New materials: smelling bottles, "bunny ears" Pink Tower extension, new rhyming cards, ending sounds animal matching.
Nugget has been asking for the smelling bottles for ages now; she LOVES to smell the spices in the cupboard. I finally got them out and set up this morning. I didn't want to jump right into smell matching, so I just put out one set of 6 with all different smells. I chose cinnamon, clove, ginger, cumin, vanilla, and almond.
When she realized what I was doing (filling the bottles with spices), she couldn't wait to get into the Montessori room. I gave her the box of bottles in the kitchen and she dashed back to the room with them.
We sat at the table and just smelled them for a while. We talked a little about what the spices were, but mostly just enjoyed them. Down the line, I plan to extend this into smell matching (as it's intended) and then into smell identification (matching a smell to a picture/name of the spice).
Next, Nugget noticed that I'd put out new rhyming cards (6 new ones, as opposed to 3 last time). She needed help with the logistics of this -- laying out the ones with the blue border, then choosing one card without the border to match. Then, I made the mistake (?) of showing her that I'd color-coded the back to allow her to self-check her work; she then wanted to just randomly choose a pair and compare the backs. I had to take over running the activity to keep her on-task with rhyming, and she did so-so. I guess I might want to set out a color-matching activity pretty soon (I've got one in the works).
She moved on to the animals again, and went immediately into play. I took this to mean that the beginning sounds were no longer a challenge/interesting. I'd expected this, and created another scene on the back for ending sounds. Sure enough, this got her interest back and was much more difficult. She's only starting to be able to hear the ending sounds, but it isn't completely beyond her. This is where I'll probably start to focus my efforts.
Next, she chose the toothpicks (twice) and the smelling bottles again. I tried to interest her in the new Pink Tower extension, but she didn't want to do it until she requested it as the running bunny ears. So we did that, her bringing the cubes across the room. We nearly had to stop; she threw the blocks to me a few times (just a few inches, but still). But we managed to finish the extension once.
I'd been offering the Cylinder Blocks multiple times a day, with no interest. I found this surprising, since I thought those would be a big hit. So I decided to try upping the difficulty by showing her how to do two at once. Sure enough, this grabbed her attention. She did the combined blocks 2 or 3 times.
She finished up with the toothpicks, the clear favorite this week. Total work time was about 50 minutes.
In a (very) small sample size, having one or two new (or slightly changed) activities a day seems to be drawing her in pretty effectively. I'm not sure I can keep it up, but I'm going to give it a shot for a while and see how things go.
Yesterday and today, Nugget has also started using glue and scissors. I introduced collages yesterday, tearing construction paper and gluing it down. This is the first time she's effectively used glue from a bottle. And today, she asked to use scissors, so I pulled out the safety scissors. Her form is pretty terrible, but she's cutting independently. I figure it'll straighten out as she gets more practice.
I'd love to set out a station for these skills to let her do them independently. That might be a nice Practical Life addition next week.
As for around-the-house Practical Life, we picked up a dorm-sized fridge on clearance at Target. Nugget is tiny for her age, and isn't strong enough to open our fridge. This small one should allow us to leave milk, water, fruit, veggies, cheese, and breakfast available for her to self-serve. This was an idea we'd batted around for a while, but with Sprout due soon, that ability seems even more useful.
Speaking of Sprout, with him due in 3-7 weeks, I've got to get serious about having a Montessori plan in place for the newborn stage. I'd prefer not to have to take time off, but I know that we probably will. I'd like to have a general plan laid out of new materials to introduce, and I'll need to take some of this pre-baby time to prepare language materials. Since we won't have Montessori time tomorrow (Daddy-Daughter Day!), I'll put some time into that tonight... while watching the Olympics. :) Hopefully I'll have enough details worked out to post more about that tomorrow.