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November | 2018 | Atomic Bee Ranch

Monthly Archives: November 2018

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Montessori Infant: Eight Months

Eight MonthsThis month saw a continuation of Malin’s development. Her crawling improved, she began pulling to standing and now she cruises along the furniture.She babbles constantly. She started to become much more adept at feeding herself so we’ve been putting out more finger foods. 

I did want to talk a little bit about feeding babies. There are a lot of methods out there and Montessori stresses giving the infant real flatware, cups, and plates or bowls. The methodology also stresses allowing the baby to feed themselves. If you follow exactly there should be a small table and chair for the infant to sit and eat at. This is, however, not the most practical solution for all families. If you have enough space in your home, a weaning table (as they are called) might be a good choice. It also presumes you are starting feeding solids once your baby can sit up unassisted well enough to sit in a chair, at a table. All great things if this works for you, but don’t feel you have to be so dogmatic in following any parenting method. 

Here’s why a weaning table doesn’t work for our family. Our house does not have a good spot for one. We’re not super heavy on furniture in our house, but we still don’t have space to squeeze one in. Our dining room is attached to the kitchen and is small, plus it already has a dinning table and chairs in it. Our kitchen is long and narrow and does not have extra space. It’s been a challenge having a step stool large enough for our kids let alone an extra table and chair. Another reason we haven’t gone for the weaning table is that I have really struggled with nursing- repeatedly blocked ducts, repeat cases of mastitis, poor latch despite so much effort to correct this. I am happy to breastfeed, but we need to be supplementing with solids sooner rather than later and for my own health we need to wean around a year. Finally, I feel very strongly that we don’t eat alone at a table off in the corner. If we are home we almost always sit at our dining room table and eat our meals. When we’re not home we’re sitting at restaurant table together talking (no screens at the table in our family). We eat nearly every dinner together at the table and since I’m home with the girls during the day, we sit to eat lunch together too (and often breakfast, but that one we’re more loosey-goosey about). I don’t want to relegate the baby to a different meal time or space to eat while the rest of us sit at the table together. And because of space constraints I’m not going to have a special table for her snacks. 

In other news the past month, my husband and dad have been building the baby a Pikler triangle. This baby is so physical. She lifted herself up early, she rolled over early, she crawled early and I suspect she will walk (the run!) early too. She wants to move much more than her sister did. A Pikler triangle should give her something to climb on and interact with in the house this winter (although we live in a mild winter climate and do get out) and will hopefully satisfy her need to move. 

I’ve also rotated out some of her treasure baskets. This is one of the most fun parts of baby toys. You don’t have to have fancy toys or even things that are designated as toys at this age. I grab things out of my kitchen cabinets and toss three or four in a basket and set it out on the floor. Obviously they should be safe things for babies, no chokable parts that might come off, safe to be chewed or sucked on. I’ve grabbed out a handful of lids from various jars and containers. I made another that had a spoon, a spatula, and an egg timer. For more ideas see my Instagram feed to the right- click over to my account so you can flip through them. 

We did get out the puzzle balls I made her and I’ve set out the stacking rings in her room. She’s not quite ready to actually put them on the post, but she can pull them off and hold them. We talk about colors and sizes while she does that. I have also set out some books for her in her room and she likes to pull them off the rack and chew on them and flip through them. 

Decolonize Your Bookshelf: We Are Grateful by Traci Sorell

Decolonize Your BookshelfWe Are Grateful






We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga written by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frane Lessac

From Goodreads: The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences. 

This year we decided to go camping instead of celebrate Thanksgiving. I have mixed feelings about the holiday and my husband is not a holiday person so it worked out. While I like the idea of being grateful, I want a day to do it that doesn’t celebrate a flat out historical lie and that celebrates genocide. If you are like me (and us, because my husband agrees with the idea of not celebrating genocide), but do want to share books about gratitude with your children here is a phenomenal book to do that with. 

For starters, this book celebrates contemporary Cherokee. So many. SO. MANY. kid’s books show Native Americans as something from the past. The stories are set in the past. Their clothing is historical. Their way of life is historical. And this translates into children believing that Native Americans are all gone. Which both erases their current struggles and oppression and continued colonial violence against them, as well as erasing their past struggle and resistance. These stories are never more prevalent than in November with the confluence of the Thanksgiving myth/lie and Native American Heritage Month. We Are Grateful shows Cherokee people today in clothes they would wear today. Sure, some of them are traditional looking and maybe they aren’t the street clothes a suburban, white mom or dad would wear, but they are clearly recognizable as people who are alive right now, celebrating. The settings are modern looking too, if rural or pastoral. It’s beautiful and modern and one of many stories we need showing Native Americans alive and unapologetically embracing their culture. 

Second, this book is #ownvoices. It’s written by a member of the Cherokee Nation. This is an essential criteria for books that feature Native Americans. Yes, other people can write about Native Americans, but the books in which someone other than an Indigenous person writes a story about them without it being a total and utter travesty are few and very far between. I think in this case it is much better to ere on the side of caution and ensure your books about Native peoples are #ownvoices. Which isn’t to say those can’t be flawed (communities aren’t a monolith and there can be disagreement about representation), but you’re getting closer to having books that do the people justice. 

Finally, the book is about gratitude in a lovely and organic way. It’s not about trips to Disneyland or scads of money. It’s not about one big meal once a year. It’s about the little things in life that make up a life well lived and appreciated. I am sucker for books that travel through the seasons and children’s books are often framed with this cycle. We Are Grateful shows us that there are things to be grateful for all year round. 

Be sure to add this one to your bookshelves this season and read it throughout the year. 

Storytime: Shapes

Theme Storytime Banner

Storytime is a series that you can use to get your homeschool day going. If you don’t open with a circle time (we don’t), keep it in your back pocket for one of those days when you need something to fill 20-30 minutes or when you want an enriching activity but don’t want to plan anything yourself. See this post for more detailed information about the series. 

Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom, as a printable/downloadable pdf version of the storytime is available there. In the pdf are some extra books in case you don’t have access to the ones listed here or need more, as well as extra songs and rhymes.


Opening Song

“If You’re Ready for a Story”

Sung to the tune “If You’re Happy and You Know It”

If you’re ready for a story, clap your hands.

If you’re ready for a story, clap your hands.

If you’re ready for a story, if you’re ready for a story,

If you’re ready for a story clap your hands.

(nod your head, sit so still)


City Shapes written by Diana Murray, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Draw attention to the collage style art. At the end ask how they think the art style lends itself to the theme of the book and the setting.

Flannel Board

“Five Little Hot Dogs”

Five little hot dogs frying in a pan,

One got hot and it went, “BAM!!”…

Four little hot dogs frying in a pan,

One got hot and it went, “BAM!!”…

Three little hot dogs frying in a pan,

One got hot and it went, “BAM!!”…

Two little hot dogs frying in a pan,

One got hot and it went, “BAM!!”…

One little hot dogs frying in a pan,

It got hot and it went, “BAM!!”…

No more hot dogs in a frying pan!


Wild About Shapes by Jeremie Fischer

Wiggle Break

“Shake Our Sillies Out”

We’re gonna shake, shake, shake our sillies out,

Shake, shake, shake our sillies out,

Shake, shake, shake our sillies out,

And wiggle our waggles away.

We’re Gonna jump, jump, jump our jiggles out,

Jump, jump, jump our jiggles out,

Jump, jump, jump our jiggles out,

And wiggle our waggles away.

Shape Search

Now that we are standing let’s take a few minutes to look around and see if we can see any shapes. Do you see any circles? Does anyone know what a 3 dimensional shape is? Put out printed & laminated shapes on the flannel board. Name them so the kids know what to look for.

Goodbye Song

Remind them of the signs for “good bye” and “friends”. Sing through twice. Sung to the tune “Goodnight, Ladies”

“Good Bye Friends”

Good bye, friends.

Good bye, friends.

Good bye, friends.

It’s time to say goodbye.


Click here to download the Shapes Storytime

Friday Five: Transgender Awareness Week

Friday Five Banner

The second week in November is always Transgender Awareness Week. Below is a list of five books you can read with your child during that week. However, you should have these on your shelf throughout the year so as to dispel the idea that transgender people only pop up one week a year or need to be relegated to one week in November. It is doubly important this year with the current administration threatening to erase trans people and their rights. 

I Am Jazz1. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas

This is a must-have for anyone creating or cultivating a decolonized bookshelf. With author Jessica Herthel Jazz Jennings explains how she grew up knowing she was trans. It’s incredibly simple yet complex and will likely open up conversations between you and your child. Don’t be afraid to have those conversations with your child (although read the parent resources at the back first) and don’t be afraid to tell your child you don’t know an answer and will have to get back to them once you’ve done some research for yourself. The illustrations in the book a so sweet and gentle with a bright palate that make it very inviting.  

They She He Me2. They She He Me: Free to Be! by Maya Gonzalez  

They She He Me is a very, very simple reader that has two-page spreads of a variety of children and people with pronouns repeated underneath. It’s a visual of how people who identify as one gender or pronoun can present so differently physically. Gonzalez is always good at being inclusive so there are disabled people as well as a variety of skin tones. This book is fine on its own and, as with I Am Jazz, can be a great jumping off point for talking about how gender is not binary and up to the individual to determine.  

The Gender Wheel3. The Gender Wheel: A Story About Bodies and Gender by Maya Gonzalez

If you want a lot more in-depth coverage of gender, read Gonzalez’ The Gender Wheel which is PHENOMENAL. Be aware that it is much longer and more text heavy than They She He Me which may make it less accessible to younger kids. But don’t let that be the reason you pass it up. You can break it up over a few days or nights or just dip in from time to time. If you are not familiar with talking about gender outside a binary or you are not comfortable with it, buy this book and read it again and again. And if you are familiar or comfortable with it, buy this book and read it again and again. While I personally talk all about bodies and body parts with my kids in an effort to avoid teaching shame around nakedness, your mileage may vary. There are two versions of the book- one with naked bodies and one without. I recommend you go for the naked bodies, but you’ll need to be the judge of that for your family. 

One of a Kind Like Me4. One of a Kind Like Me written by Laurin Mayeno, illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo

While this isn’t necessarily about a transgender child, it does show that clothing can be fluid and does not have to be limited to the narrow idea that girls wear dresses and boys wear pants. In One of a Kind Like Me, Danny wants to dress in a purple princess dress for school but he’s having a hard time finding the costume he imagined at the local thrift shop. After a little worrying Danny and his mom realize that they’ll have to get creative to make Danny’s idea a reality. Again, refer to The Gender Wheel to help you frame your conversations. Clothes may or may not be tied to gender for children, but it’s important to get away from the idea of a binary.

Sparkle Boy5. Sparkle Boy written Leslea Newman, illustrated by Maria Mola

This is in a similar vein as One of a Kind. Here Casey likes to wear things that are considered girly- bracelets and a sparkly skirt. What I like about this book is it shows Casey’s sister grappling with the idea of her brother not conforming to what she thinks boys should be wearing. Casey doesn’t seem to notice that he’s not conforming to gender norms which is great and while we don’t really need to center cisgender voices when talking about these things, it’s good to see how his sister struggles because some kids and people will and do struggle to wrap their minds around a new way of thinking about gender. By the end of the story Casey’s sister 

Books to warn against:

Jacob’s New Dress. The dad is kind of a dick in this one and I think the books above do a much better job addressing the issues. 

Julian is a Mermaid. This one just came out and it looked promising, but it’s written by a cisgender white lady and has a lot of problems. Read this critique by Laura Jimenez for more information.