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Discover the secret of childhood from 0-3 year old:

Toys and activities

Our Montessori Home in Baltimore, MD

Monday, October 15th, 2012 2:34 pm | By Stephanie Woo

After a month of designing, purchasing and experimenting, I’m finally happy with the Montessori design of our new home.

When we first moved in, Mark and I agreed that the thick, dark-green carpeting in the living room had to go immediately. Within a week, Mark had put in brand-new laminate wood flooring. It cost less than $300 and completely transformed and uplifted the energy of the house! (Home Depot and a handy husband is all it takes, my friends). We then agreed that since the children will be spending the most time at home, we would set up their work space here on the first floor in the living room.

I’m so glad Mark and I are on the same page about our children: their education is our priority and you can see it when you come to our home.

Here are a few pictures of the children’s new work space:

On the other side of the room is my favorite thing of all – a child-sized sink that my husband designed and built! It is both luxurious (because so few homes have it) AND oh-so necessary (I never have to lift them up to the sink, press their stomach into the cold ledge of the sink and then hurry them through the whole washing process again!). Powered by a pump, it runs water up from a container through the faucet and then drains back down into the same container.

Here are some pictures of my amazing husband at work:

This is a standard sink from Home Depot, which Mark sawed down to size. Here he is installing the faucet. A goose-neck faucet makes it possible for children to fill up watering cans or pitchers at the sink.

He puts plumber’s putty around the drain ring in order to secure it to the sink

This container is from a fishing and marine store. For convenience’s sake, the water comes out of here and drains back here. We change it daily, which is simple to do.

You can’t see the pump, but once it’s plugged in, all you have to do is turn on the faucet and it works!

If you are in our neighborhood or passing through Baltimore, come for a visit! And bring the little ones to come and play with us!

In upcoming posts, I’ll be showing you the other areas in our home, including where we get dressed and where we eat. Stay tuned!

A Great Book

Monday, March 5th, 2012 1:36 pm | By Stephanie Woo

The best books for kids are ones based in reality.

Elementary school kids love fantasy, but very young kids, with their limited time on earth, are still doing all they can to learn about this world. So give them books that are based on things they can see, touch and experience in their everyday life. Don’t confuse them (and possibly scare them as they get older) with fantasy, myths or fairy tales. Put away books with animals that talk or go to school. YOU may find this boring, but it’s good for THEM to play on the swings in the park and then read a book about a child who plays on the swing, or for them to read books about children who nap, bathe, eat and sleep.

Which is why I love this book. It is based on reality, it’s about all the things you can with your hands, and most of the images are ones little kids can relate to, like waving bye-bye, playing peek-a-boo and putting on shoes. My kids love this book. I’ve been reading it to them for months now, and now, they will read it by themselves and do all the hand gestures that go along with it!

The picture shows a girl reaching up to touch a leaf, that’s what M is doing too

That’s M giving herself a hug!

Mackenzie waves bye-bye, just like the boy in the picture

Video: You Must Let Your Child Try This

Monday, December 5th, 2011 2:47 pm | By Stephanie Woo

Mackenzie is going through a phase of pointing at everything and saying, “Da?” She wants to know its name.

It’s like she woke up one day and suddenly discovered that everything has a name.  She’s always asking to be picked up and walked around so she can point at things and wait for us to give her the name. The sheer joy she exhibits upon hearing the names of those things makes it worthwhile to repeat ‘lights,’ ‘flowers,’ door’ a hundred thousand times, which is how often she asks.

Of all her favorite words, ‘light’ is at the top of the list. She loves to point at lights, hear the word ‘light’ in English (from Dad), then hear it again in Chinese (from me), watch us turn on and off the light, she’s interested in lamps, recessed lighting, hanging chandelier, bathroom lights, etc.…you can say she is generally obsessed with lights.

So I went to the hardware store and bought this foot-controlled light dimmer:

There were a couple other kinds, but many of them were hard to slide.  This one has a large switch and slides easily for little hands. I did a couple demonstrations for Mackenzie and Brooke. I would sit them in my lap and then slowly show them, “Turn the light on. Turn the light off. Turn the light on. Turn the light off…” Throughout the day, the light will suddenly turn on or off. I would look over and see someone practicing turning on and off the light.

Montessori says to “Follow the Child.” The key is to observe them carefully over a period of time, see what they’re interested in, then give it to them. When you can connect them to the right thing, it’s like a switch goes on in their head…