Saturday, May 23, 2009

See you next week!

Gribbit! Look at this friend who decided to visit our pot-plant :)

We are going to be away for a week so there won't be any posts & I think I may have a few people that I probably am meant to have replied to - sorry! - I promise to be a better blogger on my return ;) Well, I'll try! We're rather busy getting ready & recovering from a storm that left us without electricity for 2 days. Hope your part of the world is sunnier than it is here...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


There have been a number of spontaneous child-led experiments around here of late. Here are two examples:These are Hug's smelling bottles. He collected different samples of leaves & herbs from the garden and put each type in a jar with water. Apparently the bamboo skewer is designed to be pulled out through the plastic wrap so that you can enjoy the smell of each jar.

Dissecting a banana flower. I did suggest chopping boards but they were so into it! There is a 'heart' in the the flower (similar to an artichoke heart). Btw, in case anyone wants to let their children at a banana flower, the sap/juice (from the stem and flower) stains... as I discovered later when I went to wash those clothes, so beware!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

As happy as a 3 - 6 year old!

Yippee! I got my pesky hands on Colour Box #3 when I had the opportunity to do Journey and Discovery at a Montessori school a few weeks back. I had actually done J+D with them a year or more ago but wanted T to come along & get a better feel for why I'm so obsessed (really?!) with Montessori.

This was my first opportunity to use any of the colour boxes. I was as happy as a pig in mud - or, a 3-6 year old :) After looking at them/reading about them etc. etc. for so long it was just so cool.

I was particularly amazed at how close some of the shades are & that certain colours were trickier than others for me. The school principal agreed on that point though interestingly the colours he found hardest weren't mine.

Btw, Journey and Discovery is a 2-part parents event. It's a program designed by an American woman called Barbara Gordon & is run at many schools around the world. The first part of the program, which is called Journey, starts the evening prior to the 'Discovery' day.

During Journey, after an introduction & discussion you are invited to walk *silently* through each of the different-age learning environments. You are asked to observe consider the differences and similarities of each classroom, noting the materials, layouts and sequences. This is a truly *sensorial* experience with no need for conversation or discussion. The evening concludes with a final group discussion.

The second part of the program is called Discovery and takes place the next morning. You are invited to work with a selection of materials from each environment, which have been specially set up in one classroom. Instructions for the use of each activity are printed out & placed by the work so that all of the parents can immediately sit down & start working without any introduction (unlike the children).  During this time, the teachers will guide you just as they would  guide the child/ren in class. This is designed to recreate for the adult the experience of being a Montessori child.

This time was particularly fun as we were invited to a presentation! It was on using the Fraction Skittles in long division. Fun. Fun. Fun. :)


Seeing that I'm without a camera this week I've gone back through my pix... to show you the felting that T and I did at the parent evening at Hug's school last week. It was so easy & quite fun. Don't actually ask me all the steps (I'm sure you can easily google it) but it's a nice idea for a girls evening. Picture: lots of tea and biscuits... Ahhh. Bliss! 

T, however, had actually done it before when he used to take Hug to playgroup & I think he was less thrilled than I was to be at it again ;)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Me and my pirates

There's been a mutiny! Yesterday was *one of those* days...
Was it... ?

+ Lovely awake at 5.15 am & at 8.30 I still hadn't started any chores or - and this is the kicker *lol * had a cup of tea!! 

+ trying to inspire card making/gift wrapping for their cousins birthday but I lost them to a mess of games while *I* was up to my elbows in wrapping paper & card making supplies. 

+ The music bands / puppet-shows / ice-cream-shops / billy-cart derby's / painting areas & more set-up by them in the lounge-room. 

+ The entire jar of rolled oats that was accidentally spilled on the floor at breakfast.

+ The pouring rain - all day - that I finally gave into which ended up with the creation of a lot of  mud pies with the aftermath spread through the house.

+ Lovely having a nap on my bed & accidentally wetting it. Hmmm...

I was cross & cranky. They were bickering. There were tears - mine. Yurk, what a day. Did I mention that T is away? 

After the crazy morning I took them into town to the posts office  & we went for morning tea at a cafe & things improved for a while until they decided to battle over pencils or something & I said it was time to go home & have our rest times.  While Lovely had a sleep & while Hug played in his room (with every-single-item-in-there I noticed) I lay *under* a blanket in a "cocoon" on the couch. 

Eventually rest-time was over & I decided to just release to the fact that it was a crazy day - that nothing was going to get done & that I had to stop fighting it. 

Hug came out & prepared some lunch while I stayed in my cocoon (!) & I must say that I was rather curious to see what he was up to. It was: A paper plate with a slice of bread lying on a bed of rolled oats (again! you can't imagine how many oats were swept off this floor! At least Lovely has been a willing helper :) with 4 symmetrically positioned corn puffs. Each piece of bread had one wedge of tomato on it held in place by a paper-flag-bamboo-skewer that he had retrieved from the party supplies on the top shelf of the pantry!! Once I got authority to use some butter it was actually pretty yummy & the fact that my boys gobbled up the raw oats from their plates was very endearing :)

Phew! It's tiring even reading back over my own post. Isn't it funny that in the midst of the chaos (not helped in the slightest by the fact that I was a tired mama bear) you can be at your wits end but by bedtime when they're all tucked up it can seem sweet. Madness!

{NB: I didn't have any photo's (thankfully!) as T has the camera so I trawled through iphoto & found this snap from a party a few years back :}

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sticking to a Budget...

I need to come up with a way to simplify the process of sticking to a monthly budget & tracking my spending... I do have a budget but it seems like it takes a lot of work to keep up with it & it's fallen by the wayside many times ;)

Does anyone have any good tips? 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Montessori Puzzle Maps

I'm not sure if I've ever posted about my Montessori map puzzles! After my unimpressive attempts to make my own map materials I made contact with some Montessori schools & was very kindly offered an old set from a school (on the other side of the country :). They were actually unsure about giving them to me because of the condition they were in; with pieces & knobs missing & broken. But I was overjoyed and completely up for the challenge of bringing them back to life.

They're not perfect now (though I was thrilled to realise that they're Nienhuis ones!) but I'm giving them lots of love, cleaning them up, repainting & replacing the knobs and making new pieces when needed (originally with foam-board but I made some clay ones yesterday which might work really well) & yesterday I was able to present the first one: The Continents World Map Puzzle. Yippee!

The Hemisphere Orange activity was a pre-curser to presenting the map, and here the boys are colouring in their own maps & using push-pins to trace around the Hemispheres.

During school-time I showed Lovely an extension using a control sheet that I had created (tracing the puzzle pieces and  dinner plate for the hemispheres ;) and then we did a few 3-part lessons (3 continents at a time). So cool!

Books, Books & more Books!

Lovely hatched a plan today after we had gone through the sandpaper numbers (btw - I was able to see - and feel - some 'real' sandpaper numbers at a Montessori school on the weekend & was *shocked* at how fine the sandpaper was! I've used kinda average sandpaper which is *much* courser than the real ones & now I'm worried about sanding my children's fingertips off. Woops!) and it involved a lot of books...

Matching piles of books to each number! He was quite confident up until the last few & very interested with the idea that the Zero didn't get any books ;)

On The Shelf : The Needs of Plants

Last week I made up these very simple 'cards' for the Needs of Plants: Water / Air / Soil / Sun. I just hand-drew them with coloured pencils & stuck on the printed word. I looked at them with Hug when I made them but Lovely discovered them on the shelf today & enjoyed looking at them too.

Orange Hemispheres

Take 1 orange (we don't have any of those 'perfect' looking ones around here ;) & roughly draw the shape of the continents on it with a permanent marker. Use the top of the orange (where the stem was atttached) as the North Pole.

Slice the orange in half creating a Western and Eastern Hemisphere. You can scoop out the fruit & show how the hemispheres can be flattened & explain that this is how we make maps.

Here's what Hug did himself after my presentation (which was in the middle in dinner btw! the orange was their dessert :) You can see that he's circled the North Pole on this lime & drawn an arrow (pointing North) as a compass.

And then gobbled it all up!

Making a Needle Compass + Placing the 4 Directions

A really simple but quite amazing activity we did this week was to make our own compass!
Here's how you do it:

+ Magnetise a sewing needle by rubbing it with a magnet (in one direction) about 50 times
+  Fill a bowl with water and float a small piece of paper on the water
+ Once the needle has been magnetised you place it on the piece of paper 
+ If the paper floats to the edge of the bowl just gently push it back to the centre
+ Watch what happens!

The sharp tip of the needle will align itself with the magnetic north pole & point true North!

Once we had placed North we were able to place the other directions. 

Here the little ball is representing the sun & we talked about the sun rising in the East & setting in the West. We did this activity in the morning so it was really clear to see how the sun was rising in the direction that we'd marked as East :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Adventures of a Rainbow Child :)

A rainbow I drew a few days ago has been getting a lot of interest from the boys.

Lovely is particularly dedicated to the craft of creating his own rainbows! 


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sandpaper Numbers Lesson Video

Here is a video showing a lesson for the Sandpaper Numbers. It's from The Center for Guided Montessori Studies website and there are more video lessons to view on their sample lessons page!

Mothers Day :)

I had a lovely morning - starting with the universally accepted tradition of a cup of tea in bed (!) which was later followed by pancakes :) 

My pressies included a beautiful felted bookmark from Hug.

As well as a felted butterfly (gorgeous, huh?!)

And a sweet woolen flower brooch from Lovely. These were all gifts were things they made at school / preschool :)

Lovely's card.

I was inspired by this blog & made some simple handprint silhouettes for the grandmothers. I've blurred the boys names on this shot but they are hand-written beneath each hand.

And, finally (oh, except for the hour long massage T had booked me in for!! What a lovely man :) here are the messages from my boys, as transcribed by their papa...

Happy Mothers Day!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Home-made Organic Caramel Popcorn

Our yummy afternoon-tea treat was organic caramel popcorn!

I had no idea that people weren't making their own popcorn until I read this post at Salt and Chocolate. To make caramel popcorn you just pop your own corn (see the link or the back of a packet of kernals) & then in a separate saucepan you mix a large chunk of butter with a generous helping of brown sugar and about a tablespoon of honey. Heat them all together, stirring as you go. Let it thicken for a few minutes. Take it off the heat & then mix in your popped corn. Serve. Eat. Brush your teeth :)

As you can see I'm a bit casual when it comes to precise measurements but reeeeeally you can't go too wrong!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


We're going to Tokyo!!!

It's all very exciting & has happened so quick that I actually have no idea yet about what we'll do when we get there ;) We got some amazing sale fares that we thought were too good to miss &, having spoken about Japan being a good place to take the boys previously, jumped at the chance.

Now I've got to fill in all of the details - like, where will we stay?! T & I stopped briefly in Tokyo 11 years but it's a different thing to travel with children & -oh, did I mentioned that my Mama is coming too? :) I really want to stay in a traditional style place like a Ryokan which we did last time but am not sure if that will work with kids. 

I also want to try & visit Mt Fuji & spend some time outside of Tokyo visiting temples and more rural areas.

Does anyone have any Japan tips?!

{ image credit }

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Absorbent Mind

I've joined the Montessori Book Club (brainchild of the mama-extraordinaire behind the blog Montessori at Home) & there's still time to join us in reading Maria Montessori's The Absorbent Mind. The details are here. Join us! 

Lovely's fish

Lovely wasn't home last week when Huggly and I did our Parts of a Fish activities.We did it together later in the week & here is his fish :)

Big boy jobs

T bravely went where I wouldn't be bold enough to go (yes, I know I'm meant to be a Montessori Mama but even I have to draw the line somewhere! ;) when he invited Lovely to help him paint our new skirting board in the kitchen/dining room (okay, it's not so new... we've been needing to paint it since the middle of last year!). 

Lovely helped to lay out the newspaper & stirred the paint & painted too. Wow! Good on you Daddy Bear :) He said that Lovely did really well.

Meanwhile, Hug got super-busy weeding in the back yard - the kid is so good with a hoe!

Lunch Baskets

One of the lovely things I'm enjoying about Hug's school is that I can send him with a lunch basket! 

Actually, both boys have lunch baskets & I snapped this picture tonight after I started packing them for tomorrow. The school doesn't allow plastic wrap on sandwiches or any pre-packaged food. The information that we were given before the school year started mentioned the idea of a lunch basket but I think only Hug & one other child in his class actually have one - the others do seem to have plastic cases (no characters) or insulated bags but I personally think that the basket is so charming. I love it!

Packing things with a minimum of wrapping can be tricky but I am a new convert to the joys of brown paper bags :)

Our weekend

The night's might be getting cooler here now but it still is beautiful on the beach. We met with friends for playing in the rock pools before going for Yum Cha. 

Sparkling Apple Spiders

Scoop vanilla icecream into a tall glass. Pour over sparkling apple juice. Serve with a waxed paper straw & a spoon. Yum! Did you drink 'spiders' as a child?

Puppet Shows

I know I've been posting more Montessori / learning activities recently so I thought I'd balance it out with these gorgeous pix I took at the kitchen table yesterday. "Puppet Shows" as they like to call them are a very popular pastime in our house.

Yesterday, after our Soil experiment & reading some books from our Plants themed basket & a few activities from the Montessori cupboard I was having trouble keeping focused on 'homeschool' work so decided to let go & let them do their shows...

I sat nearby (yup, read: on the computer ;) & quietly listened to what was going on. They might be rough & tumble boys at times but these puppet shows were all about the earth & the animals & then rainbows coming out. It was just lovely. Happy mama :)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rhyming words

Hug has been trying to get his head around rhyming words recently. Something that he's found a bit frustrating. Last night I pulled out this book I bought at a thrift shop & put it on his shelf for him to discover. 

He found it at 7am ;) He was rather enthusiastic about it  & neither T or could get any of our morning jobs done because we had to sit with him! Eventually I showed him how he could work independently by placing a counter on the answer & just show us when he finished a page. These glass counters are great for so many things!

Lori at Montessori for Everyone blogged about some pre-reading language ideas today & featured the good idea of creating a rhyming basket & I hope to put one of them together next.


Inspired by our Soil experiment I decided to bring out the colour wheel & paints so that we could make Brown! 

The first palette had blue and orange on it & Hug chose this one.

Lovely chose the palette that had green and red on it. 

I showed them the Colour Wheel & we talked about colour mixing and that when we mix colours that are on the opposite side of the colour wheel we make brown. There are different ways to make brown.

Using watercolour paints wasn't my finest idea but it still kinda worked. Here's Lovely's brown.

And Hug's, mid-mixing.

And then we painted!

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