Category Archives: Learning experiences

What are we learning at 18 months

“Education is a natural process carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences in the environment.” (Maria Montessori)

S and I have been doing alot of activities that require concentration lately. Besides working with the purposeful educational toys we do alot of activities that can easily be set up at home at close to zero cost.

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this develops concentration, hand-eye coordination, we are using pipe cleaners and colander

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We are using pigs and a chocolate tin for this activity. S is immensely engaged whilst developing a number of skills through this learning experience.

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This has to be one of our favorites at the moment. I find such activities to be hugely popular by young children. Photos speak a thousand words here. So much learning is being unfolded as the child explores each item of the treasure basket. I sometimes just sit back and watch S as she eagerly opens each bag to find the treasure hidden inside. It is fascinating to watch her enthusiasm and the amount of effort she puts in to overcome the difficulties.

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we are learning to peel an egg, slice it with the “egg slicer” and eat it.

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Soon I will write a post about gardening and how it helps the young child to learn about our mother earth and sustainability. All we do at the moment is watering our winter veges and daffodils. We are in a middle of a cold and wet winter, very much looking forward to spring so we can get out more often and plant some more veges. I have done a course on composting and that will also be next on our to do list.

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learning to use tongs, transferring activity and at snack table.

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Weaning table must be one of the best pieces of furniture we bought for S. I can not imagine not having it. She sits there and enjoys having her food in peace. She goes to the fridge, chooses what she likes to eat, and takes it to her low table and has it for snack. It is the most enjoyable thing to watch. I find it so reassuring that she is able to identify her needs (hunger in this instance) and find appropriate ways to meet them. I believe this gives her a strong feeling of security and belonging. When she is finished she cleans up after herself. It is so rewarding to see how an 18 months old is so capable and I am so pleased that our prepared environment allows this natural learning to unfold.

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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?

Daily activities 10-15 months old

In this post I will be posting photos of S exploring different activities.

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Here, we are making organic mulberry jam. S was picking them one at a time with great concentration. she looked at each one carefully, studied it, manipulated it with her hands and eventually put it in her mouth. Mulberries are so juicy and sweet and S really enjoyed eating them. S is 10 months old here.

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Water play is a great open-ended learning experience. It is not only fun but provides so many learning opportunities for young children. To name just a few, it stimulates your baby’s senses,  it is soothing, great activity for full body engagement, develops concentration and problem solving, early mathematical understanding, connection with the natural world, hand-eye coordination, and manipulative skills of pouring, lifting, etc.

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Puppets are good for developing creative mind and social skills but mainly for older children. S and her Dad was having very interesting interaction here.

Montessori believed children under 6 is best not to be encouraged to do fantasy play. I attended a Montessori conference about creativity two years ago. From the main speeches I understood that children under 6 need real experiences, for instance if we want to teach them to bake it is best to start with real baking experiences and leave the imagination and creativity to the child (instead of pretending to cook using sand or playdough). Children must build their understanding of the world based on reality, once that is formed they can use that real understanding to make a “copy” and can manipulate and change that copy in their creative mind.

20131124_132917In the nature, fantastic sensorial learning, feeling of grass on the skin, cool breeze, leaves gently dancing on the tree, I can imagine how calming that could be for S

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Lots and lots of opportunities for free movement

the bell and ball cylinder rolls away, S lifts up her body and scoots over to grasp it, it rolls away from her again and she continuities to move forward, the cylinder provides stimulation for movement.