Monday, December 8, 2014

the gift of play dough

Homemade play dough has become our 
go-to gift for friends.

It's inexpensive and easy to make.

The recipient will have a ball 
while strengthening his or her fine motor skills.
(Sorry - once a Montessori teacher, always a Montessori teacher!)

Ultimately, it can be composted or thrown away, the container recycled.

Plus, nothing beats giving a gift that 
you made with your very own hands, right?!!
(Just ask Elise - she was nearly bursting with pride 
watching her friend unwrap the snowman on the left 
- she made the one on the right for herself, of course!)

To make the snowman play dough,
and kneaded in some silver glitter and a splash of peppermint extract at the end.

In addition to the sparkly dough, we put together a few snowman supplies:

googly eyes,
twig arms,
felt scarves,
and carrot noses (cut golf tees and toothpicks).

Of course, we had to put the snowman play dough in snowman jars
- thank you Eltern vom Mars!

In the photo at the top of the post, the jars are wearing knitted hats,
but if you're not a knitter - or you just don't want to spend your precious time knitting hats for jars -
try cutting off the toe of a single sock and gluing a pom pom to the top.
(The sock hat pictured above came off an extremely cute, child-made sock snowman 
we purchased at a craft fair this weekend.)

Happy gifting!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

looking back at summer: the pea fort

 ^^ The Pea Fort - July 2014 ^^

I took a little blogging break over the summer, 
and I know there are A LOT of readers wondering 
What ever happened with The Pea Fort?  

For those of you who just started reading itty bitty love, 
The Pea Fort is a trellis-like structure we built 
and planted pea and bean seeds around 
- in hopes of creating an edible playhouse for Elise.  

You can read more about it here and here.

^^ Elise feasted on peas and beans all summer! ^^

I had plans of picking some to freeze and enjoy over the winter, 
but all were consumed immediately upon being picked, 
either inside or just outside of The Pea Fort.  :)

That makes more sense anyway,
don't you think?

^^ The Pea Fort The Snow Cave - November 2014 ^^

What will we plant next year?

Maybe more beans and a few less peas.
(The pea plants died-back once the weather got hot,
and it was tricky pulling them out from around the bean plants.)

I'd also like to try a climbing flower or two.
Morning glories?  Sweet peas?  Hmmmm...

We have all winter to dream!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

favorite veggie reads

Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.
                                                                 - Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto) 

A few books that have inspired our growing love of vegetables!

  • Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
  • Vegetables, Vegetables!  by Fay Robinson
  • Vegetables in the Garden by Pascale De Bourgoing
  • The Vegetables We Eat by Gail Gibbons
  • Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop
  • Food For Thought by Saxton Freymann

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

vegetable taste test

Did you know that when you're eating vegetables, sometimes you're eating leaves?  And stems?!  And flowers?!!!

I'm sure you knew that, and I guess I did, too - I just hadn't really thought of it that way before.  Elise, on the other hand, apparently thinks about it a lot.  A few mornings ago, before she even rolled out of bed, she exclaimed, "Mama!  I eat leaves!!!"  Surprised, I responded, "You do?!"  To which she replied, "Yes, salad!"

Anyway, this early-morning conversation about the parts of plants that we eat inspired this vegetable taste test.  It was so much fun, we actually put it together again to go along with our lunch!  ;)

root - carrot
bulb - scallion
stem - celery
leaves - spinach
flowers - broccoli
fruit - cucumber
seeds - peas

(We didn't have one of these prepared, but for bonus points, eat a tuber - potato!)

Please check back on Friday for a list of our favorite vegetable books!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

matching objects to pictures

One of the principles of Montessori education is to move from concrete to abstract.  First, Elise matched objects to objects, now she's matching objects to pictures, and soon she'll be matching pictures to pictures...


Why matching?

Matching supports the development of visual discrimination, 
which is an important reading skill.

Matching can also enrich vocabulary,
especially if the items being matched are related.

Matching provides experience in 1-1 correspondence,
which is a critical math skill.

Matching also requires problem solving;
the visual disharmony of mismatched items provides a control of error.

Oh, and there's just something so interesting 
about seeing two items that are exactly the same, right?

Whew!  Ready to match objects to pictures?

Here we go!

^^ "Hey!  I have that!" - matching familiar items to catalog photos ^^

^^ matching Rosie to photos of Australian Cattle Dogs in The Ultimate Dog Book 
- Elise finds this mach a lot! ^^

^^ real-life matching - We bring field guides on all our walks. ^^

^^ matching vintage fake fruit to fruit cards from Montessori Print Shop
 - The fruit was leftover from a Carmen Miranda costume, but real fruit would work, too! ^^

^^ matching familiar items to laminated photos ^^

^^ matching farm animal figurines to Moo ^^

^^ matching North American mammal figurines to postcards ^^

^^ story props - matching percussion instruments to My Family Plays Music ^^

^^ matching rings to their color-coordinated silhouettes 
- I made the cards by tracing each ring on paper and filling in the outlines with colored pencil ^^

^^matching dishes and utensils to a Montessori-inspired placemat
- I made the placemat by tracing Elise's dishes and utensils on construction paper and aluminum foil.  After cutting them out, I glued them to poster board and attached contact paper. ^^

^^ matching miscellaneous items to the silhouettes in Black & White ^^

 ^^ Black & White is an accordion-style book, so after matching the first side, Elise flipped it over and scavenged around the house for items to match the other side! ^^

^^ matching the pieces of a shape puzzle to their color-coordinated outlines ^^

^^ matching cooking utensils to their outlines ^^

^^ Elise found this matching activity on her Language shelf before I had the chance to present it to her, 
but she knew exactly what to do!  :) ^^

Still looking for more matching objects to pictures inspiration???  
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