Friday, February 27, 2015

Toddler bed to floor bed room makeover

During our trip to Australia, my niece had a sleepover birthday party. One of the mattresses got left out after the girls all went home and Little Bean decided that he wanted to sleep there. My toddler was now sleeping on a Montessori-style floor bed. At least once a night, he woke up and didn't quite know where he was and climbed into my bed. But after a little cuddle and reassurance, I could easily put him back in his floor bed to sleep the rest of the night. Not too bad as far as transitions go.

Now that we're back at home, I thought that we should be consistent and bought a floor bed for his room. He'll quite happily stay there to sleep through the night. 

But what to do with his old toddler bed? I had some inspiration one day when he snuggled up with his Pillow Pets to read a book on his floor bed. I was going to transform his toddler bed into a book nook and activity centre. I moved his Pillow Pets and book basket into the bed, added a snuggly blanket to lay on and that was pretty much it for the book nook part. As for the activities, I decided to add a chalkboard and felt board to either end of the bed. I've been waiting for the shops to reopen after the Vietnamese New Year holidays so I can get some supplies to make the boards. I'll get to it in the next few days and write a separate post for that part of the makeover.

Here are the before and after pictures for his book nook. Little Bean has given it two thumbs up and has been spending lots of time in there.

 Here is his new floor bed. I've put foam matting around the edge as he rolls around in his sleep a lot and I'm a little worried that he'll roll right out of bed. Next to his bed is Big Bear's bed and nappy change mat. He really likes to take care of Big Bear. We change his nappy and clothes, give him bottles and play with him.

 Little Bean mostly eats at his wooden table. The chair is still a little low for him, so occasionally, he'll eat at his highchair style table if he's eating messy food like soup. His water bottle is kept on this table so he can get a drink anytime. He used to sit and read at this table too but now he usually goes to his book nook instead or brings a book to me and sits in my lap.

The window shelf with all his activity baskets and toys.

 He likes to choose his clothes now so I made this little area for dressing. We don't have a permanent chair here. We'll usually grab the one from his dining table or he'll sit on the step. I hang two choices of outfits up for him and there are usually two pairs of shoes in the red basket. At the moment we have a pair of sneakers with socks and a pair of sandals in there. There is a basket on the chest of drawers for bibs and wash clothes for wiping his face or cleaning up spills. I also added a washing basket to his room and he loves to go and put his dirty clothes in there after dressing. Anytime he uses a cloth or bib, he quickly heads to the washing basket with it. There's usually a spare bottle of water here too.

Right now, I'm sure there are Montessori purists looking at this TV in his bedroom and muttering under their breath. Originally, I wasn't going to have a TV in his room but he loves to dance along with his children's music DVDs like The Wiggles, Sesame Street and Play School. There just isn't enough space in my room for us to have a hearty dance and singalong, so we moved it to his room. It doesn't get TV reception, so it's only on for a little while each day for us to watch a DVD, sing, dance and exercise together. This week, we've also started to play percussion instruments along with the DVDs. Little Bean like to play the tambourine and maracas best. In the future, I plan to use it to watch short video clips and mini-documentaries related to the theme we're studying.


Animal theme activities - week 1

This is actually a post about what we started doing three weeks ago. Since our return from holidays in Australia, I just haven't found the time to post any new blogs. There has been crappy internet service, an intermittent access to Blogger and the hassle of trying to get Little Bean settled in at home again.  Then I sprained an ankle and got the sore throat from Hell; a totally miserable combination. Add to that, all the Vietnamese New Year holiday preparations, work functions, visitors and the required visits to family. Honestly, I am SO, SO over it. I can't wait for normality to be restored and for life to go back to our regular, slightly boring, but reassuringly familiar routine.

We're having a month-long theme of animals and the sounds they make. We're focusing mainly on the farm and household animals that he see sees regularly, as well as the most common African and jungle animals he sees on TV and in books.

Our journey began with lots of singing and dancing. Little Bean is a huge fan of The Wiggles and we have several of their DVDs. We've watched, sang to and danced along with lots of their songs about animals such as The Monkey Dance, Ponies, Uncle Noah's Ark and Captain Feathersword Fell Asleep on His Pirate Ship.  I have to tell you, I've been getting a pretty good workout dancing along with the DVDs. Who needs aerobics when you have a toddler who loves The Wiggles? We've also been watching New MacDonald's Farm and Play School DVDs.

We've been singing animal songs like Old MacDonald Had a Farm and Five Little Ducks using our plastic animals and bath tub duckies. Here is a copy of our free printable lyrics for Five Little Ducks

I bought some Kinetic Sand from Online Toys Australia at Christmas time and we finally got it out to make an animal sensory tub. It is really weird stuff. It's almost like it crawls along. I think it's kind of creepy. I put some small plastic African animals, spoons and small bowls in the tub along with 2kg of sand. Little Bean loves to go out to the balcony to play with it at least once or twice a day. I've been burying animals for him to find and helping him mould the sand with the bowls. But mostly, he loves scooping and pouring the sand.

I bought this Build-A-Garden set online from Modern Teaching Aids. This is one of my favourite online stores for Montessori and homeschool materials. The dowels are designed to fit into a base and the beads can be threaded on to make a garden with flowers and bugs. We're only using the dowels and bug beads at the moment for a smaller scale threading activity.

 We bought this push-along duck toy in Australia from our local pharmacy. Little Bean broke the duck's beak off five minutes after we got home. He loves the noise it makes.

Little Bean was given these cute ladybird and monster Pillow Pets by his aunties. He loves snuggling up on his new floor bed with them. I plan to put them in his old toddler bed and turn it into a reading nook. More on that project in my next post.

 I got these gorgeous Melissa & Doug jumbo knob puzzles from Modern Teaching Aids.
We've also been using the pieces for vocabulary practice, singing Old McDonald Had a Farm and imaginative play.

 Little Bean loves to throws things at the moment, so I'm trying to channel it by putting out this basket of soft balls. The four smaller balls are actually really dense pompoms I got from Kmart  in a pack for a few dollars.

 Little Bean's Daddy gave him this super snuggly teddy bear a few months ago and he's really taken to it. This month, Big Bear got his own bed, clothes, nappy and sippy cup. Little Bean has been resistant to sitting on the potty so I'm hoping that Big Bear can help us by swapping his nappy for training pants and going on the potty too.

Montessori Nature

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What we're reading this week

We're not swapping out our books weekly at the moment. Instead we're having a month-long theme of animals and the sounds they make. I never realised just how many animal books we had until I chose this theme. There were too many choices so I pared it down to books that included the most common animals that Little Bean would come across daily in the world around us - farm animals, Australian animals and zoo animals.

These are the books from Little Bean's reading corner basket.

These great little chunky books came in boxes that can be used as a pull-along toy. 
I bought the First words and Animal fun sets. 
We're only reading the Baby Animals book out of the First Words set.

I got this The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Little Learning Library  by Eric Carle from The Book Depository. It has little board books on colours, words, numbers and animal sounds. We're just using the animal sounds books this month.
The Tall book introduces the concepts of tall and small using jungle animals.

I got these cute fabric sensory books in an online Christmas sale for a few dollars each. Bargain. They're usually quite expensive.

 Little Bean's Nanna got him these books for Christmas. Lucky boy.

These are some books that Little Bean and I will be reading together throughout the month.

 I love these two books. Danny's Duck has such beautiful illustrations. Where's My Teddy? is a great way to reinforce the concepts of big and small. I use this book in my ESL (English as a Second Language) kids classes. Eric Carle books are also a common feature in my classes too.

These are four of the mini books that we got in a Penguin books - Sunday Times newspaper promotion in Australia. Each Sunday, you could redeem a coupon to get the books. I think the first book was free and then the remaining books were only $2 each. All the books were much loved children's favourites.

The Cocky's Circle Little Books range used to be found by the checkout in Australian supermarkets. I haven't seen them for a while so I'm not sure if they're still available. I picked up a heap of them from a charity shop. 
I love the Ladybird Phonics series. I used these with my older son little. OMG. That was nearly ten years ago. Oh, how time flies.

 One Woolly Wombat is a fun way to introduce Australian animals. I bought this in a pack of Australian kids books at Australia Post. They have lots of great cheap books.

 I am a HUGE Mem Fox fan. I own heaps of her books. Hattie and the Fox is great book featuring all our farmyard friends.

A colourfully illustrated book will all the jungle animals. It has big flaps that lift up or out to show larger scenes.