Thursday, December 20, 2012

Here Comes Q-ball!

  With the holidays quickly approaching, we will be headed to visit family soon.  Of course, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles- everyone- is excited to see Q-ball.  To prepare everyone for our visit, I wanted give everyone a Q-ball primer.  Her are her current favorite things and habits right now...

Q-ball is coming to town!  You'd better watch out!

  1. Q-ball loves talking.  Once she starts telling you a story, you can expect to listen to it for quite awhile.  Start practicing your charade skills now.
  2. Q-ball loves to eat.  (when we are not fighting yet another stomach virus.)  She can do an especially impressive job of eating ham, eggs, bananas, blueberries, etc, etc.
  3. Q-ball likes you to sing to her on demand.  She will say "de-da-de-da" and expect you to immediately sing the song in her head.  I suggest trying them in this order: "I Can Sing a Rainbow," "Wheels on the Bus," and, seasonally, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."
  4. Q-ball will probably follow you to the bathroom.  If not, she'll at least talk about the fact that you went to the bathroom for the rest of the day.
  5. Q-ball is potentially a future track star.  If she takes off running to check out a really cool thing, a quick walk will likely not close the gap.  Get your running shoes ready.
We look forward to seeing family soon!

Check out what other kiddos are doing as the holidays approach at Vibrant Wanderings!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Our Three Period Montessori Christmas Lesson

  Given that Q-ball (nearly 21 months) is clearly starting to pick up new vocabulary words and has the ability to now focus on a task that interests her for several minutes, I seized this holiday season as a time to do our first more formal lesson. I used the Montessori three period lesson format to teach Q-ball new Christmas words.  And, we even finished with a craft!  She learned incredibly quickly, and we had a great time! I was shocked to see I was able to entertain a young toddler with this activity for almost 30 minutes!

  • Christmas book with clear pictures of the vocabulary words you want to present (I used 10 Trim-the-Tree'ers as it had very clear pictures throughout.)
  • Large piece of paper
  • Cookie cutters (some need to match the vocabulary words you've chosen)
  • Washable paint
The Lesson:
Of course, everything ends up in her mouth...
  • Step 1: Using the book, I pointed out new vocabulary words to Q-ball.  For example, I pointed to the snowman saying, "This is a snowman."  (We used stocking, snowman, Christmas tree, candy cane, bell, and star.) 
  • Step 2: After reviewing each word several times, I asked Q-ball to find the words in the book.  She was able to do this quickly.  (If you child is not able to do this with 100% accuracy, go back to step 1.  The goal is for your child to succeed, so you do not want to move forward until you have 100% success. Doing this over several days is more than acceptable!)
  • Step 3:  I then asked Q-ball to transfer her knowledge to other similar objects. We walked around our house, and I asked her to find the "Christmas tree," "stockings," and "star."  Finally, I placed all of the cookie cutters on the table.  I repeated each vocabulary word, and Q-ball picked out the appropriate cutter.
  • Step 4:  And now the fun part!  Using paint, we created stamps with the the cookie cutters.

Montessori Mom. (2009). The three period lesson. Retrieved from
Montessori Print Shop Blog. (2012). How to give a Montessori 3 period lesson. Retrieved from

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Toddler's Nutrient Needs

Interested in nutrition for your growing infant or toddler?  Check out my other nutrition posts here!
 The other day my husband commented, "You've gone dip crazy!"  And, it's true. I make us 1-3 different kinds of dips each week. But, we love eating them, and they are healthy. At least, I have been assuming they were healthy. I realized I hadn't done much research into toddler nutrition in quite awhile.  So, for this Science Friday, I will explore what the nutrient needs of a toddler are, especially working to find out what drives each of these nutrient needs. I did quite a bit of Internet research and discovered that there is not too much information on toddler nutrition, especially for nursing toddlers. In fact, most sources that focus on feeding children ages 1-5 do not mention nursing, despite the fact that the World Health Organization recommends that children continue breastfeeding until at least 2 years old.
    It is true that the USDA has a MyPlate Food Guide for children, and it's also true this guide does not mention breastfeeding.  Additionally, this guide places a pretty high emphasis on a diet rich in grains and dairy products derived from cows' milk. While no one in our family suffers from any wheat or dairy intolerance, we have seen and felt rather dramatic changes by limiting these products. So, I'm a little hesitant to use this as my only guide. The guide I found most helpful in determining a healthful diet for a toddler is published by the World Health Organization and is available here

Here's a rundown of the five most important nutrient needs of a breastfeeding toddler (of course, there are many more nutrients a growing child needs, but these seem to be most important for growth AND are those in which a toddler is most likely deficient):
  1. Protein, about 16g/day:  This is more protein per pound of body weight than an adult requires!  In addition to aiding with all of the growth a toddler is doing, protein helps a toddler maintain muscular strength, maintain health of ligaments, joints, and tendons, and helps maintain immunity by carrying oxygen throughout the blood stream.  Additionally, protein helps maintain brain cells to help with all of the learning that a toddler is doing!  Found in animal products like meat, eggs, and legumes.
  2. Fat, 30-45% of calories should be from fat:  Most adults run from fat, but it's very important for growing toddlers!  Fats surround nerve cells in the brain, helping to protect it. Fats also aid in the development of the brain and central nervous system.  Additionally, fats add in the absorption of other essential nutrients.  Found in breastmilk, dairy products, oils.
  3. Iron, 7mg/day: Toddlers are almost entirely reliant on foods other than milk and breastmilk for their iron needs as milk is not a source of iron.  As such, a study in 2007 found that 2.7 million children are iron deficient.  Iron is used to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body.  Toddlers with iron deficiencies are at risk for developmental delays, including retarded growth and learning difficulties.  Found in meat (especially liver), legumes.
  4. Vitamin A: Aids in bone growth and vision development. Protects against illness.  Found in colorful fruits and veggies- carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, spinach, etc. 
  5. Vitamin D: While most people believe that they get enough vitamin D from the sun, new studies are questioning this assumption.  Children especially need vitamin D to help absorb calcium to help build strong bones and teeth.  Found in fish, eggs, and fortified foods.  (Given that we eat very few fortified foods, this is the nutrient that I find is most difficult to ensure Q-ball gets enough of. As such, vitamin D is the one supplement that I give Q-ball.)

With my new knowledge of toddler nutritional needs, I still believe that my dips are a healthy choice for Q-ball!  Here are some of our favorites recipes with a bonus explanation of their nutritional value from yours truly!  (I guess that's the least I could do as I'm clearly borrowing all of these recipes from others.)
  1. Black bean spinach dip: This is a yummy way to get a toddler to eat spinach, a good source of iron.  It's bean-based, so it provides a decent amount of protein and fiber (which, while not mentioned previously, is typically very important for toddlers.) Another added bonus is the salsa- sources of vitamin C, like tomatoes, aid in the absorption of iron.  And, for those of you who are afraid of spinach, I promise you won't notice it!
  2. Chocolate-chip cookie dough: Yes, you read that correctly! And, yes, it's amazing!  High in protein, and with minimal sugar (I typically use 2-3 T of brown sugar for the whole recipe, but I've used less and added stevia drops instead.) Also, a great source of fiber.  And, if you use dark chocolate chips, you'll get the antioxidants in chocolate. 
  3. Sweet Potato Hummus: This combines two amazing foods.  Chickpeas again provide iron, protein, and fiber.  Sweet potatoes add lots of vitamin A and even more fiber.
  4. Avocado-White Bean Dip: Again bean-based, so good for protein and fiber.  The avocado provides extra healthy fats for your growing toddler.
  5. Carrot-Cashew Miso Spread: I found this recipe in the cookbook Clean Start.  The carrots are a great source of vitamin A, while the cashews provide fats.  The miso provides the benefits that come with all fermented foods- high levels of vitamin B and naturally-occurring probiotics. Miso is also high in fiber and antioxidants.  This is also a great way to introduce what might be the acquired taste of fermented foods to newbies. 

10 nutrients that every child needs. (n.d.) Retrieved from
Coleman, E.(n.d.) Very important nutrients during the toddler stage. Retrieved from
World Health Organization. (2009). Infant and young child feeding. Retrieved from

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Watch Her Grow...

This Week's Focus: Language and Holiday Cheer

Interactions with Materials
  • We are, of course, still very interested in Christmas everything.  Books, music, decorations...
  • Her great grandmother gave her a nativity scene, and she has loved manipulating all of the people and pieces.  She seems especially interested in making connections between her books and the physical pieces.  
  • Yesterday we went skating for the first time.  She loved it!  Music, lights, and skates!  We used the over-the-shoe type, and they worked better than I could have imagined.
Interactions with Others 
  • Yesterday was one of our first public tantrum(s).  We met some new friends at a play area with a super, super cool car to sit in.  (The thing didn't even have a steering wheel, for goodness sake!) Q-ball did not like when other people sat in the car.  It made her very, very mad.  But, after this happened for the third time, and we again talked about feeling angry and alternative activities, she calmed down and seemed to understand (for that moment) that the pain would eventually pass.
  • One person that Q-ball does seem open to meeting is Santa.  Yesterday we attended an event where she was able to talk to Santa multiple times, and she happily walked up to him shake his hand.
Critical Thinking 
  • Her sense of humor creeps out throughout the day, which I certainly consider a sign of deeper thought. She is especially interested in mimicking other people.  A few nights ago she demonstrated to Daddy how Mama takes very deep breaths throughout the day.  
Interactions with Life 
  • We are having potty success every day this week- typically in the mornings and nights, as we are out and about during the day.  She is very excited that she is finally able to use toilet paper and flush!
  • The time has come.  This week, Q-ball started saying "no."  Specifically, "no, no, no," typically accompanied by head shaking.
We are linking up with Vibrant Wanderings!  Check out what the other kiddos are up to!

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Pictures!

So, here are some pictures that I know that my faithful "readers" have been missing...

She moved these snowmen between two different flat surfaces for about 20 minutes- she just couldn't decide which looked best.

Other kids made gingerbread houses.  Q-ball ate.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Watch Her Grow...

This Week's Focus: Language and Holiday Cheer

 Blah! I'm having issues with uploading images right now!  I hope to send some out tomorrow!
Interactions with Materials
  • Q-ball is totally ready for this holiday season. I was quick on the uptake for this holiday after failures with Halloween and Thanksgiving and got our Christmas books from the library in the last week of November.  After seeing Christmas trees, Santa Claus, baby Jesus, donkeys, and snowmen in all of her books, Q-ball's favorite materials right now are definitely seasonal.  She's really excited that she now recognizes everything that we see out and about.
  • Another seasonal fav- Christmas lights. We recently went to our local Christmas tree lighting.  She was very excited. As I've said here before, it's really amazing to see everything through a child's eyes. On the drive home, we were able to go by more lights (we are rarely out after dark, so we had to make the best of it!)  Now, she sits in her carseat when we are driving and makes the "more" sign, asking to see more lights.  (Sadly, it's during the day...)
  • And, I'll include music as a material here.  We've certainly been able to make the most of musical appreciation this holiday season.  Q-ball now recognizes several Christmas songs.  By far, The Little Drummer Boy is her favorite, and she is constantly asking to hear "MMMMMMM!" Family might remember that I really dislike this song, so I've really been demonstrating unconditional love by listening to it several times and hour.  Q-ball can also do a pretty sweet version of Mariah Carey's high notes in All I Want for Christmas Is You!
Interactions with Others 
  • This week we continued shaking hands with people that were new to us, but she is starting to seek more interaction, especially with those her own size.  At recent trips to the zoo and park, she was eager to point out sights to other visiting kids.  It's fun to see what social cues she uses to get others' attention and then to re-direct it.
Critical Thinking 
  • I think we are in another language explosion here. (Perhaps this explains her (my?) difficulty going to sleep.)   
  • I know also have to remember that Q-ball remembers everything I say.  Sometimes when she really starts talking (and she really, really can talk a lot!), I'll say, "Let's remember to try to tell Daddy when he gets home," to have one second of quiet.  She'll say "doh!" (her version of yes), and when Daddy comes home hours later, she immediately runs to him and tells him the story.
Interactions with Life 
  • I'm working on involving her in more practical life activities.  This week she started feeding dinner to the cats.  She's very excited about it and now expects to do it every night.

Question for the day: I know that I need more guidance as far as introducing new materials and activities following Dr. Montessori's philosophy.  I know lots of you out there can help!  How much do you demonstrate? How much do you assist? Is a child asking for assistance indicative that the material is above her current abilities?  

We are linking up with Vibrant Wanderings!  Check out what the other kiddos are up to!
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