Saturday, April 4, 2009

My Mom's Materials

Erin asked me yesterday to share a little more about what I was gifted with from my mom's school teaching days. My mom homeschooled me and my siblings for most of school, but depending on where we were living at the time we sometimes attended school. My mom started to teach in a private traditional early education program after my youngest siblings made the decision to stay in private school for several years. (I think 3rd through 9th grade- they were homeschooled for the last 3 years of high school). My mom did not start teaching the Montessori method, but that is where she finished her teaching career. She retired in 2008 and in going through her things she passed several items on to me. I taught at the same private school where my mom taught- I was with the traditional early childhood program in the mornings, and the 5th-12th grade strings program in the afternoons for 5 years.

The most useful thing my mom donated to me is her file crates. She has files by topic and also seasonal topics organized by the month. My mom is so much more organized than I am! This makes it easy for me to pull the monthly file and look through for ideas or when I'm planning more of a unit study on a topic I can pull her topic files. The ideas in these files are in the same vein as those found on My Montessori Journey. She put a page or two in most files listing materials she had that she could use for that month or that topic- I obviously don't have room for an entire classroom full of materials, but she gave me a pretty good amount, and these lists help me think more creatively about how to teach a concept without the actual Montessori materials. There are also master files for paper materials like sight word cards.

As far as actual Montessori materials, we have spindles and the box, geometric solids, numbers and dots, the moveable alphabet, the binomial cube, a one hundred board, the pink tower and color box #2. She passed on a few mats to us as well, though I need to make some bigger ones. From her pre-montessori days I have a few things also- a see-and-spell kit, several alphabet matching games and a giant set of 1" cubes. She had a stash of felt too, so I have some of that, and all of her acrylic yarn.

Probably the second most important thing I've been given is the use of her library. My mom has a library of hundreds and hundreds of children's books that she collected over her teaching years. Pretty much any book that is considered a "staple" in early childhood literature is over at her house. So about once a month I shop through her books for things that fit our topics for the month and return the ones we used the last month. We still use our local library weekly, but grandma's library is always open and a trip there is often accompanied by cookies and milk.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Seven Quick Takes


"Project Edition"


So around here we say Mama has "projects". Not Mama sews or knits or writes or anything like that- Mama has a "project". I suppose that particular word is a little more universal, a little easier for my kids to manage instead of trying to figure out exactly which craft I'm working at.

Ender is starting to ask for his own "projects" so I put together a box of random things for him- yarn, ribbon, fabric scraps, bottle tops, paper, etc. I'm interested to see where he goes with it. Ender is calling it the Making Box, so I'm pretty sure that's the official name now.


I'm working on an Easter gift for the boys- A crayon pouch inspired by this tutorial. I'm trying to sort out a way to fold it in half, one side with a steno pad and the other to hold crayons or markers. Math is not my friend, so it's going to take me awhile to plan it all out.


Plans for this weekend include a few more of these crate covers. I was gifted with several file crates of curriculum that my mom used at her last Montessori school before she retired along with many of her materials. I'm tired of looking at the plastic crates, plus I have this really yummy Anna Maria Horner fabric that I *must* use. Here's the first:


I bought several skirts the other day at the thrift store- at 50 cents a piece how could I pass them up?  I think I'll be making bags out of all three.


I think I might pretend I'm adventurous and not buy shorts for the boys this summer- dare I make them myself? Ezra has plenty of hand-me-downs from Ender that are in great shape, but Ender is in this awkward "need the length of a 4T but the waist of a 2T" situation. If this doesn't happen in the next 6 weeks it ain't gonna happen, but I do have a ton of denim hanging out around here that should get used somehow.


And the project I've been putting off . . . My house needs curtains. We have owned this house for 7 years and the only room in the house with curtains is Ezra's room. Everywhere else has el cheapo plastic blinds. I have the fabric and they won't be hard to do, I just need to do it. I'm so lazy about "non-creative" crafting- the stuff that kind of just needs to be done. Hemming? Not so much. Ripping apart clothes to make other experimental clothes? Hurray!

Curtains that really need to be done? The 1 kitchen window, the front door, and Ender's room. The master bedroom windows have some funky sheers that I need to think about before I cut into those.


I'm planning an apron for Tie One On this month! I've started a bit of cutting, and I'm using scraps from old projects since the theme of the month is to spend nothing on the apron. I love this theme! We'll see how it actually turns out- sometimes my ideas run amok.

And to finish the post off with something pretty- this is a pic I took back in January on one of those bizarre 60+ degree days we had-  cute boys with Daddy hiding behind them!

Pink Tower Work

I presented the pink tower to Ezra a few weeks ago and it is his favorite work right now. You'll notice from the pictures that he's only working with five of the blocks. I chose to leave out the  3 smallest blocks since he still puts small things in his mouth and I left out the 2 largest blocks until he has a little more control over carrying the blocks to and from the mat. He's doing a great job carrying the blocks back and forth.

Each day when he pulls out the pink tower to work I re-present the work by stacking it properly one time. I then take it apart and he practically starts rebuilding before I'm finished. He constructs the tower at first by picking up whatever block is closest to his hand, but quickly notices that it isn't stacking correctly.

Try to ignore the gigantic amount of static in his hair. He has looked that all winter long, no matter how much I try to get his hair to lay down.

Once he notices that the tower isn't going the way it is meant to be stacked, he usually knocks the whole thing over and tries again. In the last few days though he has been trying more careful and only removing the blocks that need to be changed. It's been fun to watch the progression in his thinking, but at the same time it has been hard not to help him along the way.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sighted: Table-Top Toddler

I'd love to say this is a rare occurance in our home, but this is where we find him at least three times a day. And yes- he's usually stuffing his face.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March Goal Check-In

1. Plant a garden this year and hopefully end up with edible produce. Everything is ready. We're planting seeds for cooler weather plants in the next week or two (spinach, lettuce, broccoli) and we have all we need for our summer plants. I can hardly wait to start tomatoes in May.

2. Eat at-home prepared meals only for a week. This really is going to happen sometime, but not until work slows down for me- probably over the summer.

3. Read 20 fiction books this year. I'm almost done with my second fiction book of the year. Why do I keep picking gigantic fantasy novels? I need to remember to choose a page count for next years goal or pick lighter reads.

4. Start Bible memory with Big Kid and build it into a habit. We got this off the ground last month then promptly stopped with all the illness around here

5. Keep my nightstand area completely clear for 30 days except for vitamins, Bible and 1 current book. This hasn’t happened yet. I'm starting to doubt it ever will for even a week, much less 30 days. Current contents of the nightstand: 4 books (3 non-fic, 1 fic), 1 giant basket of knitting, wireless mouse, number cards, baby monitor- oh, I lied-- there's another pile of 5 books hiding behind the knitting, my lamp, cell phone . . . and in an effort to be honest, 5 abandoned cheetos and 2 cans of coke. The coke cans are mine (SHAME! I know) and the cheetos were collected off the floor earlier. I'm not sure why I didn't throw them away, but for some reason my nightstand seemed to be the proper place.

6. Keep/Toss/Donate 15 items each day for 30 days. Finished in January/February! And the house feels lighter. :)

7. Move systematically through the house to declutter and re-organize. I made it through the living room/dining room in the last month. We moved things around, and I think we finally settled on a good way of working my sewing area. Because Ezra has access to my desk I'm forced to keep it picked up at the end of every crafting session, so that has helped the tidiness tremendously. I had planned to move on to the master bedroom this month, but with the way my calendar is shaping up this month I'm changing the plan- April is going to be about getting our closets in shape. I need to get out and wash the boys warm weather clothes and then pack up their winter things, and do the same for my own clothing. I also need to change out the coat closet. I'm going to add a little bonus goal of taking care of the laundry room- it seems to be growing extra clothes. Something must be done about that.

8. Drink water. Make juice an occasional thing and soda a rare thing. Um, wow. Can I say I forgot this was on here even if that's not true? Does it make it better if I say I feel *really* guilty every time I have a soda? This is the goal I really need to make happen for health reasons, and I'm such a weakling when it comes to Dr. Pepper. And if it's vanilla Dr. Pepper? Heaven.
9. Move to using as many fresh ingredients as possible in our cooking. I've been really happy with this goal and our progress here! Superman is eating homemade things for lunch each day, we're all getting good amounts of fruit and veggies every day, and I'm finding that it doesn't take much time to make from scratch what I made out of a box before. I'm learning a zillion things about cooking- I'm loving Alton Brown's I'm Just Here for the Food.

10. Re-evaluate my goals every 3 months. I still need to check in monthly- I need the accountability!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ta Da!

I'm so glad to have a fully functional computer again! Expect about a million pictures between now and,well... FOREVER.

These quilt pictures are the pieced front and back. The borders and binding are not on in these pictures, and the quilt is currently in my quilting hoop for the actual quilting. I'll be posting final pictures when the quilting is done. You'll be able to see the quilting detail, the borders (which are the same blue-green that are around the center square) and the binding in those pictures.

I had a pattern in mind when I original cut strips down and when  I laid everything out for the pattern it just wasn't working. So I sat with the pieces awhile, obsessively rearranged things, sewed a little and ripped some out until it came together. I settled on keeping like colors together in each triangle then putting the different triangles together to make dark or light squares. I was trying to find just the right way to use Gardenbug's fabric, and this was the perfect display.




The back was a different story- putting everyone's muslin blocks together made for an interesting jigsaw puzzle. You may notice that at the top of this panel the edge is not even- I promise it is now! Some blocks were sent in a slightly bigger or smaller size than others, so piecing this was interesting.



And this is where I currently spend my evenings- quilting on the hoop.

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