Sunday, July 29, 2012

Little Musician

Since I've been focusing on Montessori, I haven't been on Brillkids for a while. This evening I was thinking about how to teach Nikki music, since I don't know the subject myself (scraping a pass in grade 1 violin while at primary school doesn't count!), when I discovered that Little Musician had been released!!!

I waited impatiently for months when they were beta testing, but the release didn't come and I got distracted learning all I could about Montessori. Today, I have downloaded the trial and am impatiently waiting until I can share it with Nikki in the morning!

It looks amazing - it seems to cover all areas of music theory, and is broken into bite-sized chunks designed to entertain preschoolers. The only thing I need to know is whether my little musician shows any interest!

You can read more and download a free trial from the Brillkids website. If you want to buy it, use this code: BKAFF49125 to get a 10% discount!

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Nikki is currently obsessed with violins. He needs one, he says. I made an offhanded comment that he should ask Grandma for a violin (she has my old ones from primary school) and he insisted on phoning her every day for a week until she told him that her violins were put away and he couldn't have one.

He ignored all my attempts to help him find a pretend violin, and was rather put out when I said that puzzle pieces and parts of his Brown Stair could not be used as one. Two minutes with Uncle Harry and his rubbish, free-with-a-magazine guitar (which he loves) and the lid from a biro were transformed into this:

I don't even know where he saw violins being played in the first place! I always said that I would make Nikki choose cello if he wanted to play a string instrument, because I know from experience how bad violin sounds when you start out. If this keeps up, I may have to give in and see if there are any Suzuki teachers in my area...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Apple Tree

Nicholas was eating an apple the other day and started asking about the seeds. He wanted to know what they were (apart from yucky, meaning inedible) and I told him that when the seeds are planted in the ground they grow into a new apple tree.

Since he was showing an interest, I decided that we would plant some seeds in one of my window pots. This is what we have now:

At the moment, he is quite fascinated. He is really amazed at how the bigger plant is changing and was excited when the smaller one popped up this morning. I was intending to buy him a plant for him to look after, but I think these little guys will be even better, since he has seen the process from seed to plant and is quite taken with them!

Linking up to Montessori Mondays 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Nicholas has taken to writing me letters. It is one of his favourite games at the moment - he takes a piece of paper, writes a single letter (usually an H, M, O or П), folds it up and puts it in my pocket.

Letter M (for Mummy)

I would enjoy this game more if he didn't need a new sheet of paper for every letter.  As you can see in the picture, I usually ask him to write me another letter on the paper he has already used with the hope that he might get the idea not to waste paper...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Our Montessori Space, Final Version

I have spent hours planning, re-designing and  re-organizing our Montessori Space. I have finally cleared and sorted out the extra shelving I had planned to use for materials and now have four defined 'stations' for our Montessori work. At the moment, these are each dedicated to one of what I see as 'core' subjects: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language and Maths. Later, I will have to make space for materials from other subjects.

Our Practical Life Station

Practical Life shelves

This unit is in my kitchen. I have dedicated the bottom four shelves to PL and art activities. Nicholas enjoys being able to peep through the handles of the trays to see what the activity is. The rest of the unit stores spare games and puzzles.

Our Language Station

Language shelves

This unit holds all our language activities, including pre-reading and pre-writing and Russian. Directly opposite these shelves is our reading station - a lovely wooden magazine rack which holds all the books I have out for daytime reading this week.

Reading station

Our Sensorial Station

Sensorial station

This area is dedicated to sensorial materials and puzzles. Depending on what is out, it can hold a lot of different activities.

Our Maths Station

Maths station

Our maths area is not the most easily accessible area, being that it is located under part of my desk... I often have to help Nicholas remove the activities until he is safe to stand up, but otherwise there is no problem. There is also a shelf ideal for storing one of out rugs.

Overall, I am surprised just how many different materials I can have set up at any one time without losing a whole lot of space - the language and PL shelves were already being used for Nikki's things, and the other two areas previously held books which I have managed to find a new home for.

Linking up to Montessori Mondays

Friday, July 6, 2012

Time To Clean...

My little nudist floor-sweeper

Nikki decided that rather than get his pyjamas on after his bath, he would sweep the floors. I can forgive him thinking that the mop-without-cloth would do the job, but sunglasses at 7pm when it has been raining all day?!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What's on our Trays

Here are the tray activities I've put together for this week. Normally, I'd have a few more Practical Life activities, but since I am in the process of re-organizing the PL shelves to be more Montessori-friendly and we are introducing lots of new Sensorial materials, I thought one might be enough. If not, I'll add more later in the week...

Sorting Fruit - with so many new things, I wanted to put in something familiar. Although he has mastered this as a whole hand activity, he hasn't seen it for a couple of weeks and still enjoys playing with the fruit.

Puzzles - I have put out a single 4-piece puzzle. I will probably add a second soon, but am rather fed up of picking up box-fulls of puzzle pieces so have limited the number to make it easy for Nikki to tidy away himself.

Sandpaper letters - our first three letters - Nikki is used to seeing capital letters in print (very un-Montessori) so it is taking him a while to learn that these lower-case cursive letters are the same as the ones he knows...

Sound balls - we haven't had these out for a while. Nikki was very excited to see them!

Bead chains - we are focusing on learning quantity. Nikki is great at counting, but hasn't 'got' that each number has a specific quantity. We're working on 1-4 with our numeral board, so this should reinforce what he's learning.

Our School Space

There is not a lot of space in our flat. Montessori materials need a lot of space. The compromise - Nikki will only ever have a few materials out at a time. The most space-consuming are the sensorial materials; I plan to keep them out until he masters the presentation and then swap them out for a while before adding the next presentation for that material.

At the moment, I have only converted half of the available Nikki-height shelves for our materials. I am slowly re-organizing my storage to clear up the other shelves, which will eventually hold materials for the subjects I will introduce later.

This is how I have transformed Nikki's 'corner' into our Montessori area:

Sensorial, Maths and Russian activities.
The tall bookshelf has taken the place of the play kitchen, which has moved around the corner for easier access. There is just about enough space to roll out a rug between the bookcase and the shelves, though Nikki generally doesn't. He is, of course, free to put his rug anywhere he pleases - as long as it isn't under my feet!

Sorting, Language, Maths and Puzzle activities.

 The books on top of the shelves are for our artist and composer of the month. I have also hung an art print in the hall at Nikki-height, which I'll change once or twice a month.

Tomorrow, I hope to finish the Practical Life/Art shelves in the kitchen...

Linking up to Montessori Mondays

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Nicholas has just got to the age where he is not only willing but also able to help me cook. Today, he really wanted to prepare the broccoli for our lunch. I wasn't sure that he would manage, but he insisted on trying.

He managed to saw off one head using a dinner knife, but soon acknowledged that it was too hard and settled for putting the cut broccoli in the pan for me.

He was much more successful peeling carrots. I watched him very closely with the sharp peeler, but he followed to my instructions to be safe and hold one end while peeling the other.

I did have to finish up the peeling and chopping, but he was very good at picking up every scrap of mess. He even cleaned his table for me!