Etsy is an amazing place for handmade learning materials. We buy a lot from Etsy because I love the materials and despite not being able to make all our materials myself I love the handmade feel and touch. These are a few of my favourite new finds.
What do your children do while you cook dinner? Often it's the time that Otis doesn't want to be working or playing independently. It's nice to have him by my side and I can always find something for him to do. It usually involves carrots - peeling, cutting. We can always add carrot sticks to a meal. Sometimes he likes to play in the sink but there is always some mashing, grating, peeling, slicing to do. I think this might have been Otis' first time peeling a potato and it took a fair bit of concentration.
21 month-old Charlotte peeling an orange. This is actually quite remarkable, watch her hands!
Fabric designed by a Montessori teacher (here and here). I have some samples now I just need to decide what to make!
I recently purchased this from Etsy and I love it. I wish we had one when Otis was little. So good on so many levels (coordination, fine motor, wrist rotation, hand strength). I wanted to see and hold it before I recommend it, the one we received is good quality and the thread is very smooth.
The Rhythm Board - a tactile and intuitive way to teach rhythm - Kickstarter campaign.
In my last order from Karla I asked her to pop in a set of folding cloths for Otis. I didn't use them with Caspar (although he would have had access to them at school) and I really wish I did. I think I've mentioned previously that Otis has a tendency to rush his work, while enjoying the task he is quick to finish and move onto the next thing. I'm hoping the folding cloths can be just one of many activities where I can show him how slowing down and being accurate/precise is important.
Folding cloths like this would be easy to DIY, the stitching could be done by hand or replaced by some permanent marker. The stitching/lines are there to guide the child to fold the cloths in several different ways. The demonstration part is easy too - using slow, deliberate movements the child can quickly catch on. And the practical implications in the home environment are obvious, the child can move onto folding laundry, folding napkins for table settings or perhaps origami!
Montessori wrote of providing the child with the tools of observation. I take this literally and have found Caspar intently interested in using binoculars, magnifying glass and microscope all from the age of three.
Other tools of observation? A worm farm is a great tool for observing worms. You can see Caspar preparing the farm here last year. He received the worm farm as a gift as a two year old. What a great gift, he still loves it and he's almost five.
A bit of researching, a bit of drawing. Official notes, measurements and observations have been recorded.
I love that Otis as the younger brother has the opportunity to observe and absorb too.
Keeping the worm farm also serves as a care of environment activity. The worms need moisture, warmth (which is why we are keeping them inside this time) and darkness.
I'm completely in love with Alice Cantrell. Her artwork available on Etsy is whimsical and educational. This print serves as an extension activity, like a spark of inspiration for our thoughts. What really happens underground? I like it a lot.
And just because we like to have fun (and may be a little bit silly) we created a couple of extra large worms for some wormly play.
It's wonderful to see Caspar develop through using the same materials over and over again. Each time we use the worm farm he becomes more independent in setting it up and caring for it. Each time his knowledge increases and his interest increases. I'm sure worms aren't for every child but they have captured this boy's imagination.
About a month ago I made Otis an apron, you can see him wearing it in my last post. I couldn't find many aprons for sale for this age group. The aprons 3-6 years are too big. So really similar to Sarah's Apron, I traced the outline of Caspar's apron and made a smaller one for Otis. Just as easy you could take up/in the larger sized apron and then let it out as your child grows. This is great if you can sew and have the time.
Recently I found these adorable aprons from GooseDesigns. Not only are these aprons made specifically for toddlers 15 months to three years, they're based on a pattern from the AMI Assistants to Infancy training and worn by toddlers in Montessori communities. They are super cute. I admit to being a little biased, we've used many of April's products and have loved every one. These prints are really charming too, don't you think?
Recently I noticed these aprons which are made from terry cloth. Great for water activities. The design of these involve elastic under the arm so the toddler can slide into the apron themselves. This would work really well for Otis. I'm thinking these would work well for art too. Our current smock is far too difficult for Otis to put on himself.
The only other place I've found aprons for toddlers is at Montessori Services here and here.
I promised I would share our calendar system as soon as I found something that worked for us. I was desperate. Caspar needed a concrete way of learning the days of the week, especially distinguishing between week days and the weekend and counting down to special events, visitors, holidays and birthdays. We've tried a traditional calendar but it wasn't at all engaging and not large enough to record all we wanted.
I've had this calendar bookmarked. I knew it wasn't exactly what we needed but I found it inspirational. I also love this concept from the Wallsticker Company but knew because of it's size I wouldn't be able to convince my husband. We settled on a similar calendar on a much smaller scale and with lots of room to customise. We have this one from Etsy.
The calendar usually isn't this blank, I've removed some of the detail for privacy. Also I clean the right side panel every morning so Caspar and I can fill it in. Usually we record the temperature and weather. We're not tracking all phases of the moon but are marking full and new moons. We haven't starting a conversation on seasons just yet but I'm sure that will be next. I also wanted to show you this calendar before next month, yes April will be a busy one for us.
As you can see it features prominently in our living space. Which is why I waited until I found the perfect calendar. It's also our family calendar so I didn't want it hidden or in Caspar's room. Otis can easily reach it but because we use a wet erase chalk marker he barely even smudges it. Almost baby proof.
You have probably noticed that I've started the week on a Monday. I've always felt the week finishes on a Sunday and starts on a Monday, but I'm not sure if I should be teaching Caspar my crazy ways. Another thing that I like about this calendar is it's chalkboard. Caspar loves to use it. I paid some attention to the calendar in his classroom recently. It too is surprisingly simple. Just days of the week applied with blutack. I probably wouldn't call it beautiful but definitely appealing.
We've made a modest start on Easter preparations. Easter tree decorated - check. You can see our tree from last year here. This year we wanted to keep the tree off the floor and out of the reach of Otis. The bare branches suit our season, we are coming into Autumn and our cooler months. My favourite egg is the red one pictured above. It looks like a mama bird affectionately tending to it's baby.
My baby has some eggs of his own. A mixture of wooden and crochet eggs. The crochet eggs are from Etsy here and are delightful to look at and to touch. They are made for babies so a little teething is ok. I hope the photographs do them justice because they are no ordinary crochet eggs. They really are vibrant. I love the contrast between the smoothness of the bare wood and the texture of the cotton crochet.
The sun came out today. Tomorrow it will be gone again, back behind some storm clouds. We made the most of it and had an impromptu picnic. Although it was still a little fresh, I took Otis's jumper off. Just so that he could enjoy some sunlight on those little arms.
Otis has started to chew on everything. I need something that will satisfy this new, emerging need. These cloth rattles and teething ring arrived today from April (from goosedesigns). He is looking for some sort of texture, I hope these work for him.
Thank you Elizabeth (from quiltmakers cottage) for your beautiful quilt, we love it. I hope you don't mind us using it outside, the occassion called for it.