Tuesday, April 30, 2013

six object permanence games

If something can't be seen, heard, or touched, does it still exist?  Jean Piaget emphasized the importance of object permanence in his theory of cognitive development.  (Read more on Wikipedia.)  Here are a handful of fun games to play with your baby that will strengthen his or her understanding of object permanence!

1. Ball under a cup

2. Caterpillar in an apple

3. Ring in a box

4. Stuffed animal under a blanket

5. The ball drop

6. Peek-a-boo!!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

a little tour: e's montessori nursery

Welcome to Elise's bedroom!  Before she was born, Hubs and I spent a lot of time in this room.  We sat on the floor imagining what our baby was going to be like, and how we could create a space that would meet his or her needs.  Since we didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl, we wanted to keep it neutral.  We also knew we wanted it to have a Montessori influence.  We decided on child-sized furniture, natural materials, low-hanging pictures, a floor bed, etc - things that would be inviting to a small child and encourage movement.  Anyway, here are the results!  It is so much fun for us to see Elise thriving in this space!

Elise has been sleeping on her floor bed at night and for naps since she was twelve weeks old.  Before that, she sleep in a bassinet, or with me on the couch.  :)  Having a floor bed has really worked out well for our family, and I plan on posting more about our experience soon! 

mattress:  sultan florvag (ikea)
rug:  wool tufted rug (world market)
mirror:  old - hubs attached it to the wall with trim.  
wall decor: left to right happy garden embroidery pattern (little dear), fox decal (wee gallery), art cards (wee gallery), bird print (christine sutton)
mobile:  mobile hanger (michael olaf), dream catcher (gift)
shelf:  unfinished wooden crate (joann fabric and craft store)
knitted hedgehogs:  smith pattern (ysolda teague) 

Elise's room is upstairs, and when she wakes up from a nap we can hear her through the ceiling, crawling to either her shelf or her closet!  She rarely wakes up crying - we end up going upstairs because we want to see her, not because she needs us.

curtain: you can barely see it, but my mom and I made it from redwork renaissance fabric (moda)
wall decor:  woodland wall graphics and art cards (wee gallery)
chair:  old - friends of my parents made it for me when I was a little babe
closet: we bought and installed closet organizing hardware from lowe's, and adjusted it to child-level
laundry basket: old - something similar (montessori services)
shelf:  martha stewart cube organizer (home depot) - hubs attached a piece of white beadboard to the back
mobile:  hot air balloons (flensted mobiles), purchased at The Livingston Kite Company

Oh, Elise and I have spent many an hour in that chair!  I wasn't sure I wanted to put a such a monster of a chair in her room, but it has really been nice for nursing, snuggling, and reading books. Eventually it will go somewhere else in the house, and then this corner will evolve into a new space.

chair: blain (best home furnishings - storytime series), purchased at Bibs and Binkies
side-table: old - an awesome garage sale freebie
sailboat painting: a christine sutton original 

Inspiring Montessori bedrooms:

Monday, April 22, 2013

kitchen treasures

Another favorite treasure basket... 

While I wash dishes or prepare a meal, Elise can often be found exploring the objects in her kitchen treasure basket.  I love that we're able to both work in the kitchen at the same time (AND I can get something done - like the dishes!  Woo hoo!). 

Elise loves being able to check out all the cooking tools she's seen Hubs and I use in the kitchen.  (Of course, that cute little felt doughnut isn't really a tool, but it is fun to chew on!)  I can't wait until Elise is able to do practical life activities like scrubbing carrots and stirring batter, but a kitchen treasure basket seems like a good place to start! 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

the velcro board

I saw this over on Chasing Cheerios, and knew we had to give it a try.  Remember how much we love velcro?  Anyway, our velcro board has been a big hit with Elise for the past month.  I can't decide which she enjoys more, pulling the objects off the board, or sticking them in her mouth afterwards!  Either way, Elise is strengthening her control and coordination of movement AND stimulating her senses.

To make this activity, I attached strips of sticky back velcro to a board (It's actually a wooden plaque).  Then, I stuck smaller pieces of sticky back velcro to the bottoms of some wooden objects.  I found all my supplies at  Michaels, and spent about $10.  I always stay with Elise while she's using the velcro board because some of the objects are small.  Also, Elise really likes to chew on the little pieces of velcro, so I check them frequently to make sure they're still firmly stuck in place.

Oh gosh, I was just looking at this last photo, and there's Rosie!  Do you see her?  What a creeper...  I think she bombs 90% of the photos I take of Elise.  This baby sure is lucky to get herded by a cow dog all day!  :)

Monday, April 15, 2013

on the shelves - 9 months

 the circle treasure basket
A variety of lids to look at, chew on, and hit together.  Lids scavenged from around the house. 

 the ball drop
This is our version of the object permanence box.  The ball is dropped into one of the three holes on the top, and then rolls out the hole on the side.  Box and ball purchased here, and then slightly modified.  :)

egg and cup
This activity is great for exploring the concept that things fit together.  Plus, the egg is perfect for chewing on!  Egg and cup from Pinkhouse Handworks.

the photo album
Elise always enjoys looking at photos of herself and other people she knows.  I switch the photos out occasionally to keep it fresh.  I like the concept of a baby photo album, but I don't like the way the plastic sleeves stick to the photos in this one.  Still curious?  Check it out here.

 the blue bag
A blue bag full of blue objects to explore.  Can you guess which one Elise likes the best?

Friday, April 12, 2013

busy hands: baby edition

pulling mama-made magnets
off the fridge

exploring the tails
a family walk 
along the Yellowstone River

a selection of spheres
admiring the details
on a souvenir gift from Mexico 
(Our friend who gave up this little dish apologized because there was a piece of velcro on the back.  I laughed and showed her all the photos hanging with velcro on our walls.  We hung the dish up right away, and Elise loved pulling it off.  I haven't kept it up, though, because I'm a little worried about E chewing off the beads... Instead, I'm saving it for special times when we can look at it together!) 
picking up and dropping the agate

pulling up to a stand
against a chair
Happy Friday, friends!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

treasures from nature

OK, so we are huge fans of treasure baskets around here.  Commercial baby toys are fun for a quick minute or two, but a basket full of real things?  Things the big people use?  Now, that's worth some serious baby investigation.

This week, Elise has been exploring a treasure basket with objects from nature.  Our outside world has been under snow for the majority of Elise's life (crazy, right?), so it's been exciting for her to discover that under all that fluffy white stuff, some seriously interesting things were hiding.  A few of our natural finds have come home with us to become Elise's newest treasure basket.

Clockwise from the top left:  agate, driftwood, fossil, coral (not from Montana, but a gift from a friend's recent trip to Mexico), pine branch cutting, and pine cone.

A thoughtfully put together treasure basket can stimulate all of Elise's senses and hold her interest for up to a half an hour, or more!  Elise has been enjoying treasure baskets since she was between 4 and 5 months old (she's 9 months now), and I  really appreciate the way they've given her an opportunity to experience the fascinating objects of her environment in a safe way.  OH, and did I mention?  Putting together a basket full of curiosities from your house and yard is FREE!  Now that's a treasure, right?     

Some treasure basket inspiration: 

Monday, April 8, 2013

a book, a craft, a task

A handful of happy activities to fill that precious free time I sometimes find here and there...

Book  I've been trying to read a little every day.  Right now I'm on an Ivan Doig kick - Prairie Nocturne is the fifth one of his books that I've read since February!  That's commitment. 

Craft  I started knitting a baby hedgehog last month from the pattern Smith by Ysolda Teague.  I've already knit the mama and the papa, so Elise's little hedgie family is nearly complete!

Task  I was going to work in the garden today because the weather has been so nice and springy, but we woke up to SNOW this morning!  Until tomorrow, dandelions?

What projects are you working on during your precious moments of free time?

Friday, April 5, 2013


I came across this sweet little scene today, and my heart pretty much melted on the spot.  Elise had taken Busy Piggies off her bookshelf, and was sitting, flipping through the pages all by herself.  Oh, how I adore this little person!  I hope her love for books and reading lasts a lifetime!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

ripping things off the walls

"Oooaaaaaghhh!"  Thump thump thump thump, riiiiiiiiip!   

That's the sound of Elise crawling around the house, tearing pictures off the wall.  Ever since Elise was a newborn, I've been hanging pictures at her level along the wallsShe's enjoyed looking at cool calendar pages, postcards from faraway lands, and photos of herself, family, and friends.  

This was all fine and dandy until Elise became mobile.  Then, the pictures started coming off the walls.  Within seconds, they were crumpled, torn, and soaking wet.  While I cheered Elise's dexterity, I also mourned all the cool pictures we were going through, and worried about the ink and paper that was being ingested. 

That is, until I busted out the laminator.  I had forgotten about that thing!  When I was teaching, I used it all the time.

Anyway, I laminated a selection of photos - I tried to choose ones that were fairly close up, and showed Elise working in her environment or interacting with friends and family.  I rounded off all the sharp corners when I cut them out of the laminating plastic.

Once they were laminated and cut out, I stuck small pieces of sticky back velcro on the back's of the photos - I used the rough, hook side.

Then, I stuck larger pieces of sticky back velcro in various places around the house - I used the soft, loop side.

I can easily stick pictures all over the house this way, and Elise LOVES discovering them and pulling them off.  She'll spend a good portion of the morning crawling all around the house, looking at pictures.  It's so much fun to hear her squeal in delight when she discovers a picture of herself doing something fun.  Plus, when the velcro pulls apart, it makes a really satisfying ripping sound.

I keep laminating more photos and rotating them around to keep it interesting for Elise.  It would also be fun to laminate other small pictures, like magazine images of people and animals.  Eventually, Elise will be able to put them back on the walls herself, but in the meantime, it only takes me a few seconds to do it - and that's important! 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

well, hello there!

It sure has been awhile!  Have you missed me?  ;)  I have most definitely missed the blog world, and lately I've been feeling pretty inspired to give it a go again.  I'd like to introduce you to my biggest inspiration, my lovely new little friend and daughter, Elise.  She was born last July, and I am head over heals for her - sorry Hubs and Rosie, but you've kind of been replaced.  Ha, ha!  JK!  I still love my husband and dog -  having a sweet baby is just the icing on the cake.  Anyway, I've stopped teaching to stay at home with Elise.  I miss all my little pupils back at the Montessori preschool, but I am having lots of fun making materials and creating a Montessori environment for Elise here at home.  I've gotten many great ideas online (umm, pinterest is incredible!!!), and I'm ready to start sharing what Elise and I have been up to here on the blog.  There!  Now you're caught up with me, so what's new with you?    
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