Montessori Monday~ Playtime and Montessori

Last week Pup was working more on her Cheetah project and as I worked with Bunny I realized that she was crawling all over the room with her stuffed cheetah in her mouth. She told me that it was her cub and she was the momma cheetah. She then proceeded to hide her cub in the tall grass and go hunting {Which was too cute}. She crept along the floor and then started to run on her hands and knees as fast as she could! She then brought her cub back some of the gazelle she caught. It was really sweet, but it got me thinking about play in the Montessori classroom. Traditionally Montessori classrooms dont have play as we know it. However, Montessori referred to the work a child does as play and games. Each and every work that was created was created to be play. Hmmm…it makes the whole view of Montessori just a little bit different, less ridged, and more accessible to me personally. However, it didnt address the issues of imaginary play. Honestly, Maria Montessori didnt believe that children needed that in the classroom. Why? That is the big question. Why no imaginary play? Well she observed that the child would rather learn to use the real material then to play with the toys that were in her first Casa. And you know what, she was right! Kids would rather help in the kitchen, then play with a kitchen set. Or they would rather sweep a real floor then use a pretend sweeper and rather wash themselves then wash a doll. But they cant always be using real things in a real place. Kids need down time too. They need to play. In observing my own kids and other kids, they love to work, but they also need to play. In fact sometimes their play is a reflection of what they have been thinking about and learning about, like Pup being a cheetah. They need the down time to absorb more fully the deep things that they were presented with, to explore new ideas, and to relax. Now these are just my observations, but I think that this is one of those “aha moments” that make me realize again that a Montessori homeschool is vastly different from a school. Playtime and work start to become the same thing and all an important part of total learning. So how do we make playtime and Montessori work together? Here are a few tips on what we do to make this work together:

1) Keep it simple We have mostly open ended toys. I have gotten rid of any movie or character toys and most toys that move, need batteries, and all that little junk stuff that seems to filter in!  We kept the blocks, the trains, the kitchen toys, the dolls, the Barbies, the Playmobiles, the Polly Pockets, animal models, and of course Legos! Everything has many ways to play with it. The people can go different places and be different things. They can work together and create all kinds of world. And the girls do! They are happier with a few baskets of good stuff then with a room full of everything!

2) Make it Pretty Like Maria Montessori says, the enviroment is the teacher. Make sure that everything is arranged well and organized in a way that allows for the child to see what he has to play with, and to be able to clean up what he got out. This doesnt mean that they will clean up one thing before they get out another. It is playtime, not school time. Mixing is encouraged and really good. It means that they are really experiencing their thoughts. You can even use rugs to help them create an area if you have more then one child and space is something that becomes an issues. However, sometime working together is better and more fun!

3) Make it Creative Creativity is so important! Playtime is not work time. So let the kids make things, make a bit of a mess, and really dig deep into what they are thinking. Art supplies (if possible), playdough, craft supplies, blocks, pieces of wood, what ever the kids need to create something that is meaningful! And relax….it can all be cleaned up (at least that’s what I tell myself)!

4) Make it Real This is super important! Add things to the play area that are real and are a part of what you are learning about! Studying the ocean? Add some shells and a blue material to the play area. Are they plaything kitchen? The come in with groceries, real ones! Are they making a house? Find some cardboard or blankets that you can leave for them to use! You dont need to say anything, just add it and see what happens. They wont always do something with it, but its there to think about! Play and learning is the same thing and if you have a real stuff then they are going to respond to that by applying what they are learning!

5) Make it Fun   This is not a structured time and its time for kids really be and explore their world in the safety of their playroom! So relax and let it happen! It will be messy, it will be a little bit out of control sometimes, but it will be good and it will make memories and thoughts real! And feel free to play too, but only if they want you there! It is their world, just like the kitchen is your world! Dont take over and do what ever you think it should be. Ask how and if you should do something! It will make their day and it will really help you get a chance to see into their minds a little bit!

6) Make it Practical Life Work Think outside the box and add some practical life work to their play area! Pour tea, give the baby a bath, invite your guests to a party, etc. You get the idea! Use water, beans, tables, whatever to let them practice all those skills that they have been practicing in their work time! They keep absorbing their skills while playing!

So those are some thoughts about making time for play within a Montessori home! They all work together and really there is room for both! It is a beautiful time in their lives and there is no reason to leave it out because it doesnt fit with an education method. Play! Its fun! Its Important, Its good for them! If you want to see some really awesome Montessori fun, stop on by Montessori Monday! I am linking up there so join the party! Happy Schooling and Happy Playtime!!!!

Work and Play!

Well work and play has been the theme of the last few days for sure! We had a garage sale on Friday and we cleaned up from it today! However, we also go some fun in too! The girls made some cookies and muffins to sell at the garage sale and Bunny’s friend stopped by to help out too! Bunny was so excited to make the signs and help with the baking. She was even excited to help selling them (and she really doesnt like to talk to people she doesnt know). However, at about an hour and a half she wanted to be done. I told her that she started something and she needed to finish it. So we made a deal that she work until lunch. Her friend loves to talk to people and really helped Bunny keep selling! I was really proud of how hard they both worked! When they were done, the sold out of everything! Each girl made about $18! They worked really hard and so did I! I was able to sell most of my stuff and made some extra money that I will be using for new Montessori materials!

Bunny was so excited to have earned so much money! She has been saving for a scooter and this allowed her to finally get it! So today we went to the store to get it! Boy was she excited to try it out when we got home! Pup had a little money and got a horn for her bike! She loves it with all her heart….me not as much! 😉 At least I will always know where she is! 🙂
I guess I didnt catch  good picture of Bunny on her scooter! 🙁 I will get one tomorrow! We are finally done with all of our work though and I hope that this week will be lot more relaxing!
Happy Summer Fun Everyone!

More Arctic Fun!

Today we had some friends over for a play date and I thought it would be fun to share our theme with them! So I used my stand by play dough recipe and made some snow play dough! I used lots of white glitter and peppermint flavoring (peppermint just smells cold). Then I got out all of the animals from the Arctic Toob, some pinecones, some rocks,our arctic cookies cutters, and some books about the arctic. I set all of these out on the table and I gave a quick little talk about the arctic and Antarctica. Then I let the girls and boys create what ever winter arctic scene they wanted. I loved to hear Bunny and her friend talking about what the polar bears do, and talking about the cold! They were all so creative made some really great scenes! Here are some pictures of their work!

Here is Bunny’s first one. She has the polar bears getting ready to eat the seals!

Here is Bunny’s friend’s first one.

This one is HM’s (age 3)

Here is a slightly reworked one that Bunny did.

This is Bunny’s friend’s. She added an iceberg in the water and penguin foot prints!

Here is Pup hard at work!

RM is Pup’s age and doing a great job too!

I think that this is another one that Bunny made.

This one is RM. She ended up finding some Australian animals! It looks good though!
They all turned out so well! I love that this project allowed the kids to be creative, think about how the environment would be, and to think about how the animals and people would interact in that environment. It is such a great way to reinforce our lesson from the other day while having a ton of fun! This is one of those things that really does so much to inspire learning, and the kids think that they are just playing! 🙂 Another really sweet moment that happened during our play time, was that the girls set up a party. They had a table clothe, dishes properly set at each spot, guests that were invited, and they passed plates, talked kindly, and were just so polite! It made me see that they are learning all about proper behavior while they play and there just cant be a better way to help them with those grace and courtesy lessons! So that was our fun today! I love that they all had fun and learned at the same time! How do your kids learn while they play? Share your favorite moments and activities that help kids learn while having fun!

Garden adventure!!!!

Well my lack of posting is due to the awful virus that as hit poor Pup! She came down with it on Thursday afternoon and she has had a fever since. This has made her rather clingy and unhappy. 🙁 So far, no one else has it thank the Lord! I was so glad that it ended last night! Unfortunately I think it might be some time before Pup in back to her normal self! She is wiped out! This has left me very little time to figure out a new theme this week, so we are going to do “f” is for fall again!

Now for something new that I wanted to post a while ago. On Thursday morning {before Pup got sick} we went out the an education park/garden {I’m not sure what to call it}. We went with our homeschool group. The older kids { 5 and up} had a pottery class and the other moms took the littles out for a walk to explore! They have so many amazing places for the kids to go and connect with nature! There is  a fairy garden, a large musical instruments place, and a bio dome with all sorts of  exotic plants! Not only was Bunny so excited to make a pottery item {I will let her work be a surprise post later} but Pup had a ton of fun exploring! Here are some pictures of all the fun the little had!

Here the tree as you enter the community garden area! I LOVE the leaves! Each one is different! I totally think that this is going to be a fall project here!

This one is wool.

This one is wire and beads

This is glass! So cool!

Aren’t they cute?!

There is tunnel system that has three entrances/ exits!

Here is a little play house area!

Rock wall!

Balance bean! I want to put one of these in the backyard!

These are drums in the instrument area!

Coming out of the tunnels!

Here is Pup playing the chimes!

This is another great backyard idea. This is a large piece of stone and they have a bucket with a paint brush for the kids to draw with water!

Feeding the fish in the bio dome!

It was a really awesome time for everyone! Pup had fun playing outside, and like I said, Bunny had so much fun with the class  she wanted do pottery again! She even wants to throw her own! I guess we found a new art medium that she wants to explore more! Like I said it was a great day! I cant wait to have more days like this! I  am in the middle of working out a way to incorporate more little trips into out week! I love doing those things and sometimes I forget to! I hope to get a few more in before the really cold weather hits! Happy Schooling and Exploring! 🙂

Outside Prepared Enviroment!!!!

Well as promised here is the pictures of my new project!!!! I (and my hubbie) made a work station for the girls to use while they are outside. The idea started when I read Sam’s Blog over at the Secret Garden. She is making an outside garden for the kids in her school to work out in when they want to, and she is doing some beautiful things! I love that she was also making some language areas and science areas for the kids to continue their classroom work outside! I fell in LOVE! I was thinking “gosh how cool would it be to let the girls go to a school where they had the freedom to go in and out when they want and keeping learning in both places”. Then it hit me, I have a backyard that is all open for me to do whatever I want!!!!!! Duh! So I started dreaming! When I mentioned my idea to my neighbor, she told me that she had an old garden table that I could have!!!! I was so excited! It also had two stools!!!! She is an amazing neighbor and it was so kind! So I took it and and my hubbie slaved away on it on Sunday!!! He cut the legs down, power washed the dirt and old finish off it, and stained it a really nice red. It turned out really nice! Then I finished it up this morning for the girls to work at! So far it has been a great hit! I LOVE it! It is just a really sweet place for the girls to keep their stuff and work on projects outside! A lot of the work that I made for our work station were ideas that came from the book Playful Learning. This book is full of great ideas and I love her learning ideas! If you have a chance to check it out I really recommend it! She also has a blog that had a ton of giveaways going right now and you can check that out here! So anyway, enough chit chat! 😉 Here are the pictures of our work station! Let me know what you think!

Here is our Work Station! Cute right?

I have rock for building and side walk chalk!

Scrub brushes! I found them at the Dollar Tree for a $1!!!

Here are some wire sculptures that Bunny made while I was setting it up!

Here is the bunting I made! I love bunting! It just really made it so cute!

There is a little drawer that has a box with colored pencils and regular pencils!

Here are the tubs that the work boxes are in. I wanted to make sure that they were all in several layers of protection so the weather doesn’t hurt it! Inside these tubs are some typical school boxes that have the work in!

I even have a place now for their watering cans!

Here is a leaf project where you observe a leaf and then make it with wire. Bunny saw this is Playful Learning and wanted to do it! It is tricky, but she had enjoyed making other things out of the wire too!

Here is a box for doing rubbings!

These are story rocks! They have been a huge hit with Bunny and they were super easy to make! Just a little paint and some clear coat! What you do is tell a story using the rocks to help illustrate it!

Here are some blank books for Bunny to write in.

I also put the odds and ends that Bunny used for her fairy garden out here for her to use.

Finally I have some show strings, clothes pins, and fabric pieces to let the girls make forts or what ever else they come up with! They love free play!

Here is Bunny showing me her wire work! 🙂

Here is Pup trying to rub a leaf! We have to practice that! 🙂
All in all it is a really cool area that will allow me to give then work time outside! I think I will be able to rotate the boxes and have some seasonal fun here!

Our Tent!

Well I finally finished it! The tent that I promised to show you and promised my girls they could play in! I got it all put together and they LOVE it! It is so cute and the perfect size for a hideaway! They played in it inside and out today. I love that I can move it easily and it fold around the poles. I made it using Meg McElwee’s book Growing Up Sew Liberated. It was pretty easy to put together and I love the detailed directions. Plus there are a ton of other amazing projects. I do recommend it if you are looking for a fun project! Here are the pictures of the tent!

Here is the front. Meg used Bamboo Poles, but I had some pvc pipe, so I used that!

Bunny posed for me to help show it off! 😉

Here is circle window.
 (As you can see, Pup was coming in to play!)

Even our dog, Lacey thought it was awesome!

Bunny set it all up so the it was “beautiful on the inside”! She is a decorator at heart! As you can see her new sewing basket is in there. As I mentioned before, we are working on a sewing badge and she has taken it up as her new favorite thing to do! As she said, she is a “sewing girl”! She is really good at it! We are working mostly on embroidery.

Here they both are sewing in the their tent!

Like I said, this book is great, and its also full of bits of wisdom that are fun and helpful! Meg is delightful to read and a Montessori teacher too! Check it out or visit her blog:! Happy Crafting!