Thursday, 29 January 2015

Montessori: The silence game

It can be difficult for young children to find a moment of peace during a busy day. Especially so when they attend nursery or school. Even when it's so obvious that that's what they need, they are often so caught up in what's going on around them that they can't step back for a bit of peace.
I'm a part time teacher in a Montessori nursery and I have been giving the children this chance to have just a few quiet minutes. They love it so much that they have started asking for it well before the time comes.
We have our little ritual now. After lunch, they sit down opposite me, usually quite agitated as it is a transition time; some children are about to go home while others will arrive soon for the afternoon session.
I ask them what we CAN'T do when we play the Silence Game. This gives them an opportunity for a last burst of energy. They stomp to show me that you can't stomp, they tap their feet, clap their hands, shuffle on their chairs...
Then, I say those magic words: "ok everybody, feet on the floor, hands on your lap, relax your shoulders, deep breath... and here we go"

I slowly and quietly count to 10 while most children try hard not to make a sound (it's hard work for the children who are younger than 3).

After I have reached 10, I whisper each child's name in turn. They know it's time to go choose a book to read while we wait for their parents to collect them.

A moment's mindfulness that brings so much to little souls: regained focus, energy, better impulse control, respect for others, mind/body balance...

I believe all children need a bit of this everyday.

Do your children get daily down time?

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Labelling anything and everything

Finn was so excited to play this game after his nap today! It's so simple... but so much fun for a 3-year-old.
Have you given your (reading) child word labels to stick around the house? No? Then you should!

Reading practice can be fun if you make it (tip: include movement)!

I currently have one label stuck on my jumper labelling me as "mum," and another on my right foot telling me I'm wearing a "sock."

What are your children's most favourite reading practice games?

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Mummy's milk

The pain as he was finding his latch was almost unbearable in the first few days. We went through some hurdles but they didn't stop us. Not even when the 3-month-old Finn suddenly decided he would only feed from one side.
On we went, a bit lopsided but still there.
If I had to describe peace, I would think about a child feeding on his mother's milk, gazing up at her lovingly.

15 months old

Day feeds, nap feeds, all-night-long feeds, bath feeds, tent feeds, airplane feeds, sling feeds, car feeds, lying in the garden feeds... I even remember one time while he was sitting on the potty.
3 years old. The last feed.
When the latch-related pain came back, a few months before his 3rd birthday, I knew the end was nearing. A natural end, but one that would need a bit of help from mummy. Because even though he couldn't latch on properly anymore, he wasn't going to give up his most favourite thing in the world.
One month ago today, we ended our breastfeeding journey.
I am pleased at how this breastfeeding thing went. It wasn't perfect but I wouldn't wish for anything different.
Are you breastfeeding your child(ren)? How old are they? I would love to hear about your breastfeeding experience.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Three years old

Today, Finley turned 3!

We had decided on a low-key birthday this year and it definitely was the right decision for our family. Just the three of us and all his wishes granted. He asked for a "pfannkuchentorte" (a cake made of pancakes stacked on top of one another) for a birthday cake, which he has been dreaming of since he first read this Pettersson und Findus book a year ago.

Participating in making the "pancake cake cake," as he calls it, was the best thing that happened today according to him. He insisted on having cherries in his cake, and when we couldn't find them in one shop, his daddy promised to go to every single shop in town if he had to.

The cherries were found, and the cake was made and decorated by Finn himself.

This was the first time we had done the Montessori birthday game and we all enjoyed it. I find it so meaningful and grounding for a young child.

We explain that the Earth went around the Sun "x" times since the child was born (as many times as the child's age). We place a lit candle (the Sun) in the middle of the room and give the child a globe (the Earth). The child walks around the candle, holding the globe, as many times as their age. We ask them to stop at specific points, where we show them photographs of them when they were younger, telling them their story from birth to now.

A beautiful birthday tradition.

Finally, I had prepared a little birthday interview for our little star of the day. This is also a new tradition we started this year and will continue in the years to come, asking him the very same questions each year.

All in all, an excellent birthday for our little prince!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

A marathon of work

I hope you all had a nice Christmas - We spent it in France with my family and had a wonderful time.
The three of us came back to the UK refreshed. Finn especially has very much been enjoying his playroom since we got back.
Today he chose work after work on his shelves, completely independently, putting his work away each time.
Even before getting dressed, he insisted on building a house for his animals. I helped him build it and we sorted the figures into herbivores and carnivores. He noticed by himself that there are many more herbivores than carnivores, which will be helpful groundwork for when we learn about food chains.

He then chose to practice screwing, which engaged him for a good while.

Threading small pony beads on an embroidery needle, for the second time today already. The first one was just after waking up. He asked me to count the beads with him as he threaded them (61 in total), then pointed to a random one and asked me what number that one was. We had to count again from the start. He was absolutely enthralled by this repetitive counting, which made me think that now would be a good time to introduce the number rods to him.

As you can see from the picture below, it wasn't! He had difficulty watching the presentation, and even more difficulty doing the work himself. He simply wasn't into it so we packed it away, got dressed and went for a walk.

I didn't mean for him to resume his work period in the afternoon but he did, choosing the geoboard.

He then chose to do all of the card works available on the shelves.

Here he is making animal families, asking me questions about their names, and about how we can tell "which one is the mummy and which one is the daddy".

He surprised me with his patience when stacking the cards to put them away.

A favourite work of his is sorting animals according to their means of transport.

Matching botanical drawings with photographs of the specimen.

Matching objects with their silhouettes.

Nesting dolls x2 for increased difficulty.

Here he is looking at the objects "van", "pig" and "box", casually and correctly answering my requests ("please show me the object that ends in x/ begins with v/ has the sound i...")

He said he was going to write "no" from "no, you can't come into my house!" from the three little pigs.

He then had me read a silly word, which he made sure had alternating red and blue letters for easier reading.

His final work of the day, Melissa and Doug's "See and Spell".

Wow, that's a lot! I'm amazed that he tidied everything away after him each time!

And now the little worker is asleep, recuperating from a hard day's work!

Can you tell what a proud mummy I am?

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Round and round the Pink Tower

Ahh... the Pink Tower. The most emblematic Montessori material.
I have a bad habit (call it incompetence if you like) of offering Montessori lessons too early, and the Pink Tower was one of the victims of my ignorance as I showed it to Finn before he was 2. This material is better suited to children between 2.5 and 3 years olds, as that is when they begin to have an interest for size seriation and building. After Finn didn't show much interest a year ago, our Pink Tower went into storage. I mentioned it a few times to him after he turned 2 and a half, but he was never interested.
Last night, as I was browsing through a Montessori website, he spotted the Pink Tower over my shoulder and said "we have that! Can I do it?" I shut my laptop quicker than my shadow (never miss an opportunity!) and retrieved the object of interest for him.

I demonstrated to him and then he had a go. Then it was my go again apparently. Then his again.

"It's beautiful, mummy."

Walking around the tower was a highlight for him. He loved that part and wouldn't stop!

This morning, he asked to work with the tower again... Not to build it, just to walk around it a few more times...

I love my cheeky boy!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Our Africa continent box

The playroom tour gave you an overview of Finn's learning area; now it is time to look closer and take a peek inside our continent boxes, our most loved learning material of all time! You already had a look through our Asia continent box, so today Finn and I are taking you to the lands of the elephants (who's read too much Babar...?) !
Putting away the South America box... before choosing the Africa one

Who's the scary mummy...?

....laughing underneath his bandages!

Our Africa continent box is full to the brim with interesting pictures and artefacts.

A Masai statuette, an Egyptian scarab, a sand rose, a flamingo feather, coins from Algeria, African music, a map, postcards, bandage to become a mummy, a djellaba...

A keyring with pictures of Africa-related books we own that are stored in a basket in the room.

Home made matching cards of people and animals, which are now used to play memory games. Here's a post about how I make our picture cards.

Continent boxes are such fun to put together and use! They have been adored by Finn since he was just 2 years old.
They are contributing so much to his knowledge of our world and he can really relate when he hears the name of a continent. This, I'm sure, is such a strong cultural as well as emotional foundation for him as he grows up figuring out his place on Earth.
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