Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Yarn Along - Baby Knit

I'm in love with this little sweater, The Boheme, which I knitted using Madeline Tosh in their "Fragrant" colorway. You can see my Rav. notes here.

This was my first time following a lace pattern and I found the challenge surprisingly enjoyable. I learned a couple of things about my knitting personality in the process of making this:
1) I need a pattern that's interesting - no straight garter or stockinette for me. Too monotonous.
2) I really do not like purling. That may or may have to do with the fact that I'm just really slow at it. :)

I did have a bit of trouble with the lacing portion at first (read: I had to rip out 14 rows of hard work!), but thanks to YouTube, I was able to figure out my error. There are still a few mistakes in the overall sweater, but if I can live with them I'm sure the baby can, too. :) Thanks also to Ginny for helping me modify the border - I opted for a garter finish instead of the picot written into the pattern.

I found myself really drawn to this project and I spent pretty much every free moment I had working on it. I did, however, find some time to thumb through a back issue of my favorite magazine, Living Crafts.

Hop on over to Ginny's Yarn Along to see what others are knitting and reading.

Oh and because several of you have sweetly asked to see...
~My (big) bump. 31 weeks... let the countdown begin!~

~Thank you for your comments!~

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mini Units

Once our little baby girl arrives in August, and until we are able to find our new rhythm as a family of 4, I've decided I'll be taking a break not just from blogging, but also from our usual way of schooling. So, I'm planning ahead and putting together some mini-units that will allow us to keep educating James, but with a bit more of an "on the go" style.

This page is a work in progress, and I'll be updating it throughout the summer as I post about new mini units. Here's what's currently available for viewing:

A few notes about our mini units:

These units, which are meant to last us a few months, are a bit of an eclectic union whereby workboxes meet Montessori. Two very different schools of thought, but I think the meld will work well for us temporarily. We won't need to be in the classroom to do these and they are very self-directed (meaning James won't need much guidance), but should he need help they are also very user-friendly (meaning daddy doesn't need special training in order to explain anything). :)

Each of our units is, for the most part, color-coordinated (the folders, the containers, the pens, the labels, etc.). I'd like to say this is to help James visually identify each unit and because it's a Montessori thing, but really it's just because I'm weird like that. I like things to match! :)

Within each unit I incorporated activities that address each of the following subjects: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, and Art. Certain themes opened themselves to a few Science related activities. I also made sure to include fun and sometimes theme related containers for added points of interest and fine motor practice.

After the baby arrives I'll place all of these units, in their bins, on the shelves in our classroom. James can choose any bin he'd like to work with, but there are two rules: he may not mix the bins and he needs to put everything back into the bin when he's finished working with it. In addition to the bins, he'll be welcome to use whatever other materials are out in the open in the classroom.

Each unit requires certain tools (i.e. pencils, scissors, etc.) and since I didn't want to purchase several of each item to go inside of each bin, I've created one "supply basket" that will remain on the shelf. James can visit this basket whenever he needs a tool for whatever project he's working on.

I purchased the clear snaptop bins here on the island, but I found them on the manufacture's website here.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Mini Unit - Candy

~an overview~

Here's a closer look at what's inside this unit:

Sensory Tub & Playdough (Sensorial/Practical Life/Math/Language). This sensory tub is just a mini version of our larger candy tub, and the playdough is chocolate scented. :) Yum!

Alphabet Beads (Practical Life {lacing}/Language {spelling}).

Worksheets (Language/Math/Art). Most of these printables came from 1+1+1=1's fantastic candy preschool pack. Other sheets came from I also found some chocolate scented stickers (Sensorial) and I printed out a recipe for Peanut Butter Fudge (Practical Life) for James and his daddy to make together. :)

Cutting Practice (Practical Life/Art). These cutting strips came from here and are unique to Montessori classrooms. I had been making my own strips, but ran across these recently and thought they were much better. There's an entire series of them which we'll gradually work our way through. I added the jelly bean stickers for an added point of interest. After James cuts these he'll put the pieces in the envelope provided.

Memory Game (Language/Sensorial). These were a part of the candy preschool pack I linked to above.

A mini gumball machine, just for fun! Also an excellent fine motor activity as James will need to press down the little yellow lever to extract the "gumballs" (wooden beads). The gumball machine was a gift; I'm afraid I don't know where it was purchased.

Sequencing (Math). I found these candy die cuts online and there are enough of them that we can work several patterns.

Less Than/More Than/Equal To (Math). I created these cards using words and symbols and gathered an equal amount of green, pink, and white buttons. We'll set up some scenarios and James will need to use the cards to finish the mathematical sentence.

Graphing Game (Math). I made this grid after seeing something similar somewhere else (can't recall where - sorry!) and used a plain wooden block to create a color die. James will roll the die and place the corresponding colored lollipop brad on the grid. He'll do this until one of the color sections is full.

Even/Odd (Math). These are homemade, too. I simply created some labels and blank number cards and then added puffy candy stickers to each card to make them more interesting and fun to work with.

Pouring (Practical Life). The red bumpy beads look a lot like candy and make a nice clinking sound when they move along the glass. I chose two small, identical lidded jars for this work so the beads stay contained with the unit's bin.

Candyland Game (Practical Life {taking turns}/Language).

That's it! I purchased (here on the island) several of these clear snap lid containers - they're perfect for these units. I labeled each bin and later (after the baby comes) I plan to place each bin on a shelf. James can choose any bin he'd like to work with, but there are two rules: he may not mix the bins and he needs to put everything back into the bin when he's finished working with it.

~Click the button below to view more of our mini units.~

~Thank you for your comments!~

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Personalized Guess Who? Game

I saw this fun idea on Mads Memories and knew it would be something James would enjoy. He's starting to get into games and, as I've mentioned before, I'm always trying to think of ways to keep him aware of our family since we live so far away from all of them.

We already had the Guess Who? game on hand and I have to admit it was getting a bit dusty. I think this is just the thing to renew some interest. And thankfully we have a large enough family for me to have pulled this project off (the people in the photo are just our immediate family... and 8 are missing!).

This wasn't as difficult to put together as some might think. Having already made our Family Nomenclature Cards, I had all of the images ready to go. I didn't even need to format them, I just chose the "fit to screen" and "contact sheet" option on my printer settings. I did need to spend some time in Picnik adding names to all the photos, and I had to cut out each individual photo, but it was all time well spent. I really think James will get a kick out of this.

I'm planning on keeping this as a surprise gift for him for when the baby arrives. :)

~Thank you for your comments!~

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Yarn Along - Baby Knit

Another knit for my sweet little girl. Oh my goodness I can't begin to convey just how much I love knitting for this little baby in my belly. I'm seriously addicted to knitting now more than ever and I can't stop myself from seeking out one adorable pattern after another! You can see my Rav. notes here.

This particular knit, The Country Kiddie, came together very quickly, which is a good thing unless you're a very hormonal pregnant woman who literally enjoys every stitch like it's a book that can't be put down. When it was all finished I actually missed working on it. Ha!

I love this project for two reasons: the colorway I chose was Lorna's Laces "Somerset", which was a lovely coincidence since that's the parish we live in here in Bermuda. The other reason is because much of this project was knitted while I sat on the beach, under an umbrella, alongside the bright blue ocean as my two sweeties played in the sand (yes, my husband enjoys the beach every bit as much as my 4 year old!). While I knitted, I thought of how perhaps someday this little sweater will warm my grandchild and how neat it is that the story of how it was made takes place on a beach in Bermuda. (Btw, pregnancy hormones -at least mine- lead to uncontrollable nostalgia.) :)

Oh and since I'm linking up to Ginny's Yarn Along, I should also mention what was being read alongside this knit. Every night before bed my husband reads a bit of poetry to the baby. She loves the sound of his voice and kicks away as he reads. It's a wonderful way for them to bond and for me to enjoy a book without reading it!

I have two other finished knits to share with you and I'll do that as soon as I photograph them.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Revisiting Summer 2010

The first day of summer is coming up and so I thought I'd compile a list of the fun things we did last summer. I'm hoping it'll act as a reminder to me to repeat some of these activities with James before the baby arrives!

~Thank you for your comments!~

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Spring Cleaning Giveaway WINNER

I have to be honest, when I thought of hosting this giveaway I seriously expected maybe 10 people to enter. I mean, I knew this was a giveaway I'd like to receive, but I wasn't sure how others felt about someone else's "leftovers". Ha! That said, I was so thrilled that 501 of you entered! Thank you not just for taking the time to stop by this week, but also for the kind comments many of you left in your entries. As always I wish I could offer something to each of you, but...

The winner of the Spring Cleaning Giveaway is:

Jess from The Preschool Experiment!

Congrats, Jess - please contact me at with your mailing address.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Island Scavanger Hunt

I saw this fun idea on The Creative Homemaker (via a friend's pin on Pinterest) and immediately set to work creating something similar for James. We won't be going on our hunt for another week or so, but I know it'll be a big hit. We recently went on a nature walk/hunt with our homeschooling group and James had a blast looking for and finding the items on the list.

Inside of the bag are a variety of things to assist us on our hunt:
:: A copy of our hunt list, adhered to the bag with temporary double stick tape.
:: A few small baggies - I'm sure you can buy these online somewhere, but I always just collect the ones that hold the extra buttons you get with clothing. Of course you could always use regular ziplocs, too.
:: A pair of child safe scissors for clipping - we always opt for items already on the ground, but in the event we need to further prune said items, these scissors will come in handy. I should note that I plan to have my Swiss Army knife handy as well (kept in my possession, obviously).
:: Connected to the bag is a pen on string for checking off the items we've found.
:: Magnifying glass
:: Empty containers - I purchased the white-capped containers here, but baby food or spice jars would work well, too.
:: Camera (for those items you can't/don't want to take with you).
:: Mini notepad to record thoughts or findings in more detail.
:: A drawstring bag to hold all of the kit items, making them easy to find among the natural goodies.

For folks that want to look, but not touch or remove items from their natural habitats, instead of a full-on kit may I suggest simply bringing along your list, a pen, and a disposable camera (or one you're comfortable having your child use).
For my fellow islanders, we're planning on going to Cooper's Island for our hunt as it has a beach and a nature reserve. I've made my list available to you here. (Of course anyone is welcome to use this, it's just that some of the items are very specific to Bermuda.) :)

PS: This colorful nature hunt is another fun activity we've done in the past.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Candy Sensory Tub

Want to make your kiddo smile from ear to ear? Make them a sensory tub filled with CANDY! (Pretend candy, that is!) :)

Oh my goodness, you'd think I'd given James the moon when I handed over this tub the other day - he explored it for, and I'm not exaggerating here, 45 minutes! And he's returned to it several times since then, too!

Here's what's inside:

:: Lots of pom-poms of various sizes, colors and textures. Some homemade, too!
:: Empty containers from real candy (found in various stores around the island).
:: Mini gumball machine filled with wooden beads (i.e. gumballs) - a fun gift from my bloggy friend, Susan (I *think* she found it at Target).
:: Stretchy worms (i.e gummy worms)
:: Small baggies (see far right side)
:: A purple scoop
:: Little tongs
:: Polka dotted beads (purchased from a local store, Daisy & Mac) - some I left as beads, others I turned into lollipops (see below).
:: Bumpy red beads (i.e. gum drops)
:: Teeny tiny fruit beads (i.e. Runts)
:: Red lacing string (i.e. licorice)

Another fun addition I thought of, but didn't have time to create, was Hershey kisses - you could wrap some tin foil into a little cone shape and, if you're super creative, make personalized tags for them.

I made these little lollipops using the polka dotted beads and some Q-tips. I simply stripped the cotton from the Q-tips and stuck them into the hole of the bead. These are, by far, James' FAVORITE thing in the tub!

I added some baggies and tongs to the tub to simulate what you'd do at an open bin candy store. James had fun collecting various candies and setting them aside to "buy later". :)

This has really been an "all in one" kind of tub. With it James has done lacing, scooping, tonging, pouring, sorting by color/item/shape/texture, counting, adding, subtracting, sharing, pretending, and even spelling (he likes to arrange the puffs into letter shapes and create words). I just love that he gets so much out of these tubs!

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!~


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