Thursday, 30 January 2014

Calendar and weather board printables

Do you remember our Montessori Inspired Weather Board? We've been using it quite often recently to talk about weather and explain all theweather phenomenons.

To complete the theme I introduced a simple calendar and weather board (all in one). Mr Frog can complete it on his own, He checks the weather outside and sets it on the weather board clock. He reads the labels with days of the week, months and weather description and sticks it in the correct places. Simple daily routine :) 

If you would like to print one for your child feel free to grab it HERE and HERE (2 parts) or click on the photos below. 

Just print, laminate and cut it out. We use Blue Tack to stick the labels on the calendar but you can stick Velcro in correct places as well. The arrow is cut out the craft foam and attached with a brass split pin. You can use a piece of cardboard to make it or simply let child draw an arrow with a whiteboard dry wipe pen. 

CLICk on the picture to download

Montessori Nature

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Silhouettes storytelling - enrich your child's storytelling experience

This simple idea came to me when I bought a pack of black card in the poundshop last week. 
We read every evening, this is an essential element of our evening routine. 
The Silhouettes Storytelling can be a great variety to everyday reading experience. It helps develop child's storytelling skills, memory, imagination. 

All you need is a lightbox (and you don't even need an expensive one! Just use a plastic box with christmas lights inside - it works great!) and pre-cut silhouette shapes. The shapes don't have to be detailed and perfect - just believe in your child's imagination! Think of a story you would like to tell and cut out main characters and props. I chose "The Three Little Pigs" - well-known and liked by Mr Frog. 

And Mr Frog really loved it! We sat together in the dark room looking at the changing silhouettes while I read the story and set silhouettes on the light box. He was so happy to join in...well, he actually told me the story again when I finished :) I was surprised how well he can retell the story, with language he used and creative modifications he made in the story! 

I made another set of silhouettes - just random shapes that can be used in any story. Mr Frog used them to create own story (that was a story about two boys woken up at night by a snake, who took them to Africa. They met some animals and had lunch with Masai, but they didn't have any pudding so boys travelled to Asia to have some sweet sushi...pretty good isn't it?;) 

This evening storytelling experience can engage a child (and parent) for a long time! It helps develop child's language, listening skills, imagination, creative storytelling skills and memory - so much learning in it!
Make sure you use a well-known story for the beginning and prepare set of random silhouettes for child to create own stories as well. Encourage child to join in - set the scene, ask questions what will happen next. And you can have a special journal to write down child's own stories to read them together later.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Montessori inspired weather board and Free Printables

The weather has been really bad last couple of days. Perfect time to explore the weather theme!

When I saw this Montessori sky HERE ("Mummy and the Tot" is a Polish blog with many great ideas, so it's worth to use the Google translator to check it!) I knew it's a good inspiration for our weather activity. 

I prepared props for different weather phenomenons
- clouds (pillow filling)
- sun (felt)
- snow (some glitter snowflakes Christmas leftovers) 
- raindrops (felt)
- lightning (insulation foil)
- rainbow (some felt layers) 
- wind (a drinking straw) 
- hail (clear and white glass beads) 
- sky (roller blind fabric leftovers) 
- fog (a piece of white tulle)
- 3-part cards and labels

Each prop was packed in a different type container (boxes, glass jar, plastic bottles) and named with a label (we use the two languages' labels as Mr Frog is bilingual). 
When everything was ready I invited Mr Frog to create his own weather sky. And it was a great fun! 

First he read the label to find out what is inside. Then he had to cope with opening different  containers which was great fine motor skills exercise. And he used his creativity to arrange everything on the mat - he blew through the straw to move the raindrops and snowflakes, put the rainbow layers together in correct order, placed the fluffy clouds.... And at the end read the labels and 3-part cards and match them to the correct weather condition.

He had returned to this activity several times during last weekend. And every time he created something different, asked many questions about how different weather conditions are created in nature. 

I created simple weather cards for this activity. Feel free to download them to use with your own weather mat :) (if you would like to share the cards' pdf on your blog please do not publish the file but link to this post for others to download)

You can download PDF file HERE or by clicking the photo below

Montessori Monday

Friday, 24 January 2014

Small world construction site - invitation to play

Creating a play scene is a great way to invite child to play and explore. A simple tray filled with interesting elements let child experiment and imagine. It's important to use interesting materials, different textures that encourage child to investigate and use his senses. 

Some time to time I create a play scene for Mr Frog and leave a tray in unusual place - on the kitchen floor, in the garden or in the bathroom. He's so happy to find it and play! 
Sometimes it works great, engages him for very long time. Sometimes he gives it up after five minutes. As a parent I understood one important rule - don't have any expectations about how child supposed to use the materials, don't tell them what to do and how to play, let them explore, investigate and use their imagination!

Sometimes Mr Frog decides to add unexpected element to the tray (water to the snow playdough or oats) and it's fine too! (bit more mess to clean up later that's it :)

Yesterday I made a construction site play scene.

I made some "soil" by mixing:
- 2 cups of wholewheat or spelt flour
- 1/2 cup of cornstarch
- 2 table spoons of oil
- black paint
- some water (until texture is soil-like)

I added some brown rice, oats, stones and sticks as well as diggers, cars and builders. And I left it on the kitchen floor. Building site was very busy that evening! Mixing and exploring different textures was great experience for Mr Frog.

And here are my favorite and very inspirational posts about invitations to play written by Imagination TreeChildhood 101 and Teach Preschool

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Busy Mum's quick evening activity

Are you busy mum? Tired after work? Dreaming about moment of rest? 
I have such days some time to time. I think most Mums have such moments. 
Don't give up, don't sit your child in front of TV! (well, at least not every time you are tired ;)

Last evening was one of THESE days for me. I did't feel guilty, just took out a lightbox, some colourful marbles and rainbow counters (great for practising fine motor skills) and let Mr Frog explore and lead (while I have some rest :). It's amazing how simple things can engage children for long time!  And how creative ideas children think up having just few things!

Mr Frog came up with:

Sorting marbles according to shape, size, pattern (maths in practice).

Marbles sorting

Create a rainbow and  mix colours
I was really surprised how long he spent crating the rainbow! Small counters was a great way to practise fine motor skills. Then he discovered that joining two different colours counters gives another colour or shade and spent some time exploring different combinations. 

Making patterns memory game - Mr Frog organized a memory game: one person create a pattern and let the other one look at it for some time. Then cover it with piece of dark paper and try to replicate it. (Well, tired Mum is not good at such competition ;)

Pattern memory game

And last but not least skittles! Relaxing part of the evening - I found Mr Frog playing skittles using marbles and his collection of figurines. Sounds like fun ;) 

Lightbox skittles

Few simple things + creative, engaged child = happy relaxed mum ;) 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Cardboard box kitchen - weekend recycling project

Recycling arts and crafts are lots of fun. And  I'm sure every Mum does use recycling materials in everyday activities. 

We've made recycling crafts projects since Mr Frog was just a Tiny Frog. First because being low on budget and then because it was so much fun and learning in it! We made lots of stuff - the instruments from cardboard tubes, garages and houses from cardboard boxes, picture frames from old CD cases, junk modelling....

It's easy to pay for some toys and aids... but if you are low on budget or want to  learn your child to reuse, recycle and save, learn them being creative, plan and think of ideas  there's nothing better than recycling arts and crafts.

Last week Mr Frog found a cardboard box from my old laptop. "Let's make a kitchen!" he decided (as he still doesn't have one). So here it is - our weekend recycling project: 

We used: 
- silver and black acrylic paint
- craft foam sheets (kitchen hobs)
- orange and grey self-adhesive colour paper 
- make up sponges (kitchen controls
- PVA glue
- couple split pins
- a button and rubber band (to lock an oven because of lack of better idea ;)

Mr Frog planned how he wants it to look like, helped me to paint it and stick some elements. 
And here it is ready to play :) 

Here is the short list of some materials we collect and use for our craft projects:
- plastic bottles 
- interested shapes plastic containers
- buttons from old clothes
- paper rolls card tubes
- card boxes
- newspapers
- interesting pictures or patterns from magazines
- old cd cases
- plastic and metal bottle caps
- cofee filters
- cupcake cases
- paper plates and cups

- cans

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Ice Age Evening Sensory Bin

Sensory Bins mean hours of fun for us. Ice Age Evening Sensory Bin is twice as much fun! 

 I froze water with glitter and blue food colouring in the chocolate/cookies boxes plastic inserts and ice cube trays. We used our Moon Playdough to make the rocks. Some silver foil, silver beads and the dinosaurs of course! Everything set on the homemade lightbox in the dark room. 

Mr Frog was very excited with cold exploration (especially with licking the ice). He checked ice cube shapes and shades (ice looked amazing on the lightbox). We talked about how ice was formed from water, he decided to make little experiment and use hot water to melt some of it. He played with the dinosaurs and asked some questions about Ice Age (that is a new theme to explore in the future). 

Most of our ice blocks were quite big. Mr Frog decided to build a tower! Quite challenging and almost impossible with slippery ice blocks. Some kitchen salt building blocks ready to play! It was such fun building towers using them.

Our Ice Age evening sensory bin was so much fun and learning! With lots of exploration, questions and experiments.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Den building and camping indoors with kids

Gloomy days, long evenings, bad weather...what to do? Build a den! There's nothing better than building a den and camping indoors with kids :) 
Mr Frog loved planing and collecting building materials - blankets, cushions and pillows from all over the house and we both built a cosy den under our living room table. 

Then we used some sticks we collected couple days ago on the beach, added orange, red and yellow tissue paper stripes and led lights and we had a great  bonfire!
We sat together singing some songs....oh, felt like camping sitting in our cosy den by the bonfire in our completely dark house! 
Mr Frog packed some books and board games so we spent some time in the den reading and playing. And we had a special treat - roasted marshmallows (well sort of - we tried to roast them over the candle ;) 
Indoor camping with kids
Bored with sitting inside the den? Why not organize a walk in the jungle? We went for a walk in the jungle (well, our dark house ;). The house looks completely different when it's dark - shower curtain turns into bushes, stairs are rocky mountain, our bed feels like muddy puddle (watch out for crocodiles!)....we had fun! 

Dark gloomy evenings are not boring anymore! :) 

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Moon Playdough

Moon Playdough is part of our ongoing Outer Space learning project. It's easy to make and keeps child occupied for long time :) 

It's a simple and well-known  playdough recipe we've used forever with few add-ons to make it more of the moon.
Simple mix:
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup of salt
1 teaspoon of cream of tartar
1 table spoon of oil
1 cup of water
few drops of black and blue food colouring (gives nice moon-like or asteroid colour)

Heat the mixture in a pot until all ingredients bound, take out and knead the dough until smooth. Add silver and gold glitter. And ready to play!


"It's a moon rock!!" said Mr Frog when he saw it. 

We added some shiny stars and sequins, shape cutters and common playdough stuff. And we had lots of fun making the rockets, stars, planets, aliens....and whatever else you can think of! 
Mr Frog created scenes on the card and we used them for outer-space story telling.
In the meantime we talked about different outer space objects and phenomenons

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Friday, 10 January 2014

Experimenting with marks and colour - Glue + Food colourings

Are you busy mum like me? 

There are some afternoons when I rush from work to pick up Mr Frog from school, then rush home, try to feed and entertain him, have some rest, or washing, or cleaning or...oh, one of these days, we all have them some time to time ;)
You don't need to give up on creative activities! Just do something simple that keeps your child occupied for some time. Something simple, easy to set and creative. Something like painting on glue using food coloring.
(I must confess I'd tried this activity too and... found it very relaxing after long, busy day! ;)

Mr Frog spent long time drawing squiggles and swirls, mixing colors, making up stories about funny shapes he made. This is great way to experiment with colors and practice mark making skills. 

You just need:
- PVA glue
- bowl or box
- food colorings
- mark making tools: toothpick/bamboo skewer/drinking straw/fork

Simple pour the layer of glue in the bowl, put few drops of food colourings and draw on it with skewer. 

You can find great painting on glue activity and and how to turn your art into sun catchers DIY HERE from Babble Dabble Do.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Sandpaper-like letters DIY - Montessori on budget

Montessori sandpaper letters are great tool for learning shape of the letters. Using them help children gain a muscular memory of the letters. Feeling the letters' grainy texture with fingers gives child a chance to learn motor pattern and proper way of writing each letter. 

Mr Frog reading skills are great. But he needs some help with his writing. His fine motor skills has been always bit delay and I've noticed he doesn't write some of the letters proper way (he has no clue where to start, writes it funny way and direction). 
I thought sandpaper letters would be great support to his learning. I've decided use my creativity and make my own sandpaper-like letters! Being low on budget is not a big issue ;) 

So here they are - using natural materials and stuff I found on my shelf :) 

To make them you will need:

- pre-cut card squares (use red/pink for consonants and blue for vowels) 
I used white card and painted the letters blue and red at the end.
- quinoa or couscous grain (couscous gives "sharper" texture)
- glue 
- varnish/ Mod Podge (optional - you can use it instead the diluted PVA glue at the end)

and then you just need to follow the instruction:

Easy, isn't it? :) 
I'm surprised how durable they are taking into account the material they made of. 
Well, some single grains did fall off some time to time at the begining especially on the edges but I'm sure I could avoid it covering it properly with the layer of diluted glue, varnish or Mod Podge. 

Mr Frog enjoys using them a lot and this homemade set works well for us. I definitely reccomend making it if you are low on budget :)

Montessori Monday
This activity has been linked in Montessori Monday post

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Thursday, 2 January 2014

Play & Learn with homemade Geoboard

A geoboard is a simple mathematical manipulative used to explore some basic concepts in plane geometry. And the best is that it's so easy to make at home! 

Mr Frog spotted a huge pack of rubber bands in the local pound shop. Great! 

With an old cork board and some push pins I found in my kitchen we made our own geoboard. Simple as 1-2-3! 

First I asked Mr Frog to make some simple shapes on the board. It turned out to be quite easy...and Mr Frog decided to lead activity and show me how creative shapes you can do with simple rubber bands! ;)  

Something more challenging? Coping shapes I drew on the side of the board. Coping shapes on geoboard was easy for Mr Frog so I took all pins on a side and asked him to make shape all by himself from scratch. Mr Frog had to compare, count pins, check distance. And he did really well! 

After that task Mr Frog decided it's time for creative free play!with pins and rubber bands :)  

I found great Goeboard web application HERE. If you don't have geoboard but would like to try how it works it's worth trying.

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