Monday, April 20, 2015

Montessori Inspired Preschool Recycle Game

With Earth Day approaching, I pulled out this old recycling activity! Henry and I used it way back in our spring unit when he was just 2!


This time, I was able to explain the process of recycling and how it was a job in the community. We talked about the process of recycling and how we recycle at our own home. I asked him if he would want to sort the recycling too, and he was thrilled. He decided that a work helmet was 100 percent necessary for this task! 


To play, gather some recyclables from your house. Place 4 cards -- paper, plastic, metal, and glass  -- around the room. For younger children, like the first time I did it with Henry I only pointed out the differences in the materials. For older children, you can explain more about the process! Then, set the preschool/toddler free. 


Henry enjoyed running around and sorting the items. Nora enjoyed eating them! This is the perfect hands on, gross motor, cheap way to introduce recycling, different materials and helping the Earth! 


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Friday, April 17, 2015

Laminated Flower Exploration for Babies

One of the things that I love about Montessori is that it emphasizes the beauty of the natural world from the earliest age. It focuses on what's real, true and concrete. There is so much beauty in the real world and to discover it through the eyes of a child is a gift. 

Now that Spring is upon us, I want to give Nora the opportunity to discover some of our natural world. So, I created this flower exploration tray. 

Botany, Montessori, preschool, spring

However, instead of using plain flowers, I choose to laminate flowers and flower petals instead. This allowed the flowers to withstand some not-so-gentle hands, and kept actual flowers out of Nora's mouth. I'm no expert in what types of plants are safe to eat or not, so I didn't want to risk anything. Also, this allows the work to last for a bit longer. 

In order to laminate, I had to pick smaller delicate flowers if I wanted to laminate the whole thing. If the flowers were thicker, I pulled the petals off and laminated them on their own. The heat from the laminator did discolor a few of the petals, but not so much that they couldn't be used. In fact, I think many of them were down right beautiful. Once laminated, I cut large circles so they flowers could easily be manipulated by little hands. 


To present, I placed the flowers in a basket-tray for Nora to discover. She was immediately intrigued and had to have a taste! She spent a long time just watching them move as she crinkled the sheets in her hands. She tried in vain to pick the smaller flowers apart from the paper to eat. 


I also liked these because they were great fine motor practice for her. She had to work to pick up the sheets from the floor, yet the flowers made her completely motivated to do so. As Nora was exploring each flower I kept up a conversation. I kept it simple so it wouldn't distract from her own concentration. Mostly things like "look at the yellow flower," "blue flower," or "I like the purple petals." 


This basket will go on Nora's shelves for this month so she is able to explore the flowers throughout the month. I will say, that because some of the flowers are thicker there was some air between some of the flowers and the lamination. It wasn't enough to effect the lamination, but the flowers have faded some over the past few days.  


Nora wasn't the only one who liked the basket. Henry was also drawn the flowers. He really enjoyed being able to look closely at the flowers. The lamination made it really easy to get a good look at the flowers. He has returned to this tray as many times as Nora has. I may have him draw the flowers as an easy extension soon.


For an older child, these could make an easy addition to a botany study. These laminated flowers would also be great on a light table, or could be used to identify the parts of a flower. I may try doing some other plants too! 


This flower exploration is an easy way to introduce science and botany to babies. It's the perfect combination of sensory and science. I hope you can enjoy as much as we have! 

12 Months of Montessori Learning! 

This post is brought to you as part of the 12 Months of Montessori Learning series. Our theme this month is botany. Visit these great bloggers for more Montessori and Montessori inspired botany posts! 


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Monday, April 13, 2015

DIY Solar System Map with Free Printables

Like many 4-year-olds, Henry is in love with space! I needed a easy, cheap Montessori inspired way to teach Henry about the planets and came up with this DIY solar system. As I mentioned in our Montessori inspired space unit, this map has been a huge hit! And, it's way easier to make than it looks! 

Montessori, space, solar system, printables, preschool

To make you'll need:

  • Black felt
  • White embroidery floss 
  • Chalk
  • 8 wooden balls in assorted sizes 
  • Large wooden circle 
  • Acrylic paint



First, to make this map, you need to make the planets. I used wooden balls and sized them according to their real sizes. Therefore, Mercury is the smallest, Jupiter is the biggest and everything else is in between. I used acrylic paint to on the wood. Then, painted the larger circle as the sun. 


Next, you need to make the actual solar system map. This was the most time consuming step. To make, lay the sun in the center of your felt. Then, using the chalk, draw 8 circles around the sun. The first four are closer to each other and then spread out.

I used chalk because its easy to see on the black, and can be easily erased if your circles need a little work -- I know mine did! 


Once the circles are drawn, you can use the embroidery thread to start sewing. Follow the lines you've drawn until each of the eight circles are completed. I just used a basic stitch because that is the extent of my sewing knowledge. 


Once the sewing is done, you can use my free printable to complete the project! The printable includes the small planet cards, the names and the control map. The images in the printable are real pictures of the planets from NASA. I chose to mount the small planet pictures to a small tile of wood  with some modge podge to add a little strength, but that's not necessary.  



This project was way easier and cheaper than I could have imagined. It took some time to sew all the circles, but it's been a great hands on way to teach Henry about the solar system. Hopefully, it's the same for you! 

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Monday, April 6, 2015

Montessori Work Shelves at 8 Months

As Nora has gotten older, it was time to switch out her Montessori work from the work she had at six months. Most of this work has been placed on her work shelves in her bedroom space for the last several weeks. 


Ribbon Basket -- This is just a small basket filled with different ribbons. The ribbons are different colors and textures to keep Nora's interest. Nora loved these. I left the top on this basket, which provided even more fun for Nora. 


Object Permanence Box -- This classic Montessori work was an instant hit, but not for the box. Nora loved the ball. She would take it and bring it up to the hole, but was reluctant to drop the ball. Eventually she dropped the ball and was very excited it came back out. I'll probably leave this out for awhile until she really gets the hang of it.    


Peg and Cup -- This is another traditional infant material. I made this from a cup and peg that I found at a craft store. I rubbed it in a bit of olive oil to protect the wood. Nora absolutely loved this. Henry has a set of rainbow peg people that she always wants. This gave her, her own person to chew on. Plus trying to place it into the cup was a big challenge and great fine motor work. 


Seashells Sensory Basket -- This small basket included a small glass jar filled with tiny seashells and a larger shell. The large shell allowed her to explore the texture of a seashell and the smaller jar allowed her to safely see all sorts of shapes and colors of the shells. Nora loved to shake the shells and put the jar in her mouth. Henry also loved this work. 


Grain Sensory Bottles -- These are a new addition to our work, and one of the first things I put in the kitchen for Nora. We have a low cabinet filled with the children's plates/cups/utensils and Henry's other kitchen things. Nora loves this cabinet but was being a tad messy when dragging it all out. To distract her, I placed these sensory bottles in the cabinet. 


The bottle are filled with quinoa and wild brown rice. The jars themselves are from a craft store and the basket (that I love and need a million more of!) is from the Target dollar spot. Nora loves these jars. They both make a great sound and are interesting. 


Language Basket -- This language basket continues to be popular with Nora. This basket was on her play shelf in our living room.


To be clear, this work is addition to the Montessori-friendly toys that Nora uses in our home. I love this work, it has been so engaging and I can't wait to prepare more for her! 

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