Thursday, July 28, 2011

0-10 Acorn Counting

With the beginning of the school year approaching, ideas of new works are popping in to my head!  This was super easy to make.  The acorn leaf paper I've had for years.. It was given to me by a former co-worker.  It was actually a tablet of paper.  I used my number stickers and laminated the paper.  I got the acorns at Michaels. 

It will take at least 2 bags of the acrons (they were $3.99 each but remember your coupon!)  There are two different sizes of acorns in the bag  and I wanted them to be all the same size.  After taking count when I got home, I found I was 5 short.  But thankfully I just happend to have some extras in my Thanksgiving box from last year to make 55.  Love it when that happens!
Here's a close up

Now I just need to decide if I should put them out in September, October, or November!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

boomerang art

For our Australia study this year we talked a lot about the animals, the land, and the native people the Aborigines.  We looked at many pictures of their art and paintings first and read books about their culture and how they used boomerangs to hunt!  (which was news to me!)  We made these boomerangs and they were a hit!  I cut the shape out of brown poster board and showed them at circle time different ways to do it. 

I wish I had some pictures of theirs to post on here!  Everyone's was so unique.  Some kids even painted suns and turtles on them.  We hung them up at school and then made an Aborigine painting boarder with 2x11 strips of black, green, and red paper.  Each child made a boarder or two (with 'lines and dots') to put around our boomerangs!  It really looked beautiful up there for our Australia study!

Land and Water Globe Art

This is a work I do every few years at the beginning of a geography study after introducing the land and water globe.  This is a black line master that I copy on blue construction paper.  I put glue in a little jar and water it down a bit so it's a thin consistency.  I show them to paint the glue where the land is and then sprinkle sand out of a salt shaker!  It's a favorite every time we do it!

1-10 Thematic Counting

This is a 1-10 counting activity from on of our fellow Montessori bloggers, Tiffany.  
She used 2"x4" labels and backed on cardstock cut to 3"x5".  She found clipart that related to the fall and added numbers in 24 pt font (this is the best size for paper clips).  You could use clothes pins or any fun clips that relate to your theme.  She plans on making them for each of her unit studies. 
You might even be able to find theme related clothespins!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The famous Montessori Suction Cup Pads!

Every Montessori classroom has these suction cup pads out on their practical life shelves at one time of year or another.  They can be a bit hard to find and I totally scored when I came across these!  I think they are made to be a bath toy as they are flat on the other side so they'd be for a child to make shapes out of...similar to tangrams.  
They are great to use with water, beads, or pom pom balls as these cups are a bit bigger than the average so  they are a bit more diverse!  

 Made by Discovery toys, there are at least 20 in the box of lots of different shapes.  Stars and moons for a solar system study, hearts for valentines day, flowers for botany, and even an octagon for your transportation unit!

I love putting a few of the basic shaped ones out at the beginning of the year with color coded pom pom balls.  
I believe you can find the classic white circle ones at Amazon (I've had good luck finding these at garage sales) and you can get shaped ones (ducks,dolphins, etc) in the bath section at Fred Meyer.  Although you have to buy a pack of eight...all the same...but then your friends will love you because you can share!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wheel of Rhythm

Another way to add music to your classroom is by having a variety of rhythm instruments!  I like to have a lot of structure in these activities otherwise it can turn chaotic fast!  After multiple lessons on how to play each instrument (over the course of a few months) it's fun to mix it up a bit.  
The Wheel of Rhythm is something I made to do just that!  I start by passing out the instruments at circle.  I spin the top part (or have a child spin it) and whatever instrument appears in the window is what is played.  Usually to one of the "beats" we've learned or they choose their favorite.
Here's a close up of the 'window'.  There is also a window of green meaning 'everyone play' and red for everyone to stop!

This is just made from 2 pieces of poster board, some die cuts (that I did at Ben Franklin) and pictures I took of  instruments.  I printed them out so they are all the same size.  What makes it spin is a rivet used for scrapbooking.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Practical Life Organization

 Every school has a different system as far as organizing their materials go.  The practical life objects are materials that are used so often it needs to be accessible and easy for when you're switching out your works! Even when your not switching out practical life these objects come in handy for counting works, science's endless!  One of my best friends, Mia, came up with this idea.  These are plastic storage containers from IKEA.  They are perfect for the job!
 You can see everything so easily.

 And they stack on each other for easy storage!  I currently use about 9 of them to hold all my practical life objects but I could use more!  These are one of the items at IKEA that you cannot mail order- unfortunately.

Heavy Light Sorting

To go along with all the other general Montessori science and cosmic curriculum such as living/ non-living, and plant/animal I made heavy/light.  I just looked through my objects and also found things around the house.  For the presentation I read the labels and talk about what heavy and light mean then choose one item out of the basket at a time to "weigh" and decide if it's heavy or light!

Cards and Counters Extension and Variety

These are really simple cards and counter cards I made last year.  I like to switch out math works and counting manipulative's often and between my own materials and what the school has we have so many different objects!  So I just made these cards that go from 1-10 in all different colors and sizes.  Some on plain paper some on patterned.  Erasers, flat marbles, seasonal objects like plastic hearts for Valentines day or jingle bells for Christmas are so inviting and gives ample opportunity for the kids to practice combining the correct amount of quantity to the symbol!  This was very easy and I did them in one night.  The numbers are actually stickers.  If you ever see a Pepsi or Coke delivery person in your local grocery store you can ask them for these!  They have binders and binders full of them!  Telling people you're a local preschool teacher seems to go a long with people and they are happy to share!  

Song Book

We all know so many songs for the classroom!  Some general fun songs, some seasonal or holiday songs, songs for specifics units we're studying...but I always had a hard time organizing them.  I wanted them all in one spot to make it easy to access while in the moment at circle or when I'm doing my circle time lesson plans according to a theme.  So this is what I made.  
I just spent a few weeks ( a little each night) typing out the lyrics to the songs I wanted to include and grouped them by topic.  I put them in sheet protectors and into a 3 ring binder. When I started there wasn't this many but I add to it a little each year as I think of it or when we're studying something new and I've learned new songs.  I save it in a Word Document so I can easily add to it in the right place.

This is the first page just to give you an idea of what it looks like.  General hello songs are always good to know and have a variety on hand to start each morning with at circle!
I play guitar as well so if I know the chords I also put them in there as well so that's easy access too!

The dividers separating the topics by subject, holiday, or theme.

Magic Song Bag :)

It seems like one of the most important aspects of the classroom is music.  Singing, instruments, and movement activities can bring everyone together and help strengthen the classroom community.  Songs are often one of the things kids "bring home" from school.  When asked, "What did you do at school today?" they often can't remember as far as work they did or lessons they had because they are so fluidly moving from one activity to another.  However, if asked, "What did you sing at circle today" they can often remember the songs and then teach the song to their families!  It's probably the most common thing I hear from parents...what songs the kids are talking about and singing at home!  What a great home-school connection!
A few years back I started the "Magic Song Bag".  Just using the word magic gets everyone instantly engaged!  At our school one of the jobs on the job chart is 'songs'.  This child (switched weekly) gets to choose the songs out of the song bag everyday at circle.  Usually 1-2 depending on the time we have and the length of the song.  It also allows for much diversity in what we're singing everyday.  It's so easy to just get stuck in your song rut and sing the same ones over and over again!  

I have about 25-30 'song cards' in the bag all illustrated to represent the song title.  Below are six of some commonly known preschool songs.  "When ducks get up in the morning, Tiny Tim, Fly Like a Butterfly, Rainbow, ABC's in sign language, and I am a Pizza'.
Once we sing the song we hang up the card on the wall by circle to help keep track of what we've sang and so the parents can see too!

This is a well loved activity everyday and never gets old!  I do want a more beautiful song bag and am keeping my eyes peeled.  This is just what I had on hand when I started this and it works just fun!  I'd just prefer something a bit more lovely :)

Animals of the Continents

I love the geography area of the classroom!  It seems like the kids gravitate toward anything with small objects.  It also appears that as far as learning about different places around the world, animals are something that they can relate to and connect with.  Therefore having something familiar to connect with a place as far away as Asia helps them realize the diversity in all these places!  
This work is made from felt.  I collected many different animals from toy stores, Michaels, and even my own son's collection (with his permission of course!).  I have it set up in a large basket with the felt all folded nicely and the continents and animals on top.

This is the control book.  I show them how to arrange the continents just like on the picture.
 Opened up it has all 7 continents (again, color coded)  with the native animals underneath.  I show the kids to do one continent at a time.  There is anywhere from 2-5 animals per continent depending on what I could find!  

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Weather Unit

Weather is one of my favorite units to do. Especially in March because here in the Northwest we usually get a little of everything including Rainbows which are perfect to go with St. Patrick's Day!
Here's some of my weather activities.

I had cut out the clouds out of tissue paper and the kids pin poked raindrops throughout the month

Weather Bingo made from 'Google Images'

Types of weather three part cards.  Again 'Google Images'
 We did a lot of different things with clouds but studying and classifying the types of clouds was a lot of fun.  We stuck to the three basic kinds: Cirrus, stratus, and cumulus.  Throughout the month I'd hear the kids say things like, "there's the stratus clouds it's going to rain".  That was so cute!

This one was for the art shelf.  Again, we stuck to the three basic kinds of clouds and shaped them out of cotton balls.  When it was dry we stapled them into books. 

Another art project.  We were carefully tracking the weather everyday at circle time with a big weather graph (in above pin pushing picture) so using die cuts, a paper plate, and a brass brad the kids really enjoyed making their own chart to track the weather at home!

This is what we'd do at circle each morning.  We had a thermometer just outside our window to check the temp., decide if it was windy or not, and we'd glue a little symbol (made from punches) on the day.

Throughout the year we'd track the weather everyday using colored marbles and jars labeled with clouds, sun, rain, or snow. At the end of each season we'd tally it up!

I believe this was bought from 'Sisters in Stitches' felt company.  They make the greatest stuff!  Here's their site  
We talked a lot about the water cycle and this was a great visual aid for the kids to work with at circle and on their own!

Math - Spinner Addition

Not the greatest picture (sorry!)

Another way to just mix up basic addition!  The kids seem to love any activity involving a dice or a spinner.  You can get these spinner boards in packs at Lakeshore Learning.  
It's just as simple as it looks with a spinner, addition paper, and two bowls with different objects.
It's fun to switch out the objects throughout the year and relate it to the current season, holiday, or unit that you're studying.  I put this out in late spring hence the frogs and butterflies.  Switching the type of addition paper to a different format or using graph paper keeps them coming back over and over again!

Continent Sewing

 We did a year long geography study this year focusing on one each continent one at a time.  I was constantly trying to think of new ideas to keep it exciting and fresh while also reiterating the basics of Montessori geography such as  the continent color coding.  This is a super simple sewing work I had on the art shelf.  I wanted to simply use the Africa puzzle piece from the world map but it wouldn't fit in the embroidery hoop I had, so I had to minimize it first on the copy machine.  I just kept a card stock master on hand to trace them onto the burlap.  I also put red dots around the outline indicating where their stitches should go.  (this seemed to really help as I've noticed in past sewing activities they tend to make their stitches really big!).  They turned out great!

Here's a look at the finished product.  For the older kids they'd fill in the middle and the younger ones would simply go around the edges.

Compost Recycle and Garbage Sorting!

Reduce Reuse Recycle!
This is a work I made for my Eco Unit.  (More details to come on that whole unit later)  This was a classroom favorite and in constant use!  I spray painted 2 small tin containers (olive containers I think).  One green, one blue, and I left one silver.  I used scrapbooking stickers for the words and went through all my objects to come up with with even amounts for recycle, compost, and garbage.  We had read a few books on the subject and had a few group discussions on what those are before presenting the work.  Of course they loved all the objects to work with!  

Friday, July 15, 2011

Around the World Famous Landmarks

One of my favorite areas of the classroom is the geography/cultural area.  I'm always searching for more ideas and especially manipulatives to invite the kids to the works!  I'm a big fan of the 'Safari Ltd. Toobs'.  It seems like they have them for everything from animals to people to now famous landmarks around the world.  Michaels sells them and if you bring your 40% coupon they are only around $5!  I did a Google Image search for the landmarks, image copied them into a MS Publisher, cut out and laminated!  They are ready for the shelf in September!

Color Box 3 Layout Mat

This is something I've wanted to make forever!  I found that every time a child did color box 3 it was very tricky for them to set out the tablets in the circular pattern.  So I made this out of felt!  Super simple and easy!  Felt, felt glue, and a dinner plate to trace for the circle!  At our school we have a small crystal globe (that my director picked up from a thrift store) that we can put in the center.  You could place your Montessori globe, or get a fun crystal from Michaels or other craft store, in the center just to beautify it!  As soon as school starts up again I'll get a picture of it with all the color tablets laid out!