Saturday, 25 February 2012

Mini Daffs For Mother's Day!

I have had this packet of miniature daffodil bulbs tucked away for months, ready for when I went back to work. I returned to work as a child minder later than planned for various reasons and so late that the bulbs were growing in the bag! We finally got them potted up and I hope that they will flower in time to give as Mother's day gifts but if not then all good intentions were there!

We started by hammering holes into the bottom of clean food tins with a hammer and nails - Dewi did this with them and had his thumb hammered a few times by accident!
The girls filled them almost full with compost then added the bulbs before tucking a little bit more compost around the tops and sides of the bulbs to make sure that there were no air pockets. A little bit of water and a sunny window sill finished them off for now and we will decorate the tins nearer to Mother's Day before giving them to various Mummies and deserving others!! There were a few left over so I tucked them in my garden to keep the crocuses and snowdrops company!!

Friday, 24 February 2012

A Visit To the Firestation!

We had a great visit to the firestation on Tuesday! The girls got to have a go at working the hoses and Idris and I got a gentle shower of fine water droplets as we were trying to take pictures!
One of the fire men put on a silly wig and a coat and hid up the tower pretending to be trapped by a fire. The fother fire men put on the lights and sirens and drove around the corner to the back entrance to the yard then put up their big ladders and 'rescued' him!

The children were all really keen to see the hydraulic cutters in action but the fire men weren't so keen! Maybe next time!

All the children had a go in the fire engine - on the promise that they didn't press any of the tempting buttons!! Faith just about resisted!

In the afternoon I printed out some beebot mats of town buildings on fire from Primary Treasure Chest and a fire engine jacket for the beebot. The girls really enjoyed learning how to programme the beebot to get around the town!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Comparing Balls From the Treasure Basket

It was fascinating to watch Idris with his treasure basket the other night. he sat for about 45 minutes before bedtime, absolutely engrossed in it. He seemed to be most interested in the wooden balls. He spied them sitting together and started to investigate.....

The red one was small enough to be picked up in one hand..... quick taste......

Feels nice and smooth and it rocks back and forwards from hand to hand....

I can hold it in this hand too.......oh and I can pass from one hand to another - now that's a handy skill!

Oh look..... another ball, I'll just scoop this one up in my other hand.....

Oh......erm.... it won't scoop, why not? Come on ball, come on (add in frustrated noises and a scowling face here!).......

I wonder if I use both my hands if it might work....... it's hard to grip....

It's hard to keep hold of this one..... if I don't concentrate it plops back onto the floor.... and it's really heavy..... it helps if I use my chin as a third hand to help hold it!

Hey check me out.... I got it..... look no chin!!!!!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

A Valentines Cake Shop

We whipped up a batch of pink play dough and made cakes and biscuits embellished with sequin hearts in little tiny cake cases. After that we sold them to each other in a cake shop. I put out the play panels and together we stuck up the valentine cake shop signs from Primary Treasure Chest. I have discovered this site recently and I'm really impressed! The role play resources are thoughtfully put together, with a small number of different variables that don't overwhelm the children. Some simple 'open' and 'closed' signs plump it out, and literacy and numeracy are neatly catered for with 'order book' signs, a choice of price labels and a clock with movable hands.
There was some great role-play including counting and adding real money, making up cake names, sharing, using 'shop talk' and much more. It lasted a long time all things considered, but the play panels are huge and I've packed them away again for next time!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Valentines Tissue Holders

Eve in particular loves to sew and I put this together one evening knowing that she would enjoy it. I love to leave her to create her own projects as I'm not a huge fan of 'carbon-copy' crafts on a production line. On the flip side of that I also realise that skills and ideas of how to put things together and what is possible have to come from somewhere. With both those arguments in mind I try to balance the two!
I cut out two hearts for each girl, one from red fleece and one from organza. I used the paperclips to put them together as pins seem to cause trauma at the moment - both physical and mental! Faith went round the edge of her hearts using a simple whip stitch and pink embroidery floss (we use that a lot!). It is nice and thick so covers a multitude of sins and is easy to see! You need a large-eyed needle to use it and I have some sharp ones harvested from my Nana's needle book.
I showed Eve how to do blanket stitch around the edge of hers. She loved being shown this. I am no expert at needlework and this is dredged from my primary school days doing a sampler that my Mum had under the telephone for years!
This is the (ever so slightly over exposed!) picture of the back of the tissue holders, with a slot cut to pull them out. they hang by an organza ribbon and the ribbon is big enough so that the holders hang perfectly over the post at the head of their beds! There are tissues in at present as these are one of those 'holy grail' things for the girls that are really special to them (I know, I know!). When the tissues are gone they will be hanky holders instead!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Valentines Montessori Activities

I had a sudden explosion of creativity this evening after realising that the little one that I child mind (who has just returned to me after nine months off on maternity leave) needs a boost in fine motor skills. I had great fun putting all these together, some of them with things I have previously collected for the purpose and some cobbled together from crafting and the recycling box!
This is a simple activity sliding paper clips onto the numbered paper hearts. The paper clips are colour co-ordinated with the numbers on the hearts, as you can see in the picture below. I'm not going to mention that to start with to observe two things. Firstly if she can recognise the numbers and secondly if she observes the connection!
This pegging activity is made from an Ikea lamp box with a ribbon strung across it, and pieces of organza ribbon to peg along it.

This activity involves threading wooden beads onto a pipe cleaner in any pattern the child chooses.

I think this is my favourite activity that I put together! I wrapped a ball of play dough in tin foil and pressed it into a coffee jar lid, then gently pushed red golf tees into the dough to make a heart shape. I picked a mixture of fun marbles to be gently placed on top of each golf tee!

This is a slight twist on the standard 'spooning' activity: there are four measuring spoons in the pink rice and four glass candle holders to decant each spoonful into to allow a comparison of the amount.

Ordering by size (we've already used them for play dough and will probably be pinching them back for biscuit making too!!)
This is a fun one - inside the pipette bottle there is water coloured red with food colouring. The idea is to control the pipette to put one or two drops of colour into each of the suckers on the upside down anti-slip shower mat. When finished the child needs to get a piece of tissue and soak up the drops ready for the next child (almost as much fun as the dropping in the first place!

Pouring with sequins - there are three chunky shot glasses to pour the sequins into - again some control is needed as if the child just tips the jug, there are too many sequins for just one glass and they will spill over.
Tweezing - little paper flowers to tuck into each section of the ice cube tray.

This is an opening and closing activity with four different types of opening mechanism - each has a little confetti heart inside (see below!).
A wooden noughts and crosses game that belonged to my parents.
Opening and closing with locks and keys - each key will only fit one padlock. I threaded a bead onto each key as they are tiny and a little magpie that I know will fall in love with them and want to spirit them away!

This jewellery box housed the beautiful cross that my husband gave me three years ago and that I always wear around my neck. I put tiny gems under the necklace plate, the box hinges closed then is tied into another box which is tied into a bag. I put this out for the girls to practise tying bows which is a popular new skill!

As a final activity for building fine motor strength I put out these wooden nuts and bolts.

Just a note to say that Montessori activities of daily living cover more areas than this but this is what I could pull together in one evening! It should also ideally be made up of beautiful objects and be clearly spaced and set out in an ordered fashion to be found in the same place every time the child wants to use it. I do not pretend to have a Montessori class room however and the activities will be packed away for much of the day. I'll try and come back to say how it goes having them out for periods at a time and see if i can troubleshoot it and make it work well. I'd love to flex my Montessori muscles more, expecially as I qualified with MCI this summer as a 3-6 teacher!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Monster Writing!

Whilst learning about Chinese New Year the girls drew a dragon and wrote a little about what they knew of Chinese dragons. They so enjoyed doing it that I followed it up with reading 'The Gruffalo' by Julia Donaldson this week. It has some fabulous descriptions of the gruffalo! I printed out these cards from Primary Treasure Chest which use the original artwork from the Gruffalo. They served to focus the girl's attention on the descriptive words used. We made a collection of our own descriptive words and grouped them together so that the girls could use them to help them write about their monsters! I used the printable page borders from twinkl as a writing frame for the girls to draw their monster and then describe it. I can't make the picture sit up the right way for some reason!

I'm glad that Eve is getting into creative writing a bit more - she gets excited about doing it and won't let me see until she is finished! She occasionally checks a spelling with me and I am finding her spelling fascinating - she can't 'hear' contractions so well, for example she has written 'is' for 'it's'. So far I'm not jumping on all those things, just storing them up for the future and being very encouraging and excited about her writing!

Friday, 10 February 2012

We LOVE Baby Led Weaning!

We are thoroughly enjoying watching Idris get to grips with solid food. I did the puree thing with the girls but since reading about BLW I knew that was the way forward this time around! No more hours spent steaming, pureeing, portioning and freezing, no more leaving my food to go cold whilst spoon feeding my baby, no more frustration at wasted time and effort and worry about limited variety. It's great - he loves to join us at the table and I make sure we have cooked a meal with things that Idris can grab hold of. It is then a simple matter of handing over tempting morsels at regular intervals and marvelling at his rapid progress! Same as I don't worry about how mich milk he is drinking, I don't worry about how much food he is eating, he will get there and there is plenty of milk on standby until he does!

To date his current favourites are leeks, spinach and mushrooms, as well as oranges, and rice pudding was a hit too! He thinks cherry tomatoes are far too tart (cue dramatic shuddering and pursed lips!) and he's not sure about boiled eggs either (a 'yeuch' noise followed by a determined sweep of the offending egg onto the floor told us that!)! I think his alltime high was the oaty apple and peach crumble my mum made though!! Very messy but very delicious!

We started a few days after he turned six months when he started grabbing food off our plates as we sat at the table. Already he has progressed to picking up things himself from the tray of his highchair (a lovely preloved wooden one!), whereas at first he always needed it put into his hand with a bit sticking out of the top of his fist for him to chew. He is now working on his palmar grasp - it grasps and he knows there's food in it but he can't always get to it - what a tease! The funniest is him using one hand to lift the other hand with food in it to his mouth!

This book by Gill Rapley has a great potted history of weaning and why/how spoon feeding started and why it isn't necessary. It has some good recipes that I had never thought of before also, things like lentil wedges for lunch, porridge bars for breakfast and some yummy dips for salad sticks too!