Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Montessori Familiar Faces Basket

I recently shared on Instagram that I had made Nora a familiar faces basket. It's similar to the familiar places treasure basket I made her a couple months ago. I choose to introduce this basket, because Nora has been very interested in looking at pictures of real life people and animals, so what could be better than looking at her people and animals! 

When I posted, I got a lot of questions on how to make these baby-friendly cards. So I wanted to post a tutorial! 

The first step -- take pictures! I used head shots specifically taken for the purpose of these cards. I wanted the cards to really focus on our faces, so I choose a clean and simple background {just a wall in our homeschool classroom.} I also did some basic edits for white balance/exposure/noise but that's not a necessity. At this point the pictures look like this -- 

Next, you need to crop and add the labels. I did this using PicMonkey. In order to make sure the pictures were all uniform, I choose to crop them to the same size -- 3448 by 4103. This was just the size the looked good for my (hi-res) pictures, it may be different if you are using smaller files. 

To add the label, click the butterfly icon on the left side of the page. Then, select the geometric option, and use the first rectangle. It will show up as a black box, stretch the box from one end of the picture to the other, make it a bit wider and move to the bottom of the picture. Then, change the color to white. 

Then, you need to add text. Click the "Tt" icon on the left side. Add a text box. I used Dnealian font that I have on my computer -- you can do this by the "yours" button to access your fonts, but you will need to download the font to your computer first. But, really, most fonts on PicMonkey are fine too! Once you type the name, size it to where you like it and move it on to the white bar. Save your picture, and repeat for all the pictures you want. Your pictures should then look like -- 

After you have added a label to all your pictures, you can print them. I just printed on regular paper using my home printer. I just opened my picture, printed a 5x7 (not scaled to fit). Once it was printed, I laminated so the picture couldn't be destroyed by Nora. I would also work to print on thicker photo paper if you don't have a laminater. To finish, I used a scrapbooking tool to round the edges, but this could easily be done with scissors. 

Finally, I left on Nora's shelf in a small wooden tray for her to discover! Just a note on how to use these, they aren't flashcards. I won't quiz Nora or drill her. They are for her to look at, chew, smoosh, and explore. I may name the people if we are sitting together or I may not, just depends on her! 

Hope this was helpful! They are really easy! Go create!! 


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Zones of the Ocean for Preschoolers with Printable

We are currently in the middle of an Ocean-themed unit study in our Montessori co-op. There are so many great things to learn about in the Ocean, but one thing we have focused on is the layers or zones of the oceans.

To help make the idea as concrete as possible, we're using these small sensory bottles and printables. These are an easy DIY and the kids have loved them. 

To Make, You'll Need: 

  • Water
  • Blue Food Coloring
  • Small bottles  {ours are from a craft store but any bottle will work}
  • Printable

You'll need 5 shades from no color to very dark (not see through). I just experimented based on the size of my bottles with how much color I would need. The bottle with no color {only different for me because those are the bottles I had on hand} represents the top Sunlight zone. And the darker the bottle, the deeper the zone. 

The bottles can then be paired with the name of the zone they represent and a description of that zone. We started with just the name, but Henry caught on so quickly that I will now add the descriptions to this work. You can find the names and descriptions in the printable!

I also included five circles in varying shades that could be substituted for the bottles if necessary in the printable!

And, that's it! Its an easy, fun, hands-on, Montessori-inspired way of introducing the Ocean to toddlers and preschoolers! 

Have you studied the zones of the Ocean? I'd love to hear your ideas!  

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

DIY Montessori Weighted Cylinders

Part of why I love the Montessori method is its development of the whole child. It's not just about teaching a child to read or write, it's about helping a child discover everything about the world around them. An important part of this process is teaching children to use their sense to classify and discover the world around them.

Sensorial materials are developed to help children isolate and develop different sensory skills. One such skill is being able to classify objects by weight. Baric cylinders are one way to help children learn this skill. The baric -- or weighted cylinders -- are a set of cylinders that look the same but feel very different. Each pair is slightly different weight from the next. The goal is for children to identify and match the cylinders by weight. 

While weighted cylinders and other sensorial materials can be purchased from a variety of sources, one of the reasons I really like this material is that it can also easily {and cheaply!} be reproduced at home!

I recently made a set of weighted cylinders for our classroom! They are so easy, that anyone can do it!

To make, you'll need --

  • 8 small identical canisters with lids  {I used old film containers, but anything can be used.}
  • Hot glue
  • Small metal washers
  • 4 red, 4 blue stickers

That's it! To put them together, first separate washers into pairs. One of the cylinder pairs will need to be the control, so it will be empty. Therefore, you'll need three pairs of washers of equal quantity, but varying weights. I used 0 washers, 3 washers, 9 washers and 18 washers. 

Next, I used the hot glue to glue the washers together. This way, they won't rattle together in the cylinders creating a new sensorial experience -- sound. Once the cylinders were together, I hot glued them to the bottom of the container. This ensures that there will be no movement when used. Then, I used the hot glue to attach the lids.

Finally, I placed one red sticker on the bottom of each cylinder pair, and a blue sticker on it's corresponding match. This way each correct pair had one red, and one blue cylinder (this helps to make the work self correcting). 

After making the cylinders, I presented them to Henry. He listened to the presentation, and was eager to try. However, I was actually surprised to see how much he struggled with this work. Many of the other sensorial materials have become a breeze for him, but this really made him think.

Once the work was completed, Henry said to me "I don't like this new work!" and stormed off. Since I put the tray in our sensorial area, I've seen Henry looking and contemplating the work. So, I asked him why he didn't like it. He explained that it was because he couldn't find the matches. I gently encouraged him to keep trying it, but so far he hasn't gone for it. Even if it takes him awhile to return, I'm glad I've found something to challenge him in a new way!

Do you use sensorial materials? Which is your favorite?

12 Months of Montessori Learning! 

This post is brought to you as part of the 12 Months of Montessori Learning series. Our theme this month is sensorial. Visit these great bloggers for more Montessori and Montessori inspired sensorial posts! 


Saturday, May 9, 2015

These Days

 These days are long and hard.

These days are short and sweet.

These days are fleeting and never-ending.

These days are busy.

These days are the best days of my life.

This week I entered a new decade in my life. And, I can't be more excited about the things to come.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Nora -- 10 Months Old

Ah! I'm late on this again! Poor second child syndrome. Nora is so easy going that I feel like I'm constantly trying to remind myself that she exists. As Henry asks to play for the 100th time in 20 minutes, I'll find Nora quietly and happily occupying herself. 

This past month, Nora has been so great. We have finally had a stretch where she hasn't been too sick. ::knock on wood:: Her growth seems to have tapered off a bit and she's still wearing 12 month sized pants/shirts. Her interest in solid food is way down too. She's still nursing around 9-10 times a day (serious snacker)! She has a tiny bit more blondish-redish hair, and her eyes seem to be staying blue. She now has 5 full teeth -- 3 top, 2 bottom. And another bottom coming through. 

Instead of growing, this month has been about moving and talking. She's now walking between furniture and to people. Instead of crawling, she is following along walls to get where she wants. Once she gets a bit more confidence, I expect she will just walk everywhere. Nora as also started climbing this month. She now climbs up stairs and sometimes onto one of her little chairs. 

She's also babbling up a storm. She now says mama, dada, ba-ba (I'm pretty sure this is brother), all done (ah-da), and no (nah, nah, nah). She said "yeah" once too, but not since. Nora also signs all done, more, milk, mama, and dada. She waves and will play "night-night baby" by laying down. 

Nora loves balls, blocks and music. She loves reading and just looking at books. She loves to empty and fill a container. She is just really so sweet, but she is not a cuddler. She is napping twice (most days) but is still up 2-5 times a night. 

2 months until she's a year old -- this growing up is killing me. 

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