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????