Do It Yourself: Montessori Dancer Mobile

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Mobiles seem to be a baby registry essential. I didn’t have one for Sixtine – never even thought of it – and felt quite bad about it after the fact. My friend Rachael  offered me a Gobbi for Sixtine when she was a little over 5 months I believe but I lived in France at the time, she did not have a nursery/room for herself and I thought I would wait until I’d get home. I am sure that it doesn’t matter now but I wanted to make sure that our second child would get a lot of hanging material to look at and observe. I like how you can make up for what you think are “past mistakes” when you have a second baby (or third, or fourth…!).

The Dancer Mobile is a four-part mobile and is about 6.5 inches high. Each dancer is made of a three-part body, which allows for movement. It is introduced at the age of 3/4 months and promotes concentration and hand-eye coordination.

Material:

  • Fishermen’s string
  • Black paper (you may want to use a different color)
  • Metallic paper (you may use a different color)
  • Wooden dowels (10″, 12″ – and a 14″ if you do it like me)
  • Twine (if you hang it my style, otherwise you won’t need it)
  • X-acto knife or scissors
  • Glue
  • Copy paper
  • Safety pin

Instructions:

  • Resize to 7 inches, print and cut out shapes in black and metallic paper.
  • You can use this template from 60 activites Montessori pour mon bebe by Marie-Helene Place.
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  • Glue them together.
  • Using a thick safety pin or needle, poke holes.
  • Tie string.
  • Hang two dancers on the smallest dowel and two others on the medium-sized dowel.
  • Hang them both on the largest dowel using clear thread or fishermen’s string.
  • You are all done.

Moment of honesty:

It didn’t look like much but it took longer than expected to get this done. You might need to make changes accordingly. I poked more holes than the template suggested and I didn’t hang the dowels as the book suggested either. I did what felt natural to me. Instead of using a third dowel, I managed to tie the two dowels together. It didn’t prevent Victoire from enjoying her mobile. In fact, it was so appealing that her sister, Sixtine, enjoyed it too much and dismounted it. It was heartbreaking…and since I didn’t have the heart to put it all back together, my husband did it – with his own touch.

Let me see how yours turns out! 

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Toddler Practical Life: Food Preparation

snackprepI want to give Sixtine as much independence as possible. At almost two, doing things for herself is something she craves for. She absolutely loves to watch me cook, and help whenever possible. And so today, I decided to let her use her child-sized knife to make her own snack. She was very excited to spread cream cheese on a piece of bread, and pour water in her glass. She hasn’t mastered spreading in one session but it will come! She has been a wonderful help in the kitchen, making cakes, muffins, and breads, husking corn, and brushing potatoes and carrots! I hope that these will be memories that will last! How proud she was to serve me a snack that she had made herself!

Toddler Practical Life: Window Cleaning

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My daughter loves to engage in water play and I was looking for a new activity for her to do that would differ from transferring and require more gross motor skills. I decided to set up a window cleaning activity which was very easy to organize.

I put a towel to define her work space and prevent slippery floor at the bottom of the window, a bowl filled with warm water and natural dish soap, and two dish cloths on her right hand side.

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As always, Sixtine impressed me with her concentration, but even more so by how clean the window was once she was done! I don’t think I clean them that well.

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She really enjoyed this activity, and stayed concentrated for quite a long time…until she put her foot into the bowl which marked the end of the activity.

Toddler Practical Life: Clothespins

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Sixtine had the opportunity to experience clothespins a few days ago. It is part of Practical Life in the Montessori curriculum and it helps develop pincer grip (which will later be helpful for writing). I used a small basket filled with clothespins and a plastic bowl. This activity wasn’t a success – Sixtine pinched her finger and was a little nervous at the thought of trying again. She quickly realized that the clothespins could stay on the edge of the bowl without pinching. And she seemed happy with herself. I tried to show her again the mechanism: squeeze, line up, relax grip in vain. She quickly showed lack of interest. I will try again another time but with a different bowl – I wonder if the edge was too thick and therefore, harder to work with?

Toddler Practical Life Activity: Flower Arranging

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Nature Walk. Sixtine, Victoire and myself went for a nice nature walk this afternoon. I thought we could all benefit from the “fresh” air and that it would be a great way of introducing flowers in our “curriculum” if we have such a thing.  Yes, Sixtine has been showing a lot of interest in flowers lately; first by blowing dandelions, then picking up every living flowers possible.

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Material. A basket, a pair of scissors (although I barely used them – I had to put them away for obvious reason. Silly Mama.), hat and water and we were all set. I let Sixtine wandered around and try not to lead the way too much, letting her explore her own way. I gave her the basket and told her to store her findings in it. I like the rock in there.

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Set up our flower workshop. I used a cutting board (the only tray in this house is very – too? – colorful aka distracting and plastic. I plan to get some wooden trays when I can). A vase (tall glass in this case), and a pitcher (measuring jug – can you tell I am on a budget?) is all she needed to make a beautiful bouquet.

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Pouring water into the vase. Proved to be the most challenging of the activity. Practice makes perfect! I love the concentration look on her face and the movement of her hand. She tried really hard to pour without spilling. Love it.

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Gently place flowers into vase. A couple of flowers she picked got tired from the trip and the heat so they didn’t have an obvious top and bottom. So she misplaced them and eventually got rid of them.

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So proud of my little florist! Call us if you have any flower arrangements needs for your events.

Clean up.

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Display and enjoy.

Toddler Practical Life Activities

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Sixtine showed a lot of interest in all these activities this week. She absolutely loves playing with water but more importantly, she likes the independence they provided. She expressed so much happiness and excitement while doing them.

I love observing her as she concentrates to reach “perfection” and tries and tries again. I did not have to ask her to clean after herself. I simply made a cloth available for her and she naturally used it to sponge the water.

As you can see, I used various objects with their own particularities and challenges. She did unbelievably well with the black spoon. I felt that it may not be the best object as I thought it would probably be too difficult but she actually did great. We used styrofoam balls (they are great little floating machines 😉 and ice cubes (she loved them so much that she ate a couple – however, I felt that it proved a little challenging for her to scoop – they would slide off the spoon and she eventually had to use her hands.)

Inspiration: Books. Internet. Pinterest. Yoghurt container idea: Racheous. I am also an unconditional “fan” of howwemontessori.

I am always looking for new activities to try with her – so feel free to link any related blog post in your comment and I will be happy to check it out! Thank you.

Sixtine’s Montessori Toddler Room

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[Banner by My Little Day] I have been working on posting about Sixtine’s room for a while. There wasn’t much to show at first: Sixtine just moved to the guest room as Victoire, her baby sister has now taken over her infant room. Her new room is a nice size and I think she will be happy in it for years to come (providing we stay in this house). We decided to paint the walls (egg shell white) as the previous color wasn’t acceptable for a child her age (very excitable color). She is very happy in her new room – love the space. I will call it Montessori-inspired rather than truly Montessori. In my opinion, a Montessori room should be simple, natural yet pretty and accessible for the child. I feel that I managed to do that even though I still have lots in mind for this room. But I need time and money to achieve the ideal room I want for my daughter.

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Low-bed or floor bed. This is I believe the “essence” of a Montessori room. The transition from a crib to a floor-bed was quick and she adjusted very well. She stays in bed during naps and bedtime and gets really excited to get into it. So much space and so much fun. She seems so little in her big girl’s bed but she is so happy! I like to sit on the rug and read books or cuddle. [Bedding+ Rug: Ikea. Pillow cover: Maison du Monde]

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Low shelving. [Ikea] Night lamp [Local souvenir shop from PEI], little rug for night time cuddles and reading stories [from cousin Ava], little hen [from Juliette, Obaibi], basket containing three books – I change them every other week depending on interest, bead maze [from Sherry and Trent], pattern blocks [Oxybul France], Melissa & Doug farm puzzle, and wooden cars. I realize now that she has very few toys and I am hoping to be able to change time in the near future. We do lots at home but she doesn’t have many toys per se.

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Learning/Art corner. The biscuits box [bought in Paris during our last trip] contains crayons and crayolas. The rabbit picture is a beautiful painting by Albrecht Durer “The Young Hare”. Pictures of butterfly and birds found on the internet (she loves birds!), and a file-organizer by Martha Stewart – for paper, coloring pages, construction paper.

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Changing table/Drawer. Montessori experts would probably “disagree” with the idea of a changing table. nd Sixtine has been showing signs of potty learning readiness, we will soon change that and move the toilet area (diaper/wipes etc) to the bathroom. But so far, it has been very handy. My husband like to change her on the floor which is more appropriate with the approach – I just like to be standing to do her hair and change her diaper. First two drawers contain diapers, skin products, underwear and socks. Last two contain things that I don’t want her to have access to just now but that are for her (mostly art and crafts items).

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PJ Hanger [by Maison du monde]. She loves that taste of independence.

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Care of self corner. It is located in the family bathroom. I fill up the bowl with water in the morning/in the evening to wash her face and hands and at different times of day when the need arises. She also loves to brush and comb her hair. Even though Mama has to help with a “proper” brush to make her hair nice (she has very curly hair). I had to take away her toothbrush and toothpaste as she would run around in the house with it (and it eventually was put in the garbage!) So I had to get a new one and blablabla.

So what is your opinion? Any suggestions? Would love to get a tour of your nursery/toddler/child room! If you have ever posted about it, please link in comment.

Do It Yourself: Montessori Grasping Beads

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This beautiful infant toy was made with love by myself. It was really easy to make and didn’t require tools or too many materials. I used 5 medium-sized wooden beads and leather cord. Thread, tie, thread, tie. Pretty straight-forward.

This toy is usually introduced at around 3 months when baby starts reaching for objects and has more control of her hands/self-awareness. It can also be used as a teether a later time.

I just love wooden toys, aren’t they beautiful?

Playing With Dough For The First Time!

Sixtine has been exploring the house (which is totally new to her perspective since she was only about 4 months when we left to Paris) for a good two weeks. Climbing, mouthing, touching, messing around and loved every minute of it. She was at first, very attracted to that little stand play table offered to her at Christmas by family members but seems to have lost interest in it. She has lost interest in pretty much all of her toys to be quite honest. What she wants is to play with grown up items, and be with Mama or Papa all the time, see what they are up to. I have come to realize that Sixtine needed a few more toys. I usually put some away for a bit and bring them back out so she does get that sense of  ‘novelty’ now and then.

I felt bad this afternoon thinking: my baby is bored. I have to find something to entertain her. First, I checked out my favorites on Etsy for Montessori toys, and then my Montessori board on Pinterest, to finally end up on how we montessori‘s website. Kylie has two boys and I have been following her adventures for a while now. I like her simple, honest writing and she is very resourceful.

I was on the look for some ideas of what she did with her son when he was between 9 and 10 months and decided to try playdough with Sixtine for the first time.

Her recipe is very easy and simple to make. It calls for 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 of water, 1/4 cup of salt, 1/2 tbsp of tartar cream, and 1/2 tbsp of cooking oil. I didn’t have tartar so I didn’t use any and it still worked beautifully.

She was extremely excited to see that ball-of-something in my hands and went right at it as soon as I put it on her tray. And put it straight to her mouth. No surprise here! She squished and squished and squished! Shivered here and there (I suppose she didn’t enjoy the salty taste of it but it didn’t stop her from doing it again!)

Results: I think she had a lot of fun. It wasn’t a long-lasting activity as I had to prevent her from eating it pretty much the whole time. I think I will try again in a few weeks time!

What are some go-to activities you do or did with your under one babies? 

Infant Stimulation: Early Education

Sixtine and I have been doing Maths this week. I know. She is four months old. But it is never too early to learn. My little girl loves looking at new things, and interacting with me and a few flashcards. The excitement she gets from it is priceless – she will move her arms and legs, and smile like she is having the time of her life.

I showed her numbers from 1 to 20, and she looked at each little dots or mini flowers with great interest, noticing, or I like to think so, the difference between each card. We also counted mummy’s fingers, and sang a French song called 1, 2, 3, nous irons aux bois which teaches children how to count up to twelve.

I also changed the scenery around her changing table – I printed and laminated 5 paintings from well-known artist such as Renoir, and Leonardo Da Vinci (Sunflowers, Mona Lisa…) and she noticed the difference right away ! She seems to enjoy Mona Lisa more than any of the other paintings but babies love human faces so nothing surprising here.

I recently moved her mat in front of a mirror so she can look at herself and be aware of her movements. She absolutely loves it. I added a few birds, and butterflies pictures and she seems to enjoy them as well. It seems to help a lot with tummy time (she’s not a big fan but enjoys it more when she can see herself in the mirror.) It is too funny to see her lift her bum up and push on her leg to move around. I find it much easier for her to do so when she is wearing very few clothes on. I need to get her leg warmers…any suggestions? It is kinda cold here in Atlantic Canada.

She has lots of fun seeing the world from the top of that big stability/exercise ball I got for her. I borrowed a similar one at the end of my pregnancy thinking it would induce labor. I don’t know if it was a coincidence but my water broke at 2.30am that night ! Ahh…memories !

We also did a lot of singing and dancing this week. We sang in French, English and even Spanish (although I don’t speak this language).

Between Doman, Montessori, and other methods of learning I am interested in, we definitely have things to entertain ourselves with. I love to see how thirsty for knowledge she is – she learns so fast ! I can’t believe how great she’s getting at coordinating her movements to take her bottle or soother out or in of her mouth !

I am looking to buy a few toys for the baby and all I want to say is: Long live Etsy for great handmade toys, ideas and resource ! If you check out my Pinterest profile (I just started it) you will see my long list of wants for the baby ! Although I know everyday items work just as fine – I have been wanting to get her a Gobbi mobile, a baby rattle, a teether and a couple wooden toys (other than her hairbrush !).

Any other suggestions?