Monthly Archives: March 2012

Art on a Light Table

Art on Light Table 3

We have continued to play with our light box, almost every day. One thing that Dora has really started doing a lot is putting her art on the light box to see what it looks like when lit from behind. Last week, she took things one step further by putting her art on top of my art. The combined effect makes the top paper look almost like vellum (we’re using plain white multipurpose printer paper).

Art on Light Table 2

Above is a picture Dora made by putting colored tape on paper (a current obsession of hers). At the top of this post is the same picture sitting on top of a rainbowy paper that I hastily colored for her.

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Labels: Arts and Crafts, Montessori, This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Wordless Wednesday–Spring Has Sprung!

Spring is Here 2

Spring is Here 1

Spring is Here 3

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Labels: Wordless Wednesday
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

The Dragon with a Girl Tattoo

I don’t often write about my older three children, since I am not homeschooling them anymore. I just had to share one funny story about one of them though. I’m sure most, if not all, of you are aware of the book by Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Well, Secunda decided that she wanted to read it and placed it on hold at our local library. After several months, the hold finally came up. Except that it ends up that Secunda kind of mixed the title up a bit and she received The Dragon with the Girl Tattoo instead. Of course, the rest of the family found this to be rather hysterical, but Secunda was just annoyed. When I first saw the cover, I laughed so hard, my stomach muscles hurt the next day. I do not plan to read this book as I did not even like the original (I know, shock! As much as I love books, how could I have the audacity to not like such a popular book!?!? Sorry to disappoint, but it’s just not my style.)

Just to further share in the humor, here is the description from Amazon:

Lizbreath Salamander is young and beautiful. Her scales have an iridescent sheen, her wings arch proudly, her breath has a tang of sulfur. And on her back a tattoo of a mythical creature: a girl. But when Lizbreath is drawn into a dark conspiracy she will have to rely on more than her beauty and her vicious claws the size of sabres …A dragon has disappeared, one of a secretive clan. As Lizbreath delves deeper into their history she realises that these dragons will do anything to defend their secrets. Welcome to the world of The Dragon With The Girl Tattoo. A world of gloomy Nordic dragons leading lives uncannily like our own (despite their size, despite the need for extensive fireproofing of home furnishings), a world of money hoarded, a world of darkness and corruption. A world where people are the fantasy.

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

Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

I Was Featured!

Classified: Mom

Our tissue watercolor painting craft was featured on Posh Little Diva’s and Smiling like Sunshine this week. Hop on Over to check out these incredible blogs and link-ups. In. case you missed the post, this is how the project turned out.

Tissue Paper Painting 4

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Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Wood Polishing and Transferring Easter Bunnies

Wood Polishing

As I have been trying to get away from plastics, we have been purchasing more and more wooden toys, which are usually painted with natural, food-grade dyes. They are then finished with a beeswax-based wood polish, but some of the toys have lost their shine and were looking a little worn. So I ordered a beeswax wood polish and planned to polish them myself. When the polish arrived, however, Dora insisted on being allowed to polish toys with it immediately. It left the wood looking much more healthy, with a subtle shine. It also smells wonderful and left my hands nice and soft. This has proven to be a great and spontaneous practical life activity. I’ll be honest and say that this is the first time that I have polished wood that did not have some sort of polyurethane coating on it, so it was a new activity for me too.

If you are interested in buying some beeswax wood polish, I would imagine that you can find it at most health food supply stores. I bought Daddy Van’s All Natural Beeswax Furniture Polish – Lavender & Sweet Orange from Amazon, because it was the most convenient option for me. I like the smell of lavender and orange, but the company makes other scents also.

Easter Tweezing Activity

We also did a Easter-themed transferring activity, using some oversized tweezers and these little plastic bunnies that I found in the dollar section at Target. I bought the tweezers from Learning Resources in a set of 12, which I ended up donating most of. I just saw that they now carry a set with one of their magnifiers and one set of tweezers. We also have the magnifiers and use them a lot, but once again had to buy them in a ridiculous quantity, so this set is a great set!

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

Labels: Montessori
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

A Week of Flower Studies

Botanical Gardens 18
This week Dora and I studied flowers. The book we read for this unit was a lovely book, called Jack’s Garden, which is a take off of the Jack’s House rhyme. The book is beautifully illustrated and teaches about all of the elements that go into a healthy garden, such as seeds, soil, water, insects, etc. Framing the illustrations are more drawings, which are close-ups of the things being discussed on that particular page.
Jack's Garden 2
We used a Montessori flower puzzle and labels to discuss the parts of the flower.
Flower Puzzle
We then used this Guidecraft Flower Match Garden Patch set to study sorting and patterning. I was a little disappointed with this set, because the magnets that hold the leaves/stems in place do not work very well, so the leaves and stems just slide down.

Flower Garden Sorting Set

Of course, Dora planted some flowers of her own, in pots she picked out, using these seed mixes from Imagination Childhood
Flower Planting
Then we made paper flowers with Klutz’s Chicken Socks Make Your Own Paper Flowers kit. You could easily do this yourself with colorful paper, coffee filters, muffin liners, tissues, etc.. Tipnut has directions for making all sorts of paper flowers.Paper Flowers
Finally, we went to the Bellevue Botanical Garden. We didn’t see much of the gardens because Dora was obsessed with the small waterfall near the entrance of the park. She would take any fallen flower she could find and throw it in the waterfall and try to make it go all the way down to the pond at the other end. As you can see in the photo below, she began to test the boundaries by sticking her toes deeper and deeper into the waterfall. Eventually, she soaked her feet such that we had to go home.
Botanical Gardens 5
The gift shop, which Dora thought was a toy shop, but actually specialized in $30+ delicate glass figurines, had two ceramic figures that I thought were so funny, I just had to share them.
Botanical Gardens 11 Botanical Gardens 12
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Disclosure: Some 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.

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Literature, Nature Study, Science, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Gyo Fujikawa Compilations

Recently, Dora has really become interested in fairy tales, Mother Goose rhymes, and poetry. I’m really excited about this, as none of my other children enjoyed any of these much. I’ve been a bit frustrated, however, by many of the more modern versions of fairy tales. I’m pretty darn liberal and try really hard to be PC (politically correct), but some of the modern versions of fairy tales have gotten so PC that they no longer make sense. One version of the Gingerbread Boy that we purchased, ended with the gingerbread boy jumping off the fox before the fox could eat him and running away into the sunset. I’m not even sure what the moral of that story was supposed to be!

In my quest for good compilations of fairy tales, Mother Goose rhymes, and poetry,  I somehow stumbled on Gyo Fujikawa’s books. At first I was just happy to find the books, but eventually I found myself compelled to learn more about Gyo Fujikawa, herself. She was born to Japanese parents in 1908. She was working for the Walt Disney Company in California, but moved to NY in 1941. Whether this was just luck on her part, or she saw the writing on the wall as far as how Japanese-Americans would eventually be treated in California, I do not know. Her first children’s book was published in 1957. I think it is important to reflect on this accomplishment, she was a Japanese-American WOMAN, who managed to become a famous author/illustrator in 1957! In addition,

Fujikawa is recognized for being the earliest mainstream illustrator of picture books to include children of many races in her work, before it was politically correct to do so. (Wikipedia)

So here I was trying to get books that were less PC and I stumbled upon the mother of PC-dom. You know what, though? I absolutely LOVE her books. I love that the children in her books come in all sorts of colors. I also love that she maintains the storyline of the original fairy tales. Most importantly, however, Dora loves these books!

The three Fujikawa books that I have purchased and highly recommend are A Child’s Book of Poems, Mother Goose, and Fairy Tales and Fables. Between the three, I feel that I can safely say that Dora is getting a good, solid grounding in poetry, rhymes, and fairy tales. Eventually I hope to add a collection of Aesop’s Fables and myths, neither of which Fujikawa published, but I think Dora is a bit young to fully understand at this point in time anyway.

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Disclosure: Some 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.

Labels: Literature
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

We’ve Released Our Bugs!

Ladybug HatchingWe’ve officially released all of our bugs. Our ladybugs did the best of all the bugs, with at least 5 of them making it to adulthood. It is a bit hard to see, but in the photo above, the ladybug on top is actually “hatching” from its pupa stage. Our butterflies didn’t do as well, though I believe our cats are largely to blame for that, as once they got to the caterpillars while in the jar and were batting the jar around. Then when the first butterfly hatched, they went ballistic and attacked the butterfly pavilion. So we only had two butterflies to release and they did not appear to be able to fly. None of our earthworms hatched, so I dumped them in our yard. I figure, if they do hatch, it’s great for the soil, if they don’t, they’ll biodegrade.

Meanwhile, I found a HUGE earthworm under Dora’s sandbox when I went to move the sandbox. Unfortunately, I did not photograph it, but it was about 1 foot long and as thick as my thumb!

I’ve decided that we probably won’t do anymore of these insect kits. I would rather Dora start observing wildlife in a more natural setting, such as on hikes or nature walks.

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Labels: Nature Study, Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Light Table Fun With Gem Easter Eggs

Gem Easter Eggs on Lightbox

This week we played with some translucent, gem Easter eggs that I found at Target. They looked really pretty, just by themselves, but then Dora started filling them with gems, rocks, and so forth and mixing and matching the eggs. If you want to try to get some of these for yourself, one Target near us is completely sold out of them, while the other Target has lots left in stock. You want to  make sure you get the set that has six eggs in it. There was another small set of three eggs at one of our Targets at the beginning of the season and those cracked as soon as we started trying to mix and match the eggs.

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Labels: Montessori, This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Egg Tray

Egg Tray

This week I set out an egg-themed sensory tray that was inspired by a product from a ASCO Educational Supplies in the UK, who doesn’t even post their prices, so I am assuming is incredibly expensive (not to mention the charges for international shipping). So I created my own tray of multisensory eggs with some cooking implements. The cooking implements proved to be unnecessary and went straight into Dora’s toy kitchen. The eggs, however, have been a huge hit. I either made them, bought them on Etsy, or found them at thrift stores. There are wool felted eggs and nest, wood eggs of various sizes and colors, a tin nesting egg, a sea glass egg, some marble eggs, a stone egg, a paper mache egg, a wood egg wrapped in beads, a carved wooden egg, a crochet bird, nest, and egg with button closure and baby bird inside. Some of the eggs are so beautiful, I plan to keep them for myself afterwards and am going to start collecting eggs. The photo just does not do justice to the carved wooden egg, marble eggs, or stone egg. The carved egg literally brought tears to my eyes when I opened it. It is from an Etsy store called Happy Flying, and came all the way from the Ukraine. The stone egg is also from Etsy, from Our Planets Treasures and once again, my photo just does not do it justice, it is gorgeous! The beautiful and glittery marble eggs are from a store in India called Raw Simple and once again were bought through Etsy and this store gives beyond fabulous service! Dora’s favorite egg is the wooden one wrapped in beads, which is from another Etsy shop located in the Ukraine, called UrkWork. I did go a bit overboard on this tray, but it kind of became an obsession for me once I saw how many pretty eggs one could buy. The variety of textures, color, and weights are incredible and Dora has spent countless hours exploring the eggs. I don’t collect anything at the moment, so I am kind of excited to be starting a collection.

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Labels: Montessori, Summer, This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff