Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Today I Remember

Today is October 15 -- Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. 


Today, I remember. 

I remember the joy, the anxiety, the worry, the anticipation, the loss. These 4 babies are never far from my mind but today I will take time to think about each one and their story. While each pregnancy ended, none of them were the same. They each have their own story

Today, I grieve. 

I grieve for the babies that I never got to hold. I grieve for the unanswered questions. Were they boys or girls? Would they have a killer pout? Brown eyes? Easy births? Easy going or particular? I'll never get these answers on Earth. I don't get to hear their voices, to see them smile, to hug and kiss them.

Today, I celebrate 4 lives. 

I celebrate because for brief moments my children were on earth. They existed. And I believe they are waiting for me. They were not made up. They were some figment of my imagination, they were not just two lines on some test, or a chemical imbalance. They are my children.

If you have suffered a pregnancy or infant loss you are not alone. In fact, 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss. You are never alone. Today, I remember, grieve, and celebrate with you. Because your loss is real and your baby matters.

Throughout the day, 4 candles will burn in my house. One for each little life. And, I will remember, I will grieve, I will celebrate.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Montessori Letter O Tot School

Another week down at tot school! Letter O was not my favorite to put together, but I think it came out alright. 

The first tray was a combination of science, art, and practical life -- color mixing to make the color orange. I placed to small pitchers of water -- one yellow and one red on either side of a small cup. Then I included a 1 ml syringe. The children could then use only the syringe to suck up water and combine it to make the color orange in the small cup. 



This was by far Henry's favorite and the most used at co-op. I encouraged experimentation with the colors to make different shades. And I'm very proud to say that they pitchers were not spilled once the entire week.


The second tray was owl tracing. Here, I included a wooden owl shape, a few color pencils and paper. The kids could trace and decorate. It was actually a difficult task for many of them. Henry never attempted this tray, but that's not shocking since anything "art" is really not his favorite. But, I think I need to include more fine motor and writing trays, since this was a good challenge. 


The third tray was octopus counting. Here, I made little cards varying numbers of octopi. Then, included various number choices at the bottom of the cards. The kids could then place a glass bead on the appropriate number. This was another one that I never saw Henry choose this week. 



Other things we did this week included: 

Orange Owl Transfer: transferring Pom-poms between two glass owls with tweezers. This was a repeat from tot school letter O last year. I was shocked how much better Henry suddenly was at using tweezers than last time! 


Ocean 3-part Cards


Circling O objects: Here I made a sheet with a variety of objects and included some dry erase crayons. The children could then find the things that started with O and circle them. Henry did this quite a bit this week, but needed help recognizing less popular "o words" like oven and Oscar. 



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Monday, October 6, 2014

Montessori Co-Op FAQs

Montessori tot school co-op is back! I was so happy that the families that were involved in the co-op were interested in returning again this year! I've been getting a lot of questions about co-op and how it is run, so I wanted to answer the most frequently asked questions.


How many kids? 

Right now, we have 7 preschoolers between 3.5 and 4-years-old, and 5 of their siblings -- ranging from a couple months old to almost 2. This is put absolute maximum number of people. 

How do you handle siblings? 

We have a "baby room" where one of the moms watches all of the siblings. Last year, they were all in the room with us, but it has just gotten too crowded and hard to manage the babies and the older kids. 

We do have two toddler-age siblings and they will come and go into the classroom. They may not make it the whole hour, but there is work that they can do in a modified way. I leave it up to their moms to determine where they should be. The other three siblings {including Nora} are all babies and spend the whole time in the baby room. There are activities for them to do -- brought by another mom -- or they can just play. 

Where did you find participants? 

Right now, I've limited participants to my mom friends. I've known these women and kids since they were babies. Right now, enough of my moms group has wanted to participate that I've never searched outside of the group.


Are you always at your house?

Yes, we are always in our Montessori homeschool classroom.

How often do you meet? 

We meet once a week for 2 hours. 

How do the other families contribute? 

The other families rotate bringing either a craft or science project for the children to work on after we are done in the classroom. They also bring snack for all the kids and for the moms. I am also blessed that they are very generous in donating supplies and keeping their eyes out for trays, shelves, and the like. 

Also, each week one of the moms is responsible for watching over all of the younger siblings in the "baby room." They have also brought sensory bins and boards for the babies to use while we are working in the classroom. This way we can all focus on the older sibling in the classroom while the babies have fun.


Do you charge money to participate in the co-op?

No, I don't. 

What does a typical co-op morning look like? 

When people arrive to my house, I will have a toy or two out for the kids. They can wait and play for everyone to arrive. When everyone gets here, we go to the classroom as a group. 

I have each of the children sit in a circle while I explain the theme and present a couple trays. This is 5 minutes at most. After I'm done, I tell the children to get a mat and start work. They work for about an hour.

After the hour is up, we split the children into two groups to wash hands in our bathrooms. Then we meet up at the table. The children take turns passing out plates and napkins. They pour their own water and snack, and clear their own dishes. 

Once the table is clean, we do a craft or science project. When the children finish they can have free play time. During this time, the moms enjoy snack and socialize together. 

About 5 minutes before we gather the kids, sing a song and break the kids into two groups. The groups then work together to clean up toys before heading home.


What do the children work on? 

One hour is spent in the classroom working, one hour is spent doing a craft/science project, eating snack and some free play. The classroom has a variety of work for the children to choose from. Some of the work will stay the same all year, some will change after a month or two, and some changes weekly based on a theme. For more specifics about our theme, check out my tot school posts. 

Do the children actually work? 

Yes! By the end of our first year, I was amazed at how much work and concentration happened in the classroom. We had "normalization," with calm and quiet. We are only a few weeks into the year now, so we are working on getting back to that. I can't actually recall a time where someone completely refused to do anything while in the classroom {with the exception of Henry}. 


How does Henry react? 

To his credit, Henry is doing much better this year. But, when we first started co-op Henry was very reluctant to work when his friends were there. He did not like to share my attention with other children and just wanted to play with his friends. Last year, he often spent the entire class just watching others work. This year, he is watching some, but actually choosing work to do too. 


Have another question? Let me know in the comments, and I'll update the post!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Letter N Montessori Tot School

And our weekly trays are back! We stopped co-op in the spring with the letter M, so after a welcome back week, we started up with the letter N. 

Henry has fun with these trays but didn't choose to work with them as much. There is so much work in the classroom now that he has a lot of other choices. 

The first tray for letter N week was a net activity. One large bowl was filled with water and some foam blocks . The children would use a small fishing net to transfer the blocks from one bowl to the next. 


This was by far the most popular work this week. 

The second tray was a build a nest tray. I had done a similar tray last time we did the letter N too. This time I added a small wooden bird and some more grass. This was another big hit, and some beautiful nests were actually built!



The third tray was a set of name cards on lined paper. Many of the kids are ready to write their names and this helps them do it in a straight line and on a smaller scale. {Do you want personalized name recognition activities for your child? Visit my Etsy shop!} These will be a permanent feature in the classroom this year. 


Our fourth tray was a nature sort and count tray. In this tray, I included varying amounts of natural items and some number cards. The children had to then sort the items, count them and match to the correct number. I thought this tray turned out really beautiful and was a great challenge for the kids.



Other things we did this week included: 

Nuts and Bolts Tray: this was a repeat from last time, and Henry was sad to see it go. 


Number Wheel: another repeat. I didn't see this one get that much use this year.


Magnet Sheet



Letter N salt tray


Beginning Sound Basket: This tray was a review of all the sounds we worked on during the first half of this year (A-M). It included a basket with a couple objects matching each letter and a corresponding uppercase sandpaper letter. I left this out for two weeks and think those that tried did a good job remembering the sounds!



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Friday, September 26, 2014

Apples and Perfection

I fully admit it this -- Morgan and I aren't the easiest to please when it comes to crowds. Most of the time we're low on patience and high on the hangries. We still go plenty of places where we have to fight crowds, we do live in the city after all, but it's nice on those rare occasions when we find perfect places for us. 


It's officially fall in Minnesota, hot afternoons follow chilly mornings. The leaves are changing and the days are rapidly getting shorter. To celebrate Morgan and I recently went to pick apples. 


Perfection.

We found a lovely little farm -- Whistling Well Farm -- and had a blast. As we wandered around we actually got to pick {and eat} apples! We didn't have to fight for parking or feel guilty about sitting in the car as our two children both napped {a miracle!} 


They had chickens, turkeys, dogs and donkeys to see and pet! All for free! Then,  I got to eat the best apple I've ever had in my life with the 3 people I love most in this world. 


Perfection.

We have very few days just as a family of four, so these times are special. We finished off the day with a walk along the Mississippi River watching barges haul goods. 


The evening ended with a cold rain, a hard cider, and, just one more apple. 

Perfection.

{This post is not sponsored in any way. The fine folks at Whistling Well Farm have no idea who I am or that I have eaten most of the pumpkin butter I've purchased while there.}

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