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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Library Day Layout

My first layout using the Gossamer Blue July kit and I have to be honest and say I'm already wishing for more embellishments in the kit. I like all the layers I was able to achieve, but found myself wishing for a little more 3D finishing touches. 

I chose two pictures taken during a weekly library visit. They went well with the theme of the kit and I love having this every day type story documented.

To see the entire page and how it came together, watch this start to finish video!

What's on your workspace this Wednesday? Anything paper related? 

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Beginner's Approach to Montessori

Trying to live this summer with intention has led me to reading up on the Montessori Method. This will not be a post on the Montessori approach to learning, I really don't have any authority to give on it anyway, but I will post some resources at the bottom of this post if you want to learn more. 

My most basic explanation of why I love Montessori is that it seems fluid with how my children learn and participate in this world already. Everything I've taken from the books and websites I've read has fit seamlessly into our lifestyle which makes me think it is a good fit for my family. Just about every afternoon after naps we go into the play room to work. I bought four of these great trays from Ikea and have them on the lowest book shelves so that the kids can easily pick what they want to work with for the day. Then we spend the next couple of hours doing these activities and maybe reading a book or having a 'lesson' (I will share more of these as I do them!) until dad gets home. 

While I have no hard proof that my children are benefitting educationally from this, I can tell you I have seen a big difference in their behavior after having time to focus and challenge themselves. This would be the time of day I'm most likely to turn on the tv for peace but after we put away these activities both kids are generally happier and ready to play some more or follow me in the kitchen while I make dinner. 

I thought I would share our favorite work with you here. Everything is pretty much hand made and very cheap or free so even if you just see one that you think would work in your house for whatever time of day your child is most restless, you can find a way to replicate it. 

Button sorting: I took an empty egg crate and numbered 1-12 on the bottom. My original thought was that we could count out the buttons into the holes, but we are not quite there yet. Also I think having buttons that are all the same size and color would make this easier. However with my stash of random buttons this makes for a great color sorting activity. I set up a different color button in each crate and then C or H sorts out the buttons by color. Great for fine motor skills and sorting is a great base for math skills.

Stringing beads: A bowl full of pony beads and something to string them on. Right now we just string the beads on but I plan to build on this and start teaching patterns. Also another one that they will naturally sort. You can find larger beads for younger kids at the craft store that are made out of wood and are a bit easier to handle. Again, using what I had on hand.

Transferring from bowl to bowl: This is a favorite and a great sensory activity as well. I had a ton of lentils on hand so I placed them in a large bowl and set it next to a smaller bowl. We have used all kind of utensils to transfer the lentils and this also works well with dried beans or rice. You can start with larger scoops and bowls and work down to more delicate tools. Also let the child spill, that's part of the learning process, but be sure to teach them how to clean it up!

Coins through a Slot: I cut  slit in an empty oatmeal can and set out 10 poker chips. The kids push the 'coins' into the slot and then open up the can and dump them out to start over again.
 Transfer with Tongs: This is a fantastic small motor skill that builds up the right muscles for writing and cutting. I took a package of craft pom poms and emptied them into a bowl and set a mason jar next to it. Then I gave the kids a pair of tongs- these are from an Ikea kitchen set- and showed them how to pick up the pom poms and drop them in the jar. We've built on this and now they sort the pom poms in different dishes as well.
Sensory Bins: By far Charlie's  favorite work is the sensory bin. I found some kinetic sand on sale at Michael's and mixed it with river rocks (found in the floral arranging section) and put it all in a bin with a tight closing lid. They love to dig around for things, add animals to it, and just generally feel the different textures. Another one that can have a few spills but easy enough for the kids to clean up on their own.
 I hope that gives you an idea of how we are incorporating Montessori work time into our every day. I'd love to hear you thoughts on this method or any that you've found that really engages your child and challenges them to problem solve and participate in the world independently.

Books I've found helpful (I searched Montessori at the library and came up with hundreds of titles! These are the ones I've read and used) Affiliate links used throughout.

The Essential Montessori: An Introduction to the Woman, the Writings, the Method, andthe Movement

This ebook Montessori at Home has been really helpful to me as well

Websites I have found to be helpful and look at the most often for different activities as well as free printables

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bread of the Month///Crockpot Bread

 Yesterday was cool and rainy and a great day for bread making (alas a poor day for picture taking of said bread). I decided to try this crock pot bread recipe I found on Pinterest and see if it was at all worth making. Well it was so good and so easy I need to make sure you know about it!! Here is the link to the recipe over on Host the Toast .

I was really shocked when this worked, although you do need to place the cooked bread under the broiler like she recommends for a minute or two. That way you get the crunch factor of the bread. I was going to try and add some chopped olives next time to change it up, I'll let you know if it works.
In other news, we've been enjoying our summer and trying to go on a few adventures. Last week we went to the Perot to see the dinosaur exhibit and had a fantastic time. We've also set up a bit of a schedule around here complete with some new 'work' for the kids. I'm working on a post for Monday that will share a bit of that.
I've also finished up two dresses for myself and am hoping to get them photographed this weekend! Right now my desk if full of scraps and pieces from this quilt in progress, but when that's done I plan to make a few more things for the kids. There are so many great kids patterns out there and C&H are starting to outgrow their summer clothes.
I hope you have a great weekend and get a chance to make the bread (Charlie said 'it's like cookies mama!' That is a three year old's highest form of a compliment) and maybe put some yummy cheese on it and have yourself one hell of a happy hour. See ya' Monday!