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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Body shaming and its impact on children's self-esteem and mental health. Body image in childhood.


***** TRIGGER WARNING*****


A few days ago somewhere on Instagram, I saw a picture of a girl I once watched a video about. She has the world's longest legs, and she is the sweetest, most humble, beautiful girl. Do you know what bothered me, though? The fact that I couldn't remember her name, but I could vividly remember how her mother body-shamed her. It was heartbreaking.


So the body shaming is something I want to talk about today. 

I grew up in a very specific environment, where I was constantly body shamed. Since I was a little girl. My teeth were crooked, so I was shamed for that. I was body-shamed for having a weird, nasal voice, small breasts, being short, having weak hair and big feet. When I hit puberty, I was body-shamed for having stretch marks. And obviously, my weight fluctuations were the main reason of body-shaming. Oh, and that's not everything. The list goes on.



What is this crazy world we are living in, that we aim for all women to be the same, or at least to be as close to the ideal face and body as possible? Almost all of the women on the planet won't live up to that. How can 3,5 billion women or 4 billion men all look the same or very similar to one another? 

We can't expect a Native American girl to look White, or White to look Black. A short person to have legs as long as a very tall person has. But these insane beauty standards aren't the only reasons for body shaming. Here are some more:


  • Bullying. Bullying is socially acceptable. 
  • Laughing on the ginger kids, fat kids, thin kids and kids wearing glasses are normalised.
  • Women are treated as sexual objects and as if their main life purpose was pleasing men. 
  • Men are shamed for the size of their genitals and their height like that was something they had any control of.
  • We are being fed and brainwashed by mass media on a daily basis. 


Body shaming is directly linked to low self-esteem, self-harm, eating disorders, substance abuse and depression

Many parents think that if they fat-shame their child, the child will magically find that legendary will power and lose weight in a blink of an eye.

If fat shaming worked, there would be no obesity today. It doesn't work. 


It is more harmful than you think. If your child has a problem, take them to the doctor and check their health. Obesity is usually a side effect of something. Check their hormones. Ask your child what can you do for them, and if they want you to do anything at all. 


If you laugh on your daughters ginger hair, you make her hate them. And, obviously, you won't let her colour her hair either, so what can she do? 

Is there something she can do? Can she modify her genetics? Is there a potion she can make to change them? And what is most important, is there anything wrong with having ginger hair? I love ginger hair, and I never understood why do people have a problem with them.


I can tell you with all honesty that all that body-shaming did nothing good to me. My voice hasn't changed, I am not any taller, my eyes aren't bigger, and feet smaller. I still have stretch marks, and my weight still fluctuates. 

Would I be healthier if I wasn't body shamed? for sure. Mentally, definitely. All of that made me just dislike myself, and think that I don't deserve certain things. It led to an eating disorder. I am 28 years old and I still don't love myself enough. 


I'll tell you more. I know a man who is in good health, but even if there was a fire or an explosion right behind him, he wouldn't run.

He has a blockade, something isn't allowing him to run. Do you know what that is?

When he was a young boy, his father watched him play with some kids, and later that day yelled at him and beat him up because he wasn't running 'manly' enough. The guy won't run even if a freaking polar bear is trying to attack him. No chance. 


We have to break that vicious cycle of body shaming and abuse, and protect our children at all costs. Model a healthy lifestyle, model healthy approach to one's body. Let's stop punishing our kids for things they have no control over, like genetics

Instead, let's focus on appreciating our children's unique personalities, good hearts, curiosity, persistence, and all that makes them THEM. 

And, first of all, let's not raise bullies. 


If you don't want to over-compliment your child, tell them that they are perfect just the way they are. Because they are perfect. Just do that and watch them fly. They will be unstoppable. 


Let me know what your thoughts are, please. Thank you for your time!

Gosia x



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What is currently on Kian's Montessori-inspired shelves: fun and educational activities for preschoolers


Hi, thanks for stopping by!

Today I want to show you what activities are currently out on Kian's shelves. His shelving unit is pretty small and narrow to fit our small space. It works perfectly fine for us, though. 

I will first talk you through all the activities, and then I will answer some questions regarding them which my followers asked me on Instagram (@whatmumloves)


On the top shelf, there is a medium-sized Grimms rainbow. Kian uses it in many ways, but mainly he incorporates its pieces into his wooden block creations. We have the basket with the blocks right next to the shelving unit, that's why I like to keep the rainbow on the shelves. 



On the second shelf, there is a Nine Men Morris board game, which we use a little bit differently than intended. I made a few cards for Kian with different patterns of pegs, and he picks one of the cards and tries to copy the pattern onto the board. 

This activity not only stimulates concentration, problem solving and logic, but also allows the child to practice fine motor skills. These pegs are very small, so it takes practice to place them correctly in the holes. 








On the third and fourth shelves, we have some phonics works. I have collected some items, like animals, vehicles, magnetic and wooden letters etc. and put them into baskets and bowls. They provide a fantastic opportunity for hands-on learning for the child. It makes learning much faster and more effective. 








On the last shelf, there is a simple counting activity which comes with a bunch of conkers, a pair of handy scoopers, a dice, a bowl and a wooden plate. The child rolls the dice and then transfers an exact number of conkers as the thrown number of dots on the dice. If you want to recreate this activity but you don't have the scoopers, do not worry. Your child can use a spoon, and ice cream scoop or a ladle instead. 



After showing the shelves on my Instagram, I got two questions from my followers. I thought that I would include them in my blog post because I found them very helpful.

 

Q: How often do you put out new activities on the shelves?

A: It honestly depends on Kian. Usually, the activities stay on the shelf for two weeks. Also, I don't display all activities he is working on on these shelves, because I don't want him to get too bored too quickly. I just get them out of the stash when we want to work on them.

 

Q: What do you do with all the stuff after 2 weeks?

I put them back into my stash and we are going to work on them again and again sometime in the future. When he outgrows an activity, then I pass it onto another child. 

 

 

 

Please let me know in the comment section below, should you have any question. I will happily answer them all :) Have a great day, and thank you so much for your time!

 

Gosia x



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Why it is important to teach kids the correct names of their body parts and how to talk to them about their genitals?


Today I want to talk to you about the importance of teaching children the real names of body parts and how to talk to them about their genitals and bodies.


***sexual abuse and mental health trigger warning***




The short answer is: openly, appropriately to their level of understanding and using medical terms. It's ok, it won't scare your kids, because your kids aren't carrying that stigma and shame that most of the adults do just yet. I will tell why this is important.

We should normalise talking about vulvas, for example, as openly as about heads or hands because they all are normal parts of the human body. 

When we shy away from talking about genitals, or what is much worse, say that there is something wrong about them, we scare our children and we stigmatise having genitals, which marks the child for the rest of their lives

A toddler will not understand, they won't logically get, why there is something bad about having a penis. So there will be emotions there, very difficult emotions like hate, shame, and guilt, but there won't be any understanding of the situation. 


I know and I understand that in certain cultures and religions genitals are considered dirty or immoral. But if we stop and think about it for a moment, we will understand that having them is just as normal as having legs or hair or eyes. We were born with them. So let's think about biology. You need a vulva as much as you need your head or arms. Focus on biology, not culture. This will help a lot. 

Talking to children openly about their genitals has a massive impact on their self-confidence, self-esteem and their sexual life as adults. It will allow your child to have a healthy relationship with their body. In some cases, it will help to prevent child abuse and rape.


Let's imagine a situation where two 7 years old boys join the football club. They are called Tony and William. 

Now, Tony as a preschooler was notoriously shamed and mocked in front of an entire family for touching his genitals, which is normal and very common for young kids. He developed a fear of even mentioning having these body parts. He felt guilty for having them.

So Tony joins the football club, and after his third practice, the coach asks him to come inside his office. We know how it ends. The coach touches Tony genitals and asks him to touch his. Tony is confused, scared, and hurt, he worries that it will happen again. And we know that it will. Because Tony is petrified of telling his parents what happened to him. He knows or he predicts that he will be shamed for it again, mocked or even physically hurt. So the paedophile continues to groom him, abuse him, and eventually starts to rape him. Ruining his childhood, painfully ending the carefree phase of his life, and marking him forever. 

After his parents finally find out, they may even refuse to take him to the therapy, because they will be too ashamed to do that. Tony may want to end his life. Tony may think that this is normal as nobody ever explained to him what sex should look like and what consent is, and when he is older, he may hurt others. Even unintentionally. Most likely he will grow up to be a good, and respectful person, but very hurt and unhappy. He will have problems with his sexual life, that's for sure. 


Now, William is a young boy, and he is as unfortunate as Tony to have joined a club coached by a paedophile. The same scenario here. The coach, let's call him Andrew, calls him to his office. He lays his disgusting hands-on Williams genitals. William is confused, scared and hurt. But he screams, runs away and tells his parents as soon as they come to pick him up. The parents call the police, and the police arrest Andrew. William needs therapy. But he has a much bigger chance of survival and having a normal, happy life than Tony has. 

Now, two things. I am fully aware that William could have stayed quiet for a long time. All kids have different personalities, and first of all, paedophiles are monsters who know how to lie, groom and hurt children. 

Second thing. Only abusers and rapists are to be blamed for abuse and rape. I wish we lived in a world where kids can be carefree and happy, but we do not. So we have to equip our children with the right tools to help them fight with these monsters. If it drops their chance of getting abused even by 1 per cent, it matters.


Let's imagine a different situation. We have two young girls, Maya and Suzy. Maya's parents talked to her openly about her body, so when she realises that her vaginal discharge smells and looks weird, she tells her mum about it, her mum takes her to the doctor, and the doctor gives her medication that will help her to treat the infection. After one week, Maya is OK.

Suzy never talked to her parents about her genitals and so she never had a chance to learn what is and what isn't normal. 

She realises that her vaginal discharge smells and looks odd. She feels bad about it, she worries for her health and also she constantly worries that somebody will realize that smell and make fun of her.

She feels guilty, because she thinks she must have done something wrong, or maybe she failed to wash her vulva the right way. Since there is no one to ask, she either tries to treat it with something she finds at home, which only worsens her symptoms, or she turns to  Google. 

Because she is very inexperienced,and her knowledge about her genitals is very little, she hurts herself by using some wrong treatments. The problem gets worse.


So I guess we have established, that talking to children about their genitals and puberty should be normalised. 

Let's teach our children how to set boundaries and what to do when a priest, a teacher, a doctor, a coach or an uncle lay their hands on them. Let's teach them that it is ok to say 'no' to adult, to scream, and run for their lives. 

Children have no dirty or shameful body parts. The only shameful and dirty body parts are those the paedophile used to abuse them with.



Thank you & a short life update:

Hi, thank you so much for visiting my blog and reading my latest post. I have been blogging since January 2017, and never have I ever had such a long, few months long, break from blogging. I was away because I had several family issues going on, and I needed to focus on them. I kept on writing, though, but none of the 30 blog posts I have written was good enough for me to publish, because I value your time, Dear Readers, a lot. 

When I look at the statistics of my blog, my heart melts, because behind all these numbers are people who have waited for me to come back. 

Thank you all for taking the time out of your lives to read whatever I write. It means the world, and these aren't just empty words. I value you all so much. 

I am back to publishing blog posts regularly, and you can expect a fresh new blog post every Friday at 6 PM GMT+1. You can also find me on Instagram, and especially on InstaStories, where I post every single day (@whatmumloves) and TikTok (@whatmumlovesblog). 


Thank you for reading! 

Gosia x


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