Monday, September 30, 2013

We're Back!

Did you miss us? After our week in NJ, my husband and I went on vacation for a week in Cancun and left M with my mother-in-law.

We had an amazing time, and it was so great to get a break and recharge. Now that we're back and I have a little more time (and energy!), I thought I'd pull together some of the pictures from the past few weeks to show what M has been up to.

We had a lot of unstructured learning due to all the traveling, but that can lead to new experiences and lots of fun. Here are a few of the things we did:

Finding Patterns

M made patterns with sunglasses and headbands while we got ready one morning.

Sink or Float

During a trip to the Butterfly Gardens, M wanted to throw some different objects (leaves, twigs, rocks) into the water feature to see what would float downstream and what would sink. We also saw tons of different types of butterflies, and talked to one of the volunteer gardeners for a long time about the kinds of plants that attract butterflies. He even went off on a tangent and told us all about raising rabbits as pets!



I honestly don't remember what prompted this conversation (maybe it was simple seeing her shadow?), but M wanted to talk about what makes a shadow, how shadows move and why some shadows (like mine) were larger than others (like hers).

Pretend Play - Safari

My cousin bought some toys from a consignment store for M to play with while we were visiting (so smart!!). One of the toys was a set of Safari Animals. M had so much fun with these toys, and it prompted her to make up her own safari stories while we were out playing at the park. The see saw was her safari jeep, and she was looking all around the playground to spot elephants, lions, zebras and snakes.

Pretend Play - Vet

My mom got us a family membership to the Children's Museum for M's birthday (aren't memberships the best gifts ever??). The museum is right next to the library (that we clearly frequent), which is really convenient. We stopped by in the late afternoon after picking up some new library books, and M spent the entire time playing in the Teddy Bear Clinic. (Did I mention that she loves Doc McStuffins?)

Here are some pictures of one of her patients - she searched for the right items from her doctor's bag, checked the dog's eyes, nose and heartbeat, gave it some medicine, and clipped its nails.


Exploring Simple Machines

Ok, she didn't really know she was exploring simple machines. But I could literally see her mind working as she figured out how to use the wheel to control the conveyor belt to move the bones up the ramp and into Clifford's bowl. Eventually she'll learn what it's called, but for now it was pretty cool to see her exploring physics in her own way.

Matching Shapes

The Children's Museum had a neat activity in the Clifford exhibit that used shape puzzles to construct a sand castle. You couldn't see the shapes from the top of the sand castle pieces, so it took M a little while to figure out how it worked.

Exploring Light and Colors

Giant lite-brite at The Children's Museum

Sorting and Recycling

I Spy Matching

This neat I Spy Game was another consignment store find that my cousin bought for M.  Each puzzle piece matched with just one other piece. One side had words and corresponding pictures of the objects to find (which allowed M to complete the activity without much help), and the matching pieces had scenes with hidden objects. Lots of fun!

Learning about Babies

M was amazing with her baby cousin. She was intrigued by the baby, and wanted to help as much as she could. She would get clean diapers for a diaper change, help with the baby's laundry, watch the baby while she slept, and she even got to feed the baby a bottle when we babysat one afternoon! There was also a good bit of jealousy, especially when I was holding the baby, and that gave us the opportunity to talk about feelings.

Animals at the Zoo

We visited the Turtle Back Zoo while we were in NJ. We visit the Greenville Zoo all the time at home (we have an annual membership), but this zoo had different animals than M was used to seeing (including foxes, llamas, kangaroos, eagles, etc.). She even made the time for a little dance party outside the Reptile House.

Music Appreciation

We caught the end of a local outdoor concert while we were in NJ. M played with some other young kids, danced, and picked flowers while she listened to the band.

Pretend Play - Transportation and Restaurants

M has duplos at home, but had never played with Legos before our trip to NJ. Something about the miniature size was so fascinating to her. Together we built a helicopter and truck, and she assembled a house / restaurant with a grill for cooking hot dogs. She loved the tiny figures, and created all kinds of stories (most of which I couldn't follow.... but it all seemed very interesting!).

Exploring Airplanes

The Southeast Aviation Expo was in Greenville this past weekend, and we had a lot of fun looking at all of the airplanes on display. They also had booths set up with all kinds of information about airplanes, and M collected quite a few souvenirs, including three different airplanes (a squishy foam airplane, a foam glider, and a balsa wood plane). She thought it was so much fun to look at the different airplanes and she even got to climb into a few! We also had a blast trying out the two little glider planes when we got home - I was impressed with how well they actually flew!

Gross Motor Development

Practicing balancing


I was on the phone and left M in her playroom for a few minutes. When I returned, I found that she had taken the plastic cups and utensils we used for a tea party a few weeks ago and was making different patterns and designs on the floor. I was amazed - she's not usually interested in building with different materials, and yet she put together this design completely on her own. Things like this always remind me that I need to give her plenty of time and space to explore on her own!

As much as I love the themes we choose to "study" together, and the Montessori activities I create for M to explore, I also love to have those weeks when M has the opportunity to just be a kid. Aside from the travel, we didn't really plan anything during the past few weeks. It was nice to go with the flow, but I have to say I'm ready to get back to a little more structure and rhythm to our days. Not knowing what to expect can tire you out!

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