practical life

Farmers Market Day

Today we headed out to a local farmers market! My girls have been wanting to go and they were SO excited to go. It was all they talked about yesterday and this morning! I wasn’t sure if they were going to love it as much as they thought they would, but they did! We got some amazing peaches, a watermelon, some eggplant, raspberries, and of course some sunflowers! Here are some pictures I managed to grab while we were there!

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It was a lot of fun to stop and take the time to really look at the produce that we eat. Bunny was so excited to look at all the fruits and veggies. I think that she even wanted to try to make something special with all the things there. Pup knew exactly where she had seen some raspberries and was determined to but them. It was so interesting to see how much they like buying things that they normally would never even ask for (like eggplant). It makes me think a lot about trying to get there more often and letting them put some ideas together of things that they could make out of the produce. I mean, lets face it, what is more practical then learning to make good food out of what is in season? There is a beauty to this shopping local grown food. You see shopping for food as something fun, not just a mission to accomplish and get home as quick as you can. It become a way to be creative with meals, not just cooking to live. It becomes a bonding experience with the people you are around somehow. It is as if you are all there looking for the beauty of eating together, even though you may not know anyone at all. And unlike shopping in a store, it was fun for me and my girls together. No one was begging to leave and upset about being there! If it were closer and easier to get to, I may do it more often. But for now, we will go when we can and soak up the nobility of the food. Do you take time to shop at a farmers market? What do you think about the experience?

PS. Lest you think I went all super mom and became a responsible local eating wonder woman, I will say that my darling ate corndogs with all the fresh fruits and veggies for dinner! 😉 It kinda balanced out right?

Practical Life Potato Fun!



Yes you read that right, Potato fun! Today Bunny had her standardized test and it was my job to help keep Pup and my sister happy and occupied! Well while I browsed for ideas and found that potato flakes make awesome sensory play material! We we just had to try it, plus it is something that works really well for most practical life activities! So I thought that they would love pouring, scooping, transferring, and yes…dumping these flakes! They loved it! They worked together serving each other, they poured from big containers to smaller one, they scooped into a cups and bowls, and so many other things! It was so fun, the other kids just had to play too once the kids were all done with their test.

 
Fun right! It was, as you can see a huge mess! However the hose seemed to clean it all up! Simple, messy, easy fun! Plus you get some awesome practical life practice!
On the testing, it seemed that Bunny did really well! She got a wee bit tired, but didn’t seem to think it was awful! I am so proud of her!
 

Happy Schooling (and playtime)!


Tips for Spring Cleaning with Kids!



Its that time of year again~ time to spring clean. That is our main task this week! Its the task that strikes fear into the hearts of most moms (ok…I may be projecting my feelings here). But do it we must and the only way to survive the mountainous task is to find a way to work with kids instead of trying to get away from them! So how do you do that without loosing your mind or loosing your kids in the clutter? Here are a few tips that I have found to be a big help here!

1) Make a Plan: Figure out what you want to do, and assign a task to each day. This will keep your mind clear and focused on what needs to be done each day. Another thing to do is  to take the task for each day and pull out a list of things your kids can do with you or for you to help out. This way, you know who can go where and do what. A plan can save the whole day!

2) Set your Expectations: A good way to go about getting things done is to set your expectations and show then to your little helpers. Think about each task like you would a traditional Montessori Practical Life presentation! What steps do want them to follow? How do you want each thing done? Then show them carefully, and let them try it out! Chances are there is at least one task that your kids can do on their own, and do it while having a bit of fun!

3) It Will Not be Perfect: With little ones helping out, it is always important to remember that it wont be perfect! For example, today, Pup cleaned out a whole cabinet. She was so proud to wipe it all down ( did need to redo a few spots she missed while she was outside) and was so very excited about how she arranged the cups biggest to smallest all in a row. The only problem with that is that she placed the cups right in front of my containers. But I left it because she was proud of her work. I can fix it another day, or even let her figure out that the placement needs to be tweaked. But for now, I am happy she is trying hard and working well! Not having a perfect closet is ok for me with the joy and pride that I saw her face!

4) Take a Break for Fun: Sometimes things are getting rather hard, or maybe you finally hit a good place to stop for a moment for lunch, it is the perfect time to take a break! Read a book, make a snack, have a surprise, or…do what we did and walk down to the ice cream store! 🙂 It give you a moment to breath and to regroup before moving on!

5) Its ok to work alone: At some point, the kids will be done. Its ok. Chances are that they will be more then happy to play while you keep up the pace of the cleaning. Since they know what you are doing, they will have more respect for the work you are trying to do. Which means, they can play and you can work and no one looses their mind!

So this is our plan this week! Clean and school and clean some more! Wish us luck here! By the end of Saturday I hope to have a beautifully cleaned house! Just in time for the warm weather fun that I know it will bring! I hope that my thoughts will be able to help you on get your to do list done! If you have a secret tip, please share it in the comments!

Montessori Monday~ Baking as School Work!

Today was….umm…interesting! Bunny was tired and cranky. She didnt want to work and anything she did start, quickly ended with tears and yelling. *sigh*. She did manage to get some math problems done and some reading, but I dont know that it was productive in anyway. I asked her to choose a work and she wouldnt. So I told her if she couldnt choose a work, I would choose one for her to do. She wouldnt choose, so I pulled out the division board (Which she loved the other day). It was not good. Have you ever felt that moment where work was done, but under such resistance that it was probably a waste of time? Well today with Bunny that is how it went. Pup thankfully did great work while this was all going on! At lunch time (Bunny was still working), Pup and I made pancakes! She helped measure, mix, and sprinkle sprinkles on them while they baked! Let’s just say she LOVED it! 🙂 I always have such a hard time working cooking time in with dinner. But maybe lunch would be a good way to get some kitchen time in together. Those little moments seem to mean the most to them.

 
Bunny didnt finally recover her normal happy self! In fact this afternoon, she wanted to cook too. She asked if she could make her own bread. She wanted to create her own recipe to make one small loaf of bread. We talked for a moment about what she would put into it. She suggested water and flour. I asked if it would need salt or sugar. She said yes and that she wanted to let it rise. I asked her what she could add to make it rise and she said yeast. So I gave her the go ahead. She got everything out and I told her that she needed to add the yeast to warm water so that it would rise better. She added everything in, mix it, kneaded it, and let it rise! She decided to make a round loaf instead of putting in a pan! It was still cooling at bead time, so we are having bread for breakfast! She was SO PROUD of it!
 

 
 
 After she finished making it, was in a really great mood! In fact she started to clean things in the house afterwards! It was amazing to see that deep contentment that Maria Montessori talks about when a child finished meaningful work. It has me thinking not only about cooking more together, but also about finding and having some practical life in the classroom for Bunny to do. I have been seeing a need for it for a while, but today really confirmed it. She seems to feel better, work harder, and stay more focused when she does things like that. So I am on a mission. A mission to cook more with the girls and to make some practical life work for Bunny!
 
All of you homeschoolers out there weigh in! Have you found that sometimes book work just doesnt cut it, and the simple moments prove more educational?
There is a TON more great Montessori posts over at the Montessori Monday Link up! Stop by there and Happy Schooling! :)

Advent Trays and Fun!

Well, as promised, here are some of the trays I have out in my Atrium right now for the season of Advent! I really have been trying to find new ideas for trays that will not only provide some new skills and a way to connect with the scripture that we hear during this time of year! Here is what I have come up with this year:

Straw Transfer

Make an Advent Wreath
(The kids take the wreath pieces and stick them in the clay, then add the candles)

Flipping Stars

Spooning Sparkles

Pouring Purple Beads
(Purple is the color of advent)

This is our prayer table set up for Advent!

We havent had very many works our in our classroom this year, but the other day, Pup and I did a fun extension with the red rods and the knobless cylinders! We made a tree and it was pretty cool!

 
What do you think? I have made a bunch of works in previous years, and here are some link for you to pop around and find some ideas!
 
 I would love to hear how you celebrate this time of year in your classroom! Share your ideas in the comments! Happy Schooling! I am linking up over at the Nativity Blog Hop! Stop by and find some more amazing ideas!
 


The Imagination Tree

Mad Math Skills!

Well, we havent had a lot of time for extra schooling lately, but we have gotten the basics in each day! And what is the most amazing thing of it all is that Bunny is still doing really well! She has just exploded with her math! She is loving doing her golden bead math problems in her head, and after a couple of days of her doing the regrouping and borrowing, I think she really gets it! 🙂 We have been doing addition and subtraction problems and she loves that she doesnt need her materials to do it! 🙂 She still hasn’t memorized her math facts, but doing these big problems is going to help her do that! Its not traditional Montessori, but it is what is really reaching her at this moment! Follow the child right? She has also been…get this….reading! Its slow going, but she is motivated and trying to read on her own without me! She is really surprising me!

 


 
Pup has been just hanging around us. She has been a little harder to engage and with Bunny needing my attention, I think she managed to get away from the school room before I realize it! 🙂 She has however, been sewing alot, and stringing lots of beads! It is giving her some good moments of concentration! Plus her little dolls are also starting to get a good Montessori education too! 😉 She has been bringing them along and showing them how to work! We also played a go fetch game with numbers. She know almost all of them, but we still get 6,7,8,9 confused! I am hoping with the game she will get it!
 

 
 
I hope that in the next few days I will get things together for a Space unit! Both of the girl are really interested in figuring out more about how the earth and sun work together! I also want to make a few Christmas trays! So stop on back! I hope you are all having a lovely school week!


Practical Life and Discoveries!

Today was a good school day again. Bunny had her list and I was working hard to get Pup interested in some new work. She really wasnt getting into anything, so I pulled out my practical life album and saw a work I had totally forgotten about….pin punching! Bunny hated when I had shown it to her a long time ago, but Pup LOVED it! She did the whole shape and she colored it! We had a rather large temper tantrum afterward when she messed up the kitty’s face. 🙁 Poor kiddo. She was so upset that it didnt work out the way she thought it should!



She eventually got over it and we did a bunch of grace and courtesy type things that she thought were fun! We moved chairs and tables, pushed a chair in, greeted someone, shook hands, and talked about how to cough or sneeze in their arm! Both girls had such a great time with it!

 
While Pup worked, Bunny did some geometric stick work! She was amazed that a polygon only has straight sides! I love it when a small presentation makes her super amazed! She then worked for a long time making shapes. She showed me how she used all the same sticks to make a square and then it was fun to listen to her think about how to make a rectangle! She was really excited about the shapes she made! Plus she wrote a sentence about it in her journal today so it must have been a fun discovery!
 

 

 
So today we were all learning! Pup learned some new practical life work, Bunny learned about shapes, and I learned that I need to pick my albums again for the 3-6 age range! It is amazing how many ideas there are for learning and when you find them things are fun! I think things are going to work out if I keep things working consistently! If I can keep my attitude positive and joyful, then I think everything will fall into place! Thanks again to all of you for all the help and support you share! For those of you who comment and email and those of you who know me and chat on the phone, your help is amazing! Thanks to all of you and Happy Schooling!

Montessori Monday~ The First Day of School!

Today we “officially” started school for the year! We are starting small and easy for the next week or two before we dive into the Great Lessons and all the new work. I think that all of us need time to readjust and get focused. Now as a homeschooler, we tend to forget things like school pictures! So when I found out about the Not back to school blog hop and their school picture week, I knew I was going to have to try some of the fun ideas I have seen on pintrest! Here are the results! My little students for the year!

Pup who is now officially a Pre-Schooler!

Bunny who is in first grade!

Now since my brothers and sisters are homeschooled as well, I thought that I should get them involved too! 🙂 Lots of fun pictures of all of them too!

I even got the big kids to play along! 🙂 That was a once in a life time thing!


The girls were pretty excited to start school today and both of them were ready to jump right in! The morning went really fast and both girls were rather tired after all their work! We started off the day with getting all of the new school supplies out and organizing the folders for finished work. After that I showed the girls where everything had moved and how to do the new trays. For my trays I have not done any themes, just stuck to the basics for now! You know me, I am sure that there will be some theme trays later!

Ok….I love new school supplies! Don’t you?

Color mixing with droppers
(This one was a Big hit)

Pouring water with a funnel

Water transfer with a sponge!

Scooping Beads

Transferring marbles to the suction cups
These trays are mostly for Pup, but Bunny wanted to do them too. So our deal is she can do one or two trays before she begins her work and she can do as many as she wanted when her work is done. Pup worked super hard all by herself today. She did all the puzzles in our school room and most of the trays. She also pulled out the Brown Stair and I helped her with some sandpaper letters and numbers. Bunny and I set the goals to work on some finger charts for math, and she also chose to learn money. After that we worked on some letter sound review and writing words. It was fun to watch them working again!

She built all the botany puzzles, all the zoology puzzles, and the Melissa and Doug puzzles!

She has been trying to write letters all over the place this summer. I think she is ready for the letters. We are taking it slow, but she loves them!

She was pretty excited that she did it. She did a great job and even self corrected the mistakes she made! This was only the second time she had ever built it! I guess we are ready for some extensions soon!

Bunny was so funny when she was doing the addition finger charts. She knew the answer before the chart and I told her could just write it down. It seems to something she is picking up quickly, or at least figuring out how to work the problem in her head!
So there we go! We are off to a great start! Like I said it will be rather slow and easy to start! I will be linking up to Montessori Monday! Make sure you stop back tomorrow for Taking Time Tuesday!


Oceans of Fun!

Today I suggested a project idea to the girls and Bunny thought it was a must! I suggested that they use crayon to draw ocean animals and then we could use blue water color over it to make the water! Bunny loved the whole idea, Pup really wanted to paint! 😉 So, this afternoon, I pulled out all the materials! Both girls worked really hard on their oceans and they turned out really well! Bunny really drew so many great animals. It was a fun way to see what she had learned from all the things that we read about! Pup drew a fish all by herself and colored in some that I drew for her. They had a great time!

Here is Bunny;s painting. She included a crab, starfish, sea turtle, fish, sea dragon, and dolphin.

Here is Pup’s. She made a rainbow fish and the orange fish all by herself!
This art inspired more art and they needed to make another one too! 🙂 After that they just painted! I guess its been a while since did a project!

Bunny’s other art!

Pup’s Art work!

This is the painting Pup made after all the other painting! She did it completely on her own!

Here is Bunny’s free art! This is another ocean scene. Seaweed, octopus, crab, seahorse, etc!
After all of this, Pup got interested in doing some school work! Hmmm…who knew? So I pulled out the shell matching work from a while ago. She really wasnt interested, but both girls loved looking at my shell collection! They each wanted a shell to “keep”.  I let them and the next thing I knew, they were getting all the materials out for scrubbing a shell! Bunny helped Pup and showed her how to do it right! They scrubbed shells for a while and then cleaned up all by themselves! I am rediscovering how Montessori isnt about the materials, but about real learning from the child!

So that was our day! Despite all that we did today, it was relaxed and happy! Both girls learned and I was peaceful! Learning at its best! I hope you are all having a GREAT weekend! Happy Schooling!

Montessori Essentials~ The Apron (AND a Givaway)!



In the a Montessori class room as well as in a home aprons play an important part in the prepared environment. Not only do they keep a child’s clothes clean during a messy project, they also help to reinforce the steps in a work cycle. A child is going to get messy! Not matter what, they need to be free to explore and learn without the worry of upsetting mom with dusty, dirty, and ruined clothes! So when a child is selecting a work that has the potential to get messy, all you need to do is ask that they choose an apron first! Then after they finish their work, and clean it up, they can complete the work cycle by putting the apron in its place. Much like the rug, it allows the child to feel the beginning and the completion and the end of a work. In a school setting there is often aprons set aside for certain tasks, one for color mixing, one for painting, one for gardening, ect. However, at home you just need one for each child! In fact, both of my girls had a wonderful time choosing the material that they wanted for the apron I made them! It was a great chance for to make some sweet memories together. They have their own apron and cant wait for a painting or baking project so that they can wear them! One of the best features of a Montessori apron is the ease of which a child can put it on and take it off. There are no ties, or snaps, just an elastic neck band and a Velcro waist strap the goes around and fastens in the front! This gives them such a wonderful feeling of pride that they are able to do it themselves!
I, and many other Montessori moms out there, have sewed aprons for our kiddos. They are an easy project and alot of fun to make! So if you are wanting to try your hand at it, there is a free pattern offered by Meg McEleew at Sew Liberated. She designed this pattern herself when she was teaching in a Montessori school in Mexico (if you want to read more about how she came up with the patter, you can read it here.) If however, you are not much of a seamstress, you can always buy them on Etsy from other moms who are making them with love! There are a ton of sellers out there who make the perfect aprons. There were quite a few cute ones that I found here, here, and here! There are a ton more!



Now for the part that you have all been waiting for…..a little giveaway for you all! I have an apron here that I made (and Bunny so kindly is modeling above) and I am giving it to one lucky reader! This apron is perfect for baking, painting, and any other messy fun your little one will explore! 🙂 It is also just the thing to wrap up for Christmas! I made in a nice primary colored pattern so that it is good for both boys and girls! So if you want to win all you need to do is:

1. Leave me a comment telling me how your kiddo would use this
2. Follow my blog
3.Follow me on Facebook
4. Follow me on twitter
5. And share this giveaway on your blog (worth 2 entries)
Please be sure to leave me a separate comment for each entry (do it twice if you blog about it)! The giveaway will be open until Dec.5 and will be shipped as soon as I can get it out! Please make sure that there is a way to contact you! I wish you all luck!!!!! Happy Schooling!
gelino_belva muschett.sofia@mailxu.com