Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Nora -- 8 Months Old


This month with Nora can be summed up in one word -- change! Nora is growing and changing so fast these days. She went from not really moving to getting around, from being fairly quiet to chatting up a storm, and from exploring solid food to eating like crazy.


Nora, is our serious little girl. She is constantly observing and makes you work for smiles -- unless "you" are Morgan or Henry then she will happily smile and chat with you. I don't have official growth stats for this month, but she is still wearing a size 3 diaper, 6-9 month tops and 3-6 month pants. She is slowly moving up to the next size though and has the occasional larger outfit. She still has bright blue eyes, peach fuzz blonde hair, and new this month -- a bottom tooth (that was followed by another pretty quickly).


I can't blame her smaller size on not eating! This girl loves to eat. She's still nursing a ton (pretty much every two hours all day and night) and eating two meals -- lunch and dinner -- and a snack each day. I don't think we've met a food that she doesn't like yet. But her favorites are beef (any kind), sweet potatoes and mangoes.


Eating has had its sort-of downside, Nora has become really mouthy, and really efficient at get tiny pieces in her mouth. I've dug my fair share of chokeables out of her mouth. Other than finding and eating little pieces of fuzz, Nora enjoys playing with sensory balls, fabric, and cars (give her one of Hen's cars and she's super content!). 



But this month hasn't been about toys for Nora, it's been about learning to move and learning quick. She went from not sitting up on her own or standing up on her own to doing both in one day. She was motivated by a food wrapper to move and play. Since that day, she's crawling some on her knees, pulling up on everything, taking some steps behind a little cart, and cruising along furniture. He usual mode of getting around is a sort of bear crawl where she pushes her butt up in the air, takes a half step then plops down again. She repeats until she gets where she wants! 


Other big changes this month are that Nora is talking and sleeping a lot more. She's saying Dada, Mama, and babbling a lot (usually babababab). She also signs mom, dad, milk and more. After a little bit of gentle sleep training, Nora is falling asleep on her own, this has led to much better naps and better nighttime sleeping. She's still getting up 2-5 times a night to nurse but at least she's going right back to sleep without a fight. 


Time is flying with my sweet Rainbow. I wish I could just bottle this time and save it. But, sadly, I know these days are fleeting, so I'm just trying my best to enjoy them.


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Monday, February 23, 2015

Watercolor Planets Printable


We are in the middle of a space unit right now and loving every second of it. The other day on Instagram, I shared a picture of a set of watercolor planets that Morgan was nice enough (and creative enough) to paint for Henry to use. I decided to scan them and make a printable for everyone to use.


We are using the cards to show the size difference between the planets and their different appearances. Henry loves the over-sized cards and their natural beauty. 


To make the most out of them, we've laminated the cards and display on a large tray. The printable includes all eight planets and Pluto {for old times sake!}

I hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Geography for Babies -- Familiar Places Basket


Nora is at the perfect age for Montessori treasure baskets. These baskets allow for exploration of particular topic or sensory experience. To start to explore the concept of geography with her, I decided to make a discovery basket using familiar places from our home. 


To make these cards, I took pictures of a few of the rooms in our house. Instead of using my perspective, I got on the floor and took them from Nora's view. I labeled each picture with the names we commonly call each area. I only included areas that Nora frequently hangs out in -- our living room, dining room, Henry's room, Nora's room, our tot school classroom, and our play area. 


I presented these cards in a small basket. As Nora picked up a picture, I said the name of the room aloud. Then, I just let her explore the laminated paper. I was surprised to see her really concentrating on the pictures, as well as exploring the paper. They also provided some good exercise for her as they scattered around the room. 

If you want to make these cards, keep the images and words simple. I didn't want them to be overstimulating. Also, laminate! Not only did lamination provide an awesome texture, it keeps them safe. I'm always impressed with how fast Nora can destroy paper. Finally, round the corners. This kept them safe as Nora brought the cards to her face, and when she threw them around the room. 


Even Henry loved the cards. I shouldn't be surprised since Henry is obsessed with geography -- see his Montessori geography work in this post. He was happy to sit and tell Nora which room was which. He was also happy to line them up and just look at them. Plus, I learned that he thought the dining room was just called the living room (they are adjacent), so a little super-local geography learning took place with him too!


My goal for these cards was purely to engage Nora's senses with familiar pictures. She enjoyed a new texture of the paper and the basket. And, similar to reading, they provided some language stimulation. Over time, I hope the cards help to add a sense of place to her vocabulary.


And, most importantly, they were just plain fun!


12 Months of  Montessori Learning!

This post was brought to you as part of the 12 Months to Montessori series. Each month a great group of bloggers brings you posts on a particular topic. This month's topic was geography. Check out these amazing Montessori bloggers for more geography-inspired posts! 


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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Toddler Work -- Toddlers in a Homeschool Classroom

I feel like it's time for another co-op update! I haven't blogged too much about what we have been up to lately, but Montessori co-op has still been meeting once a week. 

I think the biggest change lately, is that we really aren't a "tot school" any more. Most of the children are solidly preschoolers. They have preschool attention spans, preschool interests and skills. But, this doesn't mean we have completely abandoned our toddler roots.


We still have a couple toddlers in our classroom. They are siblings of the older children. So, the challenge is integrating the toddlers into a classroom that otherwise holds older child work. This is especially challenging with toddlers that are not easily distracted from the preschoolers work.

Integrate Movement

What works for me has been NOT creating a toddler area. Instead, I've chosen to mix toddler work with preschool work and vice-versa. I think this gets the toddlers up and moving. And, I think we all know how important movement is to toddlers!


Create Similar Work

Also, I try to create work that is similar, but not necessarily equal for the toddlers. For example, I have a set of Virtual Montessori chalkboards out for the preschoolers right now --to work on fine motor and writing skills. So, for the toddlers I have a blackboard pig, which is more open ended but begins these same skills.


Different Expectations

However, while the work might be similar, remember that toddlers are still toddlers. Don't hold toddlers to the same standards as the preschoolers. The toddlers do attempt to use preschool work often, but we don't expect them to be perfect or use it completely as it was shown. Sometimes, we need to be ok with varying how the work is completed.


Don't forget about sensory work

Finally, I try to make sure there are plenty of sensory experiences available. From our traditional sensorial materials to themed sensory bins, I try to give the toddlers and preschoolers the opportunity to explore their senses. This always keeps everyone busy!


Toddlers do add an element of chaos to the classroom, but they sure are fun! And I can't imagine not having them join us!


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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Montessori Work Shelves at 6 Months

Now that Nora is getting older, I've started to create work for the shelves in her work space. While she still has other Montessori friendly toys, these are things that are more traditionally Montessori. 

At 6-months-old I kept the items fairly limited in number and scope. I didn't want to overwhelm her with choices. I also keep these things in a dedicated work space, while she has other toys throughout our home, these were kept in the shelf near her floor mat in her bedroom. This is the same space where her mobiles are and is 100 percent accessible to her. Other areas of the house are shared with Henry, but this space is just meant for infants. 


This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

This month (really about the last 6-7 weeks) Nora had 3 small baskets of work on her shelves. The first was a larger basket filled with 3 fabric squares. One was a soft white terry cloth, one a cotton gingham, and a sheer piece with a rougher texture. 


This was by far Nora's favorite work on her shelves. She would spend long periods of time exploring the fabric, eating it, touching it, tossing it aside and picking it back up. It was totally engaging. 


The next basket was small and contained a wooden square block. The block itself was a sound block and had a sort of clunky sound. When I showed Nora this block I would take it out of the basket, then place it back in the basket. I would simply say "in" and "out." 



Nora was more interested in exploring the block than anything else. She would shake it, play with the basket and nom them both. 

The final basket was a small wooden cylinder sound block. This block sounded similar to rice. With this basket, I would take the block out and roll it away from her to encourage movement. Then, I would retrieve and place back in the basket. 


Nora was very interested in throwing and retrieving this month. And did this quite a bit. She was much more interested in this basket than the one with the blue block.

The shelves this month also included a wooden bead clutch toy. Although I really like this toy, Nora didn't use it much. I think it was still a bit heavy for her. So, I will put it away and pull it out in a month or two and see if she likes it more. 


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