Adventures in Tot Schooling

Changes and Independence

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been de-cluttering, reorganizing, and re-thinking. And lusting after some of those back to school homeschool rooms, even though Munchkin goes to pre-school (three mornings a week now!) and will head off to elementary school in two years. Her preschool is play based, and I always intended to provide Montessori style work at home, but did not have a place to permanently keep jobs out. We have a recess in our dining room that stored the vacuum cleaner, cleaning supplies and extra paper products. With the aforementioned declutter, I’ve been able to relocate all the items I kept, and have added a set of shelves to this space. It’s still a work in progress. My intention is that as she starts moving, the bottom four cubbies will be for Little Sister or shared jobs, the top four cubbies will be for Munchkin only, and I’ll use the top of the unit for display, new trays, or trays I don’t want her to tackle without some assistance from me. I’d like to change out a couple of cubbies every few days so that things are always changing.

Currently, Little Sister just has two cubbies, with two items for her in each cubby. Munchkin’s trays are much the same as last week, with a few changes. Following her current age and interests, I’d like to always have a task for each of the following: open ended art, fine motor, pre-writing, math, cutting, and then whatever seems appropriate to fill the other spaces.

This means that the jobs are always available for Munchkin, so we need to work on some new rules – she must always clean up one tray before moving on to the next. We’ve also reorganized so that there is floor space for her to work, and half our dining table has been designated for projects, with the other half for eating. She has a little trash can, and cleaning supplies just around the corner in the kitchen, so she should be able to clean up any messes. This week she also learnt how to use our hand held vacuum cleaner, so she has another tool available to her as well! She is now working on the trays throughout the day, and I don’t always catch pictures of what she’s doing. On the two mornings she’s home, I’d like us to focus on more indepth activities – open ended art, new tray demonstrations, researching an interest, etc.

Here’s what’s still on our shelves as of the end of the week:

Nature Jars

While Munchkin and I made the jars, these are intended for both girls to explore. Little Sister can just about pick the jars up, and has spent a lot of time moving them around the basket.

Eggcup and Egg

Little Sister enjoys moving these around and munching on them. I will roll the egg to and from her, and also sometime place it in the cup for her to see.

O-Ball and Ribbons

This O-Ball was a big hit when Munchkin was little, and Little Sister loves it too. This week I’ve added 6-inch lengths of ribbon to the middle of it for her to pull out. This ball stays on the shelf when we are not using it, and Munchkin knows not to give it to her sister without permission from me. Little Sister really likes this – and has a favourite ribbon! She loves a thin, see through, gauzy, sparkly length that is just a little rougher than the others, and frays like crazy! Through this activity (and eating – we do Baby Led Weaning) I’m really seeing her grip develop, and even the start of a pincer grip.

Musical Instruments

Our basket of instruments is still out for either girl to use. Little Sister also likes to turn the basket over and bang on it.

Straw Cutting

Freeform cutting for Munchkin that changes up the medium without requiring adherence to a specific pattern. Munchkin is amused that the straw pieces jump away from her as she cuts them – so there is clean up involved too! Over the weekend she requested making something from the straws, so I added pipe cleaners for some lacing work.

Stencils and Insets

I picked up a plastic version of the Montessori stencils and insets. I think they are perfectly adequate for home use, and so much more affordable. Since this is just the second week we’ve had them, I’m providing the simpler forms first.

Sea Lion Writing

This is a hold over from last week. Munchkin is still enjoying tracing the letters. Often she requests an envelope so that she can turn it into a letter for one of her grandparents.

 

Go Fish

This remains on our shelves from last week. I don’t think it’s being used so this will be the next one to change out.

Sewing Tray

This also remains out from last week, and has hardly been touched. It needs reworking and representing at another time.

Watercolour Painting Invitation

While I was out this week, I picked up some watercolour paper. Wow! What a difference it makes! I set up a tray for Munchkin, and let her know that, when she was ready to paint, she needed to ask me to help her get water. We both spent quite a time one morning painting away together. However, another morning she found a cereal bowl and filled it (too full) with water from her bathroom all by herself. We will be continuing to work on some kind of system to signal which trays are available all the time, and which are available with a little help!

Color Wonder

This was a gift from the grandparents, and I sort of hate it. I very much feel that this does nothing to teach children how to contain their mess. I don’t care if the paint only changes colour on the special paper – I still don’t want those chemicals painted all over my floors or couch! However Munchkin really likes it, has good habits from using actual paint and markers, and saw it in my office closet (where all my supplies are kept) and asked for it to come out. She has used it a ton this week, both painting and the markers. In fact, we were drawing family members together, and I asked her to draw herself – she wrote her name for the first time unaided!

Marble Tonging

One of the advantages of having a tidier office closet, is that Munchkin can (with permission) come in and see things she might like to do. She received a box of marbles as a gift, but for now they are kept out of reach. She wanted to use them, and so I paired them with this strange piece of packing plastic I kept from something, and some tongs.

Munchkin’s art wall is quite healthy this week! We also add items from school as they come home, and if they continue to at this rate, we might have to find another way to display everything!

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