The KISS Principle

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I love looking at pretty, exciting sensory tubs. But when it’s been ages since you made one because you haven’t got time, then KISS. I kinda think the fancy ones are for me anyway.

Probably ought to apply that elsewhere in my life. 😉

Soap ‘Dough’

Welcome 2013!

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We started the new year with high intentions of more messy play. It was our first ever Messy Monday!

What better way to start of than my making soap. Messy and clean! This dough comes from the book “Little Kids Mould and Paint” and while you’d have to look at the book for the exact recipe it basically boils down to soap flakes and water. Once it dries – and this has taken overnight and is still going – they can be used to wash hands our whatever you would usually used a bar of soap for.

Some children just want life to be predictable…

Secondus is like that. In an attempt to make things easier for him, we are trying to be more clear about routines and rhythms, and what is coming up for our day. Today I discovered these cards offered graciously by Martianne Stanger. Thanks, Training Happy Hearts. In the interests of not reinventing the wheel, I thought I’d try them out! While you are there, have a look, too, at the neat Home Sensory Diet ABC cards for some great ideas for sensory activities.

Pineapple Playdough!

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Chocolate Playdough

In honour of Easter, this month I made chocolate play dough. It was very simple, we just replaced a few tablespoons of the flour with cocoa. (Even better, it was a cocoa that was awful and not much good for cooking!). There are plenty of play dough recipes around, and they are all fairly similar.

Play dough is a fantastic toy for younger children. It is great for sensory development, hand-eye co-ordination and hand/finger strength. It is so versatile and FUN!

If you have a low tolerance for mess, I would suggest the use of a plastic place mat underneath that can then be put in the wash. If it gets on soft furnishings, leaving it to dry, then vacuuming usually works for me.

It is totally irresistable. I dare you to make a batch and NOT stick your own hands into it!

Our “Pink” Tower

I have been inspired!

I haven’t done very much in the way of making Montessori materials lately. I was overwhelmed. There seemed so much to do! Then I was reading “The Brain that Changes Itself” and thought how much Montessori style learning really suits this research, and in one of those weird coincidences that happens sometimes, someone else posted on a forum I use about Montessori homeschooling. Plus we have been spending a lot more time at home lately and we all need to do something new.

So I needed to I start somewhere. I needed something small and something I could actually accomplish, and something that could be used by both the children. So I sat down with my computer and trawled some email lists and albums and Montessori catalogs, and decided to start with the iconic pink tower. I didn’t have pink card, so I made a Green Tower. Yes, there probably is a reason it is pink, but with the effort involved in getting out of the house lately I figured something was better than nothing.

The pink tower is a set of ten wooden cubes, ranging in size from 1 centimeter cubed through to 10 centimeter cubed. They are designed to help the child develop sensory discrimination.

The Green Tower is made of green card, printed from a yahoo group I belong to. In order to simulate the ‘real’ pink tower, where weight is a factor, the Green Tower cubes are filled with rolled oats. (I needed something not too heavy and not too light). As soon as the glue dries, I think I will need to sure up the edges with some thick, clear tape. This is a method I can’t take credit for, I borrowed it.

And the results? I love the elegant simplicity of them. They will never be exceptionally strong, but I actually thought this might be a bonus for a few reasons. First, I didn’t think it would hurt the children to have something that they had to handle very carefully, and secondly I thought we wouldn’t be tempted to use them as simply another set of building blocks.

Tomorrow I will introduce the to the boys. I’m hoping my pride in my accomplishment will spill over into at least a little enthusiasm from them!  There is a little bit of information about how use the tower in this online Montessori album. (A Montessori album is an outline of the plan of lessons, materials etc that might take place in a Montessori setting.)

I am already planning to make some Brown Stairs using the same method soon. As soon as I get some brown card. In the meantime, I’m planning some rough and smooth tablets and some fabric matching.

Clay fun

I found some on special on the weekend! I’ve been thinking about doing this for ages. We are very much in the experimental stage – just letting them find out what they can do. Soon I will show them (well mostly the LE) a few different techniques they can try out.

That’s a tunnel, by the way, it didn’t show up very well in the photo.

Clay is good for finger strength and dexterity, and a great tactile experience. My boys find that very calming. So I do too.