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Classroom Content Montessori Extras Montessori Tidbits Series Parenting Teaching

Montessori Tidbits Part 1: 10 Ideas to Achieve a Peaceful Home or Classroom Setting

By Anitra

This post may contain affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the links and purchases products.  Please see the disclosure policy for more information.

 

 

        I have created and started a new three part series that I have titled,            Montessori Tidbits: Ideas & Practices for newbies to the Montessori Method.  This is Part 1: 10 Ideas to Achieve a Peaceful Home or Classroom.  Part 2 and Part 3 will be posted here on the blog within the next two to four weeks.  I hope that you find this series helpful, and enjoy following me through all parts of the series.

                 Let’s get started on Part 1!

 

 

Peace can mean many things to different people.  The definition of peace can be interpreted by everyone in a different context, hence giving the definition various meanings and interpretations.  Beliefs on what constitutes as peace can be intellectual, spiritual, behavioral or social. No one definition is correct or superior over another, each person has their own way of determining peaceful acts and what being at peace could mean.

 

To begin, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines peace as:

                                                               peace: noun

                                                               1. a state of tranquility or quiet: such as:

                                                                    a. freedom from civil disturbance

                                                                    b. a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom

 

                                                               2. freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions

                                                               3. harmony in personal relations

 

 

Maria Montessori had her own thoughts on peace and children.  She believed that children were the essential factor in the evolution of humankind.  In order to bring peace and tolerance to the world, it is important to teach and focus on peace at an early age.  Maria Montessori believed in peaceful education.  Peaceful education is the process in which you acquire the values & knowledge to be tolerant and accepting of others.  It also develops attitudes, skills and behaviors to live in harmony with oneself, others and with the natural environment.  Peaceful education in a Montessori setting is sometimes referred to as the “invisible curriculum”, in that these activities may be present in ways that are not always visible on the surface.  These traits that children develop from being peaceful come from within and are introduced and absorbed.

 

 

There are many ways to bring the peaceful education into your home environment or classroom.  You can set up a peace shelf or table in an area that will allow children to take a break, relax or refocus.  Add items to your peace area such as a stress ball, a plant, a labryinth, sand garden, inspiration stones, lava lamp, rain stick or any other items you feel will bring about a sense of peace in your environment.  You can provide a small pillow or rug for children to sit upon, or provide a soft, comfortable chair to add to your space.  As long as it is a welcoming, tranquil area that promotes inner peace, it will work.

 

10 Ideas to Achieve a Peaceful Home or Classroom Setting

 

 

1. The Peace Rose

This book is great for reading aloud and would be a great addition to your peace shelf or table.  It also gives you ideas to help you develop a peaceful classroom.

 

2. A Little Peace

This book has a minimal amount of text; it instead provides pictures of different people around the world making peace in their own way.

 

 

3. Peace Around the World

A poster which has the word for peace in 80 different languages.  It is encompassed by a dove carrying an olive branch.

 

4. Our Peaceful Classroom

Montessori children from all around the world provided the illustrations for this book about a calming, peaceful Montessori calssroom environment.

 

 

 

 

5. Inspiration Stones & Drawstring Pouch

These four stones have the Chinese characters for Peace, Love, Good Fortune and Double Happiness engraved on them on one side and the English words on the other.  They come in a red pouch with the Chinese character for love embroidered on it.  In China, the color red symbolizes good luck.

 

6. Japanese Sand Garden

Children can rake a pattern in the sand and then place stones where they would like. It is known for its calming, meditative effects.

 

 

 

 

7. Small Finger Labryinth

A labryinth is similar to a maze, but it only has one path. Children can trace along the path with their fingers.  Labryinths are right-brained enhancing activities, so they can be calming and meditative.

 

8. A Little Book of Peace

Each page in this book shows a different example of peace; through illustrations of nature and people.

 

 

 

 

9. The Community Puzzle

A 48 piece puzzle with blank pieces that children can all contribute and design together.  Promotes a sense of community, peace and working as a team.

 

10. Peace

Through beautiful pictures, this book shows gratitude, peace, and giving.  Some of the artwork in the book was done by students at a Montessori school.

 

These ideas are just a snippet of what you can add to your peace area.  There are so many possibilities and endless ideas that can be added to your list of items in order to introduce peaceful education.  Please feel free to share any of your own personal ideas or thoughts on how you would introduce peaceful education into your setting.  I look forward to hearing your suggestions!

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed and found very useful information on my Montessori Tidbits!

 

Montessori Tidbits Part 2 and Part 3 are coming soon!

 

Anitra

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Montessori Extras Parenting Teaching

5 Key Tips on Implementing Montessori at Home

By Anitra

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This post may contain affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the links and purchase products.  Please see the Disclosure Policy for more information.

 

Do you homeschool? Looking in to the Montessori Method for your homeschooling needs? Are you a daycare provider that would like to develop a specialized home space for your child? Are you a parent that would like to introduce key elements, thoughts, and practices of the Montessori Method into your home on a regular basis?

 

Are you interested in developing a better understanding of the Montessori Method?

 

Are you unfamiliar with the Method and its’ principles?

 

Don’t know where to begin?

 

Well, you are in luck! Whether you are familiar with the Montessori Method or not, there are some basic ideas and principles that you should know before you decide on fully implementing the practices of Montessori. There are many types of publications, websites, and information available that explains the Montessori Method. The information can come from various organizations and/or people, that provide information on the method. The main problem that I have noticed is, that the information is not always verified or come from a reputable source.

So, why not learn the ins and out of the Montessori Method from a trained Montessori teacher? Montessori trained teachers learn, study, and analyze Maria Montessori, her teachings and publications; as well as her philosophy, writings, and materials regarding the development of children and their education. Based on some of her writings, the tips below will give you a bit of insight on the basis of the Montessori Method, as well as tips on implementing the ideology.

 

The beginnings of the Montessori Method:

The Montessori Method is an educational and teaching system that was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori. Maria Montessori was an Italian physician and educator whose philosophy is based on creating a self-directed, hands on learning environment where children are encouraged to be the natural learners that they are. Independence, character development, and the development of their natural abilities are key components of the Montessori philosophy. Children thrive in an environment where they are active participants in their learning, are encouraged to explore their surroundings and have free choices in selecting activities. The method promotes child centered, developmentally appropriate activities, and fosters the development of the “whole child”. To learn more about the Montessori Method, be sure to check out the American Montessori Society website.

 

5 Key Tips for Implementing the Montessori Method at home
 
  1. Montessori activities should be child centered:

“The free choices made by the children enabled us to observe their psychic needs and tendencies”.-Maria Montessori, The Secret of the Child

One of the key concepts in introducing Montessori practices and principles is to ensure the environment and activities are child centered. Provide activities and items in the environment that are developmentally appropriate. Furniture should be child sized and items for the child’s use should be easily accessible for the child.

 

  1. Montessori activities should follow the child and their interests:

“The first thing to be done, therefore, is to discover the true nature of a child and then assist him in his normal development”. –Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

When preparing the environment and activities, be sure to take into consideration what your child enjoys doing and learning. Provide activities that are focused on the child’s interests and allow them to decide on their activity choices, as well as taking note of things that may be of little to no interest to them.

 

  1. Montessori environments foster independence:

“The child’s conquests of independence are the basic steps in what is called his “natural development”.-Maria Montessori, Absorbent Mind

Create opportunities for your child to be independent. Providing opportunities for children to be independent builds confidence and fosters a sense of accomplishment. Encourage your child to do things independently; start with simple activities; then following the child’s development, increase to more complex activities.

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  1. Montessori fosters the development of the whole child:

“There is in the child a special kind of sensitivity which leads him to absorb everything about him, and it is this work of observing and absorbing that alone enables him to adapt himself to life”.-Maria Montessori, Absorbent Mind

Create and provide a wide variety of activities that encompass many different topics, subjects, and skills. Support the development of their physical, social, emotional, and cognitive needs by introducing your child to activities that will stimulate and foster their overall growth.

 

  1. The Montessori Method and environment contributes to the thought that children are natural learners:

“Before elaborating any system of education, we must therefore create a favorable environment that will encourage the flowering of a child’s natural gifts”.-Maria Montessori, The Secret of the Childhood

 

Prepare an environment that allows your child to learn from it. Have various activities that teach many different concepts, so that your child can intuitively learn from the activities. Introduce activities that allow your child to explore, create, and motivate their ability to learn naturally.

Are you intrigued to learn more about implementing the Montessori Method at home? Need ideas on activities to implement into your home? Please feel free to email me so we can discuss the details of my Montessori in the Home Activity & Ideas Plan!

 

Want to learn more about the Montessori Method and implementing it in your home?  Check out these books to give you more insight and understanding into the principles.

 

How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way

by Tim Seldin

 

 

Montessori at Home Guide

by A. M. Sterling

 

 

Teaching Montessori in the Home: Preschool Years

by Elizabeth G. Hainstock

 

 

Montessori at Home: A Complete Guide to Teaching Your Preschooler at Home Using the Montessori Method

by Heidi Spietz

 

 

Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook: A Short Guide to Her Ides and Materials

by Maria Montessori

 

Hoping that you have greater knowledge on the Montessori Method!

Keeping these tips in mind when implementing the Montessori Method will put you on the right path to creating a child centered and independent learning environment for you child.

 

Anitra

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4 of the best kids subscriptions you need to sign up for RIGHT NOW!

By Anitra

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This post may contain affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on and purchase products.  Please see the Disclosure Policy for more information.

 

The latest, newest, and most popular thing nowadays are subscriptions.  There are subscriptions and subscription boxes for anything and everyone in your family.  Clothing, razors for shaving, shoes, toys, educational homeschool items…you name it, there is a subscription for it!  Obviously subscriptions make life for a busy family EXTREMELY easy; you can pick what you want or need online, and it gets delivered right to your door!  it doesn’t get any easier or convenient than that, that’s for sure!

 

 

With all the buzz and hype surrounding subscriptions, I decided to give you my list of top 4 subscriptions for kids.  Each subscription varies in price, products, ages, and frequency of the subscription.  A few of these I remember having a subscription to when I was younger, and I absolutely loved them!  I subscribed to a few of these for my daughters when they were in elementary and middle school as well, and they still talk about how much they loved getting “mail” and having their own products delivered to our house that belonged to them.

 

Subscriptions are great for everyone; and depending on what topics interest your child or children, you are surely to find one or more of these subscriptions that your child will fall in love with!

 

The 4 BEST kids subscriptions you need to sign up for RIGHT NOW!

 

Little Passports has four different monthly subscriptions ranging in ages from three to twelve years old. Little Passports is an award winning subscription that allows children to learn about the world through monthly subscriptions and activities.

The Little Passports Early Explorers

Ages 3 to  5

The characters take you on a worldwide adventure, perfect for the younger learner!

The subscription comes with:

  • high quality stickers
  • trading cards
  • flashlight game
  • photo postcard
  • letter from characters Max and Mia
  • fun souvenirs
  • activity booklet

Skills taught:

  • Geography
  • Following directions
  • Color recognition
  • Fine motor control

 

The Little Passports World Edition

Ages 6 to 10

The characters take you on a trip around the globe and teach your children about world cultures!

The subscription comes with:

  • high quality stickers
  • activity sheets
  • photo postcard
  • letter from characters Sam and Sophia
  • fun souvenirs
  • bonus recipes and crafts
  • online games and activities

Skills taught:

  • Geography
  • Country recognition
  • Imagination
  • Empathy and Memory

 

The Little Passports USA Edition

Ages 7-12

The characters take you on trip to explore and visit the 50 states, famous landmarks, and state history!

The subscription comes with:

  • 32 page state journal
  • educational stories
  • hands-on activities
  • tasty recipes
  • fun facts
  • 3D landmark models
  • online photo album and more

Skills taught:

  • State recognition
  • Creative thinking
  • Reasoning and logic
  • Focus and attention

 

The Little Passports Science Expeditions

Ages 9+

Help the characters solve scientific mysteries while they collaborate with international scientists!

The subscription comes with:

  • achievement badges
  • 8 page experiment guide
  • 16 page comic book with glossary and activities
  • lab notebook prompts
  • experiment kits
  • bonus online video

Skills taught:

  • Experimentation
  • Problem-solving
  • Observation
  • Note taking

 

Little Passports also has a huge selection of individual products as well as the subscriptions.

 

 

Curiosity Pack is a monthly subscription that inspires a love of learning through activities that teaches children to be caring and empathetic while learning letters, numbers, science, and art; just to name a few.  They have two subscription options; and a Personalized Learning Plan, perfect for home school, depending on what your needs are.

Countdown to Kindergarten

Ages 3 to 5

Teaches the academic and social skills children need for Kindergarten.

The subscription comes with:

  • Curiosity pack or a book pack
  • Curiosity packs include: the Letters pack, the Numbers pack, and the Feelings pack
  • Each pack includes parent education, ready to use activities and information about child development

Skills taught:

  • real world learning situations with numbers and letters
  • feel more comfortable about a new environment
  • develop empathy

 

Change Makers Club

The Change Makers Club is an 8 week subscription that teaches children to be empowered to change the world for the better!

Ages (0-5) Know Your Power

Ages (6-8) Connect & Amplify

Ages 9+ Be the Change

The subscription comes with:

  • Weekly email plans
  • Downloadable activities to print and complete
  • Scripts and questions
  • Profiles of other kid heroes that have mad a difference

Skills taught:

  • Explore and learn from your community
  • Help your child identify themselves as a helper
  • Articulate and communicate values

 

 

Highlights Magazines have been a childhood favorite for more than 70 years!  Their subscriptions magazines provide opportunities to learn through games, puzzles, rhymes and more!

High Five Magazine

Ages 2 to 6

The monthly High Five Magazine is geared toward the younger, inquisitive learner.

The subscription includes:

  • Easy recipes and crafts
  • Action rhymes that encourage exercising
  • Stories from other parts of the world and cultures
  • Hidden pictures

Skills taught:

  • Boosts thinking and problem solving
  • Includes basic concepts of science, nature and art
  • Teaches word recognition
  • Introduces math concepts
  • Promotes values and creativity

 

Highlights Magazine

Ages 6 to 12

The monthly Highlights Magazine is designed for school aged children to build upon and expand on the skills they learn while in school.

The subscription includes:

  • Hidden pictures
  • Stories from other parts of the world and cultures to expand empathy
  • BrainPlay and other features to let them know their opinion is valued
  • Crafts and science experiments

Skills taught:

  • Attention to detail and concentration
  • Fascinating science and nature topics
  • A chance to see their own creative work in print
  • Critical thinking and creativity

 

Highlight has many other products as well, such as clubs, apps, toys, and books.  Check out all they have to offer here.

 

 

Zoobooks Magazines teaches children about all things related to animals.  They have three different subscriptions, that are great for child up to twelve years old!

Zoobies

Ages 0-2

The subscription comes with:

  • Lift the flap and peek-a-boo features
  • Beautiful photography
  • Durable toddler tough pages

Skills taught:

  • Mind building concepts like colors, shapes and sizes
  • Ideas for nature fun for the whole family

 

Zootles

Ages 3 to 6

The subscription comes with:

  • Amazing photographs
  • Fun cartoon characters
  • Fascinating illustrations

Skills taught:

  • Games, puzzles and activities in the Fun Pages
  • Access to online learning
  • Loads of ideas for extended learning opportunities

 

Zoobooks

Ages 6 to 12

The subscription comes with:

  • Amazing wildlife photography
  • Games and puzzles
  • Online access to Secret Jungle Club

Skills taught:

  • Learn about animal habitats
  • Social life of animals
  • Conservation
  • Encourages kids to be life long learners

 

 

These subscriptions provide variety for all ages and all stages of development.  Any one of these would be a great addition to any classroom, home school curriculum, or as a beginning to your child’s life long learning adventure!

 

Happy subscribing, and I hope you find a subscription that fits your child’s educational needs!

 

Anitra

 

 

 

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Classroom Content Practical Life

10 amazing Valentine’s Practical Life Activities

By Anitra

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This post may contain affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on and purchase products.  Please see the Disclosure Policy for more information.

 

Valentine’s Day is 13 days away, and I have begun decorating and planning for the Valentine’s theme. With it being the beginning of a new month, I am busy creating and putting together many new works and activities for all areas of my classroom.  The Practical Life area is no exception.  I try to change out my Practical Life activities and exercises at least a few times a month.  That way, the activities keep the children intrigued and happy to explore the Practical Life area of the classroom.

The Practical Life area in a Montessori classroom or home school is the area of the classroom where children develop the necessary skills related to the care of self.  Many of the works foster fine motor skills, grasping, cutting, transferring, and hand eye coordination.  These skills are a necessary precursor to writing, reading, and mathematical functions.  There are many activities that can be included in the Practical Life area; there are no limits as to what you can add!  It is important however to consider the different developmental stages of the children in your classroom.

For more information on the importance of the Practical Life area and a description of the other areas of a Montessori classroom, you can read What is all the hype about? A detailed look inside a traditional Montessori classroom.

Whenever possible, I like to tie in the Practical Life area of the classroom with the weekly theme.  There are so many amazing activities to do for Valentine’s Day, so this is a theme that we do for two weeks!  The pictures are of actual works in my classroom, and will be introduced one at a time over the next two weeks.  Take a look, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did putting them together!

 

 

10 Amazing Valentine's Themed Fine Motor Activities

 

1. Pink playdough with heart shaped cookie cutters in different sizes

Make heart shaped cutouts using playdough and cookie cutters

Materials:

  • a tray
  • playdough
  • heart shaped cookie cutters
  • rolling pin (optional)
  • a pair of scissors (optional)

Objectives:

  • grasping
  • fine motor skills
  • hand eye coordination

 

 

2. Hanging heart doilies with clothespins

Hang the heart doiles around the top edge of the basket using clothespins

Materials:

  • rectangular basket
  • heart shaped doilies
  • clothespins

Objectives:

  • fine motor skills
  • pincher grasp
  • pencil grasp

 

 

3. Heart bouquet

Make a heart bouquet using heart cake toppers

Materials:

  • plastic heart cake toppers
  • glass vase
  • a tray

Objectives:

  • fine motor
  • eye hand coordination

 

 

4. Heart shape cutting

Follow along the line and cut out the heart shape

Materials:

  • scissors
  • paper with heart shaped traced on it
  • hot dog tray

Objectives:

  • scissor practice
  • fine motor skills
  • hand eye coordination

 

 

5. Transferring plastic hearts with a small, flat spoon

Transfer the hearts from one bowl to many using a small, flat spoon

Materials:

  • a tray
  • 1 large glass bowl
  • plastic hearts
  • a spoon

Objectives:

  • pencil grasp
  • fine motor
  • hand eye coordination

 

 

6. Valentine’s Pony Bead Sorting

Using their fingers, pick out and sort all of the pony beads by color

Materials:

  • a tray
  • 1 large glass bowl
  • 3 to 5 small bowls
  • pony beads in different colors

Objectives:

  • fine motor skills
  • sorting
  • hand eye coordination
  • pincher grasp

 

 

7. Transferring heart shaped jewels using a tea infuser

Transfer all of the heart shpaed jewels from one bowl to the other using the tea infuser

Materials:

  • 2 glass bowls
  • tea infuser
  • heart shaped jewels
  • a tray

Objectives:

  • hand grasp
  • hand eye coordination

 

 

8. Transfer heart shaped beads with tweezers

Transfer heart shaped beads from one bowl to many using tweezers

Materials:

  • a tray
  • heart shaped beads
  • 1 large bowl
  • 2 small bowls
  • tweezers

Objectives:

  • fine motor skills
  • hand eye coordination
  • pincher grasp
  • pencil grasp

 

 

9. Transfer heart confetti using a meduim sized spoon

Transfer the heart shaped confettin from one bowl to the other using a meduim sized spoon

Materials:

  • a tray
  • -a medium sized spoon
  • heart shaped confetti
  • -2 small bowls

Objectives:

  • hand eye coordination
  • grasp

 

 

10. Pin poking heart shapes

Using a large push pin, poke around the heart shape close enough to be able to punch out the shape.

Materials:

  • a tray
  • a small bowl
  • a large push pin
  • a poke mat
  • heart shapes to poke

Objectives:

  • fine motor skills
  • hand eye coordination
  • pincher grasp
  • pencil grasp

 

 

Many of the materials in each of these activities can be found at the Dollar Tree, believe it or not! They havegreat Valentine’s themed itmes, perfect for any classroom or homeschool environment.   I get all of my trays, glass bowls, and many other items from there as well.  You’d be amazed at the wonderful finds and great quality classroom itmes they have!  Check out the Dollar Tree; you can even order in bulk online!  You can’t beat that!

 

I will be posting pictures of the children in my classroom doing all of these activities, so be sure to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

 

 

Anitra

 

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Classroom Content Montessori Extras Parenting

4 Ways to Get Your Child to Focus and Concentrate

By Anitra

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This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see disclosure policy for more information.

 

Let’s face it. In the age where children and even adults are commonly diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) at am alarming rate, there must be something that can help to get people to focus and concentrate in school and at work.  There are many perscription medications that claim to help with focus and concentration, but at what risk to your overall health and well being?  Luckily, there are other ways to get similiar results that are failry cheap, easy and fun; all at the same time!

 

 

Getting focused and staying focused is not always an easy task for children and adults alike.  Some days it may easier than others to get focused and concentrate on the tasks of the day.  It does in no way mean that there is something wrong; most times it is just that other outside influences may be distracting and not allowing us to focus and concentrate as well as we need to.

 

Sometimes your child may just need to do a few simple tasks BEFORE they begin their day, or they may need to take a break during working so that they can regain focus and concentration.  These 5 activities that are listed in below can easily be done in a classroom or home school setting.  Many of these activities can also be done by adults, as every once in awhile we also need to refocus to complete our daily tasks as well.  The activities are children and adult friendly!

 

4 Ways to Get Your Child to Focus and Concentrate

 

1. YOGA

Yoga is a very beneficial and successful way to get a child focused and even increase concentration.  I use Yoga poses in my classroom very often; at least two times per week.  We do a few select poses before we begin our two hour Montessori work time, and I have seen great results from using Yoga.  If you would like to know more about how I incorporate Yoga in my classroom, click here.  There are many options for using Yoga in the classroom. Books, pose cards, music recordings, etc.

SUGGESTIONS:

Learn With Yoga ABC Cards for Kids, Set of 52

 

Yoga for Kids Music & Sound Recordings Fitness

 

 

2. PRACTICE AND ENGAGE IN MINDFULNESS

Mindfulness is a practice of noticing what is happening in the present moment.  Mindfulness makes you aware of your surroundings and can help in calming anxious or frustrated feelings, as well as help with focus and concentration.  It can be a way of recognizing your feelings and dealing with them in appropriate ways.  I was lucky to find a great resource for mindfulness, and have begun to slowly introduce the practices into my classroom.  They children have received it well, so I’m excited to add more mindfulness activities to my classroom routine.  To learn more about mindfulness and the Mindful Schools movement, please go to their website Mindful Schools for more information.

Example of a lesson from Mindful Schools:

SUGGESTIONS:

Sitting Still Like a Frog, Mindfulness Exercises for Kids(and their parents)

 

Mindful Movements, Ten Exercises for Well-Being Book with CD

 

 

3. PRACTICE BRAIN GYM EXERCISES

I first learned about Brain Gym exercises about five years ago.  I was working at a Montessori school and for one of our Teacher Training days, we had a Brain Gym workshop.  A Brain Gym professional consultant taught us some exercises to get the children to get their brains moving & awake and ready for the day ahead.  We learned twenty six movements and how to apply them along with proper techniques.  For more information about the techniques, process, and strategies go to the Brain Gym website.

SUGGESTIONS:

I have used a few of the Brain Gym products in my classroom in the past and had great results.  The official website from the creators of Brain Gym; Paul and Gail Dennison, have a great assortment of activities, books, and music to fit your needs.  My favorites are the Wooden Lazy 8 Track and The Brain Gym Activity Cards

I also use a similiar product to the Brain Gym activity cards.  They are by Primary Class, and can be found here.  I pick two or three cards to do with my class each morning or before lunch.  They really enjoy these cards by Primary Class.

 

 

 

4. PRACTICE AND ENGAGE IN MEDITATION

I have just begun to research and find out the benefits of meditation.  It can reduce stress and fosters clear thinking.  It involves clearing the mind and peacefully coming into a deep rest where you are basically not doing or thinking of anything.  It is like a sleep for your brain, in that it is at peace.  Meditation can be done with or without music, just as long as you clear your brain.  This one may be a little difficult to incorporate for the younger children in my class, since they are so very young.  I have yet to find a good method of introducing meditaiton to my classroom, but my suggestion below is a start.

SUGGESTIONS:

Peaceful Piggy Meditation

 

 

All of the activities and information listed above should be done with caution.  Please follow any instructions or follow any listed guidelines for any of the products.  I have first hand knowledge of how these activities have worked in my classroom of prescool aged children, and the results are very beneficial.  There are many benefits to incorporating these activities, and if you have a child that needs assistance in getting focused and needing to concentrate, it is definitely worth giving these ideas a try!

 

So…

 

Namaste!

 

Be Mindful!

 

Relax your brain!

 

Wake your brain up!

 

Enjoy!

 

Anitra

 

 

 

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Parenting

Holiday gift ideas that are educational…and still fun!

By Anitra

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This post may contain affiliate links.   Please see disclosure policy for more information.

 

Oh boy, it’s that time of year again…Christmas gift shopping time!  I know that many of you have probably already started (or even finished) your gift shopping, but there are many of you that haven’t started because you have no idea what to get your children.  There are many desirable toys out there right now, and trying to get your hands on the latest toy may be close to impossible.

 

As a mom, I understand how much you dread adding to your child’s already large collection of toys.  Toys that make noise, toys they begged for and no longer play with, toys that they haven’t played with in months, but if you try to throw them away or donate them, that will probably start World War III!!!

 

Sound familiar?…I had this happen to me over and over again; year after year.  Now that my girls are older, I don’t have to worry about this.  But for those of you who have younger children, I am here to help in your search for great gifts for your children that are educational, and yet, still fun!!!  Why not get them something that they can actually learn some valuable skills from?  The items on the list can educate your child in a variety of subjects; the body, rocks & minerals, geography, art appreciation, shapes, sorting, math, time, language, and one of my personal favorites, yoga! They are also for many ages, as young as birth and up to age 8!

 

As a mom and an educator, I tried to pick the best options that I would pick if my girls were still little.  I hope you enjoy my choices!

**Brief descriptions under products are from Montessori Services®, used with permission**

 

 

True-to-Life Human X-rays

Ages 5+

“Children can feel their bones from the outside through their skin and muscle. This x-ray set shows children what their bones actually look like. Showing the body’s outline around the skeleton, young children are able to relate the x-ray bones to visible body parts (arms, legs, etc.). Young children might assemble a 5′ 6″ skeleton with these x-rays or guess which body parts belong to which bones.” -Montessori Services®

 

 

Rock Science Kit

Ages 5+

“Children will learn to look for luster (the way a mineral reflects light) and hardness (measured on the Mohs scale), for example. This starter kit includes 15 numbered specimens that represent the full range of types of rocks, a small magnifier, and activity guide offering more test ideas for further study.”-Montessori Services®

 

 

Mineral Science Kit

Ages 5+

“Children will learn to look for luster, (the way a mineral reflects light), hardness (measured on the Mohs scale), and color (with a streak test) with this starter kit.  This kit includes 15 numbered specimens that represent the full range of types of minerals, a small magnifier, a nail and tile for testing, and activity guide offering more test ideas for further study.”-Montessori Services®

 

 

Shape Sorting Box

Ages 2+

“Toddlers love matching these simple blocks to the cutout shapes in the lid of the box. In fact, they love it so much they do it over and over!”-Montessori Services®

 

 

 

Yoga Pretzels Card Deck

Ages 4+

“Pick a card from any of nine categories and find an imaginative way to start your children bending, breathing, and stretching with yoga.  This mind/body practice develops children’s strength and flexibility, helps improve their concentration, and builds self-esteem. Engaging step-by-step illustrations show a playful, imaginative pose or activity on one side, with activity instructions or simple visualizations on the other. Try partner poses or choose a fun group game, such as “Yoga Pretzels.” The companion booklet helps any adult design a safe and fun practice for children.”-Montessori Services®

 

Beginner’s World Atlas

Ages 5-8

“Large, easy-to-read maps introduce youngsters to the world and each of its seven continents. Stunning photographs, carefully selected for their appeal, supplement the maps.” –Montessori Services®

 

 

Famous Paintings Cards

Ages 3+

“You’ll learn where Dali’s inspiration came from, why Magritte painted improbable scenes, how many dots are in a Seurat painting, and so much more.  These cards beg to be lingered over—looking at the painting on one side, reading the interesting facts on the back. Young children will enjoy the pictures; older ones will love the stories of the paintings and the artists; adults will find them engaging, too.”-Montessori Services®

 

 

Classic Judy Clock

Ages 4+

“The Judy Clock has movable hands and large, clear hour numbers on the face.  Grasp the knob on the minute hand to turn it and watch the visible, working gears simultaneously move the hour hand. Children clearly see that turning the minute hand one complete revolution causes the hour hand to move forward one hour.”-Montessori Services®

 

 

Sum Swamp

Ages 5+

“Take a skill-building journey through a whimsical land where adding and subtracting dice numbers determines your fate.  Players will master basic operations and learn about number relationships such as even and odd or “less than” and “greater than.”-Montessori Services®

 

 

Count Your Chickens

Ages 3-5

“All 40 baby chicks are out and the fox is loose. Young children will be eager to work together to collect the chicks. Picture-based play makes it easy for everyone to participate.  Spin the spinner, count the spaces together, and move the mother hen. Then return that many baby chicks to the safety of the coop.  A very appealing way to learn and reinforce counting skills.”-Montessori Services®

 

 

Happy Hats Beginning Reading Game

Ages 4+

“Play and read with your favorite characters from the popular Bob Books® series.  Children explore initial consonant and short vowel sounds as they form simple words. For each word they create, they collect a “Happy Hat.”  Includes board, 44 hat token, 40 word ending cards, 4 characters & stands, spinner, a word list, and complete instructions.”-Montessori Services®

 

 

My First Dictionary

Ages 5-8

“A brilliant bridge between a picture dictionary and a text-only dictionary! Early readers will find a picture clue alongside the definitions for words selected with early readers in mind.  Alphabetical listings help children look up and decipher unfamiliar words. Includes tips for parents and nine dictionary games.”-Montessori Services®

 

 

A few other great gift ideas…

Do you have a child that LOVES books?  Well, Scholastic has a wide selection of books that any child will love!!  Simply search by age, author, or title!

Scholastic Books 

Do you have a younger child or infant?  MontiKids provides quality, educational Montessori products for children birth to three years of age.  Check out their toy timeline, which gets more challenging as your child works their way through each level!  Materials sent directly to your home every three months!

MontiKids

 

 

These are some of my favorite products as an educator.  Many of these products I have even used before in my classroom, so I have first hand knowledge of how awesome they are!!  I hope that I helped you out with your shopping list for your littles, and I wish you a happy shopping season!!

 

Anitra

 

 

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Product Reviews

Book Review: Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash

By Anitra

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One or more of the products mentioned in this post were provided to facilitate a review.  This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see disclosure policy for more information.

 

I’m here with another great book review!! I’m so excited about being able to review books from authors that I am not so familiar with, and that write amazing and interesting children’s books that have great content and story lines younger kids can relate to.  With that being said, this leads me to my next review of Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash.  It is written by entrepreneur and philanthropist Alan C. Fox.  Alan C. Fox is a successful New York Times bestselling author of numerous relationship books.  Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash is his first children’s book, and is based on a true story; his true story of how he grew a gigantic banana squash when he was younger!  Alan C. Fox is also the editor of a poetry journal called Rattle, and each year they publish a book of poems written by children.  For more information about Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash and Alan C. Fox, please click here.

 

Benji & The 24 Pound Squash

 

Benji & The 24 Pound Squash is about a boy that has been patiently ,(rather impatiently) waiting for the time to be right for him to plant his banana squash seeds.  When the time is finally right, Benji, with the help of his mom, go out and plant the seeds, water them, and cover them with dirt.  Poor Benji impatiently watches and waits for the seeds to sprout for weeks.  He goes to visit his garden daily until he sees a sprout, and in no time his seeds have grown into a giant banana squash…a 24 POUND squash!

 

 

 

 

I read this book to my class of preschoolers who range in age from three years old to six years old.  I read the book right before we talked about and carved our pumpkin.  After reading the book and then carving our pumpkin to examine and learn about the parts of the pumpkin, we discussed the seeds, and the process of growing a squash and a pumpkin.  This book tied in nicely with learning about pumpkins and the pumpkin life cycle theme we are doing!  It would also be great to tie in with spring time planting and growing of plants and vegetable as well.  I particularly enjoyed the ending of the book, where Benji and his family decided to cook and eat his giant banana squash.  The book does a great job tying in the concept of garden-to table.

 

       Here is our pumpkin and a small squash from my classroom.

 

Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash has bright, colorful illustrations and an overall great story.  I will definitely use this book in the future as part of many of my curriculum themes.  This book teaches children about the importance of care, patience, love, and perseverance!

 

I hope you enjoy this book as much as my class and I did!

Enjoy!

 

Anitra

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Product Reviews

Book Review: His Royal Highness King Baby: A Terrible True Story

By Anitra

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One or more of the products mentioned in this post were provided to facilitate a review.  This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see disclosure policy for more information.

 

Books, books, and more books!!! I just can’t get enough of them!  Books are such a great way to start discussions about all types of everyday happenings.  This one is a great one to add to my collection. This particular book has a unique and hilarious story line and great illustrations.  His Royal Highness King Baby: A Terrible True Story is written by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  Sally Lloyd-Jones is a British writer who now lives in the United States.  She has written many children’s book, including the Platinum Book Award winning, “The Jesus Storybook Bible” and the Christian Book of the Year “Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing”.  For more information about His Royal Highness King Baby and Sally Lloyd-Jones, please click here.

 

 

His Royal Highness King Baby: A Terrible True Story

 

His Royal Highness King Baby: A Terrible True Story is about a little girl who, in her mind, is a princess.  She happily lives in her kingdom with her mom, dad, and pet gerbil.  Everything is fine, until one terrible day, behold, a new ruler is born…King Baby, his royal highness (her baby brother).  She exaggerates the impact that King Baby has on her life, and negatively describes how terrible life is now that he is the new ruler.  In the end, the princess finds that having a new ruler around is not as bad as she thinks!  The illustrations and silly, over the top descriptions of the text make this a cute and funny book perfect for a child who will be a sibling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I read His Royal Highness King Baby to my classroom and they absolutely loved it!  They enjoyed the silly story and hilarious pictures.  Many of the children are the oldest sibling, so we talked about how they felt when their baby brothers or sisters were born.  This book was a great way for us to discuss family and accepting changes.

 

The children and I really enjoyed this book and are excited to read other books from Sally Lloyd-Jones.  This book will definitely become one of our favorites!  I hope that it becomes one of your child’s favorites as well!

 

Enjoy!

 

Anitra

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Themed Activities

Top 20 Halloween Books for Young Children

By Anitra

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This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see disclosure policy for more information.

The theme in my classroom for the next two weeks will be everything pumpkin and Halloween related.  We will cover the pumpkin life cycle, the parts of a pumpkin, discuss Halloween, and do many art projects related to the theme.  I have so much information, art projects, and books to share with them that I feel that spreading it out over two weeks is a great way to cover it all.  I really enjoy teaching themes that are two weeks in length, because I know that I have some great information to present to them!!!  If you’re interested and intrigued to see more about our two week Pumpkins and Halloween theme, please check out daily updates on Instagram and Twitter.

 

With such an extensive theme with a lot to talk about and cover, I thought that it would be great if I shared a list of my Top 20 Halloween Books for Young Children.  A theme wouldn’t be complete without a great collection of books.  If you know me or if you’ve been following my blog, you know that I am an avid collector of books!  I personally own and have read each book on the list and a few have actually become my favorites over the years!  I chose books that are humorous, silly, and have great stories and illustrations.  This collection of books is great for any classroom, homeschool, or your child’s home library!

 

Top 20 Halloween Books for Young Children

 

 

1.

If You’re Spooky and You Know It

If You’re Spooky and You Know It is a Halloween-themed twist on a classic.  It has witches, skeletons, werewolves,mummies vampires, and Frankenstein clapping their hands, nodding their heads,stomping their feet, jumping up and down, honking their nose and dancing all around!

 

2. Five Little Pumpkins

Five Little Pumpkins is an interactive finger play song/riddle where children can join along and count with each pumpkin.  It is fun, engaging, and has easy to remember text.

 

3. Ghost in the House

Ghost in the House is about a ghost in a house that creeps along and meets other friends.  This book includes counting and repetitive text, with a fun and exciting ending!

 

4. Happy Halloween, Stinky Face

Happy Halloween Stinky Face is about a boy who is curious and filled with questions about Trick or Treating.  His Mama has all the right answers for his questions, and reassures him he will have a fun night!

 

5. The Night Before Halloween

The Night Before Halloween is a Halloween twist on another classic.  This book talks about the preparations of the haunted house before Halloween night, and discusses the fun the children have on Halloween night!

 

6. Even Monsters Need Haircuts

Even Monsters Need Haircuts is about a boy who after hours, cuts the hair of the monsters and ghouls in his father’s barbershop.  It’s a normal night of cutting hair until an unexpected visitor comes to the shop.

7. This is the House That Monsters Built

This is the House That Monsters Built is a remake on the classic, The House that Jack Built; with a vampire, a ghost, a mummy, a witch, a black cat, a black widow, bats, and Frankenstein.

 

8. The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything is about a little old lady who takes a walk through the forest and encounters some interesting ‘characters” along the way and declares that she is not afraid of anything.

 

9. The Biggest Pumpkin Ever

The Biggest Pumpkin Ever is about two mice who grow a pumpkin for the town pumpkin contest.  They are quite surprised when it is one of the biggest pumpkins the town people have ever seen!

 

10. Pumpkin Eye

Pumpkin Eye describes the sights and sounds on the streets on Halloween night.  It has fun, rhyming text, that captures your attention.

 

11. Crankenstein

Crankenstein is about a boy who is cranky, irritated, or angry but just not on Halloween, but always!  A very fun, silly book that will surely make you laugh!

 

12. Five Little Ghosts

Five Little Ghosts go on an adventure to find somewhere to play and have tons of fun.  It has great, rhyming text and a fun story.

 

13. Skeleton Meets the Mummy

Skeleton Meets the Mummy follows Sammy the Skeleton on a trip through the dark woods before he goes trick or treating.  He finds that someone, or something is following him!

 

14. Pumpkin Party

 Pumpkin Party is a fun, rhyming book about the fun of a pumpkin party!

 

15. The Littlest Mummy

The Littlest Mummy is about a family of mummies.  Mae, the youngest and littlest mummy was too little to be scary, wear srappings, or dance at the bash.  But, she was not too little to make a friend!

 

16. The Haunted Ghoul Bus

A boy accidentally boards The Haunted Ghoul Bus one day, and had no idea of what his time on the ghoul bus would bring!

 

17. The Ghosts Go Haunting

The Ghouls Go Haunting is a great Halloween twist on the classic, The Ants Go Marching.  It is fun, spooky, and a silly Halloween story!

 

18. The 13 Nights of Halloween

The 13 Nights of Halloween is a twist on another classic, The 12 Days of Christmas.  It is equally as catchy, fun, and easy to sing along with!

 

19. 10 Busy Brooms

10 Busy Brooms is a great witch counting book with fun, silly text and great illustrations!

 

20. There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat!

The old lady is back at it again!  But this time with a Halloween theme.  There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat is just as silly, hilarious, and crazy as all the other books in this series!

 

I hope you enjoyed my list of Halloween books.  I’m sure that many of them will become your favorites for many Halloweens to come!

 

Anitra

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Product Reviews

Book Review: Thank You Bees

By Anitra

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One or more of the products mentioned in this post were provided to facilitate a review.  This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see disclosure policy for more information.

 

If you know me, then you know that I LOVE books! I am always on the lookout for new books that have a great story, are humorous, and that hopefully have a good lesson in the end.  I have found that with this new book, so I jumped at the chance to review it. Thank You Bees is written and illustrated by Toni Yuly.  Toni Yuly is an author and illustrator of many children’s picture books.  After many years of being a librarian, Toni Yuly now dedicates her time to painting, designing, and writing books.  For more information about Thank You Bees and Toni Yuly, please click here.

 

 

Thank You Bees

 

Thank You Bees is a book that shows us what our world around us gives us, and that we should be thankful and grateful for what our world gives us.  When I read this to my class, they joined along in saying thank you on every page.  Thank you to the sun, clouds, and dirt are just a few of things that are celebrated in the book.  The children in my classroom really enjoyed being able to join in being thankful, and afterwards, we talked about and discussed the many things that we should be thankful for.  The illustrations in Thank You Bees are absolutely amazing; they are colorful, engaging, and vibrant.

 

 

 

 

I read Thank You Bees to my classroom of children who range in age from three to six years old.  They loved it so much, I read it twice!  We talked about many different aspects of the book; what comes from things on Earth, how we can take care of our world, and other things that we can be thankful for.  We used Thank You Bees as a stepping stone to talk about and discuss so many different things; it inspired them to use their critical thinking skills!

 

The children and I really enjoyed this book and are excited to read other books from Toni Yuly.  This book easily has become a favorite!  I hope that it becomes one of your favorites as well!

 

Enjoy!

Anitra

 

 

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