Homeschool Montessori Day 1

Hello again! The past few months have been extremely busy for us! We moved (again), which was the major thing.

Now that we’re settled in our new house, we have a great space for homeschooling, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

I found a great online Montessori training course (more on that in a later post), and I officially started building our class last night so we could begin lessons today.

Our setup is pretty simple right now. We have 2 sets of shelves and our child-sized table. I added a stool for me to sit on when presenting lessons. I used blue painters tape to create our line.
I’ve only put out 2 lessons (Object Transferring and Dry Pouring) and some mats.
Dexter was beside himself to get started on lessons. It was very difficult to hold his attention at first. We worked on some Grace and Courtesy lessons. He very quickly picked up the phrase “soon you will be able to…” and started repeating it back to me.
Even though he was antsy, he really enjoyed going through the Grace and Courtesy lessons. After I did my presentations, he would always begin his turn by saying, “Watch me carefully, and then you may have a turn!”
Presenting the hands-on lessons were more difficult. He was extremely eager to have his turn, and he talked and tried to grab the whole time. I wasn’t exactly sure how to handle that! So I’m going to have to ask my instructor about that and some of our other issues.
He did Object Transferring almost like I did it, which was encouraging. But he only wanted to do it in one direction, exercising one hand but not the other. I did wonder if I put too many of his glass marbles in the basket. Tonight, I will probably only leave 5-10 and see how that works.
So we moved on to Dry Pouring. I did my presentation, then returned the tray to the shelf. But when it was Dexter’s turn, we discovered the loaded tray was too heavy for him to carry! So he just grabbed the pitchers and took off! Later, I brought the tray to the table for him (when he wanted me to have a turn, I used it as an opportunity to present the lesson again), but I suppose we’ll need to find another solution. Either he needs lighter pitchers (those Pyrex measuring cups *are* heavy), or we need to do the lesson by putting down a mat and moving the pitchers over. I’m not really sure which is more desirable.
Overall, he did really well at pouring. He did decide to try to play in the kernels at one point. And then he went back to pouring. I think I said, “Soon, you will learn to pour without playing in the kernels!” and that seemed to be enough of a reminder for him.
I showed him to pour using 2 fingers for support on the pitcher, and he truly tried to do that, but just couldn’t figure out how to do it. So he used his whole hand. He also would sometimes rest his hand or the top pitcher on the bottom pitcher when pouring.

But he was happy with his work!

He did really want me to stay with him while he did everything, and I knew that would be an issue. So I set up my own workstation in the dining room, where I was in eyesight. Every time he asked me to come back to watch him work, I told him I had my own work to do, and he would go back to his task.
He did have a hard time accepting that we were not going to mix the 2 lessons. I explained to him that we would leave them separately, and that if he tried to pour the glass marbles they would likely break, and that soon I would give him a new thing to pour.
He was really able to work for almost an hour, which is probably pretty good for a first day. This wasn’t uninterrupted work, but he was at least interested in lessons for that long. After that he wanted to pretend the rolled work mats were light sabers and the marbles were batteries for the light sabers. Sigh.
My personal difficulty was staying positive and patient. Sometimes I didn’t know how to correct an issue without just saying, “Ok, we’re not going to do that”.
Hopefully things will go more smoothly tomorrow! I do know that it will take time for both of us to develop patience with this method.

Preschool Theme: Penguins

At the beginning of the year, I officially (re)started preschooling Dexter. I have created our curriculum for the year, and I’d love to share some of our activities and themes with you moms out there! I’ll be showing some pictures of things we did and sharing the resources I’ve compiled for that theme.

I was so excited about studying penguins last week, because I found some really cute ideas online. And I figured this would be a topic that Dexter could really get into. 

We started the week out by discussing penguins. I found some really informative books for kids at Mckay’s. Dexter loves books and he was able to stay engaged and learn a lot without just having me lecture him about the topic. 

I strongly suggest going by a used book store and loading up on books to supplement your preschool curriculum. I know a lot of people love to go to the library, and that’s great too. I spent about $25 on as many books as I could (most of my books were under $1), and I’m really glad I did that because I don’t feel the pressure to get to the library weekly. 

I borrowed some plastic penguins from my mom (thanks, Grandma!!!) so we could have imaginative play. Primarily, Dex enjoyed having the penguins slide down cardboard tubes. And we also let the penguins swim in some ice water. So, if you don’t have some play items that go with your theme, you could consider borrowing some like we did! Dexter was actually excited when we sent them back because he understood that they came from Grandma’s house. He even got really into writing (drawing) her a thank-you note to send with them.

We then watched March of the Penguins. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can stream this for free! Take note that there are several death-related scenes in the movie and be prepared to answer those questions! Dexter’s favorite part was when the babies came, and how they hid under their parents’ bellies. We snuggled in bed to watch it, and he kept telling me, “I want to hide in your tummy!” and would snuggle up against me and cover up with blankets.

For movement, we waddled around like penguins. We did this after watching our documentary, when Dex had a really good idea about how penguins move and sound. We also played Mama Penguin/Baby Penguin by having him climb on my feet and waddle him around the room. 

Later in the week, we looked for penguin songs on YouTube. I’m sure I’ve suggested this before, but it’s better to prep for this. I’ve made the mistake (a couple of times) of searching *with* Dex, and then stumbling across something soooo inappropriate. So take a some time during your lesson planning to find some cute songs that you may not know. 

Here are a few to get you started: 

These are just a few we found on the fly. If you don’t like the music/video etc, another suggestion is to learn the songs by yourself and teach them to you child.

 

The thing I was REALLY excited about was the fun snack for the week! 

I made him a little penguin environment. My penguins are SO SLOPPY, as my hands were shaking a little from the anxiety of having someone stand behind you and constantly say, “Is it ready yet?? Is it ready yet??” (Have I told you yet to prepare ahead of time when you can??) The good news is that kids will love them even if they are not perfect. I found this at Gourmet Mom On The Go. She used toothpicks to hold them together, but since I only made two at a time for one child, I just sort of pasted them together with cream cheese and hope. They are made from large and collosal black olives (I’d never seen a collosal olive, and they weren’t lying. Those things are HUGE!). You split them down the middle, fill them with cream cheese (I used plain), and use a slice of carrot to make the feet and beak! So cute.

Dexter helped me make the blue ocean jello. He just observed until we got to the cold water stage, so he wouldn’t get burned. 

I can’t encourage you enough to let your child help you cook as often as you can. Dexter LOVES to help, and he is excited to eat what we make together. 

I bought some pretzel goldfish and threw in some marshmallows for snow.

As I said before, he was super antsy to see what I was making him, especially since he knew it involved the jello we made. But I was so happy with his response: when I turned and showed him his surprise he said, “Oh yay!!!! It’s my birthday!!!!” Sweet, sweet, silly boy :). 

He literally grabbed his jello and had it down within about 3 seconds. It was amazing to behold. (Also note that he is wearing his penguin pj’s! He gets really excited to dress according to our theme.)

Other food ideas include eating foods that penguins eat. Their diet consists of fish, shrimp, and squid. We had some fish, which he was so excited about, since it’s penguin food and all. I don’t eat shrimp, but now he’s really excited to try it with Daddy someday. And, well… we’re just not doing squid. He can check that out on his own time.

I was really happy because we were able to take a field trip to the local aquarium to see the penguins there! Normally those penguins are shy, but this time they were very playful. Find out if your town has an aquarium or zoo where you can see animals you are studying!

I had originally planned for us to study the letter P, but he just doesn’t seem interested in the alphabet right now. I worked on phonics some by pointing out words that start with P, but that was about it. 

For art, we did a penguin coloring sheet together. I’d planned for us to paint craft sticks like penguins and play with them, but we just didn’t have the time. (The craft sticks I’d suggest using are like these snowmen.)

There was so much more I’d hoped to do, but just didn’t have the time for. Here are a few more links and suggestions I collected: 

Related Sesame Street videos: 

Colors: Black and White

Shape: Oval

Sneaky Snack: Kale-Apple Smoothie

Having recently had jaw surgery, I’ve experimented heavily with pureed and mashed foods. I was so excited when a past issue of Real Simple Magazine had a list of 10 smoothie recipes! I have only tried one of them, because the store I went to only had kale in bulk. I figured I’d just try to knock that out before I ventured onto the next smoothie recipe 🙂

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But we are LOVING this recipe for Kale-Apple Smoothies! Dexter and I do, at least. My (ultra-picky) husband took one sip and made a face. So I guess it’s not for everyone. But considering my 2 year old gets super pumped about it, it’s worth trying once!

It’s such a pleasant green color, and it’s packed with things that are great for you: kale, celery, banana, and a bit of apple juice. I also added a bit of spinach today!

While I was trying to do a quick photo shoot, Dex leaned over my glass and said, “MMMmmmm, smells dewd!”

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I seriously love this kid, and I’m glad that I’m able to find ways to give him things that he both loves and are healthy for him! He calls it his “smoozie” and today he said, “Oh, a smoozie for a healthy snack!!!” I was really thrilled to hear him say that, partially because it’s super cute lol, but also because I hope I’m teaching him to make good choices for his health, and to be excited about it!

He get’s his “smoozie” in a sippy cup, and it helps if that cup has a larger opening. The smoothie is not a juice, it will have little veggie bits in it, so it can clog up a sippy nipple. Or you can just brave it like I did the first time, and give your child an open cup with a straw. If you don’t mind getting green smoothie EVERYWHERE. Seriously. Everywhere.

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Also, as a side note, our preschool lesson this week includes learning about the color green. This is a great suggestion for a green-week snack, because it is so pretty and vibrant!

Teaching Colors: Rainbow Bean (or Rice) Bags

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We’ve been doing pre-preschool for a few weeks now. I’ve been using the Brightly Beaming Toddler curriculum. It’s a very laid back plan for 1 year olds. There’s no theme (which I actually miss…), you just work small lessons into your daily routine.

This week’s indoor activity is Bean Bag Catch. You have bean bags for the 6 basic colors (Dexter must have nicked my green in the picture above… just noticed I’m one short!) and as you toss a bag, you call out its color.

It’s a great idea to have bean bags available for your preschooler! They are a great teaching tool. These can not only be used to teach colors, they can be used for counting, working on motor skills (tossing into containers), and lots of other fun games for groups (hot potato, bean bag hunt, etc).

So I made some! They’re so easy, I think it took me 45 minutes max! Here’s how to make your own:

What you need:

-Beans or rice for filling (I used plain brown rice)

-Fabric in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple (I cut my strips to 4.5”x8.5”)

-Scissors

-Thread (I used basic black)

-Needle or sewing machine (machine is going to be waaaay faster)

-Funnel (optional: if you don’t have one, it’s ok, it will just take a little longer to fill the bags)

Step 1: Cut your 4.5”x8.5” strips.

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Step 2: Fold the strips, right sides together, and sew about 1/4” from the edge. Make sure you leave an opening to turn the bags! I started sewing about 1.5” away from the end so I wouldn’t forget! When sewing, reinforce the ends so the stitches don’t start coming undone!

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Step 3: Your child is going to get bored… entertain him 🙂 Dexter LOVES playing with dry rice. Moving it from container to container is a great way to work on those fine motor skills. Just keep an eye out so none ends up shoved in an ear or a nose! I always give him just a little so that it will be ok if he eats a piece or two. But normally he doesn’t try, I think he figured out pretty fast that dry rice isn’t really yummy.

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Step 4: Clip thee threads, then turn the bags through the opening.

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Step 5: Fill the bags! Here’s another time for your toddler to help! Dex only got about 4 grains into the bag, but it was great to give him something to do!

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It was going to be time consuming to stuff rice into a 1.5” hole, and I was so excited to remember that I had funnels, conveniently in both a mommy and a baby size!

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Fill to about 3/4 full. You want the bags to be loose… we’re not making softballs here! You also want to leave enough room so it will be easy for you to sew across the top to close the bag.

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Step 6: Fold in the fabric at the opening and sew across, making sure to reinforce the ends.

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Dexter was so excited to play with our new rice bags, even more so after he found out that they served a purpose. He’s been trying to tell me colors ever since 🙂

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These can be made using scraps around your house, and they’re a great (quick and cheap!!) gift idea for anyone with a preschooler. The only word of caution is to always supervise young children when they’re playing with anything full of choking hazards! Regularly look over your bags to make sure the fabric and seams are holding up well. And remember, it’s always more fun to play together anyway!