Thursday, February 15, 2018

Montessori-Inspired Nest Activities Using Free Printables

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

If you're looking for activities for a bird theme this spring, I have them for you today! I've put together a number of Montessori-inspired nest activities that can be used in the classroom or at home. 



At Living Montessori Now, I have a list of free nest printables featuring real nests. The free printables include my latest subscriber freebie (a Montessori-inspired nest pack). Here, I'm sharing ideas for using free nest printables to create Montessori-inspired activities for preschoolers through first graders. 

You'll find many activities for preschoolers through first graders throughout the year along with presentation ideas in my previous posts at PreK + K Sharing. You'll also find ideas for using free printables to create activity trays here: How to Use Printables to Create Montessori-Inspired Activities

At Living Montessori Now, I have a post with resource links of Free Printables for Montessori Homeschools and Preschools

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links (at no cost to you).

Montessori Shelves with Nest-Themed Activities 

Montessori Shelves with Nest-Themed Activities  

My shelves with nest-themed activities include a free nest culture card designed by The Montessori Company. You’ll also find Montessori-inspired nest numbers, letters, and and more (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber) 

I always have related books available throughout a unit. On my top shelf, I have Birds Make Nests, Whose Nest Is This? and A Nest Is Noisy. On the bottom shelf, I have A Nest Full of Eggs (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science). These books are all Montessori friendly. Although my activities this month all feature bird nests, I like that Whose Nest Is This? and A Nest Is Noisy include nests made by other types of animals as well. 

In my book basket, I have some books that are fiction but aren't Montessori-style books, such as the fun The Best Nest

You could mix your nest-themed activities among your shelves according to curriculum area. Or you could have a special nest-themed area something like the one pictured. My shelves this month have a mixture of skill levels. Many of the activities can be adapted for a variety of levels. If you’re a homeschooler, just choose the activities that work for your child’s interests and ability levels. If you don’t have room for all the activities you’d like to do, simply rotate them.

Nest Culture Card and Whose Nest Is This? Book

Whose Nest Is This Book with Nest Culture Card I'm happy to share with you this lovely hand-painted robin nest culture card from The Montessori Company. You can use it on your shelves to introduce a nest or bird unit. I’m hosting the free printable as an instant download at Living Montessori Now. You can always access the free nest culture card here

The description says: “Nests are where birds lay eggs, usually high up in tree branches. They are commonly made of sticks and twigs but are quite strong.”

Bird Nest Lacing Activity Bird Nest Lacing Activity  
Free Printable: N is for Nest Pack from Teaching Mama 

For this activity, I just used the printable on a Multicraft tray with a shoelace tied to one end. I don't always laminate activities for preschoolers and older for home use, but I do always laminate lacing activities. 

I love the Scotch Thermal Laminator, which I use whenever I want to laminate an activity. Activities for toddlers or ones that will get a lot of use are the only activities I laminate at home. 

Angela from Teaching Mama cut the birds off for the lacing activity. That's probably best for toddlers, but I think most preschoolers can be taught to lace even with the birds still attached. 

Nest-Themed Book, Sandpaper Letter, and Word Card

Nest-Themed Book, Sandpaper Letter, and Word Card  

Free Printables: Nest Word Tracing from Birds Preschool Pack at Homeschool Creations 

This is on the shelf next to A Nest is Noisy book. I use it to introduce the theme with the sandpaper letter "n."  I used my small movable alphabet "n" on the nest word card. I also printed out the "nest" tracing word card that I would use with a child who's ready to trace letters. 

N is for Nest Birdseed Writing Tray

N is for Nest Birdseed Writing Tray 

Free Printables: Nest Letters for Letter N Birdseed Writing Tray (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber) 

I first saw the idea of using birdseed for a writing tray at School Time Snippets. I thought it would be fun to use a feather for the writing, but it didn't work as well as a finger. Birdseed is lots of fun to write in, but it needs a fairly thick writing tool. 

For the tray, I used the wooden tray from the Melissa & Doug Lace and Trace Shapes. You can use whatever tray or container work best for you, though. 

If you would like help with introducing phonetic sounds, introducing objects with sounds, or beginning phonics in general, check out my DIY Beginning Montessori Phonics with Preschoolers

Nest and Egg Beginning Sounds or Word-Building Activity Nest and Egg Beginning Sounds or Word Building Activity  

Free Printable: Rob the Nest Alphabet Edition from Ms K's Kreations at Teachers Pay Teachers 

This was super easy to prepare. I just printed and cut out the materials and put them on a Multicraft tray. There are directions in the printable for playing "Rob the Nest Alphabet Edition." It uses both uppercase and lowercase cards, though. 

I like cooperative games, and I just wanted to use lowercase letters. So I made up my own games. 

For younger children, you could take turns drawing letter cards and saying their letter sounds before placing them in the nest. You don't have to include all the letters on the tray. Adapt it for your own child or classroom. When you've placed all the eggs in the nest, everyone wins. Repeat as long as the child or children are interested. 

For older children, you could have a word-building activity where you take turns drawing a letter. Whenever you have enough letters to spell a word, you could work together to form and read the word. 

Place used letters in the nest except any vowels. You can use those for more words. I like to allow nonsensical words as well as real words. The important part is spelling and reading! 

Oval Inset for Egg-Themed Work 

I have plastic insets instead of metal insets. I like them for home use because they can be stored in one basket, but either metal or plastic insets are fine. The inset could be traced before the child creates a design on the egg. Eggs can be added to a nest like the one above if desired. It's just nice to focus on the oval as an egg shape during the nest theme. 

Counting to 20 to Get Mama Bird to the Nest Counting to 20 to Get Mama Bird to the Nest

Free Printable: Follow the Path Mama Bird from 1-20 Mama Bird from Education.com 

I used a Multicraft tray, glass gems stored in a  Bambu condiment cup, and sugar tong for a fine-motor activity. A younger child could place the glass gems on the the path as far as he or she is able to count, and you could place the rest. A child who's working on numbers to 20 could put them on the page using the sugar tong before counting each of the numbers. 

Robin's Nest Addition with Montessori Bead Bars Robin's Nest Addition with Montessori Bead Bars  

Free Printable: Robin's Nest Addition from Make Take Teach at Teachers Pay Teachers 

This activity uses a piece of felt for a table mat (I used the Montessori Services felt table mat) and bead bars from the decanomial box in a Multicraft tray and Bambu condiment cups (what I used here) or other small containers. (My bead bars, which I love, are from Alison’s Montessori. You can get bead bars on Amazon, although I haven’t personally used materials from those companies.) 

The printable has addition facts for 5-12, although you could just use the nests for 2 or 3 numbers. I used 5, 6, and 7 here. I have the bead bars for each set of numbers. There are two 3 bars for 3+3=6. I would first lay out the nests in order. Then just have the child choose an egg and find the answer using bead bars. Place the eggs on the appropriate nests. 

Nest and Egg Addition and Subtraction Activity Nest and Egg Addition and Subtraction Activity  Free Printable: Nest Numbers 1-12 (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber) 

For this activity, I used a Montessori Services basket12 miniature eggs, and 2 dice. The nests in the Montessori-inspired nest pack are identified on the credits page. From the credits page you'll see that each number card has a photo of an empty Carolina wren nest. The eggs aren't high-quality eggs, but I like that they look a bit like Carolina wren eggs. My 4-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, loves them. I chose dice with numerals for this activity, although you could use whichever type you prefer.


Putting together (Adding) 5 Eggs and 2 Eggs

First, Zoey laid out the number cards in order. Then she rolled both dice. In the photo, she has a 5 and a 2. She counted out the eggs for each number and then put them together to add them. 

Completing the Subtraction Problem 7 Eggs Minus 2 Eggs Equals 5 Egg

After that, Zoey rolled one of the dice to see how many eggs to take away. She thought it was fun to pretend that 2 eggs hatched and the birds flew away. She placed those eggs in a basket behind her. Then she counted the eggs that were left and made the final subtraction equation. 

You could adapt this for a variety of skill levels, depending on whether the child is working on counting or hands-on addition and subtraction. 

More Free Nest Printables 

Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to free nest printables from around the blogosphere: Free Nest Printables and Montessori-Inspired Nest Activities

And be sure to subscribe to my email list if you'd like to get an exclusive free printable each month (plus two more awesome freebies right away): Free Printables

More Bird Activities and Resources
Helpful Animal Classification Posts

Montessori at Home or School - How to Teach Grace and Courtesy eBook

If you'd like to focus on manners with children, please check out my eBook Montessori at Home or School: How to Teach Grace and Courtesy! It's written for anyone who'd like to feel comfortable teaching manners to children ages 2-12. I'm also one of the coauthors of the book Learn with Play – 150+ Activities for Year-round Fun & Learning!

Spring will be here soon!

Deb - Siganture
Deb Chitwood

Deb Chitwood is a certified Montessori teacher with a master’s degree in Early Childhood Studies from Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, England. Deb taught in Montessori schools in Iowa and Arizona before becoming owner/director/teacher of her own Montessori school in South Dakota. Later, she homeschooled her two children through high school. Deb is now a Montessori writer who lives in San Diego with her husband of 42 years (and lives in the city where her kids, kids-in-law, and 3-year-old granddaughter live). She blogs at Living Montessori Now.

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Sunday, February 4, 2018

14 DAYS OF TIPS FOR DEMONSTRATING LOVE TO YOUR CHILD

DAY 4: BE AFFECTIONATE WITH YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER – Teach your children about love by expressing love for your significant other in front of them. Children who have healthy models of affection around them are likely to recreate in their adulthood what they witnessed as children. When your significant other and you argue or fight in front of the children, be sure and let the kids see the two of you makeup.

Get all 14 tips as they get published at http://www.facebook.com/cooperativekidz

Monday, January 22, 2018

Reinforcing Early Literacy Skills with a Multi-Layered Dance Activity

Hello!


This movement lesson explores letter knowledge, including recognizing letter shapes, making the shapes with the body, and learning the sound the letter represents.  It also explores sequencing, word meanings, and making words and sentences.  In addition, encouraging children to make letters in space, whether standing, sitting, lying down, or jumping, helps to develop a child's spatial sense.


 Before we begin, it is important to note that the kinesthetic exploration of letters is what is important in this activity.  Whether or not he accomplishes the exact letter shape, it is the child's recognition of the letter, his attempts to make the 
shapes with his body, and exploring new ways to move
that are the valuable learning experiences






Dancing About Letters!

Time of Activity:  15-30 minutes


Materials:  2, 3, 4, or 5 letters written on paper, or letter flash            cards; and a large, open space, if available

  • Choose two to five letters that make a word, and write each of them on separate sheets of paper (or use flash cards). As an example, let's use the letters D-A-N-C-E.



  • Hold up one of the letters, say the name of the letter, and have the children repeat the name and the sound of the letter.  Now ask the children to make this letter using their whole body (not just hands and fingers).  Do the same for each letter.  Practice this until the children can make each letter in their bodies without needing the visual cue of the letters you are holding.


Continue with these playful activities that will help to reinforce the learning:


  • Play a lively piece of music.  Allow the children to dance while the music is playing.  Stop the music and call out one of the letters, and ask the children to make that shape in their bodies.  Continue this until you have named each letter several times, in random order.



  • Using a drum, tambourine, or just clapping your hands, now call the letters out one after the other on each beat or clap.  Ask the children to make the shape as you name each letter.  Start out slowly, and increase the speed as the children become more efficient at responding.  When you have done it as fast as they can respond, ask them to freeze in the shape of the last letter you called out.  Then ask them to melt to the floor holding the shape as long as they can, and then make the letter shape on the floor with their body.



  • Bring five children up to the front, or to a place where everyone can see them.  Have them make the letters for the word "D-A-N-C-E" in order, and see if the class can figure out the word.



  • Move the children around so that the letters are out of order, and see if the class can remember the correct order of the letters in the word.



  • Once the letters are in the correct order again, ask each child to hold an imaginary pencil and trace the letters of the word one by one in the air.



  • Finish with a free dance about the letters or the word the letters make, such as an alphabet song or a song about dancing.  Two examples are Dance in Your Pants by David Jack, and Funky Bluesy ABC's by Taj Mahal.




Expand the activity:


  • Choose a different word each time you do this activity



  • Repeat the activity using another corresponding word, or several words, such as D-A-N-C-E  I-S F-U-N.  This is a good exercise for practicing sequencing and making sentences.



  • Build this lesson around a specific piece of music that includes the word you are using, or tells a story using the word (for example, if you are spelling the word F-I-S-H,  play Goldfish by Laurie Berkner).



  • Try doing the word or words using all uppercase letters first, and then do the same using lowercase letters. 



  • Ask the children to walk the path of each letter on the floor, imagining they have paint or chalk on the bottoms of their shoes.



Keep on Dancin',
MOVING IS LEARNING!

Connie


https://www.scbwi.org/members-public/connie-dow

Monday, January 15, 2018

Montessori-Inspired Panda Activities Using Free Printables

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

One of my favorite themes for Chinese New Year or a study of China in general is the panda bear. Because the giant panda is the national animal of China, it's a perfect addition to almost any China unit. Of course, it's an important part of any bear unit study, too. 


At Living Montessori Now, I have a list of free panda printables featuring real pandas. The free printables include my latest subscriber freebie (a Montessori-inspired panda pack). Here, I'm sharing ideas for using free panda printables to create Montessori-inspired activities.  

You'll find many activities for preschoolers through first graders throughout the year along with presentation ideas in my previous posts at PreK + K Sharing. You'll also find ideas for using free printables to create activity trays here: How to Use Printables to Create Montessori-Inspired Activities

At Living Montessori Now, I have a post with resource links of Free Printables for Montessori Homeschools and Preschools

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links (at no cost to you).

Montessori Shelves with Panda-Themed Activities

Montessori Shelves with Panda-Themed Activities  

My shelves with panda-themed activities include a free panda culture card designed by The Montessori Company. You’ll also find Montessori-inspired panda numbers, letters, spinners, and and more (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber) 

I always have related books available throughout a unit. On my top shelf, I have the Scholastic Pandas, 40 Panda Facts for Kids, and a homemade Giant Panda book using the free printable Giant Panda by A Special Day in College and Career Readiness at Teachers Pay Teachers. A free printable reader with more words is the Panda Bear Nonfiction Reader from Simply Kinder. 

I have a number of other panda books in a book basket. I love the National Geographic animal books. There are a number of great National Geographic bear books. I have both Pandas and Mission Panda Rescue for this unit. I also have the National Geographic Red Pandas book. Even though red pandas belong to their own family, I think it's important to read about them since they share the name "panda" with the giant panda and also like to eat bamboo. 

I have fictional panda books in our book basket, too. I even have two books for babies and toddlers. My 4-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, loves to share books with her month-old sister, Sophia, so these are especially fun for Zoey. Sophia loves having Zoey read to her, although I'm sure she doesn't care if her books fit with a theme! I have the adorable Little Panda Finger Puppet book and Bill Martin, Jr.,/Eric Carle's Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? They aren't Montessori-style books, but they're favorites at my house. 

Zoey, loves puzzles, so I have a giant world foam puzzle with 54 pieces in a large basket (not shown in my photos). That's great for using with Safari Ltd. or Schleich animals. When Zoey was younger, I used the puzzle that I have displayed for  animal geography. I don't think it's available any longer. For home use, I don't use the Montessori continent puzzle, which is a bit too large and impractical. I like to get world puzzles that are less expensive and can be changed according to Zoey's developmental level. 

On another shelf, I have the beautiful world map from Pin It! Maps that's perfect for animals of the continents as well as other geography activities. 

You could mix your panda-themed activities among your shelves according to curriculum area. Or you could have a special panda-themed area something like the one pictured. My shelves this month have a mixture of skill levels. Many of the activities can be adapted for a variety of levels. If you’re a homeschooler, just choose the activities that work for your child’s interests and ability levels. If you don’t have room for all the activities you’d like to do, simply rotate them.

Panda Culture Card (on Shelf Introducing the Panda Theme)

Panda Culture Card on Shelf with Pandas Book and Schleich Pandas  

I'm happy to share with you this hand-painted panda culture card from The Montessori Company. You can use it on your shelves to introduce a panda unit or as part of a bear unit. I’m hosting the free printable as an instant download at Living Montessori Now. You can always access the free panda culture card here

The description says: “Pandas are a bear native to China. They eat almost only bamboo. They live mostly solitary lives except when raising cubs.” I displayed the card with a Schleich giant panda, Schleich giant panda cub, and Pandas book. 

Panda Same or Different Activity Panda Same or Different Activity 

Free Printable: Panda Same or Different Cards from Wise Owl Factory 

This activity just uses the printable and a  Montessori Services basket. It's simply a fun way to discuss panda photos and visual differences. 

Panda Skip Counting Puzzles Panda Skip Counting Puzzles Free Printable: Panda Skip Counting Puzzles from Wise Owl Factory 

There are a number of different skip counting puzzles in this printable. I used two puzzles, counting by 2s and counting by 10s, to make it more challenging. That way, Zoey has to sort out the two puzzles before putting them together. 

For a younger child, just use one puzzle in your basket, pencil box (often a good size for these types of puzzles), or other container. 

P is for Panda Salt Tray and Movable Alphabet Work

/p/ is for Panda Salt Tray and Movable Alphabet Work 

Free Printables: Panda Letters for Letter P Salt Tray (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber) 

For the salt tray, I used the wooden tray from the Melissa & Doug Lace and Trace Shapes. You can use whatever tray or container work best for you, though. I added a Safari Ltd. panda and cub from the Pandas TOOB for interest.

For the movable alphabet work, I used the panda movable alphabet cards from our subscriber freebie pack  for matching or spelling along with a traditional small wooden movable alphabet. I also used Montessori Services language objects pin, pin, peg, pan, and pot as objects for spelling with the movable alphabet. 

For children working on their phonetic sounds, they the /p/ objects could be used in an object basket. If you would like help with introducing phonetic sounds, introducing objects with sounds, or beginning phonics in general, check out my DIY Beginning Montessori Phonics with Preschoolers

Parts of a Giant Panda Activity Tray with Parts of the Giant Panda Activity 

Free Printable: Label the Parts of a Giant Panda by Green Tree Montessori School at Teachers Pay Teachers 

This can be a cut-and-paste activity or word tracing and writing activity. The control page is shown in the photo. I'm using the cut-and-paste page on a Multicraft tray. 

Heart Panda Paper Craft Tray with Heart Panda Paper Craft  

Free Printable: Heart Panda Paper Craft from DLTK’s Crafts for Kids 

Free Printable: How Many Hearts Do You Need to Make the Panda? (trace and color page with hearts) from Making Learning Fun 

I typically encourage process art activities, although it's fun to have a more structured craft sometimes for holidays or as an activity for following directions. As a child, I always loved making heart animals for Valentine's Day, so I couldn't resist this heart panda paper craft. It can be a simple cut-and-paste activity. 

Older kids can learn to cut out the hearts and create a panda without a printable. For young children who have difficulty cutting, you could have a pasting activity. The results wouldn't need to look like the model! The second free printable adds a math activity to making a heart panda. I have it on the same tray. 

Adding with Pandas Activity Adding with Pandas Activity Free Printable: Adding with Pandas from China Printable Pack at Every Star Is Different 

This is a fun hands-on addition activity. It uses the Safari Ltd. Pandas TOOB. (Mine had 11 pandas when I got it a few years ago, but now there are 9 in the TOOB. Use whichever cards work best with your TOOB.) I also used Montessori Services baskets, whatever size of clothespin you prefer (I like small clothespins, such as 1" clothespins for interest and extra fine-motor work), and a small container for the clothespins. 

I use a small dot to mark the back of the correct number on each card. Then the child can turn the card over to check his or her answer as a control of error. 

Matching Teen Numerals with Miniature Pandas and Bead Bars Adding with Pandas Activity Free Printable: Panda Numbers (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber) 

This activity uses a piece of felt for a table mat (I used the Montessori Services felt table mat) and bead bars from the decanomial box in a Multicraft tray and a Bambu condiment cup (what I used here) or  Montessori Services basket. (My bead bars, which I love, are from Alison’s Montessori. You can get bead bars on Amazon, although I haven’t personally used materials from those companies.) I also added 20 Safari Ltd. Good Luck Mini Pandas. A great place to get them for a reasonable price is Alison's Montessori

Admiring Her Panda Bear Teen Number Wor

For the activity, you could start with a column of 10 bears and then spin the spinner to find the units. Zoey loves the Safari Ltd. Good Luck Minis, and she enjoyed lining them up and counting them before adding the bead bars. 

In my Montessori-inspired bear activities, I had another way to do the activity if you don't use the spinner. 

More Free Panda Printables 

Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to free panda printables from around the blogosphere: Free Panda Printables and Montessori-Inspired Panda Activities. I also have printables for a general bear unit: Free Bear Printables and Montessori-Inspired Bear Activities. If you're looking for more activities for Chinese New Year, check out my roundup of Montessori-inspired Chinese New Year activities. And be sure to subscribe to my email list if you'd like to get an exclusive free printable each month (plus two more awesome freebies right away): Free Printables.

HELPFUL ANIMAL CLASSIFICATION POSTS

Montessori at Home or School - How to Teach Grace and Courtesy eBook

If you'd like to focus on manners with children, please check out my eBook Montessori at Home or School: How to Teach Grace and Courtesy! It's written for anyone who'd like to feel comfortable teaching manners to children ages 2-12. I'm also one of the coauthors of the book Learn with Play – 150+ Activities for Year-round Fun & Learning!

Have a Happy Martin Luther King Day today and a Happy Chinese New Year in February!
Deb - Siganture
Deb Chitwood
Deb Chitwood is a certified Montessori teacher with a master’s degree in Early Childhood Studies from Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, England. Deb taught in Montessori schools in Iowa and Arizona before becoming owner/director/teacher of her own Montessori school in South Dakota. Later, she homeschooled her two children through high school. Deb is now a Montessori writer who lives in San Diego with her husband of 42 years (and lives in the city where her kids, kids-in-law, and 3-year-old granddaughter live). She blogs at Living Montessori Now.

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