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!!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Montessori Geography Trays

Since this spring, Henry has loved maps and all things geography. He has a small globe that he often just carries around pointing out continents and various countries. At the time, I was unprepared in the classroom. So, I've been working hard to fulfill the geography void. Our Montessori geography work includes --

U.S. Puzzle Map -- this is not the nicest puzzle, but it's what we have right now. It was from a $1 bin at an office supply store. I'm hoping to get a true Montessori puzzle map for Henry for Christmas. 

This tray includes a small card listing all the states, a blank control map, and the foam puzzle. Henry uses this every single day. Sometimes he just asks me to read the list of all the states' names over and over. 

Continent Boxes -- I have a "box" for each continent (actually a box for two, and bags for the rest since Ikea was sold out last time we went -- hopefully will have the rest of the boxes soon). The box contains pictures of places, people, and animals from each continent, flags from each continent, a map of the continent including countries, and small trinkets from the continent. 

Land and Water Formations -- These cards help Henry identify different geographical land and water formations like island, lake, peninsula and straight. The cards, I made myself by cutting sandpaper and gluing it to card stock. 

The small booklet contains real pictures of the formations and their definitions. This came from Montessori Print Shop and was included in the Montessori at Home eBook and Printables bundle. Eventually, I hope to expand on this work further, by having tray that Henry can build the formation and pour water into. 

Land, Air, or Water -- This basket includes 3 jars, one with water, one with nothing and one with dirt. They obviously represent three major elements found on the Earth's surface. With the jars, I have included small animal cards to sort between the elements -- into which animals use the air, the seas and the land. The cards were made using beautiful stickers featuring images found in Inuit art. 

This is another popular work with Henry. One of the jars has has a different lid because it was accidentally broken at co-op before I could take a picture. Its been too cold to spray paint the new lid, so this has to do for now. 

Felt World Map -- This map was made using the beautiful pattern that was so generously made by Stephanie at Imagine Our Life. Her map is about 10,000 times more beautiful than mine and worth checking out! 

I made mine slightly different than Stephanie -- using stiffened felt for the continents, blue-on-blue for the control and stitching a matching outline around each. This is another work that Henry uses on a daily basis. He loves placing all the continents, their labels and animals on the map. I'm hoping to add some of these world landmark figures soon!

Me and My World Book -- this book is meant to help Henry see his place in the larger world. He was having a hard time understanding that he lived on a continent, in a country and in a state all at once. 

This book goes includes pages for planet, continent, country, state, city, house, and me.

And that's it! Do you have any suggestions for me to add? Or do you have a geography obsessed child? 

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 


Monday, November 10, 2014

Montessori Infant Mobiles -- Visual Series

While Maria Montessori did not specifically create work for infants, Montessorians have created guidelines for infant environments. An integral part of this environment is the series of infant mobiles. 

The mobiles themselves are all developmentally appropriate for babies. They help to develop concentration, hand-eye coordination, depth perception and other essential skills. Plus, they are wildly entertaining for babies. 

The first set of mobiles are visual mobiles, meant for the baby to look at. I have made four of these -- all DIYed on the cheap!

Munari Mobile -- this is the first mobile in the visual series. It can be used starting at birth. I did not make a true Munari, but a Munari inspired mobile. I used small Styrofoam balls that I had left over from the Gobbi. I painted black patterns on them, and hung on a small ring at varying heights. I hung it so the lowest ball was a few inches above Nora's body but still out of her reach. 

Nora loved this mobile. It kept her attention from birth. And she would stare at it for long periods of time. We used it from birth until around 7 weeks when I noticed it was no longer keeping her attention like it used to. 

Octahedron Mobile -- was the second visual mobile that I made for Nora. It consists of three octahedrons made from metallic paper (typically Red, gold, and blue) and hung at different levels. I followed the tutorial at Little Red Farm to complete it. The only thing I did differently was that I used superglue to hold the paper together. I tried double sided tape at first, but couldn't get it to actually keep the paper together. 

This was the most frustrating of the mobiles to make and required several attempts before it was actually correct. But, it was worth the hassle. Changing to this mobile was the first time that I saw Nora respond to a change in her environment, which was awesome. We used this mobile from 7 weeks to around 12 weeks. 

Gobbi Mobile -- this mobile was the first that captured my attention when I was learning about Montessori newborns. It is a mobile with 5 different balls hung on a 45 degree angle from lightest (shortest) to darkest (longest). The balls are all a shade of the same color and usually made with string/embroidery floss/yarn. I choose yellow because it matched Nora's room and I wanted something gender neutral in case we had another baby. 

This mobile was very time consuming to make and took me weeks while I was pregnant. I had a lot of fun making it though and I'm happy I took the time. Nora really likes this mobile. Unlike the other two, she's much more animated with it, she talks to it, tries to grab it (it's hung higher than her reach), and laughs when it moves. We started it around 12 weeks and we are still used it until about 15 weeks. 

Dancer Mobile -- at this point, this is the last of the visual mobiles I've made. It's a beautiful flowy mobile meant to look like people dancing in the wind. I sort of just did my own thing with this mobile -- using a colorful, shimmery, reflective paper, I free handed the figures. The hung them with fishing wire and wooden dowels. 

Nora really enjoys this mobile (and its the one we still use today at 4 months). This is her favorite to watch move in the mirror and not just from under it. The way I have hung the mobiles (binder ring attached to a ring that is permanently attached to a ribbon) it is easy to interchange mobiles depending on Nora's mood, the time of day, etc. 

There are many other mobiles that you could choose to make and use with your newborn. There are the whale mobile, rainbow ring mobile, the butterflies and many other appropriate and stimulating mobiles. But, for us, these were the best. Now it's time to move on to the tactile mobiles -- I'll save those for another post! 

Do you use Montessori mobiles with your baby? Which ones were your favorite?

If you liked this post, don't miss: How to Hang Your Montessori Mobiles