Monthly Archives: December 2011

Montessori Monday: Christmas Activities

Making Gum Drop Tree 2I got this great idea for a gumdrop tree from Chasing Cheerios. I liked that Dora got to work on her fine motor and practical life skills, while also enjoying a fun craft. I’m going to confess that Dora quickly tired of it. I , on the other hand, felt the need to finish mine and worked on it a bit at a time all day until I did.

Making Gum Drop Tree 1

We learned a couple of secrets to working with toothpicks and gumdrops, if you want to avoid being poked by the toothpick. Firstly, is to push the gum drops into the Styrofoam with something such as a wooden spoon, or as in Dora’s case, hammer it in with a wooden mallet. I, on the other hand, found it easier to break the toothpicks in half and put the broken/duller end into the gum drop.

Making Life Saver Ornaments 4

We also made these pretty Life Saver ornaments. We did learn that when the recipe calls for bagged Life Savers, they mean it. The rolled ones don’t melt for some reason.

As usual, I’m linking up to:

 

Labels: Arts and Crafts, High School, Montessori, Preschool, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Please Help Spread Some Christmas Cheer to a Fellow Homeschooler

MP900446409[1]

One of our state homeschooling families has been hit very hard by this recession. The kids aren’t expecting Santa to visit this year, but their ever-resourceful mama has come up with a fun way for them to celebrate Christmas (while sneaking in some learning too!). I know this is a bit late of notice, for which I apologize, but here is what she is trying to do:

We are trying to get Christmas cards from around the world. So I was hoping some of you may be interested in helping. Would you send my little ones a Christmas card? Also just a request but not a requirement, I’m trying to make it interesting for them. Would you please include something inside? For instance stickers, recipes, stories about your favorite Christmas, etc. We are going to print off a map and put pins in it for where the cards come from and we will hang the cards on the wall (we don’t have much Christmas decor).

The address to send the cards to is:

Shannon Raybell

PO Box 237

Keller, WA 99140

Feel free to pass on this information to others, the more the merrier. They are living in very tiny quarters in a very isolated location and can use all the Christmas cheer they can get.

Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Introducing the Real Deal

imageAs I mentioned in my previous post, I’m making a commitment to doing things the Montessori way with Dora. This has been something that I have not rushed into, I’ve spent about 18 months researching ideas and experimenting with cheap and/or homemade “Montessori” materials. I finally decided that I was serious enough about it, that it was time to take the plunge and invest in some of the true Montessori materials. I ordered from Kid Advance Montessori, because they seem to offer good quality at reasonable prices. I know that I could have spent many times more money and gotten great quality, but I won’t be using these materials in a school setting for years on end, so I settled for good quality instead.

Pink Tower

Of course, Dora was right by my side while I tried to discretely open and  store the materials, so I had to bring out some of them right away. The first two that I decided to use were the brown stairs and pink tower. Both items are designed to develop sensorial discrimination skills. Dora already knows how to build towers with toy cardboard towers, but having the pink tower cubes be all the same color greatly challenged her. She didn’t quite know what to make of them. She liked watching others build the tower, but never dove in and tried it herself.

Brown Stairs

Similarly, she was challenged by the uniform coloring of the brown stairs. She did take to the brown stairs much more, however, as she then could walk on them. I’m sure that Maria Montessori is rolling over in her grave as I type that sentence, but I did allow Dora to “climb” the stairs and I must say that it is nice that these learning materials aren’t so delicate that I had to say “no”. She would not have understood the point of stairs that she could not walk on, though I did attempt to redirect her behavior by having some of her dolls “walk” up the stairs first and I did draw the line at anyone heavier than Dora walking “up” the stairs.

As I do every Monday, I am linking this post to Living Montessori Now, which continues to play a mentor role in my finding my way towards a Montessori lifestyle.

Labels: Montessori, Preschool
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Preschool at Home–Gingerbread Theme

Gingerbread Workshop 1I’m really late in this weekly summary, but our weekend was insanely busy and this is the first chance I’ve had to get anything done on the computer. This week, we looked at gingerbread. We read a version of the Little Gingerbread Boy, plus watched the Little Bear episode where they make gingerbread cookies (Little Bear being one of the few shoes that Dora will watch). We went to a gingerbread house making workshop. Afterwards, I learned that you can now buy the gingerbread houses pre-assembled. Part of the reason I do this annual workshop is so that I don’t have to assemble a gingerbread house, so next year we just may buy a kit and do it at home. The gingerbread house above is one of the ones they had on display that are made by local companies.

Gingerbread Workshop 3

In addition, we went to Volunteer Park in Seattle to see their seasonal conservatory display.

Vollunteer Park 5

Vollunteer Park 2Vollunteer Park 8We also did some seasonal button art, using popsicle sticks to make ornaments and making Christmas trees on paper. If I was doing these again, I’d paint the popsicle sticks white and/or glittery and let them dry before doing the craft with Dora.

Button Ornament

Button Trees

I haven’t talked much about Dora’s math recently. In the last few weeks, we’ve started using “Living Books” for math as she seems to hate ALL workbooks and traditional math manipulatives. This week we read How Many Snails?, which was a bit too advanced for her. Previously, we have really enjoyed What Comes in 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s? and Teddy Bear Counting.

I’ve also been doing some Montessori math work with her, such as these wooden cards and counters that I bought from Kid Advance Montessori. I have decided to stick with these two approaches, Living Math books and Montessori math materials, for teaching Dora math for the time being. This is all very new for me as I have not used either method to teach math, or any subject for that matter, to any of my other kids. Dora just seems to naturally respond to a Montessori/Charlotte Mason approach, however, while my other kids have preferred more traditional learning tools or unit studies. Of course, Dora is only three, so who knows what we’ll be doing three years from now.

Wooden Cards and Counters

Disclosure: Several item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

I’m linking this post to The Play Academy at NurtureStoreFootprints in the Butter’s Reading Aloud Challenge, and…

Chestnut Grove Academy

Shibley SmilesChestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop Favorite Resource This Week Science Sunday

Tots and Me For the Kids Fridayabc button Classified: Mom No Time For Flash Cards

Labels: Arts and Crafts, High School, Math, Preschool, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Another Great Giveaway From Allison’s Montessori!

Montessori Tidbits is hosting a giveaway from Allison’s Montessori. Up for grabs are a weaving loom and shelf unit!

Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Making Fresh-Squeezed Orange Juice

Making Orange Juice 2

Our practical life activity last week was making fresh-squeezed orange juice. I had planned to tie that in with a craft to make some orange slice Christmas ornaments, but am afraid that did not happen. Still, Dora was so excited about making fresh-squeezed orange juice. Clearly, she had not realized that juice actually came from fruit before this adventure. She really wanted us to make all sorts of juices afterwards and it was hard to explain to her why we couldn’t make apple juice and so forth with this particular juicer. She gave everyone samples of the juice and what can I say? Fresh-squeezed juice really is best!

As usual, I will be linking this post to the best site for answers to everything Montessori, Living Montessori Now.

Labels: Montessori, Preschool
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Preschool at Home–Reindeer Theme

Reindeer Festival 1

Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet, not only have I not been blogging much, but I’ve not even been reading many blogs this week. I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed this school year and Thanksgiving break just wasn’t long enough for me. So I’ve been in kind of a “meh” mood.

Reindeer Festival 2

Anyway, what did we do this week? We studied reindeer, sort of. We did go visit and feed reindeer at our local zoo’s Reindeer Festival. We also saw Santa and told him from a very safe distance that we want a baseball bat for Christmas. Santa seemed mighty confused by this girly girl, all dressed in pink, asking for a baseball bat, but I tried to reassure him that I was sure that he and his elves could handle this seeming contradiction.

We did not read The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett, as I had hoped to do, because Dora became obsessed with The Mitten, which is also by Jan Brett and now refuses to read any other Jan Brett book. The Mitten is a cute book and I enjoyed reading it more with Dora, because last year I read a review that discussed all that was going on in the side mitten cutouts. I really hadn’t paid that much attention to them before and did not realize that they showed what animal would be next on the right side, while showing what the boy is currently doing on the left side. In fact, the cutouts are what have caused Dora to become obsessed with the book in the first place.

Gingerbread Cookies

I had also hoped to read Gingerbread Baby, which is also by Jan Brett, but as I mentioned Dora won’t read any other Jan Brett books. We did make gingerbread cookies, however, using this gingerbread cookie recipe. I have to say that I think that these are the best gingerbread cookies that I have ever had! They are very soft and chewy, which is how I like my cookies. They have a good ginger/molasses taste without being too overwhelming for my kids. We had planned to decorate them with frosting, but Dora decided that she wanted to use milk chocolate chips and pearl sprinkles instead and I have to say that the chocolate/molasses combination was quite tasty.

Glitter Paint Ornaments 5

In addition, we made some Christmas ornaments using empty glass balls and Martha Stewart brand acrylic paints, both of which I purchased at Michael’s. I got the original idea from this post over at Educating Lucy, where they used nail polish instead of paint. We didn’t have nail polish and we first tried using tempera paints as the using the words “Dora” and “acrylic” in one sentence makes me extremely nervous. The tempera paints did not work very well, so I bought some more ornaments and the glittery acrylics and my house and sanity are still intact (well, that is assuming that I would known that I was insane, if I was insane, I’m not sure how that works…). The ornaments did come out quite nice and colorful, as Dora chose some very colorful paints (i.e. not the colors I would have chosen Smile).

Finally, my mother-in-law arrived today and Dora just cannot get enough of her Grandma, who will only be here for three days. So Dora may be a bit sad next week, as she still hasn’t recovered from my parents having the audacity of returning to their house after visiting us in October.

How about at your house? Have you been doing any interesting crafts for any of the holidays? Which holidays do you celebrate? Dora’s hairdresser comes from a very mixed heritage and told me  that her family celebrates HanuChristWanza!

Disclosure: Several item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

I’m linking this post to The Play Academy at NurtureStoreFootprints in the Butter’s Reading Aloud Challenge, and…

Chestnut Grove Academy

Shibley SmilesChestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop Favorite Resource This Week Science Sunday

Tots and Me For the Kids Fridayabc button Classified: Mom No Time For Flash Cards

Labels: Arts and Crafts, High School, Preschool, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff