Thursday, April 26, 2012

How to Start Using Montessori at Home

I've mentioned I'm very interested in Montessori principals of learning, and I've been able to find some GREAT  online resources!

I plan to start with this at home this week and next.

I'm so excited, and I can't wait to observe how the kids respond- they love "real" work and being independent!  

More updates (and pictures) coming soon- this week we're doing "Curious George Plants a Tree" as our theme.  We've taken this week at an easier pace than last week, due to the distractions of some general life "stuff" (so annoying when that kind of thing gets in the way of the fun stuff!), but we're still enjoying ourselves.  Hoping to do the Wrap-Up post soon!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Tot School-- The Carrot Seed Wrap-Up

As I said in one of my previous posts, I'm trying to incorporate more "Montessori" concepts and  activities for the kids in our daily life as well as in our schooling.  To start us off, the kids were THRILLED to be my shopping helpers during a recent grocery run.  The store we were at even had a few child-sized carts.  They shared one (we took turns between who sat in the big cart with me, and who drove the little cart), and did surprisingly well at "driving" it.  :)

Our cooking activity for this week was to make Carrot Soup (see previous "The Carrot Seed" post for links).  Both of them got the chance to help with the "grown up" work of it, rather than just sit and watch.  Again, they LOVED it, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much opportunity for discussion, on everything from cutting safety to counting, to colors/smells/textures and more, there was!  It was a completely valuable learning experience.  :)

At first I gave them each a "toddler" knife to cut the veggies with, but since it had no real cutting edge on it we decided to try regular plastic knives.  Those worked much better.  I was glad I had some on hand from the recent party we had- usually I don't have that kind of thing readily available, so I'm really looking forward to purchasing some more materials and real "tools" for them both from here.

Through trial and error the kids discovered that carrots are very hard to cut- I had to use my "big, sharp, grown up knife"!  Xander was the first to "solve" the problem on his own- just break it!  That did make the carrots smaller, but not quite small enough.  So, we decided I would cut them and they would help add them to the pot.  :)

They even experienced cutting onions by themselves!  We discovered that they smell pretty "strong", and make our eyes water a little- AND that they don't really taste very good before being cooked.  ;)

While the kids waited for me to sautee the celery and onions, they decided they'd do a little cooking too.

Once the soup had cooked down enough we put it in the blender and they got to help add the rest of the chicken broth to finish it off.

All in all, we decided it was very yummy, especially with our Smashed Chickpea & Avocado Salad sandwiches (we made ours with mild guacamole since that's all the avocado we had on hand).

After naptime on Friday (since we didn't get to it earlier in the week), we did our Carrot Painting! 

I'd say our latest Tot School "unit", even though it was short, was definitely a success.  :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tot School-- The Carrot Seed

Oh my goodness, Two posts in a Row!!!  

Well, in my post yesterday I mentioned I'd started homeschooling Regan.  I call it "Tot School"- since she's a little young for real "preschool" and because I don't *really* believe that an academic preschool experience is necessary for young children.  But, more on my beliefs about schooling some other time.

This week, after our several week break, we're getting going with Tot School again with the book "The Carrot Seed", by Crockett Johnson (seriously, that is *such* a cool name!).  

(Image from

Our typical weekly school routine will be this one, that I discovered on Pinterest recently:

We're starting on Wednesday this week, so our activity plan will go something like this:

Wednesday-  *Brief trip to the library to check out a few books on seeds/carrots/gardens.

Thursday-  *Plant a bean seed so we can watch it grow.
*Play with playdough (orange and green, if we can find, or have time to make, it).
*Take our monthly trip to La Leche League.

Friday-  *Story Hour at our local library.

In our book basket for the rest of this week we have:
(Growing Vegetable Soup)
(When the Wind Stops)
(New Boots for Spring)
(And the Good Brown Earth)
(How Groundhog's Garden Grew)
(A Seed Is Sleepy)

And, if we can find them at the library, we'll also check out these:

(Muncha Muncha Muncha)
(Inch by Inch: The Garden Song)
(The Tiny Seed)
(The Giant Carrot)
(How A Seed Grows)
(The Enormous Carrot)


(The Carrot Seed)

 I hope, in the future (hopefully we'll have more children one day to homeschool!), to purchase most of the books on the "check out at the library list" for our own library.  I used to own a couple of these, but in all of my paring down madness some of them must have been given away.  Oops.

I'm looking forward to getting started, and I know the kids are excited too- they LOVE this stuff!  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Right Now...

Inspired by my friend's own blog update, and the calmer-than-usual pace of this particular Monday, I thought I'd actually take a moment to Blog!  

It'll be a bit random, and without pictures (the cord is in my bedroom, and I have absolutely no intention of waking the little boy sleeping in there!), but it'll have to do.

It's been a while since I popped in here.  As usual.  I suppose that's a good thing though, since *hopefully* it means we're being productive and experiencing "real life" rather than more screen time.

So, let's see... what's been happening so far this year- 

*Our sweet dog, Koa, passed away.  We think she had cancer of some sort, and we couldn't bear to watch her lose her vitality (anyone who knew her would have said she was definitely energetic and fun loving!), so we chose to have her put to sleep once she was unable to run anymore.  She *Loved* to run, and though she didn't seem to be in too much pain yet, the vet very kindly told us that there was really nothing else, barring very expensive surgery (itself with unsure results) that we would be able to do for her.  So, we spoiled her and played with her as much as possible until it was finally time.  It hurt both Pete and I greatly to not only watch her decline, but to make the decision to have her put to sleep.  She was a loving and loyal puppy, and had been with us through everything we've been through in the last 7 years- and much of those years were spent in the painful grasp of infertility.  She was there, by our sides, through all of the miscarriages, pain, tears, frustration, and, eventually, the joy (and some fears) of a successful pregnancy.  She was a sweet friend to our baby girl, and was gentle and willing to "play" dress up with Regan until the end.  Regan still asks about her from time to time- it's hard describing death to a 2 1/2 year old in a way that they can comprehend and that won't scare them.  We talk about her when she asks and try to remember the good.  Pete buried her in one of our flower beds, and today I planted some Bleeding Hearts over the spot.  It will be a sweet reminder when they bloom of our sweet girl.

*Due to the grief we experienced in letting Koa go, we adopted a puppy named Bay.  While the decision to bring her into our family was admittedly one that we rushed headlong into, she is a sweet dog and has helped us all cope with Koa's loss.  She's now 4 months old and is finally making some real progress in being house trained!  (I have discovered that I am not a big fan of puppy-hood.  Puppies are adorable, but potty training one is *not* my cup of tea.)  She's a sweet heart, but (like Koa) seems to have some issues with being a bit overly submissive, so we're working on building her confidence (we will be singing from the roof tops the day she finally stops peeing every time anyone looks at or talks to her!).  I'll have to post pictures soon of her- she's pretty cute!

*Regan is now 2 1/2.  She's such a "big girl" now, that I can definitely feel those growing pains in my mama-heart again.  She recently moved into her very own bedroom (she had been co-sleeping- in one form or another- with us in our room since the day she was born).  It was so much fun to put her room together (again, I'll post pictures as soon as I can!), but a little hard to say "goodbye" to that part of her baby/toddler-hood.  She was ready for her own space though, and I was very ready for her to have a place of her very own, *and* a place for most of her toys to live.  I'm no where near done pretty-ing up her new space, so I'll be posting pics of that process from time to time as well.

*I began "homeschooling" Regan (and our little daycare friend) for "preschool" this year!  I'm not one who really believes in an academic preschool program, but it's been very fun to have one or two little playing-to-learn activities to do each week.  And I've learned that one thing I love already about homeschooling is how flexible it is- I became very overwhelmed with our house and just life in general about a month or so in, and we took a nice long break from it so I could focus on a few organizing and simplifying projects around the house.  We're finally ready to get back into the swing of things again, so I'll have to share more on it all soon.  For now, I'll just say that we're planning our week's around quality children's story books.  It's a "curriculum" based on the Before Five In A Row concept, and I really love it.  I'm fairly certain we'll continue, to some extent, with Five In A Row for her schooling as she grows.  As I've been putting together little activity plans for our book units, I've come across quite a bit of Montessori resources (and here), and so I'm becoming more and more inspired to continue our homeschool journey by combining both of these methods.

*I'm continuing my personal "quest" to simplify.  I've continued to "pare down" and "weed out" our bleongings-  the Goodwills in our area have received quite a few very large and very full "contractor's trash bags" of misc. clothes and "stuff".  Every bag that leaves this house makes my shoulders feel like a weight (that I hadn't even noticed was there in the first place) has been lifted.  And, having less stuff is making it, slowly, easier and easier to keep the house kept up-  which in turn is helping me to stay calmer throughout the days.  I'm learning that my mood and attitude is very dependent on my environment.  The less stuff I have to contend with, the better I'm feeling.  It's also giving me much more space (an entire room in fact!) to set up as a sewing room for my business!  This is a very good thing, because our financial situation has become slightly more dependent on any extra income I can manage to bring in.  So, I'm working on getting that room all "organized" and ready to go so that I can be more easily productive with the small windows of time I have to work on my sewing.  I'm hoping to find a way to "stock" my Etsy shop regularly (whether that be every week or two weeks is yet to be determined) this year.

Anyway, that's about it as far as 2012 has been going so far.  We've had a couple bouts of sickness- Hand, Foot, & Mouth Disease most recently for miss Regan (and a lesser case for poor Pete too), and before that a Nasty, nasty virus that had us all getting repeatedly sick to our stomachs (not even going to bother going into details there!), and resulted in us needing to take Reg into the ER to get the vomitting to stop.  But, we're all doing better these days, and I'm still working on our diets, so hopefully we won't be seeing much more sickness this year.  For myself, I'm continuing to eat mostly Vegetarian/Vegan, with a little bit of seafood (and once in a while even bacon!) or eggs here and there, and I'm doing my best to keep Pete and Regan eating a Clean Diet as well.  I hope to keep popping in here fairly regularly to update you all (and to have a place to store our memories for myself too) as the year progresses.

Lots of Love,