Intentional Christmas Shopping. How to shop intentionally?


For many people, Christmas is the most beautiful, magical time of the year. They love the smell of freshly baked cakes and cookies, enchanted lights, Christmas carols. Gingerbread houses. The shiny decorations. Sometimes though, behind the scenes, there is a lot of pressure on the parents, who decide to take a loan to buy al the Christmas gifts they think their children need.

I am not here to tell you how to spend your hard-earned money. I am here to remind you that in case you feel pressured by anyone in your circle, or by the social media to have to buy everything for your children, that you don't have to do that

Sometimes we are made to believe that without a certain toy or game, our children won't have a chance to develop a specific skill, or that they will somehow miss out on something important. They won't. They will be just fine. 

So if you need to have a bit of a detox, please keep on reading. I will help you to shop intentionally this year.


INTENTIONAL CHRISTMAS SHOPPING:

Buying new things is exciting. Waiting for the delivery guy is exciting. Opening the boxes is exciting. But trying to fit 30 new toys on a shelf that is already overflowing with stuff is not fun. And for a small child, having to find that one special toy between 300 others, is frustrating. And that's why more and more often we see rooms filled with amazing collections of beautiful items, and children watching screens from morning till night, because they are tired, overwhelmed, overstimulated, and unable to find anything inspiring to play with.

Buy your child something they really want, something that will fill them with joy. Maybe something that will inspire them to learn a skill, or develop a new hobby. Something that will bond the family members together. Something that will excite the child. Allow them to express themselves and their creativity. 
It doesn't have to be fancy. It doesn't have to cost you a fortune. You don't have to take a loan to try to keep up with the cool families on social media. Because the pretty things and perfectly styled playrooms didn't give them happiness. If they are truly happy, it wasn't that £5k toy collection that brought them that happiness. It was the decision to raise the kids with love, with respect and having quality time with them. It's free. Some people want us to believe that things will fulfil us, but I know a bunch of lonely people driving Porsches and Ferraris, and carrying the most expensive watches on their wrists. 

STEP 1: MAKE A LIST 

Making a list of what your child wants, and what you want to buy for them is an important step. I usually divide the paper into 4 columns, where I write what Kian wants, what he needs, what I want to buy for him, and what I think he needs.

Then I write down all of the gift ideas. Next, I grab the red pen, and I am ready to cross all the unnecessary stuff that off of that list.

Before crossing anything off the list, I ask myself questions: does he really want to have this? Was he the one who said he needed it? How receiving this gift would make him feel? How much use would he get out of this toy? Would he play with it, or would it just look nice on the shelf/ pictures? 

And for the items that I thought he needed, I ask myself: What made me feel like he needs this toy? Do I like/ agree with the person who made me feel like I need to buy this? How do I feel about this toy/item, do I feel like it is going to really make my child happy/help them grow, or do I feel that it is cool to show others that we own this item? If you care about the toys being eco-friendly, you can ask yourself whether this item was sustainably made, and who made it.

We have to remember that we vote with our money. Our coins and notes not only buy us things and pay our bills, but they also give out points to different companies/ ideas. 


Step 2: Setting up a budget and further removing items off the list

When you know what your budget is, you can check whether you can afford the gifts you want to buy for your child/ children. It may happen that you won't be able to afford all of them. Then you either will have to cross some of them off the list, or find some alternatives

In our family, we have worked out a system that is perfect for us all. My family members usually ask what Kian wants, and I ask about the budget they have for his gift. Then together (me and Kian) we choose something from his wish list that fits into that budget. Personally, I ensure to stay a little bit below that amount, but this is just my choice.

I have so much respect for my family member's time and money, that I want to ensure that whatever they buy for my child, my child will play with it. And I would never put them in a situation where I would expect anything they couldn't afford or feel uncomfortable buying for him.


STEP 3: Take it, when you need additional motivation to keep it intentional

If you know that your child has a lot of stuff already, but you are still feeling pressured to buy them a lot of new toys, you can take these few following steps:


  1. Go to their bedroom/playroom. Look at their shelves or toy storage. How does it make you feel? Are you overwhelmed by the amount of toys on the shelves? If you wanted to pick something to play with, would you able to grab it easily? Can you close that drawer or shelf easily? Are the toys in the basket overflowing? Is it easy to find the toy you need?
  2. Look closely at their toys. Can you recall your child playing with all of them? 
  3. Is your child able to keep their room fairly tidy (taking into consideration their age, of course)? Generally speaking, if the room is a mess it is usually because the child has too many toys to manage and they are just not capable of doing it.



I hope you're well. I hope you're not too anxious and worried about the xmas season coming up. I wish you all the best. Thank you so much for your time! x

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Montessori Wild Cats Unit- art projects ideas



Hi! We have almost completed working on the wild cats unit. In the previous articles, I reviewed all the books we read and gave you a breakdown of all activities I prepared for my son. Today I will show you three wild cats-related art projects. I hope you like them and find some inspiration here. If you decide to re-create any of them, please tag me on Instagram (@whatmumloves). I would love to see your child's creations! :) 






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Kian loves working with clay, which makes me very happy because this creative activity supports the development of children's fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
To make the clay lion, we used the terracotta Das air-dry clay, but you can use any type of clay you have, or even a salt dough. We discussed how Kian wanted his lion to look like, and I gave him a general idea of how to achieve it. He then proceeded to work on it, and I just sat there staring at his teeny-tiny fingers creating a beautiful piece of art :) 


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For the jungle collage, I gathered some paper leaves-leftover party decorations, that we painted together a few months ago, scraps of jute twine, some leftover artificial flowers, stickers and paints. 
He created a cute collage of tigers and a snake chilling in a jungle.


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The last art project was yet another collage, but this time Kian made lion's face. 
I cut the shape of lions face, nose and eyes, and Kian glued them on the paper. He drew some whiskers and added a mane made of shredded paper.


Thank you so much for your time and visiting my blog <3 
It would be awesome if you checked out my Instagram, where I post creative ideas for activities for kids, review books and show parents how to make the most of the toys their kids already have.

Have a great day! 
Gosia x

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Montessori Wild Cats Unit: activities

Books: 'Big Cats' Usborne, 'Animal Kingdom' Steve Parker, 'Nature Hide and Seek: Jungles; Wild Republic Puzzle


Hi, thanks for stopping by! I have a 4-years-old, animals-obsessed son, and for the past few weeks, we have been working on a wild cats unit. 
In my previous article, I have reviewed all of the books we have been working with, so if you are interested, please check it out here. Today I will show you the wild cats-related activities I set up for him. Some of them may seem a little advanced, but because my son has always loved animals more than anything else, he already knows quite a lot about them. If you're interested to learn how to introduce the unit study to a much younger child, and how to support their interests, please let me know. I would be pleased to write an article on it too.
I am going to divide this article into two parts: activities, and then the breakdown of topics we went through with my son. 



ACTIVITIES:

Lioness: Collecta, Lynx: Nayab, tiger: Schleich, cheetahs: AAA

SORTING: DIURNAL AND NOCTURNAL WILD CATS

Wild cats are predominantly nocturnal, except for cheetahs, who are primarily active during the day. This sorting activity helps the child to memorise that. 


Tiger: AAA, book: Children's Picture Atlas

MATCHING WILD CATS TO THE MAP

I strongly believe that hands-on learning is highly beneficial for the child. Matching the photos of animals or animal figurines (or even stuffed animals) to the map provides a better learning experience than memorising that cheetahs live in Africa and Iran, lions in Africa and Gir Forest in India, without even once looking at the map. 


Lynx: Nayab, small and large cheetah: AAA

ORDERING ANIMAL FIGURINES BY SIZE

In this activity, the child orders the animal figurines from the smallest to the largest. For beginners, I would suggest choosing three very distinctive in size figurines to allow the child to understand the concept of ordering better. Younger kids can also compare which toy is smaller, and which larger. 


Tiger cub: no name, lioness: Collecta, tiger: AAA

ORDERING ANIMAL FIGURINES BY WEIGHT

This activity is very similar to the previous one, however here the child focuses on ordering the figurines based on their weight. Once again, choosing models of very different weights is advised. 


Tiger cub: AAA, tiger: Schleich; the lion family: Collecta

LIONS VS TIGERS: EATING ORDER

Lions and tigers eat in a different order. First of all, a vast majority of lions live in groups called prides, where females do most of the hunting. However, the male lions eat first, then the lionesses, and the cubs at the very end.

Tigers, on the other hand, lead solitary lives, but when a tigress is caring for her cubs, the cubs eat first, she eats as the last. 

We have first read about it a few times, discussed it, and then I prepared an activity for Kian, to provide him with a hands-on learning experience. 

I asked him to present the eating orders by assigning numbers to the figurines.



The rights belong to:  Osama Muhammad (the photo of a snow leopard), Andrew Cline (closeup of snow leopard's skin), Joao Carlos Medau (ocelot), jaguar's skin closeup: found on Pinterest

MATCHING THE ANIMALS TO THEIR SKIN COVERS

Wild cats' furs are beautiful, so why not teach the kids how to distinguish them?

For this activity, I printed the fur closeups and photos of wild cats off of the internet. I displayed them on my son's shelves so he can access them anytime he wants, but we also work with them together. We match the skins to their owners, and we analyse the differences between the species. 


Wild Republic Rainforest Animal 6-in-1 block puzzle

BLOCK PUZZLE

I found this set of block puzzle in a second-hand store a while ago. It fits into this unit study perfectly, because it features two wild cats: jaguar and tiger. 



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PHONICS:

Kian is currently eagerly learning phonics and letters, so I always add some phonic study into his unit. He is now learning 't' for tiger and 'l' for lion. When preparing the baskets, I 'shop' around the house, trying to find the right objects I could use. 


STUDY OF WILD CATS:

Books: 'Tigress' Nick Dowson, Purnell's Picture Dictionary; Large tiger: AAA; tiger: Schleich, white tiger cub: Schleich


GENERAL INFORMATION:

  • cat and big cat characteristics,
  • wild cat's senses,
  • wild cat's communication.


LIONS:

  • native to Africa and Gir Forest in India,
  • unlike other wild cats, they live in groups called prides,
  • male lion's mane protects their neck during fights, and it becomes darker as they get older,
  • female lions do most of the hunting,
  • the order lions eat in (male lions eat first, followed by lionesses, and the cubs eat as last),
  • lion's body characteristics (glow in the dark eyes, white patches of fur, tail tassel etc.).


TIGERS:

  • they live solitary lives, and the female is the only one looking after the cubs,
  • their order of eating (cubs eat first, then the female),
  • the types of tigers,
  • the fact that tigers are excellent swimmers and love being in the water,
  • the fact that it is normal for them to walk long distances to catch their prey. 


JAGUARS:

  • the differences between leopards and jaguars,
  • their habitats (mostly tropical rainforests of Central and South America, always close to lakes and rivers),
  • the fact that they can hunt on the land, in the water and on the trees,
  • they are good swimmers, often hunt alligators, turtles and fish,
  • they are the only wild cats to kill the prey by biting through the skull. 


CHEETAHS:

  • native to Africa and Iran, they live on open grasslands,
  • they cant roar,
  • fastest land mammals in the world,
  • excellent sprinters, but can't run for long, 
  • they are diurnal,
  • their body shape resembles a greyhound more than a wild cat,
  • their body characteristics and their importance (long tail, flexible backbone, dew claw and more). 


SNOW LEOPARDS:

  • live in mountainous areas of Central and South Asia,
  • the way they hunt (they often surprise their prey by jumping on it from above),
  • they can adapt to changing weather (hot summers and very cold winters),
  • their paws are wide and flat, which helps them not to sink into the snow. 


CLOUDED LEOPARDS:

  • they live in the forests of Southeast Asia,
  • good climbers, hunt monkeys and birds in trees,
  • they have long canine teeth (only slightly smaller than the lions),
  • they can kill larger prey like wild pigs and deer on the ground.


LEOPARDS:

  • they like to rest in trees and are good climbers,
  • native to Africa and Southern Asia,
  • they are nocturnal,
  • their varied diet allows them to survive in many different places and habitats,
  • they can easily drag their prey onto the tree,
  • the differences between leopards and jaguars.


SMALLER WILD CATS:

  • we learned some general info (habitats, distinctive body characteristics etc.) about pumas, servals, lynxes, margays, caracals, leopard cats, Palla's cats, black-footed cats and ocelots.



Thank you so much for your time! I truly hope that you have enjoyed reading this article and found some inspirations here. If you want to know what wild cats-related books we are working with, please check out my previous article

Have a wonderful day! 


Gosia x






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Montessori Wild Cats Unit: book reviews and recommendations



Hi, if you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that we are currently working on wild cats unit with my son.

He loves animals, and especially wild cats, so I gathered a few books and prepared some activities to support his interests and, hopefully, answer all the questions he has. 

I am going to start by showing you the books that we are working with, and next week I will publish an article featuring all activities. Please remember that these are only my reviews and recommendations. It is not necessary to have them all, not even one. However, I believe that I can give you some valuable tips on choosing the books you buy/ borrow from a library. 



'BIG CATS' USBORNE DISCOVERY


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This book contains an immense amount of information, all presented in a child-friendly way. As per usual in the Usborne Discovery series, the book is divided into several topics, which can be treated as lessons, so that your child can learn about the big cats step by step. 

It begins with an explanation which wild cats are considered big cats, and some cat characteristics. But it also includes such important subjects as cat's senses, growing up, mating, their habitats, hunting, coats and camouflage and more. There are even separate 'lessons' about tigers, lions, leopards, Asian leopards, cheetahs, and American big cats, and some wild cats that aren't considered 'big cats'.

This delightful, filled with beautiful photographs and illustrations book is definitely one I would recommend the most. Please remember that since the big cats are carnivores, there will be some pretty scary teeth closeups, as well as photographs of cats eating their prey here. I would say that this book is perfect for 5-12 years olds. It is not available on the Usborne website anymore, but it is easily accessible for purchase online, new or second-hand for as little as £3.

 

'10 REASONS TO LOVE A LION' CATHERINE BARR AND HANAKO CLULOW

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We borrowed this beautiful book from our local library, and all I can say is that it was a great choice, because Kian absolutely loves it. In this book, the author weaves facts about lions in a very subtle way into the compendious text, organizing them into 10 reasons to love the kings of beasts. 

I like the toned and delicate illustrations, and I find the addition of a few species of animals and trees native to Africa and the Gir Forrest in India very thoughtful. 

My lion-obsessed son finds this book charming and fascinating, and we read it over and over again. We will most likely have to renew it next week :) 


'ANIMALS ARE AMAZING: LIONS' VALERIE BODDEN

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Written in a large, easy to read, font, this book includes some beautiful photographs of lions and interesting facts about their life. It is pretty informative, but definitely not as much as the 'Big Cats' by Usborne, for example. 

We borrowed it from the library, but I have to say that Kian isn't reaching for it as much as for '10 reasons to love a lion', 'Big Cats' or 'Tigress'. He likes the large, spectacular photographs of lions in it, though. 

It is a good book, but I have to mention that there is a large-scale photo of a lion biting into zebra's neck in it, as well as information that lions sometimes eat people. It may be difficult to look at for very young kids. 


'TIGRESS' NICK DOWSON AND JANE CHAPMAN

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The next book is the absolutely breathtaking 'Tigress', which follows mama tiger and her two cubs from the moment of their birth up until they say their goodbyes and begin their lives in solitary. This is one of the most beautifully told, moving children's stories I have read. And it is backed up with facts. Visually 'Tigress' is just stunning. Jane Chapman is a fantastic illustrator, and this book is just a pure delight to look at. 


'ANIMAL KINGDOM' STEVE PARKER & MARTIN WALTERS 

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If this isn't your first time on my blog, you probably know that both Kian and I love this book. There is a mine of information in the 'Animal Kingdom' about around 2000 species of animals, paired with absolutely beautiful illustrations. So no matter what unit we are working on, this book comes in handy. Always. 

I found it in a charity shop, and it is one of my favourite finds of all time. I can not recommend it highly enough. 


'CHILDREN'S PICTURE ATLAS' USBORNE

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We always work with this atlas when we are learning about animals. Kian loves to match the animal figurines to the maps of the continents. He finds it entertaining, but meanwhile, he learnes the names of continents and countries, rivers and oceans, and discovers what food grows near that animal's habitat. This is an essence of learning through play :) 


'PICTURE DICTIONARY OF NATURE' PURNELL

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I know that we shouldn't judge the book by its cover, but when I saw the cover of this vintage picture dictionary, I knew I had to get it. I just adore the way this book is illustrated. Kian eagerly picks it from his bookshelf and goes through it quite often, and together we mainly use it to learn letters and phonics, but also to find animals of the unit we are working on. 


'NATURE HIDE & SEEK: JUNGLES'  JOHN NORRIS WOOD & KEVIN DEAN

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This is yet another beautiful vintage book we own. It encourages concentration because children need to find animals camouflaged in the gorgeous scenery. And it is not easy at all, even for adults. Three beautiful wild cats are hiding in this book (leopard, Bengal tiger and ocelot), along with some other species like bushbaby, gorilla, tussock moth and more. 


'KINGFISHER CONCISE FIELD GUIDE TO ANIMALS & PLANTS OF BRITAIN AND EUROPE' MICHAEL CHINERY 

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The obvious question a child asks when learning about an animal or a group of animals is whether it leaves where we live. Well, we live in Europe, and there are two species of wild cats native to Europe: lynx and wild cat. And these are the two animals we read about in this book right now. 


'TELL ME WHY' CHANCELLOR PRESS

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'Tell me why?' is a book that answers to hundreds of questions, and it actually answers to two wild cats-related questions: why is the lion called 'king of the beasts', and why do tigers have distinct colouring. 

We have an old (2001) edition, but there are definitely plenty of similar, more modern versions available. 



Thank you for your time, and I hope to see you again next Friday, 6th November at 6 PM. I will talk all about the wild cats' activities I prepared for my son.

Have a great day!


Gosia x


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