Friday, February 24, 2012

Montessori Momski Tot School-Feb. 24

This week in Montessori Momski Tot School we focused on the following:

The color: RED
The letter: Ll
Theme:  Valentine's Day
Practical Life:  Plant care

Practical Life
We started the week by planting some strawberry seeds in a little pot (found in Target's $1 section).  I also introduced the two herb plants (cilantro and rosemary) I bought to go along with this "plant care" lesson.  Bug has really enjoyed watering them daily and reminded me everyday after the first.  I don't think he gets the concept that the seeds we planted will grow into a plant but he will learn as our seeds take root and grow.  That's the beauty of learning.

Plant care lesson using a strawberry seed planter.
We also spent time doing a water transfer activity with a sponge and a lacing activity.  The sponge activity has gone over very well and Bug enjoys pulling it out randomly.  One of our issues is that he isn't keen on cleaning up his mess as he goes (and truth be told, I'd rather wait until he's done to do so but I am trying to teach him the Montessori way) so we've had to put away the activity a few times.  The lacing activity has not gone well... Bug wants to lace just any hole rather than in the pattern so we will try again later.

Water transfer activity.

We revisited our Valentine's sensory bin several times this week.  On several occasions, I have found it in the middle of the floor of the toy room after I've been MIA (mommy-time) for a bit.  So Bug is sneaking into the "under construction" learning area specifically to play with some of his Montessori oriented toys over his non-learning toys.  For the most part he puts everything back in the bin but I need to work on reinforcing respect for the Montessori resources.

Bug and Peanut playing with their sensory bins.
Last week I showed Bug these nifty heart shaped ice cube trays (found in Target's $1 bins) and modeled sorting red and pink goodies from his sensory bin.  Much to my surprise, he's been doing it without prompting since.  He has even started using a pair of salad tongs to move the red pompoms.  It's kind of cute, he pulls the pompoms out of the bin, puts them on the floor then puts one in the tongs grasp with his free hand and transfers it to the trays.  In the above photo, Bug was sharing his red ice cube tray with Peanut who found it a satisfying teething toy.

Color learning.

I introduced some colored wood figures to help teach Bug colors.  We started with only the blue, red and green figures and I followed the three step lesson.  Bug seemed to get the hang of it but toward the end he was getting silly so we packed up it up to end on a good note.

Lastly, I included an activity that we would use play doh to make the letter Ll but many tantrums ensued over me asking Bug to roll the medium himself.  He kept insisting that I do it for him even though I was modeling it.  I gave up and put it away for another time.


This week's letter is Ll.  I used some of Tot School printables from 1+1+1=1 over two days.  I introduced this weeks' letter by 1) showing Bug a colored page of L's and a leaf 2) making and repeating the sound 3) identifying and tracing the letter, and 4) naming/ identifying (three step lesson) items that start with the Ll sound. Those items were a plastic lion, fresh lemon, The first day we 1) colored a leaf and L's on one page, 2) drew lines from the big L to the little l on another, 3) glued red pompoms in the shape of L's on a third and 4) attempted the leaf shape and sequence puzzles.  I was really surprised how responsive Bug was to these activities and I think he was disappointed when I didn't pull out another activity but I had none prepared as I didn't expect this.


This week we worked on counting from 0-3 using a printout and representative hearts.  Bug was interested in matching the plastic hearts up with the printout but when I followed up with the three part lesson, Bug seems indifferent but I will keep trying.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Lesson Plans

I really think have a weekly lesson plan will help me.  Carisa of 1+1+1=1 has great assesment and planning sheets on her Tot School page.  I like them but plan to tweak them to accommidate my Montessori-esk style of Tot School.  I also have a great "Do it All" Mom Planner that I found on clearance at Target that has spots for me to jot notes/ planning along with our social/ playdate engagements.  This will help me stay on track and motivated.

My assessment and planning forms are available below.

Practical Life Assessment
Number Assessment
Letter Assessment
Lesson Plan

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Make-shift Tot School-Feb. 15

As we are still living out of boxes and not all of my newly acquired (and unprepared) materials are readily accessible.  I made a big deal this week about asking for Bug's help to set up some of his practical life materials.  Hopefully it will create excitement to use them... he's already tried out the brush and dust pan.

In this photo, Bug tried out his brush and dust pan while Peanut watches from behind.  Bug's practical life cleaning bin is in the forefront of the photo.  It includes a spray bottle for window cleanings, a microfiber cloth, and duster.  I will be adding more as he gets a hang of these items.

The Valentine's Day sensory bin has been a hit.  Bug's played with it a few times.  The first few times he just searched out the little sticky hearts with arms and legs.  We did have a little bobble with his wanting to dump out all of the tissue paper but one "toy time-out" helped him realize that we treat our activities with care.  He graduated to sorting some of his finds into ice cube trays by color.  I will keep this bin around till the end of the month to see what else he wants to do with it.

The Valentine's bin includes the following:
-Large red poms
-Small glittery red poms
-Sticky, stretchy pink hearts with arms and legs
-Hard, pink tinted plastic hearts
-Red felt hearts
-Shredded red tissue paper (medium)
-Pink and red heart bucket (metal)
-Plastic red measuring cups

Friday, February 10, 2012

Making a New Home

It has been a busy few days... we got the keys to our new rental home and have started unpacking in our new home.  With everything going on (cleaning, unpacking, locating our stuff in unlabeled boxes, etc.) not much organized learning is happening.  But the "as-it-happens" learning is filling our world. 

Bug has been working hard to help us unpack in the most unreasonable manner possible but he is having a ball at it.  He is also becoming quite the little helper when it comes to finding Peanuts' paci and diapers.  Not to mention, we are learning to put toys away when we are done with them.  It can be a struggle but I see this as preparing him for his new time with our Montessori focused toys/ activities.

Peanut is growing and learning by leaps and bounds.  She is alert to everything I am presenting her with.  She is starting to figure out the Ball Game I purchased from Alison's Montessori.  It took about a week after I first introduced her to this activity for her to move beyond investigating just the ball.  She's moved on to investigating the box and has accidentally dropped the ball into it a few times but she hasn't married the two together yet.  It is so amazing watching her learn.

As part of the "moving in,"  I have been seriously considering where and how I am going to create a separate learning and play space.  Learning space being our combo Montessori/Traditional classroom and play space being our area of useless toys that we have acquired and Bug can't live without.

This space is a formal dining room to the back of the formal living room.  The rooms gets great natural light from the large side and back windows.  The side window would work awesome for a nature area as it overlooks a bush/tree that seems to be visited often by birds and butterflies.  It also gets enough light to accommodate a plant.  The only downside is that the room has unobstructed openings to the formal living room and kitchen, which harbor distractions.  To deal with this, I am going to attempt to hang curtains from the ceiling to partition the "learning" space.

This photo shows the Family room where we will have our "play" space.  There are great cabinets along the wall and bookcases where we can organize and stash the toys when Bug is not playing with them. 

There is also a kitchen island just out of the forefront of this picture.  It does not have a bar overhang so I plan to put a stand-alone kitchen cabinet and wash table against it for Bug's kid-sized dishes.
I have a lot to do to get our "environment" ready but I am ready and I can tell that Bug is as well. Hopefully moving in will be swift and relatively painless.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Putting It All Together

We are poised to move into our new rental in a few days and my research is coming to a close as I am ready to put everything into action.  I am in the process of planning what I am going to do in my Montessori-esk Tot School.  I am working on a general "lesson plan" as I think it will keep me focused and motivated.  I don't expect anything of Bug, just that I, as his mom and teacher, am creating the opporutnity and exposure for him to learn when he is ready.  Below are the different fields of Montessori learning, the aspects of Tot School I envision and how I hope they will come together.


I plan to work on one letter for two weeks and have most if not all activites centered around that letter. I am more than aware that Bug will not 'learn' each letter fully the first time around, so I am prepared for repatition. 

I LOVE the letter boxes that  Kristina of Mommy's Monkeys creates each week so I am going to combine that with printables similar to those created for Tot School on the blog, 1+1+1=1.  I want to create my own printables that cater specifically to Bug's interest and current verbal skills but will use the Tot School's until I have the time.  Carisa (of 1+1+1=1) also references in her Raising Rock Stars Preschool introduction, the Kumon method of introducing letters based on which letters are easiest to write.  I like this concept and plan to teach the letters in the sequence suggested.  When I find our local learning store, I plan to purchase a few Kumon books to guide me in their method.

The sequence is: Ll, Tt, Hh, Ii, Ff, Ee, Xx, Vv, Yy, Nn, Zz, Aa, Kk, Mm, Ww, Dd, Pp, Bb, Rr, Jj, Uu, Cc, Gg, Ss, Oo, Qq

Bug is not much for reading but I am not exactly ready to give up on him.  I am picturing one morning a week that we truck to the local library for storytime and pick out five books that plays with our theme or color of the month or letter of the week.  I know he is not going to go for books on the theme I pick out but will go for what interest him so as long as we leave with 5 books that we read (1 a day) then I will be happy.


I will introduce a new color every four weeks (1 month).  The color will represent a theme for that month.  For example, red for February as it is the month we celebrate Valentine's Day.  All other activites (letter printables, sensory bins, PL snack creations, etc) will be in some way associated with this color.

Sensory Tub
Bug loves exploring and I think he will get hours of enjoyment and learning from a Sensory Tub.  I plan to create 1-2 sensory bins each month based on the month's theme or another theme generated from 1) letter of the week 2) his interest and 3) color of the month.  For example, he is transfixed with trains, buses, cars, trucks and airplanes, which would make an awesome theme for the letter Tt (ie. transportation).  A sensory tub can be used for a variety of exercises such as sorting, matching, threading, transfers and texture play so ours will be doing double duty.

One of the first "tools" Bug's speech therapist used was Playdoh.  She would "roll" it and "squish" it then make the sounds as he copied her tactile movements.  He now rolls and squishes EVERYTHING. Sometimes much to my disappointment it's food onto my floors... but the whole time he is happily chanting "roll, roll, roll, SQUISH!"  Seeing how this medium has helped him make leaps and bounds thus far, I will continue using it.  My thought is that I can get a few cookie cutters that correspond with our themes each week or month for him to use in addition to encouraging him to use it to make each week's letter (gotta love more double duty materials).

I realize that Bug is a bit young for this branch of Montessori learning but I can't imagine that introducing some early pre-math work could hurt.

Numbers and Shapes
I plan to introduce a number every two weeks (ie. it will change with the letter of the week).  I am very leary of how to do this and will probably do more research as I don't want to misconstru values to him.  While I do this, I will focus mostly on sorting, threading, transfers and shape identification.  As it is, he understands "just one treat."  Given time, this will develop as we play.... opps, I mean learn.

Practical Life
Oh practicle life, how you boggle my mind!  It's not that I don't know how to do/ set up practical life exercises, it's that I just don't know where to start.  There is so much I want Bug to learn and do, and right now he seems to be in a sensative period for this type of work.  I hear daily, "I do it" or "I did it."  So where to start?!  My plan is to have one day dedicated to practical life work; this will be Monday (ie. Montessori Monday).  We will focus only on PL activites such as vachuming, mopping, cleaning windows, making a special themed snack, laundry, etc.  He will have PL exercises daily (see routines below) that will reinforce some of the tactile learning I hope to achieve by including PL exercises into our learning time.

I have never really focused on a routine with Bug because he always just did what we did when we did it.  A few months before Peanut's arrival, we started noticing Bug creating his own schedule (sleep, eat, play, nap, etc.) so we went with it.  Now I find myself trying to create routines for him to complete his schedule.  SO without further ado, we will be implimenting routines into Bug's life.  My thoughts are that we will have a routine for each major point in our day (morning, breakfast, lunch, nap, dinner and bedtime).  Each routine will have "routine cards," which are pictures of each step of the routine.  For example, the morning routine will consist of the following cards: 1) go potty, 2) brush teeth, 3) wash face, 4) take off jammies, 5) put on day clothes, 6) drop jammies in laundry room on way downstairs.  I need to spend some time making these but first, I must try out the routines when we are in the house to see how they will work for us.  I envision these routines as practical life self-care learning exercises.

I generally haven't involved Bug in meal preparation, however most recently he's wanted to cut, salt (or sugar) or butter his food.  I see this as a sign that he's willing to try the task at hand as opposed to flinging said food onto the walls.  I plan to have him do one part of his meal preparation such as cut a banana or butter toast while I do the bulk of the meal making.  As he gains greater control and exhibits desire, I will let him join in on more.  I also plan to make one themed "special" snack a week as part of our learning that will be a PL activity just for him such as jello jigglers.

I have purchased a placemat and kid sized dishes, which we will begin using once we are in the new rental.  I think he will enjoy that his eating tools are his size.  My hope is that I can teach him to set his place at the table by modeling my place setting; he will then have the placemat as a reminder until it's stored into his long-term learning banks. 

I would also like to give him the opporutnity to learn to clean the table and his dishes.  This may take some better planning and doesn't have to happen tomorrow but it will come soon.  I plan to build a washing table similar to the ones seen at Montessori schools.

One note here... I don't agree with the Montessori idea that he should have his own table (kid sized) to eat at.  Family meal time together is very important for me as I didn't have it growing up so Bug and Peanut will eat at the adult table with my husband and I.

Additional PL activities
Our learning area will have other PL activities such as a pouring, transfers, painting, threading, dressing frames and the like.  It will take me some time to set up (make) these activites as I am not able to purchase real Montessori materials.  I will introduce something new each week or so until I have been able to create all the materials I desire.  Bug will not be without something to do in the meantime.

Wordless Weekend part 2

Vasona Lake County Park
Los Gatos, California

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wordless Weekend

Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose
Secrets of Circles

Water Ways

The Wonder Cabinet

Chinese Lunar New Year Celebration at
The Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose
"Year of the Dragon"

"The Paper Dolls" performed by
Achieve Dance Arts Academy
"Three Beautiful Girls" performed by
Achieve Dance Arts Academy
California Youth Chinese Symphony