Mini Piccolini! a family lifestyle blog

Pre-school ABC Learning Activities

Louis’ group at pre-school has suddenly become really interested in the alphabet. Most of these kids are just between two and three years old but they’re really into it.

Even with such small kids, even without pushing too hard, there’s a lot you can do to encourage an interest in letters and reading. Here are some of the best ideas I’ve found:

Sand trays are a classic montessori tool for practicing letters. A great way to use to them is to start with just tracing shapes, like a wave, or a zigzag. The tray on the left is a salt tray. I like that there is a slot for the letter (or shape) the child is practicing. The tray on the right is a sugar tray.

Another great way to practice letters is tracing them with your fingers. Sandpaper letters are a common Montessori tool. These ones are made with puffy paint, and since I recently made my own DIY puffy paint, I’d love to make these for the kids.

An alphabet museum is a great way to learn letters. It’s so hands-on. Up top is a Montessori sound object box and below is a much simpler diy alphabet museum. I would love to make one like that with the boys. For more on how to work with a Montessori alphabet box, see here.

I think “erasing” letters on a chalkboard with water is a great way to playfully get small children to practice tracing letters.

Did I miss any great learning tools that you’d recommend? How did your children learn their letters?

The photo at the top is the cover of Alec’s ABC book that we made for him a year ago. Maybe it’s time to make one for Louis now!

Posted in Education & Learning, Kiddos, Louis, Nursery School | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

18 Great Wallpapers for Kids’ Rooms

I love wallpaper, but it’s the scariest thing, no?

I think when you get it right, there is no better way to decorate a room. But it’s such a huge decision. We took the plunge and wallpapered a wall of our bedroom last fall and we are so happy we did. We love the wallpaper we chose, and I think it really makes the room. Now I’d love to find the perfect wallpaper for the play room and the kids’ bedroom.

The play room is all aquas, light blues, greys and creamy whites. And their bedroom has pops of hot pink, sunny yellow, lime and sky blue. For the play room, I’d probably choose something more neutral (like the little dots) and do the entire room, but in the bedroom (which is a smaller room), I’d love to go with something more bold, but maybe just do one wall.

Here are some of the papers that I have been looking at (click the photos for links). Which one(s) do you like? Would you wallpaper a whole kids room?

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The Best Easy Everyday Veggie Burgers

Around here, veggie burgers are always a good idea for dinner. We have a few different burgers we make but these Sweet Potato Cannelini Bean Veggie Burgers are definitely a favourite of mine. They are super quick and easy to make, healthy, and always enjoyed by all. The children LOVE them. And I love the good stuff they are getting in these burgers.

The kids usually have theirs with a little ketchup and bbq sauce (they love bbq sauce – probably because it’s basically just spicy sugar sauce, right?) on the bottom half of a bun with a lettuce leaf on top instead of the top half, so they’re not just filling up on bread for dinner. I sometimes have mine in lettuce instead of on a bun. The patties freeze really well too, which makes them an even easier weeknight dinner, or a great quick lunch. Click past the break for the recipe!

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Posted in Food, Mini Veg | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Getting Organized

Do you ever just get the urge to pull everything you own out of every little corner of you home, sort, throw away and put it all back in order?

Right now I feel like I need to go through every inch of our home. Everything feels cluttered and unorganized. I know it’s not really as bad as it feels – it hasn’t even been a year since I last put in a major effort to get organized – but the itch has hit me hard this time.

Fortunately (?) our builder is AWOL, so instead of moving the whole family out for a month while our bathroom is re-done, we’re going to try to tie up some loose odds and ends at home and I am hoping to really really really get organized.

When it all hit me yesterday, Sumit made a couple of attempts to get me to hold off a few days until we have some time to get it done (instead of just pulling everything out of everywhere and then not having time to put it all back), but I couldn’t really. So I moves stuff around in the kitchen already and it felt so good!

Do you have the de-cluttering itch right now too? Is it just the new year getting me do you think?

Photo: Real Simple

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It’s Friday!

Yay! It’s Friday!

Léonie is right in the middle of a development leap and we are really feeling it. Yesterday I had our whole day set up around long nap walks to and from a lunch date on the other side of town, but Baby Girl was not going to spend a happy minute in the stroller. Good times.

What are you up to this weekend? We are going to a dinner with some dear friends from our years in India, and were planning to pack up the apartment to move out while our bathroom is ripped out and then rebuilt as two bathrooms. But we can’t get ahold of our builder. Never a good sign. Also, Alec will be back at soccer following the winter break – he is super excited.

Here are a whole bunch of good links to keep you busy:

Balloon Ice – Best party trick ever!

21 surprising parenting tips. A must-read!

I want to put everything I own into these sweet glass jars. Or these boxes.

A candid view of a day in a montessori home.

I bought this after reading about it on Joanna Goddards (always spot-on) gift guide and now I can’t wait to use it!

Dads who do chores raise daughters who aspire to more high-paying careers.

Disney princesses with realistic waistlines looks fabulous.

The best IKEA hacks for kids rooms.

I’m not (pregnant). But this is a good read.

The dangers of winter coats and car seats.

Really mini miniature golf.

Have an amazing weekend! Meet back here on Monday!

Posted in It's Friday | 2 Comments

Our Favourite First Books

We love to read with the children. We start early (especially with Alec – we read to him every day almost from birth) and we read first thing in the morning and then again before bed (and any other time we’re asked!).

The kids all have their own favourite books, but some books have been loved by all of them (and by Sumit and me!). They’re worn and torn and can be found all over our flat, sometimes in the strangest places. These are our very first favourite books, the ones we know off by heart and love to read over and over again:

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Posted in Baby, Education & Learning, Favourite Things, For Baby, Léonie | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
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