Friday, 29 April 2011

Inspired by the Montessori mobile alphabet

One day, as I was in the process of making my own mobile alphabet, a 6-year-old visitor caught a glimpse of it and asked to be shown. I didn't have a tray at the moment (the letters were stored in plastic boxes) and hadn't finished painting the letters, therefore the whole thing wasn't very appealing.. It didn't stop him, instead he felt inspired to start a list of words ending in -at.

Since he already knew how to write, he proceded to write down his list on paper, probably partly because it was taking too much effort to find each letter in the state they were in, and partly so he could take his list home. I love his very ambitious and organised start of the list below!

This is what the finished homemade mobile alphabet looks like. I used the tray from an old print found at a charity shop and the letters (3 packets I think) are letters that are used for arts and crafts. I gave each letter several coats of either red or blue and they were good to go!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Montessori pink action cards

Once a week Alex and I have 40 minutes to wait between going to two places. When it rains we play games in the car. I made some CVC action cards a few weeks ago. They are CVC words such as "run", "cut", "sob", "sip" glued onto rectangles of pink paper (Montessori colour coding for CVC words, the first stage of reading) and laminated. The way we played was as follows: I held all the cards in my hand in a fan, face down.  Alex picked one while I looked away. He read it in his head and made me guess the word by doing the action. This game helped him with his silent reading much more than any of his school homework that directly asked him to "read in his head". Everything is so much easier to learn when it has a purpose, isn't it?  

You can download the cards by clicking here.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Handmade Colour tablets

Montessori colour tablets are used to teach children the names of colours and refine their visual sense. Box 1 teaches the primary colours, Box 2 teaches primary, secondary colours, pink, brown, black, white and grey. Box 3 has shades of the above 9 colours except for black and white. The child has to arrange the shades in order.

We made a Box 1 set some time ago. We bought a wooden strip of wood the same width we wanted the tablets to be, cut them to length and sanded them well. Then we put sellotape onto the sides and painted over both sides with acrylic primary paints. We had to apply several coats to make sure the colour was absolutely opaque and even. We painted two red, two yellow and two blue to make the Montessori Colour Box 1. I made a little origami paper box to contain them but it turned out to be too weak and it broke as soon as a child used the tablets.

The cheeky Squirrel

I have been making items for a little online shop of mine recently. It is mainly children's things like felt balls, mobiles, crowns, dolls, etc. The shop hasn't got many items at the moment but I am working on it.

Please click here to visit my shop! 

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Beleduc Cat Puzzle

Puzzles are great educational tools. When they have 5 layers and depict the insides of a house cat, they fascinate as well as pose a challenge to young children. I once visited a Montessori nursery for a morning and I was lucky enough to be able to observe the Beleduc Layer Cat puzzle in constant use throughout the three hours that I was there. One little girl in particular spent more than an hour putting it together again and again. She was insatiable! As soon as she put it back on the shelf, it was immediately picked up again by another child.

This experience definitely influenced me into buying it for the children I look after. A decision I don't regret. They like to know the names of the different body parts.

Beleduc make other layered puzzles: fish, frog, butterfly, child,... A great present for a child interested in anatomy.

Toddler activity

This is a work I put up almost a year ago and never talked about on here. I bought in Ikea a set of child size cutlery that came with a sorting tray for about £5. It has aluminium blunt knifes, forks, soup spoons and tea spoons. For this activity I simply offered Carla (23 months) the empty tray and the cutlery mixed in a pot. I deliberately omitted the tea spoons as they were too similar to the soup spoons for Carla's stage. You cannot see it in the photo but I had glued shapes of the different items cut out of dark paper at the bottom of each compartment for an easy start.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Baby signing with Bruno

Bruno is a hearing child and was 13 months when his parents and I started signing with him. We originally started signing in view of me speaking French to him, which would have added to his Polish and English. In the end, we decided against the French but in favour of signing, as a bridge between his two languages, and as a means for him to convey his needs.

We started with "more". We would sign it every time we said the word. About three weeks later, Bruno signed "more" himself, at first with no relation with the situation, and then he started to really get it and ask for more of everything, to see what effect it would have. One day, as I got to the end of a book I was reading to him, he signed "more". Not only had he understood that he could get more of something physical, but he could also ask for something to be repeated!

The second sign we introduced (a few days after he had mastered "more") was "potty". He was very much into going to the potty at the time and he used the sign frequently. More signs were quickly added as we felt that they were a very useful tool for expression to have: milk, drink, music, book, walk, baby, shoes, monkey, bird, sleep,... All I can say is that he has taken to it like a duck to water and is really enjoying it.

Bruno is now 20 months and he has about 20 signs in his repertoire. Everyday he shows me his need for more signs as he discovers more of the world. He is now starting to orally repeat words more often, and his favourite one is "bye-bye", which can take a lot of different meanings: goodbye, shut, finished,... Even though he is improving fast with his pronounciation, he still has a long way to go until he can talk. In the meantime, signing allows him to communicate his needs and feelings in a way that would have been impossible otherwise.

Our interactions are so enriched by baby signing. He doesn't cry or get frustrated when he wants us to know something, he just signs it. We seem to understand each other so much more now that he can sign, and we are certainly more in tune with each other. Bruno feels like a part of the household, being supported and encouraged in his progression towards talking.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The winner

Thank you to all who participated in the raffle in aid of Japan. Together we have raised £17 which will be added to Jo's total of £3,191.34.

Carlotta wins the set of three educational materials, congratulations! 

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Another week!

Due to the small numbers entering my raffle (2 persons so far), I have decided to extend the deadline and run it for another week.

The new deadline will therefore be Sunday 10th April, 18:00 GMT.

If you are not interested in the prize but would still like to donate to the Japan appeal, you can leave a comment on the raffle post and your donation will be added to Jo's running total at the end of the raffle. We have almost reached the £3,000 mark, so please please, make a donation.

As a reminder, you can enter as many raffles as you want, as many times as you like.

Good luck to everyone!