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Old 09-25-2015, 04:56 AM
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mamamanda mamamanda is online now
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Default montessori inspired work room

So, I got so inspired by Heidi's idea for a separate work room that the kids can earn the right to use I've been thinking about it all night. That's definitely going to be my weekend project! Two things I'm wondering about though:
1) Since my kids are not good about being responsible with toys or cleaning things up and I want them to choose one activity at a time and clean it up before getting another in this room, what do you think is a good amount of activities to have available starting out. I don't want there to be too many options that will leave them set up to fail, but I want the room to be exciting and something they want to use, kwim? I'm just wondering...10 separate activities...too many/too few? I'd like to add to it as they learn to play independently and clean up their own messes. There are 4 who are old enough to use the room regularly. I can see this room from the other playroom so they could potentially use it at will once they've proven themselves responsible.
2)Should there be a spot for the babies in the work room. My little ones are newborn, 13 mo, and 19mo. I thought about creating a Montessori inspired baby space in that room with a mattress surrounded by mirrors, muffin tins with plastic eggs to sort, shape sorters, stackable rings, etc. Heidi, I know you have a work space for your babies. Would it be too hard to keep the babies in their area with their work while the older kids are on mats with their activities that have smaller pieces?
My thoughts were that maybe we could have 20-30 minutes of group work time each day where I help the babies and model the behavior I want to see with the older ones. Then the preschooler/kindergarten group can earn the privilege of using the room at will by showing me they can attend to a single task and clean it up when they're done, not fight with others in the room, etc. Does that sound doable, or like a disaster waiting to happen? Ideas on "work" for the babies?
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Old 09-25-2015, 05:50 AM
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When my toddlers have "work" it's usually during homework time for my sa, so I put my (almost) 13 mo in his high chair with activities. My 2 and 3 yo are past the mouthing stage so some of the things they use in activities would be unsafe for baby. I let lil man explore different sensations, finger painting with jello or baby safe paint, mini sensory bins using dry baby cereal for him to measure and stir (people are always giving me boxes and boxes of this stuff) if he tastes it, no big deal. Baby crayons and paper taped to the tray. Fine motor activities ( I look on Pinterest for ideas but have used old formula containers, wipes containers, cleaned parm cheese containers are awesome to poke things through) . Pipe cleaners. Different textures of fabric in a wipes container to pull out. Contact paper( sticky!) or parchment paper (crackle!) stiff gift bags and stuff to put in it. Cooked spaghetti to squish. One caveat, my kiddos are 2nd shifters and we do work right before bath time for my own kids when my husband is home to help supervise. We do messy activities with baby when he's already a mess from having a messy dinner and I throw him in the bath while my dh supervises everyone else. I understand this isn't doable for most others.
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Old 09-25-2015, 05:51 AM
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Well, I have two babies, one is 16 months, the other 12. I just got the 12 month old.

They both arrive when "work time" is almost over, so they just sit in their clip on chair at the table and we (the other kids and I) give them things. The 16mo loves it, the 12 mo mostly throws stuff on the floor after maybe 2 minutes. We're working on that.

Will they be mad if you leave them in the other room to play?

If it were me, I'd take one or two children out of the playroom at a time, and teach them how to use the materials. Show them how to unroll a mat, carry their work over, and put it back when done. Then, once those to get it, add another one or two. Once the oldest ones get it, work with the 19 mo. The 13 mo. isn't going to be ready for a while, but like I said, if you can secure him somehow, you can give him some things to do. Things without a million pieces.

I started out with about 10 things, then added more. I just added 6 more baskets this week of Mr. Potato Head, Bristle Blocks, Magna Tiles, Tinker Toys, Sensory Blocks, and Toddler K'Nex. Until Monday, they were there, but out of reach so they had to ask for those things.
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Old 09-25-2015, 06:08 AM
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I organize toddler/preschooler work into busy bags for them to help themselves in our library and gate it off for baby but they know they can only use one at a time and it needs to be put away before another can be taken out. My kids (even the 2 yo with reminders) do this on their own, but when training new kids they have to show me they can by following rules, helping at clean up time, ect. Before they are invited to work in the library "unsupervised" . I can see them, it's just gated off when being used for work to keep the baby safe. More involved projects are kept until our official homework time. Also, baby has a much shorter attention span than everyone else. My 2 yo might work for 10-15 min at a time. Baby is usually done with any activity way before that unless I'm involved, so my toddlers work in my gated off dining room. That way when babies done I can take him in the living room and we can see the activities but not be all up in them. Or he gets a bath if he's a mess and dh stupervises.
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