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HAPA Holidays!

Just when there's really NO MORE ROOM in our tiny apartment....

How about a family piano for the holidays?
Sure...we'll just squeeze it in behind the couch.
Just like a sofa table...now instead of a boring old walkway to the bedrooms, we have a "Music Nook!"
Zo loves it so far, so we're good.

A song from us..to you...Hapa Holidays!


Our Haus.

Nothing says December like ICING.

Hapa Lab is in Holiday Mode...we are making some serious glue for our serious Gingerbread Haus.

Cooking is one of the best ways for the kiddos to enjoy the holiday season and put those practical life skills to fun use!   All that mixing, spreading, dipping, layering....an edible craft project is always a hit for a toddler.

Gathering all the ingredients...

preparing the tenants.

 can always use MORE gumdrops!

 I see room for one more......squeeeeeeeeeze.

 Our Before...

and After...



Presentation:  Scissor Cutting

"No no!  Don't touch that!"
Alittle jumpy around scissors?  The words "Toddlers & Blades" don't exactly go hand in hand.  But instead of being scared all the time, why not just teach your little one how to handle them?  Correctly of course.

Zo actually showed interest in cutting alittle before 2.5, and was snipping at cracker packages already on his own.  I thought to encourage him to practice cutting with this exercise.  Those little grip muscles are actually pretty weak and the open & close action of the scissors can present quite the challenge for those tiny hands.
But man, how very PROUD he was when he learned how to do it...can't beat that glowing smile.

The Goal:
Strengthen pincher & grip skills using scissors.
Build hand-eye coordination in cutting objects.

The Set Up:
1)  Blunt Scissors
2)  Papers
3)  Colored Markers
4)  Basket or container

The Presentation:
1)  Draw a number of lines on the strips of paper, 1 - 2" wide.
2)  Trace the lines with bare finger to indicate the visual cutting guide.
3)  Hold the scissors in one hand, slowly, feed the thumb through the smaller handle, and the rest of the fingers in the other.
4)  Begin cutting the paper into strips along the marker lines.
5)  Allow the cut strips to fall directly into the basket below.

Zo went straight to work on a new workbook he got as a gift. 
making a puzzle.

making pizza.

making triangles.

making a mess...the BEST part.

The workbook session ended with Zo just shredding the worksheet.  He worked hard on following the lines for the triangles, but found bliss just chopping everything up into confetti chop-Suey!

Practical Application?
Food Prep!!!  Scissors are one of my favorite kitchen utensils, a close second to my cooking tongs.  Preparing string beans for a stir fry is nothing with my handy snippers.  Zozie was on hand to help mama with this task...  2 Bowls, 1 Pair of scissors, a buch o'string beans.  Have at it.

my little helper.

ends in one bowl.

beans in the other.

A few days later...Christmas Morning.
loving his new scissors.

Those handy scissors in motion...


In a Pinch.

Presentation:  Animal Sorting

This is a quick variation on the previous "Pom Pom" tool.
I came upon this small bamboo tray in Japan Town @ Daiso, $1.50.
The set came with a 3 compartment tray with handle & a small basic bamboo tong.  The package said that this was a "Pill Box?"  Go figure.

I'm always coming up with new work tool variations based on things I come across, so this seemed like a natural off-shoot of our classwork.  Similar skill being built, but just adding Jewel-Toned Animals to catch Zo's eyes!   
The pieces came from an existing Mancala set we owned.

The Goal
Counting, color & shape sorting, pincher skill.

The Set Up
1)  A tray with compartments (egg crate, ice tray..)
2)  Handful of colored animals (or any other small colored items)
3)  A small glass bowl
4)  Tweezers or tongs

The Presentation
1)  Demo the basic clamping motion of using a tweezer
2)  Pinch an animal, drop deliberately into a compartment.
3)  Pick up next animal, hover over each compartment until the animal in tong matches, then drop.
4)  Repeat until all animals are placed, go from left to right.
5)  Reverse presentation, place all animals back into bowl.
6)  Invite child to try. 

The Work Session
The tray was initially empty (first photo).  I placed a single colored animal into each compartment to give Zo a "hint" as to the goal of this tool.  Since it is a similar skill as the Pom-Pom, I actually did NOT present this tool to him.  I simply told him that I have "something new" for him and led him to find this tray on the work shelf.  Then, "animals into the box," I said.  The hint was enough to get him going on the sorting sequence.

Consequently, because he saw this tool for the first time with an animal in each compartment, this is how he wanted to "return" the tool to the tray.  You will see this on the clip.  Also the placement of the movable handle on the small tray was noted by Zo, as well as the initial location of the tong (I put it into the glass bowl before the session started).
This taught me again, that FIRST IMPRESSIONS are crucial in teaching a new tool per the Montessori Method.  What he sees FIRST, is what he thinks is right.  Keeps me on my toes regarding my behavior OUTSIDE of class time too.

Kids are sponges.

Anyways, see Zozie give this one a shot ....


Dawn. (Part 2)

Part 1 is about the actual cruise ship...
Part 2 is about the sightseeing.
First stop?
Grand Cayman.

Our guided tour started at the New Turtle Farm.

Needless to say, big BIG hit with the kids...

*Also saw dolphins across the farm*

Then...off to HELL.
The greenest one you will ever see.

Actually, just a town called "Hell" for it's unique 
volcanic rock formations.

We're in Hell! (I think Zo just needed to go potty.)

The best feature of Grand Cayman?

Crispy Water.


and the skies.

cute birds...

What's a trip to the Caribbean without a PIRATE???

weird pirate guy, but went for the photo-op anyways.

Kids just have fun EVERYWHERE.

That (above) can be a fountain at any shopping mall.
They could careless if we were in the Caribbeans.
A good pal, a place to run, who needs more?
We could all learn from such simplicity eh?

Next stop?  
Tulum Mayan Ruins in Cozumel.

hey...those aren't Mayans!

Amazing native wild life...

Then, the streets of Cozumel...
which is....?

what dah??
Um...Let's go back to this image below.

yes, much better.