Sensory Bin of Polar Animals and {Learn & Play Link Up}

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Here’s a sensory small world invitation to play I set for the kids, polar animals! We’re having “Polar Animals” for January and decided to start the tub early.  The boys were ecstatic upon seeing this!  How can they not? Even I enjoyed playing with these little figures!

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Benefits:

  • sensory activity
  • counting
  • learning the names of polar animals
  • literarcy and vocabulary words
  • camouflage, animal colors that blends with their environment (blue, black, white, brown)
  • arctic animals are different from the animals in Antarctica
  • penguins are birds and can swim

Object Baskets for I to P

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

** contains affiliate links **

This object basket series has been a popular post and I’m glad that it gave so much inspiration to all Moms and homeschoolers.  Before the year ends, I’m sharing with you our second set of the object baskets and this includes letters I to P.  But before you dig into this post, I suggest that you read the first part of this series to understand what it is for and how we use them at home for learning.

Object Baskets I to L

I Basket: foam letter , upper and lowercase letter, iguana, insects, ice, island 

J Basket: foam letter, upper and lowercase letter, jeans, jigsaw puzzle, jug

K Basket: foam letter, upper and lowercase letter, kangaroo,  knife, keys

L Basket: foam letter, upper and lowercase letter, leaves, lion, lemon, DIY sandpaper letter

 

Letter IJKLObject Baskets I to L

M Basket: foam letter, upper and lowercase letter, medicine, monster, monkey, DIY moon

N Basket: foam letter, upper and lowercase letter, nuts, nine, DIY sandpaper letter, necktie

O Basket: foam letter, upper and lowercase letter, owl, orange, oval, DIY sandpaper letter

P Basket: foam letter, upper and lowercase letter, pig, pens, paint, DIY sandpaper letter

Letters MNOP

This is my guide for next year’s activities on learning letters.  This will be fun!

For letters A to H, click the images below:

OBJECT BASKET A TO D     OBJECT BASKET E to H

 

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LetterSoundsIP

For product links:

Science Experiments: What Makes Ice Melt Faster?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

IceMeltFB
This experiment is perfect for the winter season! Make use of the snowy days by performing this simple experiment on why we put salt on the icy roads during winter.

Objective:

To determine which substance or what condition will make the ice melt faster.

Tried and Tested: Playmobil Native American Superset

Monday, December 21, 2015

*** contains affiliate links *** 

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I was able to get some really great deals during the Black Friday sale. One of which is the Playmobil Native American Superset.  As I mentioned earlier this month, Playmobil is one of the open-ended toys that we love and consider “educational” due to its historical figures and environment.  This Playmobil set will be perfect for our American history study next year.

What’s inside?

FREE Letter Picture Booklet (RAMFBITG)

Sunday, December 13, 2015


I have been preparing materials for Vito for next year’s activities and one of which are materials for our early reading program.  I taught Mavi how to read at the age of 3 years old without any fancy or expensive program, but with just the philosophies of Montessori and that’s what I’m going to do with Vito as well.  The object baskets that I posted earlier is part of this as well.

Now in addition to the baskets, I made these picture booklets last summer to go along with our early reading program.  This idea was from My Montessori Journey, one of my favourite Montessori blogs.  Based on her training, the alphabet is grouped into three: ramfbitg, cusnpolh and dexqyzvwjk.  The philosophy behind this is that, you can form words using the letters from each group and the child can practice reading the words once he or she has mastered the letter sounds.  You can skim through her blog to know more about this.  I also borrowed her idea of color coding the groups.  Red for ramfbitg, yellow for cusnpolh and blue for dexqzvwjk.

This is what my booklet looks like during the time of Mavi.  With Mavi, after I introduce a letter using the object baskets I would also read the picture booklet I made for him. When I read it, I emphasize the beginning sound like ‘mmmmm’ milk.


Vito’s version of letter picture booklet is more fancy because of the availability of materials now LOL  

Because I love my readers, I am sharing these booklets for FREE!! You can download my FIRST SET OF LETTER PICTURE BOOKLET and create your little books according to your liking.  Each letter booklet contains 6 pictures that represents the beginning letter sounds.  Here’s how I assembled the booklets.  The first set contains RAMFBITG letters.


Some important notes though.  I just prepare this ahead of time, but I will never push Vito if he’s not interested.  Mavi was obsessed with letters at the age of 2 years old and always keeps asking for “more” when it comes to literacy-related activities thus he started learning how to read at an early age.  Always keep in mind that the child’s interest vary. Vito loves pointing at things and naming them, thus I know he will enjoy these booklets.  If your child is not interested just keep the booklet away and do activities that he enjoys. 

Don’t forget to check my object baskets too!  Hope you enjoy this and watch out for the second batch as well. Enjoy!

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Crazy Over Do-a-Dot Markers and {Learn & Play Link Up}

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I know you’ve heard about these already and have seen these markers in other homeschooler Moms.  My little Vito had a renewal of interest and can’t stop using them! These dot markers are great tools in practicing hand/eye coordination and concentration.  Aside from that, we also use it to learn shapes, colours and letters! Next year, we’ll start using them for counting.

Though there are plenty of FREE dot worksheets online, I prefer handwriting our own sheets to save ink.  Here are some random photos of Vito using the dot markers.

For learning letters.

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Marking shapes.

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He keeps asking for more!

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Working on letter ‘t’ again. 

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To save time, energy and INK, I cut out sheets of paper from the IKEA paper roll and just hand drawn everything.  Then I place the sheets on one of the work trays so Vito can easily access them.  He would usually work on them in the morning. Note that the markers can stain, but they can be wash off with soap AND water (with a little scrubbing).   I have these markers since 2011 and they’re still good as new.  Here’s the link if you are interested.DSC_0327

 

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Welcome to the Learn & Play Link Party!
Here are the featured  activities for this week!
 
PicMonkey Collage
 
Salt Dough Holiday Ornaments from Tiny Tots Adventure
 
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Now it’s time for this week’s link party! This is a BRAND new link up for all blog posts that include learn and play activities and hands-on education for kids. We are excited to read your blog posts and to see what you have to share! Please link up below and grab our button to display on your blog.
If you are a blogger, share your family friendly posts here. We are looking for things which include:
  • Montessori Education
  • Homeschool
  • Sensory Play
  • Tot and Preschool Trays
  • Fine and Gross Motor Activities
  • Kids in the Kitchen
  • Healthy Recipes for Kids
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Natural Living
  • Free Educational Printables
  • Family-Oriented Activities
  • Healthy Living
Your post will be featured on each of our blogs where we will pick our favourite posts every other week. That means there is more of a chance that you will be featured!
Everyone, please meet our link party hosts:
learn and play party hostesses
Christian Montessori Blog ~ Please visit our CMN FB group ~ Pinterest

GUIDELINES FOR LINKING

  • Please link up 1-3 posts
  • Follow each of the hosts on social media
  • When you link up, please add our button and place it at the bottom of your shared posts or link back with text link.
  • By entering a link, you’re giving us permission to feature an image on our blogs. Proper credit & links will ALWAYS be given.
  • Please visit a couple of shared posts and leave a comment for them
  • Remember that you must link back in order to be featured
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How I Organize and Store Materials

I’ve been receiving requests from readers asking me to share some tips or at least share how I organize our materials at home.  To be honest, I haven’t found the perfect formula for organizing materials.  I find myself experimenting on what works for me and for the kids.  So instead of giving advice on what to do, allow me to share with you how I organize our things at home. 

We live in a small apartment… as most European homes are!  So our sitting room is our playroom which is also our “home” school room. Except for painting and messy play, this is where all the actions are taking place.  So to make it “conducive” for the boys, husband and I purchased Ikea shelves and inserts so I can organize learning materials, mostly of Vito.  Mavi’s stuff are in his room including the Montessori materials that we own.

This is the  main shelf, the upper layer is for the working trays and the bottom layer contains the inserts.  We bought a sturdy insert from Ikea as well, they are really really good, quite heavy so Vito can’t just push and pull them.

Daily Activity Shelf

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The inserts contain all the learning materials (non Montessori) of Vito, including the puzzle boards. Surprisingly, they fit!  So convenient because whenever I needed to change my materials, I just remove them from the insert and place them on the tray. Same thing when Vito is done working with them, I just put them back on the insert.

Christmas Themed Learning Activities for Toddlers

Sunday, December 6, 2015

25Months Christmas
This month, we’re going slow (just like everyone else) so I integrated his 25 months activities with Christmas. 
1.  Transferring trees (soft candies) using a tong.
2.  Practicing the use of pegs.  I got him these small pegs to work on as he’s finding it difficult to use the bigger ones yet.  You can get these nowadays in any store,  they’re soft and easy to manipulate by little hands.  A good practice in preparation for the bigger pegs.
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3.  Sorting coloured ribbons.  He sort different colours now, but still confused with naming the colours.
4.  Counting ornaments with tree foam crafts.  He loves this!
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5. Rubber stamping in cards.  Mavi is writing cards for his friends, and Vito is joining as well. I bought him a box of cards to practice on, like opening the cards and stamping letters on it.  He enjoys doing it with his brother! The rubber stamps are from Melissa and Doug.
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6.  Playdough and Christmas shapes cookie cutter plus ornaments! Lots of hand muscle practice Open-mouthed smile
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7.  Christmas tree puzzles.  Vito has been working with 2-pieces puzzles lately so I created these Christmas tree puzzles to go along with the season.
8.  Painting Christmas tree ornaments.  Again, I got these from a local store.
9. Tweezing pompoms and putting in a ring; a twist from the typical tweezing activity and perfect for hand-eye coordination!  Another version of this is to match the pompoms to the colour of the ring.  The rings are from ring counter toy.
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We will be doing these activities for the entire month, usually after we read books which we do on a daily basis.  May you find this post helpful! 
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Practical Life Activities for Toddlers (24 Months) and {Learn & Play Link Up}

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

24 Months PLA
Vito turned 2 years old last month.  Aside from the letter t sound and tree themed activities, here are the practical life activities Vito worked on:
24
    1. Do-a-dot marking.  I prefer drawing the circles instead of printing those which are available in the web to save ink.  Vito loves this activity.  He enjoys stamping the circles with the markers. This is also a good shape activity because it allows the child to identify the shape in the paper before stamping it. Which reminds me that that next time we’ll do this, I’ll use squares or triangles instead of circles. 
    2. Pouring rice.  I’m using two small jugs and  coloured rice.  We’ve done this before using water, this time I changed the medium. 
    3. Stringing.  This is just a portion of Melissa & Dough beads which I got earlier this year.  I attached a wooden skillet in the string so he can easily insert the beads. 
    4. 2 Piece Farm Puzzle.  At first I gave him 3 sets to work on, and then added as he progresses.  He also loves this activity and would work on it in the afternoon.  This is a good introduction to part-and whole concept.
    5. Stickers in a line.  This is a directed sticking activity wherein Vito has to place the stickers in the lines.  He’s good at it!
    6. Scissors and playdough.  I made Vito use this plastic scissors whenever he plays the playdough so he’ll get used to it. Playdoughs are soft and can easily be cut, unlike paper which needs a sharper scissor so I think that this is a perfect material to cut for little ones.
    7. Tweezers.  We have a lot of tongs and tweezers but I have to purchase this plastic tweezer because Vito was having a hard time using the ones that we have.  This new tweezer is just perfect! It is soft, and can be easily manipulated by Vito.  It has teeth on its end so it can easily grip the object.  Vito loves using this.  But note, the end is pointy so adult supervision is a must even if this is made of plastic.
    8. Water transfer using sponge. “squeeze squeeze squeeze”, that’s Vito’s new favourite word!  he just learned that few weeks ago as he was doing this tray.  Water activity is always a favourite and Vito works on this for about 30 to 45 minutes.  Once bored with squeezing, he would automatically switch to pouring water between bowls. 
    9. Glue with brush.  There’s just so many ways to glue and one of my favourite is the glue with brush.  I made Vito use this and he works like an expert!  Those are paper cut-outs with letters on it (handwritten) so that we can name the letters as we glue them!

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Welcome to the Learn & Play Link Party!
Here are the featured Christmas-themed activities for this week!

Linky

Fine Motor Skills  Christmas Tree from Living Montessori Now
Paper Plate Christmas Tree from Creative Family Fun
Nutcracker Unit 2 w/ FREE Printable from Every Star is Different
Printable Advent Calendar from Sights and Sounds Readings

11206071_10206383760770609_4191824351964193280_n
Now it’s time for this week’s link party! This is a BRAND new link up for all blog posts that include learn and play activities and hands-on education for kids. We are excited to read your blog posts and to see what you have to share! Please link up below and grab our button to display on your blog.
If you are a blogger, share your family friendly posts here. We are looking for things which include:
  • Montessori Education
  • Homeschool
  • Sensory Play
  • Tot and Preschool Trays
  • Fine and Gross Motor Activities
  • Kids in the Kitchen
  • Healthy Recipes for Kids
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Natural Living
  • Free Educational Printables
  • Family-Oriented Activities
  • Healthy Living
Your post will be featured on each of our blogs where we will pick our favourite posts every other week. That means there is more of a chance that you will be featured!
Everyone, please meet our link party hosts:
learn and play party hostesses
Christian Montessori Blog ~ Please visit our CMN FB group ~ Pinterest

GUIDELINES FOR LINKING

  • Please link up 1-3 posts
  • Follow each of the hosts on social media
  • When you link up, please add our button and place it at the bottom of your shared posts or link back with text link.
  • By entering a link, you’re giving us permission to feature an image on our blogs. Proper credit & links will ALWAYS be given.
  • Please visit a couple of shared posts and leave a comment for them
  • Remember that you must link back in order to be featured
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History Timeline Cards: Ancient Times

Monday, November 30, 2015

Anicent History Timeline Cards copy

Buy now

Up in the Sellfy Shop is our history timeline cards Ancient Times.  The file includes the following:

  • 40 timeline cards of the ancient times (occurred between the period of 5000BC to 500BC). The timeline cards has
  • 40 definition cards for each timeline card
  • 3 pages of timeline sheets that can be connected to form as a guide. The pages are in A4 paper size.

Learn how we used it here and in how we study the European History.

Hope you like it, enjoy!

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Object Baskets for Letters A to H

Sunday, November 29, 2015

** contains affiliate links **
I’ve been working hard for the past days organizing our object baskets for Vito’s phonics practice.  Vito knows his alphabet and numbers, he names half of the alphabet with their phonics sound.  Like he calls letter B as “bah”, and H as “huh”.  I guess this is the result of me teaching Vito the sound first, before the name of the letter itself. Something like “this is mmmmmmm, M” or “this is ssssssss, S”. 


What is an Object Basket

These are baskets that contain a letter along with 3 dimensional objects to match to the letter by beginning sound.  The concept behind this is similar to the object boxes of Montessori (for reading)  , but we are not going there yet.  The object baskets are simply for exploration, vocabulary and learning phonic sounds.


Assembling the Object Basket

Each of my basket has an uppercase and lowercase letter.  We are using the letters from Hape Uppercase and Lowercase puzzles and the Munchkin foam bath letters.  I wanted to add the magnetic letters from Melissa & Doug but I was thinking that there’s too much letters in basket already, so I’ll just reserve those for my future object boxes (reading). 

I wanted to add sandpaper letters but mine is a DIY years ago and its incomplete. I plant to get a set this Christmas as gift to self LOL but still waiting for the discounted price (hoping!).
Gathering objects is the most exciting part.  I would search in the kitchen, bedroom and my kids’ toys for appropriate objects to add in the basket.  Since Vito is only 2 years old, I limit the number of objects in the basket, maybe 3 – 5 only.  They don’t have that stamina and attention span for 10 objects so better keep it simple and avoid overwhelming the little ones. 


Object Baskets from Letters A to H

So I just completed these baskets, took photos and print the set so that it’s easier for me to assemble once we start with the activity (we’ll do this after the holidays).  Will display this on top of our shelf and worked on it after we do our daily routine of reading books.

A Basket:  alligator, ambulance, A foam letter, apple, A picture booklet
B Basket:  book, banana, block, B foam letter  and B picture booklet
C Basket: cow, carrots, C foam letter,  car and C picture booklet
D Basket:  dinosaur, diaper, Duplo, DIY sandpaper letter, letter D

OBJECT BASKET A TO D
E Basket: eye (McDonalds), elephant, egg (McDonalds), DIY sandpaper letter
F Basket: feather, four, letter F, upper and lowercase F, fork, flower, fish, fence, DIY sandpaper letter
G Basket: grapes, giraffe, goggle, upper and lowercase F, F foam letter,  DIY sandpaper letter
H Basket:  upper and lowercase F, DIY sandpaper letter, horse, heart, hanger, hippo, hammer, H foam letter
OBJECT BASKET E to H
Ideally, we will work for on one letter a week, but this doesn’t always happen.  So I usually schedule the next change of basket after 2 weeks.  I am still gathering up objects for my second batch.  Hopefully I can finish it soon so I can share it with you.  And that’s it for the first set of my object baskets! Stay tuned for second set from I to P Smile

Hope you find this inspirational!

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PINObjectBaskets

FREE Life Cycle Matching Cards

Saturday, November 28, 2015

FREE Life Cycle Matching Cards
I have a bunch of life cycle figures which my Aunt brought from the US a few months ago.  I did not really intend to introduce them yet to Vito as he is too young.  But I observed that he’s into matching activities these days, so I managed to create matching cards for all of my life cycles. Wow, he definitely surprised me! He worked on all of these in one day and always picked these for his activity everyday!

How I Make Our Learning Cards

Friday, November 27, 2015

I’ve been wanting to post about this for the longest time but I just couldn’t convince myself to make one.  Anyway, let me share with you the complicated ways I create our learning cards.

So in our homeschool,  there are 3 ways I make our printables:

  • Cards (Montessori cards, matching cards for Vito and seasonal themed cards)
  • Learning booklets
  • Mats and poster diagrams

Basic materials I used:

MAKING THE CARDS

Includes: nomenclature or 3 part cards cards, picture cards, matching cards, history cards, science cards… all cards used in general.

By default I used the combo: 125micron and 160gsm cardstock paper.  This will make the card really sturdy and hard enough for the little one to fold.  I don’t like doing A LOT OF CUTTING so what I do is I laminate then cut.

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If I decide to use borders, then I use the combination of HP 80 or 100gsm paper and think pouch. I cut the printed materials then stick it on the colored cardstock using a glue stick.  Then laminate and cut. 

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Now, if the thick pouch is not available or too pricey, using a 160gsm cardstock with the thin pouch is more than enough.  The cards will still turn out sturdy.  The only reason why I’m using the 125micron pouch is that they are currently on SALE in AMAZON UK and are MORE CHEAPER than the thinner ones LOL.

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MAKING THE BOOKLETS

I’ve started making booklets this year for the boys. I wanted them to last long so I am laminating each pages of the booklets. 

The pages of my booklets are laminated back to back. You can see how its done here on the video of Confessions of a Homeschooler.  I use the HP Inkjet Paper for this one and a 125micron  pouch ( or a 160gsm cardstock and 80micron pouch would do). 

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Once they are laminated, I cut and punch holes to form the booklets!  For the cover pages of each booklets, I use the process in MAKING THE CARDS because I want the cover to be harder than the pages.

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MAKING THE MATS AND POSTER DIAGRAMS

For the mats and and diagrams, I just laminate them back to back using the thicker pouch and the 160gsm cardstock.  But for best result, better laminate it individually with either a thick or thinner pouch

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IF YOU HAVE NO LAMINATOR

When I didn’t have a laminator yet, I just printed my materials on a white cardstock paper and covered them with a contact paper or better yet a transparent tape! Yes, I basically did that when we were in Belgrade.  Worst, we didn’t have white cardstock so I printed my materials in a white paper and glue the paper on the colored cardstock then cover it with tape. 

And that’s just about it!  I hope you find this helpful and NOT CONFUSING LOL. If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment, I am more than willing to talk to you for more tips and insights.

Thank you!

Our Favourite Toys for 2 to 7 Years Old

Thursday, November 26, 2015

**Contains affiliate links**

PicMonkey Collage

“As parents and grandparents, we think that we are showing children we love them by giving them things.  In fact such practice, in and out of itself, may send them the wrong message.  Children may conclude that if people give you things, they love you.  If receiving things tells you that you are loved, the next logical step is to measure self-worth by what you have, not by what you are.  The reality is that very young children can only truly love one doll, one stuffed animal, and a few toys at a time. This experience provides a basis for adult life where one must learn to cherish one spouse, one family, one life, instead of fantasizing that it is possible to ‘have it all’.”  - MONTESSORI FROM THE START

We don’t have a lot of toys at home.  Mavi just like two kinds of toys: LEGO and dinosaur/animal figures, that’s just it.  All through the years, I don’t splurge nor buy toys as we don’t have the budget for it. I consider them as luxury so I just gave toys to Mavi as presents on his birthday and Christmas.  But because we “home” school, I purchase learning materials that my kids see as “toys” but in reality they are NOT really toys.    And because I am frugal, I buy toys that they can grow with, MULTIPURPOSE and something that they can play together.   So let me share with you the kids’ favourite things in the house.  These are the toys that we have in the house, except for the ones in my “wishlist and basket”.  These toys are being played day in and day out by the boys.

NOTE:  ALWAYS SUPERVISE YOUNGER CHILDREN WHEN USING ANY OF THESE TOYS.  Do not leave them unattended.

FAVOURITE TOYS

LEGO, DUPLO and PLAYMOBIL.  Need I say more? These are the favourite in the house. We have plenty of LEGOs as this is Santa’s favourite present EVERY Christmas for 4 years!  And Vito’s Duplo and Playmobil were brought from the local store when they were on 50% off. I would never get them for a whole price! Vito is now snapping bricks together and loves the Playmobil people.  Both of my boys spend hours and hours playing with these toys.  They never get tired of them.  Perfect toy for creativity, concentration and developing fine motor skills!

For Playmobils, we have castles and pirates. They’re Mavi’s favourite toy and can play with them for hours!

My son loves the LEGO CLASSIC Bricks.  He doesn’t really like those with premade designs as he always wanted to design his own thing. So I highly recommend that you buy the basic LEGO BRICKS especially if you are getting your first Lego.  Having a plate is also good. 

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miniLUK and BambiniLUK.  Mavi and I looooves this! We can’t get enough of answering all the booklets, especially those tricky ones!  I bought the Starter Pack and bought the advanced booklets separately.  There’s a version for younger kids, the BambiniLUK and some friend in Instagram said that they like it. Mavi is like “Mom, its making my brain tired LOL”

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Montessori Botany  and Zoology/Insect Puzzles, Montessori Puzzle Maps.  I invested on these this year and it was worth it! I have puzzle loving kids, and Vito is currently addicted to them.  Aside from educational, these puzzles are also perfect for pincer grasp practice.  Mavi on the other hand is obsessed with my Asia and Europe puzzles.  He loves geography, loves to learn about countries and their locations.  Tower High Learning is my favourite Montessori shop as of the moment and this is where I purchase my materials.

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Schliech Animal Figures and Safari Toobs are also an all time favourite in the house. The uses of these figures include imaginative play, learning about animals, habitat play, exploring landmarks and just about anything!  You see these mostly in my post!  When Vito was younger, I made him use Schleich animal figures because they are bigger but now that he has overcome his mouthing, he uses both Schleich and Safari Toob. Mavi is obsessed with dinosaurs, and he uses them now as characters for his homemade videos LOL.   Now he uses both types for play and learning.

 

 

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Hape Uppercase, Lowercase and Number Puzzles.  With Mavi, I used the Melissa and Doug Magnetic letters (I still have them) and they were really really loved.  Now the problem is Vito mouths things and I made Vito use it, the sticker of the letters were removed.  So I looked for an alternative alphabet toys for us to use and I discovered these amazing puzzles from Hape. They are WORTH-IT! We love using them in anything, from learning letters, puzzles to stacking! Yes, Vito loves to stack these together! We also use it to sort out colors!  Multi-purpose indeed!  But if you have older kids, Melissa and Doug Magnetic Letters are as good as well. 

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Because I love to cook (Asian and Italian), the boys also love to pretend cooking with me using these Melissa and Doug cooking toys.  They can play for hours with these!

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M-cro Maxi Scooter.  And I just have to include this!! Because they play with this scooter in and out of the house! Mavi uses this to school and Vito uses this indoor for scooting practice. I love that it is sturdy and kids can easily balance!

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And of course, nothing beats classic toys like balls, cars and PlayDoh!  My boys wouldn’t complain if they receive any of these this Christmas.

WISHLIST

Magnatiles. Rave reviews everywhere but I just couldn’t bring myself to purchase these tiles or can’t even justify it Sad smile  Maybe when they’re 50% off I would probably get one for the boys!

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Unit Block.  I know that the boys will love this as well.  They can build and create so many things with this but the price is just too much for me.  I still have to think about this a million times.

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Beleduc Puzzles.  My puzzle loving kids will love these puzzle series, especially the Your Body Layer puzzles!

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