Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What we've been upto

Its been more than a week since my last update.  But we've been busy at home working away the week.  February is always a busy month for us with lots of celebrations since it has my birthday, valentines day and our wedding anniversary.  We've had a lot of fun this month!

I ordered the language materials from Montessori for everyone.  The quality of the materials is amazing and D has been enjoying the pink series work.  She can fairly breeze through all the pink word lists.  I also started to introduce some of the blue series sounds and she has been having a lot of fun with them too!

In math I bit the bullet and ordered some of the golden bead materials from Caliber Montessori.  This is my first time ordering from them and I need to wait and see how the quality of the materials are.  But D has been ready for a while to move on and having the materials on hand would be awesome.  We've been doing the odd/even work and the hundred boards too.

We've not worked much on the other areas as I haven't had the time to put out new materials.  I made a calendar, which has been a long pending item.  I will post pictures in another post.  We've been singing a lot of songs and reading a ton of books.

Practical life has been home life for D.  It amazes me how much she can do by herself if only I let her be!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentines Day Celebration

We had a simple valentine's day celebration at home.  We made pink indian ice-cream and froze it in a heart shaped tray.  It turned out delicious!  I forgot to take pictures, but you can find a variation here.  We did not make it as fancy, my recipe is quite simple.  Just one can of Sweetened Condensed milk and half a teaspoon of rose essence mixed with half a cup of whole milk.  I mixed everything in a blender with some cardamom seeds.  We then froze it and once done, gobbled it all up!

We read quite a few valentine themed books that we had.  A new but sweet one is "Snow Valentines".  This book was perfect with all the snow we had here!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Karen Tyler's Program Giveaway

Here is a great give away.  I've been meaning to take this course, winning this would be ideal.  While you are there, also check out her blog, it is awesome with so many great ideas!  

Friday, February 11, 2011

The dots connecting

I just listened to Steve Jobs's speech on the Stanford commencement ceremony linked from here.  It struck a chord with me when he talked about the dots connecting.

I used to work full time, leaving D to the care of well-meaning grandparents and nannies.  I was so torn on wanting to be with her and having to work full time for financial security.  I did this for close to 3 years.  It is not that we couldn't have lived comfortably in my husband's income, the fears were far more deeper.  Both my husband and I come from a middle class society in India.  Financial security and taking the safe route was embedded into our very beings by our parents as well as the society.  We chose professions that would provide the best financial stability and chose to excel in it.  No time to waste, no time to find our passions.  Things like passion are alien words in our society.

Then I had D.  My perspective on things started to change.  I was working full time during the day, then I used to come home and spend all the remaining free time with D because of the guilt of being away from her.  It was just too much for me.  I was earning pretty well and was in a career that I did not hate.  I started to question what is important to me in life.  After too many late night discussions with my husband I took the plunge.  Our families thought we were crazy to take such a step!  Think about all the extra money we would be losing, we got a lot of flak for it!  We decided to ignore their comments and just move ahead.  Now I don't regret one bit our decision for me to stay at home.  Yeah I miss being away from home and just having that time for myself, all the adult conversation and interaction that I was having at work, but my kids are small and they are not going to remain so forever, this is my time to be with them.  When I quit, we were not so sure how things were going to turn out.  We need to take chances and do what feels right in our gut sometimes.  Looking back at the past 18 months, being at home was so worth it.  M was born and that added to the joys of our family.  I missed D's babyhood, I get to enjoy M's.  I just love this age with D, her curiosity, cheerful play, inquisitiveness just fills my day with so much satisfaction.

The dots connected!

There was a young girl named D

Here is a story that D narrated and I wrote down word for word:

There was a young girl named "D".  D made her kitty cat sleep.  M made noise and woke the kitty cat up.  The kitty cat started crying.  D picked up the kitty cat and started nursing her.  D asked mommy to get her a breast pad from the kitchen counter.  The kitty cat fell asleep again.  D kissed M.  The end.

Now you know what happens everyday in our house! 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New February Works

As mentioned in my previous post due to my printer being down, I've only added a few works to D's shelves. Luckily D hasn't been bored and has been working with some of the old stuff too. Here are some of the new things in no particular order:

Arranging clothespins on the lid.  This is just an old watch box of mine and clothespins with some valentine stickers.

I did not take a picture of the valentine art basket I put together for D, this is the picture after she cut out the valentines and glued glitter on them.  We hung the valentines she made on our cherry blossom tree and it is decorating our foyer now!

Our open and close basket.  D enjoys these so much!

The blogosphere famous pipe cleaner - pony bead activity.  Another one that she loves.

Memory game with some simple CVC words.  We've been playing with these for the past couple of days and D is starting to recognize these words on sight as opposed to trying to blend every time.

Just a variation on the cards and counters.  D can count very well but this is just to re-iterate odd and even numbers.  Normally she is not much interested in counting activities, but this one has had a lot of use since I put it on the shelf.

Some pattern blocks with patterns that I drew and colored.

Once my printer is fixed, I will have some more work that I've already prepared but waiting to print out.

February Poetry

My printer stopped working suddenly, so I've had to hand write everything for D for this month!  So its been taking a long time to set up work.  Here is a look at this month's Poetry.  I wanted to keep this as simple as possible (less work)!

I have five small hearts cut out from foam to be used with the poem. D flips each one to show what is written based on which line we are reciting.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Gong Xi Fa Cai! (Congratulations and be prosperous!)

Happy Chinese New Year!  Here are some pictures from our celebration today.  We are going to end the day by carrying out dinner from our all time favorite Chinese restaurant as it is horribly cold here in the mid-west.

We collected a few Chinese items at Vancouver during our recent vacation there.  I had bought them originally for the geography box, but they came in handy today.

We started the day making Cherry blossom tree for good luck! I did not have pink tissue paper, so we just used pink construction paper, it turned out ok though!

Then we made some red paper lanterns.

We talked about the festival itself, lunar cycle, the year of the rabbit and about the color Red in the culture. We talked about China and that led to the talking about Pandas and D wanted to draw one.  She did with simple instructions from me.  D wanted to wear Red and we picked a red outfit for M too!  We then set all our goodies on D's red table, prayed and meditated for a great new year!

Here is our Buddha...

I told her about the Red envelope tradition and gave her the envelope with a couple of dollars!  It is interesting to note that the amount you give should be even, odd is considered bad luck and never number 8!

We got this box and small trinket while at Vancouver. No idea what the trinket signifies.

For more information on the customs and traditions check out this link.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Topics and Subject Areas that I need to cover for D

Here is the rough listing of the things that D and I would be working on over the next few months.  Some of these she has covered at school, some at home, some are things that I think she should progress into.

  • cards & counters, odd/even - covered at school as well as at home, but i think too much practice on this one is never a waste.
  • teens & tens board - at home, she would still benefit from practice
  • hundred board - she has been asking for this one for a long time, i finally made a home version for this and she did up to 40 all by herself and got bored after that.  We would be practicing this a lot.
  • addition - we've done some simple stuff using dominoes, beads, etc.  Need to work on the Montessori stuff.
  • chess -  she is very interested in this one.  For now I've taught her the names of the pieces and the placement, we will slowly work on this.
  • snake & ladder - she loves this, this is good counting/addition practice.  One advantage of using dice in playing this is that, she no longer counts the dots to figure out the number on a face, she just knows it by sight!
  • number rods, greater than, less than - I've been making this at home, need to finish it up and use it.
  • decimal system and complex numbers - i don't have the bead materials, i need to budget for it and then buy it.  i love the Montessori stuff on math.
  • step counting - need to start figuring out fun ways to do this, may be not right away.
  • currency - i want to start teaching her about the different coins and notes and play simple shopping games with her, this would in turn help her addition skills also.  There are a lot of great ideas at the Joyful Learner website.
  • clock - she already knows the hour/min/second hand.  Slowly introduce time-telling concept.

I have already  collected miniatures for sound bins.  Just need to get the box for putting the objects.  She already knows all of the beginning sounds, I would be working on identifying the middle and ending sounds also.

She has also started work on the pink materials, she needs lots of practice though.  I also want to get a nice reader set to motivate her and get practicing.

I have the Kumon Lower Case alphabet and Number trace and wipe flash cards.  She loves these.  I got these before getting my printer and laminator, else I would have made these myself.  We would work on these as well as other practise stuff that I come up with from time to time.

We started creating poetry baskets back in December and it has been a huge success.  I got this idea from My Montessori Journey.  We would continue this every month with a new theme.

We are voracious readers and D loves books.  We get a bunch of books from the library every month.  I need to make sure the themes for the non-fiction align with the work I plan on the Science, Geography and Cultural areas.  She is into a lot of fairy tales (pink princess kingdom!) that we own which we read regularly.  I need to start looking for good classical fiction and introduce those to her.


These are the topics that she is already interested in knowing more about and some are what I think she would be interested in - Parts of a plant, life cycle of trees, butterfly/frog life cycle, five senses, human body, living/non-living, plants/animals and food pyramid.   We would move along these and may be add more depending on her interest.

I want to add a live plant and a fish in a tank for study as well as for good practical life activity practice.  Need to buy these.


This is another area of Montessori that I love.  I don't own the globes, nor the puzzles.  D has learnt the continents at school.  I'll decide to purchase or make materials depending on the lesson and the budget I have.  For now, these are all the items I want to focus on in the next few months.
  • continents, oceans, north america
  • land, air, water
  • solar system - I already made some cards and got some planets from the dollar store.  D loves this work!
  • land forms

This is an area that has been lacking in D's school.  We are not Christians, but Hindus.  If you know anything about Hinduism, you would know that there are a ton of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, two major epics and the Vedas.  I need to research and find materials suitable for D's age.

In general I would love for her to learn about the different religions.  I need to do a lot of prep work in this area.


I've been inspired by The Adventures of the Bear blog.  The art works she does with her daughter is amazing.  I love her idea of focusing on an artist per month.  Not only does this inspire creativity but also teaches art appreciation.  I would probably borrow a few books from the library on the artist and plan our work from there.

In addition to this I will also be doing some seasonal art/crafts and general drawing.  I love the book "Drawing with Children" by Mona Brooks.  I will be doing some of the activities from that book too depending on the mood.


Another on of my favourite area.  I've made Red rods and worked with D on this one.  I currently have the paint store samples for color box 3 (she is already well versed with color box 1 and 2), need to assemble this.  I need to make/buy the following:            

  • sound box
  • smelling bottle
  • tasting bottles
  • mystery bag
  • texture matching
I already have created a sensory box for D's exploration.  I had rainbow rice with some pouring/scooping tools previously.  I just changed that and added some rocks/marbles.  My inspiration for this comes from Counting Coconuts.  She is just amazingly creative and so organized!
Playdoh (store bought) is always available.  On most of the blogs I see home-made playdoh.  Is there a specific reason?  On the label our playdoh says that is non-toxic.  Just curious.

I am debating the purchase of the knobbed/knobless cylinders.  For the knobbed version, I've seen some smaller size ones, not sure whether to go with these or the full size pricey one.  I need to also buy the geometric solids.

Practical Life 

Other than the regular life activities and the stuff that she does, I want to focus on the following:
  • pouring, spooning, tonging, tweezing
  • buttoning, snap, zipper, belt buckle, lace shoes
  • peeling and slicing eggs  (she does this daily for snack)
  • make sandwich
  • helping with preparing vegetables/daily cooking
  • folding towels, matching socks
  • hammering, pulling out nails - we have the Ikea set for this one and it is her favorite
  • screws, nuts and bolts
  • lock and keys - another one of her favorites
  • cleaning windows
  • sweeping, dusting

Second Language

D had been learning Spanish at school.  This is has been one her best experiences at school.  She just loves learning new languages.  I need to find a nice program for her and learn along with her!  At this point I want to do this at least once a week.

Third Language

We speak "Tamil" at home other than English.  D speaks well in Tamil much to the delight of her grandparents back home.  I know to read and write very well in Tamil, so I will be teaching her some basics.  Mainly the alphabets, colors, numbers, months, seasons, tastes and plenty of silly songs!


We currently listen to a ton of Indian movie songs!  D loves these.  I am not that familiar with Western classics.  I would love to teach her both Indian as well as Western Classical music.  Just need figure out how!


Some of the other activities that we've already been doing that she enjoys are listed below.  I would be putting together some of these as well for variety and practice.

  • scissor/glue practice
  • sequencing
  • pattern blocks
  • what doesn't belong
  • pattern matching
  • picture matching using the magnifying glass
  • where things come from
  • months of the year, days of the week
  • calendar/seasons
  • traffic signs
  • using push pins to punch out a shape
  • sticker collage
  • lacing shapes
  • puzzles

Physical Activities

Lots of play outdoor depending on the weather or at the local kiddie play place.  D was doing ballet at school, so I need to find a place for her to continue that.  She also wants to do Ice Skating.  I don't want to have too many in a week, so she would have to pick between dance and Ice and Skating.  We would definitely continue her swimming classes in summer.

Whew! Just typing this out this long post has been so tiring!  I just wanted to list all that I had in mind, so that I pick and choose and plan the weekly/monthly activities from this.  Not sure if I have missed anything, but I think I have plenty to choose from.

Just a word of thanks to all the wonderful moms with the wonderful blogs.  You've totally inspired me.  If not for these I would have no clue where to start.  I can't even imagine how parents home-schooled kids before the internet era.  It would have been possible surely, but entirely difficult!  Lucky me!