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Geography

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

 

 

Back 2 School Montessori Extras

10 back to school or homeschool activities to give your child a leg up on learning

By Anitra

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

 

Whether your child is going back to public school, preschool, or it is time to get back to your homeschooling routine, it means that it is time for your child to buckle down and get back to the academics.  In most cases, the time your child spends at school or preschool is not enough for them to them to master, learn, and even practice many skills necessary for their academic success. Phonetic letter sound recognition, number recognition, the ability to communicate effectively & use problem solving skills, and fine motor skills are all important aspects that are customary for children to know and master.

 

 

 

 

 

I have parents all the time asking me if there is something that they could be working with at home with their child.  I normally tell them to have their child read (if they are a reader), and advise them of a few resources for them to possibly purchase and/or add to their home.  As a teacher, I do not have just one academic area that I find is important over another one.  In my opinion, they are all equally important, and play an important part in the development of the whole child.  It is important to incorporate all aspects of a child’s development, as well as finding ways to promote fine motor, cognitive skills, and critical thinking skills.  Trust me, no teacher would be disappointed to have a class of well rounded students!!

 

The activities I chose for the list are ones that can be used in a variety of ways and incorporated for use at home as extra support, for your homeschool, or in a classroom to enhance your curriculum.  I have direct knowledge and have used many of these items from the list in various ways either in my classroom or as an addition to my curriculum.

 

 

10 Activities that can used as extra support for your child’s academic learning

 

Add & Subtract Abacus

The Add & Subtract Abacus is for three to six year olds.  It comes with a wooden base and the double-sided wooden boards.  The colorful beads make it easy to distinguish between each of the numbers.  This work is a way to explore numbers, colors, patterns, addition, and subtraction!  It is very multi-functional.

     Self-Correcting Alphabet Letter Puzzles

The Self-Correcting Alphabet Puzzles are for four to six year olds.  The wooden puzzle pieces have a colorful object for the corresponding letter sound on one side, and letters from A to Z on the other side.  The interlocking pieces make it easy for young children to self correct and promotes independence and success!

Alphabet Puzzle Cards

The Alphabet Puzzle Cards are for four to six year olds.  The interlocking alphabet cards come in a great wooden box for easy storage.  The self correcting interlocking pieces insures that the puzzles are solved and matched correctly!  These puzzle cards promote independence and

Wooden Letter Alphabet Magnets

The Wooden Letter Alphabet Magnets are for three to six year olds.  There are fifty two magnetic upper and lower case letters, that can be used for spelling, stenciling, matching upper and lower case, and for building words!  These letter magnets are great for all kinds of language ideas!

Self-Correcting Number Puzzles

The Self-Correcting Number Puzzles are for four to six year olds.  The wooden puzzle pieces have colorful, objects on one side, and numbers from one to twenty on the other side.  The interlocking pieces make it easy for young children to self correct and promotes independence and success!
World Map Floor Puzzle – 33 Pieces

The World Map Floor Puzzle is for six plus years old.  Although, we a little assistance, I don’t see why a four or a five year old couldn’t be successful with this puzzle.  The puzzle pieces are made with an easy, clean surface.  This puzzle map is perfect for introducing and learning about the continents of the world.

Turn & Tell Wooden Clock

The Turn & Tell Wooden Clock is for four to seven year olds.  The wooden base and large numbers make it easy for your child to be introduced to and practice telling time.  It has clickable hands to help mark off the minutes, it details hour, minute, half past, and quarter past.  There are also 13 double-sided time cards for practice as well!  This all-in-one clock is perfect for learning to tell time.

U.S.A. (United States) Map Floor Puzzle – 51 Pieces

The U.S.A. Map Floor Puzzle is also for six plus years old.  I believe that with a bit of assistance, a four or five year old would be able to do this puzzle in its entirety.  The extra thick puzzle pieces make this puzzle durable. This puzzle is great for introducing, learning, and studying all 50 States!

Magnetic Wooden Numbers

The Magnetic Wooden Numbers are for three to five year olds.  It comes with enough numbers to count from zero to twenty, and it includes five number signs as well!  These magnetic numbers can be used to introduce counting, number recognition, and simple addition & subtraction!

See & Spell Learning Toy

The See & Spell is for children four to six years old.  You can use the letters to spell the three and four letter puzzle words, spell other words, or use the letters as a stencil.  The cardboard puzzle boards and pieces are built for long lasting durability.  This is a spelling and fine motor activity wrapped into one!

 

 

Adding one or many of these activities to your child’s daily teachings will put your child on the right path to mastering many of the necessary skills needed for their future learning.  The activities are adaptable and allow for use in a classroom or homeschool environment, or just as a supplement at home for your child.

 

Anitra

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Geography

How to make Geography a fun learning experience!

By Anitra

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

Geography…a study of the physical features and places of Earth.  This is a subject that is normally introduced and taught around the third grade.  Elementary students begin learning about Geography after they have been living in the world for about nine to ten years.  Why is it that introduction of Geography is not until they have entered elementary school?  Do school districts think that the study of Geography and the world around us is not important enough to be introduced until third grade?  Or is it that the school officials have decided that children are not capable of comprehending the subject of Geography until they are ten years old?  In my opinion, learning about the world around you is just as important as reading, math, and science.

In a Montessori primary classroom, the study of Geography is introduced and presented in a way that is appealing and fun to young children.  It is engaging, hands on, and is relatable to their own life and their families.  Our world is so diverse; as are most classrooms, so why not teach about the diversity of the children in a classroom?  Yes, they are young; but they also are smart beings that know a few things about their home, family, and their culture.  When we talk about certain continents and countries, I ask the children if they have ever been to a particular country, tasted a particular food, or heard of a particular animal.  Many times, there are at least two to three children who will raise their hands and say that they have experienced something from a country.  By doing so, it involves the children in the learning, and shows that their experiences are important as well as their family or culture.

The Montessori method provides numerous activities that make it easy to teach children Geography.  In the primary classroom, there is the land and water globe, continents globe, puzzle maps for each continent; as well as puzzle maps for the United States and the world.  There are other materials that can be found from various companies that sell Montessori materials as well.  You can get as detailed as you would like with the materials, depending on the age and developmental level of the children in your classroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puzzle maps are a great way to incorporate Geography into a Montessori classroom.  I use the puzzle maps with the control charts.  There are two types of control charts; one with the countries labeled and one without. I use on of the control charts and hang it on the wall to use during circle time, and the other control chart is used alongside the puzzle map.

I introduce one continent each month starting in December.  I normally start with Antarctica, and discuss the animals of Antarctica.  January is the study of Asia, February is the study of Australia,  March is the study of Europe, April is the study of Africa, May is the study of South America, and June is the study of North America.  With the other continents, I discuss the animals, famous landmarks, food, and culture associated with each one. I also have the older children; 4 1/2 to 6 year olds; use the pin poker to poke out each of the continents.  They also make an “Animals of ______ Book” for each continent as well. 

 

 

“Animals of ______ Book”

 

 

 

 

Each of the older children also have a “Continent Folder” that they use to save each of the continents in.  In June, after we have studied North America, they then put their globes together using the continents that they pin poked, and they label them and the oceans.  They each get to cut out two blue circles for the oceans, and use the world map with labels to write on their own globes.  They love completing their globes, and are always excited to reach that point in the school year!  They look forward to it all year long!

 

 

Pin poking Europe

 

 

Geography Folders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Completing the globes

 

There are many Montessori companies that sell Geography materials.  There are also numerous websites that offer free resources for Geography works as well.  The key is to do a little research, find out what you think will work best in your particular classroom or home school, and remember to take into consideration the ages and stages of the children you will present the works to.  Another key thing is to make it fun, inviting, and engaging; and the kids will have a ball learning about the different continents, countries, and cultures of the world!

Anitra

 

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