Thursday, November 17, 2011

Spin Art

Here is an easy and fairly inexpensive way to paint with little to no mess. I use a salad spinner I found at IKEA for about $4. We have some tempera paint and I cut templates to fit in the bottom of the basket.
salad spinner with template inside
Pour in paint, I wouldn't do more than 3 colors at a time

Make some scribbles with your paints

Put the lid on, make sure it is fitting correctly may need help, many spinners are hard to start
Ta Da!!!!
We've used these circles as turkey feathers. I've trimmed the circles into apple and pumpkin shapes. We've done brown in the middle and yellow on the edge to make sunflowers, if you do blue paper with white paint they make really cool snowflakes. Ive used these for "Go Away Big Green Monster" we put the colors in the approximate places and then give it a spin, they turn out pretty neat. Use your imagniation and see what you can make these in to.

Why Messy Play is Important

Why Sensory Play is Important for Preschoolers

The above article (follow the link) really does a good job of explaining why we need to let our children get messy, and not just in structured settings but spontaneously as well.

My daughter is very much a tom-boy. She has no sense of fear when it comes to climbing on things and jumping off things. I try not to watch to closely. However, she loves to wear her frilliest dresses while digging holes in my backyard looking for dinosaur fossils! So I went to Goodwill and Savers and found some frilly dresses for next to nothing and those were her paleontologist clothes. She was happy and I wasn't cringing everytime I looked in the backyard. They lasted the summer with many washings and now that winter is rearing it's head they have been tossed in the rag bag or garbage can. They really aren't good for much else. :)

Here's how I let my daughter explore and create and imagine and learn while also keeping the mess from getting out of control. First we bought a nicely sized tote with locking lid. Sometimes I ask her what she wants to play with, sometimes I just make something and then leave it out for her to discover. Some things we've put in our tubs:
  • dried beans
  • colored rice
  • colored noodles
  • plain noodles
  • silk leaves
  • real leaves
  • candy corn
  • coffee grounds
  • cloud dough
  • water beads
  • water
  • sand
  • cedar chips
  • whole corn
  • fish tank gravel
  • birdseed
  • silk flour petals
  • acorns
  • feathers
  • flour or cornstarch or flax seed (and then add some spices, ooooohhhh smells good)
  • oatmeal
  • dirt with worms and seeds to plant
  • shredded paper
Ok you get the idea, the possibilities are endless. They become even more so when you add things to your tub. We've added toy dinosaur fossils and paint brushes, Halloween spider rings and eyeball ping pong balls, underwater lights (especially cool in the water beads), pine cones, minnows (to the water), spoons, shovels, scoops, sifters, magnets, shells, anything related to a favorite topic or the weather or holidays. I have as much fun putting these together as my daughter has playing with them. I only put one or two tubs out ata a time. When I'm not using materials I store then in gallon ziplock bags in a large Rubbermaid type tote. They are nicely accessible that way

Want more ideas? Do a google search for "sensory bins" or if you are on pinterest do the search there, you'll find lots and lots of cool ideas.

Cloud Dough and Messy Play

I'd never heard of this stuff before then I found about 10 or more posts on it in a week. So I thought I'd give it a try. Oooooohhhhh this stuff feels soooooo good!

How many of you don't get out the playdoh or paints because they are messy? How many of you have never made ooblek for your kids because it's messy? Well, I'll tell you, YEP it's messy. But part of being a toddler and preschooler is getting messy. I found an article that describes perfectly why this play is so important for children. I'll put that in another post.

But first....the Cloud Dough
8 cups flour
1 cup baby oil (can also use cooking oil)


4 cups flour
1/2 cup baby oil

Mix it all together, kids love this part. When it's all mixed you get a very soft feeling "sand" to play with. It molds easily and crumbles easily. Is it messy? You Bet! Is it fun? Oh yes!

Making a pie for Thanksgiving "you haf a wait mommy"

I think this cutter will work but not the other one

mellon baller, pizza cutter, footed muffin cups

Its a cake for your birfday

See your spiderman candle mommy?

in true Montessori fashion, when done playing she cleans up by herself

this broom is the perfect size for her to be able to clean up herself.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Montessory At Home

This teacher/mom explains so well what I try to do in my classroom and at home with my daughter. I don't always succeed but trying is the biggest step in getting there (unless you are a student of Yoda then you either do it or you don't - we've been watching Star Wars a LOT in my house lately)

I'm not going to try to re-create her post or even paste it here as it's a little long, but very worth the reading!

Teach Before You Ask

I found this post that I'm going to copy here (and give the link as well). It really brought home the lesson to me. After the article I'll give you a personal story that goes along with this.

Care of Self: Nose Blowing

Providing a mirror for young children to admire themselves is a good way to buy yourself 5 to 10 minutes of time :)
Seriously, there is nothing my Little One enjoys more than checking himself out in the mirror!

When I brought this mirror out yesterday, my little guy had a bit of a runny nose. Upon noticing this in the mirror he got himself a tissue and wiped his nose, he then checked his reflection in the mirror to make sure his nose was clean. As I observed him I was reminded of a story:

One day, when Montessori came to see how the children where getting on, she decided to give them what was at that time a rather unusual lesson--on how to blow one's nose. After explaining first of all how it should not be done she showed them how to do it as politely as possible, with as little noise as one could, and taking out the handkerchief unobtrusively so that the action remains more or less unnoticed. The children followed her demonstration with silent interest. When the lesson was quite finished they all together broke into a burst of genuine and heartfelt applause, clapping their hands "as when in a theatre a great actress evokes an ovation repressed with difficulty." she later said.
Montessori was completely amazed at this sudden demonstration of emotion, until all at once its true significance dawned on her. The question she had touched upon--keeping one's nose clean--was one which children too often associate with discipline and humiliation. People are perpetually complaining to children about their noses being dirty. Making remarks, such as "Blow your nose, Billy." "Why don't you use your handkerchief, you dirty boy," etc. But no one had ever quietly and calmly taught them how to do it, without attacking them or criticizing them at the same time.
I have a confession, when I ran my child care center in Massachusetts I kept the box of tissues on a high shelf in the bathroom. I did this without giving it much thought. I expect I just thought it was my job to recognize when the children needed a tissue and to care for them when they did. I would provide the older child with a tissue, and assist the younger child with their nose, by wiping it for them. I really don't recall giving this much thought at all. I will say when I began working at a Montessori School the fact that each room had its very own tissue box on a low shelf, was one of the very first things I noticed when looking around the classroom.
I remember noticing this and mentioning it to the Director; she went on to explain the story I have just shared with you. I left that day full of so much new and exciting information about Montessori and this new school I had found myself teaching art at. My head was spinning and I was so happy to be part of a place that valued children so much. But, a three year old blowing his own nose impressed me most of all!
Later, during my formal Montessori training when the instructor began sharing the "Nose Blowing Lesson Story" with all of us, I smiled to myself already knowing what she would say.
Now my not yet two year old can blow his own nose! I've come a long way in my own learning, as a mother and as a teacher. As Montessori would say, children are the true teachers.
So here is my story:
The other day I read an interesting post on Montessori Mama . It brought home the thought that we do tend to ask kids to do things without showing them how: putting books away, picking up toys, blowing noses, putting clothes in the dresser......

I have been guilty of this and now try to think ahead a bit. After reading this and seeing the mom's story about putting books away I went home and tried it with my daughter. We spent 10 minutes taking the books off, I explained about the spine and how the spine needs to look out of the shelf so that it is easier to find the book you want then we worked together and put the books back. Now, when she has to put books away she mutters to herself "the spine looks at my room". Sometimes she needs a reminder and I usually say "where is the book's spine?" and she flips it right around before putting it in the shelves.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Sugar Plum Fairy - a Halloween Tradition

One of the other teachers sent me a link to this article. I really like the idea, may have to try it at home because my daughter came home with a FULL bucket and my husband had his pockets stuffed with candy. I was going to put most of it in the freezer but I like this idea:

  Apparently there is also a pumpkin fairy who does pretty much the same thing.