Sunday, 27 July 2014

Montessori Land Forms DIY

We use the plant trays I mentioned in this post to make our land forms. Clay doesn't work well for us as it is too hard for Finn to shape. We use brown play dough instead which is really easy to use. At the moment Finn and I fill the bottom of one tray with it, then I make a faint "island" mark for him to cut through with a knife and we transfer it to the other tray. He loves pouring the water to discover his island and lake! Then we have to add wildlife and vegetation (weeds from the garden). He really loves doing this!


He spent a lot of time pretend playing with the animals on his land forms and then came up with the idea of making an island and lake with Lego! I helped him make them and here is the result:

I'd seen land forms done with rocks, sand, clay, but never with Lego before!

Friday, 25 July 2014

Montessori activities at 2.5 years old


Here's a picture of Finn's shelves as they are now.

1. Cutting tray. He's a bit bored with cutting paper strips so at the moment he's got flower stems from the garden.

2. Observation basket. That's where he puts the treasure he finds outside: pine cones, fallen leaves, feathers, snail shells, funny twisty branches...

3. Peppa Pig Aquadoodle picture cards and pen. Definitely his favourite work at the moment. If Peppa Pig can help him improve his pencil grip, I'm happy!

4. Drawing in cornmeal. Just a shallow layer of cornmeal and a stick. He likes that one but won't take it off the shelf for some reason.

5. Horses clothespins legs. Four horse bodies of different colours cut out from paper with four pairs of clothespins of matching colour to attach as legs. I got the idea from here.

6. Packlocks and keys. I made the board after seeing one here.

7. Collage tray. Coloured tissue paper, black card and white glue with glue spreader.

8. Colour mixing. Drop coloured water in the ice cube tray using a pipette. Then give to mummy to freeze!

9. Play dough basket. I use this recipe. He has a rolling pin, 2 silicone cupcake moulds, 3 candles, 6 goggly eyes and a few shape cutters. I found out with this that less is more!

10. Sifting salt from rice. He enjoys this but can't remember the steps yet and often ends up mixing the salt and rice again by accident. Frustrating, but he's working on it!

11. His beloved Lego, which he uses every single day to make "digger planes." He owes his great manipulative skills to them.

Now a word on trays and containers as it can be hard to find appropriate ones.

The two dark green trays you can see on the picture (numbers 3 and 7) are actually plant trays. They are the perfect size and can contain wet activities. These one were £2 each at Frosts garden centre. We also borrow them from the shelves to use as landform trays with clay once in a while.

The tray holding the colour mixing is an inking tray from Rainbow Creations. It cost £1.90. It's a good, sturdy tray but a bit difficult to pick up for a child as it doesn't have handles.

The tray containing the sifting activity is in fact the plastic lid from a chocolate box. I protected the edges with black electrical tape. It works perfectly and cost nothing! I got a few of those boxes from our scrap shop.

All the baskets you can see in the picture, plus the cornmeal tray, come from charity shops and car boot sales.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Two colour mixing activities

Here are two colour mixing activities we tried.
1. Mixing paint in a food bag

and drawing on it with a cotton bud

My verdict: Great hands-on activity with no mess. The green showed really clearly. I would enjoy doing it again.

Finn's verdict: Ok activity but not messy enough to be fully engaging. Not sure if he would like to do it again.

2. Adding paint to Gloop (cornstarch + water)

My verdict: Nice contained activity. I particularly liked to watch the colours swirl.

Finn's verdict: Engaged for 40 minutes, swirling the colours into each other. Asking for more paint. He would LOVE to do it again!

And in case you're wondering to what happened to the Gloop afterwards:

Did I say it was a contained activity??

Monday, 14 July 2014

Washing his hands

Can your child reach the tap to wash their hands independently? Finn can't. (and his Fun Pod isn't much help as he can't get on it by himself)
I had been putting off setting up a bowl of water that would be accessible, because I was worried that he would tip it off or not be careful with it. Also, I didn't have a bowl the right size, had nowhere to hang a towel, didn't have a small table to put it all on... I was looking for solutions but couldn't really find any. Nothing seemed good enough so I just didn't do it.
One day, as I realised how heavy Finn had become to lift up to the tap, I decided to just set up something with items from around the house, even if it wasn't perfect. 
I used a bedside table that we weren't really using for anything useful, the washing up bowl we take camping, a jug, a basket of washable wipes, a mirror, a towel for the floor, a towel to dry hands, and a liquid soap dispenser.  The bowl is too big and  I have nowhere to hang the hand towel. I still need to add a container for dirty wipes. It is really not perfect, but at least it exists! Proof below! 
I use the jug to fill the bottom of the bowl with fresh water every morning (less than an inch deep) and Finn uses it to wash his hands and face after meals. We have had problems with over enthusiastic use of soap, forgetting to squeeze wipes before washing his face, carrying drippy wipes around with him and trying to hoover up the water from the bowl with the vacuum cleaner (it worked). But if I look at the larger picture, these incidents only happen one time out of ten and only when he is very tired, so I should be able to avoid them in the future.
Have you set up something similar for your child? Please share your links in the comments!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Exploration of the geometric solids

I had grand plans when we started this. We would roll the flour flat and make prints with the geometric solids (as seen on several blogs), staying OUT of the box. Finn was not in the least interested in making prints though. As soon as he saw the flour, he felt it through his fingers, removed his trousers and jumped in eagerly! He was ecstatic and I could see that the sensory input was truly making him happy!
He explored the flour for a long time. He buried his dinosaurs in flour and when he had buried them all, he looked for something else. That's when he spotted the box of geometric solids patiently waiting nearby.

He was very engrossed as he sifted flour over each geometric solid, watching them disappear in all sorts of funny ways.

This game lasted for half of the afternoon and I love how he called me to share his discoveries with me. He was really fascinated! He doesn't know the names of the solids yet but when he does, we'll play a solids hide and seek game in the flour; he'll have to guess which solid is hidden from only a teeny tiny bit of it peeping out.

And afterwards, spontaneous practical life!

(By the way, I used wheat flour to get rid of it as we are starting a gluten free diet. Have any of you tried going gluten free?)
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