Monday, 9 May 2011

Bottle hide-and-seek for readers and toddlers

I made a special toy for Alex who only started reading this year. I collected nine small objects, making sure that Alex would be able to read their names. Some are from the pink series and some from the blue. Alex has to read the first word on the laminated cards attached to the bottle and find the corresponding objects inside the bottle by shaking the lentils around.

I am preparing a toddler version of this: I took photos of the objects I had picked for the bottle, printed and laminated then. They are ready to go, I just need to find an empty bottle!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

A busy morning

Playing the Ghost Game

Exploring designs and patterns with the pink tower
Finding pairs of objects by touch
Completing a puzzle blindfolded

Montessori Insets for Design

A special request for this Christmas peg activity

Saturday, 7 May 2011

One story

A few weeks ago, in an "adventure playground" that couldn't have a better name, I witnessed a story evolving.

There were three boys who had found a den made in between bushes. They saw the many drawings sellotaped to the branches all inside it and the oldest boy declared: "It's the girls' den. We have to take over it." He showed the two younger boys how to make weapons made of a bunch of stinging nettles stabbed onto the end of a stick. They carefully went inside the girls' den and rubbed their stinging nettles against the floor, the bushes and the drawings. They told me they were "infecting" the place.

The two girls, 7, stood watching from far away. They looked to me as if they were debating whether to fight for their den or surrender. When the boys retreated to a nearby hide to watch the girls, they timidly approached the bushes where their den was built. They went inside it and looked around, not daring to touch anything after seeing the boys "infecting" their belongings. Suddenly the boys popped out from their hide, yelling "go away! It's our den!" while brandishing their stinging nettles weapons and threatening to hurt them if they didn't leave. The girls looked scared while they were running for their lives as the boys chased them. The girls didn't come back. The boys made drawings of their own which soon replaced the girls's. 

I am fascinated by children's play. I am amazed at their capacity at leaving the real world for a while to deeply enter their own. Even though the boys and the girls were enemies in the scene I have related, they were also accomplices as the girls pretended to believe that their den was infected. Even the boys knew that stinging nettles cannot "infect" a place, since they entered it themselves after the girls surrendered. They all knew it was fake, but they all kept on playing, as seriously as ever.

The drawings the girls first hung in the den struck me as "mark makers", as signatures to indicate whose den it is. The boys picked that up quicker than I did and ended up replacing them with their own.

The two younger boys were happy to let the older one command, and it may have been this organised hierarchy that led to their victory. The girls did not have a commander, they were both debating what to do and approached "timidly", without a clear action plan. Their unconfident attitude gave away to the boys, even before they had started the attack, that they would be victorious, probably adding to their already high self-confidence. 

Play definitely is a serious matter that allows children to rehearse skills needed in adult life. I am very grateful for being able to witness such scenes almost every day of my life.  

Monday, 2 May 2011

Body outline art

Alex lay on a large sheet of paper while I traced his outline. We both marvelled at how tall he was!

He added his eyes, nose and mouth while I coloured in his clothes. We used the Stabilo Woody 3-in-1 colouring pencils that turns into watercolours when you add a bit of water. Alex dipped his hands in water and smudged the colours all over. He thought it was magic and called everyone in the house to come and see!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Painting rocks

Today I showed Leo, almost 3, how to mix colours. As he had never done it before, I let him choose pairs of colours from the six different ready mix paint bottles we had. He mixed black and white, red and blue, and red and yellow. With his homemade grey, purple and orange, he painted rocks of different shapes and textures.

 As it was very windy today and we were outside, the paint was drying almost instantly and changing to a much lighter shade. Leo didn't like that and so he kept on dipping the drying rocks into a bucket full of water that was next to him, noticing that his wet paint looked brighter and more vivid than his dry paint.

Colours, textures and experimentation were definitely the focus of this fun activity.