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A Cool Kid?

How could you not be COOL in this getup? 

A Kimono Dragon Hoodie is just what Zo wants, and Betsy at Cool Kids got him figured out.  Each Thursday, Cool Kids features one cutie-patootie and makes custom selections in fashion, games, and accessories just for the Cool Kid of the week!  This week, she picked Zozie.  

Find him HERE and see the hoodie, along with other sweet picks for him on her fun blog. Thanks B!



signing his name.

Z takes the plunge....
right into "Messy Art Day" at the Local Co-Op Preschool!

This was one fieldtrip we were NOT going to miss!
The annual Mess-Fest was packed with eager squealing kids and parents who were even happier that the party was not at their house.  Montessori and Messes are not usually friends, especially messes on THIS scale.  So we enjoyed all that this Play-based spectacular had to offer!  Kudos to ECPC and all their dedicated volunteer parents for bringing this craziness into our humdrum Sunday morning.

With that said....BRING ON THE MESS...errr...ART!

We started with the Spray Table, rescuing frozen animals from their icy beds with colored "Juice."  Zo is well practiced with his CLEAN BUCKET at home, but he's use to things getting progressively cleaner, not dirtier!  Huh?  He kept turning to me with his tiny dirty hands held up, looking quite confused.  The more he sprayed, the more his pensive-thoughtful-concerned-eyebrows crinkled.  CRINKLED.
"It's ok Zozie, it's messy-messy time," I told him repeatedly.

On to the Sand Table.  It had some colored sand mixtures with various baking containers and utensils to manipulate the grainy confection.  Only 30 seconds.  "All-done Da-lee."  Z couldn't figure out why he is suppose to throw sand around in random pans.  "It's fun right Zozie?", trying to convince him.
Apparently, not so much.

Things didn't get much better with the Soda Dragon.  The mouth was stuffed with a tube full of baking soda awaiting a child to "feed" it some colored water.  Once filled, it foams out colored foam!  "Cool, right Zozie?"  He just looked down at the foamy mess, plopping onto the sandy floor.
More crinkled brows.  Man, what does it take?

Things picked up at the Canvas Wall.  3 large buckets filled with red, yellow and blue paints.  Various household objects acting as "paint brushes."  Mops, plungers, brooms, back scrubbers, fly swatters...this was one AWESOME setup!

Zo started to loosen up although left hand still clutched and pointing out paint splatters on his boots to me.  I pulled out a wet wipe to help him while noticing some minor glances from other more free-play-leaning parents...
Look, it's not ME, it's the kid.
Ok, fine.
I taught the kid to want to be clean.
But still...I was trying to get Zo INTO IT, only wiping because of his own pleading eyes.  I did notice a few other Asian parents hovering over their child with towelettes.  I think Being Asian was the culprit in those cases.  Pretty sure those parents don't also do Montessori Homeschooling?

We then came upon The Confetti Room.  This is where kids can throw shredded paper into fans blowing upwards in anyway they want.  Less than 10 seconds.  Zo stepped into the tent, then stepped right out. 

A Noodle Art wall had kids flinging colored spagetti at plexiglass!  But now being 3, food throwing seemed counter-intuitive.  "Throw it Zozie, just throw it!!"  He shoots me a look that was similar to us asking him to HIT his first pinata at a party.  "Don't hit anything", we always say.  But DO thrash a cute turtle paper-mache, demolish it, and rip some candies out of it's stomach.   
The world is a confusing place, my young grassHAPA.

I was starting to question if our homeschool routines of order and cleanliness was hampering Zozie's ability to let loose and experiment with GOOP.  Doubting myself and wondering if I've made Zozie disorderly-challenged...we came upon the Spatter Slide, aka Slide Painting. 
(Yes.  I keep forgetting...It's ART!)

Zozie really lit up with this one!
Buckets of squishy balls, 2 tubs of paints (blue & yellow), and a sheet of craft paper lining the slide.  No explanation needed.  He grabbed, dunked, and hurled!  HOORAY!  Paint splattering everywhere and dunking his arms deeper and deeper, Zo is now squealing himself, finally!  He loved watching the balls roll and bounce off the paper, making patterns and streaks with each movement.  "Look mama, I made GREEN!"  Z high-five'd the helper-dad before leaving.  Note the bare hands of the dad, and also note in the photo, the latex-gloved hand of a helper mom, Asian.  Of course.

This wonderland of artistic experiments continued to the Paintable House.  Zozie swept, rolled, brushed... 
The cleaning gloves were OFF! 


Got the column...
don't forget the ceiling!

The Hanger Sculpture was also a highlight.  Zozie's first 3D art installation, although he spent the first few minutes picking up the hangers off the floor and hanging them back onto the dispensing rods.  "It's a sculpture Zozie."  "Oh!  Ok."  The hangers were placed carefully, mostly where there weren't any already.  He would step back once in a while before placing the next hanger, taking in the overall effect of what he was creating.  "A tower mama!"

The Messy Art Day ended with a BANG!
The last stop was the Musical House, where every surface of the house was covered in sound making pots, pans, cans, bottles, drums, you name it!  Zozie went about doing his usual "set" on the buckets he found inside the house...

LAB Results:
It was extremely interesting to observe Zozie in this environment!

Winners?  Tools that really drew his attention and imagination had an immediate Cause & Effect, along with an inherent lesson reflecting how the real world worked.  The Splatter Slide, The Canvas Wall, The Painting House, The Music House.  He did something, then there was an instant feedback or result from his actions that was relevant.  It was NOT about his like or dislike of being messy.  Paint splatters were welcomed, disorder of the hangers created, when the exercise had a particular agenda of creating something, the mess level did not bother him.

Losers?  Those that did not appear to have any particular "purpose" or "sense" to the actions being asked to be performed in real life.  Confetti room, Soda Dragon, Sand Table, Noodle Art.  
Messy for messy-sake.  
Like eating cotton candy, so fun, so sweet, the satisfaction so short-lived.  

Fantasy & Imagination are two different things.  
Zozie's response to this art day reminded me of the talk  Po Bronson (Author of Nurtureshock) gave recently.  One, fantasy, is random ideas not grounded in reality in which an idea is produced for idea-sake with no connection to the real world or each other.  The other, imagination, is mastering a grounded and clear understanding of reality and coming up with creative ways to manipulate that truth.  They are not one in the same and are often confused when applied to Children & Play.

Chuckling to myself, the same principle applied to our splattering day.
True Art, serves a purpose.  It engages and captures our attention thus spawning creative imagination.
Fluff Art, is crazy for crazy-sake.  Fantastically fun, but the high is temporary and inconsequential.

Every living being yearns for work that is True.
Well well.
Montessori and Messes ARE Friends after all, eh?



Presentation:  Rainbow Box.


Have a set of Pill Boxes?
We do.
Dropped in on our local Ichiban Kan Shop and came upon this tiny compartmental set.  It was just screaming Montessori.  
If boxes can scream.  
Pair that with a bag of Easter colored fuzz balls from the dollar store and a new HL tool was born.  

The Goal: 
Color matching & Coordination in opening and snap shutting containers
 The Set Up:
1)  A set of color pill boxes
2)  Matching colored pom-poms
3)  A small basket
The Presentation:
1)  Ask the child to bring the tray
2)  Lift one pill box, run finger over the hinge side, then over the non-hinge side.
3)  Use thumb and lift open the lid, one at a time.
4)  Look into the basket, find a coordinating color pom-pom.
5)  Insert into the first compartment.
6)  Repeat for the 2nd and 3rd compartment.
7)  Snap close each lid over the pom-poms.
8)  Repeat until all pom-poms are placed.
9)  Reverse everything and place back into basket.
10)  Invite the child to try

The bright and cheerful colors of this set instantly drew Zozie in to the activity.  It was pretty intuitive for him once he saw the coordinating pom-poms in the basket.  A few times, he would misplace the colors on purpose, look at me with a smirk, then re-order the fuzz balls.  The little sneaker.  It just shows that he knew "the agenda" well enough to crack a joke with it, eh?

**Zozie added his own extension to this presentation by wanting to SCOOP out the pom-poms to be returned to the basket with a small spoon.  He started out by trying to SHAKE them out, but had to re-think it when the pom-poms were going everywhere:)


Hapa This, Hapa That.

Why are all things Japanese SO cute?  
As if the real life tasty "des-za-to" are not enough...
Now they have to make the cutie eraser version of it???

This Sweets & Tea Set can be seen at HapaCulture!
For some pocket change, you can bring this mini slice of Hapa-ness 
into your own home. 
With a similar name to our LAB, HapaCulture is an online stationary shop that carries everything your Japanese-culture-craving-heart desires!  From high quality thematic erasers, designer stickers, origami sets, and custom bilingual stationary, an eraser is NOT just an eraser at HapaCulture.  
In Japan, everything is "Art"...Check it out.

Not only is HapaCulture an uber-adorable shop to browse for that perfect stocking stuffer, birthday present, or everyday party favor, it is also owned by a dear friend of mine.  W at HapaCulture has a great artistic eye for stocking her shop, and an even greater heart for reaching out to the people of Japan in this time of need.

For the month of March, HapaCulture is donating 10% of all proceeds to Japan's Disaster Relief.
HapaCulture, along with numerous crafty vendors over at Etsy, have gathered together to show their support and love for Japan...the land, the people, the culture.

Here are some of my favorite HAPA vendors:

Jojoebi Designs/Montessori Goldmine is a British Crafty Montessori Mommy blogger who lives in Japan.  Jojo is also offering A Quake Appeal in light of the recent events.  Tons of great Homeschooling Montessori ideas, tool PDFs, and lesson plans.  A must visit for the terrific resources!!

Mee A Bee, whom I featured in a previous post about their miniature toddler messenger bags.  Another Hapa Etsy vendor, Jacqui is a New Zealander living in Japan.  With her own Quake Appeal, Jacqui was also one of the features on an Etsy front page dedicated to Japanese made hand crafts.

A Mee A Bee related New Zealand shop, Li'l Magoolie, is hosting an Auction for NZ and a 1,000 Crane Wish support for Japan...

The list can continue...the sentiments all the same.


The SIMPLE Match!

Crouching Piggy is now here.
After the initial shock of the Japanese tragedy, 
HapaLab is back with a small "gi" and a big smile!  
Why are we smilin'?
We are ready for our first MATCH.
No Dojo needed.  
Just a cell phone.

What's the SIMPLE Match?
A simple text will send $10 to the Japanese Red Cross.
A simple post below on the blog of who, when (today and onward), how much.
A simple match from HapaLab in donation to the Red Cross.
Anytime from now until April (9days left), after reading this blog post.

The Red Cross is accepting donations online or via text message.
Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone.
You'll be prompted to confirm with a second text reading YES.

We have been meaning to post about his Judo class, just had the recent disaster on our minds and ended up combining the posts.  No only do we have family in Japan, but we are always enjoying all things Japan here in the US.  Things like Sushi, Hondas, Karaoke, Funny Fashions, Engrish Phrases, all things "Zen" from face creams to sofas, and now of course... Baby Judo.  
All joking aside tho, we loves me some Nihon.

Right now, Zozie adores Sensei Dan and his Pre-Judo Class.
This new physical outlet has been a nice pairing with his usual homeschool learnings. He's learning how to fall, how to roll, and how to listen...to Japanese.

"Mi, Me, Hana, Kuchi, Atama, Ashi, Te...."
Being one of the youngest, Zo runs happily with his new classmates.

Some serious martial arts action below:
Note the "perfect end" to the running exercise...shortly after Sensei said STOP!

We are training hard in our home Dojo. 
Hope you are up for the challenge and will meet us for our SIMPLE Match.



Just for a moment.
To those seeing the cycle of birth & death this instant.
To the lives lost and will be born. 
Inhale.  Exhale.
We bow.


Small World.

We are all just a stone's throw away.
40 Countries.
Today, HapaLAB welcomed it's 40th country in it's visitors tracker!
It's a random milestone, but over 5000 views later...
we thought it was worth mentioning.
Smiles all around to the various mommies and schools that have been to our lab to see what we are up to.  People have emailed about the changes they are making to make more wee ones happy...and independent.  
Keep sharing & keep posting!
Thanks for visiting.

Costa Rica
Czech Republic
New Zealand
Saudi Arabia
South Korea
South Africa
Trinidad and Tobago
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States


Bottle Caps

Time to clean out those over-stuffed bathroom drawers?
You know.  All those random bottles and jars of half finished creams, gels, hotel sundries, general goops?
Throw them out?  NEVER.
They are the best practical life tool. 
Some hot water and soap will do the trick.

The Goal: 
Visual Matching & Hand eye coordination
Wrist motion in twisting and tightening

The Set Up:
1)  2 Containers of any sort
2)  Lots of random jars with lids

The Presentation:
1)  Ask the child to bring the tray
2)  Remove the 2 containers
3)  Start emptying the jars & bottles into the tray in a line (see right)
4)  Do the same with the lids
5)  Pick a jar up, then hover over the lids until fining a match
6)  Hold jar firmly in one hand, clearly set the lid straight ontop
7)  Turn & tighten the jar, continue until all jars are matched
8)  Reverse everything and place lid & jars back into the containers
9)  Invite the child to try

Zozie was quite excited when he saw this tray.
Some jars still have some fragrance in them so he would sniff around at times.  When we took the video clip (below), daddy was cooking breakfast and making smoothies next to us, so Zo was quite distracted by all the commotion.  Not the best time for using a new tool.  Also, he's now 3 and "testing" rules quite abit.  You'll see him deliberately putting the caps in the wrong bucket and the jars in the other, then looking up at me to see what my response will be.  I usually just smile slightly, acknowledging his little "joke", then he switches the objects back. The match & twist coordination is coming along nicely, except when the groove is off at times. 

At first, the fear of him getting into everything took over me.  But miraculously, this exercise gave him an outlet for that toddler-need to unscrew every top they see!  So the reverse actually happened.  He's not asking me to help him open everything.  Now he just does his own toothpaste after shower, squeezes on the toothbrush, then does the routine solo.  It's as if he's had his fill twisting and screwing, it's not fresh anymore, it's just a new skill his has and he uses it only when needed.  
Ahhhh....so NICE.

If you have some random jars & bottles laying around...(we all do).
Give this one a try!


Book Worm

An early morning one day...lights on.

Found his book(s)...
Now, where's the little worm?


Silly Spoon

It's not always work here at the lab.

School is out.
Silliness is IN.