March 15, 2012

little works

I've talked before about Guthrie going to a Montessori preschool and how try to incorporate some Montessori practices into our home life. It is high time her little brother got in on the action.

Laithe used his new small dinosaurs as utensils (because, duh, why wouldn't you?) so they were yogurty/applesaucey and also gross after breakfast. Dinosaur bathtime was needed. I'll be honest my first instinct was to do it myself- I mean I had to wash the dishes anyways, but my second instinct was better: He could do it just fine. And he would love it.

I set him up with the oval high-sided tray, a largish, shallow tupperware container half filled with soapy water, and a towel to dry. A small brush would have been a bonus, but well, it was post-breakfast and the coffee hadn't filtered all the way to my brain.

My second instinct was right: he loved it. Added bonus? It kept him busy for a good 30 minutes.I had time to clean the dining room, sweep the floors have another cup of coffee and get some knitting done. Win-win.

Tonight we were watching Tintin and Laithe was getting cranky and stealing the tweezers out of the manicure kit I was using and proceeding to try and amputate my toe with them. Again, my first instinct of taking it away from him and attempting to get him busy with something else wasn't cutting it.

So, I grabbed the old cottage cheese container with the hole in the lid which holds his puff balls* and a bowl and a pair of kid chopsticks. (sorry for the crappy photo quality. it was dark and i was using my ipod)He spent the next 20 minutes or so transferring the puff balls from one container to the other with the chopsticks, then an additional 10 minutes doing it with his hands, taking the lid off and on, shaking the container, then he added in a dinosaur and car and they all played nicely together and then the movie was over and we all went to bed.

It's that little voice in the back of my head that says, 'the easy way out is 1. less effective, 2. doesn't teach him a dang thing, and 3. not even that easy,' that I find so irritating. With some months-ago preparation it is easier and faster to set up something such as this than it is to find something on Netflix and hope it loads in a timely manner.

The issue is that it's not my first instinct, it takes some effort on my part. The additional issue is that when you put out this kind of activity you need to do a little teaching the first couple times, and set some solid boundaries and sometimes, after a 10 hour day working with grieving families I'm just really not up for it. I'm up for using the remote and I'm just fine with that. Other times though, I need to listen to that other voice because the pay offs are totally worth it.

Anyways, I didn't mean to get all preachy with myself there. Those were some really nice minutes with my son - watching him work so intently. I want to do it more often.

*so literally, I washed an old cottage cheese container, cut a 1 inch square(ish) in the lid and filled about 1/3 of the way with pom-poms and felt balls so Laithe could take them in and out. Guthrie was ever so satisfied with this too when I did it with her.** Something about the puff disappearing and whoa- then they're totally there when you open the lid. It's pretty satisfying to dump them all out too. I usually keep this activity in easy reach for a few weeks and then put up for a few weeks. Toy rotation is the best.

**Although she had a totally cute scrapbook paper covered container with a perfectly round hole to shove her puffs through. First child: here's your thing of beauty, I totally worked on it for an hour. Second child: Here. I washed it. Mostly. Those few chunks of cheese left in the lid crevice? Think of them as a sensory activity. Two activities in one - lucky!

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