Category Archives: Preschool

Waldorf–Inspired Poetry, Song, and Movement Books for Preschool and Kindergarten

One thing that has proven extremely frustrating for me while pursuing information about Waldorf-inspired education, is the inability to see previews of Waldorf books before I order them. My library system carries very few of the books, so I can’t peruse them that way, unless I want to deal with an interlibrary loan, which may or may not get filled and even if it does get filled, usually takes months to receive. Then, many of the stores that sell Waldorf books have a “no refund” policy on books or charge restocking fees or only give store credit. So I’ve ended up purchasing several books that I have regretted. In an effort to help other people avoid the same pitfalls, I thought I would try to give you all the previews and information that the online Waldorf stores do not provide. I do want to note that many books were written many years ago, before computers were available, and had to be self-published. Also, some books were written by Waldorf pioneers, who have since passed on. I am going to be honest and tell you if the typography on such books leaves something to be desired, but I  mean no disrespect to the authors’ hard work.

Today I am only going to be discussing the books of songs and poetry, which often form the very foundation of a Waldorf-inspired preschool or kindergarten education. The three things that I have found most lacking in these books are good typography, indexes, and accompanying CD’s (I can read music, but I prefer, whenever possible, to listen to someone else sing a song before I sing it to Dora).

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Dancing As We Sing CoverLet Us Form a Ring CoverAcorn Hill Waldorf Kindergarten and Nursery has released two anthologies, which are distributed by The Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN)Dancing As We Sing and Let Us Form a Ring were written with the Waldorf teacher very much in mind and are more appropriate for larger groups of children than are available in most homeschools. They both provide a variety of seasonal and other circle plays and singing games. Each circle play/singing game is comprised of several poems and songs put together, tied by a theme. There are some movement directions provided for the teacher. It so happens that Dora and I are very good at improvising with circle games, so these work very well for us and I have a soft spot in my heart for these two books. At the same time, I must acknowledge that the print quality of these books is not great. The music and lyrics are handwritten and the poems are typed. The tables of contents leave much to be desired. There are no indexes. I am unable to find a copyright date or ISBN number for either book. Each is spiral bound, with a cardstock-like cover. The books are not illustrated. They measure 8.5” x 11” and are 70 pages each. Each book does have a companion CD available. These sample pages are from Let Us Form a Ring:Let Us Form a Ring 3Let Us Form a Ring 4 Go back to the top of the list of books




A Child’s Seasonal Treasury (ISBN #978-1-300-11492-5), by Betty Jones is a 2nd edition  book, with a 2012 copyright. It is a softback book, that measures 11” x 8.5”, and is 139 pages long. It has beautiful, color illustrations and very professional typography (a cheaper black and white version is also available). It has a complete table of contents, and “Subject and Title Index”, as well as an “Index of First Lines”.  The poems, songs, riddles, and activities are grouped by season (there is also one category for all year round) and then sub-categorized by “verses and poems”, “fingerplays and riddles”, etc. The crafts are good for inspiration, but I don’t consider the directions to be sufficient to consider this a craft book. The recipes are well-written. Unfortunately, there is no companion CD available, that I am aware of. Here are some sample pages from this book:A Child's Seasonal Treasury 1A Child's Seasonal Treasury 5 Go back to the top of the list of books




Clump-a-Dump and Snickle-Snack (ISBN #978-0-936132-23-5), by Johanne Russ, is a 8” x 5.5” booklet of 47 pages of songs. There is no companion CD offered. The copyright is from 1966. It has a complete table of contents and due to the nature of the book, an index is unnecessary. It is a black and white collection of pentatonic songs, with a couple of basic illustrations. The music and lyrics appear to be done by hand. While the lyrics are neatly done, the music is a bit hard on the eyes. Here is a sample page:Clump-A-Dump and Snickle-Snack Go back to the top of the list of books




A Day Full of Song (ISBN #978-0-9816159-7-4), is a book from The Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN). It has a 2009 copyright. It is spiral-bound, measures 8.5” x 7”, and is 64 pages long. It contains a collection of 42 original work songs in the mood of the fifth from a Waldorf kindergarten. It has a complete table of contents and due to the nature of the book, an index is unnecessary. A companion CD is available. The entire book is done in black and white, with some cute illustrations throughout. The music and lyrics, though very neatly done and easily legible, do appear to be done by hand. Here is a sample page:A Day Full of Song Go back to the top of the list of books




Gesture Games for Spring and Summer (ISBN #978-0-972223-80-5) and Gesture Games for Autumn and Winter (ISBN #978-0-972223-89-8) are both written by Wilma Ellersiek. They are translated and edited versions from The Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN) and were published in 2005 and 2007, respectively. They are 8.5” x 11” softbound books with spiral ring covers and are about 140 pages each. They are printed in black and white, with illustrations showing the gestures. The text is professionally printed, but the music looks suspiciously like it may have been done by hand, though it is easily readable. Companion CD’s are available. They have complete table of contents and due to the nature of the books, indexes are unnecessary. Wilma Ellersiek has also written two other books of note. The first, Dancing Hand, Trotting Pony (ISBN #978-0-979623-28-8), is a collection of gesture games, songs, and movement games. Unfortunately there is no CD to accompany Dancing Hand, Trotting Pony. Giving Love, Bringing Joy (ISBN #978-0-979623-26-4) has an accompanying CD, but the book is comprised mostly of lullabies. Here are some sample pages from the Gesture Games for Spring and Summer book:Gesture Games of Spring and Summer 1Gesture Games of Spring and Summer 3 Go back to the top of the list of books




Golden Beetle Books publishes a series of four handbooks, entitled Lono & Coco Boato, Snowdrop and Ulba Bulba, Silver Story of Silver Stork, and The Flower Flamers and The Earthy Men. The books are 5.5” x 4” and are about 100 pages long. They are bound in pretty, shiny cardstock and tied closed with pretty ribbons. They are obviously self-published, though lovingly so (there is even some glitter on some pages!). They have some cute illustrations, but the photographs are of poor quality. Unfortunately, the print borders on the microscopic at times, so the books can be a real strain on the eyes (I do have 20/20 vision, BTW). They have table of contents, but no indexes. No companion CD’s are available. These books are greatly loved by many Waldorfians, so I hate to disparage them, but I have not brought myself to use them yet, simply because of the hard-to-read print. I would love to see someone professionally re-edit and reprint them as the stories are quite cute and the books exude a deep love for children. Here are a couple of double-page spread samples:Lono and Coco Boato 1Lono and Coco Boato 2 Go back to the top of the list of books




Let’s Dance and Sing (ISBN #978-0-936132-82-2), by Kundry Willwerth, is a spiral bound book, with a card stock-ish cover. It measures 8.5” x 11” and is 55 pages long. It contains 13 circle play/game types of arrangements with drama, music, and movement intertwined. It is has many beautiful and elaborate black and white illustrations. The music appears to be hand written, but most of the lyrics are printed.in a professional manner. There is a good table of contents and an index is unnecessary. The third printing copyright is from 2012.Let's Dance and Sing 1Let's Dance and Sing2 Go back to the top of the list of books




A Lifetime of Joy (ISBN #0-9722238-6-X) contains a collection of circle games, finger games, songs, verses, and puppet plays. It is a softbound book with a 2005 copyright. It measures 8.5” x 11” and is 113 pages long. The music and lyrics are handwritten, though easy to read. The rest of the book is professionally printed. The book contains a thorough table of contents, but no index. Here are some sample pages from the book:A Lifetime of Joy 1A Lifetime of Joy 3 Go back to the top of the list of books




Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures CoverMovement Journeys and Circle Adventures, like the Acorn Hill anthologies, was written with the Waldorf teacher very much in mind and is more appropriate for larger groups of children than are available in most homeschools. It provides a variety of seasonal and other circle plays and singing games. Each circle play/singing game is comprised of several poems and songs put together, tied by a theme. There are many movement directions provided for the teacher. As I mentioned previously, I have a soft spot in my heart for circle games, but once again, I must admit that this book is not the most professionally printed book in the world. It is more professionally printed than the Acorn Hill anthologies, however, with all of the music and lyrics printed in a professional manner. The table of contents is fairly thorough, but no index is provided. There is an accompanying CD. It is a comb-bound book, with a cardstock-ish cover. It has a 2006 copyright, but no ISBN number that I can find. There are no illustrations. The book measures 8.5” x 11” and is 113 pages long.Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures 1Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures 3 Go back to the top of the list of books




Naturally You Can Sing publishes song books that were arranged and sung by Mary Thienes-Schunemann. Each book has a an accompanying CD included. The book I refer to the most is Sing a Song of Seasons (ISBN #978-097083970-1). The books measure 8.5” x 11” and are spiral bound with stiff, semi-laminated-like, covers. The copyrights vary with each book, but are from the early 2000’s. Each book is about 60 pages long. The printing is very professional and the book includes adorable black and white drawings. The books have complete table of contents and some have an alphabetical-order list of the songs in the back of the book. Here is a sample page from Sing a Song of Seasons:Sing a Song of Seasons Go back to the top of the list of books




Pentatonic Songs, by Elisabeth Lebret is a 38 page, 8.5” x 5.5” booklet of pentatonic songs. There is no companion CD offered. It has a 1985 copyright. It has a complete table of contents and due to the nature of the book, an index is unnecessary. It is a black and white collection of pentatonic songs, with a couple of basic illustrations. The lyrics were typed and the music appears to be done by hand. Unfortunately, the print quality seems more like the pages were photocopied, so overall, the book can be a strain on the eyes. Here is a sample page:Pentatonic Songs Go back to the top of the list of books




****The Singing Year (ISBN #978-1-903458-39-6), by Candy Verney is a very thorough song book that includes a CD. Were I to have to choose one, and only one, book from this list, this book would be it. The songs are grouped by season, with an extra section devoted to “Anytime”. It is a black and white, softbound book with a 2006 copyright. It measures 8” x 10” and is 136 pages long. It has a thorough table of contents and an index of first lines. It is very professionally printed, with a scattering of illustrations throughout the book. The end of each section of the book contains a small nature study and seasonal craft section. Here are some sample pages from this book:The Singing Year 1The Singing Year 2 Go back to the top of the list of books




Wynstone Press offers a 6 book set of poetry, songs, and stories. Four of the books are seasonal books. The books are softback and measure 8.5” x 6”. They all have original copyrights from 1978, with various revisions and final reprints in 2010 (except Gateways, which, at least for my copy, was reprinted in 2005). The books are all black and white, with professional typography, and no illustrations. They have good table of contents, which are in alphabetical order, rather than page order, so are kind of like indexes??? Though I do have one Seasonal Songs collection CD from Wynstones School, it does not appear to correlate whatsoever with the books.

Spring (ISBN #978-0-946206-46-9) – 88 pages longSummer (ISBN #978-0-946206-47-6) – 112 pages longAutumn (ISBN #978-0-946206-48-3) – 88 pages longWinter (ISBN #978-0-946206-49-0) – 96 pages longSpindrift (ISBN #978-0-946206-50-6) is the largest of the books, at 224 pages, and contains a very general collection of songs, poems, and stories.Gateways (ISBN #978-0-946206-51-3) is 96 pages long and offers songs and poems about mornings, evenings, and fairytales (not the full fairytale). Here is a sample two-page spread from the Spring book:Spring Go back to the top of the list of books




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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.

Maureen

Labels: Circle Time, Kindergarten, Language Arts, Music, Poetry, Preschool, Waldorf
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Baking Apples With Your Preschooler

Last week, Dora and I baked some apples. She was able to help in so many ways, she practically ended up making them herself!

Peeling Apples
Peeling apples
Coring Apples 1
Lining up the apple corer
Coring Apples 2
Coring the apples
Measuring Raisins
Measuring the ingredients
Mixing Apples
Mixing the ingredients

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Labels: Montessori, Preschool
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Pitting Cherries

Pitting Cherries

Howdy everyone! I hope everyone had a nice 4th of July. I enjoyed my week off, though we did not do anything special for the 4th.

Two weeks ago, at the farmer’s market, we bought two pounds of Rainier cherries. When we got home, Dora really wanted to have some, but she didn’t like the idea of having to eat around the pit. So I got out the handy, dandy OXO Good Grips Cherry Pitter that I had bought to feed her cherries when she was a two. Suddenly, I realized that that this was an excellent opportunity to work on some fine motor and practical life skills. After I showed Dora how the pitter worked, she was more than happy to pit cherries. The only problem was that she decided she didn’t like cherries anymore! She still wanted to pit cherries though, so the rest of us got to eat a LOT of cherries, whether we wanted to or not. Next time, I’m going to try Bing cherries and see if she doesn’t like those better.

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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, Preschool
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Preschool at Home–Wiggling Worms

Earthworms

This week Dora and I began a short entomology unit by studying earthworms. I had ordered earthworms, ladybugs, and caterpillars from Insect Lore and was surprised when they all arrived on the same day, just a few days after I ordered them. They usually take weeks to arrive, so we started the unit a bit earlier than I had originally planned. I already had all of the habitats from last year, except for the earthworm habitat. I decided to replace last year’s habitat, as it had not stored very well. Instead, I bought Insect Lore Earthworm Nursery. The worms arrive as vermipods, which are earthworm cocoons. The flyer says the vermipods may hatch over a period of time, some hatching immediately, some taking weeks. Thus far, none of ours have hatched. The photo above was taken through the hole where the magnifying eye piece rests, as my camera just couldn’t handle taking photos through the plastic chamber.

I also purchased the accompanying Insect Lore Earthworm Life Cycle Stages set, which I was worried might scare Dora, as I found them a bit gross myself (though tried very hard not to let on to that). She seemed fine with them, in fact she posed with them by hooking them in various “fancy ways”, as if they were beads to assemble and not worm models.

Worm Life Cycle

For our craft project, we made “worm trails”. For some reason, I thought I had read about others doing this, but I could not find any directions on how to do it. So, I had to wing it. It took awhile to get something that resembled any sort of worm trail, but we got a nice picture and had fun experimenting. To achieve our end result, we poured various colors of tempera paint onto a paper plate in blobs, such that it filled the plate. Then we put tons of cut up pieces of string into the paint. We really had to use a paintbrush to push the string into the paint, otherwise it would not absorb the paint.

Worm Painting 1

We then used the paint brush to lift the string onto the paper. We found that dragging the string resulted in smears, rather than trails. So for the result we were looking for, I had to lift all the strings off of the paper with my fingers (Dora wouldn’t touch the yucky string). I could have turned this into a practical life activity, by having her use tweezers to remove the strings, but I didn’t think of that until later. I thought the end result was colorful and interesting and somewhat resembled the marks worms would leave behind, if they rolled in paint. 

Worm Painting 2

I had a few books on earthworms for us to read, but none of them were worth mentioning. I also had a couple of books that were intended to help Dora see that just because a creature looks different from us, doesn’t mean we need to be scared of it. She is very scared of bugs, so I was trying to ease her fears. The only one of the these books that we really enjoyed was The Gruffalo, which actually perpetuated the concept of “scary” looking things being scary. Even though the book did the opposite of what I intended, I couldn’t help but laugh at this unexpected twist (I think Mr. Mo and I enjoyed the book more than Dora did). In all, the book was a cute read that teaches kids to use their noggins. I would say that the word play seemed to go a bit over Dora’s head, so I would recommend it more for slightly older children (Amazon recommends it for ages 5+).

What about you? Have you studied earthworms before? If so, how long did the vermipods take to hatch?

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Preschool at Home–The Human Skeleton

X-rays 1

This week, Dora and I continued to look at the human body, this time focusing on the skeleton. We started off the week by reading two good books about the skeleton. The first was Jessica’s X-Ray.

The book’s illustrations aren’t the best, but it includes several real x-rays in it. In addition to traditional X-rays, they cover MRI’s, CT Scans, and ultrasounds. I had no idea that the book covered ultrasounds, but it was so nice that it did, because the next day found us at Children’s Hospital getting an ultrasound of Dora’s kidneys! It was really great, because she knew exactly what to expect. The technician had never heard of the book, but was really impressed with Dora’s understanding of the what to expect.

Ultrasound

I will warn you that if you decide to use this book, I personally found the MRI image a bit creepy, as you can see the person’s eyeballs. Dora was not afraid of it at all and she is very sensitive, so maybe it’s just me, but I felt I should give you all a head’s up that it might scare some children.

We also read the book Bones: Skeletons and How They Work. This book was aimed at somewhat older children and some of the pages scared her, so I ended up setting the book aside for right now. It looks like it will be an excellent book to come back to at a later date.

X-rays 2

We had fun putting together this skeleton made from true-to-life human x rays. The photo at very top of this post is of the x-ray of the hand on our light table.

Child-sized Masterpieces on Frames

We didn’t get a to particular craft project this week, though, as always, Dora did lots of painting, coloring, collaging, and other art forms on her own. She has lost interest in the Child Size Masterpieces series of art matching cards (probably because she has maxed out all the cards that don’t require reading to do and hasn’t had any new cards to match for months). I even took the cards out of their folders and displayed them on easels in an effort to make them more enticing, but no such luck. So I brought out some books that I had left from Gohan. I have very few materials left from Gohan as I didn’t want to save many things for ten years. I only saved a select-few, very-special items. One of which was the Katie art series. This series of books is about a little girl named Katie, who frequently visits the art museum with her grandmother. Every time she is at the museum, she slips away from her grandmother and climbs into some of the paintings. Through her adventures in the paintings, children learn a about art history and appreciation.  I had worried that the series would be a bit too advanced for Dora as Gohan was a few years older when I read them with him, but Dora loved the book I set out. I only set out Katie and the Mona Lisa and plan to set out one new book a week as long as Dora is interested in the series (or until we run out of books, whichever comes first).

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Preschool at Home–The Human Body

Vivi Checking Her Heart

This week we studied the human body, focusing on the heart for Valentine’s Day and the kidneys so that Dora might understand a little bit about what has been making her so sick. We used See Inside Your Body, which kind of scared Dora at first, but by the end of the week, she was fine with all of the pictures except the muscles one. I really liked the number of lift-the-flaps the book has, I’m not sure if she would have been engaged by the book without them. I kept things simple and only read the main text and what was under each flap. I also gave her a real stethoscope. She has a couple of play ones for her doctor kit, but was very excited to get a real one and went around checking everyone’s hearts. The photo above is of her checking her own heart. If it isn’t obvious, she has started picking out her own clothes, and she loves mixing and matching prints! I have matured some as I have aged, so I am able to let her enjoy doing this, during this time when she can get so much joy from matching her favorite clothes without the self-consciousness that comes for most of us as we age. I wasn’t so mature with Secunda and Tertia and have always regretted suppressing their creativity in that aspect. I was fine with them mixing and matching at home, but always made them chose matching outfits if we went in public. Now, I could care less if people care about Dora’s wild combinations.

We also read The Valentine Bears, which is about a couple of bears who set their alarm clocks for February 14th,  so that they can celebrate Valentine’s together. It was written by Even Bunting and illustrated by Jan Brett, so you’ve got an award winning duo there, but I didn’t feel that it was an award-winning book. I’m a bit of a cynic about Valentine’s Day, however, and I think that greatly altered my outlook. The older I get, the more I want to rebel against the holiday altogether.

Of course, we did one requisite Valentine’s Day craft. When Dora wasn’t looking, I colored a white heart on watercolor paper. Then I told her that if she painted the paper, my secret Valentine to her would be revealed. She started painting with the watercolors and could see the heart being revealed, but I finally had to guide her to paint on the outside more as she was about to rub a hole in the paper trying to get the paint to stick on the heart! She was so impressed, she had me do some other secret messages and I showed her how it was done then. I still had to work with her to get her to paint on the borders of the images more than trying to force the image to appear by painting heavily on the crayon resist part.

Heart Crayon Resist

Though her kidney/bladder infection was controlled most of the week by antibiotics, she caught a bad cold from Gohan, so we did not go on any fieldtrips this week. We see the pediatrician on Monday, so will hopefully have more answers then.

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Montessori Mondays–Language Trays

Catergories Tray

Last week, I ended up setting out several trays to occupy Dora while my finger healed. One of the trays was what I call a “language tray”. I don’t know if these are actually a Montessori thing or not, but they seem like they should be and they use Montessori materials, so I am calling them Montessori. A lot of materials for teaching language are on paper – cards, lotto games, worksheets, matching puzzle pieces, etc., but Dora has made it very clear to me that she is only interested in truly hands-on learning. She has rejected all of the puzzles and lotto games, turned her nose up at flashcards and worksheets, and generally made it clear that paper is not useful to her for learning language skills (unless it is in the form of a book). At the same time, she evidences some of the problems with language that both Primo and Gohan struggled with at this age and they both ended up having language processing disorders. So I am trying to work a lot on language skills with her. Right now, I am trying to get her to map words using as many neural pathways as possible (i.e. an apple can be associated in the brain as a fruit, as something associated with the fall, as something red, as something roundish, as a type of pie, etc.). The more neural pathways a person uses to access language, the easier word retrieval is and the more fluent speech is. So first I made a go-togethers tray, with simple objects that go together (i.e. moon/sun, bat/ball). This tray proved to be a real challenge for her and I realized that I needed to step backwards a bit. So I made a categories tray instead, using four objects for each category and having three categories on each tray. She struggled a bit at first, but is getting the hang of it now.

Alphabet Box

For the objects, I simply used objects that I have in our alphabet box. I first read about alphabet boxes on Counting Coconuts, when Dora was about one-years-old. I knew as soon as I read about it, that I wanted to make one for her. So I have been collecting objects for over two years now and have a very extensive collection (we have many more objects than most alphabet boxes have, but I knew I wanted to use miniatures for other language activities, so I bought extra). Mari-Ann, of Counting Coconuts, does an excellent job of telling you how to set up an alphabet box and where you can get miniatures for your box, so if you are looking to set up your box, head on over there. My Boys’ Teacher at What DID We Do All Day? also has an excellent post about other ways to use your miniatures. After reading her post, I’m realizing that I need another storage box so that I can start working on blends and digraphs.

Cutting Necklaces

I also set out a basket of cheap bead necklaces to let her cut them up. She had already cut some of them and had started working on some of her nicer necklaces, so I was hoping that by isolating these beads with the scissors, she would stick to cutting only the cheap beads. I’m afraid that it didn’t work and neither did any of our attempts to talk with her about why she couldn’t cut some things up. She took the fact that she could cut these beads as permission to cut up anything and everything. When she started cutting up the pants she was wearing, we finally had to take the scissors away and put them up out of her reach for a while.

Metal Inset Tray

On another tray, I set out a metal inset with some paper, in hopes of enticing Dora to give the insets a try. It worked like a charm. She immediately started using the insets.

Tonging Marbles

I also put out some tongs with bath dots and showed her how to tong marbles on to the dots. Though it did not present much of a challenge for her, she really enjoyed it, so I still have it out this week.

Cyliners Extension

Finally, we did some cylinder work, putting the knobless cylinders in the knobbed cylinder blocks. Dora thought I had completely lost my mind when I first started trying to do this, but she quickly joined in (what she doesn’t realize is that I lost my mind a long time ago, so I don’t have anything left to lose).

How about you? Did you get in any Montessori work last week? I’m linking this post, as always, to Living Montessori Now, your source for Montessori inspiration 24 hours/day, 7 days/week!

Labels: Language Arts, Montessori, Preschool
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Preschool @ Home–Sense of Taste

Rootbeer Store

Dora and I finished up looking at the five senses this week with studying the sense of taste. Ideally, I would have had Dora experiment with the Montessori tasting cups for this unit, but I knew that she would not have appreciated tasting extremely salty, bitter, or sour foods. Since she is so good about taking her various liquid meds, which she absolutely abhors, there was no way that I am going to pressure her to taste anything else that she does not like. So we went on a field trip to The Root Beer Store instead. I have been meaning to go there for ages and this proved to be a good excuse. It did not teach Dora about the various types of taste buds, but it did reinforce the idea of tasting things with our tongue and comparing various tastes. Plus, it was fun! Can you believe that they have 100+ types of root beer, not to mention all of the brands of root beer “cousins” that they carry (sarsaparilla, cream soda, ginger beer, etc.). If you are ever in the Seattle area, they have two stores and host root beer tastings on the weekend.I did have a craft project planned, but was not able to do it, because of the stupid splinter in my finger (read my previous post if you want to know exactly how dangerous splinters can be!). We read tons this week, but the the best book we read for this unit was Handa’s Surprise, which was a really cute and funny book that taught Dora about some fruits that she has not tried yet. We also read Taste (Five Senses). We have really enjoyed this whole series. It teaches about all of the senses at a level that a preschooler can understand. I also really like the illustrations, which border on being Waldorfian (yes, I just made that word up, but it sure sounds so cool – it almost sounds like something out of Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica!).

M and M math

Finally, we read the M&M math book, which I used to love when my older kids were younger, but hated this time around. I am now just much more aware about the fact that we don’t need things like candy to entice children to learn. I also am more sensitive to the nutritional ramifications of using candy in the learning environment. I had not actually planned to buy M&M’s, but Dora really wanted to try the exercises, so I broke down and bought some. She has made it clear that she feels we should have M&M’s every time we read the book, so I am going to discretely dispose of the book sometime this week.

Lightbox with Valentines Gels

We, of course, spent a lot of time playing with our new favorite toy (or I should really say MY new favorite toy), the light box. For starters, we played with some Valentine’s Day tic-tac-toe gel clings on the light box.

Light Table with Mirrors

I also followed Play at Home Mom’s DIY instructions to set up a mirror exploration station for our light box.

KidQuest 9

By this morning, Dora’s new antibiotics were really kicking in, so she wanted to get out of the house. She specifically requested that we go to the Children’s Museum again. It was great to see her have so much more energy this week. She spent so much more time exploring things. We finally had to leave and she had only seen about half of the museum. Boy was she worn out tonight though! The one thing that she spent the most time on was, surprise, their light table! I guess light tables are kind of the new fad (or maybe they’re an old fad and I’m just really slow). I was very disappointed with the quality of the bulbs that the museum uses. You can see above that the light is very yellow and not very strong. They did have translucent magna tiles there, however, which we probably won’t be buying as they are just so expensive and I am not convinced that their learning/fun value equals their price.

KidQuest 6

Dora also spent a lot of time exploring the giant ball run and water table.

KidQuest 12

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.

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Science Sunday

For the Kids FridayNo Time For Flash Cards

 

Labels: Literature, Montessori, Preschool, Science, This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Feeling Yucky, But Still Doing Some Fine Motor Work

EEG

Dora is still not feeling up to par, so her energy level and patience with new activities have been a bit low. We’re not really sure what is wrong with her. It is beginning to look like she may have some sort of congenital defect of the urinary tract/kidneys. She has always had these off and on periods of running fevers and never really getting sick, but I thought she was just fighting off viruses. I even took her to the doctor a couple of times, but every time I got her there, she’d perk up and her fever would break, so I kind of just got used to it over time. She has always been what I have called, “high maintenance”, never seeming to be comfortable in her own skin. Now it appears, that she may have been fighting off  kidney infections all her life. In early December, she had a fairly obvious bladder infection, so I took her to urgent care and she’s not been well since. At this point in time, she has had three documented bladder infections in the last eight weeks, all different bacterial strains. She has been on antibiotics almost non-stop for the entire period of time. Then in late December, she had a seizure, so we spent weeks trying to determine if she had a seizure disorder. At this point, it does not appear that she has one, but that she had a seizure as the result of another bladder infection that we did not know about at the time. The photo above is of her getting an EEG, which she did not enjoy.  We just got the latest culture results back today and have an appointment in two weeks, where we will be figuring out with her pediatrician what steps to take now as far as further testing and seeing specialists goes.

She is not really laying around and still has periods of bouncing off the walls, but she also has periods when she sort of shuts down. In addition, she has started losing her patience with challenging things and will throw the offending work across the room. Also, as I mentioned last week, she just wants to stay home all day, every day. I am really trying to honor that wish. Being out and about is clearly not comfortable for her. She is needing to be at home with a lot of snuggle time and not stressed by the various sounds, sights, and smells of the outside world.

Stringing Beads

At home, she does stay fairly active, though with more sedate activities most of the time. She has really gotten interested with bead stringing all of a sudden.

Stringing Beads 2

She even went so far as to take some beads that we have for shape sorting and started stringing them on the leaf sticks from her Honey Bee Tree game. So I gave her some pipe cleaners and she really loved putting the beads on those.

Cutting Strips 2

She has also been working with scissors a lot. I made her some cutting strips and put stickers in between the lines. She enjoyed cutting those for one day, but has not expressed any interest since. She seems to prefer just exploring using the scissors in a variety of cutting patterns. She also has started cutting all of the cheapy beaded necklaces that we have into individual beads (the necklaces are like the ones people throw at Mardi Gras). It is no fun cleaning them up, but she is clearly building up some great fine motor skills doing it. We have several pairs of children’s scissors available to her at all times and she uses them all at different times. She started with My First Scissors, which are easier to hold for toddlers, as they do not use finger holes. She then progressed to Maped Koopy Spring Scissors. You can turn the spring off if you want, but the spring is nice at first, so the child only has to close, but not open the scissors. She has more recently started using Fiskars Kids Classic 5-Inch Blunt Tip Scissors, but did cut herself (no blood) once and has been a bit scissor-shy of them since.

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

Preschool at Home–Sense of Touch

Transluscent Putty 4

We ended up spending a lot more time at home this week than we usually do. Part of this was, because Dora has suddenly started refusing to go to any of her activities. So I am just canceling them as clearly she is feeling that she needs more time at home. It is only on the days that we are home for most of the day that she really starts exploring the materials/toys that we have at home. Of course, conversely, if we are home too much, she becomes bored. It is a precarious balance. Anyway, this week we studied touch. I had tons of “fun” stuff to do. The only problem was that Dora did not like the feel of any of my “fun” activities. We tried working with fabric matching and touch boards, which she hated (she wouldn’t even touch the touch boards at all after the first time). We made doughs, slime, and clays galore and she hated them all. Then yesterday I saw this post about making transparent silly putty at Play at Home Mom to play with on light boxes and I knew that we had to try it! I had been looking for liquid starch for a very long time and having so much trouble finding it. Today I went to several stores and was just about to give up, when I tried one last store and they had it! The putty was an absolute success! It looked so cool and Dora loved playing with it. It was not too gooey for her at all. Yay! She spent most of the time making designs by putting beads into it. Meanwhile, Tertia just HAD to try to blow bubbles in it like Play at Home Mom’s son did.

Embossing

For a craft activity, we tried our hand at embossing with a set from Allison’s Montessori. I had never done embossing before and am not sure I was doing it right. Dora decided that she preferred using the designs as stencils and using a puncher with them instead anyway.

KidsQuest 1

We went to one of our local children’s museums, which had lots of activities for Dora to explore her sense of touch with.

For literature, we read three good books. We read Pat the Bunny, which I somehow missed buying for her when she was younger. Despite it being aimed at somewhat younger children, she really enjoyed the book and I ended up reading it far too many times this week.

We also read Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On, with cut out holes for the eyes. Dora insisted on poking a finger through every single eye on every single page.

Finally, we read the last in our series of senses books, Touch (Five Senses). Interestingly, she has been going over to the science shelf and asking me to reread the other senses books and I just finally started paying attention to the last page of each book, which has a medical type drawing of the body part involved with a LOT of details. I pointed out the pictures and described the details and Dora was fascinated by it all. I guess it really must have made an impression on her, because suddenly her imaginary friend, Ana, has started having some very strange “health problems”. I had planned to not go into more of the human body with her after we finished the five senses, but her obvious curiosity about the subject, combined with some of the health issues that she has been dealing with lately, have made me feel that I owe it to her to cover more of the body’s systems.

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 NurtureStore and…

    Shibley Smiles Classified: Mom Science Sunday

   

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Labels: Montessori, Preschool, Science, Summer, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff