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Happy Daddy!

Matching fish stamps.

Today is Father's Day!
Our in-house daddy loves nature so we decided on a sandy picnic at Lake Anza @ Tilden Park.
The water was crisp and refreshing...err, freezing is actually more like it.
But we had a blast nonetheless, it's always so beautiful to look at the clouds while gliding through the water on your back...ahhhhh.  The highlight for Zozie was watching a "big girl", around age 10, being buried in sand by her brother and sister.  "Why they do that mama?"  Just because Zo.  Just because.

We are grateful for all the daddies out there and up there.
And of course, to our own "Da-Lee"...


Mama joins the freeze fest.
A special Daddy Day message:


Yellow Shima.

Zozie as the new "Poster Kid" for Hanabi Judo.

After a few months of Judo, Zozie is now ready for his first exam.
I can't say that he's actually ready, or knows what that means, but he is actually really excited about getting a tiny strip of yellow tape around the end of his white belt.
Oh, and also getting "the Certificate"...
which says he got a tiny strip of yellow tape around the end of his white belt.

Yellow Tape = Shima
Shima = Proud toddler who is happy!...but not really sure why.

Although the Shima was a highlight...
The BEST reward for attending Judo has been meeting his good pal, Taro.

Sensei Dan is one of the kindest Judo teachers around and has put up with Zozie's post-nap hesitations in recent times during class.  
Domo Arigato Sensei!

The Shima Ceremony!


Zou San.

Sing A Long:  Zou San (Mr. Elephant) 

@ 3yr 4mons.
Learned this Japanese folk children's song at Judo class.
A 3 language intro for our family in Japan!

Lyrics:  歌詞
Zousan Zousan
o-ha-na ga na-ga-I no ne
So-yo ka-a-san mo
Na-ga-I no yo
Zousan Zousan
Da-re ga su-ki na no
A-no ne ka-san ga
Su-ki na no yo

Elephant Elephant
You have a very long nose
Yes, my mama has a long nose too
Elephant Elephant
Tell me, who do you love?
Oh you know it's my mama that I love


Fast Train! (火車快飛)

Sing A Long:  Train Fly Fast! (火車快飛)

@ 3 yrs 4 months.
For you, with dramatic hand motions.

Lyrics:  歌詞 

 火車快飛  火車快飛
越過高山  飛過小溪
快到家裡  快到家裡

Where's My Friend?

Sing A Long:  Where is my Friend? (我的朋友在哪裡?)

 Lyrics:  歌詞

一二三四五六七 我的朋友在哪裡
在這裡 在這裡 我的朋友在這裡 

啦啦啦啦真歡喜 同唱歌來同遊戲
笑嘻嘻 多甜蜜 我的朋友就是你 


Fabric Squares

Preasentation:  Fabric Square Matching

Ahhh...my long lost home tool, the Fabric Squares.
This was one of the first tools I made for Zozie for our home classroom.
Just found it again sorting through our video files.
A typical Montessori tool, it costs quite a few bucks when buying from the catalog but is a cinch to make at home. 

The Goal
Refine tactile sense
Memory exercise
Hand eye coordination

The Set Up
1)  Container (small basket or wooden box)
2)  4x4 Fabric Swatches
3)  Pair of Pinking Shears & Random Fabrics in various natural textures
4)  Cut the fabrics into 4x4 squares, then place in basket; can also hem the fabrics if preferred.

The Presentation
1)  Bring the tray to the work table or mat
2)  Set the basket down and slowly remove the first fabric swatch
3)  Start setting down each fabric in a row until you have 4 squares
4)  Then continue the same until you come across a match
5)  Hover each new swatch over the old swatches in a linear and systematic fashion, doing an exaggerated motion of comparing, rubbing of the texture, shake head if not a match and move on till a match is found
6)  When a match is found, place the fabric swatch over the existing one, then keep going until all swatches are paired up.
7)  Have the child try, when done, place all pieces into container and return tray to shelf

This is the same as a typical memory matching game.  Instead of picture cards, we used just a variety of fabric samples (leftovers from my design library).  A mix of textures is key.  Some were sheers, felt, silk, canvas, spandex, velvet.  The focus was NOT on color variation since I did not want Zozie to complete the exercise by matching colors.  In fact, I chose alot of "beige" color fabrics that had distinct texture differences for him to take note of the more subtle lesson here.  He got progressively better at it within a few days once he got the concept. A quick and fun tool to try.

One of his first attempts at the tool @ 2.5 years old (9months ago).
*I miss the "Tiny Zozo" in the video...they grow so fast..sigh.


LAB Work: Madison

Work Budget:  $300 ish
Total Time:  3.5hrs + a trip to Ikea
Location:  Albany, CA   

Just shy of 3, Maddie is without a doubt, one of the "dolliest" of Zozie's friends.  
Yes, she literally looks like a Japanese animation doll.  Like the one on her shirt.  
Or "Boo" from Monsters Inc... but even cuter.

Maddie has a Beautiful & Cozy Home.  
The front living & dining room space is smaller, like Maddie herself, but just as sweet and full of potential!  We are determined to carve out a dedicated play/work space for Maddie.  Tight spaces really gets the LAB going...there's ALWAYS room for a kid's area, even when there's no room, we make our own!

The Before
Previously, Maddie's play area was fun but limited to the space between the living room sofa set and the dining room table.  Let's see about expanding this alittle to give more function to this multipurpose front room.

The Transformation
We started by shifting the dining buffet off the wall.  
By placing it in the center of the space, it acts as a room divider for the new dining area and Maddie's new playroom.  Since the dining set is typically a traffic "island", people approach dining seating from all sides, the set did not need to be against a wall.  This made it a perfect candidate to "float" in the front room.  The accent mirror moved over to the new dining space, setting the new identity with the buffet as the backdrop.  One of the existing downlights is now about center over the dining table, which could be an easy conversion to a new pendant light later if wanted, further marking the dining area.

The After
So what did we do to Maddie's space?
Shifting the buffet off the wall opened up a whole new Montessori-Inspired Corner in this compact front room.  We set up a toddler sized table and chair set and moved the existing chalk board into the play space for her use.  A new lamp illuminates this new area.  A basket now holds her guitar and a work mat.

The Food Station
It was important for Maddie's mom that she have the opportunity to practice her practical life skills at mealtimes.  Three small glasses hold the various cutlery utensils, good for gather at meal times and sorting after dishes are done.  Large & small plates sit on top for easy access.  Freebie wooden wine crates were used to help separate the various dishwares.

The Drink Station
How many times does your toddler ask you to get them a drink?  Giving them the chance to help themselves, helps the parent out, and well, helps themselves!  Very empowering, this pint-size pitcher with lid is perfect for small hands.  Pair that with some Ikea glassware and you're good to go!  At only 3 for $1, no worries if there's a casualty or two along the way...

The Clean Station
Every LAB transformation has to have a Cleaning Area
A simple dust pan and broom.  A simple metal flower pot converted to trash can.  Both tug nicely into another freebie wooden wine crate. Kids are naturals at making messes.  They also, unexpectedly, like to clean them up!  We just don't give them as much opportunity to do so.  Just like riding a bike, the more practice, the better!  With a broom readily accessible and a trash can in plain sight, this simple life habit can be easily learned and practiced.  And trust me, this is one habit that WILL reward them over and over again into adulthood...

The Storage
We added a new 2 x 2 cubbie bookcase with 2 wicker baskets.  The cubbies provided display space for new activities and games while the baskets conceal old or new supplies for mommy.  A 3 shelf standard bookcase was also added to provide more display space for larger items.

In Action
You know a space "works" not just because it looks cute, but if your child goes right to it.  Although looking cute is a welcomed bonus, the real test of the space flowing well is that it is a "teacher itself."  Things should look obvious & logical to a toddler so it is self-explanatory:  a road map as to how thing work.  In our LAB experiment, both Mad & Zo were both immediately curious about the new space and gravitated towards the various tools and setups.  The playroom offers 2 work surfaces, one at the table, one on the floor with a work mat.

Stamping at the new table.

Apple Sorting.

Threading on the work mat.

New playroom in full swing.
Maddie's mom continues to add to this set up...the newest addition being a metal magnetic board for the back of the buffet!  Wonderful use of space mama!  Thanks for letting HapaLAB participate in this newest transformation.