Wednesday, November 26, 2014

This week's discovery basket

This week's basket is all about interesting textures. I chose items that were smooth and shiny, smooth and dull, and varying degrees of roughness.

The basket contains two smooth shells, an engraved shell, a slightly rough wooden pestle, a wire sieve, a plastic juicer, a rainbow shower pouf, a plastic scrubbing brush, a bamboo placemat and a drink coaster made from carpet.

What we're doing this week

This week Little Bean got some Christmas presents early. I ordered them in Australia and didn't think they'd be delivered in time for Daddy to be able to bring them back to Vietnam. They arrived just in the nick of time and I couldn't wait for Christmas to check them out. I guess I'm going to have to do more shopping for something to put under the tree.

About a week ago, Little Bean started chewing on everything. It's actually worse now than when he was teething. I'm stumped as to a cause or a cure. Little Bean can only use anything made of cardboard or soft wood under strict adult supervision. So I can no longer leave his jigsaw puzzles or these new alphabet blocks on his Montessori shelf. I really, really hope he grows out of it soon.

I bought these Melissa & Doug alphabet blocks from the Parent Direct online store. They can be stacked or nested. I  only use every second block as it makes it easier for Little Bean to distinguish between the sizes.

This tent and tunnel combo was also bought from Parent Direct. Little Bean loves it. He actually started using this last week. I put his pretend bed in the tent and we had lots of snuggles in there. Unfortunately, he jumped on the tent and bent the plastic frame within the first few days. It's been packed away until Daddy has time to see if it can be repaired. He been using the tunnel flat-out. His room has a wooden floor, and from downstairs, it sounded like elephants stomping about when he was racing up and down the tunnel. I ended up buying some foam matting to go under it to help reduce the noise. I tied the tunnel down to the matting to stop it sliding around. I must admit that I've been having a ball racing alongside the tunnel while LB crawls through it. This racing game has given us the opportunity to practice the commands stop and go. Crawling through the tunnel myself is a bit of a tight squeeze but loads of fun that usually ends with us both laughing hysterically. We've also been rolling balls through the tunnel and playing peek-a-boo.

Another purchase from Parent Direct was this cute Melissa & Doug peek-a-boo barn. The doors make a cute clacking noise when opened and closed.

I made this chopstick threading activity. For instructions, go here.

We've kept the fine motor skills activities using the icy pole trays and ice cube trays from last week.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How to make a chopstick threading activity

I made this simple chopstick threading activity in a few minutes, but it's sure to keep Little Bean amused for much longer.

You will need:

A cylindrical container with a plastic lid, e.g. Pringles
5 chopsticks
A hole punch, craft knife or box cutter

Punch or cut holes in the plastic lid.
Fit lid to container.
Thread chopsticks through holes.

I originally planned to use plastic drinking straws for this. I ended up using chopsticks because LB is chewing on everything at the moment and I didn't think that straws would last very long.

I love this scrapbooking tool kit from Making Memories. It includes several hole punches and blades that are great for projects like this.

Monday, November 17, 2014

What we're doing this week

At the moment, I try to do at least an hour of structured activity time with Little Bean each day. Usually, we do more. Over the course of the day, we do several short sessions, and the length depends on his mood and interest level. Some days, 10 minutes is difficult and other days, an hour is easy. His structured activity time includes Montessori activities, reading books together, singing songs with actions and drawing. I also try to include him in daily practical life tasks such as passing me clothes pegs, sweeping the floor, wiping his table after eating and packing up after activities. More on that in a later blog.

This week, we have lots of new activities and toys. I am also introducing a more structured learning environment with activity baskets and a floor mat. I will encourage Little Bean to keep his Montessori activities confined to the floor mat and to pack them back into the basket and return them to his activity shelf when he's finished with them. I foresee that patience will be a virtue sorely needed while we adjust. Patience is not something that either of us has in abundance, so this will be a trial for us. I just need to remain consistent and we'll get through it. This floor mat has a non-slip rubber backing, which is perfect for his wooden floor. It's actually a thin cot mattress I bought from Con Cung baby store. Little Bean often likes to help himself to the activities and play independently, so for now, I will leave the mat out permanently so he can use it anytime. When he's older and is able to roll and unroll it himself, we'll put it away when we're not using it.
 Our sensory item this week is a cute floor mat. It's made of t-shirt fabric scraps. It is super soft and has an interesting texture. Little Bean was immediately a big fan. An awesome buy for a couple of dollars at the local markets.
This week we're revisiting jigsaw puzzles. When we tried previously, Little Bean was teething and just wanted to chew on the pieces. Hopefully we'll have better luck this time. We're using puzzles that have little pegs to hold on to. I didn't even manage to get them to his room or put them in baskets, before he woke up and decided he wanted to check out his new stuff immediately. He ended up sitting on my bedroom floor checking everything out.
 I have some soft drink bottle lids that Little Bean will place in the compartments of an ice cube tray. He quickly got the hang of this and repeated it several times before wandering off to check out the other new activities. Thanks to his "opening & closing" discovery basket, he can get the lid off and on the container easily.

Another fine motor skills activity this week involves an icy pole mould. Little Bean quickly learnt which way up to put the icy pole sticks in the holes, but is still working on getting the alignment right.

He decided that it might be fun to merge some activities and started putting bottle lids into the icy pole mould.
Little Bean is into pull-along toys at the moment. His crocodile pull-along toy doesn't get enough traction on his wooden floor, so I got him a pull-along train. It has three blocks that sit on the carriage. I think I might tie a longer string to it though so Little Bean can walk with it. The string it currently has is tiny and he can only pull it along if he crawls or scoots across the floor.

We are keeping his xylophone keyboard this week and adding some more musical instruments. His wooden xylophone is making a return and I added some metal cans and tins to use as drums.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Bath Time Fun

Little Bean loves to have a bath. There's no problem getting him into the bath, but getting him out can be a hassle. Luckily, we have lots of cool things to do to pass the time.

To help keep him safe, I bought him a bath seat. I got this one at Big W in Australia. It has suction cups on the bottom to stick it to the bathtub.

I love this bath thermometer from Canpol. It makes it super easy to get the bath water just right. I got this from Con Cung baby store in Ho Chi Minh City. They have lots of stores across Vietnam and have a delivery service that is free for purchases over 199,000 VND (AUD$10). The delivery fee is only 20,000 VND (AUD$1) for purchases under 199,000 VND.

We use this Aveeno bath soap for Little Bean. It is gentle on his skin and his eczema. They have a great range of bath and skin products that are suitable for eczema sufferers.

Little Bean has a lovely Nanna who has given him some great bath toys. She gave me these stick-on stars when he was born. They have suction cups on the bottom and they are textured on top. This made them great for putting on the bottom of his baby bath to sit on so he wouldn't slip. Now that he's older, he likes to stick them on the sides of the bath and the tile wall.

Nanna also gave him these stacking bath cups from Bruin. Little Beans can stack them or use them to scoop up water and watch it dribble through the holes in the bottom. The top cup has a water wheel in it.

This fabulous waterfall toy is from Nanna too. It's from Fisher & Price. You can stick the toys on to the wall in various orders, and pour water through the top. It's a great way to show Little Bean cause and effect. He really likes it when the lobster dumps the water out of the bucket.

These squeaky animal toys are so cute. We usually have a plastic jug in the bath and Little Bean likes to put these toys in and out of it. He also uses a large slotted spoon to scoop them out of the water. I'll add another step soon and get him to scoop them and then put them into the jug.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

What we're doing this week

Little Bean is still interested in our previous fine motor skill activities so we have been continuing those tasks. He's getting the hang of putting the lids on and off his milk cans and milk bottle. He hasn't had much progress with the snap on lids though. They're a tighter fit and may be too difficult for him at the moment. The zippers are a work in progress. He can move it a little way but not the whole length yet.

I have some flash cards on a ring that I use with my ESL (English as a Second Language) students. During a tutoring session last week, Little Bean decided that he liked them. He's been playing with them heaps this week, and occasionally chewing on them too. I really hope he stops chewing on everything soon.

At Little Bean's Gymboree class, they have a piano toy that he adores. He saw one in the baby shop last week and wouldn't leave without it. He can either play the keyboard or use the stick to strike the xylophone.

 We had some leftover foam alphabet mats from Little Bean's bed makeover that he has been playing with. He's good at pulling the letters out but getting them back is a bit harder. He can do the simpler letters like I and L, but needs help with ones that are trickier to line up.

 This beach ball was a free gift when we joined Gymboree. It's much lighter than his other balls so he can toss it quite far and high.
Little Bean loves playing with the clothes pegs when I hang out the washing. I peg some on to his t-shirt that he can pull off. I also peg some around the rim of the bowl. Sometimes we makes chains of them. But mostly, he loves just putting them in and out of the ball, especially this week.
This month, Little Bean has started to play make-believe. It's so cute. He'll climb into my bed, hug a pillow and pretend to sleep. Then he'll suddenly jump up, race to the next pillow and do it all again. In his room, he uses his old nappy change mat as a pretend bed. He has had this red pillow for ages but has never shown any interest in it until now. It's filled with tiny polystyrene beads and is super squishy and soft. He loves snuggling up with it when he pretends to sleep.

This week's discovery basket

This week's discovery basket was created by Little Bean. I bought some plastic tubs to store our growing collection of Montessori materials and craft supplies in. While I was tutoring my ESL (English as a Second Language) student, I let Little Bean play with the tubs. He climbed in them, made them scoot across the floor and generally had a great time. Then he wandered off to find stuff to put in them. Before long, he'd raided our recycling bin, the bookshelf, the laundry and the living room for objects of interest. He found toys, clothes pegs, coat hangers, bottles, boxes, comic books and heaps more. Whenever we're downstairs now, he heads straight for the tubs and pulls stuff out, puts in back in and finds more to add to it. I tied the tubs together so he can push and pull them around the floor like a train, which he loves to do.

I'll keep the opening and closing discovery basket in his bedroom for another week also. He is still showing interest in it and is getting the hang of getting the lids on and off his milk can sorting toys.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Little Bean's big boy bed

Little Bean loves to climb, almost as must as he loves to get his own way. When the two loves combine forces, trouble usually follows. As soon as Little Bean learned to climb, I turned his cot around so that the horizontal bars were against the wall. Last week, I found out that that wasn't enough. I put him in his cot while I was tidying up and he wanted out. Being as clever as he is, he propped his iPad against the side of his cot and used it as a step to climb out. What he didn't count on was the drop down the other side. I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and turned just in time to see him mid-somersault. I freaked. I found him laying on the floor having a little sook. I tried to keep him still while I checked him over, all whilst thinking the worst and hoping for the best. He quickly stopped crying and then got annoyed with me. He just wanted to go back to playing. I guess babies are tougher than they look.

This incident prompted me to get out the tools and immediately give his bed a makeover. I sawed the legs off, flush with the base. One side had a section that slid down to make it easier to lift your baby out. I removed the top section. I left the bottom section on as Little Bean rolls around in his sleep a lot. I often find him smooshed up against the side of the cot. He must like it because most of the time, if I move him away, he instantly moves back again.

I added some cute alphabet theme foam matting under the bed. Little Bean likes to play with the mats and take out the letters and put them back in. I had some leftover mats, so I taped them into a stack and put it next to the bed as a step for him.