five + two =

The Best Gift You Can Give Your Toddler

Saturday, May 12th, 2012 2:38 pm | By Stephanie Woo

This morning, Mackenzie was crying and attached to my leg, so to distract her, I took out a mandarin orange for her to peel. She immediately stopped crying, sat down on her chair and began peeling. It’s not easy task for a 17 month old. She was using so much force pulling the skin off the orange that the rest of her body was shaking. Being a mom, my heart hurt watching her work so hard, but the Montessorian in me knew that I shouldn’t interfere, so I bit my tongue and kept quiet. Bit by bit, she peeled the entire thing by herself. I said to her, with relief in my voice, “Now you can eat it!” Brooke came over. Mackenzie immediately handed her the peeled orange and looked up at the bag of unpeeled orange, holding her hand out for another one to peel.

Just like my mother, Ms. Lam, told me, children around 1 1/2 – 3 years old, are not working for a reward of any kind. The reward is the work itself. This is so important: THE REWARD IS THE WORK ITSELF. What’s the biggest gift you can give your toddler? Watch what they’re interested in doing, give it to them, then leave them alone to do it for as long as they like without interrupting them! Don’t talk to them, don’t say, “good job,” don’t try to help them or correct them, do not even look at them. It might be climbing up and down the stairs, or pouring water from one thing into another, or digging sand, or ripping up a piece of paper, or lying there singing the same song over and over, it doesn’t matter what it is. Just let them work. This is so simple, yet so hard, for a parent to do. But I assure you it is the best gift you can give them to prepare them for the future. Concentration, coordination, self-discipline – you cannot pay enough money to give your child these things down the line!


This video was taken the week before…

Brooke Peels a Boiled Egg

Saturday, May 5th, 2012 3:18 pm | By Stephanie Woo

Every Wednesdays, we have soy-sauce braised chicken wings and eggs for dinner. It’s a delicious Shanghainese specialty. On those days, we boil many eggs and the girls help peel them. Well, ‘helping’ implies they save me time, but actually, right now, it takes more time to have them ‘help. ‘ BUT I know investing time now will pay off later when they can do it by themselves! We’ve been practicing for several weeks and luckily for Mama, I was able to capture the first time Brooke (16 months) peels an egg all by herself! I even let her eat it at the end, which I don’t always do.

She’s already broken the shell by tapping the eggs on the table. Here she is starting out.

She peels off the first couple cracked eggshells at the top.

Notice how she uses her thumb to peel away the shell. This took many demonstrations on Mama’s part! It takes a lot of control to be able to use ENOUGH strength to peel the shell but not TOO much strength so your thumb goes through the egg white.

She brings the egg to her lap to work on it.

She’s so concentrated at this point that when I said, “Brooke, turn the egg around,” she actually jumped. Don’t ever interrupt your child when they are engaged or concentrating!

A big piece comes off. Can you see how she just throws the egg shells everywhere as she’s peeling? We gotta work on getting it in the bowl!

The last little bit is left.

She takes it off.

All done. A clean egg!

She breaks the egg in half. No egg yolk for me, thank you!

Brooke enjoys the fruits of her labor.

This activity took a while for the twins to get the hang of. Whether they are successful or not depends a lot on the egg, some eggs are easy to peel and the shell comes off in chunks; some eggshell sticks to the egg and are difficult to peel even for an adult. I find bigger eggs are easier to peel than smaller eggs. However, they don’t care whether they are ‘successful’ or not – they just want to do it!

Even better than peeling is snacking on these organic, omega-3 eggs afterwards!

Window Cleaning

Monday, April 30th, 2012 12:32 pm | By Stephanie Woo

Window cleaning is a great Montessori Practical Life activity perfect for the home. Here’s how we do it–

Here is Mackenzie with her spray bottle – just water inside.  What I like about this bottle is, though the part you squeeze is wide for little hands, it is quite loose, so they were able to get water out of the bottle early on by using both hands. We have another spray bottle that is smaller and tighter and took much longer for them to master.

She can finally ‘one-hand’ it!

She uses a squeegee to wipe the water off the window

She finishes by wiping it with a small soft cloth.

Window cleaning is very attractive to young children because they love anything that involves water. Add the cool tools (spray bottle, squeegee) that go with it, and it’s a true winner that they are happy to do over and over again!

I can’t say our windows are any cleaner since they’ve started doing this activity, but my favorite part is leaving the house and then looking in to find their little silhouettes busy wiping down the window. It’s amazing to watch them work with such intensity!

The right material is key for your toddler, make sure you consider the size, weight and feel of each item before purchasing it. Here’s where I bought mine:

Squeegee: This one from Montessori Services is narrow enough for small hands to hold and maneuver

Spray bottle: Make sure you test it out before buying it. I bought mine at a local bath and beauty store, but this one seems to have gotten good reviews

Cloth: I used these as burp cloths when they were babies. Now they are the perfect length, width and thickness for window wiping!

Tray: This tray is light to carry and sized perfectly to hold everything together.