Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Gross Motor for Older Toddlers

As most parents of toddlers know, toddlers of all age crave gross motor play! They are smack in the middle of the sensitive period for movement and they need to move their little bodies. It's frankly amazing how much energy these little tiny people have. 

I've been asked to follow up my previous post about Gross Motor Play for Young Toddlers with some ideas for older toddlers! As Nora quickly approaches 18-months, many of these ideas have been on my mind! I personally look for things that will last a long time and can be used indoors and out. I also look for things that work a variety of muscle groups and provide unique and different challenges. 

Trampoline 
Radio Flyer Ride 2 Glide 
Balance Bike
Climbing Dome 
Soccer Ball 
Wiffle Balls 
Slide
Rock Steps 
Balance Board
Bilibo
Foam Wedge 

Any of these are fun for both indoor and outdoor play which is great as winter approaches. In fact, many of these things would still be (and are) wildly entertaining to Henry as a preschooler. I think the Strider Balance Bike and the Trampoline are the absolute favorites in our home! A balance board is at the top of my wish list.


What does your older toddler enjoy for gross motor play? Is there anything you would add to the list? 

If you liked this post, check out: Montessori Play at 13 Months; Gross Motor for Young Toddlers

This post contains affiliate links at no cost you. 

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Monday, October 26, 2015

DIY Size Discrimination for Toddlers

Like many toddlers, Nora loves to place small objects inside another object. Whether its sticks into a shaker, or balls into a jar or even toys into their basket, Nora loves this kind of work. In order to give her a little more variety, and to challenge her a bit, I created this DIY size discrimination work. 


Here, the goal is to match the width of the object (the wooden dowel) to the correct plastic slot. Only when all the pieces are in the correct slots will they all fit! 

To make this material, you'll need: 

4 different widths of PVC pipes
4 corresponding sizes of wooden dowel 
A small box  -- I used an old box from Ikea 


After purchasing the PVC pipe and dowels, I had Morgan cut them with a saw. We cut the PVC to 5 inches and the wood to 6 inches. Then, I took the plastic pieces and arranged them in the box. It took a few attempts to figure out the configuration that would work best and include the most pieces without a lot of empty space. 

Once I found the perfect configuration, I slowly removed each piece and added a layer of super glue to the bottom. I quickly placed it back in the box to dry. Once all the pieces were set, I placed on a tray with a corresponding number of wooden dowels.


Nora has loved this work. At 16 months, she has not mastered placing all the pegs into the right holes, but she loves to try. She has spent long periods of time using this work. It's also a bit heavy which appeals to her need to exert maximum effort


However, I was also surprised that Henry has also been drawn to this work. I've found him doing and redoing the work many times over! Which, I call a total win! 


Do your children like pegging work? Have any favorite Montessori DIYs?

If you enjoyed this post, check out -- Gross Motor for Young Toddlers; Montessori Toys 13 to 16 Months

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Biology for Montessori Toddlers -- Self Discovery Basket with Printable


When you think about a toddler, learning science may not be the first thing that comes to mind. They seem so little and helpless, so they can't possibly learn scientific principles, right? Well, I would ask you to look closer at toddlers -- aren't they the ultimate scientists?! Especially when it comes to the natural world, toddlers are always exploring, hypothesizing, testing and analyzing. It is in their nature to touch, taste, smell and explore everything! 


I personally think it is our job to put a name to all of the things that toddlers are discovering. While they certainly don't need any help making discoveries, they often need us to provide a name for all the amazing things they have found. 


When it comes to biology, Nora has many interests. She loves animals, for example. But, above that she loves studying people -- and not just any people. Nora loves herself! She loves looking at herself, she loves poking at herself, she loves everything about her! And, seriously who wouldn't -- the cute! 

To help give Nora names for everything she is discovering, I created a self discovery basket. In the basket, I created cards isolating Nora's facial features, hands and feet. Then, I included a hand mirror


Using the basket, Nora could pick up a card and look directly into the mirror. As she would pick up a card, I would simply say the name of the body part. She was then free to find that part on herself in the mirror, or move on to another card. This basket was purely about exploration, not quizzing or memorization. If she pointed to a body part in the mirror or on herself, I would also name it. 


In addition to the basket, I also included a tray on her shelf with an 8x10 picture of herself. This way she can see the features as part of a larger whole, without the added work of looking into a mirror. So far, she hasn't done much with this tray. Other than point to it and say "baby!" -- which is just fine too! 


Nora -- and even Henry -- has loved this work! She loves looking into the mirror and pointing to her face. She was laughing and giggling with the mirror for long periods of time! This basket also prompted her to want to talk about her other favorite body part -- her bellybutton! For Henry, this work prompted deeper questions -- "why are her eyes blue?" "why do we have two eyes?" "why can't we see our bones?" These questions are perfect jumping off points for a deeper study of human anatomy! 


If you are interested in making a similar basket, you can FIND THE FREE PRINTABLE HERE! To make these I just cut out the pictures, mounted to card-stock and laminated. And, as with all toddler work, I didn't have much of a presentation, but kept it exploratory and fun!

Do your children love learning about themselves? 


12 Months of Montessori Learning!

This post is part of the 12 Months of Montessori Series! Our topic this month is biology! Visit these wonderful bloggers for Montessori and Montessori-inspired biology posts. 


This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day 2015

Today, I am the face of sorrow. The face of uncertainty. The face of pain. I am the face of pregnancy loss -- unexplained recurrent pregnancy loss, to be exact. For those of you that don't know my story, after Henry but before Nora was born, I suffered four back-to-back miscarriages. 

There is nothing I can write that can properly describe the pain and anguish that pregnancy loss creates. It makes you doubt yourself at every level. "Did I do something to cause this?" "If I had done XYZ could this been prevented?" The answer is, of course, a resounding NO. 

After the doubt comes the isolation. The feeling that you are totally and utterly alone. That no one truly gets your experience. This of course is not true either. An estimated 1 in 4 pregnancy ends in a loss. But the silence is deafening. 


If you have suffered a pregnancy loss, you are not alone. And I sincerely hope you get your beautiful rainbow baby. 

Today, is also a day where I think of the past -- think of what could have been. It's still hard for me to think about the four little lives we created that will never experience the joys the world has to offer. It's hard for me to never get to see them. To hold them. To know them. It's hard to explain how you can love someone so much and have only known them for such a tiny amount of time. 

Today, I think of the present. I think of sweet Nora. My miracle, my rainbow. I hope everyone gets the chance to experience the joy of a rainbow baby. Its bittersweet, for sure. But, I cannot imagine life without her. 

And, finally, I think of the future. I so wish I could say with confidence that we would have more children. I long for that. But, the reality is very different. Not only can I not imagine going back to fertility treatments and tests, I cannot imagine the unbelievable pain of a fifth loss. All the same fertility challenges I had before Nora are present again. So, its likely we could face the same challenges. But, its also possible that we will get lucky again. I'm not sure how to face this uncertainty and still have hope. 

I'll never be the person I was before we lost Elsie. I will carry these scars forever. But, I know I'm not alone. And, today we stand together and we remember.

To read more about my experience with pregnancy loss -- click here

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Laminated Rainbow Leaf Sort for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Autumn is in full swing here in Minnesota. And, I wanted to take full advantage. While walking home from church, Henry and I took the opportunity to collect as many different colored leaves as we could. When we got home, we took them and sorted them into a rainbow. 


As Henry ran off to play in the unseasonably warm weather (it was 80 in October!) I gathered the best of the leaves for this project. I picked smaller, flat, colorful leaves since I knew I wanted to laminate them. 


I had done a similar project last fall with laminated leaves. The ones that were sealed as tight as possible (and were therefore flat, held their color the longest). Once the leaves were selected, I cut off the stem and laminated! I cut around them leaving a bunch of room so the seal would remain tight. 


I love this project because it is so versatile. For young toddlers like Nora, these can be used simply for exploration! She loved the way they felt! For older toddlers, they could be used for color sorting!


For preschoolers, like Henry, you can use for rainbow order -- which is what we did! If you had enough, you could sort by type of leaf, by size, by color or any combination. Or, just let them come up with their own use! Study them, draw them, make leaf rubbings! The possibilities are endless! 




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Friday, October 9, 2015

Montessori Inspired Toys 13 to 16 Months

It's been a while since I've shared some of Nora's favorite toys. She's nearly 16-months-old now {how did that happen?!!} and loves a mixture of fine and gross motor work.



She's finally returning to her shelves after a long absence where she just wanted to climb and haul. While I think the sensitive period for gross motor still drives a lot of her daily activities, it has been nice to see her take out different work. 



Pop Up Toy an absolute favorite (even Henry loves this one);  Schleich Animals still a must have! 

Lately, she's even started to make the connection to take work to a table or work mat. It's been amazing to watch. I've even seen her return work to the shelf {but not to the exact right spot} from time to time.


Ball Pounder excellent way to get some gross motor and maximum effort play in; Wooden Peg Game this can be used in so many ways, again even a favorite for Henry

At this age, I try to choose materials that are open ended, but also appeal to Nora's interests. Nora loves babies, animals, vehicles and anything that looks like it might be Henry's. She also loves anything that incorporates movement, pounding or very tiny objects. 


AbacusDIY Imbucare Box from Shape Sorter 

Want more information on Montessori friendly toys and play for young toddlers? Check out: Montessori Play  at 13 Months; Favorite Rainbow Inspired Toys 


This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Young Montessori Toddlers in the Kitchen

One of the things that makes Montessori unique is its emphasis on practical experiences for young toddlers {12 to 18 months.} From the time the children start eating, they are presented with opportunities to help in the kitchen in real and practical ways.


There are so many ways that even the youngest toddler can help in the kitchen. I am by no means someone who enjoys cooking/baking/generally being in the kitchen, but these ideas even work for me!

With Nora, we started offering food when she was 6-months-old at her weaning table. From that time, we have given her a glass plate, cup and silverware. This has given her the opportunity to practice the same skills she sees us doing as we eat. Nora uses a spoon. For her, it has just been a natural part of learning how to eat.


But, as Nora started standing, climbing and walking, she has gained other opportunities in the kitchen. These have started gradually and increased with her interests, skills and ability. We haven't done everything on this list, but we will get there eventually!

Food Preparation

  • Peeling sliced bananas 
  • Pulling apple slices from cutter
  • Slicing chunks of banana (or other soft food like cheese or fruit)
  • Washing fruit
  • Spreading butter or peanut butter on toast 
  • Mixing prepared ingredients (while baking bread, muffins or cookies, for example) 
  • Pouring pre-measured ingredients (again while baking)  
  • Cracking eggs
  • Placing ingredients into a blender or mixer
  • Slicing eggs or strawberries 
  • Kneading dough 
  • Scooping batter or dough 

Food Service

  • Placing food onto plate 
  • Putting a place mat on a table
  • Bringing empty plates/cups/silver wear to table
  • Carrying plates of food to table 
  • Pouring water into cup 

Clean Up
  • Washing hands 
  • Wiping hands/face 
  • Wiping table 
  • Bringing dishes to sink
  • Wiping counters
  • Washing dishes 
  • Throwing away food or garbage 
  • Sweeping floors 
  • Putting away groceries or items used

This list is far from exhaustive -- always remember to follow your child in the kitchen and see what they are interested in. Trust their abilities and go from there! 



To make these skills and tasks possible, it's important that you have the right tools for your young toddler to use. By using smaller tools, they can easily perform tasks instead of trying to accomplish them with larger less adaptable tools. Some of my recommendations include -- 


Glass Pitcher; Ceramic Dishes; Tall Stool; Spreader Knife; Toddler flat wear; Egg Slicer; Cutting Board; Toddler Apron; Small glasses; Small pitcher; Mini Utensils

What do you do in the kitchen with your children? Do you get your baby or young toddler involved? 


This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

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