Monday, April 25, 2011

Speaking In Tongues

I wanted to share with all of you something really neat that's going on with James.

Lately he has really been into numbers and foreign languages. Or more specifically, he's really into counting in foreign languages.

The other day, he took out some number flashcards (1-25), lined them up and then invented a game called "number store". I'd ask him for a card in one of the languages he knows (for example I'd say, "May I have "deux" please?") and he'd bring me the #2 card.

We carried on like this, alternating languages, until all the cards were "purchased". Whenever he gave me a card, I'd give him a marble in exchange.

I was surprised to see he could translate the languages so quickly in his mind - going from English to Chinese to Spanish to French to German. Often times I had to pause and quickly assess in my mind if he was correct or not before accepting the card!

I must stress that this interest in languages is ALL James. His interest, his desire, his sensitive period. As always, my husband and I simply provide the materials and if he likes something - great. If not, that's totally fine, too.

As to how he came to know these languages, a couple of years ago we purchased a Mandarin language DVD called Muzzy (this series is available in other languages, too). James really enjoyed it and has since learned how to count and say a few basic phrases in Chinese. Thanks to Sesame Street, he's also learned a bit of Spanish. My husband knows some French and I took 6 years of German in HS, so he's gotten a taste of those languages through us. But it still isn't enough for him. He recently asked, "What other languages are there?"

We turned to the internet and found some great language videos on Youtube (just visit YT and type in whatever language you're looking for - you'll see lots of option pop up). We'll be learning some Latin and Italian next and I hope we give his Italian grandma a smile this Christmas.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fingerprint Friends

James and I had a blast with this activity. It's so simple and fun!

We used this stamp pad, some markers and a pad of paper to create page after page of little fingerprint folks.

James thought it was a real hoot that we could turn the prints into things and especially liked the kitty-cats we made.

After our fingertips were covered in ink, James decided to take it up a notch...


I found this idea on one of my favorite blogs, 5 Orange Potatoes. Be sure to check out the link for a fun book recommendation and other fingerprint art links.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blossoming Branches

I just love seeing all the blossoms popping out around the island. Such a beautiful sign of warmth and growth. I wanted to bring a little of this into our home so James and I made a simple and very pretty "tree" for our classroom.

First we collected some fallen branches from our backyard. Next we painted spots of glue on the branches and then gently wrapped and pinched pink tissue paper around the glue. That was it! Easy-peasy and the results are lovely.While we decorated the tree, James and I talked casually about why trees blossom and the different kinds of things that come from blossoms. Later we went out on the nearby nature reserve and looked at all the different blossoming trees we could find. :)

~Thank you for your comments!~

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

PDFs for April Poem & Songs

Click here to download our April poem used in our poetry basket.

Click here to download the springtime songs we're singing during our circle time this month.

I formatted these documents, but found the text on CanTeach. As with all of my printables, please do not sell or offer them in giveaways. Thank you!

~Thank you for your comments!~

Monday, April 18, 2011

April Poetry Basket

This month's poetry basket is about Spring. I just love the poem and I was excited to be able to find lots of tactile elements to accompany it. (Whoops! I see I forgot to photograph the snake.)

These baskets have been a huge hit in our classroom. It gives me such joy to see James take an interest in poetry, something I've secretly loved for a long time.

To see more of our poetry baskets, click here. To learn more about the inspiration behind our baskets, click here. I've shared links to download this poem and the songs we're singing this month here.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ladybug Math

To go along with our Spring theme this month, I made a batch of math ladybugs for James. I saw this idea on KidsSoup.

I think they're super cute! The little dots on the wings add up to the number shown on the white spot beneath them.

They were easy enough to make, just a bit tedious because of how many there are. But, as with all the materials I take the time to create, I just think about how they'll be used not just by James, but his sibling(s), too. Plus, I'm really all about making learning fun - and what's not fun about interactive ladybugs?! :)

~Thank you for your comments!~

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pirate Paaaarty!

Normally, we keep things really laid back for all of our birthdays - just lunch or dinner with family and friends, a few gifts, and of course some cake. :) This year, though, for the first time in his life, James decided he wanted a party. And not just any party, but a PIRATE party! The planning freak in me was so excited and, thanks to A LOT of wonderful input from all of you, the party went off without a hitch!

For the invites, I decided to go the e-vite route. Quick and easy and they had a pirate themed template, too! This was my message:
Yo ho ho and all that fun!
We'll be havin' a pirate pizza paaarty and we hope ye can come! Arrive if ye dare for a few hours of pleasure - we'll be playin' games, eatin' treats, and huntin' for treasure! Send ye replies by April the 3rd. Regrets risk walkin' the plank!

For the music, I uploaded some pirate music (from iTunes) onto my iPod - I chose songs from this album and this album. (Thanks, J, for the suggestion!!)

For the decorations, I kept it simple - balloons from the dollar store and homemade bunting from here.

Here are some photos from the big day...
As the guests arrived, the little pirates visited this table to "suit up" pirate style with a hat, a sash (just strips of extra material I had on hand), some tattoos, and necklaces. I was going to make eyepatches, but decided against it (didn't think it was a great idea to have sugar filled kids running around with one eye!).

Here's my little pirate all dressed up and displaying his "angry pirate face"!

This little cutie made a fashion statement with the sash!

I opted not to do games (some of our crew was just a bit too young for them), so we did some crafts instead.

I ordered these little treasure chests from here and the kids had a ball decorating them with paint and sequins. They also made necklaces out of beads and colored pasta.

For lunch we had pizza, green salad, fruit salad, and some Pirate's Booty (yes, it's actually called this!). :)

The absolute highlight of the party was this amazing, delicious strawberry chocolate cake! My sweet friend, Ann, put a lot of time and love into making this. (Thank you again, Ann!!) I just love the blue paper (think water) and the gummy sharks swimming around on it. We made the sails out of paper and skewers.

Blowing out the candles!

It was Ann's clever idea to have the candles sticking out of the side of the ship like cannons!

After cake, the kids went on a treasure hunt to find their goody bags...
I made the goody bags out of bandannas. I was able to cut two bags per bandanna and then I just hand stitched them up the sides and used a bit of yarn to tie them. I made the name tags in Word. What was the loot? Some stickers, pencils, these crayons, a small package of Goldfish Crackers, some gold chocolate coins, some pirate band-aids, and some more tattoos.

In between all of this, the kids had a blast swinging and jumping around in the bouncy castle.

All in all, it was a fun filled day and one I hope James will remember!

Here are some of piratey links that inspired me:
Growing Up Our Style - this was my go to post! I copied so many of these ideas!
Katherine Marie Photography
Family Fun
Sheek Shindigs
These crayons would have been fun for the goody bag, too!
The Attached Mama
The many comments from you lovely people!

And to get us in the spirit of the party, I made this pirate sensory tub. :)

~Thank you for your comments!~

Monday, April 11, 2011

My 4 Year Old!

I can't believe my baby has turned 4 years old today... where did the time go?!

We love you, little man! Happy birthday!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pirate Sensory Tub

James' birthday is coming up and he's requested a pirate themed party (I'll be sure to share those details next week), so I thought I'd make a pirate sensory tub for him, too. Arrrr and what a lot of fun it's been, maties!!

Here's what's inside:
:: Black beans
:: Mardi Gras necklaces
:: Colored flat marbles
:: Pirate figurines
:: Silver shovel
:: A velvet bag of various gem stones
:: Small (fake) crystal beads
:: A treasure box
:: Plastic coins and gems
:: A few of my old rings
:: Skull patch

And buried under the beans is a skeleton (from our Halloween tub), a few real gold Bermuda dollar coins, and an "X".

I also created a treasure map out of a brown paper bag (I had WAY too much fun making this, btw). James will need to hunt and find the treasures. :)

Click the button below to see a full list of my sensory tubs or click here to view my slideshow on the Counting Coconuts Facebook page.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Montessori Print Shop Giveaway WINNER

Can I just say I was totally blown away by how many of you entered this giveaway?! Thanks so much for coming back each day and for your kind words and thoughtful comments. I read each and every one (all 1,215!) and I'm thrilled to know all of you are dedicated to teaching children. I truly wish I could pass these CDs on to each of you!

The winner of the 2-disc deluxe CD Rom collection from Montessori Print Shop is...

Kelli, of Life Flying By

Kelli is a mom of 2 and has recently started a homeschool co-op group with several other moms and kids. Congratulations, Kelli!! Please contact me at countingcoconuts1(at)gmail(dot)com with your shipping details.

Many thanks to Jennifer, at Montessori Print Shop, for giving away such a wonderful gift! Please be sure to visit MPS for tons of amazing resources. And to those who didn't win this giveaway, don't fret - you have yet another chance to win! Pop over to Living Montessori Now where my friend, Deb, is running the SAME giveaway!

Friday, April 8, 2011

It's a...


SO many of you guessed a girl and I just love that James knew it all along, too. :) My husband and I are overjoyed, and not just because we were both longing for a little girl, but because all went well during the scan and the baby appears to be perfectly healthy. Here's a photo of our little babe...We had our scan early this morning, but didn't find out the gender until this evening because we wanted it to be a private thing. Here's what we did: instead of having the ultrasound technician tell us the gender during the scan, we prepared a piece of paper in advance that read:
"I am going to have a baby______!" The tech was to write in "sister" or "brother". Eight (loooong) hours later, when my husband got home from work, James opened the envelope and read the completed sentence to us. It was such a special moment and one, thanks to our video camera, we'll never forget.

Oh happy day! Off to shop for pink things now!

PS: We've had a name chosen for a while now, but we'll be keeping it a secret until she's born. :)

~Thank you for your comments!~

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Is It a Boy or a Girl??

Another pair of mama made booties. I sewed them by hand and they're completely reversible, which is what I love most about them! You can find the pattern here.

Tomorrow is my 20 week ultrasound scan and we'll be finding out the gender of our Little B! I cannot express just how excited I am! To tide me over, I wonder if any of you want to wager a little guess - boy or girl? Here are a few details you may consider...

:: Baby is due August 22nd.
:: I'm feeling so much better now, but I had "morning" sickness for the first 18 weeks (it was the same with James).
:: I truly have no deep sense of whether it's a boy or a girl. I had two dreams of a girl very early on in my pregnancy, but since then I just see a sweet little bald baby in my dreams.
:: The thought of meat or fish repulses me, but I crave sweets (like candy - NOT ice cream), pickles (I know, how cliche), and pizza.
:: I seem to be carrying "high" in my abdomen.
:: The baby moves around most in early morning and late afternoon.

Oh and remember James' prediction of it being a girl? Well now he's saying there's a girl AND a boy in my tummy! (FYI, there is most definitely only ONE baby in there!)

So what do you think? Humor a pregnant mama and share your guesses with me - I'd love to hear them! I'll share the results with you tomorrow!

~Thank you for your comments!~

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

On Our Shelves - April

Our theme for this month is Spring! I was going to go with an Easter theme, like we did last year, but I wanted something that encompassed all of the lovely things that happen this time of year!

Practical Life
Flower arranging. This is a classic Montessori work. I wish we could use real flowers, but our two kitties would surely eat them (and then throw them up later. Yucko.).

Transferring eggs. I just love those eggs - they're so soft and colorful. I made them last year using the wet felting method. Easy and fun to do with kids!

Flipping Bean Bags. To do this work, James will space out each bag on a table top and then, using the spatula, flip over each bag. This is a great activity that focuses on wrist control. I saw this idea on The Wonder Years ages ago and it has finally made it onto our shelves. I made the bean bags quite a while ago and have been surprised at how well they've held up.

Wood Polishing. James so enjoyed our wood polishing activity from February that I thought he might like this version of it. I found these small wooden crosses at Michael's.

Planting Lavender. This will be an outdoor activity since it involves dirt and water. :) What you're looking at are just the dry elements - the dirt and watering will be added once we're outside. I'm hoping to post about this later on in the month.

Open & Close Basket. This is a bit different than usual in that I've included lots of the same container and James will add the "surprise" (little critters) to them. I remember last Easter James couldn't get enough of these eggs. Hoping he enjoys them just as much this year.

Tweezing Flowers. A great fine motor activity whereby James will tweeze and transfer the little flowers into and out of the ice cube tray.

Still on our shelves (and still very much used): Dressing Basket.

Spring Sensory Tub. I won't bother posting about our playdough as it's identical to last year's. :)

Coloring Geometric Patterns. This printable comes from Montessori Print Shop (NOT abcteach, as I originally wrote - sorry for any confusion!).

Butterfly Matching. I purchased these cards at our local teacher's supply store.

Geo Board. James loves this!

Still on our shelves: Knobbed & Knobless Cylinders.

Alphabet Eggs. These are also from last year. James has long known the alphabet and letter sounds, so I'm curious to see what he'll do with these. It may be that they get totally ignored, but I wanted to give them a fair shot since I took all that time to make them. :)

Books. I really just grabbed a hodgepodge of titles that related in some form or fashion to spring/gardening/growth/birthdays, etc.:
Polka Bats & Octopus Slacks by Calef Brown
Welcome to Sunny Patch by David Kirk
The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies by Beatrix Potter
Arthur's Birthday by Marc Brown
Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Mother Earth and Her Children by Sibylle Von Olfers
The Flower's Festival by Elsa Beskow
The Story of the Butterfly Children by Sibylle Von Olfers
Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
Grover's 10 Terrific Ways to Help Our Wonderful Earth by Anna Ross
The Seasons: Spring by Nuria Roca
Pelle's New Suit by Elsa Beskow

Tracing. A variety of worksheets from abcteach. I won (in a giveaway) that beautiful pencil case you see. It was handmade by the owner of this sweet Etsy shop.

Poetry Basket coming soon.

Butterfly Reader. James continues to read anything and everything and I believe he'll enjoy learning about butterflies in this booklet. This is just one of the goodies I found on Montessori Print Shop's deluxe CD-Rom (click here to enter my giveaway - hurry, it ends Friday, April 8th!). You can also purchase it separately here.

Still on our shelves: Green Language Series.

Counting Eggs. Another revival from last year and I suspect James will simply lay them out and name them off. James is REALLY into counting numbers in various languages. Don't ask how or why, it's just something he took upon himself and he's really amazing us with it. He can count to 10 (sometimes 20) in English, Spanish, French, German, and Chinese. Yesterday he asked me, "What other languages are there?", so we're starting to learn Italian now. :)

Skip Counting. James has skip counting by 2's down pat, so we're moving onto counting by 5's. This is just a simple activity I created using paper eggs (I cut them from a garland), egg cups (the kind you get with an egg dying kit), and popsicle sticks with little foam circles glued at the tops.

Spindle Box. And oldie but goodie. :) I like to rotate our materials and this particular one hasn't been on our shelves for a long while.

Still on our shelves: Number Rods, and Sandpaper Numerals.

Science & Culture
Three Part Flower Cards. Another lovely material from Montessori Print Shop.

Where Does It Come From? Cards. Also from MPS. I think James is really going to enjoy this work because he's forever asking me where does such and such a thing come from, what does it do, what's inside, etc.

We'll be doing some outdoor learning this month when we explore the nature reserve behind our house. We'll take samples and look them up online, we'll smell and perhaps taste some things, and then "document" our findings ala Sid the Science Kid. :)

Still on our shelves: Weather Discovery Tray (too much of a favorite to put away!), Family Nomenclature Cards, and aspects from our South America Continent Bag.

Art & Music
Composer of the Month: Debussy. Something about Claire de Lune just sings Spring to me!

Scissor Practice. I placed tiny Spring themed stickers on plain white strips of paper. James will need to cut in between the stickers. He did well with this the last time it was on our shelves, but extra practice never hurts!

Flower Rubbing. This silk flower (cut from a lei), showed up surprisingly well during my test run. I provided several sheets of paper for James since I know he'll end up rubbing the flower a couple of times and then switch to abstract drawing (LOVE his creations!).

Stamping. In the past I've given James just one stamp/stamp pad. I'm not sure why I did that, so this time I've provided lots of Spring themed stamps and a multicolored stamp pad from Melissa & Doug.

Cookie Cutter Painting. Lots of Spring themed cutters + lots of paint = lots of messy fun!

No art basket this month, but I do have a few crafty ideas in mind like this one. Oh and of course we'll do some of our family tradition Easter egg decorating, too!

Still on our shelves: Instrument Nomenclature Cards.

PS: Our calendar is full of balloons in honor of one special little boy's upcoming birthday! Happy Spring, everyone!

~Thank you for your comments!~


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