Ocean Treasure Sensory Bin

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I’ve never been a mom that makes sensory bins, but I’ve recently been making them for Asher’s preschool group and I’m kind of kicking myself for not making them earlier. They are so much fun! This bin uses the glass floral rocks as the “water” and I added shells, a shark and a boat. In circle time we talked a lot about what lives in water and other things we can find in water. We focused a lot on fish, shells and boats. I also hid fish, starfish and sea turtle shaped erasers and gold coins under the water for them to “hunt” for.

I always thought these seemed like a lot of work for little educational purposes, but now I see how much they benefit the kids.  They love searching through the bin, learning and role-playing.  What do you think?  Do you like sensory bins?

Shell Sorting

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The children absolutely loved this tray. They loved looking at the natural beauty of the shells, feeling the slick, shiny surface and observing their similarities and differences. In a way, I felt like this tray combined both nature and sorting trays into one. We introduced shells in circle time when we talked about things you find in the ocean.  We also used the shells in circle time to line them up in order from big to small and then small to big.

Collecting shells on the beach has always been one of my favorite vacation past-times.  There’s something so relaxing and peaceful about walking along the beach picking up shells.  Just looking at this tray brings it all back to me.  I hope it takes you there too.

Garden Sensory Bin

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Here’s the last of our bunny themed materials for preschool last week.  Garden themed trays are great to tie in with a bunny theme.  I introduced the story of Peter Rabbit during circle time.  Peter Rabbit is a curious bunny who doesn’t mind his mother and sneaks into a garden to eat vegetables, only to be chased away by the gardener.  I even found this cute Rabbit hand puppet at Dollar Tree to use for the story. The kids especially loved it when the bunny nibbled at their tummies when it was time for him to eat the vegetables.

This is also a great time to ask questions about what bunnies eat, where they live, what sound they make, how they move?  Can the kids each try wiggling their nose and hopping like a bunny?  The kids loved this material the most out of the 4 trays I made.  They even did pretty good at keeping the beans inside the box.  I was impressed.

Materials:

  • Mixture of Beans (I used pinto, black and split peas)
  • Gardening tools (I found mine at Target)
  • Toy vegetables to plant

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, here’s the ER adventures (yes, plural) that I promised to share.  Everyone is ok which is what counts!  Thanks for the well wishes.

This month has been one of the hardest months I’ve had in a long time, which is really weird because March is my birthday month and usually one of my favorite times of the year.  We’ve had illness, my sister moving to California, rough days homeschooling, the attempt to be a WAHM again and now…2 trips to the ER in 2 days. 

On Monday, Robert accidentally stabbed himself in the hand with a knife while getting the pit out of an Avocado and yesterday Asher had a hair tourniquet that we had to get removed at the ER.  If you haven’t heard of this term (I hadn’t until yesterday) it’s when a piece of hair gets wrapped around something (like a finger or toe) so tight it starts to cut off blood circulation.  I guess all that after-baby hair loss & Lila pulling it out turned out to be a problem for poor Asher.

Like I said, everyone is well now.  Now I can breathe and hope that April is kinder. Anyone else ready for April?

Butterfly Wings Memory Matching Game

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With our Jungle Theme last week I created this game to do during circle time, but it could easily be made into a tray for one or two kids to work on at a time.  My preschool kids (ages 3 & 4) loved it!

Materials:

  1. Cardstock (white or colored)
  2. Markers
  3. Clothes Pins (you can find these at Dollar Tree)

Directions:

  1. Cut an even amount of triangles out of the cardstock.
  2. Color matching symmetrical wings out of pairs of triangles.

How to Play:

  1. Mix wings up and lay them face down.
  2. Have the first child turn over two.  Do they match?
  3. Once a match is made, overlap the triangles a bit at the center point and clip with a clothes pin.   Gently sway the butterfly back and forth to make the wings flutter.
  4. Continue until all of the matches are made.

Here’s how this game can be organized into a tray:

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This game is a great way to introduce symmetry.  After the game, I gave each of the kids one blank white triangle and asked them to design a beautiful butterfly wing.  I reminded them to keep it simple enough to reproduce on another wing.  After they were done with the first, I gave them a second wing and told them to draw the exact same design.  I helped orientate the wings in the same direction so they could easily see how to replicate the design.  After they were done, each of them clipped them with a clothes pin and took them home.  All of the kids were able to successfully create a symmetrical pair and they had a fun time doing it.

What’s your favorite way to learn about symmetry?

Christmas Themed Montessori Trays

December is almost here and along with it comes all of the wonderful holiday arts & crafts projects, yummy smells of holiday baking and holiday themed education materials.  I created a page full of our 12 Days of Christmas Montessori Trays from last year.  You can find the link in my top navigation bar or by clicking here.  I hope you enjoy sifting through them to find out what works for your family or school.

It can be easy to become overwhelmed during this holiday season.  To be honest, I was overwhelmed just typing this post with my kids constantly interrupting me.  It’s important to remember that you don’t need to do it all.  Just one or two holiday themed trays along with a baking session or holiday music will make this season perfectly magical for your little ones.  I hope you’ll take the time to relax and take a MOMent.

Sending you holiday love all season long.  xo, Lori

DIY Water Chimes

I’m getting back into the swing of things by adding more experiments, activities and projects in our homeschool.  I’ve been looking for inspiration from two of my favorite resources lately, Montessori Print Shop and Montessori at Home! These DIY Water Chimes are inspired by a project called “Notes from glasses and water” on page 151 of the Montessori at Home! eBook.  It ties in wonderfully with the tin whistle music lessons that the boys are learning about at Classical Conversations.

What you need:

  1. water
  2. food coloring (optional)
  3. measuring cups
  4. 4 glasses
  5. 1 spoon

What you do:

  1. Have your child help fill up the glasses with water.  Fill the first glass with 1/4 c water, the second with 1/2 c water, the third with 3/4 c water and the last with 1 c water.
  2. Add food coloring if preferred and let your child stir it.  This makes the water easier to see.
  3. Ask your child which glass has the most water.  Which has the least?  Talk about tone and pitch of musical notes if desired.  Explain fractions at this time if you want to.
  4. Make hypotheses about what the glasses will sound like when tapped lightly with a spoon.  Will they sound the same?  Different?  Will one be louder or quieter?  Will one sound higher or lower?
  5. Let your child gently tap each of the glasses to see what it sounds like.  Discuss the results.

We had great fun with this today.  Asher (3.5 years) especially loved it.  Would your kids enjoy this activity?

To check out more Montessori at Home! activities, click here.

DIY Montessori Triangle Box

This is a surprisingly easy and inexpensive Montessori material to make.  All you need is the Constructive Triangles – Triangle Box file from Montessori Print Shop (it’s only $0.89).  You can choose to print it on cardstock, laminate it or do as I did and mount it on foam core board using spray mount.

To store it, either take the easy road and put it in a store bought tray or do as I did and make a triangle shaped box out of the left over foam core board.  Asher was so excited when he found out I was making this material just for him.  So many of the materials he works on were originally made for JR and passed down to him.  It was fun to give him a new work made just for him.

To see a demonstration on how to present the triangle box click here.  If you want 15% off of your Montessori Print Shop order between now and October 11th click here.

This post is linked to Montessori Monday.  To see more Montessori Monday posts, click here.

Montessori Sensorial Basics

    

    

    

I’m following up the Montessori Basics post with my sons’ favorite sensorial works.  If you’re setting up a small area to use the Montessori principles in your home, this is a great place to start.  Montessori materials can be expensive, especially if you get the highest quality available.  I recommend using Montessori materials as birthday, Christmas and other holiday gifts.  If you start your child young, they won’t even miss the flashing, light-up plastic toys.  I even recommend the grandparents to give these educational gifts instead.  To be completely honest, the binomial cube was the gift all of the children were most interested in at John Robert’s 5th birthday.  Everyone wanted to use it immediately!  And this was with non-Montessori educated children!

Start with one or two materials and slowly work your way through them.  The knobbed cylinders are by far the most expensive.  Some of the materials you can make by hand.

Descriptions of photos above, from left to right, top to bottom:

Pink Tower: Buy the Kid Advance version for $34.99 or make it yourself like this post from A Handmade Childhood.

Red Rods: Buy the Kid Advance version for $34.99 or make it yourself following the tutorial I did for the Handmade Number Rods, just paint them all red instead of alternating blue and red.

Brown Stairs (shown with the pink tower):  Buy the Kid Advance version for $59.99.  Does anyone have a good link for a tutorial to hand make the brown stairs?

Sound Cylinders: Buy the Alison’s Montessori version for $25.00 or make them yourself using my Sound Matching post.  These are really easy and inexpensive to make.

Knobless Cylinders: Buy the Kid Advance version for $49.99.

Knobbed Cylinders: Buy the Kid Advance version for $119.99

To find more information on how to use the sensorial materials, visit my sensorial category here or use the search bar in the upper right corner to search a specific material.

These are my sons’ favorite sensorial materials, what are your child’s?

Pink Tower

Today was a rough day, so instead of focusing on how rowdy my boys were at the play area or the dirty looks I received from the grandmas who were appalled by my sons’ behavior…or even the fact that JR decided randomly to spit on the grill of a truck (while the person was sitting in it!), let’s focus on the positive.  Like the fact that Asher built the Pink Tower perfectly all on his own this week for the first time.

Yes, let’s do that…because if I focus on all of the hard things today, I just might lose my mind.  Have a great weekend!  See you next week.