Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Soap and Water Exercise

This is an ideal summer project for older infants and toddlers.

Material needed:
1. A whisk
2. Child-safe soap
3. A washbasin

What to do:
1. Set up the washbasin outside (or inside on a surface that can get wet) and fill it 2/3 full of water.
2. Invite your child to join you.
3. Put a few drops of soap into the washbasin.
4. Swish the water around with the whisk.
5. Ask your child if he or she would like to try.
6. Let your child whisk away!

After your child is finished with the exercise, the two of you can share cleanup. The reason to share cleanup is to create a joyful environment in which your child takes pride in his or her ability to keep the work area neat and tidy. You can create a special spot on a low shelf near a sink for the washbasin, soap, and whisk, so that your child can set it up at anytime. If the material will be used indoors, add a plastic cloth for the floor and a sponge for spills.

Visit our site for a formal Montessori curriculum for infants and toddlers to use at home.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wooden Vegetable-Themed Books for Infants and Toddlers

We found this wonderful book at a great price on Etsy and wanted to share it with everyone. Wooden books and materials are ideal for infants and toddlers who delight in handling, dropping, and biting material.

A seated infant or one lying on his or her stomach can play with the book as you read the words. He or she can touch the engraved vegetable pictures and letters as you say the words.

This beautiful wooden book is handmade by Just Hatched at Etsy.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Exercise for Infants Lying Down

Try to keep your infant in a ergonomically sound position at all times. Seated comfortably with his or her head supported in an infant carrier or car seat or lying on his or her back or stomach on a soft solid surface (rug or blanket).

When your infant is lying on his or her back, you can interact in a variety of ways as you talk to your infant.

For example, notice how your infant kicks his or her legs. As you talk to your infant. place your hands gentle in front of your infant's feet and play pat-a-cake with them. Your verbal interaction should include dialog in a regular voice (not high pitched or squeaky) with complete sentences or phrases. For example, you can sing the pat-a-cake rhyme or engage your infant with "right, left, right, left..." dialog as feet touch hands.

Next, lie next to your infant and kick your feet up to touch your hands, if you can (or go as close as possible). Use your right hand to touch your right foot, and so forth. Tell your infant what you are doing as you do it -- "I am touching my right foot, and now my left foot..." Or count as you make each movement.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Montessori Infant Environment Pics

Check out a neat blog from Australia: The Secret of Childhood

If you follow the links, there are some fabulous photos of infant environments and setups with great material.

Parenting While Distracted

A great article by Julie Scelfo in the New York Times, The Risks of Parenting While Plugged In

We have focused on this issue before, but it is so important that we keep posting new information. If you are interested in Montessori, it doesn't help to have the most up-to-date and beautiful equipment if you are absorbed by your phone or Blackberry while you spend time with your child.

Here is a snippet from the article:
"The boy, who Ms. Im estimates was about 2 1/2 years old, made repeated attempts to talk to his mother, but she wouldn’t look up from her BlackBerry. “He’s like: ‘Mama? Mama? Mama?’ ” Ms. Im recalled. “And then he starts tapping her leg. And she goes: ‘Just wait a second. Just wait a second.’ ”

Finally, he was so frustrated, Ms. Im said, that “he goes, ‘Ahhh!’ and tries to bite her leg.”

This is definitely one of those situations in which the parents has to realize that he or she was at fault!

If you absolutely must share work-time and child-time, think of guidelines that you can put into place and follow them stringently. Especially for those of you with children under three, your child must not feel as if he or she is competing with an electronic device for your attention.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Creating a Space for Toddlers at Home and in the Primary Classroom

A lot of Montessori Primary classrooms, which traditionally have children in the 2 1/2 or 3 years of age up to age 6, are admitting toddlers as young as 20 months of age.

Here are some tips from classroom teachers who have successfully completed the integration:

1. Create a separate toddler area because toddlers cannot handle having shelves full of tantalizing objects that they cannot yet use. A physical space, even if it is only demarcated by sets of low shelves, provides a contained area in which toddlers can have control of their own material and space. Try to use the corner of a room so that you have the benefit of two walls, one of which should have a window. Whether you are in a classroom or in your own home, create a toddler-safe area in which your toddler can touch and use all of the objects in the area. An entire room is best.

2. Put only a few items on the shelves per child at one time.

3. Use smaller floor mats that are easier to roll and unroll. If your Primary class mats are on the large and floppy side, stiffer smaller mats are a great benefit because toddlers can use them more effectively.

4. If you are trying to use Primary class equipment in the toddler area, pare down the sets before introducing them. For example, take only five Sandpaper letters for the introductory set or use only the first box of Spindle Boxes.

5. Supplement the area with DIY material for color matching, size grading, and sorting. Use material that is larger and easier to handle than traditional Primary class material. For example, create three boxes for red, blue, and yellow. Put five objects with those colors into the boxes, let children mix, match, and sort.

6. Start the day with a quiet active group activity like walking on the line, singing a song that involves clapping, or reading an interactive story. This helps children to focus themselves and adjust to indoor behavior naturally.

For those of you at home, your toddler's bedroom and the bathroom should be completely safe and set up for independent use with toddler-sized material and equipment.

Learn more in our Montessori album for Infants and Toddlers.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

For Very Young, Peril Lurks in Lithium Cell Batteries

Another timely article by Tara Parker-Pope, For Very Young, Peril Lurks in Lithium Cell Batteries discusses the dangers of "button batteries" that can easily be swallowed by young children.

A child's own belongings may be battery-safe, but if your toddler can pick up your remote or iPod docking (see below), he or she is in danger.

"...Two days after the battery was removed, Aidan began coughing blood, and soon died from his injuries.

To this day, Aidan’s parents don’t know where the battery came from. “This is something I would never want another parent to live with,” said Michelle Truett, Aidan’s mother. “I was oblivious as to how dangerous they were, and I want more people to know the danger.”

Such deaths are extremely rare. There were fewer than 10 documented during the last six years. But ingestion of lithium cell batteries, which children may mistake for candy and elderly adults for medication, is a surprisingly common problem, documented this week in two reports in the medical journal Pediatrics.

About 3,500 cases of button cell battery ingestion are reported annually to poison control centers. But while swallowing batteries has occurred for years, the development of larger, stronger lithium cell batteries has increased the risk of severe complications.

Data from the National Capital Poison Center in Washington found a sevenfold increase in severe complications from button cell ingestions in recent years. Moderate to severe cases have risen from less than a half percent (about a dozen cases per year) to about 3 percent (nearly 100 cases per year), based on a review of 56,000 cases since 1985.

...13-month-old Kaiden Vasquez of Bristow, Va., picked up the remote control to his parent’s iPod docking station. Somehow, he dislodged the battery and swallowed it. But his parents did not notice the missing battery when he began crying hysterically and could not be calmed. Emergency room doctors diagnosed a stomach flu, but a week later the child’s pediatrician took an X-ray and saw what he thought was a quarter. When the round item was removed, doctors discovered the battery and kept Kaiden for observation. The battery had burned a hole in his esophagus and trachea and he required a feeding tube and two months of home nursing care.

Kaiden, who will be 3 in July, has recovered, although severe reflux after the incident damaged his teeth. “I don’t allow any of those disc batteries into my home,” said Kaiden’s mother, Amy Vasquez, who has three other young children. “I never thought a remote would do so much damage to my child. "