Monday, December 24, 2007

Pick a Card, Any Card

So these are my new pass-the-time (Ha-Ha) craft.
Seriously, I really enjoy doodling with water color paints and can do so even when looking after my small child. I keep my paints & brushes ready and water is always close (of course it is with my little guy around). When he is finger painting, I paint too. When he is occupied with an activity, so am I..paint doodling I call it. When he is off and running, I sent it aside and then when he is in bed I find it again and cut it up into little slips of paper. I write words on them (words of encouragement/inspiration/comfort) and when time allows I have them laminated at my local UPStore!

Woo-La! Affirmation cards.

For those of you not familiar with the concept: You keep a dish of these special words/phrases near your bedside or where you start your day (ours are near the bowl that holds the car keys). Each morning/evening you choose one card randomly and that is your word to reflect on.
I used them in my classroom when it was some one's birthday. The birthday child would pick a card and that word would be their word for the year to come. It's a wonderful tool for teaching new vocabulary words and sharing a personal moment with your students. Other times we would just pick them at circle time, pick a card and read it out-loud, what does it mean to you?

I made a set of them for my 3rd grader's classroom, the set was made up of phrases, I explained that all the statements were true of who-ever chooses them, if not when they picked them than after. If you haven't had an opportunity to encourage peace for example, after choosing that card you will.
I am an artist ~ I make healthy choices ~ I encourage peace ~ I sing beautifully ~ I read well ~ I try my best ~ I care for the Earth

The teacher told me, they use them every day as a way to regroup after recess. The children look forward to choosing different words or phrases in relationship to what is going on for them in their lives.
[And it really does work! When I was expecting my third child (but did not know it at the time)
I pulled the following cards in a row: expectancy, waiting, fate, choice, and birth!
I am not making this up!]

So remember during this holiday break, to nurture the creative spirits not only in your children, but in all of you! Take time to paint-doodle. Make something with your hands, get messy and have fun!
We are ALL Artists after all.
Happy Holidays

Sunday, December 23, 2007

My Favorite Things About Christmas 2007

1.) Our Tasha Tudor style Christmas tree my husband and sons cut from our property.
2.) Not having to travel ON Christmas this year.
3.) Christmas cookies (& trying new recipes. Like Blueberry Cottage's Pumpkin Whoopie Pies!)
4.) Belfast's down town Christmas lights that zig and zag above the streets.
5.) Homemade gifts both made and received.
5 1/2.) CARDS!!!! I almost forgot. I LOVE getting Christmas cards.
6.) Tea and cookies with friends both far and near.
7.) Displaying our family's Nutcracker collection.
8.) Listening to The Muppets & Jon Denver's Christmas CD, a classic.
["Piggy pudding?"
"No FIGGY pudding, it made with FIGS."
"And bacon."
9.) Our church's annual Solstice Celebration.
10.) At night, after the kids are all tucked in, sitting in the dark with only the tree lit with my husband...that's Christmas to me.

Makin' it Look Easy

Someone recently commented that I "make it look so easy"and while the part of me that really likes compliments REALLY liked reading that, another part of me thought I should say this:
This is a hard job and making it look easy is easy to do I guess, because it is anything but.
Yes, writing a BLOG is easy, but being a parent is the most challenging job a person can/will ever have. None of being a stay-at-home Mom is easy. Being home when I have always worked and contributed to my family financially is not easy, being in financial hardship is not easy, being away from my beloved co-workers (yes, I truly mean 'beloved', you haven't met these women, I MISS them SO much!) is not easy, being home and having one-sided conversations with a toddler for most of my day is not easy, being too tired to DO all the ideas I have is not easy either.

I LOVE this blog because it allows me in a way to contribute, to connect with other parents of small children, to share and vent, and ask for ideas & suggestions too. I'm trying hard here, not trying to make it look easy. When given a compliment, my Mom used to say, "I try hard." I remember thinking to myself how I wished I could be that humble and how I wished I could say that and really mean it too. I think what my Mom meant by saying, "I try hard." is that she always did her best. Because really all any of us CAN do: try.

All I can do is try, because there are plenty of times when things don't get done around here and I could really start to feel like a failure if I let myself focus on all I haven't done or could do. I just try hard. So for example if I write about making bird feed with kids and I don't ever actually do it with my own kids, at least I may have inspired YOU to make bird feed with YOUR kids.

So, I'm trying, but it's never easy. This job is really really hard.
I going to keep trying and hopefully inspire others to want to learn more about Maria Montessori and her amazing philosophy (I truly believe in the Montessori way of educating and caring for children), I going to try and give others who work with children a reminder about what really matters, and I going to try and not be so hard on myself when I don't meet all the expectations I have.
As always, thank you for reading this and your comments!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

How OLD is this kid?

My toddler believes he is nine years old not nineteen months old. I am sure of this. His BIG brother who just happens to be nine years old, is his hero. He wants to be like him in every way. Well, after much frustration over not being able to brush his teeth sink side, like BIG brother does, Not-So-Little One's Mama (that's me) wised up and got him a step stool.

Today the water play activity I set up in the kitchen (located by ME, so I could keep an eye on him AND attempt to finish some holiday baking) took on a life of it's own. Soon we were no longer in the kitchen. The bathroom is my little guy's favorite room and while I want to promote a fondness for this area of the house (with potty-training still to come) I wanted to get some baking done. The bathroom sink is his new passion. Silly me for thinking I could get something I wanted to do, done today, when there is a sink he can reach!

Who got him this step stool? Oh, yes, that was me....
I try and remember, what was it Dr. Montessori said?
"These words reveal the child's inner needs:
"Help me to do it alone."

So, the cookies will wait until nap time I guess, I follow his lead and find myself standing in the hallway snapping photos of my Not-So-Little little one at work in the bathroom.
Baby washing, filling up and pouring with water, climbing up and down a new step stool.'d think this kid was nine already!

Thanks for the inspiration: Wide Open :)


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sponge Print Wrapping Paper

For this week's Art & Play class we made sponge print wrapping paper! This was easy, fun and dried quite quickly.

You will need:
  • butcher paper or a roll or thin painting paper
  • scissors to cut it
  • kids craft paint (in the colors you choose)
  • sponges cut into shapes (or not)
  • cookie cutters to dip too (if desired)
  • a paper plate
  • enthusiasm for filling a big space
There are allot of choices for the young child with this activity. What colors to use, which shape sponge to work with, where to place the's also a nice toddler activity because of the big area to fill. Be sure to put out lots of newspaper or create this art on a linoleum floor; make your clean up easy!

To dry: hang from a clothes line or piece of yarn hung across a room, using clothes pins.

Remember to have fun and to use the end result to wrap gifts for Grandparents (they LOVE kid-made treasures like this one!)
Happy Holidays

Thursday, December 13, 2007

MORE Ways to Explore Colors Together

Let's talk Colors!
So many of you responded to my recent post about ways to play with color, I thought I would share a couple more ideas with you!
Often children are drawn to colorful toys and activities and then when we ask them to tell the names of the colors, they hesitate and sometimes will say something they recall about colors; for example, "An apple is red." or "Grass is green." they will make these statements with pride over remembering a factual piece of info. Of course apples are not always red, nor is the grass always green..but that's a conversation for another day. To help young children learn the names of the colors they love, here are a few more color recognition games you can make and use in addition to Montessori's color tabs.

Sort it OUT!
Do you have a color die? Great fun can come from adding one of these to your classroom or home. The possibilities are endless! The Color Sort Game is tons of fun for small groups and Circle time too. Gather many small items that a one color enough for each of the colors on the color die, then roll!
The way to play:
The children take turns rolling the color die and collect from the basket the many different items the color they role, until the basket is empty. Everybody wins! This is a fun way to evaluate the students' color recognition skills and learn about the things that interest them as individuals. For example: From the items that are white, did they choose the ghost, the baseball or the bottle of milk? Also this game can be played by many or few, very young to school-age, and if you update the items regularly, it will be chosen again and again.
As you can see many different conversation opportunities can arise from this easy and fun color game. Make one today. [If you do not have a color die, make one or for added fun place crayons the color of the items you have collected in a cloth bag, when a child takes a turn the reach into the bag and pull out a crayon and match the object to the crayon color. Have fun!
Eat Your Colors!
Prepare a colorful snack with your children. Let them pick out healthy foods that are the colors they know: EX: Red:cherry tomatoes Orange: Orange slices, Yellow: bananas, Green: grapes, Blue: Blueberries.
Color Collections:
Take a nature walk and collect items of various colors (remember to take only things that have fallen) Add to the nature collection items such as buttons, bits of paper, bolts, yarn. Ask your children to build a rainbow with the items and display them in a shoe box or use in a sculpture.
Choose a Color for a Day:
Let your children choose a color for the day, pull a crayon from a bag or roll the color die. Focus on that particular color for the day. Let's say it's RED.
Make red playdough, finger paint with red paint, place lots of red clothes in your dress-up area, read the story “Little Red Riding Hood” or the “Little Red Hen”, make red paper chains, make a "Red Collage" materials could include such items as; red pictures cut from magazines, red buttons, red ribbon pieces, red flower petals, red tissue paper squares, red paper hearts, red straw pieces, red poms, etc. (you get the idea)

Most of all enjoy one another.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Too Cute!

First friends have fun together! Here my little guy learns how to stick out his tongue for the first time. I LOVE this photo and just couldn't help but share! May all of you have a moment or two or this one today.

I spent my morning with two toddlers, making and playing with play-dough or rather 'snow-dough' (because I ran out of food coloring) reading stories (see list) and taking turns pushing the button on the Singing Santa doll! I highly recommend spending a morning this way!
PEACE to all,

Winter Poems by Jan Warren

A wonderful winter poem for

excusing children from a small group activity:

Four little snowbirds went out to play.
Along came _______
And chased one away.

Three little snowbirds out in the snow.
Along came ______
And one decided to go.

Two little snowbirds up in the tree.
Along came _______
Now only one do I see.

One little snowbird, now all alone.
Along came _______
So he flew home.

Take turns with your children
to fill in the blanks of this fun poem.

Snow, snow all around.
I like to watch it _______ to the ground.

Snow, snow oh so cold.
It feels like _______ on my nose.

Snow, snow falling hard.
It looks like _______ on the yard.

Snow, snow on the ground.
Makes a very _______ sound.

Snow, snow, let’s make balls.
Then we’ll make a ______ so tall.

For more Preschool poem fun
check out her web-site: Preschool Express

Seasonal Scissor Fun

For those of you who have children who love to cut with scissors, I've got some ideas for you!
Starting with the one pictured here: Cutting ever-green boughs! Not only is this a wonderful practical life exercise but your classroom or home will smell wonderful! The children will enjoy snipping the needles and filling a bowl, and later the cut needles can be added with crushed cloves and dried orange peels for a seasonal potpourri.

At the Montessori School I visit, children make seasonal potpourri pouches. They work as a classroom community to make the potpourri in various stages, then when all the yummy smelly ingredients have been combined to make a potpourri, they spoon it into the center of a square shaped piece of fabric and gather all four corners, securing with a pipe-cleaner with a bell on it.

I love this classroom tradition! Sometimes teachers are blessed with a season potpourri pouch gift, given to them by a small friend who knows "it's all about the process" and will leave school with a jingle in their pocket. Many times I have come home with such a treasure to hang upon our family tree. I just might have to make these with my kids here at home this year!
(Pictures will follow.)

Other fun ways to practice using scissors:
Making garlands!
With a bold marker draw straight or dashed lines for the child to use a guide while cutting strips of colored paper (stiff paper works best/card stock). After color strips are cut, they can be made into paper rings to link with contrasting colors ex: red and green, using tape or stapler. These paper garlands can be used to decorate almost anything, a doorway, a tree, a mantel. Another idea, make a paper link chain with just enough links as days are left until Christmas or New Year, your child can then 'cut' one paper link each day.

Greeting Card Collages:
Cutting up greeting cards and last year's calendar. This type of paper is stiff and easier to cut than regular paper. The fun pictures are often interesting to young children and after the cutting is done, the gluing can begin! Make a holiday collage from the bits of cards.

Most important: Have fun and enjoy one another.

Lovin' Eric Carle

Colors, colors everywhere! My little one is drawn to bright colors and especially Eric Carle books. Okay, maybe that's me who loves Eric Carle but either way we seem to be reading allot of them lately. Brown Bear Brown Bear is a favorite. Here I have drawn the animals from the story on construction paper and laminated them (so they will last longer). My busy toddler enjoys matching them with the pages of the book and can now (after many times reading this favorite story), he can identify by pointing, to the animals and colors I name. You don't have to draw them yourself, you could make copies or ask an older child to draw them for you. This is a fun way to extend a treasure of a story and learn about colors.

Also pictured: A photo book I made with my 3-6 class one year. [The class was called: The Chickadee class] I am not comfortable sharing the children's photos without their parent's permission, so here is my page from the book, I'm sure you get the idea. The children read this book through-out the school year and seemed to enjoy finding their photo very much.
(And it was easy to pull together).
Have fun! In PEACE~~MM

Where in the World?


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