Gardening in June – our book selection

This week is getting interesting as one of our toddlers green bean is sprouting in the glass jar. To make it easier to observe, we used cotton ball in the jar (it retains water and a perfect humidity level for beans to sprout) and placed the ‘seeds’ in between the jar side and the cotton.

Over the weekend, one of the beans sprouted, how exciting is that ?!! VERY EXCITING! This little girl has been watering her little beans every day this week. We use a little stainless steel jug from the kitchen for the beginning and

jug and watering can
We start by watering with the little water jug and will move to the watering can as the beans are transferred into the dirt.

as it gets bigger we will use the watering can that is patiently waiting on the shelf to be used.

 

Now it will grow fast and the changes are going to be daily which makes it more interesting for young children who need things to happen fast. Staring at a glass jar with beans laying there… not as interesting on a daily basis as the bean that changes every day.

beanweek1
The first bean to sprout this year… so fascinating to see it grow so fast!

As soon as the green stem and the first leaves will appear, we will transfer it to dirt so the plant can get more nutrient.

We will also, at some point, show the children that we can use crushed eggshell and coffee grounds to give those plants some natural fertilizer and keep ants at bay.

Crushing eggshells with a mortar is a good Practical Life activity for our toddlers so let’s use this as a tool to fertilize our garden as well.

 

 

As promised here are the books we have available on the shelf or ready for us to read to our little students. They always love a beautiful book to look at, by themselves or through our little group reading time.

 

Those group time are always a good opportunity to sing a few songs. We get a lot of clapping from them and some cute dance moves!

Here are the links to those books :

1- Planting the Rainbow by Lois Ehlert, Nice one to read to them and show them the colours of different flowers and vegetables.

2- The Little Gardener by Jan Gerardi, I really like to show them this one with the flaps under which there are more words and pictures of tools and so on.

3- L’imagerie des bébés: Les légumes , we also speak French here so it is nice to have some French vegetable vocabulary. Not the best book as the pictures are not real pictures of veggies and each of the veggies have a face on them… but this is the one we have until I find better.

4- Eating the rainbow by Star Bright Books, we have had this one for a while but I love it as it classifies food by colours. It is a favourite as it uses actual pictures of children eating those food.

5- The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss, a cute book, simple for babies and young toddlers.

 

 

I hope you are enjoying gardening and reading as much as we do !!!

 

 

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It’s June, let’s garden !

I do love this time of year, when all the senses can be at play OUTSIDE and INSIDE. I hope our babies/toddlers will appreciate it as much as I do!

For our month of June, we are switching our theme from Farm animals to The Garden which will be reflected in various ways (starting by removing the farm animals basket and the books accompanying it):

LANGUAGE

garden shelvesjune
Simple language shelf reflecting the garden theme for the next couple of months.

Our language shelf will reflect the change, we are bringing our basket of gardening tools the children can feel in many ways safely (nothing pointy for them yet), this will be used for vocabulary (this is a trowel… a fork… a rake… a watering can OR in French ceci est une truelle, une fourche… un râteau… un arrosoir) and accompanied soon by matching cards.

We also have a couple of board books for them on the shelf and also more to read during story time. I will tell you more when my collection is a little more complete.

BOTANY

The children will also see these tools or their equivalent used in the garden as we plant, seed, weed and water while we are outside. Soon, some of these children will help us water the garden and the plants outside (easier when they can stand/walk on their own), in the meantime, we model and they can always experience water and dirt.

garden.jpg
The beginning of our garden : tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers and bell peppers, eventually, the children will get to eat them in the summer.

I will also take advantage of this time to place a bean in a glass jar with dirt and look at it grow from scratch. It’s always fascinating! We can water it and look at the transformation happening.

We will also make some planters with herbs to watch grow and that they can safely munch on later on in the summer.

This is a fun way to do things with your children as well… place some dirt in a container, place seeds and cover them with dirt, water and let the magic of Nature happen as they grow. Your child will love it!

What do you have in your garden for the little ones to appreciate ?

 

Chez Mahé this week

As I am about to take my final Montessori exams, I keep thinking about what our children need. As I re-read Maria Montessori, I think that as long as I follow my child then it will all be fine.  We can be tempted to follow our adult lead because we think we know better. However, children tell us otherwise, in their own way, they are showing us the path to follow and follow them.

My daughter loves moving and being outdoors so we go for tons of walks and relaxing time at the beach.

On that note, I have decided to modify our environment a little, not much so our toddlers can still feel in the familiar house that they have been used to. The shelves have evolved with the different interest and needs of the children.

Some of these material will be used by all three children of different age (10, 13 and 14 months) but in different ways. Our stacking cups have become interesting for our 10 month old but have become a building exercise for the oldest. The little wooden bar with coloured pegs will meet different needs but is of high interest for all.

HOWEVER, what all of those children need is Movement ! I think I made it pretty obvious in the past 2 articles. So, we got rid of a table that was not used that much and we opened the space for more movement.

open space for movement.jpg
Lots of gross motor opportunities in our classroom

I had the idea when our daughter, who is now crawling and standing up and climbing, was in our family living room which we cleaned up and is now a big empty space with a couch and a couple of things here and there. She was so happy to just go around in big circles and have space to crawl.

SO here is our classroom for the time being, less furniture in the middle, space more open and full of opportunities to move around and stand up and walk. I moved the wagon in the middle of this big space and they have tons of chances to stand up otherwise.

I know the ball tracker will still be a big hit for quite some time as it allows gross motor and hand eye coordination work.

ball tracker
The ball tracker is fascinating as the ball moves down.

 

The rest of the work on shelves might not be as interesting now as our little ones need to work on their moves but it is still there if they need it. Now, we will wait and observe.

We keep going outside and provide lots of opportunities to be in the grass in contact with Nature, it’s a blessing here in Vancouver.

 

What are your young toddlers doing these days ?

Movement and music in our classroom

I really want to write about the importance of movement and one of these days I will as it is an important topic for Montessori. You want a hint ? Movement and brain functions are closely related and work together… I will leave it at that until I can go deeper in another post. (Do you hear the suspense music? Dam dam dam!)

 

This week I will just share what we do for music and the development of movement in our home for our daughter and other babies in our care.

MOVEMENT

We love to move, so do children ! Our babies, at Chez Mahé, are developing fast, movement wise as there is some creeping, crawling and some walking with help and standing with and without help.

To contribute to the development of movement, we have a lot of children-size elements they can climb on or hold on to:

-ottoman (of different size)

ottoman climbing.jpg
Climbing the ottoman is a must… nice view from there !!!

-chairs

-wagon

-mirror with side bars

-baby gym that is not used as a baby gym anymore but as a funny bridge to go under or another something to hold on to.

Those are examples and you can have many things your child can safely climb on or hold onto.

We also foster outside time with a lot of crawling in the grass and/or standing, creeping with a few objects to meet their needs for the time outside.

mack outside.jpg
Crawling in the grass is such a fun activity for children and the relationship to Nature develops naturally.

We also go for walks but those have been more relaxing for the children who admire  Nature and more of a workout for the adults. 🙂 It is an amazing opportunity for giving language as those little ears are very curious: “This is a tree” “Look at the flowers!”…

MUSIC

I am a music fan, and so is my husband so the children get  to hear a lot of songs, that we sing ourselves (from nursery-rhymes to total French singers songs…). My husband likes to play some jazz in the afternoon to keep the atmosphere relaxing before nap time.

Soon, when I am not as busy as I am now (cannot wait for the summer), I will play my flutes for them (I have a couple of them!).

On our shelf we also have percussion right now in a basket so the children can MOVE and get into the rhythm. If they happen to look at me when happily shaking a maracas, I am dancing to their rhythm and we have fun together!

This basket of instruments contain 2 egg shakers, another animal shaped shaker (a little louder to appreciate nuances), 2 maracas and a bell shaker (from when our daughter was younger). They love them, share them and always seem so happy when using the percussion.

percussion session.jpg
Percussion jam session for babies and my husband.

MUSIC is so POWERFUL for happiness.

I hope you enjoy your little one(s) moving to music, it’s the best!

 

Language and hand-eye coordination activities: Chez Mahé’s favourite this month.

We have officially been  open for one month now and we have the amazing chance to look after our baby daughter (9 months old) and two other little girls a few months older than our daughter.

So this month, we will work on language with the farm animals.

We, unfortunately, do not live close to a farm so we will try to help the children in our care to get different type of material they can work /play with:

-a basket with a few farm animals – we are not trying to overwhelm them with too many  so right now, we have 4 animals: a cow, a horse, a sheep and a pig. We let them play with those as much as they want in total freedom (they are solid). We also take time with each of them individually or in group, to introduce the name of each animal (in English or French). Depending on the age, we can do a 2 period-lesson and see progress happening.

-A sensory book of farm animals – this one has pictures of different animals and has at least, the 4 animals which are in the basket. They can look at it on their own and at times we also read it to them. The sensory part is not forced on them, we like to help them discover this extra on their own.

farm animals book and basket
Our language shelf on farm animals

Work on hand-eye coordination:

As we have a 9 months old baby and 2 very young toddlers, our shelves reflect where they are at. We are trying to be quite minimalist even if we want everybody to find a little of everything they need. On our shelves, you can find:

-egg and cup (from Beginning Montessori)

-Stacking ring (from Beginning Montessori)

brass rings on peg
Brass rings on the peg

 

and I love it because it grows with them, they provide different types of rings. We are now using the 3 brass rings and will soon move on to the set of graded wooden rings.

 

the object permanence box – which the oldest master but they are still enjoying it as our daughter is working on it a looooot and makes huge progress with it.

-we also enjoy the Grimm’s stacking cups

-our toddlers enjoy the challenge of the coin box

-and last but not least we have on display the red square puzzle – from single shape puzzle. This one gives a good challenge to our toddlers and it’s so much fun observing them work with it.

 

I will follow up soon with more on movement and music !!! Stay tuned ! Do not forget to have fun !!!

 

Stereognostic (touch) sense

Our stereognostic sense is about being able to recognize items through our sense of touch only, no visual sense involved. We use it in our daily life anytime we are going through a bag, a purse, a pocket looking for our keys without seeing or have any visual of those keys. Montessori provides tools to practice and refine this skill.

In Montessori education, we use the stereognostic exercises and games in the sensorial area of the classroom. A lot of the sensorial material used by the children can also be used stereognostically or to use simpler words, with a blindfold or by closing our eyes (no peeking!!!). The child starts using the pink tower, for example, which is made of 10 cubes going from bigger to smaller. She would first be introduced to building the tower by the Montessori guide and once the child seems more comfortable, the guide would introduce extensions and games, some of them can involved wearing a blindfold so the child has to recognize the size of a cube by using her touch only. It makes the material more interesting in a different manner and the challenge is usually really well received by the children. Some of those stereognostic exercises can involve a group activity as well.

Our favourite stereognostic activity here at home is the Mystery bag. A hamstring bag in which are hidden 10 to 12 objects. Those objects are usually familiar to the young child living in a Montessori home or going to a Montessori school. The children have to put their hand(s) in the Mystery bag without looking at what is inside of it. With their hands, the most wonderful tool of the child, they feel around until they find an object, touch it with both hands if needed and say what they think it is. Only then, they can take the object out of the bag for verification.

The objects placed in the bag should be familiar to the child, enough that she could recognize them and name them. We usually do not put toys as they can take away the focus of the sensorial experience and it also distracts the child from continuing his activity.

This is also a language activity as you name the objects and you can have several bags or rotate objects to give more language to the child as she grows. Some people use the mystery bag for mini geometric solids as well once the children have been introduced to them. It can also be used as a matching game if you place 5 pairs of objects in the bag (2 buttons, 2 feathers etc).

Try it at home with what you have if you are interested in playing this with your child. Here, at Chez Mahé, we cannot wait for our baby girl to be old enough to play with it so we can make her a Mystery bag !