I was recently asked about early numeracy activities. While I don't feel that we do or that I put out a lot of numeracy activities it was quite easy to put together a list of five. These five really encompass the numeracy activities that we do at 27 months as part of our everyday living. These activities are as hands on as possible keeping in mind that workbook, worksheet activities don't form a part of the Montessori approach at this age.
Counting Everyday Items
Counting oranges as we put them into the bowl. Counting apples at the store as we place them into our basket. Counting pegs as we put them on the line.
Counting Songs and Finger Play
Above Caspar is singing Five Little Monkeys to Otis. Other favourites include 1,2,3,4,5 Once I Caught a Fish Alive, Five Little Ducks Went Out One Day and Ten in the Bed (or Three in the Bed).
Number and Counting Materials
There are a couple of excellent number and counting materials/toys available. We love the above TAG Tumble Down Counting Pegs. I also really like the 1 to 5 RIng Counter. As the child uses these toys they start associating the number or pegs/rings with the written number.
Counting Fingers and Toes
As well as increasing body awareness we find counting body parts fun. Perhaps because Otis and many toddlers are ticklish and very interested in their own bodies. Otis will often (if given the opportunity) count the fingers and toes of others.
We love the Waterhole by Graeme Base and Montessori Number Work by Bobby and June George. Even the Very Hungry Caterpillar has a fun counting component. There is also the Montessori Blue Number Counting Book and I also like One Gorilla A Counting Book by Anthony Browne. I'm sure there are many other excellent counting books that are also beautiful and fun to use.
"Reciting one, two, three, four, five, and so on, is fun for a child, but it is not really learning math.
Math starts with the excitement of moving and touching real objects, gathering them into groups, counting each one, one at a time. It is exciting to discover that these words stand for quantities of like objects - buttons, peas, spoons, family members, stars in the sky - and later to realize that these concepts are used and understood all over the world."
- Susan Mayclin Stephenson. The Joyful Child. Montessori, Global Wisdom for Birth to Three.
Last week we travelled to my sisters wedding. It was so beautiful. While travelling we used store bought baby food resulting in left over baby food jars. Naturally I wanted to reuse as many as possible. Here are some of the ways we are reusing baby food jars in our home.
1. Christmas decorations
I featured these in the previous post Handmade Christmas decorations. A little glue, a little glitter to make these extra sparkly candle holders, a great look for Christmas. They would also work well as vases.
2. Little storage jars
Perfect storage for the little things on my desk.
3. Paint and glue pots
These jars come in handy as paint and glue pots. Here we used them for our watercolours. They are just the right size and if you want to keep the paint for later, just pop the lid on tight.
4. Little cutlery holders
Our little cutlery is on high rotation and in frequent use. What a great way to keep them easy to find and easy to reach.
5. Rice shaker
Following the post Little Colour Bottles I was thinking of other uses for the bottles. For a shaker I thought these slightly larger jars would look, feel and sound better. I could have coloured the rice but after the bright colour bottles I preferred to keep the rice natural looking. This was by far his favourite reuse.
I have also used them to store home dried herbs. They have so, so many uses - what wonderful little jars!
Otis is six months old today!! I am happy to have made it through what I consider to be the toughest time and today I wanted to reflect and share some short cuts that I used (some I still use) to get through.
1. Slow cooker
I purchased this slow cooker when Otis was a couple of weeks old. When my first son was born it didn't matter if we had dinner late (or not at all). But now I have two children to look after. I call this a short cut becuase I don't use any recipes, it's simply the vegetables, meat and stock/hebs/sauce I have on hand. I usually prepare this in the morning when getting Caspar's lunch ready and it's all set for dinner time.
2. Pre-made salads
I still eat some pre-made salads from the gorcery store. It's so easy to grab for a snack and much healthier than other foods I would reach for.
We have just come out of winter and the washer-dryer has been a life saver for when I've needed to change sheets in the middle of the night (sick kids) or if I didn't get around to washing the nappies (we are now using 100% cloth). Put in a dirty load and it comes out clean and dry. Not something I do everyday, but it's helped when needed.
4. Bathroom wipes
This is the short cut I am least proud of. In the first months after Otis was born I wasn't really interested in cleaning and the wipes saved me from being totally embarassed at the site of an unclean bathroom.
5. Hand-held vac
If you have been to my house in the last six months, it's likely that five minutes before you arrived I was running around the house with our hand-held vac. Our dog sometimes like to visit us inside and for someone who doesn't like dog hair all over the floor this too has been a life saver.
I have totally come clean with my short cuts. I would love to hear about the short cuts that you sometimes or all-the-time take. I think it's fun to hear how other people manage, honestly!
This is the list I wish I had three years ago. With no Michael Olaf, no Montessori Services, where do we go for our Montessori materials? Today's five things are sources of Montessori materials that we have used and can recommend.
5. Wood Puzzles- Puzzles, sandpaper letters, moveable alphabet. All handmade.
We have also used Montessori 4 Kids which is an ebay store. Although I haven't used them before Classic Baby stock Montessori items for baby to toddler and they currently have a few items on sale.
I also buy from Etsy. Most of these are from the U.S and Canada. I have found postage costs to Australia to be reasonable. I usually try to order a few items at time to make it cost effective.
Locally I find our indepedent toy store to have some Montessori friendly toys. Although it may require some searching, hardware and kitchen specialty stores usually stock items relevant to practical life.
If you are in New Zealand have a look at Montessori Shop. Although I haven't used them before Vicki is super friendly and may be able to ship to Australia too.
If there is a store that I have missed out or clearly don't know about please fill me in - I would love to hear about them!
I am a little late with my Five Things post. I actually had another topic in mind but I got distracted thinking about weaning, so I might post two Five Things this week.
Today's five things - reasons to read to your baby.
With Caspar (now three) I knew reading to him as a baby was important. I didn't know why. Now with Otis, my second child, I am much more aware and present as a parent and the reasons to read to him are abundant and oh so clear.
This happens while I am showering and getting ready for the day. While it doesn't look like much sharing is going on, Caspar is actually reading to Otis. Caspar is sharing his book and sharing the story.
2. Feeling, touching
He strokes each page with his hand. He feels the page, he touches the pictures, he touches the words. I can only imagine how amazing a book must look to him.
He is learning the weight of a book, how to support it so you can view the words and pictures. He helps to turn a page.
When I read to him like this, he barely takes his eyes off me. He is watching every word leave my lips.
Reading time can be special. Touching, being together, taking time, expressing to him that he is important.
Thank you to Cathy from A Montessori Home, the amazing photograph of Finlay reading with his dad here, really inspired me to capture some of our reading moments on camera.
Also thank you to Caspar for the great photography.