Activity of the Day – Cherry Pitter

I love searching for and finding little kitchen gadgets that help Joshua with his independence. They’re also just plain fun to use. I was searching for a cherry pitter as Joshua has been eating cherries recently. As they have a pip in them I have to remove them before he eats them by cutting them out for him as they pose a safety risk.

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This exercises strength in Joshua’s arms to pit the cherry as well as fine motor skills (putting cherry into place and removing it once pitted). Cherry pitters (of some description, not necessarily this one) are also available at kitchen and house shops such as House and The General Trader and on Amazon.

We are so lucky at this time of the year to have so many fresh fruits available. Fruit this year has been particularly good as the local weather has been great, Joshua even pitted a few to share. I foresee many happy hours of cherry pitting in the near future.

Me Do It – Updated Kitchen Work Space

We have been carefully reviewing and adjusting our living spaces to accommodate the changing needs of our ever growing toddler. I have to admit I have enjoyed reviewing, assessing and researching online to find items that make things just a bit easier for Joshua to access. As a part of this review we have adjusted Joshua’s storage space where he stores his plates, glasses and other supplies.

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20140104_144121I love these shelves, they are so open and inviting. The bottom shelf is all baking tools and implements, middle shelf has glasses, bowls and a container with Joshua’s gadgets and the top shelf has jugs and glasses for storage.

We have some containers for Joshua’s baking tools – some have been put into baskets, other implements have gone into the utensil tray pictured on the right – and I love how this makes it far more accessible than when we had them stored in just one basket.

Activity of the Day – Moon Dough

I’ve been curious to try out a few activities that look like fun. I saw a lovely post here on making your own Moon Dough and decided to give it a go.

Moon Dough

Ingredients

  • 8 cups of white flour
  • 1 cup of baby oil

Method

  • Add the flour to your bowl.
  • Add the oil to the flour.
  • Mix up using a whisk until the clumps are minimal and the mixture is light and fluffy.

You can make this edible and baby safe by using vegetable oil instead.

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I got out some of the outdoor sand equipment we have – bucket, spade, rabbit mould and sifter and made these available to Joshua to use. You can also make small cups, spoons and cookie cutters available nearby but I think it is helpful for your child to experience the texture of the moon dough first before putting tools in so I didn’t put them straight in the bucket.

I consider this to be a sensory exercise and a good one as it is easily made from common household items. We do not have sand or a sand pit at home so this is  good substitute. Joshua really enjoyed digging through it and experiencing the texture of the dough which is light and fluffy. Lots of fun and it was a success as Joshua was occupied for 45 minutes with this and went back to it after lunch.

Me Do It – Putting on shoes

I have been working with Joshua to encourage him to put his own shoes independently. As with everything, Joshua takes his own time to do things on his own. I sat back a few days ago and observed Joshua taking his shoes off and did not interfere. I previously observed that he does not want to use his hands to take his shoes off and prefers to try and push or pull his feet out of his shoes using his feet only. Today this is what happened.

Collage - taking off shoes

I have to exercise a lot of patience to sit back and not try to help Joshua unless required or asked. He took off his shoe and put it back on the shoe rack as I had requested. Putting on and taking off shoes takes a lot of practice and Joshua is better at taking things off than putting them on at the moment. When putting them on he tries pushing his feet in without taking the straps off, I am not sure if he is doing that as he sees us put on our strapless sandals that way or if he is trying to find the path of least resistance. We will continue to encourage him to do things for himself and perfecting taking things off and then putting things on will be the next step.

Summer Days

Our little family has been spending a lot of time together and making the most of the fantastic weather before my husband has to go back to work. For us, the festive period and the summer break are a time for being together and recharging our batteries for the year ahead. We are usually extremely busy in the lead up to Christmas time and need time to spend on little projects and to nourish our relationships as my husband goes away frequently in the lead up to this time. This is a quick post on some of our doings in the last few weeks.

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From top:

  1. Enjoying home made banana ice cream.
  2. Riding a trike.
  3. Building Lego Technik earth mover with Daddy.
  4. Playing with matching Lego Duplo earth mover kit – piling up blocks in the back of truck.
  5. Joshua and his Daddy.
  6. Practical Life – Practicing turning screws on a small home project.
  7. Practical Life – Crushing biscuits for lemon slice.
  8. Enjoying a strawberry and mango frozen yoghurt pop.
  9. Piling up blocks in trike trailer.
  10. First go at riding his balance bike, a present from grandparents.
  11. Practical Life – Squeezing orange juice exercise.
  12. Practical Life – Nurturing the veggie patch, and a little tomato has appeared.
  13. Helmet on and starting to push off and ride balance bike properly with some help.

We’ve even managed to fit in some updates to our work spaces which I hope to share shortly. I hope you have all been having a wonderful summer break. The weather here in Melbourne has been wonderful and we have spent lots of time catching up with family and friends during this time.

What activities have you been up to during the summer?

Weaning – The end of another stage

I am not sure that Maria Montessori would have approved of our extended breastfeeding relationship. Montessori advocates weaning to a cup around the 9-10 month mark as a part of helping cultivate independence. I remember Joshua at that age and he was growing so quickly but was in my opinion no where near ready or willing to wean completely from breastfeeding. Montessori also advocates for introducing tastes and solids around the 4 month mark. We did not do this, following Joshua I did not feel that he was ready to start so we stuck to WHO guidelines and introduced food and weaning process at 6 months old. We did not force or push for complete weaning. Joshua eventually dropped down to one feed a day and recently we have stopped breastfeeding altogether, so we went to almost 22 months.

I fought hard for our breastfeeding relationship to start and got in contact with an IBCLC qualified lactation consultant who was wonderful. She helped us establish our breastfeeding, getting the feeding position and latch done correctly, helped me manage my supply and make sure that Joshua had a nice full feed every feed time. I remember it all through a haze, that time of being a new parent, learning how to care for Joshua and I remember wondering to myself if breastfeeding was just all too hard. But persist we did. And what a sweet journey we have had together. We have fed together through illnesses, through hot weather and cold (stuck to me with sweat or huddled into me for warmth), through the night in the early days and for comfort when Joshua needed reassurance.

I will always be proud of how well we did and how far we went together. I am so grateful that we were able to feed for as long as we did and for being blessed with the support to do so and will always be in awe of my body’s ability to nourish my son the way that I have. As I write this I am still mourning the final weaning and have been searching the internet for solace and found this poem which I thought I would share.

WEAN ME GENTLY
I know I look so big to you,
Maybe I seem too big for the needs I have.
But no matter how big we get,
We still have needs that are important to us.
I know that our relationship is growing and changing,
But I still need you. I need your warmth and closeness,
Especially at the end of the day
When we snuggle up in bed.
Please don’t get too busy for us to nurse.
I know you think I can be patient,
Or find something to take the place of a nursing –
A book, a glass of something,
But nothing can take your place when I need you.
Sometimes just cuddling with you,
Having you near me is enough.
I guess I am growing and becoming independent,
But please be there.
This bond we have is so strong and so important to me,
Please don’t break it abruptly.
Wean me gently,
Because I am your mother,
And my heart is tender.
~ Cathy Cardall ~

Joshua. Thank you for being such a wonderful partner in our breastfeeding relationship.  I will remember all those times that I not only fed you but nourished our togetherness.

Perhaps I am wrong about Maria Montessori’s take on this. I am sure she would have wanted me to follow the child, and follow him I have. Our weaning has been gentle and Joshua is ready now to let go of this stage. It may be a little while longer for me to adjust to no longer having this as a part of our daily routine but I will gladly let you go Joshua to make your way in the world, wherever it will lead you. It may take Mama just a little longer to stop aching the loss of this part of us but I will catch up with you when I am ready.

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Practical Life Essential Items

Practical life collage 1

Clockwise from top left hand corner:

Apron – kitchen
Broom
Apron – oiled
Brush and pan
Bucket
Gardening tools (rake, spade, trowel, fork)
Wheelbarrow
Jugs
Bucket (and mop)
Wavy chopper
First knife
Watering can
Kitchen utensils (mixing bowl, spatula, whisk, measuring cups, measuring spoons, vegetable brush, wooden spoon)
Jugs

I have been researching practical life items that I think we need as this is the area that we are focusing on this year. I try to think ahead – far but enough that I won’t be rushing about making mad purchases or waiting for ages because I need something now – but I have had a number of frustrating experiences shopping locally. Partly as I have Joshua and I dislike dragging him around shopping but partly that what I want specifically just is not available. As a result I am finding it easier to do most of my shopping online and even with shipping it seems to be a more economical option too, not only are a lot of the products cheaper (yes, even with shipping or from overseas), it saves me time driving around and I get a wider selection of things to choose from and can get it all in one bulk order. However there are many local places you can get a lot of these supplies which is good as it supports local business. (You need to be a bit organised and know what you want though so it helps to have a list of what you want/need).

Apron – kitchen
Wonderful for child to grab apron and put this on as the apron clearly defines the activity being undertaken. You can have several little aprons for different activities such as cooking, watering plants, cleaning and gardening. If you’re a bit crafty you can make it yourself using this pattern. The apron should be easy to put on and be taken off easily by the child and this pattern meets these requirements. Other thrifty options include an apron that is available from Ikea here and here, these are not exact but you can do some alterations to the waist tie to make it easier to tie up.

Broom
This can be indoors or outdoors. A millet one is great for outdoors, there are little brooms suitable for indoors too, we use one regularly to sweep up messes into the dustpan.

Apron – oiled
Great for water play, painting or cleaning. There are several suppliers of these, I love the ones from How We Montessori here.  There are also oiled aprons available on Etsy through various suppliers.

Brush and pan
We obtained a cheap small blue one from our local $2 shop. I really like ours even though it is plastic because it is small and light weight.

Gardening tools (rake, spade, trowel, fork)
Essential for the budding gardener. We obtained ours locally on sale but there are several suppliers of children’s gardening tools including Bunnings and Masters (in Australia these are hardware shops). These are great as children should have child sized tools to do their work.

Wheelbarrow
These are a must have from the age of 2. They are great for a child to heft, put things into and move around the yard and help out with gardening. You can get a wheelbarrow from Bunnings or Masters here in Australia, otherwise there are fancier ones you can get from Amazon, Fishpond and Montessori equipment suppliers. We kept our eyes peeled and got one from Aldi on sale a few months ago.

Bucket (and mop)
Wonderful practical life activity for children. These should be child sized and are a great activity for a child to undertake. This can be used to collect rubbish and put into the bin (e.g. after breakages etc) or used for cleaning or out in the garden. With a sponge this can be filled with water and used to wipe down a table and chairs. So many uses!

Kitchen gadgets
These are just fun. We have a wavy chopper, cherry pitter, apple cutter and strawberry slicer. Other fun ones are banana slicers, apple slinky maker (child cranks the handle and peels the apple themselves). I think the wavy chopper though is essential, as well as a peeler (a normal hand held one to peel carrots, apples etc). A lot of these items can be found at household items shops such as House and The General Trader.

First knife
We are trying out a few options here, we have a first knife and also a Kiddie Kutter, both of which are safe first knife options to try for Joshua to start cutting with a real knife. Small cutlery knives can be purchased from Ikea as well.

Watering can
This is a lovely English watering can from Haws which is on my wish list for Joshua. It is lovely as it has a long spout that goes straight to the base of the plant and is good because it illustrates clearly to the child that the water needs to go to the base of the plant and not to water the leaves. You can get this in Australia from here. We currently have a little watering can that we obtained from Bunnings.

Kitchen utensils (mixing bowl, spatula, whisk, measuring cups, measuring spoons, vegetable brush, wooden spoon)
Shops such as the General Trade, House and Matchbox carry great small items. They can be purchased locally. Montessori Child has a lovely set which is available to be purchased and can be purchased here.

Jugs
I have generally used creamer jugs which you can get locally and used these while Joshua was learning to pour. He is proficient now and we have a range of various little jugs he can use himself. I also found that locally there are shops such as The General Trader that carry jugs like the one pictured.

All of these items are available through the following Montessori and children suppliers so I have not listed specific recommendations for every item. Online suppliers I recommend for Australia are Montessori Child ShopHow We Montessori Shop and A2Z Montessori Australia.

Online suppliers I recommend outside of Australia are For Small Hands and Michael Olaf.