Spooning Snowballs

Here’s another fun Practical Life work that is very easy to prepare.  All you need are 2 bowls, white pom-poms and a spoon.  I don’t even put it on a tray since I only have a set number of trays.  When they’re done transferring all the snowballs into the other bowl they stack the one with the snowballs on top of the other bowl and place it back on the shelf.  Super easy, huh?

Here, Asher is using a measuring spoon I purchased a while ago at Target.  The deep sides make keeping the object inside the spoon easier.  Scooping or pouring snowballs would also be fun.

What have you done with snowballs?

Transferring Emperor Penguins

   

   

One of the boys favorite Antarctic animals to learn about is the Emperor Penguin.  Did you know that the father holds the egg on top of his feet, tucked under his belly all winter long.  When the weather gets especially windy and cold, the fathers snuggle close together to keep themselves and their eggs warm.  That’s a dedicated father!  I like to think of my husband as an Emperor Penguin, how about you?

Asher (2.5) has been drawn to this “Transferring Emperor Penguins” work time and time again.  The palette is from Michael’s (an art supply store), but if you don’t have one near you then this Amazon deal is for you.  Split the 10 palettes between friends and they will only cost you 50 cents each.  The Sugar Cube Tongs are from Crate and Barrel and the Penguin Beads are from Oriental Trading Company.

Would your kids love Transferring Emperor Penguins?

Baking with Kids

       

        

Well, I got busy on Christmas Eve and forgot to post my 12th Day of Christmas Montessori Trays.  It wasn’t actually a tray anyway, but it’s something very true to the Montessori principles…baking with kids.  Baking teaches so many basic principles from math, to language skills, to practical life skills…all in a hands-on environment.  Ask your child to help you read the ingredients, make sequence cards for your child to follow a recipe, explain fractions and measurements while adding ingredients and let them help you scoop flour, pour milk and roll dough.

Not only is it a wonderful time to introduce educational skills in a fun way, but you’ll also bond with your child and create special memories.  We made cookies for Santa and according to JR, Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies are his favorite.  These cookies are particularly great for practical life skills because they require the child to roll the dough into balls, press their finger into them and place cherries in the indention.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas and I’ll be back tomorrow with a special gift I handmade for Asher for Christmas.  Until then…

Tying a Bow

 

On the 10th Day of Christmas Montessori Trays, JR practiced tying a ribbon into a bow.  Today was the first time I’ve ever showed him how to tie a bow and we still have a long way to go, but he worked so hard and I was so proud of him.  Once he masters tying a bow, he’ll be ready for shoes with shoelaces.  I know many people teach this much younger and the only reason I haven’t is that he’s been wearing velcro shoes.  Plus, I thought tying a bow on a gift sounded like a fun way to introduce the task.

 

   

   

What’s been your favorite Christmas Montessori Tray?

{hint: it doesn’t have to be one of mine. :) share a link if you’ve seen a fun one somewhere else.}

Christmas Wreath with Pincher Grasp Practice

 

Our 7th Day of Christmas Montessori Trays is a fun activity I found on Toddler Approved and it was easy to organize into a Montessori style activity.  All you need to do is print out the M & M Christmas Wreath Template, buy Christmas colored M & M’s and place it on a tray for your shelf.  Your child needs to be old enough that small candies aren’t a choking hazard and be able to distinguish between red and green (although they don’t need to know them by name).

 

   

   

  

To be honest, Asher didn’t have the drive or the attention span to completely finish his wreath, but JR’s turned out beautiful and he was so proud of it.  Even though Asher didn’t finish, it was still excellent work for him.  At the end, each of them selected 10 M & M’s to eat as their reward. Both of them really loved that part!

I have family in town this week so it’s been really fun hanging out with family that I don’t get to see often enough.  I took time to slow down and relax today.  It was really nice.  I hope you are taking time to relax too.  My favorite?  The fire and a cup of hot cocoa.  What’s your favorite?

Transferring Hay into a Manger

  

  

For the 5th Day of Christmas Montessori Trays, I’m sharing an idea inspired by Barefoot in Suburbia.  I fell in love with this tray the moment I saw it.

What you need for this tray:

  1. A toilet paper roll cut in half for the manger
  2. Gold or yellow yarn (or even raffia) cut into 1″ strings and placed in a little bowl or cup
  3. Tongs or Tweezers (or both) for transferring

John Robert loved trying both the tongs and the tweezers.  He gave me the play-by-play as he worked as to which one was harder and easier for different phases of the task.  Asher is still working hard on using the tongs.  It’s hard work channeling that much concentration, strength and coordination into one task.  Thank you, Ally from Barefoot in Suburbia for sharing your great idea with us!  The boys loved it….although they did ask where baby Jesus was.  Maybe next year…

Adding Christmas Colored Pom Poms to Update Old Trays

For the 4th Day of Christmas Montessori Trays, take it easy and simply add colorful pom poms to your existing trays to make a festive impact on your shelves.  $1 of Christmas colored pom poms from The Dollar Tree updated my “Transfer with Tongs”, “Transfer with Spoon” and “Sorting” Trays.  It would also be great for dry pouring, sifting and sensorial boxes.  {My sorting tray is even from The Dollar Tree.}

I also found this fun game that utilizes early math skills at The Dollar Tree.  It requires that your child counts the dots on the dice, recognizes numerals 1-10 and you can even introduce addition by adding one die to the other.  If JR rolled a 3 and a 6, I would say, “What’s 3 (while pointing to the 3 dots on the dice) + 6″ (pointing to the six).  If your child is still mastering recognizing numerals, bring out your sandpaper numbers as a reminder.

  

What do you use to add a festive flair to your trays?

Developing Fine Motor Skills While Decorating a Christmas Tree

     

     

     

For our 3rd Day of Christmas Montessori Trays, I’m sharing our “Mini-Christmas Tree Decorating” Tray.  This one is tons of fun and it takes a lot of fine motor skills to spread out the branches, open the loops of string on the ornaments and place them on the branches.  You can find similar miniature trees at Walmart for $1.  The small ornaments were a hand-me-down, but I’ve seen them at craft stores for inexpensive.  If you really want to be thrifty, you could even make your own with pom-poms, a glue gun and string.

On a side note, I took the boys to the post office today to mail off packages for a cultural exchange we are participating in and it was HORRIBLE!  We were there for a full hour because I first filled out the wrong customs sheets and had to re-do all 4.  Little boys aren’t made to stand still for a full hour.  Let’s just say nap time was extra-sweet today.

I hope you find something extra-sweet this week…

Montessori Fractions

  

Montessori Materials are a wonderful way to teach children fractions.  There’s something so simplistic to the visual and hands-on nature of the materials.  John Robert (5) caught on very quickly and even Asher (2.5) was getting in on the fun.  He didn’t truly understand the purpose of the work, but he loved repeating, “1 of 2, 2 of 2″ after JR.

There are so many ways to practice fractions in a hands-on, experimental manner even if you don’t have Montessori Fraction Insets or the Fraction Skittles (like shown above).  We used the pumpkin spice play dough we had left over from our Pincher Grasp Turkeys, but you could also use an apple, orange, pear, pizza, or paper.  Pretty much anything you can cut, would be a perfect visual aid to help teach fractions.

  

{First and second crack at cutting the play dough in half.}

At first, JR cut his play dough ball in two unequal sizes.  It was so easy for him to see that they weren’t the same size and that one felt heavier than the other.  It didn’t take him long to learn to cut the play dough in equal sizes.

While JR worked on cutting his play dough ball into halves, thirds and quarters, Asher cut his play dough {rather intensely} into many small pieces.  It was wonderful practical life practice for my little guy. 

  

After the fraction fun was over, JR and Asher practiced another practical life skill of wiping down the table.  It’s funny how much they enjoy cleaning right now.  They’ll never believe me when they’re teenagers and I tell them they used to LOVE cleaning…but here’s the proof!

  

Here are some other wonderful fraction resources from around the web:

Making Montessori Ours has a wonderful post about Montessori Fractions.

Author & Educator, Lisa Nolen shares Montessori Fraction Inset Ideas and Resources at Affordable Montessori Homeschool Resources and Free Downloads.

Living Montessori NOW has a post about Montessori Math Activities, which provides links to sites about fractions, among other Montessori math studies.

Although they don’t match the Montessori Fraction Metal Insets, Have Fun Teaching has Free Math Fraction Cards.

The Montessori Print Shop Fraction Cards and Labels are a great and inexpensive way to provide your children with a fraction material that matches the Montessori standard.

This post is linked to Montessori Monday.  Click here to see more Montessori Monday posts.

Pincher Grasp Practice Turkeys

Today I made homemade play dough for the very first time.  I used this recipe and it smelled yummy enough to eat…but it wasn’t.  Just ask baby Holden (my 16 month old nephew) who ate it and immediately gave the funniest face.  The play dough is completely safe to eat, but it does have a whole cup of salt in it so I wouldn’t recommend it.

I saw this idea on Teach Preschool and instantly loved it.  {Thanks Deborah for the great idea!}  What a fun way to practice a pincher grasp!  This activity is fantastic for toddlers, but JR (5yo) enjoyed it too.  Actually, the only one who didn’t enjoy it as much was Holden, but he did love tearing the butcher block paper on the table.  :)

Start with a lump of store-bought or homemade play dough.  We chose orange since we did Pumpkin Spice, but brown would be more accurate.

Roll it into a ball and stick feathers along the backside to make it look like a stylized turkey.

Then, the boys decided their turkey’s needed faces so I gave each of them a pencil to draw a face.  Holden was more interested in sticking the pencil in the play dough over and over again than the feathers.

     

So, we covered 3 different age groups in this activity {16 mos, 2.5 yrs and 5 yrs) and all of them enjoyed it.  I would say Holden enjoyed it the least and Asher enjoyed it the most, but I would say it was a succesful project for all.  Or at least that’s what I decided when I saw smiles like this…