Saturday, March 27, 2010

Homemade Lego Books

I just read about making your own Lego idea book on another blog. It's a few years down the road for us but such a good idea! Would make a great birthday present for the grade school boy who seems to have everything! (or maybe for my husband...)
Check it out here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Impromptu Projects

During the past couple of day we've had more impromptu projects under way.
The cars at the weigh station.
Honestly, though he doesn't have a concept of the weight of the cars. What he sees is the needle on the dial moving and that the top can spin in a circle like a round house. Whatever his intentions may be, the cars had to line up, wait their turn and then get checked!
Today's experiment is transfering powder - specifically baking soda. Again, he helped himself and then was very busy working!
He's done now so we're going to have to work on practicing cleaning up...

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Can Do It Myself

Recently a common phrase in our home has become " I can do it myself!".
The Little guy is really into trying things on his own. Most of the time I don't even have a chance to get an activity arranged before he creates a similar one. He knows where many things are kept so so feels free to help himself more often than not!
Practicing pouring from a green tea teapot
Washing dishes
A new twist on lining up the cars - a "round house" made with the center part of the angel food cake pan

As you can see he's busy as usual!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Children's Books Online

Did you know that you can read and download children's books online for free? They even have a variety of languages!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Toddlers love Order

This past week I was reading in a Montessori book about the toddler love of order. If found myself nodding and agreeing as I read. Here are two recent examples:
Playing Church.
The Little Guy has always enjoyed playing with the cloth church, farm, house and Noah's ark that we have. Usually though the pieces have ended up all over the place. The last time he got out the church though was different. He put it on the kotatsu (low table) and set up for a service. After they did a bit of praying and singing he called me over to explain who was who and what was going on.
Another example of order is lining toys up. The cars often end up in a line at our house. Again, this was an unprompted activity that reaffirmed what Maria Montessori observed.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Homemade Toys

Kids don't need the biggest, coolest, newest toys. They are completely happy with simple, homemade ones.
Last week we got the following 3 things from a church memeber. I don't have patterns but if you're crafty I bet you could copy them!
The one on the left is a toilet paper roll painted brown, resting on a rubber band inside a milk carton. There is a string running from the cover down through the tube and out of the bottom of the box. When you pull the string the tube pops up.
In the middles is a cat? dog? drawn on a paper cup. The cup is cut so the bottom of the cup is the opening of the mouth. A string goes through the cup which you pull to make the mouth move.
On the right is a pinwheel. The blades are a strong paper, spinning around an unbent paper clip with a straw for the handle.
When the Little Guy opened his gift his joy over the new toys was just the same as with any other toys. Almost a week later they are still holding up surprisingly well!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Opening of "Signing Way"

I'd like to invite you all over the my new blog - Signing Way!

While the Little Lessons blog does touch a little on signing I feel that it's time to have a site dedicated just to the topic. The Signing Way blog will include information about classes in Tokyo, deals on Signing Time products as well as valuable information and research about the benefits of signing with children of all ages.

Please consider becoming a follower/subscriber of this blog as well as the Signing Way blog so that it is easier to keep up with new posts.

As always, I welcome your questions and comments as they help me to know what you are interested in learning more about!

And, for those of you on Facebook, you can do a search for Signing Way and become a fan!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Change of Scene - Ikea

As spring comes we often find it hard to play outside. Rainy, wet days are followed by damp, cool days. A trip to the playground is usually a muddy mess! One good solution: IKEA! It is by far the most family-friendly store that I know of in Japan. And, there are a few on Tokyo to choose from. I could go on and on about how much I love their stuff but instead thisis about Ikea through the eyes of the Little Guy.
Does this chair come in a smaller size?
Trying out all the beds and chairs can leave you feeling like Goldilocks visiting the three bears.
Tea break!
Wile mommy is mentally redecorating the house there is plenty of time to try out some of the great Ikea dishes.

The original play station.
These triangular treasures are placed where moms and dads are likely to linger the longest.
The first serious attempt at playing the memory game.
Finally, stuff that's my size!
"Testing" the products in the kids area not only keeps the kids busy, it also gives the parents a chance to see what might make a great present for the next birthday!

Other great Ikea points include:
☆ kids menu for lunch
☆ play area in the dining rooms
☆ family bathrooms
☆ family rest room (diaper change and nursing space)
☆ kids can explore the display areas
☆ indoors - great for rainy days!
☆ affordable
☆ kid and family activities throughout the year!

Of course you can't face the hour-long train ride home without a little ice cream first!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Do You See What I See?

Here's an easy activity to throw together when you child needs something new to stimulate the mind.
Take a clean, clear bottle, put some things inside and then fill it the rest of the way with filler.
This one has random things from around the house. There is a golf tee, safety pin, fuzzy balls, pipe cleaner, plastic flower, and a bread bag tie.
For filler I used some old beans that I had sitting around.
Secure the lid tightly and you are all set!
Some other variations include choosing a theme for the included objects. You could put in little letters, stick to a color theme, make a beach bottle - maybe even with a message?
Fillers can be anything you have around. Sand, beans, noodles, and rice work well. I've also made a set of the bottles filled with water.
Another possibility is to make a card listing the items included in the bottle for the child to refer to.
Small versions can be a great toy to take along in the diaper bag to look at while at the Dr.'s office or waiting in line. A big one (2 liter) can provide a real challenge if filled with the whole alphabet and a few surprises!

Friday, March 5, 2010

クーヨン モンテッソーリの子育て

Have you seen the new クーヨン magazine publication abotu Montessori? It's called モンテッソーリの子育て and you can find it on
クーヨン, in English crayonhouse, publishes a number of items related to raising children and even has a few family-friendly bookstores. When I have time I really hope to visit one.
Recently the monthly magazine has caught my attention but since there aren't a whole lot of pictures (I read pictures better than kanji!) I'm not ready to subscribe. The special issues though really catch my attention. This one, on the Montessori method, has enough charts and pictures to hold my interest while being a clear enough overview to interest my husband. For someone who really doesn't know much about Montessori this is agood place to start. Or, for someone like myself who knows a bit but doesn't have the right vacabulary in Japanese to explain things well this can be a great tool for introducing others to Montessori.
On a blog that I sometimes read there was a detailed post today concerning this publication. You can find it at モンテッソーリな子育て LIVE.
I see on Amazon that クーヨン has similar special issues on other early childhood methods. Perhaps I'll have to get some of those too?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sign of the Week

If you couldn't talk for some reason, like when you get sick and loose your voice, how would you tell people that you are hungry?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Clifford has been Found!

This morning the LIttle Guy had his first exposure to Clifford.
My husband has been trying to give me a littl extra sleep in the mornings and discovered that turning on Cartoon Network ( can buy an extra half hour while he "opens up shop" (the church mainly) for the day. Today just happened to be the Clifford time slot - and the Little Guy is hooked!
He loves dogs so he watches it with his stuffed dog. They are really too cute talking to the dog on TV!
As you may know I"m not a huge fan of purposless TV or using hte TV to babysit but Clifford once in a while is like giving the Little Guy a little American culture lesson because it is so different from Japanese shows. not to mention that it is in English ;-)
Here is the PBS Kids Clifford site: