Thursday, June 27, 2013

A World of Flavor

Gastronomy is most certainly not what Sorting Sprinkles is all about but in an effort to diversify my picky eater's diet, I created a unique "World Cuisine" menu for him to try out every Friday and thought I'd share the outline with you. Why share this you may wonder if it is "unbefitting"? Well, as some of you may know, a big "chunk" of the Geography curriculum is spent studying "The World", to include its people...and you guessed it: its regional food, and so gastronomy as it turns out, may not be, after all, be as misplaced as I initially thought it out to be. I also think some of you may enjoy seeing or hearing about our little worldly culinary experiment (or even embark along on your own...). Do I  guarantee a weekly post on the topic? Absolutely not. Will there be a picture for every dish? Probably not! (My kids eat as quick as the food hits the plate most of the time) but it will be pretty healthy and I will try to keep it as authentic as possible.

Parisian baguette Eiffel Tower
Paris, 2007. My husband convinced me to take a picture with
"un beret et une baguette" in front of the Eiffel Tower to celebrate
my French ancestry.  (Cousins de France: Je ne sais pas si vous portez
vraiment des bérets autant que les gens le pensent. J'en doute mais
 j'aime bien. Pour ce qui est de la baguette; il n'y a pas de doute
et le monde entier vous en remercie!)

Curious about my line-up? Here's what I've come up with so far...Please keep in mind that it is subject to change and that my selection had nothing to do with my "preference" of certain countries over others. I simply tried to pick countries that I had previously had a chance to visit or that featured some "easy" to find ingredients for "easy to make" dishes. :)

World Cuisine Prospectus 2013-2014


September 6 : Korean
September 13 : Italian
September 20 : Jamaican
September 27 : Cape Verdean


October 4 : Lebanese
October 11 : Portuguese
October 18 : Mexican
October 25 : Malagasy


November 1 : Greek
November 8 : Iranian
November 15 : German
November 22 : Chadian
November 29 : Kiwi


December 6 : Japanese
December 13 : French-Canadian


January 10 : Saudi Arabian
January 17 : Cuban
January 24 : Hungarian
January 31 : Vietnamese


February 7 : Thai
February 14 : French
February 21 : American (Southern Barbecue)
February 28 : Moroccan


March 7 : Afghan
 March 14 : Irish
March 21 : Argentinian
March 28 : Israeli


April 4 : Indian
April 11 : Panamanian
April 18 : Spanish
April 25 : Tunisian


May 2 : Turkish
May 9 : Danish
May 16 : Brazilian
May 23 : Indonesian
May 30 : Costa Rican


June 6 : Chineese
June 13 : Maltese

End of the School Year and the "Tastebuds Program" :)

I think I covered every continent (apart from Antarctica of course) and am hoping to keep up with the initial decision of having this gastronomy menu on a weekly basis. If you happen to live in one the above mentioned countries, please feel free to drop me a line and make a dish suggestion! I'd love to hear from you as I've thought of a menu for each country but haven't set my mind on any yet.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Luau for Preschoolers

Ever been to Hawaii? Me neither...but one can always dream and make Hawaii's famous Luau happen in their own paradise. :)

Luau Bingo Preschool
Luau Bingo

Being that it's summertime, I'm having a wee bit of fun and brought in this colorful bingo to the school  shelf. Get your own free cards at Fantasy Jr.. Counters were sand dollars from our own collection. 

Luau Grass Skirt Making
Making a Grass Skirt for a Hula Dancer

Cutting with scissors has improved a lot lately so I'm trying to be consistent by providing fun practices and trying to make it a bit more challenging each time. For this activity, I provided a yellow strip of construction paper (thicker than the paper previously used for Adrian's cutting activities) and asked Adrian to cut on the lines (I drew them on the back). Once that was done, he had to punch flowers in various strips of paper and glue them on top of the skirt to decorate it. Finally, a mini-stapler was used to turn the strip into a skirt. Adrian loved making this skirt. Paper punching was not easy but he really liked it.

Grass Skirt Luau Preschool Craft
Maisy Mouse : ready to attend the Luau!

Luau Lei Making Montessori
Lei Making with the Kui Method

Adrian is still young so I didn't go over all the methods of Lei making but it can get intricate. For most people, a Lei is a Lei, but did you know that these flowery garlands made in Hawaii are usually braided, knotted or sewn instead of simply pierced through as the ones we usually see at Luau parties? Anyhow, Adrian being only 4.5, I went with the simplest way of making a Lei; the Kui method. I bought a pack of silk Na Lei and cut up one of them, enlarged the holes, and provided a long shoelace for stringing the hibiscus flowers on. I also cut up two straws to use as spacers.

Luau Lei Sporting
Adrian Proudly Sporting his Lei

Tweezing Dried Orchids
Tweezing Dried Orchids with Tweezers

My beautiful Phalaenopsis Orchid has been "shedding" lately. I must have picked up seven flowers on the floor one morning (thank goodness this gorgeous plant always makes more flowers before losing some!). After picking them up, I pressed them and kept them for this activity. Tweezing activities are fun but easier for Adrian. I thought that these paper-thin and fragile flowers would complicate  things a bit bit nope... 

Painted Ki'i Clay
Art: Carving a Ki'i out of Clay

Although wood and stone are usually used for these statues, there was no way, I was going to let Adrian carve either of those materials! :) After giving it much thought, I figured clay would be a good replacement for a miniature Ki'i so I presented a block of it to Adrian after a short presentation on Tiki and Ki'i carvings of the Polynesian area. I tried to have him come up with observations while looking at the statues and totems of the Hawaiian islands in particular. Examples of what I was looking for? What is this a statue of? Expressions of the Ki'i; funny? scary? Do we see see the entire body or only the face of the "human"? What about the proportions of the face? Tell me about the colors you see, etc. Once he knew "enough" about the Ki'i, he went on to make his own. He made sure his had big teeth, nose and eyes. He also chose to make his very colorful like the modern ones sold commercially but I think it's because he just like colors! :)

tiki in progress
Ki'i in Progress

Opening Coconut
Opening a Coconut with Daddy

I somehow brought a coconut home last week. A whole one. Now, it was my intent to open it, have everyone taste it and  use the shell for bowls during the week...but wow. Are these things hard or what? In the end, my husband opened it in front of the kids and everyone had a taste of raw coconut (yuck! was everyone's verdict except for my husband who somehow likes absolutely everything he's ever tasted). :)

Opened Coconut
Ready to Taste Raw Coconut? 
I usually buy coconut milk or shredded coconut, but
there's a first to everything, right?

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Enrichment Program for Preschoolers - Themes 2013

Back a few months ago, I presented a draft of what I thought might happen with Adrian's summer. I suggested that we might keep homeschooling but in a lighter version and I decided to follow through with this initial decision. (yay !?! ) Adrian could use some help in a few departments to be ready before his Grand Entrance in "Kindergarten", he loves doing "school with mama" and he looks frankly bored on the week-ends when school is out. On top of that, German school, which he attends a few hours a week, will not be out until the 31 of July, so if I were to, say, stop homeschooling now, he would, I'm sure, think I'm quite lazy! :) I am thus preparing a summer enrichment program for him to enjoy throughout the summer but in  a"lighter" version because well, I really want to be able to enjoy the summer and not feel like we have to get through anything. It's enrichment, not anything that MUST be done. If the weather is nice, I want to be able to just say: let's go out and play instead. I also want to spend most of my evenings and week-ends planning for the upcoming school year; not on planning the summer units... (Bad mama ! hehehe)

Ms. Dragonfly, last spotted in our NY backyard two summers ago;
back then, summers were quite spontaneous!

Summer Enrichment Program "Tiny Units" for Preschoolers

It's a Luau ! (Week of June 17)

Space Camp (Week of July 1st)
Circus Time (Week of July 15)
Construction Zone (Week of July 22)
Ocean Life (Week of July 29)

Legos (Week of of August 5)
Out West with the Cowboys (Week of August 12)

You will notice that some weeks have been left out...That is not a mistake. Living abroad means we tend to have lots of friends and family members stopping by for a visit (of course, that's usually during the best season: the summer). As such, during these weeks, school will be out. If you are lucky, I'll have prepared some posts in advance and you won't notice my absence so much... :) Regular school should resume the very first week of September.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

By the Seashore for Preschoolers - Part 2

Last week of preschool...or is it? Technically for Adrian, preschool with mama is finished now (By the Seashore was the last unit) but because I'm around, it's a bit hard to grab the concept that "school is out for the summer". I knew it would be and that's why I "planned" a light "Summer Enrichment Program" for him which is due to start anytime soon. I should be posting my themes and "schedule" soon. Until then, here's to the last week of Preschool! :) How my little baby boy is growing! :(

Collecting Sea Shells in Sandbox
Collecting seashells "on the beach"

Well, it wasn't really at the beach but as mentioned before, our local playground has a very big sandbox so I scattered 10 seashells on the sand, gave Adrian a pail and let the fun begin. It's good practice for when we decide to book a trip to a real beach. :) With the warm and sunny days finally here  (what say you to 32 Celsius today from 12 last week?) it's nice to be outside more and leave our shelves and trays behind sometimes. Then again, once the shells are collected, there is more fun to be had. I created shapes with the seashells and Adrian decided to do the same and then decided to make letters. After a while, the shells were filled with sand by his little sister while Adrian decided to use them for digging purpose. Endless possibilities. By the way, these were purchased two years ago in an American Dollar Store.

Sandcastle Art Collage
Sandcastle Art with Beach Sand

Making a real sandcastle (decorated with flags, seashells and all) was in our plans and was accomplished, but my camera was unfortunately left at home the day Adrian worked on that artistic project. :( On the other hand, the day we decided to make another type of sandcastle, my camera was right by me; as such, I give you : the beach sand collage sandcastle. First step: draw a sandcastle with a pencil. Second step, brush some liquid glue inside the lines of your sandcastle and third step, scoop some beach sand onto the glue. Finally, shake off the excess back into the bowl you scooped the sand from. Tip: Use a "finger painting tray" under the drawing when doing this activity or do it outside to avoid sand spills. :) You can, like Adrian did decorate the sandcastle. I thought it looked a bit bare once it was "finished" so I told Adrian we'd add seashells, flags and all the next day when the glue would be set.

Play Dough Sandcastle Play Dough Beach Mosaic Play Dough Beach Fossils
Beach Play Dough

Counting Coconuts had the cutest beach-inspired play dough but having no such small accessories, I had to face the sad reality: my beach play dough would have the be adapted to what I had on hand. Using seashells, beach glass, and sand dollars, Adrian created "mosaics" in the play dough, mini sandcastles, and eventually "fossils" as we had during our Dinosaur Week. Not bad considering we didn't have many small beach objects. (Note to self: hunt for small beach-inspired objects for next year!)

Giant Ocean Floor Puzzle
Giant "Underwater" Puzzle by Melissa & Doug

I debated for a while before adding this one to our "Seashore" week. I feel like these beautiful tropical fish are not by the seashore but rather in the sea...In the end, I still went with it and told Adrian that if he  snorkels in the sea, he might get a glimpse of these little beauties! :) I decided to keep all other sea materials for our "Ocean Life" unit but if you want to get a head start on me, feel free...A hint on what's coming? I'm already eyeing the Marine Invertebrate and Marine Life Cards from Montessori Print Shop! :) By the way, did you know they are having a HUGE giveaway that includes ALL of their materials? I'm keeping my fingers crossed on that one...Oh and if you like Montessori giveaways...there's another going on right now on one of my favorite Montessori websites; Living Montessori Now, so hop on by to get a chance to win 5 Safari Ltd. Toobs! :)

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Monday, June 17, 2013

By the Seashore for Preschoolers - Part 1

The beach is without any doubts my favorite place in the entire world. I've been very blessed so far in life and got to see some amazing beaches in the Caribbean, North America, Europe and even Africa. If you happen to be going to the beach this year, please enjoy it on my behalf! :)

Sand Combs
Art in the Sandbox - Sand Combs

Originally made these for little Zahavah back in September I believe after stumbling on a post from StoriesandChildren. Sand combs, if you haven't used any yet are quite cool for the beach and since we have a huge sandbox at our local playground, I thought we'd pretend it was a beach. Made our set from thick box cardboard and designed different "teeth" for each so they'd made different "tracks" when dragged on the sand. Of course, cardboard is flimsy after a while, so if you think your kids will be rough or will use them often, I recommend cutting those out of plastic lids like it was done by the lady on StoriesandChildren.

Pouring Coconut Milk
Pouring Coconut Milk

I have very fond memories of drinking a sweet, non-alcoholic, drink from a coconut while in Mexico. Don't know what it was to this day but it sure tasted good and that will forever make me associate coconuts with the beach. Well, that and the fact that lots of sunscreens smell like it too. :) Here, I put out two small pitchers, one with coconut milk,  and one awaiting the milk transfer. Later, the coconut milk was re-used for making some Thai food. Yummy!

Sifting Sea Glass
Sifting Sea Glass from Beach Sand

Quite the easy work here for an almost Kindergartner but not something he really liked. Although he knew how many pieces of sea glass to look for in the beach sand, he got tired of sifting quickly. I prepared the activity with 15 pieces of small 1/2inch polished sea glass (purchased off an Etsy seller), beach sand and a small mesh spoon usually used for powdered sugar decorations. After sifting all the glass out, the activity was further extended into sorting the different colors of sea glass (we had clear, brown, green and white) and counting.

Writing Letters in Beach Sand Tray
Writing in a Beach Sand Tray

Visited my Tedi Bargain Store to see what was new and saw a jar filled with "beach sand". How convenient! Poured it in a smaller "tray" for Adrian to practice writing letters. Used a smaller tray this time because I'd like Adrian to be able to produce smaller letters and to take his time in forming the letters.

Fruit Fractions
Math - Fresh fruit fractions

Another good memory of my beach days is eating fresh fruit on the beach. (My mom always brought a cooler filled to the top with fresh fruits and juices for the entire family). Of course, limes and lemons were usually not part of the picnic but for this activity, they were perfect and well, Adrian doesn't see these as often I'd say so I knew it would pique his curiosity. I simply thought fruits would be a good way to introduce him to the world of fractions. We looked at whole fruits, half fruits and quartered fruits. We did the same with slices of fruits. My presentation was originally done with the blueberry. Then I cut the lime in front of him to reinforce the blueberry presentation and asked him as I cut if it was a whole, half or quarter lime. Finally, Adrian proceeded to put the toothpick fraction numbers on the lemon slices to show me if he had understood...which he had. A beautiful and yummy "3 Period Lesson" with Fruit Fractions! :)

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Summer for Preschoolers - Part 2

Summertime is no doubts about it, my kids' favorite season. They both love being outside, and let's face it, it is much easier to enjoy the outdoors when the weather is sunnier and milder (at least where we live). Unfortunately, I've noticed they've already lost a bit of attraction to the usual pleasers (walks, playgrounds, backyard play). Time to bring on the games! While I'm busy brainstorming on those, here's the last part of our Summer Unit...

Whisking to Make Bubbles
Wrist turning - Making bubbles

Using a whisk is usually included in most practical life albums but it's also a good and helpful way to develop the right muscles in preparation for writing with the wrist getting involved in there. I believe this is the first time we include the whisk in our activities and so I gave a short presentation as to how to whisk in a simple bowl of water. Outside that day, a bowl filled with water and dish soap was awaiting Adrian. At first sight, it looked like plain water and I guess it looked boring but I told him he was still welcomed to try using the whisk, which he did and to his surprise, bubbles started forming. He whisked for a while. His fun in the end, was to watch the bubbles burst, to then create new ones (that's why his head is practically in the bowl).

Matching Popsicle Colors Play Dough
Making and Matching Play Dough Popsicles

Summertime will forever remind me of ice cold treats like Popsicles. For this activity, I made six play dough Popsicles and Adrian's tasks was to made matching Popsicles. A simple way to work these fine motor and include color revision and matching skills.

Sponge Puppets
Sponge puppets

I'm not sure how I came up with sponges being related to summer (I think it had something to do with me scrubbing all the outdoor toys with them too much!) but I snipped a few kitchen sponges into various shapes for Adrian to create puppets. I've been trying to get his creativity flowing a bit more lately so I felt this was a bit more open-ended. In fact, I think it was a bit too much open-ended for him. He wasn't sure at all what to do with the sponges. "A puppet?", he asked. The interest was just not there, even after I suggested bringing goggly eyes, yarn for hair and felt for clothes. *sigh*

Summer Collage 3D
Summer Collage

Here's another summer project we did that turned out to be a bit more difficult than expected. The goal was for Adrian to make a collage of summery activities and summer things he likes. He started with the sun, grass and flowers and then, he went blank. Finally, we ended up building a kite and a hammock together.

Origami - Summer Fans
Origami - Fan Folding

Possibly the easiest origami ever! I pre-cut two sheets of paper into squares. Adrian and I both colored ours and then folded them. He had no trouble following along. Using the fan to get some wind on the other hand... :)

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Summer for Preschoolers - Part 1

Summer hasn't officially begun yet but we've already explored the theme over here. I think it's our way of trying to get the summer to come faster! :) 

  Ice Cream Play Dough Props
Play Dough Ice Cream & Props

This was by far the most loved activity of the week. Now that I'm not scared of how time consuming making my own play dough can be and now that I know how to make it, I have no further hesitation in making a batch and so one night, I put together this summery play dough for Adrian...who quickly showed Zahavah when she woke up. All through the week this play dough came out, school, or no school. It was first introduced in school though. I made a cocoa scented "chocolate" ice cream play dough, a "strawberry" one (strawberry extract will make it smell like it too!), a plain uncolored play dough (vanilla ice cream with vanilla extract for scent) and finally a green colored play dough with mint extract for our chocolate mint ice cream flavor. The chips are pieces of craft foam cut into squares. Had no brown so I colored mine brown with a marker. Made the sprinkles with colored foam too. The props are plastics foods we had on hand; strawberries, crackers and two cones with detachable soft serve ice creams.

Ice Cream Play Dough Bowls
Ice cream anyone?

Botanical Tic-Tac-Toe
Botanical tic-tac-toe

Here's an easy game to play outside this summer: tic-tac-toe. Props needed? Leaves or flowers. (We picked flowers that grow in our backyard) and some long leaves or sticks to make the grid. We played several times and had a blast. Playing this kind of quick game is good for teaching turn taking and reasoning.

Polishing Sunglassses
Polishing sunglasses

Summertime is not the only time when sunglasses are recommended but sure make me think of them profusely. Adrian got his ready by giving them a good cleaning. Control of error in this case was foolproof: no fingerprints were left on the glass when the sunglasses were held against the light provided by a window.

Clean Sunglasses Modeling
Adrian modeling proudly his clean sunglasses

Preparing Montessori Snack Watermelon
Preparing a summer snack: watermelon!

Melons are a summer favorite here. I usually serve them sliced though so when I presented the melon scooper to Adrian he did not like to idea one bit. It simply wasn't the way a watermelon was supposed to be prepared according to him. Hmm. I had not apprehended this discussion but went into how foods can be presented differently and even showed him pictures to support my argument. Convinced but still concerned he might destroy an otherwise perfect quarter of fruit, Adrian dug in with the scooper and tried his best to make balls. Wrist turning is still an issue so the balls turned out a bit more like curls but it was still very pretty and toothpicks were inserted for a final presentation. The snack was then shared in between Adrian and Zahavah when she woke up from he nap.

Watermelon Snack
Final presentation with toothpicks

Berry Patterns
Patterning with summer berries

Berries are now available year-round but they always taste their best in the summer for they are fresher and local. A fun to do with your berries before popping them in your mouth? Create patterns with them like we did above. I started a pattern which Adrian then had to finish with the berries available. When all was done, he happily was allowed to gobble them all up! :)

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Montessori Daily Rhythm & Schedule 2013-2014

Every school I know boasts a very filled and interesting daily schedule and although my "establishment" is attended by only two students (hey: excellent teacher-student ratio! :)), I felt compelled to create one as well. For the school year of 2013-2014, Sorting Sprinkles' focus will shift from "Preschooler Adrian" to "Toddler Zahavah" who will be 2.75 years old  in September and the schedule will of course reflect that. Most of the schedule you will see below is mostly written for Zahavah as her big brother will only join us only in the late afternoons (we chose to enroll him into a full-time German Montessori-inspired Kindergarten next year but will "homeschool" him when he comes home if he has energy and interest)

Prague Astronomical Clock, Czech Rep.
A beautiful timepiece I got to see in 2007

Montessori Daily Rhythm & Schedule 2013-2014

9:00 "Circle Time" : To include our "Good Morning" song, other songs related to our theme of the week, possible finger plays, stories linking to our thematic, a "weather report" done by Zahavah, an update on our classroom news and change of calendar as well as the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Demonstrations of new materials as needed shall also take place during this time. (Please see my note on circle time at the bottom)

9:15 Self-directed Montessori work : To include Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics,  Science, Arts & Culture. This year again, my "teachings" will be featuring one mini-unit per week. The themes have already been chosen and can be seen in an earlier post.

10:00 Refreshments & Snacks are available (Zahavah can choose to eat now or keep on working if she wishes; I would not for the world interrupt her work cycle.)

11:00 Outdoors Time : To include walks, playground visits, backyard games, tricycle riding, cooperative sports, etc.) In case of inclement weather, we'll rely on our improvised indoors gym (mini trampoline, tunnel, cones, balance strips, etc) as well as yoga and stretching to keep these young muscles healthy.

12:00 Lunch is Served: This period is also an excellent time for informal Grace & Courtesy practices with an emphasis on good manners and some everyday Practical Life applications (washing hands, setting the table, cleaning up after the meal is done, etc.)

13:00 : Quiet time and open-ended activities: Time for a rest if needed (as of today, it is still needed). When naps will not be needed anymore, tray-free activities will be available: Reading will be encouraged, along with arts (think drawing, modeling with dough, and such). This time will also be used for board game playing, small "field trips", outdoors time, and "cooking time" (helping mama in preparing part of the upcoming dinner). This period of the day will be theme-free, and "un-planned" (but still somewhat organized and thought of as few toys will be making an appearance) to foster some creativity and independence. It will also be exclusively done in French. I'm sure I'll enlighten you more on our delightful afternoons later! :)

14:30 Adrian is now ready to be picked up at the local German Montessori-Inspired Kindergarten. Upon his return, it's snack time for everyone.

15:00 Self-Directed Montessori work for Adrian. Zahavah being a "Toddler", I will not, this year, offer her another work period at this time. She would not, after all, be in a Primary House if she would attend a Montessori School but would rather be attending with the younger crowd. Instead, Zahavah will pursue Free Play in The Playroom. Depending on Adrian's degree of tiredness (he will be attending German Kindergartden full-time after all), he may opt to do only a bit of work, a full two hours or no work at all. Knowing him and his love of learning, he will want to do at least a little bit every day but I am really unsure whether he will use the entire time in a profitable manner. I'll see and adjust accordingly. Self-directed Montessori work for Adrian to include mostly Language, Math and Science this year as our time will be limited. On days when this two hour work period is not being used to its full extent, I shall suggest some outdoors time or free play for everyone if the weather is inclement. There's nothing like free play to build imagination and encourage cooperation. Every Friday, self-directed Montessori work will also be cancelled for Adrian and replaced for Art Appreciation or Music Appreciation with baby sister Zahavah. More on that in a future post...

17:00 End of the School Day for Everyone

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You might have noted that a total of two hours is devoted to Montessori work in the morning. I consciously chose to set aside two uninterrupted work hours for Zahavah instead of wedging in between them some outdoors time. The reason for that is simple: I found that Z will choose very different activities depending on the time she has. If she knows we will be leaving "after her nap" and it's morning time, she knows she has plenty of time to complete something much more complex and usually chooses a big puzzle or builds "a castle" with wooden blocks and enjoys it for a long time after and feels accomplished and proud. If I tell her we'll be leaving after snack time and we've just brushed our teeth (it gives her about 45 minutes) she usually wanders around, picks up a book, puts it down, picks up a marker, colors a bit, claims to be done, etc. She just tries to keep busy...Overall, school time is "work time", not "busy time". :)

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A note on "circle time": Obviously, in the mornings, only Zahavah will be in attendance, therefore, a "circle" it will not be. I also wanted to indicate that I debated for a while whether to include a circle time or not as I do not really like the concept. I do not believe Montessori herself would have either honestly. It is indeed quite unnatural to pull children away from potential discoveries per her ideology. I can only imagine what Z will think of me asking her to sit down while she eyes the trays full of "goodies". I still decided to include it on our daily schedule because of the structure it provides (routine) but also because time is needed to demonstrate how to use certain materials without constantly interrupting the work of my girl. To make it as Montessori-friendly as possible, I will try to have circle time as child-led as possible. I also made a conscious decision to have this time at the beginning of our day so it would not interrupt a work cycle later like I've seen in some Montessori schools.

That's it. Any thoughts? Does your homeschool have a schedule or do you just go with the flow? Send me your input; I'd love to hear from you!

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Bugs for Preschoolers - Part 3

Can you believe it is already June? Where has this school year gone? Adrian is almost done with preschool in "school with mama" as he affectionately calls it and then it will be off to our Summer Enrichment Program. I am still working on that "program" by the way. The units are not set in stone yet and I know the units themselves will be lighter in content and involving more games this time. Something to look forward to! :)

Counting Dots on Ladybugs
Counting Ladybug Dots

The control of error is a very important aspect of Montessori education yet I never really showed how I include it in my activities. Here, I am showing you how it was done with this ladybug math task. Adrian's job was quite simple; count the dots on the back of my homemade ladybugs. Once he was done counting, he could verify his answer by gently pulling back the wings of the insect. If his answer differed, he had to count the dots again; if his answer matched the numerical number, he could put the ladybug aside and move on to the next one. Please note that my ladybug counting activity was grandly inspired by Mari-Ann's at Counting Coconuts.

Counting Ladybugs Stickers
Counting and Peeling Ladybug Stickers

Peeling stickers, as small as these were, is considered in my house, a fine motor skills activity. I purchased these, made by Sticko, especially for a numerals and counters going from 1 to 10, knowing I had enough to do so (the sheet had 57 ladybugs so I peeled off 2 so Adrian wouldn't think he had made a mistake along the way). Adrian, like most kids, loves stickers so this was very fun for him to do. It could be done with any insect of course. Trilium Montessori kids, where I got this idea from, did it with all kinds of bugs confetti and glue and it looked beautiful.

Ladybug Stickers on Leaf Numbers
Ladybugs Chewing a Leaf

After linking up one of my posts one week, a super cute printable caught my eye. Couldn't resist downloading my own copy (Thanks Measured Mom!) and happily used it this week. Adrian was very excited to use it as well. Anything involving stickers is a winner of course but I think he liked the concept of stickers, ladybugs, AND counting gathered together in one. He happily counted the dots on each sticker and then stuck it on the leaf. I will tell you, it wasn't always easy. I picked the leaf going from 1 to 20 so counting 20 small dots on a red sticker is straining for the eyeballs but he did it and was so proud of himself.

Ladybugs Counting Cards

The Measured Mom is sure very helpful lately. Here's another printable I got from her: Ladybug Count & Clip Cards. There were a lot more than what you see here but I put only six out that day having already done a lot of math. I also chose to put out the plastic ladybugs for markers instead of the usual clothespins. A little variety is always fun, right?

Real Bugs in Glass
Observing REAL Bugs

Observing real bugs outside is fun but not always easy. First of all, we had a very rainy week so going outside last week was very difficult (besides, bugs were all hidden...even the worms!). Thankfully, a few months ago, I ordered this real bug kit from Lakeshore Learning Materials. It came with quite a few bugs. At first, I kind of wished it provided us with more common insects (a fly, mosquito, butterfly...) because these are the ones kids encounter most often and know well and are most curious about but then again, I guess that's the reason why we were sent more "mysterious" ones; because the common ones are easier to find. Anyhow, equipped with a magnifier, Adrian looked at each bug and we talked about each as well. For some reason, he really likes the dung beetle now. Must have something to do with the fact that it rolls "poop" around and sometimes eats it. :)

Insect 3 Part Cards
Insect 3 Part Cards

How can you forgo nomenclature when you study insects with a nearly 5 years old? I got these for free from Montessori Helper

Butterfly Blob
Butterfly "blot"

Blot painting is "easy". I've been wanting to introduce Adrian to this "technique" for a while now but decided that the perfect timing for this introduction would be when we'd talk about butterfly since these creatures are so symmetrical. I pre-cut a drawn butterfly and then Adrian chose to paint with a paintbrush on one half instead of dropping paint with a spoon/squeezing paint from the bottle on the paper. Of course, the top had time to dry a bit but that's ok. It's a learning process and there's nothing wrong with wanting to paint with brushes. Adrian just likes to use brushes when he paints. "We paint with paintbrushes", he said. :)

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