Monday, May 28, 2012

Color Mixing, Two Ways

I usually only let J paint with one color at a time, because I'm mean like that, but I decided it was time to start expanding our palette. This also allows for mastery of color mixing facts, which always seemed to me to be the key to preschool science LOL. :)

First we did yellow and blue paint on Jackson's easel...

And then I set up this Pinterest-inspired activity, wherein the kiddo spoons colored dilute vinegar onto baking soda. It's colorful and fizzy! This kept him occupied for an incredibly long time, until all the fizz was gone and everything in all three containers was green.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Used Book Report: Westchester Rotary Club Book Sale

Andrew wanted to get some work done this afternoon so I took Jackson out for a very long slow drive to my favorite mom-and-pop nursery in Gardena. On the way, I screeched to a halt and pulled over to the side of the road when I realized it was the weekend for the annual Westchester Rotary Club book sale in the parking lot of the Ralphs on Sepulveda. Good stuff, Westchester!

I'm particularly pleased with the complete 12-volume set of The Golden Book History of the United States in fine/very fine condition. The plan to home educate out of the garage continues apace, bwahaha! (So long as no one cares what happened after 1960. Ahem.)

Also found a first edition hardback of Minn of the Mississippi; some Margaret Wise Brown, Bill Peet and Steven Kellogg paperbacks: Ed Emberley's very first book, The Wing on a Flea: A Book about Shapes (original illustrations, not the 2001 update); Aliki's Manners; Seven Simeons; some Antipodean folklore; a John Burningham book (we love Mr. Gumpy!); a nutty old Golden Book called Peter Lippman's One and Only Wacky Wordbook, and the The How and Why Wonder Book of Mathematics, which includes a supermodern section on the use of punchcards and reels in a "calculating with computers." Hee.

Australian Aboriginal Folklore for Children - Series Bibliography

It took me forever to find this info in the dark corners of the Interweb, so on the off-chance any other person in the history of ever is interested in the same material (unlikely, but still), here it is:

Australian Stories in Five Volumes by L. & G. Adams (1979) - William Collins Pty Ltd, Sydney

Volume I: How Koala Lost His Tail and Other Australian Stories
* How Koala Lost His Tail
* How Echidna Got His Quills
* How Emu Lost His Wings
* How Water-Rat Found Fire

Volume II: Why Kookaburra Laughs at Dawn and Other Australian Stories
* Why Kookaburra Laughs at Dawn
* The Whirlwind and the Frogs
* The Koala Who Stole the Water
* Mopoke and the Moon

Volume III: Wowie the River Monster and Other Australian Stories
* Wowie the River Monster
* The Black Swans
* Molok the Thirsty Frog
* Keelie the Cuckoo

Volume IV: Old Man Fire and Other Australian Stories
* Old Man Fire
* How the Rainbow Was Made
* The Spirit in the Stream
* The Butterflies of Spring

Volume V: The Tale of the Kangaroo and Other Australian Stories
* The Tale of the Kangaroo
* The Secret of the Cockatoo
* The Tale of the Platypus
* The Tale of the Wombat

Friday, May 25, 2012

Montessori-Inspired Toddler Activity Trays

Open-close tray: Tiny Patrón tequila bottle (!) with cork (I found it on the ground outside a hardware store, I swear), empty spice tin, empty makeup compact with pop-out mirror*, mini Slinky for no reason besides fun, film cannister, blue plastic box, red plastic hardware cannister.

*Jackson calls this the "puter" because he thinks that the pop-out mirror is like a pop-out DVD player.

Carabiner-inspired keyrings for linking practice and sorting by color.

Pom-poms, mini tongs and an old frozen shrimp shumai tray for a transferring activity that the kiddo loves. This one really hit the "zone of proximal development" (as the education pros might say).

Stringing activity with cedar hanger attachments and a length of cord.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Art Project: Feelie Goop

This is art only in that it is proto-sculpture. Mostly Feelie Goop is a sensory exploration not terribly different from a sandbox, but it did succeed in entertaining J long enough for me to clean up the Cheerios-chips-pennies array that had been scattered on the floor since noon! I also asked him what color resulted from combining the red and yellow food coloring and he correctly reported, "Orange." Oh, AND, this won't kill my lawn, and I can't say the same for the vast quantities of sand Jackson enjoys spreading all over the grass. Hee.

Thanks again to MaryAnn F. Kohl for writing First Art: Art Experiences for Toddlers and Twos! It's superuseful for non-creative moms like me, and this was a cinch to whip up and then clean up. (Although though to be fair I haven't tackled the various drips yet!) Thank you!

Shapes Unit, aka Baby Geometry

Semicircle is our favorite word around here lately, thanks to some new toys that explore shapes, lines, wholes, parts and more.

This Learning Journey Shape Shuffle set was on sale at Ross for $5, and despite the slippery pieces being a bit hard for a toddler to grapple with, it's a winner. Lots of new vocabulary (right triangle, isosceles triangle) and exploration of shapes in context. Above, Jackson is discovering which other shapes can be combined to form a square: four smaller squares, two rectangles, two right triangles, etc.
Jackson does the hard work of being a toddler while we talk about some more shapes. These are the pieces from an "out-of-print" Melissa & Doug Shapes puzzle I found at a thrift store. An intrepid youngster had written all over the board in permanent marker, and the hexagon was missing, but I harvested the rest of the shapes and keep them in a plastic bag. Jackson likes to fish them out of the drawer and play with them. We've been working on sorting out the ones with curved edges (circle, ellipse/oval, quatrefoil) from the ones with the straight edges (square, rectangle, etc).

Hey look, circles roll! This Guidecraft Shape Sorter that was a gateway drug for several other Guidecraft puzzles that I couldn't resist after getting this one! Actually, I could resist, but then I bought a Ryan's Room version of a fairly shapes puzzle, and it was so cheap and misshapen compared to the wonderful quality of Guidecraft that I figured it was a message from above. Anyway, Jackson's all but mastered this one now...
Now we're working on this Guidecraft Fraction Action Board. Sorting by color is the first order of business! (We also love the Fraction Cups, and I am not untempted by the Fraction Pairs.)
And last but not least, in the midst of building vast "car cities" out of blocks for his plastic trucks, we pull out blocks and books that reinforce some of the vocabulary we've been using. Hey, look, two quadrants make a semicircle! Oh my, two of the arches on the bridge blocks are the same shape as a circle, that must mean a circle is two semicircles!

I was still struggling with triangle types circa junior high, so if the kid has a shot of internalizing some of these concepts early, I'm delighted. Thus, I'm trying to teach ellipse as a synonym for oval and rhombus as a synonym for diamond, and if even a fraction (hee) of this clicks in, I think that it can only be for the good, as encyclopedic knowledge and math concepts are obviously cumulative, so why not begin accumulating early?

P.S. For my money, the very best shape sorter I've encountered anywhere is the Tupperware Shape O Ball Toy, but that lives at grandma and grandpa's house, so no pics of it in action are included here. That said, if you're in the market for shape-teaching toys, do consider it. It's got a great array of shapes, it contributes to fine-motor skill and hand-eye development because the kid has to keep rotating the ball to find the slot, it rolls because it's a ball, it rattles when it rolls if the shapes are inside, the shapes all actually fit inside (not the case for some shape sorters), it pulls open easily to retrieve the shapes, and it's just so darn clever and perfect for actual human kids. Highly recommended.

Friday, May 4, 2012

New Montessori-Style Toddler Trays

After months of total slacking, due to distractions like birthday parties and home improvement projects, I found some time to slap together some new trays for Jackson to play with, and by play with I of course mean "scatter around the house."

1. Paper matryoshkas copied from an HSBC ad about globalization that I found in The Economist (thanks for the subscription Grandpa Jay!), which should be a fun way to practice matching and ordering by size.

2. There are two sets of seven ribbons, which is both an occasion for more matching and a sneaky lesson in the names of some common fabric patterns: stripes, polka dots, checks, plaid, paisley, meander or fret, and knot.

3. Pouring! This is just going to end up all over the house and under the couch, but the kid loves pouring, so better to direct his energy into dry pouring than let him wreck havoc with milk, which is what he usually does. :)

And lest anyone thing that Waldorf has the patent on promoting beauty in the lives of children, these are flowers for Jackson's table clipped from a feral rose bush in our neighborhood. Thanks to Tim Seldin's book How To Raise An Amazing Child the Montessori Way for the suggestion, including the tip that single-serving Perrier and Orangina bottles make easy and affordable bud vases. I needed an excuse to drink more Orangina anyway. :)