Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mathai Gardens, Filling the Bird Feeder, and Incorporating a Prepared Environment

This morning we went to the University of Michigan's Mathai Botanical Gardens!  The really great thing about this trip was that it was free!  Other than, of course, the small amount of gas we used to get there -- we live only a short distance from the gardens.

After walking through the main garden area, we came to the Gaffield Children's Garden.  Wow!  I was not expecting the children's garden to be so amazing!  There are plants galore, including a vegetable garden area where you are free to taste test the veggies, a "troll and fairy knoll" where you can use objects found in nature to build fairy houses, streams, ponds, bridges, animal statues, a log cabin, trails to walk on, tunnels made of grape and pumpkin vines, and much more!

Here are some pictures of our trip:

Froggy Boots using a leaf stamp made out of a potato cut by a cookie cutter.

Froggy Boots loves to smell flowers!  Here she found a very pretty flower buried under some other plants.  She climbed up on the rock wall to get a closer "smell."

Froggy Boots playing bells.

Froggy Boots sitting on top of one of the several stone statues -- a turtle!

This was a face made of stone, what appeared to be glass balls for eyes, and a mouth made out of rocks.

Froggy Boots walking out of the pumpkin vine tunnel.  This was by far her favorite part of the whole trip!

Froggy Boots walking out of the grape vine tunnel.  Again, this topped the list along with the pumpkin vine tunnel!

We got home from our trip just in time for lunch, a little bit of play, and nap time.  After nap time and snack, we headed to the backyard to water the plants and fill the bird feeder.  The poor birds had been without bird seed for a couple days...

Froggy Boots always helps me water the plants and has also shown a lot of interest in the bird feeder.  Since she had been practicing her scooping and pouring skills with beans inside, I decided to give her an opportunity to fill the bird feeder for me.  I set up a tray with a bowl of bird seed, a measuring cup for scooping, and the bird feeder.  She filled the whole bird feeder all by herself!  I was totally amazed!

Froggy Boots working on filling the bird feeder!

I didn't have to help her at all!
After Froggy Boots filled the bird feeder, she wanted to keep scooping and pouring bird seed.  So, I ran inside, grabbed several different sized bowls, came back out, and put them on her tray.  She immediately began scooping the bird seed and filling the bowls!  Later, I also went in and got her a spoon to use for scooping as well.  I was blown away by how long she worked on this!

Froggy Boots using the measuring cup to scoop from the large bowl to the smaller bowls.

Froggy Boots using the spoon to scoop from the large bowl to the smaller bowls.

Froggy Boots also practiced emptying the smaller bowls into the larger bowls.  She moved carefully and slowly while doing this.  She is very interested in "being careful" these days!

I learned a lesson of my own today about breaking a child's concentration.  Maria Montessori was very correct when she said that you should try to avoid breaking a child's concentration when she is working.  When it was time for me to go in and make dinner, I asked Froggy Boots if she would like to move the scooping inside and use her beans instead, she said "yes."  But, after I got the activity set back up for her, she used it for about a minute and then was no longer interested.  Her concentration had been broken... oh well, sometimes you can't avoid these situations!

Along with the "Montessori Makeover" I have been working on in my preschool classroom, I have also been trying to bring the Montessori prepared environment into my home for Froggy Boots.  So far I have only done a few things.  The major one was to switch Froggy Boots from sippy cups to child-sized drinking glasses.  This was a fairly seamless transition.

Next on my list is to re-do her closet so that she is able to choose her own clothes and get them out of her closet by herself.  I was inspired to do this when I red a blog called The New Mommy Files.  I am planning to use the same method she has by installing a tension mounted shower curtain rod.  This way I can move it up as she grows.

I am also planning to install hand towel hooks at Froggy Boots level in both of our bathrooms and a bath towel hook in the upstairs bathroom so that she can take down and hang up her own bath towel.  At this point I am planning to use those removable sticky-back hooks for this project.  That way there is no hole drilling necessary and they can be easily removed when Froggy Boots no longer needs them.


  1. That Garden is amazing! I wish lived just a little closer! How much fun would that be?
    Oh and Good Job Froggy Boots! You can see the concentration in those pictures! Such goos work! I have had to interupt work sometimes too, but that is life I guess. She did a great job! Good Luck on your reorganization goal! Making the house kid friendly is sometimes a feat of cleaver planning! I love those removable hooks for stuff. If you do get the one for the towel, but sure that it is one of the strong ones. I used a regular one for a towel and it kept falling down! Thanks for sharing!

  2. That would be fun! I think your girls would enjoy the garden!

    I did get the big hooks that hold 5 lbs. for her bath towel. The only problem is that I had to hang it so high up to keep the towel from hitting the floor that she can not reach it... Maybe I need to get her a smaller towel. She is using the same ones as my husband and I.

  3. I know *exactly* what you mean about hating breaking their concentration. I find this holds true for my two boys even when they are involved in creative free play. Thanks for linking to Montessori Monday!

  4. Oops - I almost forgot! Would you mind adding the MM button to your post? That way your readers will be able to see all of the great links. Thanks!

  5. Nicole,

    I have seen alot about Montessori Monday, but I don't know what it is can you explain it to me? Also, I would be happy to add it to my post, but where do I go to get the code for it??