Friday, December 12, 2014

Merry {Awkward} Christmas

What is it about cameras that make 3-year-olds crazy? Seriously? Have you tired photographing a 3-year-old lately? They either get so completely goofy that you can't get a decent picture, they completely forget how to smile, or are just downright awkward. 

Some classic 3-year-old "smiles" include 

The Buck Teeth


The Vacant Stare 


The "I'm-smiling-so-hard"


The Bored


The "Where-am-I-looking-now"


The "What?"


Then, every now and then the 3-year-old surprises you. The charm come out, the love shines through and you get the perfect Christmas card {from Tiny Prints}.



So, instead of "Merry Awkward Christmas" you get "Merry Everything Because I am Beyond Blessed!" 


signature

Monday, December 8, 2014

8 Ways to Learn with Beads

Looking for an easy way to incorporate some Montessori inspired learning into your home? Try using beads! I love beads. Because they come in so many varieties, you likely have some already and they are super cheap. 

montessori, practical life, beads, preschool

I used a bunch a beads in this post, but really you can use whatever you have. Depending on the size of the beads, these activities can work for toddlers or preschoolers. 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.

Spooning 


For this, all you need is two cups and a spoon. Have the child transfer the beads from one cup (from left to right) to the other. Use smaller beads and spoons for older children and larger ones for toddlers. This is great for learning skills needed for eating and other fine motor work. I used glass cups, a glass spoon and small glass beads


Counting


Use beads as counters! They help children learn that numbers represent actual amounts. This might be best saved for preschoolers. I used glass tile numbers and silver, plastic beads.

Tweezing 



All you need is some cups, beads and a tweezer! The tweezing motion promotes important fine motor skills and muscle development that is needed later for writing! Just pinch from left to right. Younger children could use tongs instead of small tweezers. 


Pouring 


I used two small glass pitchers so beads could be poured between them. This helps with hand-eye coordination and control. And, you know what's nice? Preschoolers that can pour their own drinks!

Color Sorting


Use beads to reinforce color matching! For older preschoolers, use them to introduce rainbow order. Here, I used a divided tray, felt, and {my favorite} colored wooden beads


Lacing 


This one is perfect even for the youngest toddler. Use a shoestring, rope, or ribbon and any size bead. The larger the bead, the easier for toddlers. You can even work pattern learning into this one! Here, I used a rope and large wooden beads. 


Sensory Bin


This is perfect for open ended play, fine motor control, and cultivating creativity. This is perfect for children of all ages. Let them lead! I used colored beads, added scoops, tongs and buckets.


Transferring


This is a particularly big hit with young toddlers. It's all about transferring bead from a smaller container into a hole in a larger container. It requires them to move the bead upwards and into a smaller space. Here, I used plain wooden beads and an old deli container.


These are just a few of the many ways that you can learn with beads! How do you use beads in your home? 

Monday, November 24, 2014

HABA Ball Track Instagram Giveaway

Friends! I am so excited to announce that I recently made it to 1,000 followers on Instagram! To celebrate, I've teamed up with HABA USA and their Take Time To Play Campaign to bring you this Ball Track Starter Set Giveaway!

HABA is a company that I have loved for a long time. Not only are their toys Montessori-friendly, they are beautifully crafted and sustainable. Made in Germany, these toys are meant to last a lifetime. Nora is obsessed with every HABA baby toy we have. The quality is evident in every single wooden HABA toy we own.


This HABA marble run is no exception. This toy is amazing. Each block is sturdy, yet beautiful. They are made with beech wood, and even the biggest blocks -- while solid -- are lightweight enough for Henry to use with ease. I also love that they are made to be compatible with unit blocks so they are the perfect companion to our larger block collection.


The HABA Ball Track Starter Set is the type of toy I don't feel guilty about letting Henry play with all day long. It incorporates his love of tiny precious objects (look at those beautiful glass marbles) and destruction (when all those dominoes come crashing down). What he doesn't realize is that he is learning engineering and math skills by constructing his ramps and testing his designs. It forces him to think creatively and use his imagination to complete the project. 


While this marble run is awesome just by itself, HABA makes amazing extensions for the set. I love the musical extensions, in particular, and it is going to the top of Henry's birthday list! This toy will literally get use for years to come. 

The HABA Ball Track -- and all our HABA toys -- really does make it easy to remember to take time to play with your kids. You will never get this this day back to sit down and enjoy your family or your child. 


Especially this time of year, I think it can be easy to forget how important it is to focus on the now and just play with your kids. I know I get wrapped up in holiday plans, gift buying, and all the running around and forget to just slow down, unplug and let creativity guide us. Visit the Take Time To Play Blog for more great ideas on how to slow down, unplug, and play as a family. 

So, remember to take time to play today! Want a great way to do this? Win this marble run! HABA USA has so awesomely agreed to give one lucky Instagram follower a Ball Track Starter Set of their very own! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Montessori Friendly Christmas List Roundup

It's hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner. But, we really are here! And that means it's time to start thinking about Christmas shopping. For several years, Morgan and I left shopping to the last possible second -- law school does that to you -- but I've come to the realization that there are lots of great deals to be had by shopping early. 

So I've gotten my lists together for Nora and Henry and I'm scouring the stores and the web for the best deals. 

This post contains affiliate links. 

Not only that, I've teamed up with some of my favorite Montessori bloggers to bring you a ton of great Montessori-friendly Christmas present ideas. So, make sure to take a peak at the links to see what's on other's lists! You know you want to! 








Terra Barn -- from Target 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Nora -- 5 months old


I can't believe that Nora is already 5-months-old. I know I say this every month, but it really does go way too fast.


Nora is such a beautiful, wonderful, focused girl. She just concentrates on things like no other baby I've seen. When she is doing something, she is connected body, mind and soul.


Thanks to a run to the doctor about a potential ear infection this morning (no infection just painful fluid buildup) I know Nora is up to 14lbs 14oz. She's wearing mostly 3-6 month clothes with the occasional 6-9 month size shirt/onesie or 0-3m pants. She's wearing a size 2 diaper during the day but a size 3 overnight diaper at night. 


Nora seems to have really come into her own this month. She's both serious and silly which is such a big change from Henry. She rarely gets super frustrated or upset but seems to have a lot more patience. This month Nora has become a lot more aware of the people and things in her environment. Henry is still her all time favorite and the two seem to have their own little love language already. The dogs are a close second. She watches them play, reaches for them and squeals at them.


This month, Nora has pretty much completely stopped sleeping. Remember when she was sleeping 5-7 hour stretches? Now, I'm lucky to get 75 minute stretches. I honestly have no clue what happened. She does have two big, red, angry bumps on her lower gums. I just hope and pray those teeth come soon because between constant nursing and no sleep I'm really at my edge. 


Besides Henry and the dogs, Nora still loves many of the toys she did at 4 months. She is constantly rolling from back to belly, but less so from belly to back. She's starting to move herself a little while on her belly but doesn't seem close to true mobility (which is fine by me but s big change from Henry). She's no longer interested in the Bumbo or her bouncy seat, but loves the exersaucer. She concentrates so hard to moves the small disks from one side to the other, its actually pretty amazing to watch.


I can't believe she's going to be a half-year old soon. It feels like yesterday that she was born!!



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