Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Peres Noel en boite

J'ai utilisé des pinces de noel qu'on utilise pour accrocher les cartes de voeux a une ficelle. Elles ne sont ni trop petites ni trop grandes, parfaites! Et les petits peres noel ont un effet attractif certain. C'est simple, Leo (2 ans et demi) a réussi a rester assis pendant pres de dix minutes (ce qui est rare pour lui), concentré qu'il était a mettre toutes les pinces sur le rebord du couvercle de la boite.

I used the kind of pegs you use to hand Christmas cards onto a string. They are neither too small or too large, perfect! And the little father Christmases cartainly exert some attraction onto children. Leo, two and a half, managed to remain seated for almost ten minutes (which is rare for him), as he was concentrating to put all the pegs around the rim of the lid.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Formation de pere noel

Quel meilleur accessoire pour un petit garcon qui veut etre pere noel quand il sera grand qu'un sac pour s'entrainer? Les cadeaux sont aussi fournis, bien qu'ils ne soient pas vraiment vrais quand meme, ce n'est qu'un entrainement apres tout...

What better accessory for a little boy whose dream is to be Father Christmas when he grows up than a Father Christmas sack? The presents are included, although they are not real, they are only training accessories after all...

Friday, 26 November 2010

Christmas bedtime stories

Last year I read about a very nice idea on a blog. It was an advent bedtime story tradition of wrapping up the child's christmas books in newspaper and writing a number between 1 to 24 on each package. Each evening of the advent season the child unwraps one book that they read at bedtime. I think it is a really nice way of rediscovering books and having a little surprise each evening while waiting for Christmas.

Alex and I have almost finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and I am planning to start the Christmas books series next week. He doesn't have many Christmas books so I went to the library and borrowed a few after reading some recommendations. Here are some of the ones that I am sure he will enjoy reading.

Father Christmas Needs a Wee by Nicholas Allan

This is a cute counting book in which Father Christmas has drink after drink going in all the children's houses and soon enough, he needs a wee! He needs a wee so badly that he forgets to leave presents under the tree but then realises his mistake and goes back to each house to leave presents. What I like about this book is the rhyming and the pattern (FC drinks one drink in the first house, two drinks in the second house, etc. He leaves six presents in one house, five in the next, then four, then three, etc). I also liked the suspense! Is Father Christmas going to wet his pants? I will let you find out.

Mooseltoe by Margie Palatini

This is my favourite! It is the story of a daddy moose who wants Christmas to be perfect. He decorates the house, bakes lots of cookies, cooks a goose and some chestnuts, hangs stockings, wraps presents, but oh no, he has forgotten the tree! Fortunately, his little children moose are here to help and come up with a very funny solution. I love the illustrations of this book. The colours are very christmassy and it certainly puts you in a Christmas mood. I am particularly fond of the funny details in the drawings. Children love these. Oh, and did I mention that the text rhymes and is full of funny words? It is all very creative, so do get it!

Grandfather's Christmas Camp by Marc McCutcheon

I borrowed this book from the library without knowing what to expect. I was really appealed by the illustrations by Kate Kiesler which really give this book a complete atmosphere of cosy winter. The paintings of the characters, Lizzie and Grandfather, are very realistic, and so is the story. There is no Father Christmas or silly moose in this one, it is all absolutely true life, so there is a good chance of the children identifying with the character of Lizzie. Because of the realism it is also a good book to have in Montessori classrooms. Here is the story line. Mr Biggins, the dog, went running after a deer and got lost in the snowy mountain. Lizzie and Grandfather go out to get him but have to bivouac for the night. I really enjoyed the specific vocabulary related to mountain life such as "switchback" or "alpine zone". This is a really good book!

What is Christmas? by Michelle Medlock Adams

This book is really good to explain the meaning of Christmas to young children. What is Christmas about? Is it about the Christmas cards? Is it about the mistletoe? Is it about the Christmas tree? What is it all about? In the end, the book reveals that the holiday is all about Jesus's birth and that is what we celebrate. I really liked the short, meaninful text which rhymes and the nice illustrations to go with each stanza. The only regret I have with this book would be that it is a board book, which are usually aimed at younger children than the text and message of this book. I know that everything about this book will appeal to Alex who always wants to understand everything, but the format may put him off slightly as he usually refuses to read board books which are "for babies".

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Montessori Literacy Curriculum

I just added to the downloads at the bottom of the right column the Montessori literacy curriculum for children aged 3 onwards. It is a one page summary of the exercises up to the blue series in presentation order.

Feel free to download and print it for your own use.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Polir des pieces en cuivre

Pour ma formation Montessori, j'ai du produire une activité de vie pratique. J'ai choisi un travail de polissage de pieces en cuivre. Ci-dessous, le plateau tel que je l'ai présenté.

A few weeks ago, my Montessori training required me to produce an activity of everyday living. I chose a polishing work. Below is the tray as I prepared it.

Apres avoir placé tous les éléments sur le tapis, l'enfant remplit le petit bol avec de l'eau jusqu'a la ligne. Il compare une des pieces "sales" avec la piece qui brille de l'autre coté du plateau. Il place la piece au centre de la petite assiette et verse un peu de sel dessus avec la petite cuillere. Il récolte un tout petit peu de jus de citron avec la seringue et le verse sur le sel. Apres avoir enroulé le petit chiffon autour de son index, l'enfant frotte la piece des deux cotés jusqu'a ce qu'elle brille. Il la rince ensuite dans le bol et la seche avec la serviette.

After placing all the elements on the mat, the child fills in the bowl to the line with water. They compare one of the rusty coins with the shiny one. They place the dirty coin on the small plate and pour a bit of salt on it. Using the syringe, they collect a tiny bit of lemon juice and pour it onto the salt. After wrapping the cloth around their index finger, the child rubs the coin on both sides until it shines. Then, they rinse it into the bowl of water and dry it with the flannel.

J'ai été surprise de l'enthousiasme d'Alex pour cette activité. Il a tellement aimé qu'il a poli toutes les pieces présentes sur le plateau!

I was surprised by Alex's enthusiasm for this activity. He liked it so much that he polished all the coins on the tray!

Transfert a la seringue et mélange des couleurs

Alex adore utiliser une seringue pour transvaser des liquides. Nous avons un peu compliqué la manoeuvre histoire de lui donner une difficulté supplémentaire. Il remplit la seringue a moitié de liquide bleu (de l'eau colorée au colorant alimentaire) et a moitié de liquide rose. Il peut voir les couleurs se mélanger dans la seringue avant de la vider dans le troisieme récipient.

Alex loves to use a syringe to transfer liquids from one container to another. We made the process a bit more complicated for him: He has to fill in the syringe half and half with blue and pink water. He can see the colours mix inside the syringe before he empties it into the third container.

Halloween maths

On a fait plusieurs activités pour Halloween dont je n'ai pas parlé. Parmi elles, celle des fantomes. J'ai réutilisé les petits fantomes/haricots des cartes et jetons pour ce jeu. J'ai fabriqué deux cartes de jeu en feutrine, pour que deux enfants puissent prendre part, mais un seul enfant peut aussi y jouer seul. Sur la photo on dirait qu'il n'y a qu'une seule carte orange mais il y en a bien deux, l'une sur l'autre.

We did a few Halloween activities that I haven't written about. One of them was the ghosts one. I reused the little ghosts/beans that we used for cards and counters. I made two boards out of felt so that two children can play together but one child can also play alone. The photo looks like there is only one orange felt board but there are two, one on top of the other.

J'ai aussi fabriqué le dé noir avec les chiffres. Le but de l'exercice est de s'entrainer a reconnaitre les chiffres de 1 a 6. On peut aussi remplacer les chiffres de 1 a 6 par les chiffres de 7 a 12 pour continuer l'entrainement une fois le premier dé maitrisé.

I also made the black die. The aim of the exercise is to work on recognising numerals from 1 to 6. You can also replace those numerals by the numerals from 7 to 12 or even higher to keep the game challenging.

Les enfants lancent le dé a tour de role et placent le nombre correspondant de fantomes sur leur grille. On peut jouer de facon compétitive: le premier qui finit sa grille gagne la partie; ou de facon coopérative en placant les deux grilles l'une en dessous de l'autre et en placant ses fantomes a la suite de ceux de son partenaire.

The children take turns to throw the die and place the corresponding number of ghosts on their board. You can play competitively: the first child to finish their grid wins; or cooperatively by placing both grids one above the other and placing your ghosts right after your partner's.

Pour les jeunes joueurs je conseillererais de commencer par compter les fantomes a ajouter avant de les placer sur la grille, cela évitera des confusions!

I would advise young players to start by counting all of their new ghosts before adding them to the board, it will be less confusing.

Ce jeu est aussi utile pour renforcer le sens de lecture; l'enfant place ses fantomes de gauche a droite et de haut en bas.

This game is also great to reinforce the reading and writing direction as the children place their ghosts from left to right and top to bottom.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Variante du sac mystere

Il y a un an j'avais présenté le sac mystere. En voici une variante. Cette fois-ci, il ne s'agit plus d'apparier des objets identiques mais de reconnaitre un objet exploré sensoriellement auparavant. Avant qu'un objet soit placé dans le sac, l'enfant manipule la totalité des objets, ici des véhicules, et remarque les différences entre chacun d'eux, leur taille, poids, reliefs, détails, etc. L'adulte s'assure que l'enfant connait les noms de tous les objets et fait une lecon en trois temps si besoin. Il peut aussi raconter une petite anecdote sur chaque objet pour aider un peu la mémoire.

A year ago I presented the mystery bag. Here is a variation. This time, it is not about pairing up identical objects but about recognising an object sensorially explored a moment before. Prior to an object being placed in the pouch, the child manipulates all of the objects, here I have chosen vehicles, and notices the differences in each of them, their size, their weight, details, etc. The adult makes sure that the child knows the names of all the objects and does a three-period lesson if needed. They can also tell a little story about each object as it helps memory.

Ensuite, l'adulte (ou un autre enfant) place l'un des objets dans le sac bleu, le ferme a l'aide du velcro, et les autres dans le sac beige pendant que l'enfant lui tourne le dos. L'enfant doit maintenant toucher le sac et tenter de sentir au travers du tissu fin les caractéristiques de l'objet. Il doit se souvenir des attributs de chaque objet et prendre le temps de prendre une décision. Une fois sur de lui, il peut ouvrir le sac et découvrir l'objet.

Then, the adult, or another child, places one of the objects in the blue pouch, seals it with the velcro tab, and places the other vehicles into the drawstring bag while the child looks away. The child has to feel through the thin fabric of the pouch to try and feel the characteristics of the object. They have to remember the attributes of each object and take the time to make a decision. When they think they know which object is hidden, they can open the bag and check their assumption.

Cette activité aide l'enfant a affiner son sens tactile, améliorer sa mémoire, sa concentration et son langage si les noms des objets sont inconnus.

This activity helps the child to refine their kinaesthetic sense, improve their memory, concentraition and language if the names of the objects are unknown.

J'ai du préparer une présentation détaillée de cette activité pour ma formation Montessori, si ca vous intéresse vous pouvez afficher le texte (en anglais seulement) en cliquant ici.

I had to write up step by step guidelines of this activity for my Montessori training course, if you are interested you can see the text by clicking

Mes objets sont les véhicules londoniens d'Hamleys (Londres).

The objects I used are the vehicles from the
Hamleys London set.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Labeur du weekend

Une couronne d'anniversaire pour Alex, avec des lettres qui dansent.

Alex's dancing letters birthday crown.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Extension a la carte des continents

Je réfléchissais tout a l'heure a d'autres facons d'utiliser la carte puzzle des continents. L'idée est de préparer une feuille avec les contours de six continents (pas les sept car il n'y a que six faces sur un dé) et les chiffres de 1 a 6 a coté de chaque silhouette. L'enfant enleve toutes les pieces du puzzle sauf un continent, ici l'Antarctique, et les pose sur le tapis. Il lance le dé. S'il tombe sur 1, il regarde quelle forme se trouve a coté du chiffre sur la feuille préparée a l'avance et essaie de trouver de quel continent il s'agit. Pour vérifier son travail il place la piece sur le contour et voit si ca correspond. S'il a trouvé la bonne piece, il peut la placer sur le puzzle, et ainsi de suite jusqu'a ce que le puzzle soit terminé. Deux enfants peuvent prendre part en meme temps en lancant le dé chacun a leur tour.

Il existe d'autres possibilités pour varier cette extension en fonction du niveau de chaque enfant. L'une d'elle est de remplacer les contours des continents sur la feuille par leurs noms pour un enfant qui apprend a lire ou maitrise déja la lecture.

Pour renforcer une langue étrangere, on peut utiliser les couleurs des continents et noter a coté des chiffres les noms des couleurs dans la langue que l'enfant apprend.

A la fin de l'article, vous trouverez mes fiches a télécharger.

I was thinking earlier about other ways in which to use the Montessori continents puzzle map. My idea would be to prepare a sheet with the outline of six of the continents (not seven because there are only six sides on a die) and numerals from 1 to 6 written next to each of them. The child takes out all of the puzzle pieces (that is, except for one, Antarctica here) and places them on the mat. They throw a die. If they get 1, they look at the outline next to number 1 on the sheet and try to recognise it. To check their work, they can place the puzzle piece onto the outline. When they think thet got it right, they can place the piece onto the puzzle. They carry on in this way until the puzzle is complete. It is even suitable for two children to use together as they can take turns to throw the die.

There are other ways of varying this extension depending on the children's levels. One of them is to replace the continents outlines by the written names of each continents for readers.

To reinforce a foreign language for older children, you can use the colours of the continents and write that colour in the language the child is learning next to the numbers on your sheet.

To save you the trouble to make these sheets, you can download mine by clicking on the links below. The outline of the continents is for the puzzle map from Absorbent Minds only.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Influence Waldorf

Il y a quelques temps je m'étais inspirée du livre "Creative Play for your toddler" de Christopher Clouder et Janni Nicol pour fabriquer quelques jouets. C'est un livre vraiment intéressant qui en plus de donner des explications détaillées sur la fabrication de plein de projets simples explique aussi leur utilité du point de vue Steiner/Waldorf. Les jouets sont rangés en quatre catégories selon leurs atouts dans le développement de l'enfant, soi, l'imagination, l'interaction et la découverte.

A few months ago I was inspired by the book "Creative Play for your toddler" by Christopher Clouder and Janni Nicol to make a few toys. It is a really interesting book because as well as giving detailed explanations on how to make toys, it also gives you the Waldorf background information that goes with each of them, explaining how they help children develop. The projects have been classified into four categories, self, imagination, interaction and discovery.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Y'a pas d'images! There aren't any pictures!

J'hésitais depuis un moment a commencer a lire avec Alex des livres sans images. A 4 ans et demi, est-ce trop tot? Est-il vraiment pret? Et s'il rejette le livre en disant "y'a pas d'images!"? Est-ce que je risque de créer un blocage? Beaucoup de questions qui se sont vite avérées inutiles.

Dimanche apres-midi, il y avait la premiere version film de Charlie et la chocolaterie a la télé, ce qui m'a décidée a me lancer. Oui, car Alex est FOU de chocolat et je me suis dit que le livre de Roald Dahl serait parfait.

Vous vous demandez peut-etre pourquoi je trouve ca si important de lire des livres de ce type a son age. Il y a plusieurs raisons a cela. En particulier, ca enrichit son vocabulaire, ameliore sa concentration et sa capacité a imaginer, alors que les livres trop graphiques et pas assez bavards qu'il a l'habitude de lire limitent ses apprentissages en n'utilisant que des mots connus, en limitant le nombre de mots par page et en le forcant a accepter les représentations de l'illustrateur. Peu de liberté en somme.

J' ai bien ménagé mon effet et lui ai annoncé que deux jours plus tard, on commencerait a lire "un livre de grands", avec peu d'images, a propos d'une usine a chocolat et d'un chocolatier un peu fou. Il s'est tout de suite montré extremement intéressé et voulait commencer la lecture la, tout de suite. Avant ce jour-la il n'avait jamais EXIGE qe je lui fasse la lecture, alors je me suis empressée de répondre a son souhait pour etre sure de ne pas rater le moment (mon coté Montessori, surement).

J'avais prévu de commencer avec un ou deux chapitres seulement le premier jour mais son enthousiasme m'a poussée a continuer jusqu'a la fin du troisieme chapitre. Le lendemain, il m'a demandé de continuer notre lecture, ainsi que le jour suivant. Aujourd'hui cela fait trois jours qu'on a commencé Charlie et on en est a la moitié du livre. Je n'en reviens toujours pas. Est-ce possible qu'il ait ete pret depuis plusieurs semaines ou meme mois?

Il s'est bien exclamé "il y a pas d'images!" comme prévu, mais il a suffit que je réponde: "tu vois des images dans ta tete, non?" pour qu'il s'en contente.

Il est fasciné par les billets d'or, les glaces qui ne fondent jamais, les chewing gums qui ne perdent pas leur gout, les oompa loompas et toutes choses sorties de l'imagination de Roald Dahl. C'était surement le livre idéal pour une premiere lecture de grand.

I had been thinking for a while about starting to read books without pictures to Alex. At four and a half years, is it too early? Is he really ready? What if he rejects books saying, "there aren't any pictures!" Will I risk putting him off forever? A lot of question which soon proved unfounded.

On Sunday afternoon, there was the first version of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film on TV, which helped me make up my mind. Alex is CRAZY about chocolate so I thought that Roald Dahl's "Charlie" would be perfect.

You might be wondering why I find it so important to read a book of this type at his age. There are lots of reasons to do so. In particular, it enriches his vocabulary, improves his concentration span and his capacity to imagine when picture books force him to accept the illustrator’s own representation of the story and limit the number of words per page as well as their difficulty. It is like speaking to a baby only using the words that they know: mama, milk, sleep. It is quite limiting, isn’t it?

I tried to instil some suspense and announced that two days later we would be starting to read a “big boys book” with few pictures about a chocolate factory and a crazy chocolate maker. He immediately showed strong interest and wanted to start reading now. Before that day he had never DEMANDED that I read to him, so I fetched the book so as not to miss the opportunity (my Montessori influence, probably).

I had planned to only start with one or two chapters but his enthusiasm after the first pages pushed me to continue to the end of the third chapter. The next day, he asked me to read on, and the next day. Today it has been three days since we started Charlie and we have read half of it. I still can’t believe it! Is it possible that he had been ready for many weeks or even months?

He did exclaim: “There aren’t any pictures!” but I replied to him: “You can see pictures in your head, can’t you?” and he never mentioned it again.

He is fascinated by golden tickets, ice cream that never melts, chewing gum that never loses its taste, the oompa loompas and all things out of Roald Dahl’s imagination. This was probably the ideal title to start reading “big boys books”.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Cadre des petits boutons

J'ai fini mon premier cadre d'habillement Montessori, celui des petits boutons. Ok, j'avais pas pévu de faire celui-la en premier, j'étais plutot partie sur un zip ou des gros boutons, mais j'ai trouvé par hasard une chemise a recycler qui faisait parfaitement l'affaire.

I finished to make my first Montessori dressing frame, the small buttons one. I hadn't planned to made this one first, I had the zip or large buttons one in mind, but I found a shirt to recycle by chance that was perfect to make into a dressing frame.

J'ai découpé le devant de la chemise, fait un ourlet rapide a la machine sur tous les bords et punaisé le tissu sur l'arriere du cadre. J'ai mis un petit anneau sur le haut du cadre pour pouvoir facilement l'accrocher a un clou au mur.

I cut the front of the shirt, quickly hemmed all sides using the sewing machine and used tacks to secure the fabric on the back of the frame. I added a little ring on the top of the frame to be able to hang it on the wall easily.

Maintenant je vais me mettre aux autres cadres!