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Classroom Content Montessori Extras Parenting Teaching

5 Ways the Montessori environment may be ideal for children on the Autism Spectrum

By Anitra

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.

 

Could a Montessori environment be a good fit for a child on the autism spectrum?

 

The Montessori Method and environment is very unique.  The philosophy is based on individual learning, child led instruction and the development of the child.  The environment is carefully and thoughtfully set up & maintained based on the needs of the children, their various developmental levels and is inviting to the children.  The Montessori environment is aesthetically appealing to the eye, is strategically designed and provides a sense of calm and order.  For children who are on the autism spectrum, the Montessori environment has characteristics that may be ideal for their success and overall learning.

 

DISCLAIMER:

The following information is for informational purposes only.  The following information is not meant to diagnose or treat and should not take the place of seeking the advice of a trained and qualified healthcare or medical professional.

 

As stated by Dr. Lori Ernsperger, an autism specialist with over twenty years of experience; “the best way to make sure your students learn well is to ensure that the physical layout of your classroom is maximized and workstations are clearly delineated.”  Following what Dr. Ernsperger has presented, a Montessori environment fits the description on what she has determined is an ideal environment for children on the autism spectrum.  A Montessori environment is very distinct and individualized.  The materials are mostly made of natural wood, and along with neutral colors are meant to soothe the senses, attract the children to the materials, and not distract from their learning. Environments that contain bold, bright colors can often be overstimulating to the children and the adults in the room.   Montessori classrooms are open, light & airy; and are peaceful and uncluttered.

 

All learning environments can be an integral part of a child’s learning.  An enriching, inviting and  stimulating environment can provide an increased chance of children being successful in their learning.  Not only will they learn more, they will enjoy it and be more willing to learn!  If an environment is boring, drab, dark and not visually appealing, it could be harder for the children to want ti engage and learn; AND make it hard for the teacher to find ways to motivate themselves to teach.  I must say, personally, if my classroom was drab and boring, it would be a STRUGGLE for me to want to teach.  I prefer an environment that is fun and lively, but not overstimulating and distracting.

 

5 ways a Montessori environment may be a good fit for a child on the autism spectrum

 

 

These tips on selecting an appropriate environment for a child on the autism spectrum are recommended by a autism specialist.  Please note that each child is different, and not every Montessori environment is the right fit for each child.  There are many things to consider when choosing a learning environment for your child.

 

  • Pay special attention to the physical  design and layout of the classroom

Always consider the flow of the classroom.  Think about how children and adults are able to manuever and move throughout the classroom; making sure to keep it as easy as possible.  Provide areas that are intended for smaller and larger group activities, and arrange the furniture and shelving to assist in that.  Montessori environments are well known for their design and layout characteristics; since they allow for children to roam freely through the classroom during the work period.

 

  • Be mindful of sensory stimulation

It is probably best to try to avoid overly stimulating the senses.  As stated before, overstimulating can be a distraction and disrupt concentration.  Consider things like lighting, windows, floor & window coverings and ceilings.  Equipping the classroom with carpet or investing in large area rugs to reduce the noise level, have dimmer settings on lights and use window coverings that allow natural light in; but not too much.  That is one of the things that makes a Montessori environment different; we try not to overstimulate the children with bold, bright colors on the walls, shelves and materials.

 

  • Try to eliminate or reduce clutter as much as possible

Excess or unused furniture, classroom teaching aids and even teacher collectibles can be a distraction.  Try to keep the classroom free of unused or rarely used items so that the children will not be distracted by them.  If possible, store these items away and bring them out as necessary or when needed.  If you walk into any Montessori classroom, you will notice how organized and orderly the materials and shelves are.

 

  • Use visual aids to define spaces and increase independence

Using visual aids throughout the classroom can help children in a variety of ways.  It helps them to understand the flow of the day, anticipate what activity comes next and can keep the day running smoothly.  Using visual aids on shelving can remind children how and where to put their work away.  It increases their independence and boosts their confidence as well.  Montessori classrooms use subtle visual aids as well to help children learn how to put their work away and where the group area is as well.

 

  • Have an area of the classroom where children can calm down and regroup

Preparing a calm down area for children to use if needed is important part of the environment.  Make sure the area is free of distractions and can be used for as long as the child needs.  This calm down area should never be used as a form of punishment, but an area for a child to relax, calm down and refocus.  In a Montessori classroom, this area is referred to as a Peace Area or Corner.  Sometimes it has a table, small floor pillows or a chair placed in an area of the classroom that is not near the hustle and bustle of the classroom.  It has items that are good for reducing stress and provide calming effects.  These are special items that are specific to the peace area, and are not found in other areas of the classroom.

 

 

As you can see, there are many benefits and positives when considering if a child on the autism spectrum will thrive in a Montessori classroom environment.  The Montessori environment provides many of the characteristics of an ideal learning environment that are recommended by professionals.  With Montessori being an individualized, child-led learning philosophy, the non-traditional, open flow of the classroom may be worth looking in to for your child.

 

Looking for more resources or information for children on the autism spectrum? Check out these books!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope that this information is helpful and insightful to parents and teaching professionals!

 

Anitra

Classroom Content Practical Life

10 amazing Valentine’s Practical Life Activities

By Anitra

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

 

Classroom Content Montessori Extras Parenting

4 Ways to Get Your Child to Focus and Concentrate

By Anitra

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

 

 

 

Classroom Content Math Montessori Extras Parenting Science Sensorial Teaching

20 STEM Activities perfect for your child and home

By Anitra

 

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

 

Are you intrigued how the latest ideas are being created?  How Elon Musk, Owner of Tesla Inc. came up with the fully electric vehicle and the world’s first fully electric semi-truck?  Ever wonder how a 3-D printer was made?  I know I am curious and downright fascinated by the inventions that have taken over our world in recent years.  Without showing my age, I remember being in high school and the technological innovations that were all the rage were the world wide web, DVD’s, and the Prius; the first mass-produced hybrid was introduced!! Isn’t that crazy?!

With everything we do being so technologically based, it is no wonder that STEM is becoming one of the fastest growing educational programs out there.  All the newest advances, all the newest ideas and all the newest breakthroughs are science, engineering and technologically based.

 

In order to keep up with the technology of the world, it is important to introduce these types of activities, skills, and thinking to children.  STEM has slowly made its way into the mainstream public school system, but has had a place in private schools, Charter Schools and alternative schools around the country.  STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  According to the U.S. Department of Education website, the goal of STEM is to provide opportunities for the youth to thrive “where success is driven not only by what you know, but by what you can do with what you know and have the skills and knowledge to solve tough problems, gather & evaluate evidence, and make sense of information”.

Children must be exposed to situations in which they can learn, develop and use the skills necessary to compete in our ever changing world.  I have compiled a list of 20 STEM activities that you can incorporate in your classroom or home to give them exposure to these objectives.  The activities are geared for children three years of age and older.  Due to small parts/objects, these activities are not intended for use with children under three years of age.

**Important note: an item search from any of the links will take you to the desired product**

Item descriptions courtesy of discountschoolsupply.com.  Used with permission.

 

20 STEM Activities for your child and home

 

1. Exploring Circuitry Light Blocks

Item #LSTAX

Explore circuitry and creativity through illuminating open-ended play! Using LED technology, each block lights up when connected to the base or another lit block. A glowing introduction to engineering and STEM.

 

2. Primary Science Color Mixer

Item #COLMIX

Let’s mix some color up and experiment!

 

3. Tornado Tube

 

Item #TORN

Tornado Tube employs hydraulic principles to create the vortex of a tornado within a bottle. Connect 2 empty plastic soft drink bottles together, fill one of the bottles 2/3 full with water, turn it over, spin, and watch the tornado appear.

 

4. Rainforest Cloud Biome Kit

Item #RAINFST

Grow your own tropical rainforest in this unique planter! Rain swirls on top of containers help regulate where water falls to maintain the best conditions for your plants to flourish.

 

5. Solar Building Windmill

Item #SUNMILL

Easy build-it-yourself windmill powered by the sun!

 

6. Brilliant Builders

Item #STRAW

Make structures big enough to sit in or as small as a shoe box.

 

7. Blue Sands Alive

Item #COLSABL

A soothing sensory experience

 

8. Snappy Sticks Building Set

Item #SNAPSTIX

Imaginative open-ended hands-on fun!

 

9. How Long Is It? Measuring Tape

Item #BIGM

This oversized measuring tape is scaled in inches and centimeters. With a large carrying handle, rewind knob with a clicking action, and a 36″ tape, young children will find it easy to manipulate and learn the skill of measuring.

 

10. Platform Scale

 

Item #SCALE

See and compare weights and measurements. Easy to read and accurate with metric and standard English display. Scale measures liquids and solids in the removable pan.

 

11. Height and Depth Measuring Blocks

Item #DEPTH

A unique way to learn about both height and depth!

 

12. STEM Exploring Engineering Set

Item #STEMSY

STEM learning made simple! Introduce and explore all 6 simple machines as you make amazing discoveries, design solutions for real-world problems and conduct your own investigations.

 

13. Hydroponics Lab

Item #H2OGROW

Investigate the hidden magic of plant roots!

 

14. Botany Lab Experimental Greenhouse

Item #BOTANY

Students learn about plants and seeds by conducting experiments in a specially-designed botanical laboratory with greenhouse domes.

 

15. STEM Force and Motion Discovery Set

Item #FORCE

Design engineering challenges with this exclusive STEM set! Discover science concepts while predicting, measuring, collecting and comparing data.

 

16. Classroom Measurement Set

Item #MEASURE

Children can practice customary capacities, liquid measurement and metric conversions with this set.

 

17. Smartcar Logic Puzzle

Item #SMARTCAR

Challenge kids to build a car with 5 different blocks in this unique logic game!

 

18. Number Tower

Item #NUMTOWER

Select a number block then stack the cubes, counting each as you go – it’s fun to learn about numbers! 22 pieces total, numerous ways to use, self explanatory with lines indicating cube spaces on the back of each number block.

 

19. Jenga

Item #JENGA

The original wood block stacking game!

 

20. Root-Vue Farm

Item #ROOT

Watch carrots, radishes and onions take form before your eyes through a sturdy, styrofoam surround with break-proof acrylic viewing window. Complete instructions plus tested experiments.

 

STEM Related Books

 

1.Our Physical World Books-5Titles

Item #EBOOKS

The perfect introduction to physical science. Easy to understand explanations of how basic physical principles of science relate to our world.  Titles in set include: All About Matter, Electricity All Around, Learning About Rocks, A Look at Magnets and Soil Basics

 

2. Science Vocabulary Books-4 Titles

Item #NATWORLD

Explore nature from the smallest insects to the tallest trees!  Includes these titles: Learning About Animals, Learning About Trees, Learning About Insects, Learning About Plants

 

3. Weather Watchers Books-6 Titles

Item #TWISTER

Young readers fascinated by the changing skies can focus on different types of weather and its causes.  Titles Included: Clouds, Lightning, Rain, Snow, Sunshine, Thunder, Wind

 

4. How Do You Measure? 4 Titles

Item #MEABKS

Learn about measuring units and picking the right tools.  Titles Included: How Do You Measure Weight?, How Do You Measure Liquids?, How Do You Measure Time?, How Do You Measure Length and Distance?

 

These activities and books are meant to be an introduction to STEM education.  Giving children the opportunity to engage in hands on learning is important and imperative to the future of science, technology, engineering, and math.

 

I have found a few new activities from this post that I will be incorporating into my classroom.  I hope that you are able to find and add some of these interesting, fun, exciting activities to your environment as well!

 

Enjoy!

 

Anitra

 

 

Montessori Extras Parenting

New You for the New Year-12 months to an even better you

By Anitra

It’s that time of year again when its time to say goodbye to another year.  You reflect on the past year and ask yourself if you’ve accomplished all that you set out to accomplish at the beginning of 2017.  I know that for me, I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to, but I did accomplish some amazing things this past year.  At the end of every year, people set unrealistic goals and make unreasonable resolutions for themselves; (trust me, I am guilty of this as well).

 

Here are a few of the most common New Year’s resolutions are:

1. Exercise more

2. Lose weight

3. Eat more healthy

4. Stop smoking

5. Drink less alcohol

6. Save money

7. Get organized

 

These resolutions always sound good, and you start out strong on accomplishing them.  But as the year progresses, they get harder and harder to keep up with.  Want to know why?  These are unreasonable and unrealistic goals.  I’ve learned over the years after failing at accomplishing my resolutions, that the common resolutions are so overwhelming to do all at once.  I chose to do a few at a time, and I had better results.  Maybe try a few of these each year, but trying to do them all at once makes it almost impossible to complete.

 

With that being said,  I think that it’s time to make some goals and resolutions that are actually reasonable and realistic, and you will definitely be able to accomplish!  By the end of 2018, you’ll have hopefully developed a few new habits that are a part of your daily life and that you can carry and build upon going in to 2019!

 

Monthly ideas to have your best year yet

 

January-Get more sleep:

Getting enough sleep is good for your heart, mind, and overall wellness.

 

February-Practice mindfulness:

Mindfulness is a way to be aware of thoughts & feelings.  It helps to reduce stress and strengthens mental health.

 

March-Take up an anti-stress activity:

Yoga, meditation, coloring books & gardening are inexpensive ways to reduce your stress levels.  Less stress leads to a better you!

 

April-Value experiences over things:

Plan a weekend getaway, plan a family night once a week, take a spur of the moment drive…These experiences are so much more valuable than buying things.  Create memories.  Experiences last longer than items.

 

May-Learn a new skill:

Learning a new skill will get you out of your comfort zone.  Dance class, a cooking class, a new language, sewing & ceramics are just a few suggestions.  You may end up finding something that you never knew you were good at!

 

June-Start a journal:

Write down your goals, your dreams, or your thoughts in a journal.  Writing can release stress and can be therapeutic.  Try writing in your journal at least once a week.

 

July-Unplug and unwind:

Put away technology for at least an hour and devote that time to yourself and/or your loved ones.  Talk about your day, play a game, or spend quality time together doing something you all enjoy.

 

August-Get outside & enjoy nature:

Go on a walk, a bike ride, go to the park, or go camping.  Getting outside is a good way to reduce stress and take a step back.  Nature has so much to offer, take advantage of it!

 

September-Complete a 30 Day Challenge:

Participate in a 30 Day Challenge of your choice.  Challenges related to fitness, health, money-saving, organization, fashion & gratitude are all popular challenges.  There are so many other activity challenges you can do; just do an online search for a topic you are interested in.

 

October-Read a book:

Take time to start reading a book.  Reading is a relaxing activity.  Find a book on the bestseller list, or ask a friend for a recommendation.

 

November-Practice generosity:

Volunteer your time at a charity or organization for a cause that interest you.  Volunteering and giving back to others leaves a positive impact on you as well.

 

December-Start one thing you’ve been putting off:

Whether it’s a small task that you’ve been putting off forever, or something big that you’ve been wanting to start; just get started on it!  Break it up into smaller chunks, and work on it throughout the month.

 

 

Many of these monthly activities can be shared with others in your family.  Besides, it is much easier to accomplish your goals when you have someone to encourage you!  I don’t know about you, but accomplishing my goals is SO much easier when I have the encouragement and support of my family or friends.  Without their support, I wouldn’t achieve half of what I’d like to.

 

So grab your better half, your kids, and your friends and start knocking out those goals!  You’re on your way to a better you; make 2018 your best year yet!

Remember…the best way to succeed at resolutions is to create new habits that are easily attainable and realistic!

 

Anitra

 

Classroom Content Math Montessori Extras Practical Life Themed Activities

13 December Practical Life Activities for home or school

By Anitra

 

With November slowly coming to an end, it is time to shake up the shelves and add some December themed activities to them.  Changing out the activities frequently; but not too frequently, keep the children engaged, interested, and excited about working in the Practical Life area.  For those unfamiliar with the Practical Life area in a Montessori classroom or homeschool, it is the area that has many components to it that make it the most important area of a Montessori classroom.  They learn many practical, self help & care skills; hence where the name Practical Life stemmed from.  Since children learn basic working, concentration, and eye-hand coordination skills, it is the prerequisite to all of the other areas in a Montessori classroom.  Activities could include spooning, using a ladle, pouring, scooping, and cutting.  This is by far the busiest area of a Montessori classroom.

 

As Maria Montessori stated,“Activities here build on the child’s natural interest and help him develop good work habits, concentration, eye-hand coordination, a lengthened attention span and control of his body.”-Maria Montessori The Sense of Childhood, pg. 1.

 

Pictures of my classroom Practical Life shelves

 

 

If you would like more information about the Montessori Primary (preschool) classroom and all the areas of the environment, please click here to read my post where I describe in detail the Montessori environment.

 

I like to keep the work on the shelves fun and if possible, theme related.  For December, my themes are snow, Antarctica, Winter, Hanukkah, and Christmas.  The 15 December themed activities are actual activities that I use in my classroom.  I have tweeked, added to, and taken away various activities over the years, but this is my set up for this December.  I hope you enjoy them!

 

13 December Themed Practical Life Activities for home or school

 

 

1. Using tongs to transfer large jingle bells

Children love transferring objects.  This work is great for that!

 

 

2. Stringing large bells on pipe cleaners

This is a more complicated work.  It takes patience to string the bells on the pipe cleaners.  Some challenges are good for them!

 

 

3. Spooning “snow”

This spoon is wide and flat.  It is good to have a variety of different sized and shaped spoons for transferring works.

 

 

4. Using a ladle to scoop Christmas peppermint erasers

Using a ladle is another way to add variety to your activities.  The children LOVE the themed erasers as well!

 

 

5. Using a small spoon to transfer snowflake erasers

It may seem repetitious, but having the varying sized spoons adds a different element.

 

 

6. Using a medium spoon to transfer one to many with snowman erasers

Transferring one to many adds another element to a an activity.  It adds an option that wasn’t previously used in the other works.

 

 

7. Using tweezers to transfer small jingle bells

Tweezers are great for transferring objects.  They are a little more challenging than using tongs.

 

 

8. Using a tea infuser to transfer snowman erasers

A tea infuser is a very unique tool to use for transferring.  It allows the child to use their “squeezing” capabilities.  It is a favorite!

 

 

9. Building a snowman

Make and put out the pieces to build a snowman.  A top hat, a large circle, a medium circle, a small circle with eyes & a nose, and add a few buttons.  Children have everything they need to build a snowman!  This is another favorite in my classroom!

 

 

10. Art sponge-painted polar bears

White paint, a small sponge, a polar bear stencil, and blue construction paper make for a fun polar bear!  I have them “dab” the sponge up and down to give the textured look of fur or snow.  These are FUN to make!

 

 

11. Making a snowman

Make a snowman with a snowman and hat template.  On the tray there is a pencil and crayons, so after the children trace the snowman and the hat, they can decorate their snowman as they like!

 

 

12. Hanging felt snowflakes with clothespins

Using clothespins, children will pin the felt snowflakes around the outside of a rectangular basket.  This is another favorite, and has been proven to be difficult at first, but they end up getting the hang of it!

 

 

13. Pin-poking a snowman

Using giant sized push pins, (after receiving a lesson on the safety of the push pins), children can poke around the outside lining of the snowman.  If they take their time, follow along the black line, and place their poking close together, it is easy for the snowman design to be punched out.  They then can take it home!  Pin-poking is a favorite by EVERYONE in my class!

 

 

BONUS!!!!! A couple of Math December Themed activities!!

14. Snowman counting with buttons

Children can practice their counting skills with these snowman labeled zero to ten.  The children can count and place the corresponding number of buttons under each snowman.  This is another favorite!

 

 

15. Mitten counting with felt snowflakes

Similar to the snowman counting, children practice their counting skills with the mittens labeled one to ten.  The children count and place the correct number of snowflakes under each mitten.

 

There are so many other amazing ideas that I incorporate into my classroom during the month of December.  So many that I am probably going to put together a “Part II” of the December Themed Activities for home or school, and include more of the math and language themed activities.  Be on the lookout for that in a week or so!

 

If you noticed, I use very simple, easy to find materials that I get from either the Dollar Tree or the 99 cent store to put together my activities.  There are two main reasons for that: One, they are cheap, and if something gets broken; no big deal, I’ll just replace it since it only cost a dollar!  The second reason is that you can put together a shelf full of activities for around $20.00!!  Is that not amazing?!

 

I hope that I was able to inspire you and encourage your creative juices to go out and get some materials and put together some of your own amazing activities for December!  Now get out to those dollar stores and get to finding some great stuff!! Happy Hunting!

 

Anitra

 

Parenting

Holiday gift ideas that are educational…and still fun!

By Anitra

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

 

 

Classroom Content Montessori Extras

What is all the hype about? A detailed look inside a traditional Montessori classroom

By Anitra

You’ve probably heard about all the hype and craze surrounding Montessori and Montessori schools. Anything and everything from the teaching method,the classroom environment, child led activities, and Montessori materials.  But what does all that mean?  The Montessori method is a very unique, very distinct, very individualized learning environment with a proven way of teaching young children.

 

The materials, along with the carefully prepared environment, is what makes Montessori, Montessori.  There are various areas and activities of a traditional Montessori classroom.  This is what sets a Montessori primary (preschool) classroom apart from other preschool classrooms. Many people have heard of Montessori, but haven’t had the opportunity to actually see inside or visit a classroom.  Please be aware that there are many different Montessori run schools, each individually owned and operated; so unfortunately not every Montessori school classroom will be set up or run exactly the same.  With that being said; I try to keep a traditional Montessori classroom.

 

Curious to learn and find out more…?   The pictures are from my actual classroom that I currently teach in.  The shelves are child sized, with age appropriate, enticing materials.  The common item you will notice in most Montessori classrooms and materials is wood.  The use of natural wood for the shelves and materials, along with neutral wall colors, is meant to soothe the senses and and the attract the children to the beauty of the room.  Montessori classrooms differ from other preschool classrooms in that they are calming, peaceful, and uncluttered.

 

 

LANGUAGE AREA

 

“Language lies at the root of that transformation of the environment that we call civilization.” -Maria Montessori The Absorbent Mind, pg. 98

The Language Area is composed of phonetic sound recognition, three letter phonetic word building, four letter and more phonetic word building, and blends & phonograms.  The three letter words make up the Pink Level, the four letters and more make up the Blue Level, the phonemes and hard & soft letters make up the Green Level.

 

The Pink Level also covers word families, picture to

word matching, and easy phonetic sentences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Blue Level also covers beginning & ending

consonant blends, and complex phonetic words

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Green Level also covers silent “e”, double vowel consonants, phonemes, and hard & soft letters

 

I also have opposites, parts of speech, sentence building & writing, and even antonyms & synonyms.

 

 

MATH AREA

 

“The results we obtain with our little ones contrast oddly with the fact that mathematics is so often held to be a scourge rather than a pleasure in school programmes.”-Maria Montessori The Absorbent Mind, pg. 170

The Math Area is composed of number recognition up to ten, mastering the teens & tens, and working on numbers up to one hundred.  This area also covers simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, and even division.  More complex works include place value, the clock, and fractions.

 

Number recognition from one to twenty, with various materials & activities to master these skills

 

Simple addition, the tens work, & the hundred board all round out the Math Area

 

 

Telling Time, Place Value & Fractions are the

more advanced Math activities

 

 

 

SENSORIAL AREA

 

“And if we look at the sensorial apparatus which is able to evoke such deep concentration…helps also to the development of the mathematical mind.”-Maria Montessori The Absorbent Mind, pg. 170

The Sensorial Area is composed of activities that engage the senses of the children.  There are activities for smell, taste, and hearing; and various materials that promote sight and touch.

 

Sensorial materials to manipulate sizes, color,

touch and hearing

 

Complex materials that introduce geometric shapes, as well as tasting & smelling materials

 

 

 

CULTURAL/GEOGRAPHY AREA

 

“…the child’s mind can acquire culture at a much earlier age than generally supposed, taking in knowledge is by certain kinds of activity which involve movement.”-Maria Montessori The Absorbent Mind, pg. 157

The Cultural and Geography Areas is the area of a Montessori classroom that frequently changes.  It is an area where new activities can be added on a weekly or monthly basis.  These areas are composed of science, botany (plants), zoology (animals), geography, and art.  This is by far one of the busiest areas of a Montessori classroom.

 

 

Study of continents, seasons land, air & water                                  Botany, zoology, & insect puzzles and magnets

 

 

Geography Maps

 

 

PRACTICAL LIFE AREA

 

“Activities here build on the child’s natural interest and help him develop good work habits, concentration, eye-hand coordination, a lengthened attention span and control of his body.”-Maria Montessori The Sense of Childhood, pg. 1

The Practical Life Area is another area of a Montessori classroom that changes frequently.  The Practical Life Area has many components to it that make it the most important area of a Montessori classroom.  Since children learn basic working, concentration, and eye-hand coordination skills, it is the prerequisite to all of the other areas in a Montessori classroom.  Activities could include spooning, using a ladle, pouring, scooping, and cutting.  This is by far the busiest area of a Montessori classroom.

 

Other activities include food preparation work,

and using tongs & tweezers

There are also washing activities, bubble making,

table setting, and water activities

 

 

 

All of the areas in a Montessori classroom contribute to the development of the whole child.  As stated before, not every Montessori classroom will be furnished and set-up exactly the same.  In quality, true to Montessori schools and classrooms, you will see similar setups and materials.  One of my favorite areas is the Practical Life Area, I like to come up with fun water work activities, food preparation works, and washing activities.  I like to add variety, and add activities that promote the individual needs of the children currently in my classroom.

 

 

 

Now can you see what all the hype is about?!  Trust me, the pictures just give you a small glimpse of what a Montessori environment looks like.  Can you imagine how wonderful it is to see the children actively working in a Montessori classroom…it’s PRICELESS!!

 

Anitra

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Back 2 School Classroom Content Montessori Extras

How using doTerra essential oils in the classroom helps with focus, concentration, & a peaceful environment

By Anitra

Being that it is back to school time, I am on a mission to start the year off right.  I want to set clear guidelines and rules of the classroom, and am looking to have the classroom run as smoothly as possible as soon as possible.  There are children returning from Summer vacation, children who are new, and others that were at the school during Summer Camp.  The beginning of a school year is the time to get everyone on the same page, and get everyone “normalized” within a quick time frame.

“Normalization” in Montessori terms is used to describe the process in which children in the classroom find inner discipline and peace, and the children are able to concentrate and focus on working freely throughout the classroom.  To assist with the process of normalization, a friend recommended the use of doTerra Essential Oils in my classroom.  Leticia Baxter is an Elite Wellness Advocate for doTerra Essential Oils, and she educated me on the positive effects of using the oils in my classroom.  The most important thing I learned about using essential oils is to do my research.  Not all oils are created equal, and doTerra oils have proven to be superior to other brands currently on the market.  To learn more about doTerra Essential Oils click here.

 

I invited Leticia to share some of the benefits of using doterra essential oils in your classroom (or home).  doterra Essential Oils offer a variety of oils for a variety of health benefits, however, Leticia discussed only a few; the ones that are beneficial for focus, concentration, and calming.  Without further ado-here are the benefits of using doterra essential oils.

 

Why Use doTERRA Essential Oils? How can they be a benefit to the home and classroom?

 

I am going to touch on a few doTERRA Essential oils and the amazing benefits of using them in the classroom.  

 

It is so important when choosing an essential oil brand! Many companies claim their oils to be therapeutic grade and some may be pure. In reality, very few of them are subjected to rigorous testing and standards for chemical composition.  doTERRA essential oils are cross tested to ensure both the exact purity and composition potency of each batch.   doTERRA works side by side with a global network of leading essential oil chemist and growers to ensure that our oils are the safest, purest, most potent and beneficial oils available in the world today.  Please make sure the oils you are using are to the highest standards of quality. You can really tell a difference not only in smell but when using.  

 

 

Lavender

The Oil of Communication

Lavender is known for its calming and relaxing qualities.  It helps reduce anxious feelings and helps ease feelings of tension. When you think of lavender… think all things calming.  Lavender has many uses and  helps with some of the following: restful night’s sleep, anxious feelings, emotional balance and sooths occasional skin irritations. These are just to name a few.  Lavender can be used aromatically, topically and internally. Be aware that this does not go for all brands of essential oils.  As long as there is a supplemental fact label on the bottle, you can use topically and internally. This is very important when using essential oils and why quality really does matter.

Diffusing Lavender in the classroom can help in calming the room and aid in better focus and concentration.

 

 

 

Balance

The Oil of Grounding

Sometimes life can bring on stress leaving us off guard and feeling overwhelmed.  This blend helps to restore and ground us.  Balance brings a feeling of calmness, peace and relaxation. It can evoke feelings of tranquility,  sense of balance and ease anxious feelings. Balance can be used aromatically and topically.  

Diffusing balance in the classroom helps ground the whole room, setting a calm peaceful environment.

 

 

 

OnGuard

The Oil of Protection

OnGuard supports healthy immune function and can be used to boost the immune system. It can also clean surfaces to protect against environmental threats just by adding to water for an effective all purpose cleaner.  OnGuard can be used aromatically, topically and internally.

Diffusing OnGuard in the classroom helps shield individuals from germs, bacteria, mold and viruses all while purifying the air.

 

 

Wild Orange

The Oil of Abundance

Wild Orange inspires abundance, fosters creativity and supports a positive mood.  Wild Orange has a variety of uses such as cleansing, uplifting, invigorating and lowering anxious feelings or nervousness. It can aid in increasing concentration, emotional balance and so much more.  Wild Orange can be used aromatically, topically and internally.

Diffusing Wild Orange in the classroom helps with concentration and focus while cleansing the air.

 Oh… and it smells amazing too!

 

 

 

 

If you have any questions, or are interested to learn more, please visit and contact Leticia Baxter at eoswithbaxter4.com.

 

About the Author:

 

Hi, my name is Leticia Baxter from eoswith baxter4.com.  I’m a stay at home mom who felt stuck in mom life.  I love being able to stay at home with my kiddos and be there for them, and am truly lucky and blessed to do so!  I found doTerra and it has helped me in so many ways!  Natural solutions using the oils has empowered my family and my life.  Why would I not share these life changing products with other?!  I love that I can offer others hope! I look forward to helping you!

 

 

So know that you know about the benefits of using doTerra essential oils, I will share with you about actually using them in my classroom.  My oil station is on a shelf in my classroom.  My set-up is quite simple and using the diffuser is easy too!  I use a small sized diffuser and add the oils to it.  The easy to follow steps are listed below.

-Fill the diffuser to the red dot with water.

-Add two to three drops of each oil (for a stronger, more noticeable smell,add more drops).  I personally stuck with the three drops

-This is where you can personalize the oil blends.  You can use one, two, three, or all four oils!  Depending on what your aim and goal is, you can pick different oils for each situation.

 

The children in my classroom absolutely LOVE the oils!  They walk around commenting on how good it smells.  It truly does work, I used them towards the end of the school year when the children start to get a little “unfocused”.  They worked amazing!  I noticed the difference in their ability to focus and concentrate, as well as the calming effect on the classroom overall.

 

I am so happy that I was able to find such pure, safe, and beneficial products to use in my classroom! What more could you want for your child or the children in your classroom?

 

Anitra

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