Saturday, February 28, 2009

Some of my Favourite New Things :)

Here are some of the new sites, blogs, articles & more that I've enjoyed finding (or revisiting) this weekend and wanted to share with you:

+ Beautiful Sun Montessori - a wonderful blog - I'm *in love* with her classroom :) See: here, here & here.

+ The blog psmontessori 

+ Youtube search for Montessori

+ Video previews from NAMTA (some of these are really good!)

+ A paper on Grace & Courtesy 

+ Lesson videos from (plus their amazing collection of Montessori Primary Guides (step-by-step written lessons)

+ Videoclips from the new AMI USA site

+ The Art of Montessori in the Home - an article from AMI USA

+ Separation and Letting Go - another AMI article

+ Measuring Volume Set Nomenclature Cards free from Montessori for Everyone

+ Lesson videos from Tami Elliot at Expert Village

+ Bringing Montessori Home from (the original! :) Montessori Mama

+ Free 3 part cards (Geometric Solids, Land Formations ) & more from ETC Press inc.

+ And, finally, it's not Montessori but I also enjoyed Making it Lovely

Phew! Yup, it's official. I've spent far too much time on my Mac ;) Must go & revive myself.
Hope you're having a happy weekend! 

What do you want to share?

Educating for Peace and Social Justice

Aren't these Peace Dove logo's cool?! 

I've just been doing a bunch of Montessori web-surfing this weekend (T's away so I keep being lured back to the computer!) & stumbled across the AMS site & the info for this conference with Spike Lee as one of the keynote speakers.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Strawberry + Pear Crumble | Kids in the Kitchen

For Hug's homeschool day this week we cooked individual Strawberry and Pear Crumbles!

I prepared all of the ingredients and equipment on 2 trays before gathering the boys. I figure that they already know where to find everything in our kitchen and this helped them to stay focused (as opposed to running off while Mama worked out what was needed ;). This tray has some of our yummy organic frozen strawberries + chopped butter + vanilla + an assortment of crumble ingredients.

Here we have the pears, some tea-towels to be made into 'aprons' & amongst other things our cool apple slicer.

After we all washed our hands (note to self - I must revisit hand-washing exercises! I saw this blog post about illustrating the germs that need to be washed of by using cinnamon & I'll be doing it this week :) Hug insisted on peeling his pears. Actually, I was surprised as he's been frustrated by this task in the past. He did about half of a pear which is a big improvement. I must remember to get him peeling some carrots when I'm cooking one night. I'll buy some extra peelers I think so that we can do it together.

Lovely wanted to get in the action too & did amazingly well for his first go. He mostly struggled with keeping the pear under control! It kept escaping from him.

Using the apple slicer. I love this baby.


Hug checking up on Lovely & his work. Sweet ;)

Using tongs to add the strawberries.

Measuring out scoops of crumble ingredients. We used a mix of organic oats, kamut flour, rapadura sugar, LSA, walnuts and cinnamon.

Mixing in the butter by hand. The boys were both surprised that I told them to get their hands in there! Actually, Lovely didn't like it and changed back to the spoon. What funny creatures.

Layer the crumble topping on & bake. Yum! Practical Life par excellence :)

Mopping : Practical Life

This week the boys have both done some mopping! 

Here is Lovely mopping their bedroom (note: I bought this mop as it had an adjustable handle but it broke :( so now it's not quite so child friendly but it does the trick). I love this photo because he was watching himself in the mirror as he was mopping! You can see the little kitchen area peeking out from behind the door. It's tres cute & will feature in a post really soon. Just got to find the time to write more ;)

I've included this photo so that you can see some more of their new room! We've mixed everything up recently with T and I moving into the boys old bedroom & the boys taking our larger room over as a joint bedroom and playroom. That left the old playroom to become a studio space for T and I :) In this photo you can see both of the boys beds, their 'firestation' dollshouse & a few big baskets that hold wooden blocks, treeblocks and wooden animals. The dresser holds their pj's and on top is a globe & some nature table items. Underneath the dresser is a cd player so they can choose their own music or stories. I was a happy mama when I walked into the room over the weekend & Lovely was playing quietly on a rug on the floor & listening to Wagner - the CD from our Kandinsky artists basket from last year :)

Here's my other mopper! I love this photo too! Look at that mop, skip & jump! Yes, the boys have mopped before, but this time I asked them to collect the thing that they would need & then I showed them how to fill the bucket with warm water, letting them add the bio-friendly floor cleaner (I'd usually do this bit myself) & we focused on how to use the bucket (their fave part I think!) because there's been a *lot* of very wet mopping in the past.

Dip the mop in the clean water.
Move it to the basket area.
Twist the mop stick so that all of the mop head is contained in the basket.
Push all of the excess water from the mop (use your muscles!)

Because the water was still pretty clean we also practised washing Hug's crocs before I showed him how to empty the bucket and store the wet mop and bucket to dry.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A secret garden

This little "garden" has been a favourite activity for both of my boys. 

I was given the pebbles and cactus candles as a set from a sweet friend years ago but I never quite knew what to do with it & it sat unopened up on the top shelf of our pantry... until I was sorting out the cupboard & Hug spotted it.

He knew exactly what to do with it. He unwrapped it & collected a flat basket & immediately created a little garden & set it on the coffee table. As soon as Lovely saw it he wanted to recreate it... & then Hug... & then Lovely...

After a few weeks it stopped being rearranged so I've packed it up & stored it with my Montessori activities to be brought out again soon.

It's an especially nice activity because they are actually creating something for the whole family to enjoy & appreciate. 

Strawberry Banana Splits!

Homemade Strawberry & Banana Splits. Yum! On Valentines Day I made us a delicious afternoon tea that could be enjoyed anytime special - it was super easy!

Make a Strawberry Sauce. 
I am able to get a bag of frozen organic strawberries at my local farmers market so I just used a bunch of these delicious berries & just a sprinkle of organic Rapadura sugar (you don't really need sugar, 'cos I find strawberries are ususally sweet enough but I wanted to go all out :) & a sprinkle of water. Cook over medium heat, mashing the fruit a little as it softens, until it becomes a shiny, thick sauce. Voila! It's that easy.

Assemble the Banana Split.
Sliced banana + vanilla icecream + walnut pieces + a few chunks of chocolate + hot strawberry sauce.


Please let me know if you make some :)

Friday, February 20, 2009

My homemade Moveable Alphabet

This is how I made my homemade Moveable Alphabet :) As mentioned here.
I bought a set of scrapbooking letters (if you are reading this in Australia - they were from Spotlight & called 'Sweets' in a range called 'Basic Grey - Undressed'). The set was only $11.95 for 160 diecut chipboard pieces. The tallest letters are 4 1/2 cm tall. 

The paint and brushes I had on hand. I just used water-based acrylic paints that the boys use. Following Montessori principles I painted all of the vowels in blue and the consonants in red.

Voila! Ready to be 'punched out' (easier said than done - that was a bit of a time consuming job- and where I got the sore fingertips I'm sure :) and now it was time to think about the box.

This is the timber puzzle frame that I used as the basis for the box (it had been living on our puzzles shelf) and some strips of 4mm chipboard that I had cut at the hardware store. The frame is 11 mm deep and the strips were cut to match.

This is the lovely man at the hardware store :) When I explained what I needed he looked around, couldn't find anything quite right & then offered to cut this huge board for me with his electric saw. Aside from being really helpful he only charged me $2 for the strips of board and the cutting and his time. I love living in a country town!

The next favour I had to call in was from Hug. He gave me access to his special wooden tool kit (the one he got for his birthday from T and I). Thanks kiddo ;)

Work in progress. I measured my frame and cut 4 long strips to cover the width of the box. You can see my accomplices and their trucks in this photo. Hug has been home from school with a bad cold so we were all hanging out on the back verandah doing our thing. 

The 22 short pieces that I needed. Eeek! Was I ever glad when I'd got these pieces cut. I sanded them off lightly with the sandpaper block. 

...and glued them into place. Sure, it's a little wonky but I'm happy with how it has turned out. I did begin to make measurements for spacing out the sections but in the end it was much easier to put all of the pieces on the board and just go by feel. I used 'Tarzan grip'.

The final touch. I made a lid with a piece of thick cardboard I had in my art cupboard (strangely I found a piece that fitted perfectly - I didn't even have to cut it!). I taped it at the top to the box frame to create a swing-top lid and then used a piece of elastic to secure it closed at the bottom.

Phew! It has been a big project today but I'm very happy (if you hadn't noticed ;) seeing that 24 hours ago I wasn't sure what to do. Now, I just have to work out how best to present it to Hug. He has used the Moveable Alphabet before (last year at his Montessori preschool) but I do feel that we should go over the letter forms first especially as he's clearer on his capitals than the lowers... so I'm thinking now that maybe I've got to get onto making some Sandpaper Letters!

Look what I've been doing!

Thanks for the ideas and advice, lovely friends :)

And, look what I made!

Okay, so after I posted yesterday I lay awake in bed & realised that what I *really* wanted was something as close to the Montessori Moveable Alphabet as possible & that I needed to make myself a box for the lower case letters. 

This morning I remembered that we had a timber puzzle frame that was empty on the puzzle shelf & after a few quick measurements I realised that it might just work!

So, 24 hours (& some sore fingertips) later I am now the proud owner of a pretty cool Moveable Alphabet. I know that the 'a' and the 'g' aren't perfect (they ideally should be the simpler form of the letter) but I can live with that. And, the brilliant news is that it cost me less that $14 Australian. Compared to ordering from the USA and having to pay international freight, that is a big saving.

Yippee! I'll put up a quick post about how I did it in case anyone is interested.

Practical Life | Pouring (and drinking :)

A Practical Life Pouring Tray that I put in our new Montessori cabinet has been Lovely's favourite work so far. 

I included a small sponge as well after taking that first photo of the tray set up and still didn't imagine how much spillage there would be (particularly as it's such a tiny funnel) so I've also shown him how to peg up the blue cloth to dry & find a new clean & dry one in the drawer  so that he can replace it before it goes back on the shelf. He's also working on washing the bottle and straw when he's finished too.  Cheers :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Moveable Alphabet - What do you think?

I'm trying to decide what Montessori work I should organise for Hug and was wondering if anyone could help me with my Moveable Alphabet options. 

I bought this set of balsa wood capital letters (they're about 2 1/2 cm tall) about a year ago at a craft store but never presented it because they weren't lower case letters. Hug has always seemed to have a preference for upper case letters so we were working on focusing on the lower case only. 

Now, that he's not *officially* in a Montessori program (and as I have gathered Waldorf Steiner teaches capitals first - just later) I'm wondering if we should use them? He was was wanting to write a letter for our friends' sweet new baby so I pulled them out. The letter writing turned into a drawing but we played a little game whereby I created a word & asked him to spell it out & when he got it I would change only 1 letter. Eg. PIP became HIP.

I actually do have some lower case letters that I also bought last year. They are scrapbooking letters & I was imagining that I could paint them Montessori style (I was also thinking that I could paint those capital letters too) which is why I've not punched them out yet. Obviously these would be better but I just love that the others came with a box. It makes it so much easier to find what he's looking for and these letters are bigger than the others (about 4 cm for the tall ones) so they don't fit.

I've seen people using tackle boxes but I don't have one that has that many compartments, and I would rather have something in wood rather than plastic. Do you think that I should use the capitals or work out some way to use these ones? 

I'd love to hear what you think.

p.s. Here's another type of Moveable Alphabet that we were playing with over the weekend. It's a board game called 'Find A Word' that I bought at a a thrift shop. I guess it's kind of like Scrabble but with this raised grid. Hug just practiced some words on the stand & it was fun but he got tired of searching for the letters. So, it emphasised the need to have the letters organised in some way.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Rockmelon, Wax Jambu and fresh blueberries. Yum!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bath experiments

Lovely insisted on saving a plastic drink bottle from the recycling a few days ago so I put it aside and presented it at bathtime. 

I showed them that the bottle was empty and asked if they thought it would sink or float? They gave their answers & then we tested it.

Then I filled it & asked again.
From there Hug took over and continued to create simple experiments with the bottle.

It was lots of learning fun & also one fuss-free bath time. Phew!


As well as our adventures with the Watermelon patch I have attempted to plant some Sweet Potato slips straight off a Sweet Potato that sprouted in the darkness of our pantry :) I'll have to update you  about them in a few months, but I also wanted to mention that we are lucky to have a yellow Passionfruit vine in our yard as well as a Banana Tree which has started fruiting. This photo was about a month ago so we have a few green hands on the tree now. 

I shall let you know when we are eating some of this bounty!

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