Dumped the sand, cleaned the box, filled (well at least covered the bottom) with macaroni...and voilá! Our outside sand table is now an inside sensory table. Both my preschooler and my tot love it! For now I'll let them use their sand toys to play, but soon I'll swap out the toys and macaroni for other sensory activities.
Three days a week it's just my tot and me for a couple hours while my preschooler is at preschool. At first I thought my toto would really miss his sister. I thought he'd be bored with just me. I wondered what would we do...how would I keep him (and me) from getting bored? So I figured I better find us a few activities outside of the house (playdates, open gym time, storytimes) to keep us busy. We've done a couple playdates, a storytime and open gym play. All were fun. But I've found that all my tot wants is that one-on-one time at home.
At first I found these days at home the hardest. How long can I really play with a basket of toy cars or a little people house with all the enthusiasm that my tot desires? But I've started to change the way I see this one-on-one time. Instead of this being just an open ended time in the playroom for me to follow my tot's lead, I've been planning tot sized activities to keep our time together focused. This structured playtime allows my tot a chance to be creative and explore something new all while getting my undivided attention. I've started out with some simple activities, using materials I already had at home (sensory basket, playdough, stickers, dot markers) but I hope to get more creative as I go!
Most days we still have a few minutes to spend playing in the playroom before picking up my preschooler. But now this time flies by. I'm not going to abandon playdates, storytime or open gym play any time soon, but for now I have to agree with my tot, our days at home are the best!
For the first time my preschooler is really interested in the changing of the seasons. And to a preschooler who is just developing a sense of time, she was pretty disappointed when she woke up on the first day of fall to find all the trees full of green leaves. She wasn't so excited to hear that it would take several weeks to see the leaves change, but she was pretty happy when I told her we could do a few fall projects while we waited. Here's our first leaf project.
I found a cute (and very simple) leaf people craft over at the The Happy Home Fairy. These adorable leaf people were easy to make using popsicle sticks and googly eyes (only thing I changed was I had to use hot glue because Elmer's glue just wouldn't do the trick). While my preschooler played with her "leaf family", I created a chart using a small piece of cardboard and paper pockets. Each day when we're out and about, Pumpkin and I will talk about the leave colors we see. Then back at home she'll use her leaf people to record the colors see saw that day. And because of the daily repetition, this chart will help my preschooler recognize each of the color words on the chart!
All things Montessori are my latest obsession. One blog search lead to another and the next thing I knew I was at the public library borrowing arm loads of books about Maria Montessori, her teaching philosophy and teaching methods. While getting my undergrad degree in elementary education I know I studied Montessori, but some time between setting up my first classroom, teaching third grade for 8 years and having my preschooler and my tot, I have completely forgotten how sensible, simple and perfectly appropriate Montessori is for little ones. Montessori ideas are not a set of teaching lessons, but an wholistic approach to raising happy, helpful, independent children. Each time I read a new Montessori idea on a mom blog or in a book, I wonder why haven't I thought of these things years ago??? So here is the first Montessori idea I have put into action right in my kitchen.
I know it doesn't look like much....and it isn't, but it has made a huge difference here at home. I simply moved all the kid plates, bowls, utensils, containers and bibs from on upper cabinet down to the bottom drawer in our kitchen. Now my preschooler and my tot have access to all their kitchen things. Both kids love to help get out the items when preparing meals and setting the table. My tot is learning to identify everything and my preschooler is especially proud to be able to organize everything just the way she likes. This was such an easy change that has already made my lil ones that much more helpful and independent!