Archive | July, 2012

Simple Summer Fun Pt. 2: Walk the Line, baby!

26 Jul

Here’s a very easy and fun gross motor activity that’s perfect for summer: walking along a line! Got the idea from Living Montessori Now.

In Montessori Casa classes, you will usually find an ellipse made of tape on the floor created for children to walk along. Here’s a good explanation at


Too bad they don’t make driveway rulers. Was a bit hard to draw a straight line over the protruding belly! I made a “beam” because Freestyle didn’t seem to be able to walk with one foot in front of the other so I thought this might be easier for her. 


I also drew some “hopping circles” on the driveway because Freestyle loves to jump! I showed her how to hop from one circle to another.


About 6″ apart worked best for Freestyle.



Pincer Grip Activity

19 Jul


Wooden Peg Pincer Grip Activity 

Age: 12 months + (Again, all children develop differently, so you can introduce this to your child earlier or later, depending on their readiness.)

Purpose: The pincer grip (the ability to use the thumb and index finger to grasp an object) is an important fine motor skill development. Activities that exercise the pincer grip prepare the child to hold a pencil (muscle development and control, coordination, purposeful movement). Dr. Montessori believed that exercising these muscles would prevent the child from becoming fatigued when he started to write.


Wooden clothes pegs

Container (large enough to hold about 10 pegs with a lip that is narrow enough for the peg to be clipped upon)



What to do:

1. Place the wooden clothes pegs into the container and put it on a tray. Have child bring the tray to the table (or workspace on the floor) when ready.

2. Pour out the pegs onto the right side of the tray (or the left, if child is left-handed).

3. Show your child how to use her thumb and index finger to squeeze open the clothes peg and then clip it onto the container lip.

4. When she has clipped all the pegs onto the container, she can unclip and put them into the container one at a time.


Vocabulary introduced/used: clothes peg, clip. 


Go further:

  • Use tongs and tweezers to transfer small objects from one bowl to another. Objects could include: pom poms, cotton balls, sugar cubes, beads, etc.

Things Which I Find Weird and/or Funny…

18 Jul

“I ain’t your Grammy…call me G-Dawg!”

Photo Credit


1. Grandmas who want to be nicknamed “G-Dawg,” “Glam-ma,” “Miami,” or “Salsa.” Don’t like those names? Don’t worry, just check out the The New Grandparents’ Name Book!


2. Those family stickers on the back windows of cars. We were in the car one day behind one of these cars and I said to Biker, “Honestly, I don’t think I could be good friends with anyone with those stickers.” Besides some of the reasons listed in the link, I’m not keen on the information that it gives out to complete strangers.


Photo Credit


(“Hmm, kids in the car? More likely to have portable DVD players, iPads/game consoles, etc.” OR, God forbid, a stranger coming up to your kid and, based on the info gleaned from the stickers, saying something like,

“Hi, Mommy and Daddy asked me to pick you up. I’m your Auntie Jane! No, we have to go now. Oh, your little brother has soccer and baby is with Mommy. But let’s hurry and get in the car because Mommy asked us to feed the dog and cat. What’s your dog’s name again? Jackson? I love that name! I have a dog too…”

Maybe I’m paranoid, but that’s the first thing I thought of when I first saw these family decals.


3. A gift “from the baby” to the older sibling. A friend just told me about this one. To help your first child adjust to having a new sibling, you give them a present and tell them that it’s from the baby. I guess I see the reasoning behind it (creating a positive association with the new kid on the block), but I laughed because we were thinking, wow, where did the baby get the gift and how did s/he get it in there AND have time and space to wrap it up before popping out?! 🙂


4. Push Presents…I only heard about this recently… Umm, I never got a push gift! Oh wait, does the baby count?


The Perfect Family Road Trip Soundtrack

12 Jul

Photo Credit


I love CBC Radio. It’s always interesting, intelligent, and relevant. All the shows are great, but I especially enjoy Metro Morning, Q with Jian Ghomeshi, The Debaters, Quirks and Quarks, Writers & Company, The Next Chapter, Under the Influence, Ontario Today, and the show that got me hooked on CBC years ago:


The Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean.

“The Vinyl Cafe is a radio show heard on CBC Radio in Canada, on selected public radio stations in the United States, on Sirius Satellite Radio channel 159, on Podcast, and liveonline. The show is written and hosted by Stuart McLean and features stories, essays and music (both live and recorded). 

The Vinyl Cafe stories are about Dave, owner of the second hand record store, and they are collected in books and on CD. The stories also feature Dave’s wife, Morley, their two children, Sam and Stephanie, and assorted friends and neighbours.

The motto of Dave’s store – and of the radio show – is “We May Not Be Big, But We’re Small”.

Vinyl Cafe website


One reason why listening to CBC with your children is great is that they put a high standard of language usage– speaking clearly, using appropriate language (less slang), employing a wider vocabulary than normal media outlets. There are no ads and no political leanings/corporate bias because it’s a public program. On the whole, they treat everyone with respect and sensitive topics are presented fairly but a warning is provided if the description is graphic or may contain triggers.

If you’re planning a road trip this summer with the family and are looking for something that you call all listen to, the Vinyl Cafe podcast is perfect! It’s entertaining and mixes funny stories (appropriate for all ages) and music (usually emerging Canadian artists), all hosted by Mr. McLean.


Stuart McLean, Storyteller Extrodinaire

Photo Credit


Stuart McLean is a very, very talented writer and storyteller and has a distinctive voice (affectionately parodied by CBC’s The Irrelevant Show!). Biker and I saw him at a live show and it was SO GOOD! You can hear the varying tones,  inflections, and dramatic pauses he employs while he tells the stories and engages the listener. This is great for kids to listen to, a good example of how to tell a story and public speaking– both important skills.

Listening activities are also great because of how much visual stimulation that we face everyday. Listening, instead of watching, allows children to develop their auditory skills, practice concentration (paying attention and following a storyline), use their imagination, and expand their vocabularies.


For families with teenagers, you can all enjoy Under the Influence, a show about the marketing world. Maybe get them to turn off their iPods for an episode so that you can all listen together and discuss. Media literacy is very important for adolescents and teenagers to learn because media influence is just so pervasive in our lives now. This show is always very interesting and gives you a mix of marketing history, strategies, and behind-the-ad stories.


Go to the show’s websites to download episodes. You can download the podcasts there or from iTunes. You can also get the Vinyl Cafe books and audiobooks from your library or bookstore or just listen to the Vinyl Cafe Stories show here.

5 Random Things

11 Jul
1. Freestyle was sick over the weekend and we decided to try a menthol rub on her neck and chest before she went to sleep. I starting singing “Soft Kitty” as a joke, but she loved it! She wanted me to sing it to her doll while I pretended to put the rub on! So after that, whenever we put it on her, she insisted on hearing “Soft Kitty!” (The menthol rub worked really well too!)
2. Lately, whenever I am singing to myself (which I do a lot, I now realize!), Freestyle will stop what she’s doing, looks at me, and says seriously, “No, Mommy. Stop…Stop.” Oh dear.
3. Whenever Biker and I hold hands in the front seat of the car while driving, Freestyle wags her finger and says, “Nooooo!” PDA police-in-training! 🙂
4. Whenever Biker makes an inappropriate comment (ranging from, “I feel like buying something from Best Buy” to jokingly (hmph) saying, “Thanks for cleaning up the kitchen, bathing Freestyle, and putting her to bed. I’m going for a nap!”), I’ve trained Freestyle to say to him, “Daddy, nooo! Nooo, Daddy!” Ha ha. Now she says this while wagging her finger! (Hmm, I do see a common theme emerging here… 🙂) It’s really, really cute.
5. Recently, I was babysitting a friend’s two children. We went for a walk to the park in the afternoon and one of the kids brought her doll along in a baby carrier. She put a blanket over the doll’s head because “it’s windy outside,” so you couldn’t see the doll, just the legs poking out. So there we were– me, Freestyle in the stroller, my friend’s son, my friend’s daughter and her baby doll in a baby carrier– walking through the lobby when I overhear an older woman say in what she believed to be sotto voce:“Look at this one, 4 kids and one on the way!” 


p.s. Not sure why the spacing/paragraphing is not working?

Introducing Water Transfer Activities

5 Jul

Materials: 2 containers, 1 turkey baster, 1 towel.


Water Transferring Activity for Toddlers 

Age: 18 months + (As always, all children are different- for this activity they do need to have the dexterity to squeeze the turkey baster. Sponge option for younger children below.)

Purpose: This is a fun activity for toddlers since it involves water! Working with water is a great sensory experience and is good exercise for their hand muscles and fine motor skills. It is a Practical Life exercise because it teaches children how to control the movement of water.



2 containers

Turkey baster



What to do:

1. Lay out the towel and fill one container with a few inches of water. Place the two containers and turkey baster on the towel.

2. Show your child how to hold the baster by the bulb and draw up water by squeezing it and releasing the pressure on the bulb.

3. Move the full baster over the second container and squeeze the water out.

4. Repeat!

Freestyle decided to turn this into a pouring exercise too!

Vocabulary introduced/used: squeeze, baster, bulb.


Go further:

  • For younger children (even as young as 6 months!), you can simply show them how to use a sponge to absorb water and squeeze it back out again.
  • When they’re ready, you can show them how to use the sponge to soak up the water from one container and squeeze it into another.
  • Once your child has mastered this activity, they can begin learning to control their movements using an eye dropper and smaller containers. Place the materials on a tray and include a small sponge for clean up.

Simple Summer Fun: Water Painting!

3 Jul

Water Painting

A bucket of water + a paintbrush + a surface + an enthusiastic toddler = simple summer fun! 

Perfect for you neat freak parents out there! 😉 All the fun, none of the mess!