Friday, February 22, 2013

How it all started....

This should be at the beginning of the story? Yes, but I forgot. Better late than never!

What is "Enchanted Schoolroom" anyways? A magical place where wizards and warlocks learn about enchantment? Possibly. When the lights are not on, no one is looking, and no one is home. But in the muggle world?
It all started when we were making fairy garden in the backyard in planters.
Why a fairy garden? Because the preschool has a fairy club, just for girls, which of course, disqualifies my superheroes!! One day Superman came home, and told me, boys like pretty and sparkly stuff too (I think he was thinking about the fairy wings!). It's not fair. (I hope the fairy queen at the preschool is reading this blog, and taking notes!) So we decided to make our own little fairy garden, where fairies could rest their tired little wings if they wanted to.

We got our planters, potting soil, all the accessories for the boys, I mean gardening tools. 
One more trip to Home Depot, and we had ourselves trees, succulents, and some beautiful smelling vines and "stuff" that attracts humming birds and fairies. A trip to Michaels for elves (most of them did not survive Spidey), a planter that was just my cup of tea, shells and other sparkly things. Another trip to the local nursery (because it is not fair for only girls to be in the fairy club) and we had the most gorgeous moss as a ground cover. 
You don't see it in the pictures? That's because the moss only survived four months, and the pictures here were taken when the fairy garden was a year old. The poor moss was drowned in water by Spidey (because my garden needs lots of water, mom!) But anyhoo, I digress. I should have taken a picture when it was new and beautiful and all green! You snooze, you loose...

Fairies love natural things, you know. So we made a bathtub by hot gluing the shells (a big one for the tub, and two tiny ones as claws - you can spot it if you look real hard in one of the pictures), and some chairs for the fairies by hot gluing two flat sparkly stones, with four tiny stones at the bottom. And all this with only one blister on Batman. Of course, we were always on the lookout for pine cones, nice pieces of barks and twigs, and the perfect pebblesWe put in a cave (a blue ceramic pot turned on its side), a swimming pool (the blue saucer to match the pot), sparkly stones as pathways, shells here and there, and a fence (hot glue craft sticks), you get the picture…. 

I must say, many a fairy  probably had a lovely time puttering around the garden. It did look enchanting. 

We added in a needle felted toadstool house for, of course, the fairies, along with the elves and the occasional snail!  The boys did bring in the felted house indoors later.
We were in the process of adding in a swing from the tree, when Superman said, wouldn't it be super cool if our school looked like this? And we had caves, pools, swings....
We could call it the Enchanted Schoolroom (what can I say, we were reading the Faraway Tree and Enchanted Forest by Enid Blyton).   

The fairy garden a year later, having bravely suffered through the ministrations of the super-heroes!
Well, their preschool does look super cool, with nature trails, a shipwreck play structure, grassy slopes with playhouse, splash zone
So we decided that when we do "school stuff" at home, we are going to imagine our room is an an enchanted place, nestled in the hill, over looking a pool, with swings to climb and caves to explores, fairies, elves and other animals to play with, with wonderful adventures around every bend and corner - our very own Enchanted Schoolroom!!

I will update the pictures once I pretty up the garden for spring...
In the meanwhile, check out my  Fairy Garden Pinterest board for wonderful gardens, ideas and inspirations!

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Spread the Love - Valentine's Day Sensory Tub!

The kiddos, I mean, my Super-heroes, love playing with Sensory boxes!!

When I gave them the Valentine's day inspired box for this month, Batman gave me a hug, and told me, "boys love pretty stuff too! Thanks mom!" 
Yohoo, score one for Mom.
The box kept the two boys busy for more than an hour, on multiple days, without any fighting, which is ah-ma-zing!! So, score two!

Now back to the box. It is pretty and pink, mostly. I have tiny red and white pompoms, along with some big pink ones, some white beads to thread on a pipe cleaner, tiny jewel crystals (with no sharp edges), pink and white flowers liberated from their stem, tiny purple and pink flowers (that we made patterns with), heart shaped paper-mache boxes for those treasures, heart shaped pendants which acted as our treasure, pink sensory balls, heart shaped ramekins, scoops, tongs, pretty paper cupcake liners, empty cards along with their envelopes (sliding in the cards inside the envelope ever so carefully is a great motor activity for those little hands), and a purple mailbox for those valentine card deliveries! Have some sight words, or words that go with the theme? How about love or rose for silent "e", or red and pink for colors, and words like spoon, box, tong, gem, and compound words like cup-cake for the 5-6 year old crowd? Well, write them out in those pretty cards, and post it. I bet the kiddo reads it!

Batman and Spiderman made pretty sparkly cupcakes with tiny flowers as the icing, tonged the pompoms and the sensory balls, played catch with those balls, scooped the jewels, threaded the beads on the pipe cleaners, counted them, took some off, counted them again, sorted different things, and made patters, quite a few of which they came up on their own!

Other ideas would be pink Koolaid scented rice as a filler! Along with chocolate playdoh to complement it! 
And best of all, when they are done, you can either keep them in the big box, or package it in something smaller, store it, and forget about it till next year when you can amaze the kiddos again.

Why sensory play? You mean apart from the oh so pretty and fun and no fighting thing, and so many ideas it can be extended apart from free play?

Check out this link.
Why Sensory Play is Important for Preschoolers 

Speaking of love, how about this for a fun girlfriend gift, or even a teacher gift?

These were all scored from World Market. Tiny wine goblet for the tiny (or not so tiny) chocolate liquor bottles, supplemented with divine smelling rose petal soaps, some chocolate hearts, and some tea-light candles! All the right ingredients for the day - wine, flowers, chocolate and candle-light!!

Batman decided to put some of the rose petal soaps in the sensory box, because they smelled so good!

For more on sensory play, stay tuned for further updates, and take a peek at my Pinterest boards!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Montessori Grammar Farm With Legos

Spiderman and Batman looove Legos. So instead of a conventional farm, I decided to set up the Lego Duplo farm for grammar work! Inspired, if I do say so myself :)

To make it more interesting, the boys added some construction vehicles, some rocks and pebbles for the vehicles (of course), and some brown crinkle paper as dirt. They are nothing if not creative, especially when it comes to construction work!

As we already had the pebbles, I decided to throw in some felt pond and stream. And some felt grass for the cows!

Wait, why not add the chicken coop, or the Lego stables?

How about some Playmobil additions from the toy bin? More the merrier!

 I think I had more fun than the kids setting up the farm! 
We need to add some crops and a scarecrow next. 

Grammar Farm

Batman had a lot of fun labeling the nouns. He created his own labels for nouns he could spell, and that were not yet prepared by mom, like pond, duck, hay, fish, well ......
We talked about adjectives used to describe the nouns. Some of the adjectives are quite simple to spell as well, like red barn, green grass, fat pig etc, so he made those labels as well.

Spiderman contributed by telling me the beginning sounds of the words.

As Spiderman is not quite ready for the grammar work yet, we used the farm to some other good use. 

Extension ideas for the farm


  • Animals and their sounds
  • Animals and their babies (hen-chick, pig-piglet)
  • What goes with this animal activity: hen-egg, cow-milk, sheep-wool, dog-bone etc. I made up some more from the Playmobil additions: bird-nest, squirrels-acorns, fish-pond, leaf-tree, bunny-carrot etc.
  • We talked about what kind of animals live in the barn. In addition to the ones that came with the barn, Batman thought of mice and spiders.
  • What kind of animals might live in a tree? The Superheros came up with birds, squirrels, bugs. Batman mentioned in passing that a red-eyed tree frog might be in one, but only if the tree is in a rainforest. Hmm, another thread to explore!!
  •  What can we find around a pond/lake?
  • Batman came up with a mystery story of the missing duckling, solved by the crime fighting super-heros!
  •  Batman wanted to know if the hens are carnivores or herbivores? The answer is omnivore, as they eat seeds and small insects!
  •  This prompted a discussion about what the farm animals eat. Somehow, I remember some mention of organic in there...


How about some math at the farm?


  • We had tons of fun with counting, additions and subtractions - with the apples on the tree and basket, the ducklings in and out of the pond, the chicken and hen around the coop, the guinea pigs, the pebbles in the dump truck....
  • We came up with our own stories. Two ducklings waddled out of the pond,  how many were left?
  • Five apples were picked from the tree, how many still on the tree?
  • If six apples from the basket were used to bake an apple pie, how many are left?
  • Some scary stories like if a fox came and ate a few chicken, (I think Batman was thinking about the Henny Penny story!) how many were left?
  • Spiderman insisted the fox was friends with all the farm animals! 

The Montessori Grammar Farm does not have to be a farm.  It could be any small world play idea, like small sensory boxes, a dollhouse or a treehouse, a zoo, or even a Lego construction zone! 

These are some of the products you see in the post:

Linked up to:
Artsy Play Wednesday
Mom's Library
After School Link Up 
It's Playtime 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Miniatures for language work

I love doing language work with miniature objects, perhaps even more than the kids!

You can read more about using miniature objects here
Making Language Work More Exciting 

The boys use them for a variety of work, not just language:

  • Go together objects (what goes with this - great for pre-reading)
  • Category objects
  • Making compound words 
  • Rhyming objects

  • Use the objects in sensory boxes and bins
  • Alphabet object boxes (not just for the beginning sound, but middle and ending sounds as well) 
  • Grammar work with the farm
  • Singular Plural work
  • Pink, Blue and Green series work 

  • Noun object box (and other similar boxes for adjective, articles)
  • Use them in continent boxes
  • Math work (counting, addition, subtraction)
  • Sorting work (like magnetic and non-magnetic, living and non-living, sink or float)
The possibilities are endless!! Do leave me a comment if you have found more uses for them.

I will follow up with posts and pictures soon.

Great places for scoring miniature objects: Tubes like the Safari ToobsHobby LobbyFactory Direct Craft, Michaels, Dollar Store, stores that sell doll-house miniatures, Etsy stores like HighPie, toy bins at home (you will be surprised at how much you have at home already)!

Find more about where to get miniature objects at my Pinterest board Language Arts