The Plan for the Week (plus Media Detox!)
This is a bit of a personal post, but it includes some usable ideas for you guys! So I figured I would share. I'm going to be snapping (snap name: BLWideas) all this throughout the week; if you're over there, followwwww. I share a ton of stuff: activities and cooking and house stuff and budget and marriage and parenting. Just rambling mostly, but folks seem to like it. :D
Anyway, this may be a trigger for some folks, but Cameron's (that's my husband) father passed away last week. We got a call in the middle of the night, around 1:00 am on a Wednesday. And we packed up and drove the 8+ hours to Louisiana that same afternoon. Normally when we head home, for Christmas or whatever, I have stuff planned and prepped. But I was in a hurry and didn't prepare as well. Plus, once we were there, there was a lot of stuff going on!
Because of all of that, Alexander ended up using the iPad for a few hours PER DAY, for the last 1.5 weeks. Normally, if he sees it at all, it's on the weekend. Annabelle doesn't get screen time at all (she's 13 months as of this writing; Alexander is 3 years 9 months). They don't really watch TV, but Alexander likes watching those YouTube videos of people playing with Play Doh and unpacking weird kids' toys. I don't get it.
We got back home Sunday afternoon (yesterday), and now there's no real need for media. The kids are back in their comfort zone. I've got some ideas and motivation to engage with them and provide some excellent learning opportunities. Remember, for kids, PLAYING IS LEARNING! So when I say learning opportunities, I mean I have some games and activities that tickle their brains and help them learn without them realizing they're learning. Learning should be fun, always. That's my goal as a stay-at-home mom / homeschool teacher!
The plan is no media at all until the weekend, and even then, it's just 30-60 minutes on Saturday and Sunday, for Alexander.
Oh PS! I have some stuff for sale over at mostly-montessori.com/products. It's FOR FREE for the month of March, and I plan to add at least 2 more things to that page before the month is up! Head over to download :D
What about the rest of the week? Before I come up with activities, I do 3 things. (1) I consider different categories of activities (sensorial, practical life, math/science, language, gross motor, fine motor). (2) I consider what each kiddo is really into right now. (3) I peruse a few blogs and Instagram pages that I often find ideas from. I don't usually take ideas exactly; I just get inspiration and come up with my own stuff, that will work for where we are AND with the materials we already have! I suggest you do the same: don't feel like you need to go buy stuff. Just use what you have and modify the ideas to suit your child!
Well, here are the plans I have:
- Basic addition flash cards. This is NOT a Montessori thing.... but Alexander just a few days ago showed me he knows how to add small numbers, ON HIS OWN. Like, I've never sat down with him and said "Okay, son. 2+1=3." Never any sort of thing like that, but he has picked up on the language of math. Short story: I said "If you have 2 chips, and I give you 2 more, how many do you have?" And he said "Four!" Then shortly after, he said "2+2 makes 4." Well, 2 days later, we were in the car, and I wrote "2+2" on a piece of paper, and he said "2 x 2". Like, the letter X. He didn't know the plus sign, but he was familiar with the term "plus." I don't know how. Because of HIS interest, I'm going to help him along and give him opportunities to practice this new little thing he's currently enjoying.
- Shape hunting. I have some felt shapes (triangles, circles, ovals, squares, some quatrefoils and pentafoils I think) that he will dig through and find particular shapes.
- Object and starting letter matching. This is pretty straightforward: Ball starts with "buh" or B. So I'll have several small objects plus the various starting letters (no duplicates, as that is unnecessarily confusing), and he will need to match the object to its starting letter.
- EXTENSION. If that goes well, then I'll give him a letter (a physical little wooden letter) and ask him to find one thing in the school room that starts with that letter. We'll repeat that for various letters.
- Teeth activity! He likes counting his teeth. I'll have a diagram of a giant mouth with 20 teeth (not a grown-up mouth with 32). He will count them and count his own. Then I'll teach him some of the names of teeth (incisors, canines, molars, etc.), and we'll see if he can identify his own. I saw an idea on @thedadlab (Instagram) where you laminate a piece of paper with teeth drawn on it, and then you use a dry erase marker to draw stains or plaque or whatever, on the teeth. Then you give the kiddo a toothbrush (oh, I should get a spare toothbrush!) to clean the teeth. We'll do that too, I imagine!
- Pin the tail on the animals. I'll have some animals cut out and pasted onto a sheet of paper. I'll have their tails or bottoms printed separately, and he'll have to pin the tails onto the proper animals. (Shout out to Carrie for the idea!) I don't think I'll include the blindfold component, but we. shall. see.
- EXTENSION!! I'll print some pictures of Alexander's family! Like me, my husband, Annabelle, some extended family. I was thinking of having him match the head to the body, but that seems a little morbid. Ha! I'll just do torso matched with legs! That will be a little less creepy. :D
- What's missing? This is a classic Montessori activity! You put out 5 objects (or 6 or 7... depends on the age of the child). Give him a minute to memorize what's there. Cover them, remove one object secretly. and then see if he can identify what went missing!
- Rainbow + dot markers! I bought dot markers while we were on vacation. You can totally do this with stickers (or even white circle stickers that you print to be different colors). It's a rainbow with circles going along each color, and the child just fills in the circles with the appropriate color. The color matching is a cinch for Alexander; he'll like using the dot markers, though! The challenge for him will be to line up the marker perfectly so that the dot is niiiicely centered in the empty spot! (If you're not following me on IG and/or Snapchat, please do!! I'll be sharing photos and videos of all of this, in action!)
- Shaving cream painting. Here's how I plan to do this! Oh boy, I need to get shaving cream too. (Thank goodness for Amazon prime.)
- Mazes! Alexander loves the mazes that are in the Highlights magazines. But there's usually just 1-2 per magazine, so I got him a book of more mazes.
- I Spy. I'll take a picture of various small objects. Then I will print them onto cards and hide the objects on a big tray of other objects. He'll draw a card and then have to hunt for the object on the tray without touching it. (We saw a book filled with I Spy games, and he really liked it! This is the real-life version of that!)
- Count to 50. I'll put the numbers 1-50 on a sheet of paper, scattered, and he'll have to find them, in order, as fast as he can. He loves using a timer, so I'll give him a small timer to use. He doesn't really care if he does it faster/slower than the previous trial. He just likes starting and stopping a timer. :)
Annabelle is 13 months now, and she mostly likes bringing me things. She'll pick up the tiniest leaf or crumb and bring it all the way to me. And she always says "thank you" as she hands it to me. Ha! Anyway, she also likes velcro and putting things into other things. So we're going to focus there. (She likes things like television remotes and cell phones too, but I'm not going to encourage that. :D )
- Clothes pins in a water bottle. I have an empty water bottle and a bunch of clothes pins. She likes putting them into the bottle then dumping them back out.
- Straws in a shot glass. We have some metal shot glasses that are perfect for her since she can't break them! I'll cut up a straw into smaller pieces (not TOO small, as that can be a choking hazard).
- EXTENSION! I'll show her how to pour the straw pieces from one shot glass to another. We'll see if she's ready for that yet! There's no way to tell without trying. :)
- Fuzzy balls in a jar. I have a few glasses and jars and I'll give her some fuzzy balls to put into the jar. Then, of course, she'll dump them back out.
- Simple shape sorting. We have a puzzle for Alexander that's got 9 different shapes + outlines. It's tricky even for him because the shapes and outlines are all different heights. Anyway, I'll take the smallest from each shape and offer that to Annabelle as a simple shape sorting activity.
- Water pouring. This will happen in a bath tub I am fairly sure. I will give her those same metal shot glasses plus a bin of water. I'll show her how to dip the glass into the bin and scoop up some water, then dump it back into the bin.
- Train on a track. I will give her one train (maybe two) on a short track of train pieces to see if she can keep the train on the track!
- Red and blue. This is a stretch, but it's worth a shot. Basically I'll put a few red and blue objects near her, plus a red and blue basket or bucket. And I'll encourage her to put red stuff in the red bucket and blue in the blue! Easy enough, on paper, but may be a huge challenge for my little 13 month old.
Be sure to follow along on social media to see all this stuff in action and in pictures, as it hasn't happened yet!