Monthly Archives: August 2012

Bellevue Botanical Garden’s Ravine Experience

Vivi, Dot, Newton, and Linus at Botanical Gardens 2

We recently went to the new Ravine Experience at Bellevue Botanical Garden with some friends. Dora was so excited to be seeing her friends, she refused to eat any breakfast and as a result, was a big stinker for the actual garden tour. So I don’t have any good pictures of the garden. This photo above is of the suspension bridge that you cross to see the ravine. The foliage is your typical Pacific Northwest gorgeous scenery, but the actual ravine is what makes the experience worth the hike. It is not often that one gets to cross over a 150’ ravine. I was a little worried that Dora would be afraid of the suspension bridge, as she is afraid of the bouncy bridges at parks, but she eagerly ran ahead and had no fear of the height at all.

Vivi, Dot, Newton, and Linus at Botanical Gardens 3

This is one of the few photos I actually took. I thought this fallen tree being held up by another tree looked really cool.

Bellevue Botanical Garden is definitely a sight worth seeing if you are ever in the Seattle area. They have a large variety of gardens, such as the Alpine Rock Garden,Yao Garden, Fuchsia Garden, etc. My absolutely favorite garden there is the Dahlia Garden, but obviously that is only if I time it right so that the dahlias are blooming. Many years ago, we went there with my in-laws. My father in-law, who has since passed away, knew all about the plants and flowers and it was his narration that initiated me into the world of plant appreciation. When we stumbled upon the Dahlia Garden, however, was the single moment when I became a passionate plant lover and gardener. Before that moment, I was of the “you’ve seen one plant, you’ve seen them all” mindset. Unfortunately, my father-in-law passed away before he could see the results of narration or before he could meet Dora, our little botanist. It has been almost a decade since he passed away from pancreatic cancer, and tonight is just one of those nights that I find myself missing him as much as I did the day he died, if not more.

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Labels: Social Studies, Things To Do Around Seattle
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

This Weekend Will Be the Best Time for Viewing the Perseid Meteor Shower


The Perseid Meteor Shower is my favorite meteor shower to watch each year. For one, it is during the summer, so it is not too cool to go outside and look for meteors while in our pajamas. Also, it usually puts on an awesome show. The best Perseid viewing days for those of us in the northern hemisphere will be Aug 11-13-ish. Astronomers advise that you watch it in early mornings, but that doesn’t happen in our household. Still, we’ve seen some great meteor displays over the years, just by watching the sky after sunset. Live Science has an excellent article with more information about the Perseid, it’s history, and how to look for meteors. Above, I’ve included a video with time-lapse footage of the Perseid Meteor Shower (credit – Jeff Sullivan Photo via You Tube).
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Labels: Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Two Handed Coordination

Sharpening Pencils

Dora is definitely in sensitive period for learning to coordinate both hands together to get tasks done. This week, I introduced her to pencil sharpening. For this exercise, we used Dora’s Stabilo Woody set, which we just love! These pencil/crayons/watercolors are the single best art product purchase that I have made in my 21 years of homeschooling! I should note, however, that they are very expensive crayons, though I feel they are worth their price. They are wrapped in wood, so function like a pencil, but the center is actually crayon. These also function as watercolor crayons, so a child can use water and a paint brush on a drawing to achieve a watercolor effect (unlike other brands of watercolor crayons, if a child just wants to color and not go the watercolor route, they still look beautiful and do not come off on hands). You can even color on black or other colored paper with them! Since they are so thick, they are an excellent choice for a child’s first set of crayons/pencils. Additionally, their thickness makes them perfect for learning to use a handheld pencil sharpener, which is included in the Woody set. Dora was fascinated with pencil sharpening and spent a good portion of the week sharpening pencils, that didn’t need to be sharpened.

Nuts and Bolts Work

We also did some more work with nuts and bolts, though Dora struggled some with this particular set, which requires that the child reach over to the other side of the wood to hold the bolt steady, while loosening the nut. Of course, as this set is graded (meaning the nuts and bolts go from large to small), she also got in some sensorial work.

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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

Coloring on Hot Rocks

Coloring Hot Rocks 3 Title

I recently got around to doing a craft project with Dora that I pinned quite come time ago (the post is from 2007, but I don’t think I’ve had it pinned THAT long). Essentially, it consists of “painting” hot rocks with crayons. I’ll let you read the original post for the complete directions. Dora really, really, really enjoyed this project. She spent a full hour coloring the rocks and then asked to do it again the next day. After we finished, I put the rocks back in our yard and she has used these “special” rocks in a variety of capacities in her creative play.

Coloring Hot Rocks 2

I would like to note that finding the right heat to color the rocks at can be a bit tricky. If you color them when they are too hot, the wax will run down the rocks, leaving a watery-looking trail. If you wait too long, however, the rocks aren’t hot enough and end up looking like someone just took a crayon and colored on the rock (meaning it looks like crayon, not smooth like paint). The difference between “too hot” and “too cold” can be about ten minutes, so I took the rocks out two at a time. Also, I tried to put some crayons back in the oven, after we colored them when they were too cold and they didn’t have that “smooth” look. Bad move, it burned the wax!

Coloring Hot Rocks 1

Another note is that if you don’t have a lot of crayons lying around, I bought tons at the local thrift shop for $2. I threw away any that weren’t a brand that I was familiar with (i.e.  “Spiderman” crayons with no brand name on them).

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Labels: Arts and Crafts
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Beginning Counting Practice With Montessori Bead Bars

Montessori Math 1

Dora’s counting skills have been getting stronger and stronger, but her ability to recognize numerals is not at the same level. I have had the sandpaper numbers, counting chips/number card set, and spindle box out for quite some time and she has expressed no interest in working with those items. So I finally brought down the color bead stair hanger. She immediately took to it and insisted I also get down the teen bead hanger. She was able to do the teen bead hanger with some help from me, but since that first day, has only worked with the color bead stair hanger. To do this work, she hangs a bead bar on the hook below the corresponding number. Ideally, she would also put all of the numbers in the slot on top of the hanger, but right now she won’t even try to do this (there is a control strip below in the form of a long wooden strip that shows the numbers in order). I’m just happy to see her making the connection between the numerals and quantity at this point in time and have no problem with just leaving the number symbol wooden chips up on top, in the correct order, for her. In addition (no pun intended!), when the bead bars are put in the tray below, they make a triangle.Montessori Math 2

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Labels: Math, Montessori
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff