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Montessori Works Maroubra Beach Babies's June Newsletter

June 2021


Hi all, a warm welcome to winter and of course to our June newsletter! It’s such a nice change in Australia to get cosy for a few months. Definitely makes us appreciate the summer even more! This month we’re looking into nature play. Mother nature offers up a platter of incredible resources, often right at our fingertips! You just need to know what you’re looking for... 

So let’s delve a little deeper into the wonders nature can offer your child. 


Topic of the month - The wonder of nature play

According to The Globalist in 2017, the average person consumes 100kg of plastic each year. That’s a wake-up call for all of us, especially to parents and carers of young children who amass endless plastic toys and odds and ends for our children… seemingly without even trying.

While not so obvious in the earlier years, as your child grows, suddenly you realise that a great many of their toys are made from plastic. Supermarkets push promotions where your child can take home a plastic toy with your grocery shopping. Certain fast food restaurants (that shan’t be named) include a plastic toy with children’s meals… all blatantly advertised to children, so really difficult to avoid. And that, voila, is how plastic is innocently amassed. The more children you have the deeper into the plastics hole you fall. Even when you deliberately try to avoid the supermarket and restaurant add-ons they keep miraculously appearing. And then add a few children’s birthday parties into the mix and you’ll amass more! So while some Australian states progress forward on the road towards a single-use, plastic-free life, many of us are drowning in the stuff.

What if there was an alternative to plastic toys?

An alternative that most early childhood services have valued for many years? 

What if that alternative was often free or very cheap… could be sourced everywhere - including your own backyard or local park, beach or lake… and it offered an unlimited variety of options, styles, sizes, colours and textures? 

Well, this is exactly what nature provides! 

You can find incredible resources - otherwise known as “toys” - for your child everywhere in nature. Resources that can be re-usable, sustainable, educational, breakdown into nothing leaving virtually no footprint, and could be used for a multitude of purposes… purposes like: sorting and stacking games; sensory activities; art and craft; imaginative play; fine motor; even gross motor! 

It’s all in the mindset. If you begin to see that everything could have another use, you’ll start to see options everywhere! All you really need is a little imagination… or access to Pinterest to get some great ideas! All the inspiration you need is available in nature. 

Let’s break it down into bite-sized chunks to get started.

Natural resource kit
Once your mind is tuned into hunting for natural resources, you’ll be surprised at how many you can accrue! You’ll likely find that once you start, you’ll find more wherever you go! The possibilities are endless. Here’s a list of suggestions - there are many many others you can choose to include - for you to begin creating your own kit of natural resources.

Stones / rocks
Pine cones
Pine needles
Flowers / petals
Seed pods
Berries (*don’t take any risks with berries you’re unsure of - unless you know for certain they aren’t poisonous. Tip - use frozen berries if you can’t pick ripe ones)
Seeds (chia, sunflower) or lentils
Tree slices (tree branch or trunk slices. Great in small coin-sized or large dinner-plate sized)
Leaves (extra large, like Monstera leaves, make great umbrellas!)
Leaves (small for sorting, craft, etc)

It’s worth noting that council clean-ups, recycling centres and buy-sell-swap sites can provide a wealth of options for extending or expanding your resources kit too. Often you can find items that compliment natural resources - like timber tables, storage jars, utensils, or containers to set-up activities in. Keep your eye out!

Nature activity ideas

So now you have an idea of the different resources you can collect to create a nature resources kit, below we’ve divided activities into categories to highlight the many different ways you can incorporate nature into your child’s play. Often most resources will cross into more than one category - sometimes even numerous categories! 


Sorting and stacking games

Sorting tray
Supply a tray of mixed items and a bowl for each type of item. Put an example or two into the bowl to demonstrate, then have your child sort the rest of the items on the tray into the correct bowl. Things like pebbles, shells and gumnuts are great for this.

Using anything from large pebbles to natural wood blocks, see how tall you can make a tower by stacking items one on top of the other before they fall. Include some music and movement in this activity, with a song likeBuild em up”!

Sensory activities

Berry stew 
Freeze berries into ice cubes, then add into a tub of water to make a berry stew. Watch the water slowly colour as the berries in the ice melt. Throw in some wooden spoons for stirring.

Herby or spiced dough
Dough scented with fresh herbs from the garden or spices from your spice drawer make an incredible sensory activity. The aromas are incredible and can be incorporated into other activities, depending on what you use. For example, sprigs of rosemary smell delicious and also make great trees, when stuck into the dough, that an animal may hide in.

Art and craft

Nature bracelets
All that’s needed for this activity is a selection of flowers and leaves collected from the garden or park, and some double-sided tape wrapped lightly around your child’s wrist. Show your child how to add flowers to their bracelet by pressing them gently onto the tape.


Berry finger painting
Offer a selection of colourful berries in a bowl with paper to “paint” on and let your child create their own berry masterpiece.

Imaginative play ideas

Canoes or boats
Discarded from a palm tree, this natural resource has been upcycled into a canoe for some babies to enjoy. This could really be re-created with any found item, like extra-large leaves - imagination is your only limit!

Ahhh, the many uses of sticks! The most versatile resource, not to mention the easiest as sticks are found anywhere there are trees! A stick can be a fishing rod, a wand, a sword, it can be stuck into dirt or sand to make the frame for a fort or teepee, laid across the ground in patterns or to create the outline of a house or ship…. There is no right or wrong in imaginative play. A little guidance is all that’s needed with children. Explain that sticks cannot be used to hit, swing at, or poke with. Instead demonstrate how they can be great stirrers in a puddle, or that you can sketch pictures in sand with them. So many uses!

Numeracy Activities

Counting games
Stones are another versatile resource, found in gardens, at lakes and rivers or at the beach, and can be used for early numeracy games or even simple counting. 

Basket of cones
A basket of pine cones (or shells, pebbles, etc) is the simplest activity - and often the most absorbing - especially for younger children who will happily pull each one out until the basket is empty, then with a bit of encouragement, put each one back. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. As your child grows older you can also help them count each pine cone as they go along.

Literacy Activities

Story stones
Story stones are used as prompts for telling a story. Each child explains what the picture on the stones might mean to them. Older children can use them in a group to continue the story that another child began. Either way they’re a great tool for starting a narrative, learning new words, describing an image or scenario. Story stones can be as detailed or simple as you want. A basic sketch with a black permanent marker is enough to tell a story with, weather stones are an easy example - all that’s needed is a sunshine image, a cloud, a rainbow etc. If, however, you enjoy getting creative (with or without your child) Posca pens are fantastic paint pens, perfect for illustrating on stones and are available in many places.


Fine motor

Floral art collage
A selection of flowers and leaves, some glue and card is all that’s required to create a beautiful floral collage. Including - and encouraging the use of - paintbrush for gluing will mean your child is working on their fine motor throughout this activity.

Nature tray
Created with easily sourced items from the garden or park, like sand, stones, leaves and bark. A wonderful exploratory activity. All you need to convert this into a fine motor activity are some spoons for little hands to grip and stir, or some tongs for them to practise squeezing and selecting different items to pick up and examine.

Gross motor

Obstacle course
The most creative obstacle courses can be put together from items sourced in nature. From stepping stones made of tree slices (the large dinner plate sized ones - see image below), to balance beams created out of tree trunks (or planks of upcycled wood), sticks to jump across, or bushes to crawl underneath. Keep your child’s age and ability level in mind, but you can always make adjustments when you see where your child’s strengths and weaknesses lay.



Nature scavenger hunt #1
Certain times of the year are more abundant in the outdoors than others, and autumn is a great example of this. It’s the perfect game to play with your little one is a nature scavenger hunt! Pull together a list of natural items you’d be likely to find in your garden or local park. Source some images on the internet - or sketch out some pics on a blank piece of card - grab a basket to store you goodies, and head out with your child to see what you can find!

Nature scavenger hunt #2 - photography version
An alternative to the standard scavenger hunt is to first fine all the items on the list, then photograph each one instead of collecting it! This can work especially well for slightly older children.

Crystal colour matching
Small crystal chips are available in a rainbow of colours that are perfect for naming and matching colours. Lay out some coloured cardboard in a variety of colours and see if you can get your child to match each crystal to it’s colourful card.

So while it’s difficult to eliminate plastics entirely - especially with young children around - nature provides many fun alternatives. Keep your friends and family posted on the enjoyable things you and your little one are doing with natural resources - which may lessen the chances of receiving gifts of plastic - and may even encourage a few people to join in with you! Plus you’ll know you’re giving the planet a red-hot chance by choosing natural resources where possible.


0-12 month development

Why babies don’t have freckles

Author: Nicole Harris

Freckles are undeniably cute. Nothing says ‘sun-kissed’ more than a smattering of freckles. However, these cute sunspots are not to be celebrated. They are a direct result of exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays.

When one is sunburnt, your body produces extra melanin. Besides causing freckles, this also helps your body protect itself from future sun exposure. This explains why freckles develop in areas with the most chronic sun exposure, such as the upper cheeks, nose, and shoulders.

Ultimately, you do not have to worry about freckles themselves. However, the spots indicate an increased sensitivity to UV rays, so parents of freckled children should be extra diligent about sun protection.


Refer to the original article to learn how to protect your children from the sun. 

1-2 year development

How to Raise Happy Kids for Success in Life

Author: Amy Morin

When raising their children, parents generally have two primary goals. They want their children to be happy and successful. While some will prioritise one of these outcomes over the other, there is consensus that both happiness and success are vitally important.

The article describes 10 things parents can do to help their children develop into adults who are both happy and successful. 

The list starts with encouraging outdoor play but also features tactics such as limiting screen time, setting achievable expectations, teaching self-control, assigning chores, eating dinner together, overindulgence, exercising together, and charity.


Refer to the original article to learn about these parental tactics.

2-3 year development

Tips for disciplining your toddler

Author: Chrisanne Grise

No parent enjoys disciplining their children, but it is a vital part of the socialisation process. And no matter how well-behaved your children are, at some point, you will need to discipline them.

But how exactly does one discipline a toddler? Some people equate it with spanking and punishment, but that's not what is covered here. As many parenting experts see it, discipline is about setting rules to stop your little one from engaging in behaviour that's aggressive (hitting and biting), dangerous (running out in the street), and inappropriate (throwing food). 

It's also about following through with consequences when he breaks the rules—or what Linda Pearson, a Denver-based psychiatric nurse practitioner who specializes in family and parent counselling, calls "being a good boss." 


Refer to the full article for seven strategies that can help you set limits and stop bad behaviour.

3-4 year development

Things You Should Do In Front Of Your Toddler

Author: Fiona Peacock

‘Monkey see, monkey do’. That is the basic premise here. We don't mean to call your children monkeys, however, their tendencies to mimic your every move makes for an undeniable comparison.

Children naturally mimic their parents’ behaviours, continually learning from mom and dad’s example. You are their very first and most important role models. Your actions show them how to behave. 

Although this does place pressure on parents as role models, it may prove more effective than explaining to your children how they should behave or discouraging bad behaviour.


Read on to learn about specific behaviours that you can model for your children.

4-5 year development

How Student Data Is Being Mined and Why You Should Care

Author: Sherri Gordon

What is data mining? While targeted adverts that serve you suspiciously accurate adverts based on your online activity are the most use case examples of data mining, it is just one of the many. 

On a broader scale, data mining is a process that examines large data sets to find patterns and correlations. Many times, these patterns are then used to advertise products, increase revenue, and understand consumer behaviour.

In many cases, information is collected to improve a product. Examples include online educational tools that collect data to improve their product and services. However, potential issues can arise when this data is used for other purposes.


Refer to the original article to learn about how data mining could affect your children.

Craft Corner - Easy DIY Birthday Party Crafts

Kids home-birthday parties at home are some of the most fun and wholesome ways to celebrate. These unforgettable memories will live on until it is time for the next garden party.

On the flip side, these parties are a lot of work for parents. Hosting your child’s birthday party at your house means that you are responsible for organising everything, from entertainment to food and drinks.

To make things a little easier, we have listed a few crafts below. These will hopefully give you a few entertainment ideas for your children’s next home birthday celebrations.

Paper plate crowns

Make paper plate crowns for your child’s friends to wear at the party. You will need card stock, scissors, and glue. Start by cutting the card stock into two rectangle pieces. Then proceed to cut one a rectangle piece to give it a crown-like appearance. Repeat the process for the other piece too. Finally, you will need to glue the ends of the two rectangle pieces to form a crown. You can add some paint, pom-pom balls or star stickers.


Read on for further instructions.

Photo booth with props

Corner off a corner of the house with a sheet to make a simple, DIY photo booth. A laptop, tablet or phone on selfie-mode will work as a camera and display screen. And once the photo booth is set up, it's time to create some simple props. Provide coloured paper and scissors for the kids to cut into moustaches, bow ties, goggles, and hats.


Detailed instructions provided here.

Fairy wands

This fun craft will give children an interactive toy to play with for the rest of the party. They may decide to cast spells on each other, create potions, or turn a frog into a prince. You need golden or silver paper, ribbons, glue, and a stick. You will then need to make an origami star, before glueing it to the stick. Once that is complete, you may want to add some ribbon strands for a dreamy appearance.


Follow these steps to create fairy wands

Fabric bag painting

Here is yet another craft that can be taken home and used for years to come. These may even be lovely gifts for kids to give to their parents. They can be used as a reusable family shopping bag. All you need is fabric paint, brushes, and fabric tote bags.


Refer to the original article for exact directions

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