June has come around very quickly for me! We've not been the healthiest during May, so I'm hoping we're back to busier days again and better thought out shelves to inspire my little one Floss.
Stacking, sorting and puzzles are still featuring very heavily as Floss's main interests currently. Her language skills continue to be moving on in leaps and bounds and each day new words are being used more and more. The current favourites are purple, blue, bunny and happy.
I love seeing her face light up when she comes downstairs after a toy rotation and the excitement of trying to decide what to explore first.
So, what's on our shelf and why?
Well the Grimms Natural Bowls and Rainbow are still out. These get used so frequently in so many ways. The bowls are mainly used to transport other items and for stacking inside of each other and the rainbows are used as slides for her toys with a 'weeeeeee' after they go!
Floss is only 20 months, but she is very aware of how others are feeling and this has a direct impact upon how she feels. On a recent trip to the hospital with her she'd been really happy walking down to the ward. As we got closer a little boy came out of the ward very upset. Floss stopped and as he walked past turned around to carry on watching the boy. She would not carry on walking. She was pointing towards the little boy with a look of serious concern on her face. The boy and his parents had stopped a bit further down the corridor and as the boy got more upset Floss began to have tears rolling down her face. I tried to explain that the boy was with his Mummy and Daddy and although he was upset, they would look after him and help him feel better. Nothing changed. It wasn't until the boy's Mum and Dad noticed how upset Floss was, and told the little boy that he began to calm down and so did she. The little boy walked away calmer and I gave Floss a big hug, yet 5 minutes later you could still tell that she'd been quite deeply affected by how the little boy was feeling. This is just one example, but there have been lots more. So, I decided to look for resources that I thought might help her to understand how people express emotions and that it's OK to have these feelings and help her learn how to cope with them.
The Hape Eggs have been a huge hit. She's really enjoyed having a go at making some of the faces and as I said earlier she's been using the word happy and smiling. The baby faces book is great as it has drawn faces that when you lift a flap show a real baby picture with that emotion. Floss's favourite is definitely surprised in this book and it's been really lovely to watch her do a surprised face!
We've used some homemade gluten free play dough to make different faces too. I'm hoping that by showing her different expressions and talking more about emotions that this may help her with her daily interactions with others. I don't think it will stop her from getting upset just yet, I think there is a lot of empathy in her, but I hope in time it will give her a vocabulary to be able to talk about these experiences.
Oh these are just LOVELY; they're the gorgeous Ocamora Teniques Stacking Game handmade in Spain. I've also added the Grimms Limited Edition Gem as they went so well together. These have given hours of fun, not just for Floss, but the whole family. They are so addictive. They are designed as a mindfulness game where you try and stack each of the beautiful wooden gems on top of each other. I haven't managed to complete it yet. Floss's Uncle T thought he'd made it and got very excited, until I asked about the one Floss had got in her hand - hehe! They're the perfect size for little hands and suitable from birth.
I'd found the puzzles we'd had in rotation, large chunky ones and ones with big pegs, had been a good level of challenge for Floss. Then, overnight, something must have clicked and the usual 10 minute plus challenge turned into a 30 seconds done. She's been really into bunnies and starting to show an interest in size, so after a little research I found a Hape George Luck Bunny puzzle. The level of challenge is spot on right now. She enjoys taking each of the bunnies out and trying to put them back in. It's trickier than the puzzles she's been used too as the designs are more intricate. She understands that the smaller bunnies need to go in first, but not yet able to do all 5 in order. It's a great language opportunity for size vocabulary and Floss has enjoyed ordering the bunnies by size outside of the puzzle case and also naming the colours as she goes.
Floss is still very much interested in colours. When we first started to do some colour matching activities it was all focused on putting the same colour with another one the same. Her play has very much moved forward and I love activities like this that clearly show you how your little one is learning. The focus of the activity is very much on the naming of the objects and colours that she is using in the matching process. You can also see her questioning shades of a colour now too. For example, if she shows me a colour and I say it's green then she holds up another green object that is much lighter in tone and I say green she has a questioning look on her face. Using light and dark before a colour seems to help, but I've started to use other words such as cornflower blue or sky blue and she seems much happier with this. It's funny how you think that you'll be complicating things by using too much language, yet actually I seemed to be confusing her more by using too little. Just because the language she verbalises at the moment is simple doesn't mean that simple language is what she needs to hear. Generally, I don't modify the way I speak and the words I use when I talk to Floss, yet here I had been doing exactly that. A language rich environment helps her to make sense of the world around her better, making connections and exploring new concepts. It was a very good reminder for me.
The flash cards are a brand called Miles kelly, super thick and sturdy. the cog puzzle is a Melissa and Doug and the balls are by Infantino Baby. If there's anything else you see that I haven't said where it's from them please get in touch.
Ocean Theme Shelves & Resources
Last week we took Floss to a sea life centre; to say she was mesmerised would have been an understatement! There was a large rescue turtle in one of the tanks and I don't think I've ever heard her learn a new word so quickly - T U R T L E! We have been obsessed with turtles ever since, yet the whole under sea experience really captivated her and I thought this week we'd see whether she'd enjoy being immersed a little more in the deep blue sea. So here is our shelf - no one is more surprised than me that after a morning of intense use that fabric is still in place! Carry on reading to find out what we've got and why, plus find out about what other plans we have for the week of ocean exploration.
As I've mentioned in our Rainbow Shelfie update above, matching and naming have really captured Floss's interest lately. After her interest in the turtle at the sea life centre, I wondered if she'd enjoy matching other objects and not just colours. Pinterest helped out with ocean animal pictures from Stephanie @ Imagineourlife.com. I selected five that I thought she might like, weren't too similar and I actually had the animals from. As you can see the animals are a bit random and not from actual sets (they're randomly collected from my teaching days). However, if you're looking for little animals then Toob Coral Reef , Toob Safari Ocean or Terra Sea Animals gets you a good selection or if you're looking for larger then there's Schleich's Ocean Set.
These little cards I backed and laminated to make them more sturdy and popped the corresponding animals next to them. This was the first thing Floss went to explore. She moved them onto her little table and began to look at the animals and cards. When she spotted the turtle she was so excited and put the fabric turtle on top of the card. She spent so much time with them matching up and as she did I gave her the name of the animal. I think whale could be the new favourite word and she's been carrying the Orca round all morning. This is such a great way to introduce new vocabulary to little ones.
Other ocean animals I put in a wooden bowl for her to explore. I know I need to make some more cards to match these as she's very interested in knowing the names. I'm realising I need to brush up on my shark naming knowledge tonight as just saying 'shark' is leading to disbelieving looks!
We love books! Sadly, I've realised I'm a little limited in ocean books, so we'll definitely be scouring charity shops this week for more fiction and non-fiction texts. We've got one of my previous class's favourites Commotion in the Ocean - a lovely, bounce along rhyming book, Tiddler the little fish with the big imagination and The Emperor's Egg a Dad looking after his precious egg through the harsh winter.
We couldn't be without balls - I can't tell you how much fun she's had bouncing these and testing them against ones that don't bounce. Toddler science in action!
Floss continues to be interested in puzzles and I'm beginning to introduce some slightly trickier ones. The turtle is a great 2 piece, chunky puzzle and the basket contains other sea animals as either 2 or 3 piece. The two piece fish was the other main one she liked. It's an Orchard under the Sea set, but I'm not sure they still make it. I have seen it on some pre-loved sites. These are still quite tricky for her and I've got a plan for some homemade ones this week.
Update - Homemade Puzzles
Floss keeps trying with the puzzles we've had out, but I've decided to make a puzzle myself that will hopefully help bridge the gap from the peg puzzles she's been doing and these two piece puzzles. Using pictures from Twinkl.co.uk I printed and laminated a few sea dwellers. I then cut them two in different ways; I'll let you know how she gets on.
I'm a bit of a hoarder; I don't like throwing something away that I think might come in useful someday. Well my stash got some use today. I found ribbons, buttons and some silver card. On YouTube I found this lovely, short clip of a jellyfish set to classical music. I played this while we made our rainbow jellyfish and there were lots of wows from Floss as she watched. Floss is 20 months, but quite dexterous; she has also passed that mouthing stage so I feel quite comfortable using some resources under careful supervision such as buttons. I used glue dots for the buttons so that they would stick easily; Floss put all of these on herself. She chose where her ribbons would go and was quite particular about having them level and helped me press down the sellotape that I had positioned. Once it was finished she held her jellyfish, dancing it around to the music. This was super simple to set up and low mess.
What else will we have this week?
- Small world water play
- Sea creature collage
- New books
- Moma learning shark names!
Do check back to see what we get up to. Have a lovely week.
It's been a busy busy week this week. The rainbow shelves have had a lots of use; some things we're keeping for a bit longer, but we've added a few new things too. We've also been busy discovering about ocean animals following a trip to a sealife centre (click to check out the Ocean Theme Shelves here).
Floss and I have also started at a new parent and child group this week. It's run by two Steiner kindergarten teachers and it was an amazing morning. We'll definitely be adding this lovely session to our weekly rhythm and I can't wait to see how this influence may change the play in our home. I'll keep you updated!
Feelings are still a big focus for Floss at present. Do check out the last post if you want to know a little more why this is important to us currently. The Hape Eggs have been used so much. We act out the different emotions together - it's lots of fun. I have noticed this week that she's been more curious of the emotions of others rather than immediately upset by them. Floss can also be quite shy in new situations, we've chatted lots while looking at the shy egg about it being OK to feel shy and when we might feel that way. I'm not sure how much she understands yet, but when we went to the new morning group this week she seemed to join in with play much quicker. However, the sessions was lovely and it could have been to do with the beautiful, nurturing environment.
As this shelf had been so popular I decided to keep some of the items and add the mini feelings books and puppets into the mix. I've used the puppets when I was teaching to help act out different problems, such as sharing, and got the children to act out what they would do if the problem happened again. Floss loves puppets, so I thought we might use them to explore emotions some more.
I just can't put the Grimms Natural Bowls out of rotation, they are used so much. I've added the Hape Colour and Shape puzzle this week, but it's not quite been used as intended. Floss has spent most of her time trying to see how many of each shape she can fit in different Grimms bowls. I think it's just a teaching habit that as she adds them to the bowl I start counting, she's been really enjoying the rhythm in this counting and has begun to join in. Once a bowl is full she has turned it over and refilled it again wanting me to begin the counting rhythm.
For any of you who have checked out my Instagram post this week, you'll know my little one has an eclectic taste in music from classical to dance. I thought these bells would allow her to make some of her own, tuned music. I didn't grow up in a musical home and although listening to music I'd not had the opportunity to learn to play instruments. Floss is very fortunate to have incredibly talented Auntie So and Uncle T who both sing and play a range of instruments between them.
Since a baby Floss has been mesmerised listening to Uncle T play on the cello; he's also been wonderful showing her how to touch a bow and pluck strings from a very early age. I think because of this early appreciation and careful tutoring she is so delicate with instruments and finds them fascinating. Her Auntie So has bought a guitar this week and has begun to teach herself how to play it. She's previously taught herself the ukulele and while she played the guitar she let Floss use her ukulele. Auntie So was sat on the floor playing the guitar and Floss sat down, adopted the same position as her Auntie, and began to gently pluck the strings while carefully watching what her Auntie was doing. Floss is 20 months right now - it amazed me.
We often give children un-tuned, percussion instruments when they are little to play and experiment with, for some children this can be their only experience of making their own music. I've seen such value in giving Floss the opportunity to observe musicians playing tuned instruments and them being brave enough to allow her to have hands on experience with these. The joy can be seen on both sides and I believe it has given her a richer understanding.
If you've read other posts and pages of ours then you'll know Floss has a bit of an obsession with balls. I rediscovered these steel balls that I bought years ago off ebay, Floss loves the feel and the sound of them as they bounce along our flooring. I've teamed them up with a couple of texture puzzle pieces so that she can feel the difference between them.