Friday, January 30, 2009


I thought I had a great idea for a new activity for Nugget dealing with patterns. Here's how I presented it, thanks to my thrift store finds.

You can see one of the new trays, a piece of paper with two rows and 5 columns, and two wooden bowls filled with cardboard squares -- some colored with a black marker, some left brown.

Here's the activity when it's set up.

I filled the top row with a pattern of squares. The idea is for Nugget to reproduce the pattern on the lower row.

I was pretty excited about this one. It's a simplified version of a bead sequencing set that I lust after. I have the raw materials to make a set like it (colored beads, wooden dowel), but haven't had the time to assemble it (a theme in my life). So I figured I could do something quick and simple to see if it was worth finding the time in the immediate future to put it together.

Unfortunately, my excitement doesn't translate to Nugget's excitement. She watched as I set it up and pushed a few pieces around the board. But she had way more interest in the wooden bowls (which she hadn't seen yet).

So the pieces quickly found themselves scattered on the table, homeless, and the bowls were off into her wooden kitchen for use in making "soup". Ah, well. We'll just chalk this one up on the Waldorf side of things.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thrift store haul

I don't really have a lot of supplies around the house for traditional Montessori activities like scooping and pouring, or trays for presenting materials on. I'd been meaning to visit some thrift stores and see what I could get, but previous trips with my 20-month old have been pretty much fail.

Today, a combination of circumstances gave me about 90 minutes on my own near our small town's thrift stores. I took advantage of that to hit 3 of the 4 and come out with a great haul for less than $7!

You'll see a few trays (wooden and metal), some small bowls, a pitcher, two pairs of tongs, and various scooping implements.

Nugget got home just after me, so I quickly gathered up a few of the treasures, a box, and a big bag of rice. I set up a rice box on the lanai and she set about to scooping, pouring, and generally exploring the new experience.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Nugget's imaginative play is finally kicking in. It's still mostly imitative -- using her dollhouse to reproduce our daily activities, for instance. But she's starting to have tea parties with her stuffed friends and play with animals.

She's been using the green lid to a box of Duplo as a "field" for her Little People animals. I thought I could do one better pretty easily with a green piece of felt. But when I grabbed the green, I saw the blue. Ooo, a watering hole! And maybe some dark green, and some brown...

I put the green out and continued to add to it as she played. It's only partially done -- there's only so much sewing one can do while crocodiles and giraffes are being placed in the grass. But I like where it's going.

Now, to get to work on all those wooden animals I have in my head....

Recognizing values

Nugget is more than happy to count. She started by learning "one, two, tree!" because her dad would say that when pushing her on the swing. She slowly learned more numbers to the point that she counts to 10.

I'd been taking advantage of her interest in numbers to see what else I could teach her. But I wasn't getting anywhere. I soon realized that I needed to go to the very beginning -- helping her recognize that there's such a thing as different values. You have to know that one item is different from two items before you can start to name that difference.

So I made a matching game (shocking, I know). I put out 5 sets of cards, each with a different number of blue dots.

Sure enough, it was quickly obvious that she needed work in this area. She needed help with nearly all of the matches. We've pulled the cards out just a few times, but I think this is one of those areas where there's not a lot of teaching I can do -- her brain needs to hit a certain point for this idea to click in.

In the meantime, we'll have fun counting with her, and I'll try the cards occasionally. We'll get there.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sorting, sorting, and more sorting

Nugget goes through puzzles as fast as I can buy them. Because I haven't figured out yet how to make puzzles (I have the means, but haven't had the opportunity), I decided to see if she'd like some new sorting activities.

Color is old hat, and she's good with shapes. So I needed something different. I had a bunch of old catalogs and magazines laying around, so I decided to flip through and see what themes I could find.

The first one I picked up was my alumni magazine. It had a lot of pictures of people, and we've been working with Nugget on the man/woman distinction. Perfect! I cut out the best pictures and glued them to index cards.

Nugget was very excited to try her new game. She was hit-or-miss -- got about 2/3 of them easily with the rest needing correction. She had some problems with the idea of the two piles -- she'd say the correct word, but put it in the wrong pile. I think she just needs more practice with the two-pile sorting.

When Nugget finished, she asked for more. So later that day, when she took a crib nap (first time in over a month!), I grabbed a clothing catalog. This time, I decided to ask her to sort shirts vs pants. And since she plowed through the men/women so fast, I cut out a bunch.

This one didn't go over so well. She was distracted and sorted poorly, and wanted to be done before she got through them all. But she stuck with it all the way to the end.

I'll probably leave these out for a few days and see if Nugget goes back to them, but I don't expect them to have much longevity. I don't think sorting is really her thing anymore.

I'll have to keep an eye on her for a few days, see what she gravitates to (other than puzzles!).

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Spy quilt

My next project is an I Spy quilt for Nugget. I was inspired by this quilt, and I think I'm going to follow her lead pretty closely.

I spent the last few days hitting various fabric stores, picking out a quarter yard of this, a quarter yard of that. I probably spent about $15 on fabric for the quilt front, and there'll be a bit more of an investment for the batting and backing.

I've washed and ironed the fabric, and I hope to spend tonight making the final decision on size and cutting squares. From then on, it's just a lot of sewing.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Between a really nasty cold that took out our family, and a bunch of extended family visiting for my husband's first marathon, I haven't been blogging a lot.

Hopefully that will change soon -- I've ordered a tiny little fairy for Nugget to play with. She loves small things, and has shown an interest in fairies recently. I'm hoping to be able to reverse engineer the little fairy to make more, so I'll post when the fairy arrives!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Adding shapes to the mix

Sorting by just colors has become a bit too easy for Nugget. She isn't very engaged by the activity any more. I can't blame her -- even though I present it in three different ways (sorting colored beads onto dowels, sorting pompoms into boxes, and matching colored puzzle pieces to their appropriate spots), it's the same thing. And she knows her colors -- she can identify all the big ones by name (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, white, black, and grey).

I spent some time trying to come up with another sorting activity, because that seems to appeal to her sense of order right now. It wasn't until we were in a local teacher's store that inspiration struck, though.

I found a small bag of foam pieces in various shapes and colors. I also picked up some large index cards. When we got home, I put 3 different shapes in different colors on a card and traced around them, using crayons to color them in.

I laid these cards out on Nugget's work table along with a pile of foam shapes. I showed her how to place the shapes on the appropriate places, and she got to work. I only made one at first as a proof of concept, but she quickly worked through that and requested another. And another. And another -- a "harder" one. Does she really know what that means? Anyway, I obliged her and made one that looked like a robot with 8 shapes on it.

I got four cards made before she moved on. Which is impressive, considering that she's in the middle of a pretty bad cold. Here she is, in the middle of her first three cards. She sometimes needed correction on orientation, but in general she was able to do this on her own after the first demonstration.

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