Search This Blog

Friday, 30 October 2020

Nightmare Before Christmas

Jack Skellington Halloween Sensory Play! 


Today I set up this activity for Arlo. We used dyed rice (find out how here), liquorice, and a set of stunning peg dolls. At the top you can see a 'treasure tube'. I cannot recommend these enough. They are worth every penny and we use them with virtually every play activity. They are great because Arlo can examine the resources carefully and focus solely on the way they look. We have used them to examine autumn leaves, sticks, rice, pasta, stones... everything!


The purpose of the activity was to fill the shape using the different colours. I demonstrated by showing how to scoop the rice and where to put it, but then let Arlo go to town! Surprisingly, he managed to keep almost all of the rice contained in the shape and only a few grains made their way onto the floor. It was a great, engaging activity and really helped to work on those fine motor skills controlling the scoop and rice. 

The nightmare before Christmas is one of my all time favourite movies and I really enjoyed creating this cardboard activity for Arlo. To make the board itself I drew the outline of Jack onto a sheet of cardboard and used a glue gun to stick strips of card onto the outline. I was rubbish at this the first time I did it, and it has taken practice, but it is super simple and if you know how to use a glue gun it will be a total doddle! 


The Peg dolls shown are from Stir Up A Story on Etsy. They were the first thing Arlo reached for and he absolutely adores them! The three segment tray is from Kinder Woodcraft who specialise in Montessori inspired wooden toys. Use Kimberly 10 for 10% off! 

We had so much fun with this activity. Who doesn't love the Pumpkin King? What is your favourite Halloween themed movie? Drop me a comment below and let me know! 
 
 Don't forget, you can also find us via our Facebook group and on our Instagram account. 

Our Montessori Space!

How we Montessori! 

Setting up a Montessori Inspired space.   

This is the first of a series of posts I will be creating to show you the Montessori spaces in our home. This first one is the 'reading nook' in our Montessori inspired playroom. 

                                               

I should start of by reiterating my approach to Montessori life. We do not follow, religiously, every strand of the principles. For example, there are many who would argue that the stuffed animals you can see in the photos below are not Montessori aligned. They fulfill no specific educational purpose, unless you were using them do demonstrate colour or texture for example. Despite this, I find they are necessary in our home. Firstly, most were bought for us by beloved family members. Secondly, Arlo enjoys snuggling with them, particularly when he is reading stories independently or when feeling tired and finally, they look cute, comforting and enhance the space. Therefore, I feel perfectly comfortable to include them in our 'Montessori' space. Similarly, it would be a lie for me to tell you that we own no plastic toys. Of course we do. I don't believe there's a child's playroom in the country that has managed to avoid plastic entirely! But as long as it is uses effectively and has it's correct purpose and place, I see no issue with that. 

I believe you have to make Montessori principles work for you and your family. After all, if it starts to become all-consuming and unmanageable, you are unlikely to stick to it. Instead, I prefer to be aware of the principles and mould them to suit my family. 


So, let me walk you through our 'reading nook' first of all. I am so in love with this space! Anyone who knows me will know that interior design is not my forte! I am a mathematically minded person who favours organisation and concrete concepts, but my Montessori journey has definitely helped to enhance my creativity and for the first time in my life I am genuinely proud of a space I have created!

The first thing I did was hang this gorgeous canopy from the ceiling. It offers a sense of privacy when Arlo is in his own little reading world, but it also helps to signify a separation in space between his reading corner and play area. You may see all these amazing homes, particularly american homes, where space is ample and every Montessori need has it's own space. While I would love an enormous house with room aplenty, my typical British home just doesn't allow for that. So, we have made the best use of the space we have available. 

After hanging our canopy, we added a Verbaudet Floor Cushion as somewhere comfy to snuggle and a selection of different cushions, too. On top we placed a few lovely items that we know Arlo enjoys such as the JellyCat Donkey. There's actually a lovely story behind 'Devon' our beloved donkey. We were off on holiday to Devon for a week and left a few days after I found out we'd had yet another failed month trying to conceive. I was bummed and fed up with my years of infertility, so my husband bought Devon when we stopped at a service station. He was so cute and I felt comfort in the hope that one day our child would run around carrying him. I thank my lucky stars every day that the dream came true! Anyway, after that little detour, we put down a faux fur rug to take the chill off the ceramic tiles and add a nice aesthetic to the room. 

                                                    

Of course no reading nook would be complete without some books! Rather than use up yet more precious floor space, I added these two wall shelves (although Ikea spice racks work great, too). As part of our helping around the home, I added got a few plants too. Some are fake, like this one on the book shelf, but others, like the one on the windowsill, are real so we can water it every few days. Since I wanted this to be a 'yes' space, I put the real plant where it couldn't be reached. Books and wet soil do not mix! The gorgeous Read Sign you can see is from Little Stories (use Kimberley15 for 15% off) and the cute inspirational print in the photo is from Etsy. It pulls at my heart strings every time I read it. Better still, I got the digital version and printed it myself - it was so cheap! 


I think that pretty much covers everything! It turned out so well and Arlo absolutely loves it. He is used to sharing a story before bed and having books on his activity shelves, but I wasn't sure if he would make use of the 'comfy' set up. I didn't have to wait long to find out! After I set all this up, he marched straight in and plonked himself down on the floor cushion with a book! Perfect! Next up, I will be adding a walk through of our activity shelves and all of the activities we have on show this week! 

Here is a list of the items you can see in our photographs. Click the links to see each item for sale: 

Read Sign (Use code Kimberley15 for 15% off)
Book shelves (we loved these ones, too)

If you want to see more about our Montessori shelf and the toys shown in each compartment, click this link to visit a separate blog post. 

 Don't forget, you can also find us via our Facebook group and on our Instagram account. 

Saturday, 10 October 2020

FREE Resource - Forest Matching Cards

 A FREE resource for Montessori inspired activities. 

This is the first in a series of resources I will be releasing to support Montessori activities at home. I designed this one to work alongside the Le Toy Van stacking animals, however it can of course be used in a variety of different ways! 


Each set contains two of the same animal (fox, rabbit, bird, hedgehog, rabbit, bear, mouse, tortoise, squirrel and a deer). The initial idea is for the child to make pairs of matching animals. I would begin with only a few different animals and work up to the full set. 

Other ideas for the cards include: 

  • Match the wooden animal to the card. 
  • Hide the cards in one tray and the animals in another. Fill with sensory equipment such as shredded paper, cous cous, rice etc. and allow the child to dig through and find matching pairs. 
  • Hide one of each animal around the house or garden. One at a time send your child to find the matching card. A great scavenger hunt! 
  • Present your child with some paper and pens plus copies of the cards as inspiration for art work. 
  • Turn the cards over and play a memory game. Can they remember where each animal is to make pairs? 
  • Take a walk in the woods. How many can you spot in real life? Some places, such as National Trust properties, have many of these animals such as: bird, squirrel, deer and you may even see signs of others such as a foxes den or a rabbits burrow! 
  • Match the animal to the habitat
To get your hands on a set, click this link! They are completely free, no strings attached, however you are more than welcome to follow me on Instagram or sign up to my blog! 

Can you think of any other ideas for these cards? If you can or you use any of those listed above, let me know in the comments box below. Alternatively, you can tag me @MontessoriAtHomeUK on Instagram and I will be sure to share on my story! 

Don't forget, you can also find us via our Facebook group and on our Instagram account. 









Friday, 9 October 2020

Down in the swamp!

 Swamp Thing!

Today's sensory play was a real hit with Arlo. Not only had I kept this Holztiger crocodile (what is the difference between a crocodile and an alligator to a 1 year old anyway?) a surprise, but we were also playing with his favourite sensory ingredient - dyed rice! 


For this play session, I filled a tray with dyed blue rice (find out how here), shredded some green paper and combined the two to create the swamp. I added a copy of the story 'Have you seen this alligator?' and some Grapat mandala pieces along with some swamp related animals. I always link our play to a book if possible because I think it is so important to foster a love of reading from an early age.


How cute is that Holztiger crocodile? The letter stones are from Stir Up A Story on Etsy. I was lucky enough to get a set early for my role as a brand rep. Yay! 





Arlo had a whale (or should that be alligator) of a time with this one. He really enjoyed putting the Holztiger crocodile into the swamp and making him 'eat' rice. He also enjoyed the texture of the paper along with the feel and movement of the rice. 

What do you think? Drop me a comment and let me know what your favourite swamp animal is! 

Don't forget, you can also find us via our Facebook group and on our Instagram account. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Dyed Rice Sensory Play - Halloween themed!

 Halloween Sensory Rice play!

Today was a hectic day! Arlo was booked in to have his photo taken along with a million other things, so I knew we wouldn't have time for a full on play session. Instead, I knocked up this quick play activity using old boxes and a hot glue gun. 




It is so simple! All you need to do is cut some cardboard into strips using a Stanley knife, then lay them out into a rough shape on a large piece of cardboard. Next, get your hot glue gun (having plugged it in and given it a few minutes to heat of course) and attach the strips to the base using the hot glue. Hold them in place for a few seconds and they should stick pretty instantly. 

That's it! Now you have a ready-made frame ready for all kinds of activities such as rice filling, lentils, pasta, painting - sky's the limit! This was the very first time I have ever tried this. As you can see from the photo, it is far from perfect, but - luckily for us! - our little ones don't care if it looks perfect. They still cant wait to get stuck in no matter how lop sided or wonky our projects might be. So, give it a go and you might be surprised at how easy it really is! 

What shapes will you? Drop me a comment and let me know! 

Don't forget, you can also find us via our Facebook group and on our Instagram account.

Run, Run, Run - you can't catch me!

Gingerbread men play!

Today we had great fun with this gingerbread man themed activity! It was so quick and simple to do that we did it together after I got home from a busy day at work. It was so lovely to unwind with a tasty treat and some quality time with my precious little man! 



To complete the activity, I laid out the story we had read the night before (and the inspiration for the activity) along with the gingerbread men, icing and sprinkles. You can pick these kits up from most supermarkets, however if you'd prefer a more natural approach, a bit of icing sugar and water mixed together would work great, as it did for my cupcake activity.

The cute little stones in the picture are from Stir Up A Story on Etsy. As a brand rep, I was able to get my hands on a set before launch. YAY! 


As you can see, the head didn't last too long at all! What is your favourite food based activity? Drop me a comment and let me know! 

Don't forget, you can also find us via our Facebook group and on our Instagram account.
 

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Sensory Loose Parts Play!

 Setting up a taste safe sensory experience. 

Hi guys! Today I used some household staples such as pasta and lentils to create this colourful and engaging lose part play activity tray. I also included various other pieces including some grapalt mandala pieces, Pom Poms and wooden discs. 


Here’s a closer look:

As you can see, Arlo dived straight in to this activity. He loved rearranging the pieces and feeling all of the different textures. He filled some of the pots with lentils and pasta, stacked and lined up the mandala pieces and even had a nibble on some pasta - good job it’s taste safe! I discouraged this of course, but it’s nice to know it is safe anyway. 





These activity trays are great for open ended play. Not only do they allow for sensory engagement - all the items feel different - they are also great to engage the mind and ‘make your own fun’ since it is up the individual child what they choose to do with the items given. 

What are your favourite items for loose part play? Drop me a comment in the comments box below and let me know! 

Don't forget, you can also find us via our Facebook group and on our Instagram account. 







Saturday, 3 October 2020

Aquafaba

 💙💙 Little Boy Blue! 💙💙

Today I made something I’ve never used before - aquafaba! 



If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a fluffy mixture which vegans use to make cakes and other recipes. All you need is: chickpeas, a splash of lemon juice and food colouring of your choice. 

  1. Drain 2 tins of chickpeas into a bowl. You aren’t using the chickpeas themselves, so put aside for use in your cooking. 
  2. Add 1/2 a tsp of lemon juice. 
  3. Mix with an electric whisk until fluffy. 
  4. Add food colouring. 
  5. Whisk again to combine. 


That’s it! Now you have a great fluffy, sensory resource! 


For this activity, I went for ‘all things blue’ to line with our little boy blue rhyme (plus, of course, the little boys sheep and cow!) I made the aquafaba and put it into one half of my Ikea flisat table. 






It was great fun and Arlo really enjoyed the feeling of he fluffy foam. 


Drop me a comment below to let me know what you think! 


Don't forget, you can also find us via our Facebook group and on our Instagram account

Friday, 2 October 2020

Oobleck Slime Sensory Play #OctoberFoodPlay

 A fantastic sensory experience! 

This activity would be perfect from babies who are interested in water play to children well into primary school. It was an absolute hit! 

If you've never come across oobleck before - it is an absolute wonder to behold! In short, its a mixture of 2 parts cornflour to 1 part water. It acts as both a solid and a liquid meaning that when you press it, it seizes up like a solid, however it can also run through your fingers as a liquid. Add any food colouring you like and the possibilities are endless. If you've never done it before, this one is a must try! 

I used this Ikea Flisat table to create two separate spaces. In one side, I mixed 2 cups of cornflour with 1 cup of water and some blue food dye (I also added a sachet of powdered jelly to create a 'glittery' look and make the oobleck a bit more like slime, however this is optional). I then buried some sea creatures in the mixture. In the other side, I added some warm water with a splash of soap. I left a towel for mopping up spills and a sponge for the cleaning. 

The idea of the activity is to remove the sea creatures from the horrible oobleck mixture and give them a wash to make them nice and clean again! 


This was a genuine hit. Arlo LOVED it. I cannot recommend it enough. It also made a wonderful entry to my monthly play hashtag #OctoberFoodPlay as everything used was taste safe! 

Drop me a comment and let me know what you thought of this activity! 

Don't forget, you can also find us via our Facebook group and on our Instagram account. 


Baking Up A Storm!

Baking Cupcakes!

Today just felt like a cupcake kind of day! I prepared my environment by laying out all of the ingredients needed to bake cupcakes and Arlo joined me in his learning tower to help put the ingredients together and mix them all up. 




I used Cupcake Jemma's recipe for this one as these cupcakes are fail safe and turn out perfectly every single time! 

Once cooled, we decorated with icing and sprinkles and sat as a family to eat one after dinner! Yum! 








This is such an important experience for children. At only 18 months, Arlo is a bit too young to bake indepen dently, but that doesn't mean we can't involve him in the process! He is more than capable of pouring the ingredients together, stirring and even spooning the mixture into the cupcake cases. He iced the cupcakes entirely independently and while there was a bit of mess, I thought he did a great job! 

Don't forget, you can also find us via our Facebook group and on our Instagram account. 

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Introducing My October Play Challenge!

 #OctoberFoodPlay

If you follow me on Instagram, you will no doubt have seen that I am currently conducting a monthly play challenge all to do with taste safe play! The idea is for you to have a go at some food related activities and post them using the hashtag #OctoberFoodPlay. If you'd like to be featured, you'll also need to make sure you are following me on @MontessoriAtHomeUK and tag me in the description. 

I can wait to see all of your wonderful activities! 


FREE Card Matching Game resources

 New Card Release! You may remember that a few months ago I released a set of cards for matching or play activities. Well, they've had a...