Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I finally finished Nugget's "I Spy" quilt! The finish work isn't the best -- it's a little puckery. But Nugget's not going to notice, and I think it's adorable. I'll try to get a better picture when we have sunlight.

It wasn't hard to make, it just took a lot of time. I learned a lot more about quilting, and where I need to do things differently. I'll probably do another one -- someday.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spur of the moment activities

It's our morning at home, trying to be quiet so as not to wake my night-shift husband. We've got a couple hours to kill, and it can be a challenge. I threw together a few activities this morning -- one successful, one not.

The first was a kind of large puzzle/matching game. I took the pieces from a wooden pattern puzzle that she isn't quite ready for and spread them out over a sheet of posterboard with a large grid. Using crayons, I drew each shape in square.

I demonstrated a few pieces, then tried to encourage Nugget to do some. She refused and said, "mommy do it." I tried a few more, working to pull her into the game. But no luck. She declared it boring (does she even know what that means?), and I packed it away.

The other activity came about when we were putting her Little People away. I had two shoe box-sized containers because all the pieces won't fit in just one. I started to just throw them in, then had the idea to keep the people in one and the animals in another. And who better to help me sort them than Nugget!

She took to it pretty quickly, enjoying throwing them into the boxes and asking their names. She was really accurate with the "animal or person?" question except for dogs. All three puppy dogs went into the person box. I understood the first one -- he was dressed up like a firefighter. I was a little more surprised when the other two very dog-looking dogs went in with the people, too. Guess we'll have to work on that a bit....

Tongs: A study in three images

Nugget still doesn't quite get the tongs. She seems to have fun with them, though, so I'm just letting her figure it out on her own.

First, she uses her hand to pick up a pompom and shove it into the tongs grasped by the other hand.

She uses both her hand and the tongs to transfer the pompom.

She reverts to proper form to drop the pompom into it's place.

I really need to get around to refreshing her activities. She pulls them out occasionally, but nowhere near the frequency that she used to. I'll probably come up with a couple new activities and re-accessorize a few of the favorites. She still isn't feeling 100%, though, so she doesn't have the most patience with things or the longest attention span. I may put out just a couple simpler activities for the time being.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Nugget's cabinet

Here's pictures of the cabinet in the kitchen where Nugget gets her plates and silverware. All of her plates are visible, but I'm trying to set her up for success here in the beginning by putting the plate I'd like her to get in the front.

When it's dinner time, I request that she get a certain plate ("the one with the bee and flowers", for instance), a fork, a spoon, and a sippy if I've pre-placed it.

Her highchair is pretty high up, and she was getting frustrated by having to blindly push her plate and utensils onto the tray. My husband had a brilliant idea and put a little step-stool next to the highchair. Now she can climb up and put everything in its place -- except that she can't put the fork on the far side of the plate. We've never really emphasized that, so I didn't expect it to be a big deal, but it appears to be one for her. She really, really wants to put that fork over there. So we still have to be around to help with that part. Maybe we'll spring for another stool.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Table setting

Sorry for being so quiet on here recently. Nugget has a cow's milk allergy, and she had a likely accidental exposure last week. We've been working our way through the various stages of the reaction, and it's left me pretty drained.

She hasn't been in any mood to do the activities. She has, however, been quite happy to set her place at the table. I set up a low cabinet with her plates and silverware. Each night before dinner I ask her to get a plate, fork, and spoon. She happily goes to her cabinet, picks them out, and carries them out to her highchair. It's too high for her to properly set her place, but she pushes them onto the tray.

If we ask, she'll pick out a bib (and try, amusingly, to put it on) and, when dinner is done, carry her plate into the kitchen (if dinner was messy, we scrape anything spill-able onto our plates first).

I've been really pleased with this activity. Nugget picked it up really quickly and loves having an "important job". I love that it's starting to incorporate her into the routines and chores of the house. I think the only downside is that I've had to remind her once or twice that the plates are for dinner time, not for picnics with her stuffed animals (I pulled out paper plates for that).

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Great comparison of Montessori and Waldorf

I stumbled across a blog post with a really well-written and not-biased comparison of Waldorf and Montessori. I think it makes for great reading, and really inspired me to think more about the ultimate goal and underlying paths that the two philosophies take.

Where's Waldorf?

Friday, February 6, 2009


A few weeks ago, I bought a ice cube mold with heart shapes that I intended to use to melt old crayons in. When I was trying to come up with new activities, I set it up with small beads for Nugget to place inside, but that wasn't interesting. Last night I was looking at my materials and saw the tongs. She'd played around with them when I first bought them, but hadn't been able to manipulate them. I thought some more exposure might help.

I figured the beads would be way too hard to pick up, so I grabbed a few pompoms and set them out in a small bowl with the ice cube tray.

I showed her the activity around lunch, and it took her about half the bowl to get the idea of the tongs. I was thrilled when she first actually squeezed them with one hand, and did all sorts of cheering when she transferred her first pompom.

I didn't get a picture of her with the tongs, but this is her cleaning up so you can get an idea of what it looks like.

And, just because I'm so tickled with it, here's two pictures of her cleaning up her activities -- carrying a tray and putting an activity back on the shelf.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

So rewarding

This morning, while I worked on breakfast, Nugget got out her own work and set it up neatly on the table to use it. She worked quietly for a while by herself, then I heard her start using another activity. I came into the nook expecting to guide her through cleaning up, only to find that she had re-assembled and re-shelved the first activity by herself!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Our work and play spaces

I've had a few people ask about what Nugget's spaces look like. I'm going to share them as they are, but with the caveat that they're a work in progress. We've lived in this house for about 9 months, and we're still figuring out how our flow works into it. We're constantly tweaking where furniture is and where things are stored. In fact, I did a minor re-arrangement last night before taking these pictures this morning.

First, our "work" area. This is officially the breakfast nook, but we never used it as such. A few months ago we removed our cafe table and put in a toddler-height table and stool. Nugget eats lunch and snacks here and colors and does puzzles.

The black shelving unit is new, and holds puzzles on the bottom two shelves. The light wood folding shelves I moved out of her playroom just last night and set out her "work". This has worked out great, as she re-discovered some activities that hadn't been as easily accessible before.

Nugget still doesn't get the pattern activity (her Dad put the top pattern down), but she likes to make up patterns of her own. And she might understand it more than I give her credit for, just not like it -- she told us she was going to make a pattern, but a "different" one.

This shape/color matching hasn't been out for a while. I need to make some changes -- the cards slide on the table easily, and the shapes slide on the cards. Maybe some non-skid on the bottom of the cards, and gluing a few of the same shapes on top of one another to make a bigger, heavier piece?

This is Nugget's playroom. It's not your traditional Montessori or Waldorf environment -- there's more colorful plastic in here than hand-carved wood, but she likes it. We buy most of her toys second-hand at thrift stores and resale shops for monetary and environmental reasons, splurging rarely on nice pieces like a Haba doll or Plan Toys drum. Some of her favorites in here are a doctor's kit, Duplo (Daddy builds her robots), and various Little People. Outside the door you can see her cardboard playhouse.

I have some goals for these spaces. I'd like to put more shelving in the nook/work area, as well as more artwork. In her playroom, I'd like to start a rotation system with her toys. We'd tried that about 6 months ago, pulling a number of toys into the guest room. But then she discovered that trove of toys, and we just had two destroyed rooms at the end of the day.

In the kitchen she has a nice wooden kitchen of her own and a Learning Tower, along with lots of wood and felt food and cooking implements. I'm in the process of clearing out a cabinet to keep her plates and cups in so that she can start setting her place at the table herself. Hopefully I'll get that done tonight, and I'll have some kitchen pictures in the next few days.

Bead stacking

This is the bead and dowel activity I was mentioning. We finally acquired a 5/16" drill bit, so I was able to throw this together yesterday evening for use this morning.

I just took a piece of 1" pine I had and drilled a hole as big as the dowel. I cut the dowel to a seemingly-appropriate length and Gorilla-glued them together.

Nugget went right for this one. I intend to grow this into a pattern-following activity (giving her pictures of bead stacks for her to repeat), but for now it's a great fine-motor activity to put the beads on the dowel.

I need to tweak this by sanding the dowel smoother -- it's rough at the top, and some of the beads with smaller openings stick and cause frustration.

For now, though, it's a hit. She's gone back to it a few times. And pulling the beads off -- and dropping them on the floor to bounce around the nook -- seems to be fun, too.
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