Friday, July 25, 2008

Kandinsky Artist Basket

I was really inspired when I saw (the other :) Montessori Mama post a few weeks ago about artist baskets. Her blog is wonderful & the she's the *real* M mama - I only discovered her site after I had already named my blog! Anyhow, when I came across this blog (as mentioned in an earlier post, it's from The World according to Me) I got inspired to kick off with a Kandinsky basket! Hug has a great abstract-y style all of his own and we have casually been looking at the abstract artists throughout this year. 

So, here's what I put together: 
+ A set of Art Cards with a stand 
+ A CD of classical music, including Wagner's Lohengrin (Kandinsky was said to have devoted his life to art after hearing this!)
+ A felt rainbow (because his painting are so colourful)
+ A little wooden man
+ A tiny paintbrush (I snapped off the length of the smallest one we had - it's so cute!)
+ A map of Russia (Kandinsky was born in Moscow)
+ And a paper Russian flag
+ I also made a few blocked pages for us to do our own Kandinsky-inspired artworks

My rainbow! Oh, it's so freehand but I love it's organic-ness :) I'm trying to actually *make* the things I'm dreaming of in my head (as opposed to being a perfectionist - which I generally am) & let go of it having to be just right & embrace the uniqueness of things done spontaneously.

The art cards. There are 14 of these spanning his life's work. 

I decided to add all of these footnotes to the cards even though it's more than we'll probably be looking at at the moment - it just gives us a lot of possibilities for extensions later on - sorting the works on a timeline / Discussing mediums / Comparing the size of different works /Geographical research of the galleries etc. 

Anyway, I have been working on this for a few days and was really excited about it... and then I presented it. Hmmm.... Now, I am always nervous about giving Montessori-style presentations. All that precision is scary! But I had the great notes from the other Montessori Mama so that was a good place to start... Anyway, it was a flop! Actually & in reality I just chose a terrible time to present it - when we were all a bit stir crazy from being stuck inside with the rain & Lovely had refused to have a day sleep. What was I thinking? The boys were distracted & I eventually put it away.

But, today is another day & Lovely saw me photographing it when he got up from his nap & was very excited! He immediately made the rainbow ( I had been going to stitch it together but am so glad I didn't), he put the CD on, and then went through the artworks painting them with his little man and brush. Ahhh, sweeetness for a Mama's soul :)

Here he is with the one card that features a photo of his Dada T carrying him as a baby & looking at a Kandinsky at the Pompidou in Paris - an extra special momento!

So now i'm looking forward to Hug going through it over the weekend & creating our own masterpieces.

And, eventually, I  want to get organised and upload these files to to share them with anyone who might be interested :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Beautiful books

I have had wonderful luck recently finding beautiful old books at thrift stores. This is my most prized one! I bought it for one dollar yesterday & it is amazing. It is copyright 1936 and 19937 and it's in immaculate condition. 

We started with the first story, at bedtime last night, of Olga from Norway and these are two prints from that story. So gorgeous! There are about 6 or 7 stories all up from children all around the world.

Olga plays her birch-bark horn while her friends dance around her.

And a few weeks ago I found an original copy of this book "Hailstones and Halibut Bones - Adventures in colour" from 1961. It's really cool. L and I have been reading the verses about each different colour and I'm sure I'll be able to incorporate into some type of activity.

Lovely one

Lovely and I are home alone today and we've had fun playing monsters in the park, picking flowers and using a funnel to fill the vases with water and cleaning out the cubby in our yard. This seems to need an overhaul every few months :) Anyway, I remembered this little cupboard that we had taken out of our bathroom when we renovated and it had been stored in the shed & is perfect for the boys to use as... whatever takes their fancy in their cubby house! I actually *did* hammer it to the wall & was feeling impressed with myself until about 3 minutes later -with a big tug on the door from L - it fell off. Hmmm, I'm not the wood-workiest Mama out there! Have to get T out there with some super screws I think.

Lovely's lovliness :)

French map and flag plans

Hug worked on this great (sure, I'm biased:) map of France this morning before preschool

This is the activity basket I had set out for him a few days ago. There is a cardboard map of France (I made it last year, just out of a cereal box. I printed the map from google and glued it down. Cut it out. Voila!) and some small squares of paper, a pencil and a sharpener and a paint brush. He also got out his watercolour pencils. He traced the country outline and then we went and looked at the world map. I showed him which country france was and how it was the same shape (though, not size) as his cutout. We looked at which edges were met by ocean and which were met by other countries & with a few trips back to the map he worked it all out himself. Ahhh, 4 almost 5. What a fun age this is! I might offer him some letraset to title it with as he doesn't like Mama helping him with writing too much at the moment but letraset is fun.

Last night I got a bit excited about the Olympics and printed out *all* of the flags from around the world from this site. A bit crazy me knows ;) But I thought that we could work at making them all up like this one above (Bermuda, by the way) and then we could watch the opening ceremony and have a flag to wave for each different country! The way I've made this one it's the printed flag on the main side and then a mini of the flag and the country name on the other. I've used a toothpick as the stick. I am thinking that I will colour code them by continent with stickers on the back also.

alphabet street

I'm loving this alphabet I found here. There are also single letter combos and collages. What a cool way to learn our alphabets!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Birthday Parties

I recently stumbled across these cool birthday party photos. I love parties! And so I've decided to start a list down the side of my blog to collect all the good birthday party ideas. Hug's birthday is next around here & he wants it to be a Kings and Queens theme. So, the search is on for good ideas...

Our hairy little visitor

We relocated this little guy back into the garden this morning. I found it on the wall in the laundry last night and we saved it to show the boys when they got up.  I don't know what type of Caterpillar he is but, man, was he hairy!

Snipping is fun!

I recently subscribed to the rss feed of My Montessori Journey and have really been enjoying her posts. This one this morning had me jump out of my seat and get creating straight away! Lovely is so proud of himself for being a real scissor using guy now and I'm sure he'll love these paper strips. He's been snipping around the edges of everything so having little strips to fully cut through should just be his cup of tea at the moment. 

Still-life from my coffee table. This is the work the boys abandoned this morning. I've taught them to use these sweet art mats so that surfaces are always protected & they found some junk mail to snip. The basket is for the scraps.

The freestyle patterns I drew, inspired by My Montessori Journey

Photocopied on coloured paper and thin card (I chose different weights so that the cutting would feel a little different each time)  and - voila! - the new paper snipping strips.

This was our colourful paper basket I recently put together on the art shelves

But I decided to present this work in it because it's a good size (have to find a new home for the other paper now). I've also added a plastic divided box that I got at a thrift shop last week. The different shapes and colours can then be sorted and stored in separate sections.

p.s. I just love Montessori! I just went to pack away the still-life (not very Montessori I *know* but they do pack away their own work most of the time - with reminders from mama - so I'm forgiving them this one:) and found a pile of Octogons! Hug had come into the kitchen this morning and shown me one but he's cut a whole stack. I guess that he learnt how to make them at school.

Gingerbread men

I had been promising the boys for days that we would make gingerbread men & & finally yesterday afternoon we did it! The boys helped make the dough (a packet one from Christmas I think!) and rolled and cut too. Hug was a star and completely able to do it all by himself and L needed a mama's helping hands - just a little. How cute are they. 

The packet came with a *tube* of icing (a bit scary but fun!) & then - oh, well - I decided to go all out and got the sprinkles out too ;)

 They were ready just before dinner so we served them for dessert and decorated our own at the table.
We served them with apple slices, so I didn't feel quite so bad about sprinkles at dinner time :)

Creative jewels :)

I have had some fun this morning - it's Mama's morning! No need to feel too guilty about reading blogs because both of my sweet boys are biggie preschoolers today :) 

The sheets are dancing in the wind on the line outside my window. The kitchen clock is ticking rhythmically. All is quite here and I will need to jump up in a moment and do some work. But... I came across so many good ideas and I don't want to lose track of them so I thought a post would be good.

Colour mixing Triangle from The Crafty Crow - I think Hug will love this :) The image heading my post is all her gorgeousness. I'll post our when we've done it.

How to sew a string back pack from Mama Urchin (a good idea for birthday presents)

Magnetic Animal Habitat from Shiso Mama (I even think that we may have some magnetic printer paper in the back of the cupboard. Eeeek! So fun. Why aren't there more hours in the day?! :)

Homemade Tap Shoes from Martha Stewart Kids

Kids clothing Stencils from The Write Start. I need to find out what "freezer paper" is called here? I bought some and it wasn't this stuff. There have been lots of great posts about this and I wanna do some! There is also this tutorial from My Montessori Journey so I will have a good look at that first. 

Stone Dolls from maya*made. I have a little bag of smooth stones sitting with my art supplies waiting for a touch of inspiration & I think this is it!

I also discovered Olga's Gallery - an *amazing* resource for art prints that I know I'll really use. Thanks to The World According to Me :) I took her lead and have saved some Kandinsky images to print . I had been thinking about focusing on the great artists - maybe 1 per month - and this is great inspiration to do it!

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Sunday night. My sweet boys are asleep. The neighbours dog is barking in the breeze. My lovely man is tapping away at his work at the kitchen table. I'm trying to have a little *me* time on the computer when really I should go and finish tidying the kitchen and pack the boys lunchs for tomorrow is double preschool day. 

And then I read this post (entitled "I was a better mum before the internet") on In the Heart of my Home. I do love Elizabeth's blog. It soothes my soul. It's like a warm cup of  something delicious when you need a bit of nurturing. 

Hmmmm.... such food for thought. I'm writing this and have been posting for the last week or so kinda like I have an 'audience' when I'm actually not public at the moment - I just imagine that I *will go public again one day (hopefully sooner than later). But what a funny thing to do!

We enjoyed a lovely day with friends on Saturday in the hills and this discussion came up. I had realised just this week that I hadn't been returning or making any phone calls... for ages! And then come to the realisation that it's because if I find a little pocket of time I now go to the computer and not only check my email but I check my rss feeds too :) My friend shared her similar realisations. What to do? The world is this amazing place right now & it is such a thrill to be able to find people who you admire and find inspiring and interesting... your own little niche :) But, it also takes time away from our families and/or ourselves. 

I know it's all about balance, but balancing ourselves isn't always so easy.  Sweet dreams.

{artwork by Lovely Little-one}

Friday, July 18, 2008

Lovely-one and I had some fun today :)

Yesterday while Lovely was napping, Hug and I went through some of my 'Montessori' (and I say it that way because as much as I wished otherwise - we have no actual Montessori materials in our home. It's all appropriated :) boxes and put out some new activities. One of them was a collection of assorted magnets and nails and other metallic items. There is also a brass knife (to show that not everything metal is affected by magnetic forces). This is an introduction to the idea of magnetism and once Lovely has an understanding I will create an activity where he can sort magnetic and non-magnetic items. 

This red ball with a tiny but super strong magnet on it was a strong favourite. Here Lovely is testing it with a bobby pin.

Then, inspired by one of the videos on Experts Village I got the playdough out again (both boys were using it earlier this morning) and showed L how to pound it with his fist (no problems there :) - so we moved on to using a hammer (yup, got it Mama) - and then hammering golf tees in. He liked that. As I type this though he's got the playdough out again and the rolling pins and cookie cutters et al and is plastering his leg with it. Kids!

So, then I thought it was time for something arty. L hadn't ever had a chance to use these creamy silk crayons before (Hug got them as a gift about this age and they are *divine* but tres messy so they've been in hiding for a while). He took to them instantly and started working on this chunky mini canvas. I let him choose 3 colours. 

It all turned a bit murky in the middle so we painted his hand in white paint and got a great impression of his hand right there in the middle. This will be a lovely gift for someone I'm sure (if I can bear to part with it :) I have 1 more canvas for Hugi and I look forward to seeing what he will create!

Today, we also... did the shopping, played in the sandpit, did puzzles, read books, Shell matching activity, chalk board ("Stop it Mama. I'm chalking" :) and a million other little moments of cheeky-fun. Oh-oh I hear the washing machine lid closing - I had better go and check...

Montessori preschool videos online

I wrote a little note at the end of the last post about this series of free on-line Montessori videos, but I felt that it deserved a bit more information.

If you go to this 'Experts Village' link and scroll down to the name Tami Elliot you will see all of the categories.  Tami is a Montessori preschool owner and teacher.

She has informational videos for:

+ Preschool Language Activities in Montessori
+ Preschool Montessori Activities
+ Montessori Methods & Activities
+ Montessori Math Methods
+ Montessori Counting Methods
+ Montessori Language Activities
+ Montessori Sensory Activities
+ Montessori Visual Activities

I am also going to be trying the preview version of Tomorrows Child on-line and will post about it when I've had a good look :)

The Montessori Foundation now has 2 videos up on their site: Planting the Seeds and What Children get out of Montessori (it's the same link) plus they have quite a lot of information to read (it was one of the first places I went when I first started learning about Montessori).

Ahhh.... Thanks to ami for this photo ( I love it!)  from their media collection :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Happy magic out there in the blogosphere :)

Okay, I was just blogging about my favourite things at the moment... but I must add some of the gorgeous blog-surfing finds of tonight. I am *in love* with this:

from honeyflake. So so so gorgeous. It's part of a crafty swap & these *school supplies* were made 'for' lunch' and 'for the teacher'. 
And, then , this beautiful photo from happy things:

These delicious pancake muffins from Sycamore stirrings:

And, finally, I think I should make some of these themed felt boards. We were gifted a set a few years back but I think it could do with some new juice :) Plus, I bought some absolutely beautiful pure wool felt in a rainbow of colours recently but have been too hesitant to actually make anything... (ahhh, a little quirk of mine - buy divine art supplies & then don't *ever* touch them because they are too special). Thanks to Plumpudding:

Before I forget I also came across a link to these Montessori 'how to' videos & while I haven't had a chance to have a good look I'm imagining that they'll be a great resource. Yippee!

5 of my favourite things (at this moment)

Our map. We bought a map and laminated it so that everyone could touch it - sticky fingers and all. It's tested in a few spots in the house and finally found a home next to the book-reading couch, down low enough so that everyone can see it. Hug and I am enjoying looking at this sticker book atlas (a great thrift-shop find, along with another recent great one: the Flag sticker book) and because the map is laminated we are sticking the appropriate stickers on each area. Hug also came home from pre-school singing a fun Continents song (I just googled to see if I could find 'our' one - nope! But, gee there are a lot of options!) that he has taught us all. I *love* it! Even Little lovely-one knows all of the words :)

Gumboots. Sweet, sweet, gumboots. I love gumboots so much purely for the fact that my boys L.O.V.E. *love* luuuuurve them so darn much :) Here they are - little and big - lined up at the front door. They are so ratty and muddy and even torn (& they're not even 'old'! We bought Hug's ones while we were away at Easter) and this scene brought joy to my heart.

We house-sat / puppy-sat for friends over the weekend and they have just bought a lovely house in the hills. I fell in love with this gorgeous bird tap the moment I saw it. I want one!

Bento. For some reason that I'm not entirely sure of I got completely obsessed with Bento a few nights ago! Now, I have had this bug before but not for a while... and then suddenly I was on an all-night web hunt for the best bento photos I could find. This obviously wasn't one of them :) lol. Actually, this was my first attempt at bento for Hugi's lunch:  Stirfried brown rice with a soy-sauce fish, cherry tomato, a mini spelt/kamut roll that i had baked and some cute goldfish crackers (thanks to my friend C in Florida). 

Flying trapeze. Yup, that is me up there - flying through the air! T and I had a brilliant time doing this awesome trapeze class recently. Too cool. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A teaspoon of craftiness!

Yes, I'm still here ;) 

We've been enjoying quite a bit of craftiness recently and I thought I'd share the fun!

Now that Lovely is getting bigger I've reorganised our *cute* behind-the-kitchen-door shelves. They used to hold my Montessori stuff but I've moved it all to the playroom & dedicated this space to our art supplies. Yippee!

Our "rainbow nature box" egg cartons, inspired by this idea. I've been waiting to do these for ages. Hug did the painting & it looks great. I think that we should take it for it's first nature walk tomorrow!

Lovely-one discovered real scissors! He had only used the plastic bladed ones before but - really - they don't work, do they?! So, once he got his hands on a kid-safe "real" pair and had a brief lesson he was raring to go! He's been snipping crazy ever since. Look at that focus and dedication to the art. So cute :)

Hug's little people. It's amazing what you can do with felt and wool and pipe cleaners.

Lovely and I worked on these simple colour pages for a colour book 

I love this photo. There's nothing like paints and art mats and supplies spread across the kitchen table

Detail of one of my own playful moments

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