Simple Color Sorting

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Who knew colorful puff balls could be so entertaining. We already had some but apparently ones of different colors and shapes brought on a whole new world of play. I found these at the Dollar Tree and I’m probably going to go back and get one or two more of the different color variety packs.

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They are also really great for color sorting activities and counting activities. I gave my almost-3-year-old some measuring spoons to scoop the balls and sort them into a container (in the picture below). I have her say each color out loud as she puts one in. Color sorting is old news for my 5-year-old so she decided to build a bunch of mini-snowman (in the picture above).

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Great for counting practice too.  ^

Another great color sorting material I found at the Dollar Tree are these heart beads. We use the basic pony beads a lot for color sorting and stringing but changing up the shape makes it new again! Worth the one dollar.

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Pouring and scooping practice. I found the pack of mini paper cups at the Dollar Tree as well.

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I should have snapped a photo of all the mess that was made afterwards when they discovered how fun it is to dump everything and scramble it all over the floor (but that quickly turned into clean up time)!

No-Mess Sensory Bin for Creative Play

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I’ve seen really neat sensory bins and tubs all over the internet. In fact, we have had fun with our rice sensory bin and sand activity many times. However, the idea behind this one is that it does NOT take me 15 minutes to vacuum up hundreds of pieces of rice or piles of sand afterwards. Sometimes I am simply too exhausted to get out messy activities! So, with that said, this sensory bin I can have right on her shelf and she can play with the random stuff whenever she likes.

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In the bin are a package of glass “gems” found at the dollar store. I also have used these in our ABC bingo game. Also, I threw in some scoops and measuring spoons. The rest of the objects are random tiny things that I have been storing away for the past year in order to keep my 15 month old from choking on. In the photo above she is using two different scoops to transfer objects, so this is great “practical life” practice as well!

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Above, my daughter is using her mini pink flashlight to examine coins and things. If you’re wondering what that glowing thing in the photo at the top of this post is all about, it is actually her shining her flash light through one of the glass gems!

Another point of interest is that I threw in  an old container that originally contained cinnamon toothpicks. She gets a kick out of smelling it. I bet I could find other fragrant things to add next time. Coffee beans?

I would love to hear other ideas! Thanks for reading.

 

Montessori Your Home #1

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Most of us familiar with the Montessori method of education know that Practical Life activities (learning how to help with everyday cleaning, self-care, etc.) are very important to establish in the early years of life. Part of this is having items necessary for a child’s growing independence accessible. One very easy way to do this is to give your toddler or preschooler a cupboard (or drawer) of their own in the kitchen that they can access themselves.

As you can see above, I have cleared out one of our bottom cupboards for my 3-year-old’s dishware, so that she can grab a bowl, cup, and silverware all by herself during snack and meal times. We have had this cupboard for her for over a month and she has loved it!  She enjoys being able to choose from what she eats out of and with. She also usually has napkins in there, and a pitcher for practicing pouring. Unfortunately, she has a lot of plastic stuff in her cupboard. My goal is to eventually replace those items with non-plastic items. The Sippy cups in the back of the cupboard are stored there for her 15-month-old sister. We have graduated my older daughter from Sippy cups, even though they sure were a lot easier.  She does like to sneak her sister’s Sippy cups when I’m not looking.

If you can’t spare a cupboard or drawer you could always try a tiny shelf in the kitchen or dining area.

The beauty of having accessible areas for my daughter is that it does make it easier for me, too! 😉

 

the power of puzzles

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Puzzles are great. They are an activity that encourages problem-solving, hand-eye coordination, concentration, fine motor skills, and the list surely goes on. I found a pack of four mini puzzles from the dollar store. Yes, they are cheap and made of cardboard and will not last very long, but I have had the hardest time finding simple mini puzzles with only a few pieces anywhere else. Usually my 3-and-a-half-year-old needs a lot of assistance to complete puzzles, but these  mini ones only have 3-8 puzzle pieces each. She can do them by herself as one of her shelf activities.

I highly recommend puzzles for preschoolers.

 

Color Sorting and Counting with Mini Pom Poms!

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This is a Montessori-inspired many-in-one activity for preschoolers! It can be as simple as sorting the colors into different cups, or become more challenging if you add some counting exercises. If you look closely I’ve added tweezers as an option to practice picking up the small pom poms with.

I’ve included the number cards as a way to add more challenge. Which ever number is next in the pile is how many she sorts into one of the cups!

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These mini pom poms are just another way to mix up materials and make learning more fun! They are very inexpensive, come in so many different colors, and can be utilized in many different activities.

Another fun counting exercise: http://everyonecanmontessori.com/2014/02/27/counting-with-cotton-balls/

🙂

 

 

DIY ABC BINGO

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This game is an excellent way to get your child to practice their letter sounds! It’s simple, straightforward, and fun. Not to mention SO easy to prepare and very inexpensive. Also, it’s a great way to introduce game playing and turn taking to small children.

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I found the colored foam sheets for the Bingo cards at our local Dollar store. You could use construction paper just the same, though. I found the glass “gems” at the Dollar store as well. I used a permanent marker to draw a grid and write in random letters, and a star for a “free space”.

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The glass “gems” are fun for preschoolers to get their hands on, too. I will definitely be trying to think up other activities to utilize them in.

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Anyway, I cut index cards in half to make the mini letter cards in which to call out the Bingo letters. My daughter and I took turns of who would be calling out the letter sounds per game. I am focusing on the letter sounds as opposed to letter names because we are in process of learning phonics reading. This Bingo game is great because you can choose whether you want to focus on naming the letters of the alphabet, or just the sounds that the letters make. In addition, you can make the game more challenging by not showing the visual letter, and having your child figure out which one you’re talking about only by sound.

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After playing for a while I realized we needed a bit more of a challenge because we were both winning very quickly. I think have a smaller grid with fewer letters is excellent for beginners of the alphabet, but I soon realized that we could definitely “up” the challenge with a larger grid for my preschooler (as shown above).

After playing this game with my daughter a few times, I have become aware that she has retained a lot more knowledge of letter sounds than I previously expected. Like most 3-year-olds, she’s very distractible and has a limited attention span, so often times it’s hard to gauge how much she’s truly retaining. Making learning fun, as with this bingo game, reveals a lot.

~Thanks for reading~

 

 

The Montessori Language Program is Awesome

 

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I have barely scratched the surface in trying to teach my three-year-old all of the different Montessori methods, and yet I’m already seeing progress. The video below is very informative about the Montessori language program, and is part of what inspired me to go ahead and try and teach her how to read (something I previously hadn’t realized as a possibility at her age). I have been surprised at how interested she has been with learning letters, letter sounds, and words. All day long she goes around sounding out simple words, and a lot of times makes up her own goofy spellings (and thinks it’s hilarious). In the video, it is mentioned that younger children, around 3-years-of-age, are actually in their prime to introduce the concept of reading. This is because at this age children have “absorbent minds”, and desire to repeat things over and over (a key to learning).

Anyway,  you’ll notice that in the video the children are taught cursive handwriting. I don’t intend to begin by teaching my children cursive, but I definitely think it should still be introduced in schools. The particular Montessori classroom in the video looks wonderful. I wish I could send me daughters there!

children & paint are like peas & carrots

watercolors

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In the photo above, my daughter is painting from a booklet that has the ready-to-go paints on each page. She has a  basic watercolor set, but these paint booklets are sort of a novelty for kids. I first introduced watercolors to my daughter when she was a lot younger, maybe two-years-old, and it took a lot of explanation. Now that she’s almost three-and-a-half she has no trouble at all using the watercolors by herself.

less messy painting

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Here she is using the do-a-dot art paint pen set. These were a gift to her so I’m not sure where they were purchased. Probably most craft stores carry them, or try Amazon. These are great because sometimes I don’t have the time nor the energy to get out finger paints (which she needs help cleaning up afterwards), but she still can get her paint kicks out.

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She also has fun with this activity because of the little bottles and the caps that need to be screwed on and off. It sort of duals as a fine motor development exercise with all of the unscrewing of the caps. And she has fun sorting the bottles together. Anything that requires coordination and concentration is preparing her for later being able to excel in the classroom. It all counts!

~Thanks for reading~

books are for babies too

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Once upon a time we had a shelf for all of our books, but that shelf went to my daughter’s Montessori school area. So, for now, we just sort of have this chaotic reading area. Hey, it works! In the photo above my 14-month-old is sitting in a chair flipping through a board book, which she does frequently and daily. If we didn’t have this reading corner, then she wouldn’t be looking at the books. We do have books so she does look (we read a lot of Dr. Seuss). My older daughter likes to sit here and flip through books as well. Some times they like to stack the books, and then the little one likes to pull them all down. I would like to point out that many of our books are from our local Goodwill store, which often has many children’s books in good condition.

Anyway, my point is that having reading materials low and accessible for children brings the idea of books into their consciousness daily. It becomes an expected part of their environment, and maybe–just maybe–it makes them more likely to think of picking up a book on a regular basis.

~Thanks for reading~

penmanship with a preschooler

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I found this dry erase writing board (cardboard, more like it) at our local Dollar Store. It is great to introduce writing in between lines and such (AKA penmanship). At this stage, it isn’t a huge deal that I teach my three-year-old how to write with perfect penmanship, though. Just sort of fun… or, interesting… to introduce. 😉

As you can see, I have a couple of her sandpaper letters out for her to try and write after tracing them with her finger. The sandpaper letters really do help in having her understand how to write letters — I recommend them to everyone with a preschooler (even as just a supplement for kids that already are in a preschool)! I found mine at Montessori Outlet. I have my eyes on the knobbed and knob-less cylinders from Montessori Outlet (they look really awesome)… but they are still a bit out of my budget!

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So, as you can see above, my daughter doesn’t really care to write in between lines, but that’s okay! I am just impressed that she’s writing at all. If I don’t make any rules about it then she has a lot more fun anyway. When she’s a bit older I can be more goal-oriented with her lessons, maybe, but by then she’ll hopefully be in a Montessori school where she will have other guidance.

~Thanks for reading~