our Advent Schedule

I have a confession...

I am totally lazy...especially during the Winter. Living in Snow up to your you know what Michigan just makes me want to stay in PJs all day and watch movies. But I can't or at least I shouldn't so instead I have to make....err I mean motivate myself to join the living...

This is a super simple task during Advent because I just make an Advent calender to give us at least one special activity to do every day. I keep these pretty simple and with minimal ingredients or I will just find an excuse not to do it!

So is our list...
  1. Write list for Santa
  2. Cinnamon and applesauce ornaments
  3. Visit Santa at the mall
  4. Set up Josh's Nativity
  5. Paper chain for Josh's bedroom tree or maybe
  6. Fireplace, movie, popcorn night
  7. Set out the race track with Daddy and race cars
  8. Sew stocking
  9. Paper snowflakes
  10. Foam Frames
  11. Play in the snow and come in for some Hot Vanilla (Josh hates chocolate!)
  12. Hand print tree or wreath
  13. Activity with Daddy
  14. Watch the Polar Express
  15. Make Crystal Snowflakes
  16. Make new ornaments for our tree
  17. Paper strip ornaments
  18. Make Snow trail Mix
  19. Put up Josh's Bedroom Tree
  20. Gingerbread houses with graham crackers
  21. Watch the Grinch and Eat popcorn
  22. Make Christmas cookies
  23. Decorate a white felt stocking
  24. Open presents from Mommy's Aunts and Uncles!

So, anyway, I just type these all up and print them on paper strips and stick them in this tree shaped drawer system. I found it last year when I was in the check out at Target. We have a Starbucks in ours and I saw the tree and knew I had to have it for Josh. I had been drooling over one of those really expensive wooden ones for awhile but this works great and I saved a ton of money! But really you could just make a paper chain like this easy but adorable idea!

Enjoy your holiday season!


Human Body Puzzle

I wanted to share a puzzle that we LOVE! It is Your body 5 layer puzzle by Beleduc. It comes in a boy version or a girl version and is anatomically correct!
The first layer is a clothed child, then skin, muscle, organs, and finally skeleton. Josh loves this and is really learning a ton about the human body. It is great for your littles to learn body parts, and not to mention puzzle skills. Josh is going more in depth to discover the different organs and more about how the body works!

So anyway, we love it and I would definitely recommend it as long as you are aware that the boy has a penis (VERY tastefully done!).

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Ornament Ideas

Josh and I make ornaments for our tree every year and in a past life I was a Kindergarten teacher. So, I thought I would share some of the ornaments I have made with Children. Hope you find a bit of inspiration...

  • Craft Stick Frames ~ With my Kindergarten students, we made tree shaped frames EVERY YEAR! Easy and great gifts! All you need is a photo of the child, 3 green sticks, 1 brown stick, green construction paper, and decorations. Just make a triangle with the green sticks, glue together. Glue the green paper to the pack, trim to fit. Glue the brown stick on as a tree trunk. Allow the child to decorate then glue the picture into the center.
  • Paper chain ~ This is a good one for the little ones since it uses skills they are/or need to be practicing. (cutting, gluing/stapling, listening) Make it more fun with scrapbook paper etc... Also, if you cut the strips thinner they make a chain that is suitable for a tiny tree. (Perfect for the Kid's room!)
  • Bead ornaments ~ Super easy! Children can just string beads onto pipe cleaners and either the child or adult can bend into desired shape. (Candy canes, Bells, trees, hearts, wreaths, etc...)
  • Foam ornaments ~ Cut desired shape out of foam (we did this last year with a tree). Child can decorate with beads, buttons, rick rack, etc... Glue ribbon on back.
  • Cinnamon clay ornaments ~ Mix 1/2 cup cinnamon with 1/2 cup applesauce in a large zip lock bag. Allow child to squish until mixed well. Roll out with rolling pin or just flatten with your hands. Cut out Christmas shapes with cookie cutters. Poke a small hole at the top for hanging. Allow to dry over night (at least!). String with ribbon and hang on the tree.

Around the web... Tons of great ideas!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Wednesday's Website

As some of you know, we have decided to send Josh to Kindergarten in the Fall. I am sure I will be posting more on that in the next few months.

But for now, I wanted to share with you a website that was invaluable in helping us to narrow down our many school choices.

You just put your location in and they give you a huge list of schools. From there you can read parent reviews, see test scores, find just tons of information that can help you in making such an important decision for your child. Even if you are not planning to send your child to school, it may be helpful to be armed with such information if need be.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Montessori Monday

Idea borrowed from Montessori Play and Learn by Lesley Britton~

We are working on sight words with Josh right now so this idea from Lesley Britton's book really caught my eye!

Words Around the House (recommended for ages 5-6)
This is another easy to set up game for language and reading development. All you need are index cards with the names of household objects written on them. You read the word with the child (or have child read it) and they place the card near the object. I thought this might also be fun to do with sticky tack, having the child attach the word to the object.

A fun extension for this one would be to do the same activity but with the name added in a different language under or instead of the English label.

You could also make this for younger children by adding a picture to the card.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Teens Work

Josh has been STRUGGLING with the teen numbers! I have tried EVERYTHING. I finally broke out the Addition Snake game that I have been hoarding and set up a bit of teen work with those. It helped...sort of...a bit.

I had wanted to do the teen boards like these from (scroll down!) but we have been just struggling with the printer. (I have a new one now and will be printing the teen board out today!)
Finally...a couple of days ago I saw it click! He was setting up a set of flashcards in a row, just doing a quick get out of your chair activity before we did more phonics work. He was having the usual prob with the 16, 17, 18 area and I just pointed to the second number on the card and said, honestly in frustration, look Josh it is just 6, 7, 8, just like you did before but just with a 1 first. clicked...he got it and seems to even be able to count it aloud just fine now. I guess it was just finally his time to figure it out...funny though.
Especially since he used to be fine with it but somehow got it all mixed up. The mind is a fascinating thing...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday's Website

Today's website is more of a general homeschooling, rather than Montessori, help! Everyday they post a homeschooling freebie, many of which I have found helpful now or worth saving for the future. If you sign up for their list they send you an advance email of what will be offered in the upcoming week. Oh yeah, and an extra free downloadable goodie!

Check it out~

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Training Tuesday?

Remember the days when I was organized? When I used to do Training Tuesday regularly? Well I really would like to start it again...but maybe with a bit more flexibility. I will Blog about it on Tuesdays but do the lesson whenever it happens throughout the week. I think that will work better for us! SO....

We have started with crumbing a table. Last week we had a particularly crumby breakfast in which Joshua excused himself to use the bathroom toward the end of the meal. Which allowed me to see the HUGE mess he had left. I sighed and was about to clean it up when it occurred to my too sleepy brain that he was quite capable. SO when he returned I sent him to get his brush and dustpan. Like this but we paid much less and it came with an upright vacuum! I quickly showed him how to brush his crumbs gently and he cleaned up his mess.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Montessori Monday

An oldy but a goody...

I keep forgetting to do this but it is a "must do" this week!

The Command Game

Supplies needed
  • index cards
  • list of verbs (action words)
  • child
  • marker

Write a different verb on each index card with a marker. Make sure they are verbs that your child can perform, such as run, jump, walk, spin, etc...

Child reads word and performs action. An extension could be to write a sentence on the card for the child to read and perform, such as touch your nose, find a red ball, etc...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

As Requested...

Amber requested I expand a bit on my previous post in which I said that we are working on planning ahead to behave right now.

Just a bit of background first...
We try to use Love and Logic as our discipline tool. It is, in short, giving your child choices to teach them to make appropriate decisions on their own. There is much more to it but...

Anyway, Joshua's behavior lately has been quite say the least. We pretty much figure it started when I began watching Little C. Sort of the old Only child syndrome. Although it is understandable that he is struggling with sharing Mommy, that does not make his behavior acceptable. We believe that as parents it is our job to teach Josh appropriate ways to behave.

I have pinpointed several times throughout our day in which Joshua has the hardest time choosing to behave. As an example, one such time is when Little C is dropped off. So now, when the time is approaching we talk about what he can plan to do during this time so that he does not make inappropriate choices. The conversation might look like this...

Me~ "Josh it is almost time for Little C to arrive, have you made your plan for what you will be doing?"

Josh~ "I will help you, Mommy."

Me~ "Well, Josh, that does not seem to really work for you right now...have you made your plan for what you will be doing?"
(The repeating is a Love and Logic trick!)

Josh~ (sometimes comes up with a plan but often gets frustrated with me not letting him meet them at the door. If he does not choose something, I might say...)

Me~ "You could build a tall tower for little C to knock over after breakfast or we could get out your Lego's for you to use at the table, which one would you like to choose?"

Josh~ (sometimes chooses, sometimes comes up with his own plan. I allow this most of the time as long as it is appropriate. L & L would suggest making him pick from the choices and in some situations I agree but here I am okay with him planning his own activity!)

When the doorbell rings, I remind him to stick to his plan and most of the time he does. Occasionally, especially if C's mom is taking awhile, chatting etc... he comes in the room. I see how he behaves...keeping a close eye on him and if he gets even a bit silly I remind him by saying something like, "Josh are you following your plan?"

If this is not enough to send him back to his plan it often will lead to a timeout in his room which also accomplishes my immediate goals of showing him his behavior is unacceptable and ensuring that the drop off time is calmish for Little C and his Mom.

We have been pretty successful with this for the past few weeks. Josh is quite an active child and seems to need to think ahead in situations that might excite him. He is very fond of the baby and wants to play with him but is really struggling with a way to play with a 1 year old who is just walking. So for now, we are making many plans throughout our day so that he can be successful and learn what is expected.

I am also going back to a more scheduled day which generally looks like this
8am Drop off
8:30 Breakfast
9am Boys play! With me, right on the floor with them to help with appropriateness!
9:45 C's Bottle and down for nap
10am Preschool
12pm Wake C and begin Lunch
1pm Josh on computer and C and I play
2pm Both boys nap
4pm Josh can come down and little C is generally gone by now.
This is a tough time because Josh wants me to play but I am often exhausted and trying to get dinner started. I would like to find a solution here...any ideas?
5:40 Daddy gets home and I finish making dinner
6pm Dinner and evening activity
7:45 Get Josh ready for bed
8pm Josh in bed, Mommy and Daddy passed out in family room from utter exhaustion!

Hope this is helpful! Please feel free to ask any questions and make any suggestions! I will answer in the comment section if it is a quick answer/comment.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Working Together!

Many of you know that we host pretty much all the holidays in our home for both sides of the the same time. For the most part, it works out well. However, for me, it is a LOT of work. I have been going a little crazy this week trying to clean the house and plan the meals and still taking care of both of the boys.

Yesterday, after breakfast, I was cleaning in the kitchen. The boys were driving me a bit crazy...under foot and all. Then, Josh asked if he could run down and get his duster to help. Well I of course agreed but I figured it would be less help and more of a hinderance. Apparently he had a plan, we are working on planning ahead to behave right now. So anyway, he also brought up his vaccuum and handed it to Little C. So for the next 10 minutes, Joshua dusted and Little C vaccuumed and I got some actual cleaning done!

Dr. Montessori would have been so proud!

Friday, November 21, 2008

This is How We Roll

Hmpf...I crack myself up!
Anyway...Josh finished rolling this entire container of pennies in about 2 days of short sessions. He did need a bit of supervision (read double checking!) to make sure the penny count came out right but he did really well.
All we did is have him stack pennies in little piles of 10. Then he counted 5 piles and we stuck them in the wrappers. Easy!
Now why did I let them sit there for 6 years on my kitchen counter???

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday's Website

When I first started on my Montessori journey with Joshua I discovered this amazing website with all of these super helpful ideas and pictures. I immediately realized that not only would I never have such an elaborate set up but I never wanted too! This woman is amazing and way beyond me!

But seriously, check out all the pictures, you are bound to find an idea you could use with your children. Prepare to be a bit stunned!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Montessori Monday

Idea borrowed from Montessori Read and Write by Lynne Lawrence~

I do not know about you but I CANNOT get Josh to do the Mystery Bag activity without cheating. So when I stumbled upon this idea I knew my problem was solved.

Lynne Lawrence suggests, at around age 4, to play a game called Guess the Object. All you need is a drawstring bag filled with small objects and 2 willing participants. You have one person reach into the bag and describe an object. The other person may then guess what the object might be. When guessed correctly the 2 may switch roles. I love this idea because it provides for a wonderful language exercise teaching the child a wonderful lesson on adjectives while also having a sensory experience.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thanksgiving Plans

Since I was planning the next couple of weeks for Josh, I thought I would share it all with you! Hope you find an idea you can use.

I am personally borrowing A book from the Raffi song Thanks a Lot! A counting game using dice. A counting/graphing game using unifix cubes.

Don't know how much of this we will get to do but it will sure be a fun couple of weeks! We are pretty excited about Thanksgiving this year. We have not seen too much of Andrew's parents this summer and they will be staying with us for a few days. Also it is just nice to have several days in a row to spend together! Not to mention...the pumpkin pie...yummy!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Our Fall so far...

We have been very busy this past month and a half. Here are a few highlights!

Here is Josh with one of his Columbus Day projects. He created the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria out of an egg carton, play dough, toothpicks, and paper for sails. I have yet to come up with a quality read aloud for young children about Columbus. They are either misleading or just way too complex. Any suggestions for next year??

Here is Josh at our Camp reunion canoeing with me and Andrew. We had a great time and the weather was wonderful.

We also continued with our preschool work. We have been spending less time in our preschool room and more time at the dining room table. Josh seems to be drawn to doing work in workbooks and worksheets right now. I am planning to come up with a few new items to put on the shelves to see if we can renew interest in Montessori but if not I have no problem with just following the child!

Oh he is using the cards from Jo. He loved these and even made them into a book when he had finished this counting game.

We have 2 giant trees in our front yard so we have enjoyed many fun Fall days jumping in the leaves!

We also made our annual trek to the Pumpkin Patch. We try to always get a picture of Joshua next to this scarecrow sign. This one turned out especially cute! We did a corn maze and checked out the farm animals but we went to a local grocery to buy our pumpkin because I just cannot pay $20 for a pumpkin. We ended up spending $6 for 2 local grown, one fancy and one regular.

And finally, here is Joshua in his Harry Potter costume on Halloween. We went trick or treating this year which was a first. Because of Joshua's restrictive diet, we just traded Josh his candy for the more nutritious treats we had waiting at home. He was thrilled since not only is he unable to eat much of the dyed candy but he also strongly dislikes (read totally hates!) Chocolate! We had a fun time since it was a beautiful night...very strange for Michigan. It is usually raining, sometimes even snowing on Halloween.
Thanks for visiting!

Wish I Had Remembered My Camera

Today we got out the giant bowl of rice I keep packed up under the art table. Josh worked at finding coins and making a pretend cake while I ironed the fuse bead creations we had made. When I finally joined him I realized that the coins were covered in... I do not know... something yucky. So we grabbed the vinegar and salt that I had remembered from Chasing Cheerios (Thanks Melissa!) and we got to work! They shined right up and I had Joshua use the "chopsticks" from Let's Explore to pull them out of the solution one by one. He did great and it was nice to see all the Montessori work paying off in a semi real world setting.

In the midst of all the fun, Joshua says "Mommy this is just like our work in preschool!" Hmmm, just what I was thinking.

Not going to give a bunch of apologies or explanations for our absence...I just needed the break.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Pass the Violin and Tissues, Please!

Sorry! It has been a tough month.

I have been sick on 3 separate occasions. The boys twice! We have had our house re-sided...the nail gun etc... was unbearable at times...finally finished after a week and a half. Had a fabulous know wonderful but tiring (10 hours in the car there, 12 hours back...darn Chicago!). We also have decided to stop sending Josh to his Monday 2 hour drop off playgroup. Long story... not getting into it! We plan to try a gymnastics class soon...his request?! And we are also still adjusting to having Little C part of our daytime family.

So I need to catch up on laundry! Get over this annoying cold and drink some tea laced with echinacea.

Be back soon.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

How We Made it Work for US!

I have been anxious to give the straw shapes activity a try. Since we are off on a long car trip soon, what better time to go for it! So I read through a bunch of different posts about how others did theirs and finally just gave it a shot.
The only real modification I made was to buy a box of beverage stirrers instead of straws. Several other people who made this activity complained about the straws being too big and causing frustration for the kids. I was lucky to find these very thin straws. They seem to work really well. Josh is sure to enjoy making shapes and building with the different sized straws!

We are Back!

Just got back from our vacation last night, after 10pm. We went to the Mall of America and had a wonderful time. I will share more later...right now I am still trying to catch up on my blog reader! ladies have been busy! I had more than 200 blog entries to read through and my email was well above 500. Ugh!

Think I have one more automatic post scheduled for tonight. Back soon!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Books, Books, and more Books

I have a confession to make...

I CANNOT stop buying books at the thrift store. My store has books for $.20 a piece and $3.00 a bag sales about once a month. So...I keep them organized by splitting them into categories and keeping them somewhat sorted on the shelves.

The shelf shown is for school books only and the books are sorted by Art/Practical Life/Sensorial, Science, Math/Language, and Geography. I even had a shelf left for our anatomy and leaf puzzles.

Now our normal day to day books are another story and are a huge mess!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Organizing Craft Supplies

I have a TON of art/craft supplies and was incredibly overwhelmed with them last year. So this year I knew I had to come up with a solution. Finally, I broke down and bought 2 Five drawer plastic stackable systems. I just have them stacked on top of each other and now my supplies are sorted into different drawers. They are easy to find and easier to put away. (and yes...that top drawer is filled up with Pompoms...pathetic...but I got a huge bag at a yard sale. Any ideas on what I can do with them?)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Scent Bottles

Another quick and easy work to make! I literally just bought small bottles of seasoning at a local grocery store. I covered the labels with strips of red or blue paper and Josh is to open the lid, smell it and compare. He can check his work by looking at the number I wrote on the bottom.

Sound Bottles

I made the sound bottles last year but just showed Josh how to use them this past week...not sure what I was waiting for! He got them all correct right away so I will add more soon!

But I did want to show you how easy they are to make. I used yogurt smoothie bottles...they were 2 different brands but the same bottle. It worked well because the caps were different colors. I added beads, sand, rice, and peas to the bottles and labeled the bottoms.

As Josh would say, "Easy Peasy!"

Monday, September 15, 2008


Just a quick word about our calendar time. We do the date, say the days of the week, go over weather and the season. Then we talk about how many days we have been in school. To keep track we use the white laminated arrows you can see above the calendar and in the picture below. I write the number on the arrow with a designated marker (e.g. blue for September) so that we can look back and see the different months easier.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sound Bags

This is my version of the sound bags. I just bought tiny paper bags at a party store, lowercase letter stickers at , and filled them with the appropriate items (beginning with the letter sound on bag) that I found around the house.

As you can see for /f/ I have frog, frame, fish, flower, five, and fire truck. I have also included a small letter f cut from felt.

I store them all in a cart on wheels, so that Josh can just grab one or two depending on what he is doing with them. The middle "drawer" has a large white sheet of felt and 2 sets of sound picture cards that I want him to work on that week. (he sorts them)

He actually chooses this work pretty frequently. He likes all the tiny items in the bags. He also gets a kick out of the items I have "borrowed" from him.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Word Caterpillar

This is a tool I used in my classroom so that the students are able to actually see how much they can read. It gives them confidence and inspires them to sound out "harder" words.

This is Joshua's that is sticky tacked to his bedroom wall and he just LOVES to read a few words and add them to the caterpillar every night before bed.

We also use a pointer (ya know, wooden spoon) to have him read the ones already up on the wall.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Our New Shelves!

This is our Culture shelf. Since we are not really starting anything (subject wise) right now it mostly has work from last year. So while we establish routines, he can choose (starting on the top left)
The globe
Continent cards
Planet cards
Stamping work
Magnifying glass
Magnet building
Magnet work
Land~Water~Air work
Beading work
Pattern Blocks
Watercolor painting
Continent puzzle

Next is our Sensorial shelf, this is the least used...any suggestions?
(starting on the top left)
Geo Solids
Knob less cylinders (need to print extensions still!)
Broad Stair
The not pink tower
Scent bottles
Unifix cubes
Sound bottles
Cuissenaire rods
Color box 2
fabric matching
touch boards
mystery bag

Our Language shelf...
Non metal insets
What doesn't belong cards (association)
Name practice wipe off card
Sand tray
Sandpaper letters
visual discrimination cards
Stamp word making work
Our pink work is on a different shelf system with the sound bags etc... Will post that soon!

Math shelf...
Base Ten Blocks (instead of golden beads)
New scale!
Tangrams with sheets
Paper chain counting work from Childcare Land!
Geo board work
Our version of the spindle boxes
Money sort
Constructive Triangles
Other math hundreds board and addition snake game will come out later.

Practical Life shelf...
Nuts and bolts
sand pour (just as a refresher! Water in a few days with real pitchers!)
water dropper work
penny wash
rice sweeping
ant tweezing
NEW hammering work
New cutting work
sewing work
Our dressing frames are around but have not found a home yet!

Room Redo Part 1

For the most part, it is all finished! I had the flu this weekend and honestly have NO idea how I did it but...

I am going to show the outer room first


Notice the bare cement floor and utter lack of...well ...anything!
This is the exact wall from the above picture! We have a cabinet filled with pantry items, a shelf full of games and puzzles for kids and adults! Also, to the right you can see a small shelf. That is the one I have filled with Little C's items to use while we do preschool. It is easily moved to block the stairway that is behind the futon.
This picture shows the wall to the left of the classroom door. I was fortunate to pick up the cool air hockey table from a kind soul on Craigslist. A last minute CHEAP gift for Andrew's birthday! The art wall above is not finished but is all going to be original pieces by an up and coming artist. (you know...Josh!) this picture you can see the stairway behind the futon and the new carpet! Unfortunately you can also see a bit of my storage system. I use under the bed boxes to store all the extra trays and containers I am not currently using in the classroom. get the idea. We are pretty happy to have it finished. Hopefully we will feel well enough to use it all soon too!
Here is the mess we created in order to finish the new rec room. Mostly it is just everything from both rooms shoved into the classroom!
Same doorway...much more organized! I will post the classroom pictures later today!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

What a Day!

So Little C was a mess today...teething, crying, and he is finally eating a bit more real food which is making his poor little bottom upset from the unavoidable outcome. (hehehe) started out rough and it was raining.

The day seriously was not looking good...

However, we had an unexpected visit from a new blogging friend The Freak of Nature herself (and her ADORABLE family). What started out as a ROUGH day turned into quite a delight!

They are moving to the area and we could not be happier! I cannot wait to get to know all of them better and to have another Montessori Mommy so close! So yeah me!

I am heading to bed now...too much excitement. I WILL finish the classroom this weekend so pictures next week! HOLD ME TO IT!

How we Made it Work for US!

The Pink Tower is a wonderful Sensorial Montessori work. We really wanted to include it in our classroom. However, I had 2 problems with it. First, it is pink...I hate pink and I have a boy whose favorite color is black. He is a boys boy and with risk of sounding a bit is pink! Second, $35.00...need I say more???

So anyway, when we started on this journey, the summer Josh turned 3, I was busy trying to gather what I needed and get everything ready. One lovely morning I was out shopping the garage sales when I stumbled upon...

It is PERFECT for us. Here is a description and close up picture! The really great unexpected charm of the blocks is that the inside of each block is decorated like a different room of a house. Josh just loves this. He builds the tower (because you need to use the material correctly before you can "experiment") then he grabs our tiny math bears and creates wonderful homes for them with amazing stories for each. So the activity turns into a language exercise.

Oh, and by the way $4.00! You know how I love a good deal!

So, once again...that is how we made it work for US!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

How We Made it Work for US!

Josh received this set of Wedgits for his 3rd Birthday! He was thrilled and used them right away. However...since then he barely touches them. This has been really frustrating me because I thought he would love them and to be honest....I do. I often choose to work with them.

So...anyway, I was hesitant to buy the design cards because I was afraid they would squelch his creativity. But, a few weeks ago, I found them at my favorite local toy store for 20% off. I grabbed them and I tell you friends...I am SO glad I did.

He loves them! He builds the cool stuff from the cards and then plays creatively with his creation. He puts the little white pieces inside and pretends they are guys for his rocket ships etc... we made it work for us? We gave Josh a little inspiration for his creativity!

I am hoping to do a semi-regular post about adaptations we have made that have helped. Hope you enjoy our ideas.

Monday, September 01, 2008

A Few New Trays

Culture This is just an air~water~land sort. He puts the jars filled with air (nothing), water (water), land (dirt) on the top of the rug with the correct label underneath and places the mode of transportation cards in the correct column. Practical Life Here we have a bead stringing tray. This is one of Josh's favorites and he does this almost every school day. (Helps him to center and find peace) Generally he makes snakes instead of necklaces, because he gets a kick out of it but between you me it saves beads! I have empty strings in the center with a large bead (head) tied on one end and they have been dipped in glue on the other end. (to assist with stringing...the glue dries hard!) I actually have added a ton more beads to the straw section since the picture was taken so he will be super excited to see the new set up! (I used to use a 3 section tray!)
Culture This is a really neat activity from Kelly's Kindergarten in which the child learns to use a magnifying glasses. The cards have teeny, tiny versions of the larger pictures. You just use the magnifying glass to figure out which match.
Practical Life On this tray is the water droplet activity. He uses the dropper to transfer colored water from the small bowl to the suction cups on the back of the soap holder. Then he transfers it back and wipes up any spills. (Oops...I seem to be missing the small sponge on that tray!)
Practical Life These are from this set of nuts and bolts and are just for practicing to screw and unscrew.
Math Finally, we have a set of Cuisenaire Rods with cards that I made using 1 cm graph paper. He can also make his own designs. I will soon be adding blank graph paper for him to record what he has designed.
(More to come but thought I would start with these...)
*You will notice that I identified in Purple what shelf I have each tray. Often trays will fit into more than one area (Practical Life, Language, Culture, Sensorial, Math). I have just chosen to let you know where I have placed these in our classroom.

On another side will notice a lacking in the sensorial area! That would be because Josh NEVER chooses anything from these shelves and I am still racking my brain to figure out something that will attract him. Currently we have
touch boards
mystery bag
knob less cylinders (he does use these...)
Our not so pink tower
sound bottles
scent bottles
fabric basket
brown stair
...I think that is it...ANY SUGGESTIONS????

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Favorites Sidebar

I am working on editing and adding to my favorite blogs listed in the sidebar. I already made several changes and additions so check it out and check back!

Our Current Schedule

Subtitled...How we are making it all work with Little C. (That is...before we start school in a few weeks!)

8:00 Josh wakes up and C arrives (ish)

8:15 Breakfast for everyone

8:45 Playtime

10:00 C's bottle and nap

10:10 Joshua and Mommy's art/crafts time (we have painted, done fuse beads, strung cereal O's for the birds, etc...)

11:30 C wakes~~Playtime

12:30 Lunch for everyone

1:00 Playtime often outside (weather permitting)

2:00 C's bottle and both boys nap (I read to Josh while I give C his bottle)

3:30-4 C is picked up and Josh wakes

When school begins I foresee the only change being...
8:45 Shelf choice for Josh/Playtime for C (we are setting up 2 rooms that are open to each other)

10:00 Bottle/nap for C ~~ Any needed lessons for Josh and one on one time.

I think it is all going to work out, eventually. I do think the first several weeks will be most difficult for Josh who will want more of my time. He will eventually adjust and really it is not so very different than me just sitting there observing him work.

Stay tuned for rearranged classroom pictures and C's room/our rec room redo pictures.
I am also planning to post pictures of any new trays/works I have added!

Proud Momma Post...Be warned!

Look what Josh did today...
Joshua has a cat
The cat has a monster

We have not started formal schooling at all yet this year but he said he wanted to go to the preschool room today during Little C's nap. It is a giant mess still and really unusable! So I suggested we use these letters to write some words. He wrote cat first with just a bit of sounding out help from me then said he wanted to write a sentence so that is what he did! I helped with "the" because it is actually a sight word we have been working on but the rest he sounded out himself! Yippppeeee!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Stop what you are doing...

...and go here now!

I just found this amazing blog called Art Projects for Kids filled with WONDERFUL art projects and broken up into "grade" and medium. I think I bookmarked all the grade 0 stuff. And several of the stuff for older kids. The directions are step by step and VERY understandable...even for the art challenged like me!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

We LOVE the Library!

We got some great picture books out this week so I thought I would share.

We Both Read: My Town by Sindy McKay We love these books! They are really nice for new readers. They have a parent's page and Child's page side by side so you both take turns reading! The stories are decent and this one in particular is nice because it helps introduce maps and map making.

Where's My Mummy? by Carolyn Crimi Josh just loves all things Halloween so this is a cute choice. It is a nice story following the common theme of getting lost and found by your Mommy.

Ten Gallon Bart by Susan Stevens Crummel This is an adorable tale about a dog who stands up for his town. The towns people also come through in the end and stand together against a bully. Cowboys and friendship...what more do you want from a story!

Finally, my current favorite...
Uno's Garden by Graeme Base An amazing counting book with a lovely "take care of our earth" message! The counting can be as simple (1-10) or as complex (multiplication) as your child requires... so fun for kids of all ages. Typical Graeme Base illustrations~ simple amazing! FUN FUN FUN!

We are also reading the Magic Tree House Series ~ which are the best chapter books I have read in years! They are fun, educational, and extremely interesting. Andrew and I are as caught up in the stories as Josh. I would highly recommend these to anyone looking for a chapter book!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Our First Week

No...we have not started back to preschool...but we did just finish our first week with our new little one (C??). (Sorry, have not come up with a bloggy name for him yet.)

Anyway, it went pretty well. I built short shelves for our family room Sunday night right before bed. I grabbed several baskets and put some of the Montessori inspired items on the shelves for his use this week. I really did not know what to expect...since I had only met the child once a few weeks ago. But honestly, everything went really smoothly.

I think, once our classroom and outer room are finished...preschool will work okay with both boys downstairs.

On C's Shelves right now

  • FP Farm (Language)
  • Basket of FP Farm animals (Language)
  • Basket of different textured/sized/type Balls (Sensorial)
  • Stacking Rings (Practical Life)
  • Basket of Musical Instruments (Sensorial)
  • Basket of Stuffed friends (Language)
  • Basket of Cars (Gross Motor)
  • Basket of Books (Language)
  • Shape sorter (Sensorial/Practical Life)
  • and next to shelf is a FP walker. (Gross Motor)

Tonight, Andrew and I, finished the carpet in the outer room (new Rec room??) and moved in the futon from the classroom. Which will give me a TON more room in the classroom!!! It will also be nice to have it in the room where C's stuff will be.

I have a ton of more work to do but I will post pics of everything very soon!

Friday, August 15, 2008


who did you have lunch with today????

By the way...he loved the new Clone Wars movie. I was not sure about taking him but read through a bunch of reviews aimed at families etc... Anyway, they made me think it was a bit violent but along the lines of the original movies. In truth, it was not too bad and he did LOVE it.

(Although, I do think the reviewers may want to read this before suggesting that the violence is only with robotic creatures...Clone Trooper are humans...they are just clones!) Humpf...I tell ya...what you learn/know just by giving birth to a male child!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

An Award, for me?

I just won an award from one of my favorite blog Mommies Jo!

So here are the rules and my nominations:
1. The winner can put the logo on their blog.
2. Link to the person you received your award from.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Put links of those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs you’ve nominated.
6. Write an acceptance speech in the style of the Academy Awards, thanking everybody’s mother, father, sister, brother, aunties and uncles and the kitchen staff at your favorite restaurant!
I just want to dedicate this lovely award to all the other Mommy bloggers who inspire me each and everyday!
I nominate the following...
Carisa at 1+1+1=1 A homeschooling Mommy who meets the needs of her schoolage child as well as her Tot!
A at Adventures of a montessori mama A renewed blogger who has really inspired me this week with her Montessori art ideas.
Megret at Muses of megret A Mommy full of great ideas and always doing cool stuff with her kids!
Allison at No time for flashcards A Mommy who has wonderful activities for the littles with a few schoolaged ideas sprinkled in. (Check out her Olympic ideas!)
Amy at Let's Explore Wonderful activities with her she has the most amazing "store". Great products and incredible customer service!
Merranda at The Van Klan Another amazing Mommy who is doing a wonderful job introducing Montessori to her kids and inspiring me!
and of course...Laura at My_Montessori_Journey She is currently setting up her Montessori Classroom and has been a great inspiration to me this summer. She also has 2 boys and somehow seems to find the time to answer, by email, all of my crazy questions.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Montessori for Infants 2

With a GIANT amount of help from these PLANS!, I have come up with the following...

  • Calming Self to Sleep
  • Feeding Self (pincer grasp)
  • Using Cup


  • Adult Models Cleaning Up and Proper Use of Materials
  • Joshua Models Cleaning Up and Proper Use of Materials


  • Wooden Puzzles
  • Please, Thank You
  • Be Gentle, Be Kind, Be Safe (Our Household Rules!)
  • Recognition of their name
  • Adults using action words to describe routines
  • Discovery Basket
  • Book Basket


  • Calendar
  • Finger plays
  • Songs
  • Stories/Nursery Rhymes/Poems/Sayings (Core Knowledge)
  • Rings on Pole Work
  • Drop Clothespins in opening
  • Supervised Large Pompoms in Egg Carton (1 to 1 Corr.)
  • Musical Instruments (Shakers, clackers, etc...)
  • Discovery Bottles
  • Shape Sort


  • Pull Toys
  • ??????


  • Ring Stack
  • Graduated Cups
  • Counting, Sorting, etc...


  • Farm
  • Zoo
  • Book Basket
  • Balls
  • Rings


  • Cars
  • Balls
  • Tunnel
  • Popper
  • Sandbox

Details and schedule to follow!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Montessori for Infants

So...I have been doing a bit of research for my new, young friend. He will be starting with us in a week from Monday. So I need to figure out how to balance his needs with Joshua's schooling.

My trusty friend Google has not let me down! If you are interested in doing a Montessori type atmosphere for your infant...check these out.

First, watch this fascinating video!

Check out these monthly curriculum plans!

And...of course, Michael Olaf!

I am really getting excited about this challenge. I definitely think it will be difficult but it is looking workable.

It seems with infants you mainly are letting them the key is to create a safe environment.

Now...if only we can get the rooms ready...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Josh goes to bed at 8 pm. Last night at about 9:45 he called me to his room.

J- Momma, do you ever wish for things?
M- Ye-ess?
J- Do you ever get them?
M- Ye-esss?
J- ..........
M- ....I wished for you Joshua! (my eyes tearing, of course)
J- Yeah, well...I am really wishing for a General Grievous Guy!



Have I mentioned that life is crazy right now?

Change is new mantra!

Soon, we will be welcoming a 9 month old boy into our home 4 days a week. I have NO IDEA the implications of this decision in regards to Josh and school. But I do know that we will make it work.

Life sure is interesting. See # 10! Sort of a different solution to a barely admited thought...ya know?

Anyway, we are still knee deep in home renovation. I am sure you all know...with summer brings many many activities. So we are BUSY! I so need to make a list...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Where Have You Been?

Sorry everyone...once has taken over. We started a much needed project this past Sunday. We are refinishing a basement room that has been "torn up" since the water heater incident of 2005. It is actually the room right outside of the classroom. Which means...

Every last thing is shoved into the classroom and I can not get to anything without climbing over a LONG dresser to get in the room. It is truly a nightmare! But it will be well worth the hassle in the end.
This is a picture of the bare cement floor that we have been working on cleaning etc....If you look close you can see that we are still needing to pull up a few tack strips.
We would like to get some painting done in here, since the 70's style paneling is sooo dark but....

Monday morning I woke up to a broken freezer! We thought at first that Andrew had just left it open but eventually it was OBVIOUS that we needed to buy a new refrigerator. It has been a trying week of desperate search for a fridge, getting them to deliver before Christmas, emptying and refilling, buying ice, removing a too low for new fridge cabinet and cleaning. The downstairs has sort of been put on the back burner. Hopefully, once Andrew gets a water line to the new fridge and it hooked up, we can start back up. I will post pictures of our new game room and our newly arranged classroom ASAP!

Luckily, I had no intention of starting until mid September!