Tag:

Sensorial

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

 

 

Sensorial

Fun & easy to make Flubber!

By Anitra

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

Young children benefit greatly from sensory experiences.  They use their senses to explore and discover the world around them.  Exposing children to tactile activities helps with the growth in physcial abilities, cognitive and language skills, and social and emotional development as well.  Tactile experiences are sometimes overlooked when educators prepare early childhood environments, but the importance of sensory/tactile experiences is something that should not be left out of a young child’s everyday learning activities.

There are many ways to add sensory/tactile experiences to your curriculum; playdough, water tables, sand tables, and shaving cream are just a few.  There are endless everyday items that can be used as sensory experiences for young children.

 

Looking for a fun and easy activity to add a tactile activity to your homeschool or classroom curriculum?  Make Flubber!

Flubber. Slime. Putty. Whatever you’d like to call it, it’s fun, ooey, gooey and is super easy to make!  There’s just one rule to making flubber…get your hands in it! Smush it, mush, squish it with your hands so that you can make sure it gets mixed well.  All you need is  three simple items, and you can make flubber in no time.  You will definitely be a hit with your own children or children in your classroom.

 

I have made this particular flubber for many, many years.  It is always a favorite in my classroom.  You can use cookie cutters with it, cut it, roll it, or spread it out…whatever you’d like!  It adds a little different element to tactile learning than playdough, and it is just as fun!  Below are the simple and easy steps to making your own flubber.

 

Making Flubber

 

Materials needed:

Purex Sta-Flo Liquid Starch

Elmer’s School Glue

Colorations Washable Tempera Paint (any color)

Bowl

1 cup measuring spoon

1 teaspooon measuring spoon

Silicone spatula (optional)

 

                      

 

 

STEP ONE:

Measure out 1 cup of Purex Sta-Flo Liquid Starch into the measuring spoon.  Pour into the bowl.

 

                           

 

STEP TWO:

Measure 1 cup of Elmer’s School Glue into the measuring spoon.  Pour into bowl with liquid starch.

 

 

STEP THREE:

Measure 2 teaspoons of Colorations Washable Tempera Paint into the mixture in the bowl.  (I chose orange to go with the Fall theme).

 

                    

 

 

 

STEP FOUR:

Using spatula and or your hand, mix everything together.  Keep mixing until all of the liquid starch, glue, and paint are blended well.

               

 

 

 

STEP FIVE:

Next, take the flubber mixture and place it into a ziploc bag.  It is normal for it to be very wet and stringy, so don’t worry.  Once it is in the bag, you can mix it a little more by squishing it and mushing it.

 

 

The flubber will need time to sit and form.  You will need to let it sit for at least a few hours, maybe longer.  You want it to not be super wet, and for all of the liquid starch and glue to be as one.  If it is still stringy and really wet, let it sit for awhile longer.  Keep the flubber stored in the ziploc bag in between uses.  Flubber lasts anywhere from two to four weeks, depending on how often it is used.  Use your discretion on if you feel the flubber should be thrown out.

 

Flubber is an easy, fun, and simple way that you can add a great tactile element to your curriculum.  It’s awesome for adults too!!

 

Enjoy!

Anitra

 

 

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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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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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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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Sensorial

Knobless Cylinders-A twist on a Montessori classic

By Anitra

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

The Montessori classroom has different areas that each have a different focus.  The Sensorial Area of a Montessori classroom introduces concepts that focus on all five of the child’s senses.  The purpose of the work in the Sensorial Area is to assist and prepare children to be logical, perceptive, and aware of their environment and world.  It teaches such concepts as discrimination and order; visual discrimination in differences of dimension, width, length, size and color.  Tactile works are used to determine variations in roughness and smoothness, just as in the works that determine varying tones using their auditory sense.  Other works narrow in on the gustation or the ways in which we determine the basic of taste.  There are many Sensorial works that focus on just one of the senses, where many of the works encompasses two or more of the senses.  Like any of the other areas in a Montessori classroom, the works are placed and introduced in developing order; from concrete to abstract; and from simple to complex.

I have decided to discuss one of the “classic” Montessori Sensorial activities.  The Knobless Cylinders are a staple in a true, authentic Montessori classroom.  The work consists of four wooden boxes; each with a different colored lid.  The colors of each box are red, yellow, green, and blue. Each box contains a set of ten cylinders in the designated colors. The red box contains red wooden cylinders that vary in diameter.  The yellow box contains yellow wooden cylinders that vary in height and diameter.  The green box contains green wooden cylinders that vary from height and diameter.  The blue box contains blue wooden cylinders that vary in diameter.

        

 

 

 

 

 

 

The purpose of the Knobless Cylinders is to determine the differences in similar shapes.  It also helps with hand eye coordination and small motor skills.  I choose to add a bit of a “twist” to this classic Montessori work, and have added felt mats to use for each box.  I found inexpensive felt mats in the corresponding colors, and when I introduced this work initially, I included the felt mat.

I personally feel that it gives the child another way of keeping their work area tidy, and keeps things nice and orderly.  They must take each of the items to their rug individually, and begin with unrolling the felt mat first.  They then open the box, and place it on top of the lid. they may then choose to order the cylinders, use the control cards, or build a tower.  Once they are done with the work, they must take each of the items to the shelf individually, and make sure to roll up the felt mat as well.

I came across these felt mat years ago, and have used them faithfully ever sense.  Sometimes, I find that it is ok to add to the Montessori works; as long as it is not a distraction or takes away from the purpose of the work.  As long as the children enjoy using them as well, there is nothing wrong with adding a little fun and variety to a classic Montessori work.

Anitra

 

 

 

 

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