Tuesday, April 15, 2014

good things come in small packages...

Last week, an intriguing little package arrived at our door...

Elise, Mama, Papa, Rosie - who could it be for?

We opened it up as quickly as we could!

And, oh my, were the contents ever so good!

Did it contain a magic pill that made our family shrink?!

No, although the resemblance IS quite uncanny, don't you think?!

custom felt family by Jen's Felted Jems
(visit her on etsy and on facebook)

*UPDATE* 4/16  No, friends - this is NOT a pregnancy announcement!  Although, in hindsight, I realize that it kinda looks like one!  Ha!  The baby is just because Elise is so baby-crazy!  Maybe someday....  ;)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

a little tour: e's practical life shelf

^^e's practical life shelf^^

A few lessons I've put together to support the development of Elise's coordination and control of movement...

 ^^posting toothpicks^^

 ^^fragile objects^^

 ^^transferring eggs (whole hand)^^

 ^^transferring pom poms (melon baller)^^

^^play dough^^


Lately, I've been debating whether or not to continue preparing these types of lessons for Elise...  Is it as meaningful to spoon pom poms between two bowls on a tray as it is to scoop spices into a pot of soup?  Yes?  No?  While I don't think these lessons should replace authentic practical life exercises - cooking, cleaning, caring for oneself, etc - I do think they can be offered as a valuable supplement. 

Like authentic practical life exercises, these lessons:
  • develop strength, coordination, and muscle control
  • encourage concentration, carefulness, and precision
  • provide indirect preparation for writing, reading, and mathematics
  • foster independence 

Ultimately, the biggest benefit I see in preparing practical life lessons for Elise, in addition to including her in authentic practical life work, is that it offers her freedom of choice - she can decide when, where, and for how long she wants to work.  Honestly, at 21 months of age, she has limited freedom in choosing authentic practical life work - she often has to wait for me or work at my pace to reach my adult goals.  I know this will all change as Elise gets older, and I'll probably reevaluate the purpose of her practical life shelf several more times...  but for now, it stays.  

What do YOU think?  Do you prepare practical life lessons in addition to including your child in authentic practical life work?  Why or why not?  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

nest! (and a giveaway!) - CLOSED

^^Can you spot the osprey and its nest?!^^

This morning, as we walked along the river, Elise and I had the good fortune of watching an osprey work on its nest.  Elise has been really interested in nests lately, and here was a GIANT nest being built right before our very eyes!  How exciting!

Pulling branches off trees, swooping down to pick sticks up off the ground, and occasionally calling out - Elise and I had a front row view of the busy osprey!  Usually, when we watch birds or other wildlife, it's from a distance, so I'm not sure how much Elise is actually able to see.  This time, I knew Elise was catching all the action because SHE was the one pointing out everything to ME!   

A few interesting facts about osprey and their nests:
  • Although osprey mate for life (20-25 years), they do not migrate together or spend the winters together.  Our osprey just got back last weekend, and is waiting for its mate to arrive.  Kind of romantic, right?
  • Osprey nest on platforms near water- tall trees, man-made structures, light posts, etc.  Our osprey pair nests on a man-made platform between the river and a baseball field - before the platform was built, they nested right on a baseball light pole!  
  • Osprey add new material to their nests each season.
  • After osprey young have fledged, unlike other raptors, they return to their nest each night.  
(Birds of Prey of the West Field Guide by Stan Tekiela)

When Elise wasn't totally mesmerized by the action, she was busy making her own nests.  Of course, she offered all the best sticks to the osprey!  ;)

Back at home, Elise and I filled an empty suet container with scraps of yarn I had been saving from my knitting projects... 

We hung it outside in our apple tree - hopefully, a bird or two will use some of the yarn for nesting material. (Inspired by The Magic Onions post, Helping the Birds Make Beautiful Nests)

OK, now for the giveaway!  Last spring, I made this felted wool nest for Elise.  It has been inspiring so much play around here lately, I'd like to make another nest for one of YOU to enjoy with your little one/ones!

So, in honor of my 300th post - is that even possible?! - I am giving a felted wool nest and two wooden eggs to one lucky itty bitty love reader!  

How to enter:
  • Leave a comment on this post and tell me about a bird you enjoy watching and what color nest you would like (natural brown or a whimsical color - rainbow, purple, green, etc).  
Additional entries:
  • "Like" itty bitty love on Facebook and tell me in the comments.  If you've already "liked" itty bitty love on FB before this giveaway, tell me in the comments for two extra entries! 
I'll choose the winner at random on Friday at 6 pm (MST)!  Good luck!!!

Drum roll, please... 

The winner of the felted bird nest is Alexis!
Thank you to everyone who entered - I had so much fun reading about all your bird watching adventures!  :)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

a simple taste test

Last night, while we anxiously waited for our dinner to cook, 
Elise and I had a little impromptu taste test.  

It was so much fun, we did it twice,
and Elise was ready to do it again first thing this morning.  ;)

I offered Elise three identical little glasses 
of sugar water, lemon water, and salt water.  
(I also filled a bottle with plain water to cleanse her palette between tastes.)  

After Elise took a sip from a glass, 
I would name the taste.  
That was sweet.  That was sour.  That was salty.  

Sweet was a big hit, with salty coming in a close second.  
Sour left little to be desired...
which was surprising, considering Elise usually sucks down lemon wedges.  

Coffee seemed like an ideal bitter taste, 
but I decided it would be bonkers to let my toddler drink coffee after 6 pm!

I can't stop thinking of more "edible tests" for us try:
texture, color, temperature...
We may be doing this for awhile!

Monday, March 31, 2014

on the shelves - 20 months

A handful of E's favorite activities this month:

1. color basket one
A homemade version of the traditional Montessori material, Color Box I.  I made our color tablets by simply gluing paint samples onto rectangles of cardboard.  Elise is able to successfully match all three primary colors, and she really enjoys checking her work by "telling the whole story:" red, red; yellow, yellow; blue, blue!

2. caring for a plant
Up until this month, our only house plant had been a small, happily-neglected cactus.  When I saw these little daffodil plants at the grocery store, spring fever got the better of me, and I decided to bring one home!  Although it's looking a little past it's prime, Elise continues to enjoy smelling the blossoms and keeping it well-watered. ;)

3. beginning sorting 
While I drooled over a million and one awesome sorting activities on pinterest, I decided to keep this introductory activity simple.  I put two different types of objects in a basket - cotton balls and wooden eggs, and showed Elise how to sort them into a divided baking dish.  She caught on right away, and has has been getting a lot of satisfaction out of the activity - it must appeal to her sense of order!

4.  matching animals to their babies
Elise has gone completely baby crazy, so this is quite possibly her favorite activity of all time.  I tried to include both male and female animals - if you've ever examined a Schleich figurine, you'll know what I'm talking about.  Anyway, I'm glad I did because while Elise is very much a mama's girl right now, she is really drawn to the male animals, especially the dog - she calls him "Papa" and the puppy "Elise."

5. smelling jars
This is another homemade version of a traditional Montessori material, the Smelling Cylinders.  I'll add another set of jars soon, so Elise can match the scents.  For now, she is busy figuring out how to open the lids, and happily sniffing away at the essential oils I dabbed onto a few cotton balls.  While this activity may seem simple, I think it's really increased Elise's awareness of aromas in the environment.

6. hot and cold cards
Elise continues to be fascinated by hot and cold.  I made these cards out of photos I took of hot and cold things around our house - a steaming tea kettle, an ice cube, etc.  (Thanks to Elsa for the idea!)  Eventually, this will be another sorting activity, but for now we've just been talking about the cards and matching them to the environment.
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