Have a LAB Transformation of your own?

We would also love to feature YOUR transformations! Submit your own LAB Work story, comments, & photos to: HapaLab@Gmail.com


I Stamping!

"I wanna do some-ding else."
I hear this from Zozie when he has trouble deciding what to do.

Go to your homeschool and see what you want to do?

Moments later... 
I Stamping!!

Love stamps. 
Actually...love WASHABLE stamping inks more.
He grabs the stamping tray, I rip a piece of paper off the roll.
We meet back at the table.

Inspecting the ink.
Different than using crayons or markers, the stamping process is a really great practice of applying "pressure" levels. 

A few months ago, he started out using the stamps by imitating my hand movements. 
Tap the ink pad with the stamp, then tap the paper. 
After a while, he noticed that the longer (and harder) he pushed on the ink pad, the darker the smudges on the paper.  Then soon after that, he noticed the longer (but not too much harder) he pushed on the paper, the less smudgy the image is.

This actually helped with his CUTTING skills at the dining table!
Really??  Totally.

This Pressure Sensitivity exercise lets him see the cause and effect of applying different degrees of force.
Instead of making "imprints" with his knife on his pancakes, he's actually going till he cuts off a piece.

One of Zo's favorite stamping games is having me make a marker "train track" and him stamping the Choo-Choo along the boxes... 

Although it will be a while before he can color "inside the box," he certainly enjoys stamping in it.
Hopefully, he'll keep outside coloring for a long while to come...there's something so awesome about those random squiggly lines that 2 year-olds make.
Can't teach that.


LAB Work: Mollie & Olivia

Working Budget:  $0
Time Spent:  5 Hours
Location:  Albany, CA

Meet Mollie (6) & Olivia (almost 2).
They live in UC Village, a place for CAL Grad students and their families.
Dad is completing his Phd in Law and Mama is a Japanese language teacher.
This is their 3rd year here in the US and their last semester at the Village.

Mollie had attended Bright Star Montessori in her preschool years and mom had always wished to set up a home play space that reflected the preschool environment which encouraged self reliance and independent growth.  Mostly, with 2 girls, she needed a home setup that is easy to maintain and obvious where things are put away.
Sort of like a really flirty & cute haircut that you can just "toss and go."
No mousse necessary.

So we show up for a usual Mandarin Playdate.

Snacks all around, moms are chatting away, but somehow...
HapaLAB strikes again!  *Shock*

Before you know it, mom's got the broom and dad's moving the TV cabinet to a different wall!

So what's the sitch?
Mollie & Olivia have a really spacious front Greatroom in their 2 bedroom apartment.  The space was intended for a living space (carpet) and dining space (linoleum).  The actual dining set was placed into the Eat-In-Kitchen.  This was suppose to turn the Greatroom to a Great-play-room.  But what they ended up with was a GIANT vacuum for clutter, toys, book, 2 desks, and a TV that was miles away from the sofa...in fact, where WAS the sofa anyways?  Oh...found it!  Now if I can only find those binoculars...
Ok, all jokes aside, this greatroom was in need of a little "Fluffing."
Nothing fancy, it's got all the pieces, just displayed in a random way.
Like you've got all the right ingredients to bake the perfect flan, but somehow, you end up with a soupy mess..?
Taste OK, but could look better, yes?
So I must be alittle hungry, and in need of a salon trim, but I press on...

The KEY in this particular LAB work?
Or I should say...NO Budget.
As this is their last semester in the village, they did not want to purchase furnishings for a space they will move out of in a few months.  Also being in their last semester, they have accumulated 3 years worth of "hand-me-down" goodies from all their past village friends.

This is really an excercise in what we need to "take away" instead of "add."
What we took away =  6 garbage bags of future yard sale items.

Here's the BEFORE shot of the future Play Zone:

And 5 short busy hours later....

After:  New Play Zone!

"We enjoy our NEW living room so much!  Mollie is going to have a long weekend (off from school) through Tuesday but she chooses to stay at home to work in her NEW CLASSROOM.  Thank you (Julie), we have such a big change." ~ Lilian

As usual, here's the Grand Tour of their LAB results:

Entry Foyer:
This foyer was much needed as always.  The front door opens into a flight of stairs that lead into this landing before entering the living space.  We've created a shoe rack area, installed 2 coat hooks, and set up all items needed for entering and exiting their home (diapers, socks, hats, sunscreen, keys bucket).  The utility shelf doubles as a "wall extender" to narrow the opening to the living room to attach a safety gate for Olivia. 
Storage Cabinet:
This was previously dad's bookcase turned into junk shelves...A truly PERFECT key piece to display their favorite toys, this is the anchor of the Play Zone.
Each cubby now has a single toy, making it easier for the girls to get to and play with each time.  The extras were stored away, to be rotated out for their turn in the cubby next month.
A red bucket became the front-facing book display, and the pink bucket holds all their favorite stuffed animals and dolls.

Art Supplies:
A three tier wicker shelf now holds all of their art supplies.  This use to hold the components for the television.  Now they have open access to paper, colors, tape, erasers, staplers, scissors, and much more.

Desk Setup:
We swapped out one adult desk for one child's desk from upstairs.  There was an existing small square table.  We mushed these 2 tables together as an "island"...and now there is a dual facing work station so that Mollie & Olivia can face each other while working in the Play Zone.  The difference in desk heights is also helpful as a physical barrier to little "tugging hands."
Desks facing each other.

M returns her backpack to the bag hook...

Cooking session...in progress.
Olivia...hard at work.
Mollie takes her turn.

Zozie takes...well...a Sofa nap.

Speaking of sofa...
For mom & dad, here's a new Living Room that has the TV and the Sofa together...SO happy together...in the same space.  We grouped the various seating in this space to surround a new OLD rug from our own Yard Sale stash to set the living space. The little child size denim armchair can face the TV or face the classroom as a reading chair.

Mom & dad were so giddy after the transformation, they stayed up late watching movies on their sofa last night, trying to enjoy their new space as much as possible!  *smiles*

Mama & Olivia.

Zero dollars.
All existing items, reused.


5 x 15.

That's the dimension of our "Green Space" in our little Perch.
No, not the classroom.
Rather, our Classroom Garden.
Herb garden to be exact...

A total of 75 square inches.

Sounds very "bountiful" when you put anything in "squares."

HapaLab was thoroughly inspired by Pomello Farm, a blog started by Aleli Jolicoeur (sister-in-law) about being reconnected with the earth from which our food grows.  She is involved with Food not Lawns and has really dug into the community of Claremont, CA.

We both are working our own soil daily.
Her outdoor garden is alive and thriving, and my indoor homeschool is ever changing and growing...

Since we don't actually have a yard, we decided our kitchen window ledge was as good as anything, right Aleli?  Zo was quite excited about the whole gardening project, even such a small one.

Things Used:
1)  A brown tin bucket
2)  Some herb seeds
3)  Potting Soil
4)  Water
5)  Mama nature's glorious sunlight

A few week later...

the Sprout.
We separated the soil initially into 3 areas...
One for Basil, one for chives, one for parsley.
These are herbs I cook with regularly. 

The chives have not come in yet, but the basil and parsley are peeping out nicely in our tin bucket.

It is great to have Zozie feel the potting soil, spread the seeds, and have him see that he can grow things with the sun and the water.  There is care and attention in watering the garden every day.  It really cultivates an awareness of caring for something else other than himself.  "Mine" is becoming a less frequent word in our house now.  The Way of the garden is undoubtedly calming.

Speaking of which, Aleli's children are lucky enough to have their own gardens!  So GREEN...both in vegetation, and in envy *sigh*...
Be sure to visit her post "A Bit of Earth"...so beautiful.

There's really no excuse to not try this at home.
If you have 5 x 15, you can do this too.

Go on...grow something...Just DIG IN!

8 weeks later...


50 Cents.

Presentation:  Threading.

Zozie started to notice my shoe laces.
He's messing about with them, taking them in and out of the loops.

As a side note... I'm a total Rummage Queen.
Yard sales, garage sales, co-op preschool sales, thrift stores, swap meets, curbside freebies...you name it, I'm there...looking.

At the last El Cerrito Co-Op Preschool Sale, I spotted a zip-lock with these little "cut-outs" & laces in them:

Threading Shapes

50 cents.
Are you kidding?
Right.  They came home with me...
And ON to one of my wooden trays.

Threading Tool Set Up:
1)  Cut out fun shapes using card stock, cardboard, balsa wood, etc.
2)  Can paint or color the shapes
3)  Punch holes along the outline of the shapes
4)  Use shoe lace, thread, ribbon, to trace the outlines
5)  Place everything onto a tray 

Ok, now that I have my threading tool, how do I present it?
As mentioned in the last post, presentations are crucial in setting the FIRST impression on how to do a new skill.  So like a job interview or a hot first date...let's leave a good first impression.

Thread Presentation:
1)  Roll out a table mat or floor mat
2)  Bring the tray with 2 hands to the mat
3)  Lay out all the shapes and decide which one to work on
4)  Use thumb & index finger to grip the head of thread
5)  Pull through the hole and loop around again
6)  Repeat till done

Given Zo's recent interest with the shoe laces, he went straight to work on these threading shapes.



Half a buck.
A whole morning of fun!

Future posts of other Rummage finds will come...
In the meantime, do share if you have your own version of a work tool: HapaLab@gmail.com


Some Basics...

Here are some "Montessori Basics" as a foundation for future tool presentation posts.  Also see our tabs at top for the Philosophy and our general school tools and classroom.
Yup.  Totally drinking the Monti-Kool-Aid...gulp.

Natural Materials:
There is a preference for learning materials to resemble the natural organic world around us.  The idea is that children learn about their physical world BEST when handling things that come from their natural surroundings. 

This is a preference, not a must.

But whenever possible, materials like wood, glass, ceramic, metal, wicker, grasses, rocks, grains, sand, are placed in a classroom.

Also helpful are tools that show how the physical world works.
So hinges, zippers, buttons, lids, sprays, transparent boxes & jars, anything that reveal a function is great for learning the source of "Cause" and result of "Effects".

There is also emphasis on setting up a "Beautiful and Breakable" environment. 
The natural beauty of all the tools and the clean presentations will attract a child to come explore and learn.  The breakable nature of the natural materials will teach a child to value and take stewardship over his belongings and to treat the physical world with respect and understanding.

A Work Mat:
This is the start and finish of any work.
Mats provide a visual "space outline" for the child to work in.  Just like how a place mat functions for meal times, a work mat gives the child a clear sense of where his work area is.  It carves a boundary for the child to focus, and for other children to stay outside the work perimeter when a child is working.  Respecting another child's space and focus is of utmost importance in a Montessori environment. 

Mat Use:
Children are asked to get a mat from the mat basket, carry it to their work area, roll it out, put an activity tray on it, do the activity within the mat, clean up when done, roll the mat back up, and replace into the basket.
Mats can be any material, just easily rolled and carried.  Sizes are 24"x24" for table mats and 36"x48" for floor mats (approximates).

This simple "visual" FOCUS cue is ingenious.

Wood Trays:
Again, a matter of visual boundaries and practical method of transporting tools to a work mat.  Best to get wood or bamboo tray with cut-out handles.  This provides stability when carried by a child to a work mat.
You can find some fine materials at online stores such as:
http://www.alisonsmontessori.com or http://www.montessoriservices.com

This is when a teacher (director) is sharing a new tool/skill with a child. 
If you haven't noticed by now, Montessori is VERY detail oriented in their presentations.  The stress is on a CLEAN presentation to a child.  The theory is that the FIRST impression is the DEEPEST impression.  It is preferred that you practice any tools before hand, to minimize any mistakes during your presentation, since any mistake may be interpreted as part of a lesson and not an error.  Generally best to gather all materials needed for a presentation prior to starting to minimize student confusion.  So rule of thumb:  Don't show anything your child is not ready for (lack of interest), or that you have not prepared for.

That's the Kool Aid in a nut shell.


A "Mickey" Cake!

Today is cake day.

Actually...it's "Turn a Book into a Project" DAY!
For classwork, we wanted to do a project based on the theme of a current book we are reading.
One of Zozie's favorite books....
In The Night Kitchen 
by Maurice Sendak.

It's a fantastic story about a little boy named "Mickey" who falls into some cake batter and gets baked into the big cake by three GOOFY bakers...

Meet our own "Goofy" baker.

We started by gathering the ingredients.

Then, we got to work.

Stir it, Scrape it, Make it, EAT it....hey, wait a minute.
Zozie helped measure the milk, mixed, and scooped batter.
He also really liked his "Baker's Apron."
After popping the batch into the oven, Zozie wanted to finish our project by "acting out" his favorite page.

No, I don't think so.
Not at the dining table.

Enjoy the little baker hard at work below...*Smiles*


LAB Work: Evan

Work Budget:  $300
Total cost?  $265
Location:  Brea, CA  

Evan...is our 3.5 year old nephew.
Both his parents are busy, busy, busy lawyers.

They have recently moved into a beautiful new 4 bedroom home.
They have also recently enrolled Evan in a full time Montessori Academy.
This is alot of change for a little guy...

HapaLab was asked to come carve out some "E" space in their new house.
They wanted Evan to feel at home and to feel self-reliant and confident with his growing abilities and expanding skill sets.
HapaLab had just the perfect ideas to help Evan.

We started in his room...

This is where Evan spends alot of time when at home.
We divided his spacious room into 4 basic working areas:
1)  Entry Foyer
2)  Reading Corner
3)  Bed & Rest Area
4)  Play Zone

Evan's Entry Foyer
Never forget an Entry FOYER...
This is a very important feature for a child.
Having a place for bags and hats is functional AND educational.
They'll know where their things go/are so it's less "pick up" for you!
We also added the clock above to help him tell time and to keep him on track for different tasks...
Spent:  $0 (re-used existing items)

Reading Corner!

Kids love books...and love BOOK NOOKS!
We set up a comfy chair for a grown-up to read to Evan, some forward facing book BASKETS on shelves close by, a cozy lamp, and a small reading desk for when he's on his own.
Spent:  $0 (re-used existing items) 

Bed & Rest Area
A comfy bed & rest area is essential in a bedroom!  We added some fun and colorful "Vehicle" bedding as that's an E-Love!  Also, as this is a Trundle bed, we added 4 industrial casters to his bedside Bookcase so we can easily wheel it away when a friend (or mommy) is staying over.  His favorite animals are close by, as well as a "keep it all neat" white trash can, neatly tucked away, yet very accessible.
Spent:  $100 (Bookcase $40, Baskets $15, Casters $30, Bedding $15)

The Play Zone:  Welcome!

And last, his PLAY ZONE!
This is a high "traffic" area and is one that required the most consideration with storage.  As Evan has alot of different toys, it was nice to use this "Cubby" bookcase (previously his nursery dresser), and have all his toys sorted neatly.  He now knows where things go when it's clean up time, and knows where to find toys that he is interested in.  The new play rug helps identify where the Play Zone is visually and creates a nice "anchor" for this corner of the room.
Spent:  $20 (Play Rug)

The LAB Work continued into the new home's common spaces.
We wanted the same accessibility throughout the rest of his grand home.

Evan's Work Area...

Wanting to support the Montessori methods presented in Evan's school, a dedicated "Work Area" was started in the Kitchen & Dining Area.  We shortened this original espresso breakfast set to accommodate Evan's little work bench.  We also bought 2 kid chairs and 2 kid stools that can double as adult "helper chairs" when working on crafts.  For visual uniformity, we are planning to stain the natural wood legs to match the espresso finish on the grown-up dining set.  You can see the new art cabinet beyond the tables.
Spent:  $110 (Table $50, Chairs $40, Stools $20) 

New Art Cabinet!
Here it is...
Evan's new ART Cabinet!
Evan has such a wonderful work area now, we wanted him to have full access to project supplies that strike his fancy...
Using the excess kitchen cabinets nearest the work bench, we created a storage for art supplies. 
Paints, glues, markers, crayons, papers of all sorts...go at it Evan!
Spent:  $25 (Supplies) 

Self-Serve Dishes & CLEAN Bucket

As you know, HapaLab is HUGE into Self-Serve Dishes and place settings!
So what is a LAB Transformation without this?
4 of each:  Plates, bowls, glasses, chopsticks, knives, spoons, and forks.
This was strategically placed in the lower cabinet closest to the Dishwasher.  This is so Evan can easily help empty the clean dishes back to their storage places.
Also present:  a pitcher, tray, and stack of paper napkins.
Most importantly, a "CLEAN BUCKET".
Dust pan & broom, sponge, spray bottle, and a rag.
Spent:  $10 (Supplies) 

Extra Toy Storage
Ok, we couldn't help ourselves...
There were just too many open cabinets to pass up in this fabulous kitchen!
So for kicks, here is an extra TOY storage we added to gather the loose toys left in the general family room area.  Bucket of Play-Doh, of course!

Area "In Use"...
As you can see, Evan is already starting to enjoy his work bench...
A Thomas book, a plate of snacks, a few drink cups, and a tray of markers.  
He's right at HOME...which is just what we wanted:)

A First HapaLab Transformation...Done.