Friday, September 22, 2017

The Amazing Effects of Art on the Brain

Happy Fall!


I have written many times about the benefits of dance, from its accessibility; to development of social and emotional skills; to development of coordination, body awareness, discipline, correct posture, balance, flexibility, and strength; to teaching academic subjects kinesthetically; to simply allowing children the opportunity to experience the joy of movement. 

Many of these same benefits to other art forms.



I have also written about the benefits of dance on the brain.  I am excited and amazed at all of the positive news that comes out virtually every day on this subject.  I am devoting this blog to a very interesting one that just came out a few days ago:


This is Your Brain on Art (link below), by Sarah L. Kaufman, Dani Player, Jayne Orenstein, May-Ying Lam, Elizabeth Hart, and Sally Tan, published September 18, 2017, in The Washington Post.  Complete with beautiful music and video, this article explains "how the new field of neuroaesthetics is probing the relationship between art and the brain."  

Some of the authors' findings include:


  • Art provides social connection, which is a key function of our brains 
  • The value of and need for story-telling
  • How our brain and sensory system react to movement
  •  "The logic of art is a neural turn-on"  


Intrigued?  You won't be disappointed.  The article takes you through the story of Swan Lake, with videos of gorgeous dancing and the lovely music of Tchaikovsky in the background, as it explains why exposure to art is so important for the development and maintenance of a healthy brain. 



Click below to visit this fascinating world:


This Is Your Brain on Art                      Enjoy!





MOVING IS LEARNING!
Keep on Dancin',

Connie


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

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Singing and Dancing Back To School!

Everybody clap your hands!
It feels good to be back to school:  familiar routines, new little friends AND the joy of introducing them to my musical world!  I’m Miss Carole of Macaroni Soup –Active Music for Active Learners!

The start of a new school year is exciting for some children, scary for others.  It takes all our best teaching techniques, patience and empathy to get everyone moving forward positively.  Moving – that’s the operative word for this month’s blog!

Stamp your feet!
Music & Movement can be the perfect distraction for children to forget their worries and join in.  Or not – some may watch at first.  It’s been my experience that if I wait, give them an encouraging nod and smile, wait some more – they DO get the confidence to get up and move.

I start with a Welcome/Hello song.  Then do a zipper song with sitting movements (“Sticky Bubble Gum” is always a big hit!)  Then – LET’S GET DANCING!

Jump up high!





Here’s one of my favorites: “Everybody Clap Your Hands!”  I learned it from the legendry Ella Jenkins.  She doesn’t claim to have written it – “It’s just an old, old song,” she told me.  But it’s transformative – no child can resist it!  There’s nothing really to teach – just follow the instructions built into the song.
 
NOTE:  Be sure you do the song, too!  Model participatory behavior.  Hear the song clip HERE.  It's track #4.

LYRICS:     Everybody clap your hands
                 Everybody clap your hand
                 Everybody, come on and clap your hands!

Turn real slow!
V.2   Stamp your feet!

V.3   Jump up high!

V.4   Turn real slow.

V.5   Wiggle around!

V.6   Clap and stamp! (2 things at the        same time!)

V.7   Clap, stamp & turn (3 things!)



V.8   Sing – with your tongue sticking out (4 things!):
        "Everybody sing along!"
Sing...with your tongue sticking out like this!
Put your tongue back in!

Yup – it gets really silly at the end with tongues wagging as you sing, clap, stamp and turn around!  That’s the fun of it – and school should be FUN!

NOTE:  Take a second to have everyone put their tongues back in – tap your fingers to your lips.  It’ll make everyone smile!

Need a Welcome/Hello song?  More starter movement songs?  
Check out my blogs:
December 2016:  Welcome/Bienvenidos!
August 2013:  Sing Your Way Through the First Week of School
August 2014:  Start School Singing: Week 2!
August 2016:  Back to School Singing!
March 2016:  Thumbs up for “Singing in the Rain!”

OR go to the archive on my website’s
Song Of The Month page for:
August 2011:  “Hello Everybody, How Do You Do?”
January 2011:  “We Like to Say Hello!”
August 2007:   "Sticky Bubble Gum"
November 2006:  “The Wiggle Song!”

And finally – I am sorry to have been absent from PreK and K Sharing for so many months.  The surgical repair of my hip’s labrum meant changing priorities in order to meet classroom, concert and professional development commitments.  But I’m back – almost 100%!  Please contact me if you’d like me to come to your school, library, church or conference.  I’m in Chicago, but I travel all over the world to bring developmentally appropriate music & movement to those who work with young children!


Yours for a Song!
“Miss Carole” Stephens

Friday, September 15, 2017

Montessori-Inspired Owl Unit Using Free Printables

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

I'm in love with owl activities for fall. My 3¾-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, is now, too! I just put out the new activities for our owl theme, and they've been an instant hit. 

At Living Montessori Now, I have a long list of free owl printables. The free printables include my latest subscriber freebie (a Montessori-inspired owl pack, which even has an "ow" phonogram page. Here, I'm sharing ideas for using free owl 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 affiliate links (at no cost to you).   

Montessori Shelves with Owl-Themed Activities

Montessori Shelves with Owl-Themed Activities  

My shelves with owl-themed activities include a free great horned owl culture card designed by The Montessori Company. You’ll also find Montessori-inspired owl numbers, letters, spinners, 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 have a number of owl books, both nonfiction and fiction, for our owl unit. We always enjoy the National Geographic Readers, such as this month's Owls. There's also a large amount of easily understandable information in Owls by Gail Gibbons. I have some fiction books featuring owls in our book baskets. 

Free Printables: Owl Poems and Songs from Owl Babies Lesson Plans and Lapbook at Homeschool Share and Owls Rhyme Song from KidSparkz. I placed these on a wooden tabletop easel on the shelf. 

You could mix your owl-themed activities among your shelves according to curriculum area. Or you could have a special owl 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. 

Great Horned Owl Culture Card (on Shelf with Owl Books)

Great Horned Owl Culture Card with National Geographic Kids Owls Book I'm happy to share with you this awesome hand-painted great horned owl culture card from The Montessori Company. You can use it on your shelves to introduce an owl unit. I’m hosting the free printable as an instant download at Living Montessori Now. You can always access the free great horned owl culture card here

The description says: “The Great Horned Owl is a bird of prey known as a raptor. It flies silently and only hunts at night.” 

Owl Color Matching and Spanish Color Names Owl Color Matching and Spanish Color Names Basket Free Printable: Owl Color Matching by Exceptional Kinders at Teachers Pay Teachers 
Free Printable: Color Matching Cards from Montessori Print Shop 
Free Printable: Spanish Color Matching Cards from Homeschool Creations.

I put the cards in a small willow basket.

Laminated Montessori Print Shop color matching cards are all that are needed for color box 1 and 2 for a homeschool or many preschools. You really don't need to purchase Montessori color tablets, especially for home use. You can find presentations for introducing Montessori color tablets in my DIY Color Tablets post at Living Montessori Now.

It's great to have at least one Spanish activity out. National Hispanic Heritage Month started today, which is another good reason to focus on helping children learn to speak some Spanish.

Owl Color Matching and Spanish Color Names

This activity can be used for a variety  of levels. Young children can work on learning both the English and Spanish color names, while older children can work on learning the Spanish color names if they don't already know them. 

Owl Opposites Game Owl Opposites GameFree Printable: Owl Opposites from 1+1+1=1 

This is a super-simple activity to prepare. The cartoon characters are obviously not realistic, Montessori-style images. They're just silly, though, and my granddaughter loved them. 

I made a game where we went through each card, saying, for example, "Light and heavy are opposites." Then I had Zoey do a scavenger hunt (such as bringing me something light and something heavy) or performing the actions on a card (such as moving slow and then moving fast). Zoey laughed a lot during the game and wanted to repeat it as soon as we were finished. 

Letter G Object Basket Letter G Object Basket Free Printables: Great horned owl card in manuscript, D'Nealian, or Cursive for Letter G Object Basket (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) 

It might seem odd to emphasize /g/ when owls are the theme. I didn't want to use the short or long /o/ sound for owl, so I instead used /g/ for great horned owl and then had a separate activity for the "ow" phonogram. In my /g/ basket, I had a sandpaper letter g, goose (Loosy the Canadian goose Beanie Baby), glass, golf club, golden bead, gorilla, and guitar. 

Owl and "ow" Phonogram Sand Tray Owl and "ow" Phonogram Sand Tray Free Printables: "ow" owl font cards (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 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 often color salt with food coloring, but this time I just used some sand and a twig from a tree for the writing instrument. For interest, I added the snowy owl from the Safari Ltd. Exotic Birds TOOB

I have a post and video on how to introduce words starting with phonograms, even with very young children.

Counting and Stringing Owls Game Counting and Stringing Owls Game  
Free Printables: Owl Numbers and Owl Spinner (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 Multicraft tray and a Bambu condiment cup to hold 10 Owl Antique Silver Tibetan Style Charms Pendants (surprisingly inexpensive), and a pipe cleaner for the owls to make the necklace. 

Counting and Stringing Owls to Make a Pipe Cleaner Necklace

Zoey just laid out the number cards in order and then spun the spinner. First she got 5, then 9, and then 10. She didn't want to stop until all the owls were on her necklace. She loved the necklace and wore it until it was time to go home. Then she wanted to take it home. She was finally persuaded to keep it at Grandma's house to do again! 

Owl Number Mazes Owl Number Maze Tray  
Free Printable: Owl Themed Number Mazes by Grace n Giggles at Teachers Pay Teachers 

This was another simple activity to prepare. I used a Multicraft tray and a Bambu condiment cup to hold the number of small glass gems needed to complete the maze. I like that the maze doesn't just have a simple maze. It requires some problem solving. There are also a number of different mazes: 1-10, 1-20, 1-30, counting to 50 by 2s, and counting  to 100 by 5s. 

I had Zoey place a gem on each number she used in the maze. 


Owl Name Recognition and Building, Reading Activity, or Spelling Activity 
Proud of Her Owl-Themed First and Last Name Work

Free Printable: Owl Customizable Name Plates by Pigtails and Pollywogs at Teachers Pay Teachers 
Free Printable: Owl Letter Match by Jennifer Hier at Teachers Pay Teachers for Name Writing 

I love the owl customizable name plates because they're so versatile. You could use it for introducing a child's first name. Zoey is comfortable with her first name, so I included first and last name. For older children, you could individualize reading or spelling words for them to focus on\

More Free Owl Printables 

Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to free owl printables from around the blogosphere: Montessori-Inspired Owl Unit with Free Printables and 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. 


Don't miss my earlier owl post here at PreK + K Sharing: Montessori-Inspired Owl Activities Using 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!

Happy fall!
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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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Montessori-Inspired Magnet Activities Using Free Printables

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

I wish I would have had more hands-on activities with magnets in school. It would have been nice to develop an appreciation for science at a young age. Fortunately, it's easy now to give young children lots of hands-on activities in any curriculum area. My activities today emphasize science, but they also cover a number of curriculum areas. 



At Living Montessori Now, I have a list of free magnet printables. The free printables include my latest subscriber freebie (a Montessori-inspired magnet pack). I'm sharing a number of Montessori-inspired activities here using the free printables. 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 affiliate links at no cost to you. 

Shelves with  Magnet-Themed Activities 

Montessori Shelves with Magnet-Themed Activities 

My shelves with magnet-themed activities include a free hand-painted printable magnet culture card designed by The Montessori Company. You’ll also find Montessori-inspired magnet numbers and letters (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) 

The books on my top shelf are great for preschoolers through early elementary. They're What Magnets Can Do by Allan Fowler, What Makes a Magnet by Franklyn M. Branley, and Magnets Push, Magnets Pull by David A. Adler. My 3½-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, loves our themed books each month. She hasn't gotten to see the magnet books yet, although she tested out a couple of the activities before the books were out. I'm sure she'll love them and want to try some of the fun magnet activities they tell about.  

You could mix your magnet-themed activities among your shelves according to curriculum area. Or you could have a special magnet area something like the one pictured. My shelves this month have a mixture of skill 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, just rotate them.   

Magnet Culture Card (on Shelf with Magnets Push, Magnets Pull and More Magnet Books)

Magnet Culture Card with Magnets Push, Magnets Pull BookI'm happy to share with you an awesome hand-painted magnet culture card from The Montessori Company. You can use it on your shelves to introduce a magnet theme. I’m hosting the free printable as an instant download at Living Montessori Now. You can always access the free magnet culture card here

The description says: “All magnets have both a negative and positive side which creates a magnetic field and attracts metallic objects.” 

Magnet Letter and Object Matching Magnet Letter and Object Basket Free Printables: Magnet Letters for Letter M Object Basket (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 used the "m" sandpaper letter, magnetic letter m's  and magnetic pictures for the/m/ sound. If you'd like ideas for teaching phonics, check out my DIY Beginning Montessori Phonics post. 

We used a Montessori mystery bag and have a blindfold available. I got the basket, mystery bag, and blindfold from Montessori Services. I added a magnet, magnetic letters, and magnetic pictures (if you don't have any, you could make them with magnetic tape and pictures). 




Zoey loved this and wanted to do it again right away! 

Magnet Writing Tray

Magnet Writing Tray  

Free Printables: Magnet Letters for Magnet 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) 

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. 

I often color salt with food coloring, but this time I used some colored rice that had gotten broken up from so much use in sensory bins. I added a magnet as the writing tool along with iron filings from our magnet set




Zoey loved the texture of the rice, and she was fascinated to find that the iron filings stuck to the magnet after she wrote in the rice! 

Beginning Sounds Matching Activity with Magnetic Letters Beginning Sounds Matching Activity with Magnetic Letters

Free Printable: Alphabet Beginning Sounds Poster from Homeschool Creations

You can do this activity on the refrigerator or cookie sheet, but we've always loved the Magnetic Chalk/Dry Erase Board from Melissa & Doug. I chose these magnetic letters when Zoey was a toddler because they were safer without small magnets. 

Children can match the beginning sound of the pictured object or do a simple match the lowercase letters. 

Magnetic Number Basket 1-20 with Science Activity 


Magnet Number Basket with Magnet, Paper Clips, and Cards 1-20 Plus Layouts


 Free Printable: Magnet Numbers 1-20 (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 basket, Bambu condiment cup with 20 large paperclips, and a variety of magnets of different strengths. Most of my magnets are from this set, although I have some from other sources, too. 

I just keep one magnet on this tray and we gather up magnets from other trays to do the activity. We simply, line up the cards in order from 1-20 and then test one magnet to see how many paperclips it can lift. Then we count out the paperclips, laying them out a bit like the Montessori teen board. In the end, we place the number next to the layout. I think this is fun even for adults! 

We always do our layouts on a Montessori Services rug

Magnetic and Non-Magnetic Tray Magnetic and Non-Magnetic Tray

Free Printable: Magnetic/Non-magnetic Title Cards from Montessori for Everyone  
For this traditional Montessori activity, I used a Multicraft trayMontessori Services basket, magnet, 9 magnetic objects, and 9 non-magnetic objects. 

Except for the tray, my materials were actually part of a complete Magnetic/Non-Magnetic Activity from Montessori Services. You can obviously prepare your own tray, although it's super fast and easy if you have the Montessori Services activity.  

You can read about Montessori magnetic/non-magnetic activity and see variations of it in my magnetic and non-magnetic activity post

Tray with Magnet Song and Magnet Task Cards Tray with Magnet Song and Task Cards  
Free Printable: Magnets Song from First Grade WOW Free Printable: Magnet Task Cards from Fun with Magnets by Have Fun Teaching at Teachers Pay Teachers 

For this activity, I used a Multicraft tray with printables and magnets. I didn't have two bar magnets, so I used one bar magnet and a horseshoe magnet. That worked, although I think I'll get an extra bar magnet to make some of the activities clearer. 

For younger children, you can sing the song with them and do the activities on the task cards together, skipping the recording your observations part.   

More Free Magnet Printables 

Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to free magnet printables from around the blogosphere: Free Magnet Printables and Montessori-Inspired Magnet 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.

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 great school year!

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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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Solar Eclipse 2017: at School with PreK-First Graders

Are you ready??  The SOLAR ECLIPSE 2017 is here!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Solar-Eclipse-Interactive-Model-3324001

It's the event of a lifetime!  The first solar eclipse to go coast to coast since 1918 (June 8th).  The last eclipse to even touch the United States was February 26, 1979 and it was in a corner of the northwest and on a cloudy day.

Almost everyone in the United States will be able to observe at least a 50% partial eclipse.   Many will see much more.

Young children may be totally unaware of what is going on.  It is our job to help them observe and understand.

First....SAFETY!
This is so important, but it is not hard.

Start by getting proper eye protection (young children are going to want to look).  Sunglasses are not enough.  I made my own glasses with lenses from a welding supply store.  You need a lens #14 or higher.
Just take your lenses and place them into a larger piece of cardboard.  Attach with duck tape.  This will help young ones control the placement of the lens over their eyes.  They will be less likely to have the lens slip off of their eyes.
If you go online to buy some, be sure they are not fake (apparently fake glasses are popping up everywhere)

During the brief time of totality you can look with your naked eyes.

For fun........and for not looking at the sun at all, a pin box viewer is quick and easy to make.  You have all the supplies you need on hand.  I used a box, but you can get away with just a white piece of paper and a dark (stiff and won't let the sun through) paper.  I poked my hole with a bamboo skewer.

Now that you have seen what is happening, how do you explain it to a child?  Hands on is always the best method.  I made this interactive model using a paper plate to trace my sun and moon.  My sun had triangles glued to the back to show the corona.  You could make the moon just a wee bit smaller and that would work too. If you want a printable pattern, you can find the pattern by clicking here.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Solar-Eclipse-Interactive-Model-3324001

This picture from NASA is a great visual too.
https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/eclipse-who-what-where-when-and-how

I like the video clip here.  I have a stack of books ready to read.  There will be waiting around time as the moon makes its way across the sun.  How much wait time do you have?  Check out this table I made for times because the fun doesn't need to be just the few minutes of totality....
What else can you do?  Eat of course...along with Sun Chips and Milky Way bars you may want to make these tasty treats.  Can you see the shadow of the moon (half grape) and the corona of the sun (banana with yogurt glue)?
Now you are ready for some fun!!!  
It's once in a lifetime!  Carpe Diem!

http://merrykinderkapers.blogspot.com/


http://merrykinderkapers.blogspot.com/
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