83. Traveling with Kids: Morro Bay

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It’s all about the sand for my son – a chance to dig and scoop and pile and destroy for hours. He doesn’t want to go near the waves, which is fine by me. For me, it’s about the long, flat beach, the cool air, beach combing, and walking, walking, walking. This was only our second time at Morro Bay but both times I’ve been able to collect numerous small, unbroken sand dollars, with the help of friends. For a few hours, I can pretend that I’m back in college, working on the Oregon coast for a summer, where sand dollar hunting was one of my favorite pastimes. I bring the little treasures home, rinse them, and set them out on trays in the sun to dry and bleach naturally and then use for various projects. This really is a wonderful beach for kids and families, away from the crazy crowds of Southern California, with plenty of opportunities for interaction with nature. We love the Central Coast.

82. Snow Village in the Desert

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The poor boy dreams of snow, asking if it will snow in December for his birthday. (He also thinks that people put up Christmas lights because his birthday is in December. So sweet.) He talks about maybe having snowball fights with his cousins in the Dakotas and asks what sleds are when he sees them in books. But we live in the desert, and if it snowed here, it would be highly unusual. The last time was probably fifteen years ago or so. So he makes snow houses. He still doesn’t realize that sugar cubes can be eaten, so he glues them together and adds cotton ball snow drifts. They remind me of the crumbling ghost towns in New Mexico along the road to Santa Fe. I love to see the structures that he comes up with on his own. I love how he dreams of the impossible.

81. Handmade Montessori

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In the beginning of the year I started training for a Montessori-based pre-k Orthodox Christian catechism program. It has been an amazing experience and I have learned so much about how children develop, about our theology, and about early childhood education. I originally took the program to use only at home with my son, but it was so fantastic that we are in the process of beginning the program at our church. It’s inspired me to begin learning about broader Montessori learning as well, and I’ve made a few small sets of material – color matching sets (wooden supplies purchased here and painted with acrylic craft paints), bean counting (modified from this – I wrote numbers on the beans to help my son match them to the correct pot), and a ‘sandpaper’ globe. I purchased the globe at Home Goods and then painted the continents with a clean sand+paint mixture, and painted the water a uniform blue.  My son is intrigued by these items as well as the other classroom items that are gathering up in our home, and I am eager to share them with his friends at church as well as to keep learning more on my own Montessori journey.