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Natural Learners

Montessori Extras Themed Activities

Activities, books, & ideas for Apples/Fall unit study

By Anitra

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

With the first day of Fall approaching on Friday, September 22nd, I am gearing up to begin a two week unit study of Fall and apples with my classroom.  Although here in sunny Southern California, it is far from feeling or looking like Fall.  The hotter Summer temperatures have slowly started to subside, and we’ve seen cooler temperatures this week, but we are from fro Fall weather.  Even though the Southern California weather is not fall friendly, I still am excited to start our Fall and apple unit study.

For the next two weeks; starting Monday; I will teach the young children in my class about how our environment changes for Fall, different leaves, the parts of an apple, how apples grow, and the different types of apples.  We will have apple tasting, and vote for our favorite apples, examine the insides of an apple, make leaf rubbings, and an apple blossom tree…just to name a few!

 

 

There are many books out there that could go with the study of Fall and apples, but I have chosen to share with you my favorite three books.  I have used each of these books over the years, and have found that these cover many of the topics and areas that I teach rather well.

 

Top 3 favorite books for Fall and apple unit

 

 

A Day at the Apple Orchard

 

By: Megan Faulkner & Adam Krawesky

A Day at the Apple Orchard follows a group of children through the apple orchard.  They pick apples, taste them, and make juice & cider.  The book also describes the life cycle of an apple blossom tree, and shows the growth through the different seasons.  This book is great when teaching how apples grow, the proper way to pick apples, and things that can be made from apples. It also discusses why it is important to protect apple blossom trees for continued blossoms.

 

We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt

By: Steve Metzger

We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt is a twist on the classic We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.  The children go on a hunt over the mountain, through the forest, around the waterfall, and across the lake.  Along the way, they find red oak leaves, hickory leaves, birch leaves, and maple leaves; until they encounter an unwanted guest!  This book teaches about different leaves, and is fun and entertaining!

 

Apples for Everyone

By: Jill Esbaum

Apples for Everyone has beautiful pictures that detail how apples grow, the different kinds of apples, talks about Johnny Appleseed, and discusses the history of apple trees.  This National Geographic Kids book has colorful and amazing photography that makes this book a favorite of mine.

 

 

I can’t wait to start our unit study of Fall and apples.  I have so many science, fine motor, art, language, and math activities planned for the next two weeks!

 

Want to follow along as we learn about Fall and apples?  Interested to see how our unit study unfolds?   Be sure to follow me on Instagram or Twitter for pictures of all of our activities and fun!!  I hope to see you there!

 

Anitra

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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 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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Back 2 School Montessori Extras

Back 2 School-The 4 Best Lunch Box Containers for Young Children

By Anitra

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

 

It is Back to School time! The early mornings, trying to get everyone out of the house on time, and making lunches.  Back to School means making and packing lunches. Whether you make and pack them at night or in the morning, it is still a chore to complete.  Making and packing lunches means endless amounts of zip loc baggies, tupperware containers, aluminum foil, ice packs and thermoses.  All the makings of a disaster for a teacher…let me explain.  In most, if not all, preschool (3 to 6 year old) classrooms in California, there can be a maximum of twenty four children and two teachers.  A ration of twelve to one.  If every child brings their lunch; all twenty four of them; that means that there are twenty four lunches that we have to help open.  Sounds crazy, right?  Well, that’s my point!  I work in a private preschool, and at least eighty percent of the children in my classroom bring a lunch from home.

 

It is very difficult to work and teach at a school who’s philosophy is based on the independence of the children, when parents do not promote independence for their child when considering the containers and baggies they put in their lunches.  For example, I understand that placing sandwiches in zip loc baggies are convenient and cheap, but most parents do not take into consideration how difficult it is for young children to open the baggies on their own.  It is actually pretty difficult for them.  On the other side, using tupperware containers are not any easier, as they tend to have very difficult lids that are not necessarily child friendly and easy to open for small hands.  Even though aluminum foil and thermoses help keep food warm in instances when there is not a way to re warm food, but they tend to be equally as difficult for young children to open themselves.

 

I have noticed throughout the years that the above listed ways to pack a child’s lunch are not practical for young children who need to learn to open things themselves.  It is customary in my classroom, and in many Montessori classrooms, that children be able to at least try to open their containers and such at lunch time.  In most cases, many of the children are very eager and willing to open their own things, and do not want the help of the teachers.  They are building on their ability to be naturally independent and self sufficient.  It is an important part of the Montessori philosophy to promote their inner ability to be natural learners.

With that in mind, I have come up with a list of lunch containers that are ideal in promoting the independence of your child at lunch time, which in turn leads to being independent at other feeding times as well!  The below list are of items that children have had in my classroom over the past one to two years, and are, in my opinion, the best “child centered” products for promoting independent little learners!

 

4 Best Child Centered Lunch Containers

(Items listed are listed in no particular order)

 

 

1. Bentgo Kids Childrens Lunch Box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bentgo Kids container is a popular one.  It has two easy to open snap tabs, and the multiple compartments allows you to provide a variety of lunch choices for your child.  It also comes in more colors for your child to choose from.  They are durable & leak proof; and the inner tray is microwave and dishwasher safe.  The outside has rubber coated edges for maximum durability, and it even comes with a free downloadable eCookbook!

 

2. Lunchbots Stainless Steel Lunch Container

The Lunchbots lunch container is also a popular choice.  It has an easy to open lid, and similar to the Bentgo box, it has multiple compartments to allow for a variety of food choices for your child.  The durable stainless steel is built for long term usage.  It is dishwasher safe, and also comes in a trio; with two different varieties for the trio box!

 

3. OmieBox Bento Lunch Box

The OmieBox lunch box comes with a kid thermos that is insulated.  It opens easy, as does the lunch box itself with a snap lid.  It also has multiple compartments to provide a variety of food choices as well.  The leak proof, double walled, air insulated lunch box can be used for hot or cold foods, and the insulated thermos will keep food hot for up to four hours!

 

 

4. Zojirushi Mr. Bento Lunch Jar

The Zojirushi Mr. Bento lunch jar is by far the most convenient one for keeping foods hot.  It comes with four smaller insulated containers with lids, that are easily stored inside the jar.  It can keep food hot (or cold) for up to six hours!  It is vacuum insulated stainless steel, with microwavable food bowls.  The bowls come in different sizes, and the jar itself comes in a variety of colors. It even comes with a convenient carrying bag!

 

All of the lunch containers will provide opportunities for your child to practice their fine motor skills.  It also gives them an opportunity to be independent.  Any activities that aid in your child being self sufficient and independent will in the long run lead to them being confident and autonomous in the future, and on in to adulthood.  Come on, now who doesn’t want their young child to be more independent?!

 

Looking for more Back 2 School posts?  All through the month of August I will be bringing you posts giving you Back 2 School tips! Enjoy!

Anitra

 

 

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Practical Life Product Reviews

Color Mixing Activity-a Montessori Services product review

By Anitra

I received a free product from Montessori Services valued under $50 to provide an honest review of this product.  All opinions expressed are my own.  This post may contain affiliate links, please see disclosure policy for more information.

Over the years, I have ordered various Montessori materials and supplies from Montessori Services for my classroom. They have a great selection of products for your classroom, and if you are a parent interested in implementing Montessori materials and Methods at home, For Small Hands has great products as well.  They have a large selection of Montessori materials and products, from the traditional areas of a Montessori classroom; like Practical Life, Language, and Math; to supplemental products such as books, music & movement and art.   I have in the past constructed a color mixing activity as a Practical Life work in my classroom, so I was more than excited when I received the Color Mixing Activity Set from Montessori Services!

 

The Work:

Color Mixing Activity Item # Y30The Color Mixing Activity Set Item# Y30

Includes: (everything is pictured below)

(Photo courtesy of Montessori Services, used by permission)

 

 

Set Up and Steps:

The setup:

Using the Presentation Suggestions, I prepared the work as instructed.  I filled the clear glass bottles with water up to the neck of the bottle.  I added a few drops of red, blue, and yellow food coloring into each glass bottle, put the caps on, and shook up.  Next, I set up the tray as instructed; following the Presentation Suggestions.

 

 

After I gave the initial lesson to the children in circle time, it was then available for them to use.  During the initial lesson, I reviewed how to use an eye dropper.  Here is one of my older friends completing the Color Mixing Activity step by step.

 

Get an apron.  I prefer to provide aprons for the children in my class to use when they do water works.  It is a personal preference, and it not mandatory.

 

Next, here she is using the eye dropper to mix red and yellow.  Using the tiny spoon, she mixed up both colors and got orange.

 

 

Next up, she used the eye droppers to mix red and blue together, getting purple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, she used the eyedroppers to mix yellow and blue, getting green

 

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fourth small bowl is used for experimenting.  She chose to make purple again, since it is her favorite color!

 

 

 

 

 The Clean Up:

Pour all of the contents from each of the small glass bowls into the larger glass bowl.

 

 

Use the sponge to wipe out each of the small glass bowls, and the tray, if needed.

 

 

Pour out contents of the larger glass bowl.  Using the sponge, wipe it clean.  The work is complete!

 

                   

 

This work was so fun!  I had fun introducing it, and the children had a blast using it.  It was SO popular, I had to limit the number of times they could do it today.  I had quite a few friends cry that they were not able to do this work today, as we ran out of time during Montessori Work Time!  I really liked how EVERYTHING that I needed came with the work.  I didn’t have to purchase anything else to go with it; (I already had the aprons), and the convenience of that is a huge time and money saver.  The work is durable, and I like that most of the items used in the work are glass.  If you’ve been following my other posts, you know how much of a fan I am of using glass in my classroom.  This complete Color Mixing Activity is a good work for use in a classroom, home school, or for a parent looking to incorporate Montessori materials in their home!

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

Anitra

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Back 2 School Montessori Extras

Back 2 School-Routine and Schedule for Healthy Dental Habits

By Anitra

One or more of the products mentioned in this post were provided for free to facilitate a review.

Back in 2005, I took a break from teaching.  I had been teaching for about 5 years, and felt a tad bit burnt out.  I decided to go back to school, only this time, I went a completely different path; I went to school to become a Dental Assist.  I learned quite a bit, and enjoyed my new found career.  Later that year, I was recommended and hired for a position as a Dental Assistant in a Pediatric Dental Office.  I had lucked out!  I had the best of both worlds; I could still interact with children, and use my new found skills as a Dental Assistant at the same time.  I enjoyed working as a Dental Assistant, but I was never as happy as I was when I had worked in a classroom.  So, long story short; I went back to teaching.  I have been consistently in a classroom ever since…

 

Every February, during National Children’s Dental Health Month, I do a two week unit on dental awareness, dental procedures, proper brushing techniques, and other oral hygiene topics.  I teach them all about their bay teeth; which are lettered from A to T and their adult teeth; which are numbered 1 to 32 (if you have your wisdom teeth).  The most important aspects of the dental awareness themes revolve around proper brushing techniques, how often to brush, flossing, and using mouth rinse.  With Back 2 School quickly approaching, I think that it is a great time for families to develop a oral hygiene routine and schedule.  I know, it’s a pain to have to come up with another routine and schedule with your already busy life.  Well you are in luck!  I will share my oral hygiene routine and schedule that I have developed just for busy families!  It’s the least I can do to make your Back 2 School transition an easy one!

 

Start the school year off on the right path with these

6 tips to develop healthy oral hygiene habits

 

1. Limit the amount of sugar your child eats.

I know, what child doesn’t love candy…or cupcakes..or cake…or ice cream?  I do, and I’m an adult!  It is easy to let your child eat sugary snacks, but in the long run, it is not healthy for their primary (baby) teeth or their permanent (adult) teeth.  As you know, sugar that sits on the teeth can cause decay, which leads to cavities; or as I call them SUGAR BUGS!!!

 

2. Have your child drink lots of water.

Water is important not just to your child’s oral health, but is important to the overall health of their entire body.  When your child is thirsty, try to encourage drinking water as often as possible over sugary beverages such as juice and soda.

 

3. Use toothpaste that has fluoride in it.

Fluoride is a mineral that can help reduce tooth decay.  It helps to harden the enamel on baby and adult teeth.  A pea sized amount of toothpaste containing fluoride should be used for children three years and younger.  Using a mouth rinse that contains fluoride is also an added benefit.

 

4. Model proper brushing techniques.

A good motto to adhere to is 2 minutes, 2 times a day.The ideal brushing technique is to brush the molars (back teeth) on the tops of the teeth (the chewing surface) and make sure to get the inside and outside of them as well. For the front teeth, brushing in circles insures that you are brushing to the gum lines.

 

5. See a Dentist on a regular basis.

It is beneficial to see a Dentist twice a year to get regular cleanings, x-rays, and a check-up.  A Dentist may recommend more frequent visits if a child displays a tendency to build up plaque or is subject to tooth decay.

 

6. Set up a routine and schedule and try to follow it as closely as possible.

Having a routine and schedule for oral hygiene is the best way to ensure healthy habits.  Click below for your Back 2  School Oral Hygiene Routine and Schedule.

 

 

 

In order for you to develop a healthy oral hygiene routine and schedule, you will need the necessary items to assist you.

 

 

  • Man yourself with the proper tools

The toothbrush is the most important tool in ensuring a good cleaning between visits to a Dentist.   I recommend and have recently used a great toothbrush from mouthwatchersMouthwatchers is a toothbrush company that has a line of manual and power toothbrushes. They are very reasonably priced, and have an option of purchasing single or yearly toothbrushes.

 

I have a youth and an adult manual toothbrush.  The soft bristles are gentle on my gums, and there are two sets of bristles for an even better brush.  I used the youth toothbrush to reach my wisdom teeth and molars in the back, and it left them feeling clean like I had just left the Dentist!  I used the adult toothbrush for all of my other teeth; my incisors and canines.  Overall, both toothbrushes left my teeth feeling extra clean, and I will definitely be investing in more mouthwatchers in the future!  For even more great products, go to mouthwatchers.com

 

 

 

Combining the above tips with a good, quality toothbrush, added with a daily routine and schedule, will put your child on the right path to developing healthy oral hygiene habits early on.  It may be beneficial for parents of young children to assist them with the brushing, as it may be difficult for children to brush their teeth by themselves.

 

Enjoy this post?  Be on the look out for more Back 2 School posts for the month of August.

Anitra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Back 2 School Montessori Extras

5 Tips to Ensure Your Child Success in Preschool

By Anitra

It is definitely that time of year again…the start of another school year.  The time of year when children start to leave my classroom, and I start to get new children…It is a sad time of the year to see many of the children leave who have been with me for two, sometimes three years; but it is also an exciting time where you are anxious to get to know and love your new little friends!  It may sound cheesy, but I hold a special place in my heart for the children that have been in my classroom over the years.  I keep in contact with quite a few of their parents as well; as they have become my friends and I ask about their children often!

Parents choose to put their children in preschool for many reasons.  The reasons can range anywhere from building their social skills, to develop growth in language skills, to promoting growth in maturity.  The same came be said for why parents choose Montessori as well; and for more specific reasons.  The reasons why parents choose to put their children in a Montessori school are because it is an environment that promotes self care, care for others, independence, and communication skills.  The Montessori environment is a structured, yet loving place where children enjoy being a part of a community, take pride in their independence, and are involved in their learning.

It is the job of the Montessori teacher to teach, guide, and encourage the growth in the whole child.  The whole child is independent, is a natural learner, and is willing to take on care of themselves, the environment, and their peers.  Although the Montessori teacher is there to assist in developing the growth of the whole child, the parents are just as important to this process.  There are things that parents can do to prepare their children for entry into a Montessori classroom.

I get it…it’s hard for parents to come to terms with the children may no longer be “babies” and that they don’t want them to grow up so fast…Trust me, I know how it feels from both sides of the fence; as a mother and as a teacher.  But  PLEASE listen to me when I say, that you are doing your children a HUGE disservice when you do everything for them, linger around the classroom, call the school all day long, and hide out in the parking lot watching to make sure your child is doing ok!!!!! Yes, this actually happens…All. The. Time.  Please understand that if you trusted the school and teachers enough to enroll your child, please trust us enough to let us do the job you are paying us for…Ok, sorry. Rant over.  Some of the tips may seem obvious, while others you may have not even thought of.

 

Here are 5 Tips for Preparing Your Child for Preschool

 

1. Please DON’T stay too long at drop off time.

I understand that you may be nervous if it is your child’s first school experience.  But staying too long makes your child get comfortable with the idea that you will be staying with them all day.  It also makes it difficult for them to want to go explore the classroom and engage with the other children.

DO practice the motto, “short drop off, long pick up”.  Make pick up time a longer, engaging experience.  Trust me, most times when it’s time to go home, they don’t want to go!  It happens all the time.

 

2. Please DON’T leave without saying goodbye.

Of course it is important to practice the motto, “short drop off, long pick up:.  But never just leave without saying goodbye to your child.  It may cause feelings of abandonment, and make them feel as if the school and classroom are not a safe place.  Even if they are crying and sad, still say goodbye to them and leave promptly.

DO give them a hug and even a kiss goodbye, and encourage them to have a fun or good day while at school.  You can also add that you will be back as soon as you’re done at work.

 

3. Please DON’T say goodbye; leave the classroom or playground, and them come back.

This is a very common thing parents do.  It is very disturbing to your child, especially if they have calmed down and are otherwise distracted.  To see you come back, gives them the impression that they are leaving, and once you leave out again, the entire episode starts again…only this time it’s WORSE!

DO remember, once you say goodbye and leave, you mustn’t return…under no circumstances.   It is very hard; not only on your child; but on the teachers who have to find a way to calm and comfort your child.

 

**Number 4 is especially important in a Montessori environment.**

4. Please DON’T enable your child by doing everything for them.

By this, I am referring to self care activities that they can do themselves.  From an early age, please remember that your child is more capable of doing things for themselves than you give them credit for.  All they need is the opportunity.  I have parents ask me all the time, “They pour their own water and milk”.  The answer is yes.  If i didn’t teach them from the first day they start, all I would do all day is pour water and milk! I wouldn’t have a chance to do anything else.  It is not going to hurt them if they are able to do things themselves.

Making her own snack

 

DO provide opportunities for your child to care for themselves.  A few examples are to have them dress themselves, help clean up after they eat, pick out their clothes, feed themselves, serve themselves snack, or let them help you cook.  You’d be amazed at what your child is capable of, if they are given the chance!  Some of these activities can be introduced as early as two years old.

 

 

Helping to make fresh bread

 

Putting on shoes independently

 

5. Please DON’T discuss starting school with your child too much before they actually start.

I have gotten feedback over the years from many parents that informed me that the month before their child started school they were excited to go.  But by the time it was their start date, they would either push back the start date or not enroll at all.  I found that talking about starting school too much actually causes anxiety and has the opposite effect on a child, making them not want to experience going to school.

DO discuss with your child that they will be starting school.  Do so often, but not so often that they lose interest in wanting to go.  Casually mention it here and there to them, and if they start to develop signs of anxiety or nervousness, end the conversation.  You can always try talking to them about it at another time.

 

Following these tips can make your child’s transition (and yours), to a Montessori school an easier one.  By following a few; or all of these tips may even cause a teacher thank you!

So, THANK YOU!!!

Anitra

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Classroom Content Montessori Extras

Why child made mini books are important-Montessori Extras

By Anitra

Making mini books is an activity I learned in my training.  Not all training programs discuss or touch on mini book making.  I am very fortunate that my training did cover it, because it is something that I use on a regular basis.  Before I get into what mini book making is, I should give you a little insight about where the mini book originates from.

 

Mini books come from Nomenclature cards.  Nomenclature cards; or 3 part cards as they are frequently referred to in a Montessori classroom, are cards that come in 3 parts; hence the name!  The word “nomenclature” comes from the Latin word “nomenclatura“, which means to give or assign names to things.  The first card in the nomenclature set is the label card, which is a picture and a word associated with the picture.  The second card in the nomenclature set is the picture card, which is just the picture.  The third card in the nomenclature set is the word card.

 

Nomenclature cards; 3 part cards Butterfly Life Cycle

 

Nomenclature cards are the basis for mini books.  I try to use mini books often in my monthly curriculum.  Mini books are child made books that represent the parts of ____, the life cycle of ______, or the can be the inhabitants of _____.  Child made mini books have benefits to child’s overall development.  Mini books are a good way for older children to begin to associate pictures with words and their meanings.

 

Mini Books are blank copied mini pages of a given parts of ____, life cycle of ____, or inhabitants of ____.  The teacher provides a “Master Mini Book” that has either been handmade or commercially copied (with permission).  I tend to use a combination of both handmade and commercially copied.

 

The Master Mini Book is colored or copied by the teacher.  I normally copy my masters onto white card stock for durability.  Once I have each of the pieces of the master book colored and cut out, I then glue it onto another piece of card stock.  I normally chose a color that compliments the colors of the mini book.  I use various ways of completing the label part of the Master Mini Book.  I use writing, printed words, or a label maker to make the label for each part.  It just depends on your personal preference.  After this, I laminate all of the Master Mini Book pages.  I ALWAYS laminate EVERYTHING that the children will handle on a regular basis.  It provides more durability, and a longer shelf life for the work I create.  SIDE NOTE: *If you don’t have access to a laminator, you can use a roll of clear contact paper*.  After I laminate each page of the Master Mini Book, I use a single whole punch and punch a whole in the top left corner.  I then attach a medium sized book ring, so that it is easy for the children to flip through the book to get to each page.  And that’s it…easy instructions on making a Master Mini Book!

 

Along with the Master Mini Book, I also provide the necessary coloring tools to complete the book, and a pencil for labeling the book.  I tend to put all of my materials for mini book making on a tray, so that it makes it easier to present it to the children.  It also makes it easier for use for the time we are studying a certain subject.

 

Parts of a leaf mini book

 Parts of a butterfly mini book

 

As I stated earlier, mini books have benefits to a child’s development in many areas.  Mini books nurture a child’s language development; such as their communication, literacy, and interest. Mini books also contribute to their cognitive development; such as inquiry, curiosity, and knowledge.  They also help with fine motor skills, while having to color within the lines, a certain part or area, and use of pencil writing skills.

 

Ways that mini books benefit a child’s language development

1.They foster and build vocabulary

Mini books foster and build a child’s vocabulary.  When a child colors and labels each part of a mini book, they are learning new vocabulary words.

2. They help with identifying part of a whole

When children make mini books, it teaches them the various parts of a whole or characteristics of a given subject

3.They help with recall(memorization)

When children make mini books, they are able to take them home, and hopefully will share about each part of their mini book, which helps with recall skills.

 

Animals of South America mini book

 

Not only do mini books provide a child with enhanced vocabulary, knowledge, fine motor skill development, and memorization; they also are a fun and interesting way to introduce new topics.  Making learning interesting is the best way to ensure that children will openly and willingly want to learn and become the natural learners that are.

 

Anitra

 

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Science

5 easy science experiments to try in a preschool classroom

By Anitra

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

Science is an everyday part of our lives.  It is all around us, and it is important for young children to be given the opportunity to explore, test, and experiment with science.  When considering implementing science experiments into a preschool classroom, there are many things to consider.  Is it safe? Is there a way to get the children’s involvement? What are age appropriate experiments? It is important to consider the age of the children, their developmental levels, and their ability to follow directions and listen to instructions.  Early preparation and planning is a key factor in how successful implementing science experiments into a preschool classroom will be.  Depending on the ages and developmental levels of each of the young children in your classroom, that will determine how simple or complex each of the experiments are.  Examples could include simple machines, color mixing, making sugar crystals, and volcano making. I have compiled a list of science experiments that are age and developmentally appropriate; and were successful in their implementation.

 

5 science experiments for young children

1. Cleaning pennies

Materials:

pennies, salt, vinegar, water, towels

Procedure:

Children can put a spoonful of salt into the a bowl of vinegar and then mix well.  They then place in the pennies. Wait for about 15 seconds, take out pennies and set in bowl of water. Dry off  the “clean” pennies.

 

2.  Vortex

Materials:

2 empty 2 liter soda bottles, electrical tape, water, food coloring

Set-up:

Fill one of the 2 liter bottles with water and about 4 drops of food coloring.  Using the electrical tape, and tape the second 2 liter bottle to the top.

Procedure:

The children will learn how a vortex works by turning the apparatus upside down and twirling it around in their hands.

 

 

3. Static

Materials:

Balloons, rice cereal, tray

Procedure:

Using already blown up balloons, have the children rub the balloon onto a tray of rice cereal.  Then have  them see how the static electricity on the balloon to reacts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Color absorption

Materials:

Clear cups, food coloring, water, white carnations

Procedure:

Have a cup for each flower and add water to each.  Put about 4 to 6  drops of food coloring in each cups.  Within a few hours, you will begin to see the color absorb through the stem of the flower and onto the petals.

 

 

5. Slime

Materials:

Elmer’s school glue, washable paint, and Liquid starch

Procedure:

Mix equal parts school glue, liquid starch, and about 2 ounces of washable paint. Mix well. Let sit for about an hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each of these science experiments were fun, easy, and encouraged the children to use their problem solving, observation, and abstract thinking skills. Use these activities as a way of a first introduction into the world of science, and open the children’s minds into a lifelong love of science!

Anitra

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Montessori Extras

Incorporating Yoga in the classroom…Namaste!

By Anitra

Years ago, while looking for teaching resources, I came across an interesting find.  I found a book about introducing yoga to young children.  I found The Yoga Kit For Kids by Imaginazium. It came with:

  • 25 yoga cards
  • 24 page activity and instruction book
  • Music for Yoga CD

The individual yoga cards teach a simple yoga pose on the front, and a poem describing the pose on the back.  It also comes with a CD with two tracks on it.  One is a gentle, slow tune; and the other one is a little more quick and upbeat.  There is also an instruction book with pictures as well.  At the time, I wasn’t really that in to yoga, but decided to purchase it anyway.  It seemed fun and inviting, and just different enough that it kind of intrigued me.  Over the years, I used the yoga cards periodically, but never on a consistent basis.  But when I did used them, the children seemed to enjoy participating.

Fast forward to about two years ago.  I had always noticed that every year, around the end of March all the way through the end of May, the children in my classroom would start to get a little rowdy.  I asked around and other teachers had similiar experiences in their classrooms as well.  The children would be louder than normal, not as focused, and would have a slightly difficult time “relaxing their bodies” as I say.  I had the idea to incorporate the yoga for kids cards into our morning, as a way of starting off our day on a good note. Obviously when I mentioned this to my Assistant Teacher she thought I was nuts, but I told her that it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try, and what if it actually worked…

In my classroom, we go to the playground first thing in the morning before we start the traditional “Montessori Work Time”.  We are outside for about 30 to 40 minutes, and then come in, do circle time, and begin the Montessori Work period which lasts for 2 hours.  When I decided to introduce yoga, I decided that it would be best if it was done immediately after the children came in from the playground.  As soon as we enter the classroom, I leave the lights off and instruct all of the children to go find a space on the blue tape(our circle time is designated by blue tape).  I turn on the slow, gentle music from the yoga CD, and instruct them to lay on their backs, relax and close their eyes.  I then tell them that this is a no talking time, and to just listen to the quiet music and wait for instructions.

After about 2 minutes, I turn off the music and choose 3 to 5 yoga cards for them to do.  I hold up the card for them to see the pose, and once everyone is in the pose, I read the poem on the back.  Some of our favorites are Mountain, Tree, Peacock, Mouse…and my personal favorite, Do Nothing Doll!  I always end our yoga session with the Do Nothing Doll pose.  The children enjoy doing yoga and ask on a regular bases if we can do yoga!  I have noticed that by starting our day with yoga, they seem to be more focused, relaxed, attentive, and calm.  SUCCESS!  We now do yoga 2 to 3 times a week. NAMASTE!

Anitra

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