Category Archives: DIY

The wonders of play dough

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Today S and I made some play dough together. It is so easy and cheap to make. This is the recipe we used. We made two batch, a blue one and a yellow one. I used cooking salt this time because we ran out of fine table salt. I actually liked it better cause the texture was rough and was a whole new sensorial experience.

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Play dough is so versatile and offers many learning benefits.

  • This open ended-activity promotes creative thinking.
  • It strengthens the muscles of hands and tendons as preparation for pinch grip and writing. Fine motor skills and dexterity are developed by manipulating the dough, kneading, rolling, poking, pulling, molding, and shaping it.
  • A great medium for sensory learning, smooth/rough texture, warm when made, cold and hard later.
  • We can indirectly teach children about colours, shapes, weight, temperature, texture, etc using this medium.
  • It is so calming and soothing. As an adult I find it so relaxing when I squeeze/squash/manipulate the dough. It is the same for the little ones, a fantastic way to relieve stress.
  • It is such a simple activity but has so many extensions. Add a bit of aromatic oil/cinnamon or cocoa powder/dried herbs and it suddenly becomes a whole new learning experience, a different texture, smell, and feeling. Mix in some sand/rice/seeds/couscous/oatmeal and we have a new sensory learning.
  • This incredible substance promotes concentration and focus.

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You could provide a wide range of additional extras and allow your child to freely exercise their creativity. They will be engaged for a long time. Make a batch for play date and it will open up an opportunity for enjoyment, communication, negotiation, cooperation between children. I keep mine in an airtight container and it lasts for at least a week or two. I use primary colours and let S explore them and mix them together and create secondary colours. We both enjoy the time we spend together when working with play dough. It just amazes me how such an easy to make and cheap play item  could be so good for children on so many levels. It makes me think we don’t really need to spend so much on toys, sometimes we better go back to basics and learn to appreciate simple living!!!!

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P.S. Deb from Sixtineetvictoire made a batch with rosewater and no salt! that will be the next to do on my list!! click here to view some gorgeous photos of her work.

 

 

 

16-18 months

Besides working/playing with toys/Montessori materials, we do a range of other activities. There are days that we just don’t do much and there are days we are very busy. Here are some examples of what we have been up to!

very proud of our little herb garden, love the smell of our basil leaves, they are thriving and looking absolutely gorgeous, S loves to pick the leaves and smell them, feel them, and put them in her mouth, what great sensorial learning! We are right in the middle of a very wet winter, can’t wait for the spring, we got all our child size gardening tools ready and a huge front yard with a big vege garden that has been neglected lately!!!

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this is such a cool ride on toy

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rice and beans, exploring texture and sound, sorting (separating them, mixing them)!!!

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lots and lots of art activities

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S enjoys pushing her pram rather than being pushed in the pram!! yes our short walk can become rather long but let’s look at it from our little intrepid explorer’s eyes

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We are learning how to put shoes on and how to take them off independently! S can do it all by herself at 17 months. This is something that she has learnt all on her own (observing adults in the environment and imitating them in her self-formation journey). To find out what type of shoes is appropriate for children who are learning to walk see this post from Kylie from howwemontessori.

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exploring colours in different ways

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learning the concept of floating and sink, soluble and unsoluble

Sand, oil and water in one bottle, water and rocks in another

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sensory learning experience, coloured rice, got the idea from here

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we are refining our self-help and self-care skills, developing concentration, independence, and self-esteem through learning to self-feed at our weaning table

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a short walk on a cold winter day, the feeling of a gentle breeze,  feeling safe and secure with Daddy!

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how much learning occurs by just being free in the nature? being able to feel the texture of sand with your whole body, walking,rolling,crawling on the leaves of trees on a beautiful autumn day, walking bare feet on grass, rocks, sand! take in the beauty of nature with all senses! We MUST allow learning to unfold naturally and what better place than in nature, our beautiful mother earth!!

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“As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unself- consciously to the soughing of the trees.”

Valerie Andrews, A Passion for this Earth

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learning to play on the beat with our African drum!

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ball skills, throwing, catching, kicking, very important for coordination, gross motor and cognitive development

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the dirty dishes go in the dishwasher after finishing our snack (we are in the process of setting up a washing station)

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Please share with us some other DIY activities you do with your toddler?

Our little helper in the kitchen

We have been doing lots more food preparation activities this week, thanks to our DIY learning tower.

Since S is helping out in the kitchen my job has become easier in a way. She is happily engaged while I am cooking dinner.

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I love our crinkle cutter, easy to hold and cut, and safe to use independently

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learning to hold and use tongs, very tricky

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adding dressing, and we are now ready to eat

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Here, we are learning to spread some coconut oil on a piece of cracker. We are using a small child size spreading knife and a small natural bamboo chopping board on a tray. We love using coconut oil because of it’s texture, smell, and taste and it is a natural moisturiser for skin, a great learning opportunity to actively engage all senses. We have started to use unrefined, organic, raw, cold-pressed coconut oil, what type of oil do you use?

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DIY Learning Tower

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This is such an exciting post for me to write. My husband and I have just finished building a DIY learning tower. I did not know such a thing existed. Dinner time has been abit of struggle lately. S wants to be picked up to see what I am doing up on the counter. She is always holding on to my legs, pulling my pants lol begging me to pick her up. I always end up cooking with one hand and it just becomes so hard and frustrating for both of us. So one night I thought I should really be looking at how I can involve her in cooking. I googled “toddler helping in the kitchen” and I stumbled across this idea. In fact, this is a Montessori thing. It is designed for your toddler to independently climb up the steps and it is safe. Using this your child is able to help out in the kitchen. So the next day I ordered an Ikea step stool, borrowed a power drill from a friend and on the following weekend we went to the local hardware store and purchased all the materials we needed for our little project.

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Here are some pictures of how we made the tower. I referred to Darwin’s learning tower as a guide. There were a few hiccups and this project was alot harder than we anticipated but we managed to complete it and the finished job is not bad at all. I love it already. It cost something around $80, not cheap but I’m sure we will get plenty of use out of it and it can be restored to a step stool when S grows out of it.

Now here are some handy tips. Please first read the above link a few times carefully, look at the photos below, put the two together and you will have pretty good understanding of how to carry out the task. Then consider the following points that we figured out along the way.

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1) do your own measurement because you do not know what type of wood you will be getting at your local store. We got a square prism type 30 by 30mm. I chose square because it made figuring out the measurement easier and I didn’t need to worry which side goes where unlike a rectangular prism. for the side bars we used the same wood, giving it the same look all around.

2)We got the hardware store to cut all the timber to the size we wanted and they were so helpful and did not charge us anything (they usually charge $1 per cut) but we got our measurement wrong and ended not getting the exact look we hoped for.

3)Our dowel is 16mm thick, we drilled a whole on each side all the way through. One thing is to make sure the dowel is perfect fit as it could wobble in the hole when your child is holding it to climb up and down.

3) This is very important, make sure your screws are not longer than the thickness of the posts and the side boards combined. Ours were longer and we had to make another trip to the hardware store to get some shorter ones, adding to the cost of the project and alot more hassle.

4)Now where you decide to drill the screws just think about it before you do it, you could easily run into another set of screws that you drilled in before. Just think about the next steps before you do something, making sure you don’t have to undo things.

A big thank you to my darling husband for all the hard work. This is his first DIY task and he certainly made me proud. He doesn’t know I am actually thinking of another project for him to do in the near future, maybe to build a low sink???

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Here S is using her learning tower for the first time, I did some baking and she stood next to me, peeled some mandarins, had them for morning tea, and here she is helping to wipe the bench top while I am tidying up in the kitchen.