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Our days…March

I try so hard to keep up with blogging. I for some reason really struggle with finding the time (and energy?) to update this as often as I would like. I just don’t get how some moms do it. How can you possibly write a post EVERY day? Or even every week for that matter…What is the secret? How do you muster up the energy to write an intelligent and interesting post after a day of children and errands and cleaning and laundry and cooking and more cleaning?? Even right now I can think of at least 10 others things I should/could be doing. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy writing posts, I just sometimes struggle in justifying its importance over other things that need to get done. But I guess it is important because I enjoy it, and because I get so much out of other “mom blogs” that I feel obligated to give back and share as well….so I will continue to post, whenever I have time.

So, here we are in March….Our weather for the most part is unpredictable and often unpleasant (just yesterday we had 97 km winds making it actually unsafe to go outdoors). We do attempt to go outside at least once a day despite the crazy wind/snow/hail/rain that tries to keep us inside.

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Our walk to the local coffee shop this past weekend

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I love how much the girls love to be outside. There is just something calming about a walk in the sunshine or even in the rain.

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Inside, we have lots of new things going on. Mya is still all about writing and learning letters. I keep out an alphabet tracing white board to encourage her and she always has access to her art shelf so she spends a lot of her time drawing and writing.

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Here is an update on some of our current activity trays..

Sorting by color (dark and light)

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Counting

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Making Shapes

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Polishing Pennies

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Stickers (working on patterns, shapes and letters) – Note: I bought inexpensive canvas from the dollar store. The stickers come off very easily allowing Mya to re-do this activity over and over without going through a lot of paper.

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Light Box play – Sifting

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Current theme on our felt board for stories is Dinosaurs

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Sensory Bin – Cloud dough ( 4 cups flour to 1/2 cup baby oil)

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For Emry, who still isn’t crawling (but is close!!), I have added some mirrors to her play corner. Right now she loves anything that makes sounds. For example, she loves to bang things together or smash things on the floor and is thrilled by the different noises she creates. I put together some “mini shakers” which are small containers (lids are securely glued on) filled with different things such as rice, beans, noodles, lentils etc. I wanted them to make different sounds and are a variety of size and color. Also, the containers stack on top of each other as Mya often proudly shows Emry (and then of course they are promptly knocked over at which time a fight ensues).

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The girls are getting along better and better, they bath together and have stories read to them together. Nothing makes my day more than seeing my two girls interacting with each other and playing side by side. It truly is a special bond they are forming and it melts my heart.

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Some photos from the past few weeks…

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Emry’s Post

Emry is soon to be 8 months old. She is changing fast and her curiosity and capacity to learn new things is never-ending. She isn’t a “high maintenance” baby by any means, but she does know what she likes and has no problem letting us now (usually she lets out a high pitched scream then stares you down which gets her point across nicely). I cycle her toys daily to keep her interested and she does best when there is only a few things to play with rather than a large selection. She is working hard on mastering the pick up of small items and is starting to study things more closely now compared to previous months when things just automatically headed for her mouth (although this is still most objects final destination).

Emry has a baby corner dedicated just to her things. I have a small mat laid out for her to sit on, although if Mya sees it she promptly rolls it up and puts it away somewhere – got to love Montessori kids! Permanent objects in Emry’s corner are a basket of books, a discovery basket or “treasure box” with items that are changed up frequently. Then I switch up between stacking blocks and cups, assorted balls, a small box filled with different fabrics, teething objects and noise making toys.

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I occasionally move her mat to her room and allow her to play in there as well. Her room is set up for when she is mobile, anything in her reach will be safe items for her to discover.

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One of her favorite things to play with are these small balls that make a rattle sound. I placed them in a wood bowl which allows them to roll and spin when she touches them. She likes to grab them and shake them like crazy.

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Discovery baskets, or treasure boxes, usually have normal household objects in them for the baby to investigate…things like measuring spoons, hair brushes, and other baby safe items. I switch Emry’s items up often and currently I have many of her teething toys in there right now as she its working on her bottom teeth and loves to chew.

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Emry does play well on her own for a small amount of time, maybe up to 20 minutes, but she enjoys the company of her sister and for the most wants to be wherever Mya is. I love watching the girls relationship develop and grow. Its truly magical the way Emry’s eyes light up when she sees her sister.

Playing happily by herself..

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Playing alongside her big sister..

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Welcome February!

I remember setting up Mya’s Valentines Day stuff up last year like it was yesterday. Its too weird how fast time flies. To see what we did last year click here.

This year, we are in a different house and with Mya being a whole year older we are able to expand on our activities, especially in the craft department!

I updated our sensory bin with pink and purple rice (directions) and added everything pink, red, or heart shaped (erasers, cardboard cut-outs, felt shapes, pompom balls etc.). Also, to aid in open-ended play there is buckets, spoons and other tools to help explore the bin. The sensory bin is always a hit with Mya.

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We decorated the play-area with our cards and crafts from last year, and added the felt garland on the mantle.

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The top shelf trays were all dedicated to creating Valentines. This set up allows Mya to independently create her own Valentines complete with glue, glitter, stamps, tape and stickers. She loved this and spent most of today making her own Valentines to give to her family.

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The bottom shelf had a variety of Valentines Day themed activities…

Cardboard heart to weave

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Matching light and dark

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Color Sorting

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Styrofoam heart “poking”

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In our lightbox I added gel hearts that look really neat in the bright light. They make some fun sticky play Mya really enjoyed playing with.

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I had a bunch of pretend rose petals from last year I wanted to do something with so last minute I created this counting activity the surprisingly Mya really enjoyed and played with for quite sometime today.

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Another fave is our contact paper activity. It’s a work in progress but looks really cute on the window next to our dyed coffee filter hearts.

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Our Valentines books

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Linking to Living Montessori Now
Montessori Monday

Happy February everyone 🙂

Baby, it’s cold outside!

The weather hasn’t been ideal for outside play lately. We are expecting a snow dump and it has been too cold to play outside longer then 20 minutes or so which means mommy has to find a lot of fun things to do inside.

The girls love being wherever I am in the house. Mya will play independently for up to an hour but Emry is good on her own only about a quarter of that time, so mostly I have a couple of girls wanting to be involved with whatever I am doing constantly. Although this can sometimes be tiring, frustrating, and make getting things done tougher, it truly is a good thing. Its important for them and important for me to spend this time, to slow down, and just be in the moment with my girls.

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I try to have activities set up for Mya for when she wakes up in the morning and after her nap. She often is excited to try whatever I have ready for her and then usually goes back to playing with her favorite activities we have available to her all the time like coloring, puzzles and reading.

I saw this fun idea on Pinterest, and left it up for a few days as Mya enjoyed it a lot. It took her awhile to adjust to swinging the ball from different angles to knock all the blocks over. She couldn’t wait play this with her daddy as soon as he was home from work.

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We had some quiet time by playing with our transfer and pouring activity. I set up a bowl of salt and provided a cup and spoon and let her use it as she wished.

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We also tried painting with spices which was neat. Mya enjoyed learning the different names of the spices and of course the different smells.

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I love that Mya will go off and read to herself. She doesn’t want to be interrupted when she does this. She just likes to sit and “read” to herself. Sometimes she wants you to sit with her and read your own book. She does this at least once a day.

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Emry and Mya have some playtime together too. Emry loves any amount of attention Mya gives her but but with both being so young they don’t really play together that often. Here is a nice moment where Mya decided to give Emry an “alphabet bath”. I let the girls play alone for sometime then joined them and Mya and I took turns taking out letters and making their sounds.

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Wednesdays for us

Today was a quiet inside day. Mya has just started to attend a Montessori preschool 2 days a week. Wednesdays are our day at home after two days of straight school, so we usually spend it doing whatever fun and calm activities Mya likes best. Her favourite thing to do with mommy is probably reading, followed by painting or playing in her kitchen.

I had a few new activity trays put together ready for our quiet day together.

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A sorting button tray, fun for working on our colors and fine motor skills.

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Lock and keys, this is a new one for her and she enjoyed the challenge.

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Her teacher told us how much she enjoys stringing beads and making necklaces at school, so I added a tray of assorted beads, pipe cleaner and string with a plastic needle for her to work with.

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I also set up contact paper on our window for Mya to decorate with assorted paper and buttons.

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Emry notices when Mya isn’t around, our house is much calmer and quieter. Although she gets more quality time with her mommy, I’m positive she prefers her sister to be near.

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I also set up Emry’s animal cards as part of her room decor, she laid in her crib staring at them for
awhile which suprised me a little as she normally wants nothing to do with being in her crib awake.

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Another classic activity that is awesome to have around daily is the sensory bin. Today we added magnets to it, and had a lot of fun while the baby slept.

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What's more fun than a foot in your sensory bin??
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Simple yet fun

There are plenty of easy inexpensive ways to create engaging and valuable activites and toys for young children. Some of Mya and Emry’s favorite toys are things we created at home.

Now that Emry is almost 7 months, she is ready for simple open-ended play and activites that promote curiosity and encourage motor skills.

Using an empty wipes container and loose fabric squares you can easily create a great activity for young babies. Emry played with this for a long time, working on grabbing and pulling and was intrigued with the different colors and patterns.

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Mya has been really enjoying practical life and sensory activities lately. I put together a classic bean pouring tray but added a magnifying glass to allow her to view the assorted beans more closely. She found this quite fun at first but after a few minutes returned to simply pouring and playing with the beans with her hands.

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One of the best and easiest open-ended activities you can make is playdough. There are a million great homemade playdough recipes you can find online. I use one that doesn’t have to be kept in the fridge so it is easier for Mya to get to.

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Playdough mats are a great addition to playing with playdough. If you have a laminator (which are fairly cheap and make a great tool for creating activites at home) you can print playdough mats online free, laminate them, and use them as a learning tool when playing with playdough.

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Our home – set up for learning and play

I haven’t had a post on our home set up for quite some time and decided to update. Our home is not large and so staying organized and making use of space is important. For the most part I follow a Montessori prepared environment, but not in every aspect. I believe imagination, creativity and pretend play are hugely important in a child’s development, which does not always mesh with some of the more traditional Montessori beliefs.

Our blocks and building area: Here we have Lego, Mega blocks, homemade tree blocks and Wedgits. We also have a bin of assorted blocks, towers, and a great train set that we bring out to play with often. On the shelf is also where we keep our books, which are rotated frequently.

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The shelf in our play area does not have a specific theme. It switches from practical life, to puzzles and sensory bins. To the right is our felt board where we tell fairy tales or make up our own stories.

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Our table is where lots of different things happen. I often have different activities for Mya to try set up on here. We also do lots of coloring and other crafts here. If Mya gets herself a snack or some water to drink, this is where she sits.

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Our play kitchen: A favorite in the house. To the left is where we practice hanging socks and baby cloths, or hang a new painting to dry. On the right is bulletin board where we post different thing we are interested in, or pictures that apply to something we are learning about.

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In the kitchen is a drawer Mya can get her cups, plates, bowls and utensils. She can get her own water and help herself to fruit throughout the day.

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Mya’s room: She has a bed on the floor she can easily get in and out of and make herself, although soon we will be getting her a bed frame as she is big enough to safely use and sleep on one. In her room is also where we keep a lot of her imaginary play toys, baby doll items, puppets, dress up bin and games.

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Mya is able to pick out her clothes and pajamas from her drawers or closet. She also knows to put her clothes in her laundry hamper. She still needs help getting dressed but is getting better at that all the time. She has hooks by her door where she hangs her bath towel and school bag.

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Emry is 6 months old. She has her own play corner with her toys. She has just become very good at sitting so she loves being in her corner reaching and playing with whatever is set out for her.

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In her room everything is still rather simple. It is however set up for when she can crawl. It is a room at is safe for her to moe around in. Everything in her reach is safe items she can grab, play with and out in her mouth.

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At this house we do not have much of a yard and it is shared. We have a small deck which has a table and chair for Mya and her play barbeque . However we are super lucky to be around the corner from the beach and a large playground. We walk there almost daily in about 2 minutes, and the girls absolutely love it. It is about another 4 months wait for warm weather, until then it’s blankets and toques!

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