Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Going, going, gone - Transportation Part 2

Transportation units are fun: there are just so many possibilities in terms of work for the children. I always try to include a lot of choices involving fine motor skills, art, math, language, and all. Here is a sample of the rest of our transportation week...

Spray painting a new coat of paint on a car
Looking for a way to develop your child's fine motor skills? This might just be it. Using a spray bottle is not easy for children but it works the muscles needed for handwriting so give it a go by suggesting your child spray paint a new coat of paint onto a car. In the summertime, I usually draw a HUGE car and send the kids to spray paint outside. In the colder months, a small sheet of paper with a plastic tray does just fine.

Hammering a new train track
In terms of practical life, hammering is a good one. Most people will pick up a hammer at some point in their life so it's useful to know how to hold a nail and how to hit it right. To make it fun, I proposed an egg carton, golf tees and a hammer too in order to build a makeshift train track. It wasn't easy to hold the nail and hammer in the right place but my daughter got through it proudly. 

Drawing an airplane using the oval inset
We've worked a lot with the circle inset and it is going well so I added the oval inset this week. Instead of simply tracing the inside, I suggested we make an airplane out of it. Tracing just to trace has become a bit boring for my 3 year old so adding "a design" makes it more enjoyable.

Various transportation mode puzzles
We have an impressive collection of peg puzzles and floor puzzles here but they seem to be accumulating dust lately. In honor of transportation week, I thus decided to bring some out! Some made sounds, some helped with the ABCs, some were pattern matching ones, and so overall, it provided a good variety.

Blocks on the truck
I saw this cute printable a year ago or so on The Measured Mom (who, by the way, is terrific at creating  free and original printables!) and saved it for later days. You see, my son, who is 6, would find this work way to easy so I waited patiently for my daughter to age so I could print it and offer it on her shelves. Well, here it is! I provided numbers 1-5 and several girly blocks for the truck. She'd pick a number and put that quantity of blocks on the dump truck.

Vehicle snack
Well, this is something we've done before...at least, I did make this for my son's Cars birthday party a few years ago. It was easy to make so this time, I thought the kids could do it themselves...and they did. I had a model car of course and one ready for assembly. Easy peasy!

Red Rod Maze for mini vehicles
So we don't own a full size set of red rods. Hey, we home school so sometimes, I prefer to invest in other things. We made our own set of red rods (a miniature set) and it works just as well, believe me. My daughter has mastered sizing up the rods so to offer an extension, I showed her how to make a maze with the rods. She loved it and built it several times. We added mini Cars vehicles and it made it even better!

Hot air balloon folding and gluing
Although not a major type of transportation, I always feel like the hot air balloon is forgotten! :( I precut 4 shapes resembling a hot air balloon and all that needed to be done was a fold in the middle of each and then each fold had to be glued to another one until it came full circle. I looked for a string but of course, they were all gone so we used a pipe cleaner to suspend it. The original post suggested more than 4 shapes by the way and theirs looks much more colorful for for my youngsters, I felt this would be plenty!

Fully assembled hot air balloon ready for flight!
Language: Get them talking
Unable to find a picture of my daughter in or close to a vehicle, I picked one of her brother sitting on a motorcycle. My goal: to get her talking about the picture by asking open-ended questions that get her thinking. Of course she started with who was in the picture and what he was sitting on but she had to think more about the weather that day or the season for example. She required clues for those (look at the clothing. Any shade anywhere?) Questions such as : "Why is he sitting on this motorcycle?" were easier for her since they were more speculative. I got her cracking when I asked her if it was Adrian's motorcycle! :)

Tire rolling
Fun times. How far can little tires go? Zahavah rolled each one and we discussed which one was furthest/closest. Which one was first and last in the tire race and such. Fun, easy, wordy. 

Materials for race down the ramp
Race down the ramp - Science!
Transportation offers such good simple science activities! This one is of of my favorites. We inclined a plank of wood so a car could roll down. We varied the incline using different props to see if the car would go further or not and as a pièce de résistance, we modified the plank itself by adding components on top to see if some materials would make the car roll faster/slower. Needless to say, it created quite a ruckus in the "classroom". It was fun to see what the kids thought would accelerate/decelerate the car too. As you can see, tape did not help Lightning McQueen win THIS race! :)

Science : Air, Land, Water
First time exploring air, land, water is always a bit "prickly". Water is quite easy to understand and identify, land is well, quite allright too but air? Always a tough concept for the kiddos. Thankfully, with the Montessori approach, it's a lot easier. More "tangible" if you will. Although at first sight, there is "nothing" in the first jar, there actually is and it's all around us: air! I presented the jars and cards and we    talked about about how our lungs fill with air and we can feel our ribcage moving as such. 

Following up on air, land, water
A quick follow up for the previous activity can be done with different types of vehicles: namely planes, boats, cars, etc. Zahavah's job was to sort through the vehicles and match them to the appropriate card. No trouble here! Concept was learned!

Air, land, water cards
Reinforcement for the air, land, water concept is always nice (so is revision of course!) so I printed these cards to match with the air, water, land cards. Once again, Zahavah confirmed that she understood the difference in between all three.

Engineer a ship with straws, foil and a plastic cup
Hmm. These challenges, although fun are hard to my daughter. I offered a bundle of straws, a long sheet of foil and a plastic cup. The goal: Make a boat for the the Lego man using the materials provided. At first, she didn't know where to start. I prompted her with a "do boats float or sink?" She knew they floated so I asked her to look for materials that floated. She started with the foil. It floated but  was it strong enough? The straws floated too but they scattered. Not good. The man would fall through; the foil would get water on. She decided to combine both. She wrapped a bunch of straws with the foil. It worked...for a while. Water started to get in the straws! That's when the cup got handy for the man. To make sure it wouldn't sink though, she re-wrapped her straws so the endings would be covered in foil too. Success!

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Going, Going, Gone : Transportation Part 1

I'm not gonna lie: a big part of me associates the transportation theme with little boys! I know, it's shameful. Extremely sexist but once against, my daughter set the clocks right for me at least! :) A lot of our activities were actually "borrowed" from my son's when he did a similar week back in preschool and I received no protests from my girly girl. I also brought it some new ones of course! :)

Matching letters using cars and parking spaces
Vroom, vroom, vroom. Or is it zoom, zoom, zoom? No matter what kind of noise your cars make, this activity is a win-win! Tape each car with a letter and make a "parking lot" with the same letters. The child now has to match car and parking space. I personally chose the letters we've been working on : s, m, a, t, c, r, i, p, h, j, u, l. It helps with letter recognition and is fun at the same time. Original idea? My Montessori Journey

Fine motors at work: hole punching train tickets
All aboard! But wait! Has the conductor punched your ticket yet? This activity was so beloved that I had to re-print tickets! I was more than happy to oblige. Hole punching seems very simple but it's actually very hard for little hands. It helps develop the small muscles needed to write so I highly encourage it. Make it harder by providing construction paper or cardstock. Make it easier by replacing with foil or...by using a scrapbooking type of puncher. Tickets needed? I grabbed mine at The Spaghetti Westerner.

Out of coolant? Time to refill!
Oh no! The car is out of coolant! Time to re-fill! Thanks to colored water, a funnel and glass, the job is "easy"...at first. Re-filling the tiny bottle was quite challenging and demanded great care and attention.

Tire tracks can differ: use paint to prove it!
Does every car has the same tires? Do you think they will make the same tracks? Let's find out! With some paint and a few cars, nothing's easier! Zahavah enjoyed making straight lines in yellow, green and red. She noticed how going slow versus fast also produced a different effect on the paper. Matching the tracks with the cars once her piece of art was finished was also fun.

Indoor car wash for "Matchbox cars"
Well now that the cars were dirty with paint, we had better give them a wash down, right? And we did!  During the summer, we did a car wash but now that it's much cooler, it had to be an indoor one. I provided shaving cream for the soap, a cube sponge (extra work for fine motors), a small pitcher of clean water for rinse-off, a cloth for drying and some sponges for polishing. The tray was a hit. Zahavah washed all the cars...several times. 

How many Puffs of Smoke?
Puffing along! Steam trains puff smoke so using cotton balls and trains from my son's collection, I asked my daughter to put a certain amount of puffs of smoke over each train. She is not at the stage when she recognizes written numbers above 5 so we did it orally since she can go well above 10 in that department! :)

Do a Dot Fun
Do a Dot sheets are all the rage here so I couldn't resist printing a few from the Gift of Curiosity's transportation pack. Each was unique, some even had counting or associations so it was fun AND educational!

Day versus Night: let's sort it out!
During the week, we also did "regular stuff". We practiced our sandpaper letters tracing and sounds and we added a new element of history to our activity time: day and night distinction. Now my daughter has known about day and night for quite a while but it was great to see her sort the day and night cards so fast. She felt so proud of herself for doing this work perfectly the first time! :)

Transportation play dough mats
Yes, play dough is still very much popular in our house; usually, a lot more when it's home made dough and creative challenges. Play dough mats, as I found out, are not all that! :( In case your preschooler wants to give these a try (I thought the ideas were most clever!), head over the Sparklebox for your freebies.

Making a car
Family Fun Crafts had the cutest craft made out of a toilet paper roll, paints and brads. Had to give it a try with my 3 year old. I prepared the car pieces of course. Her job was to paint, assemble the wheels and glue the stickers on. It was ok. Better for older kids. When the adult prepares most of the craft, it's not fun...

Trying out the car on a long cardboard ramp!

Engineering a bridge
Providing only two wooden blocks and straw, I asked my preschooler if she could build a bridge that would support 4lbs of sugar. She examined the straws, weighed the sugar and seemed to think I was challenging her to something impossible. At first, she put the straws down and it didn't look like a bridge at all so I had to remind her that boats should be able to go under AND cars over. Then she started putting several straws on and the sugar went on and held. She was awfully proud. I asked her why she didn't put only one straw and she told me the sugar would be too heavy for it. I also asked her why she put all the straws closely and not far apart and she told me the sugar would fall through. We tried those options and of course, she was right in both cases. The Imagination Tree did a similar activity which greatly inspired this one. Their straws were smaller than ours and the flexi kind so it took more straws and tape was also involved I believe.

Ordinal numbers and a boat race
Although our "pond" was very small, my daughter still had a lot of fun blowing on all three boats to see which would come first, second and third. Older children could easily graph the activity too and see which boat is the fastest.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Woodland Fairies - Part 2

How's the fairy unit inspiring you? Gathered some ideas already? It was quite a fun time for us to explore such a fascinating topic. Best of all, some of these activities will remain available for further play now that the unit has come to an end (i.e. the fairy garden play dough and the house you see below).

Handmade Fairy Tree house
Granted this was not entirely produced by my preschooler, she'll gladly boast to having painted every single cloud and tree you see here. The rest of the credit goes to an idea seen (but no longer seen...) on Disney.Family.Go website and to me for the cutting of the cardboard. The idea was to provide entertainment sure, but also to show how to play gently with items. Too often, children are rough with their toys and this one was most definitely not going to sustain such rough play...The house did not take nearly as long as I expected to cut and assemble (even without the free templates the website used to provide!)...especially considering how happy my little girl was in helping making it, seeing the final result and letting her new fairies try it!

The Cardboard Fairy Tree House...So cool
even 6 year old boys will enjoy them!

Sorting & Counting Butterfly Gems
Butterflies are somehow likely to be associated with fairies so I took this opportunity to get out my beautiful butterfly gems. It made for a great activity of sorting. The blue and dark purple butterflies were so close in color that at first, they were grouped together! Once the final sorting had taken place, we switched to a counting activity. Zahavah loves to count everything so she was very happy to see how many winged creatures were in each group.

Butterfly & Water Beads Transfer
More butterflies? Why not? Using a bathtub anti-slip applique, Zahavah transfered and balanced her favorite new school material : water pearls. It wasn't easy but she delighted in being allowed to manipulate the beads (and seeing them roll off of course!).

Making & Eating Fairy Bread
Hmm. Non-healthy snack in sight? Well, while exploring Oceania with my eldest, we did a lot of Montessori-style activities to keep him engaged. One of those was to make "fairy bread". Needless to say, it also happened to be perfect for Zahavah's thematic week so she was also allowed to make her own fairy bread too...and enjoyed it thoroughly! :)

Fairy Printable Pack
This unit also included a bit of "paperwork", courtesy of 1+1+1=1. I didn't print too many pages since little Z doesn't enjoy worksheets much but for the times where she wants to mimic her big brother, it was helpful and fun.

Chalkboard & Chalk: excellent for handwriting practice

In preparation for handwriting, Zahavah also got to "write" on her own chalkboard with colorful chalk. She's used it before but each time it comes out, she is so happy to see it.

Patterning with flowers from the fairy garden (aka flower buttons!)
Well this was rather hard. Somehow when she is using a worksheet, discovering what comes next is always easy but building a pattern sequence was awfully hard for my little one. Analyzing what came next was also difficult. Hmm. Maybe she was just having an off day...

Grace & Courtesy:
Opening and Closing doors quietly like the tooth fairy
A fairy week would of course not be complete without a grace and courtesy lesson! How does the tooth fairy come in our bedroom to exchange a tooth for money without being seen? She knows how to open and close the bedroom door super quietly of course! We pretended to be fairies with our doors and it seems the lesson has been learned...

Matching butterfly game
These are always fun! Printed off PreKinders, I got for free this nice set of real butterfly photographs for matching. 

Picture Story time!
Writing has been quite fascinating for my daughter. Her brother writes the longest "books" so she's quite wanting to "put down her own words" too. Unfortunately, she isn't quite there yet but to show her that those written symbols do carry a meaning, I printed off this picture for her and asked her to tell me the story that goes with it. I wrote it down for her and showed her each word as we went. She's asked me to read her story several times since.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Woodland Fairies - Part 1

Like most little girls her age, Zahavah loves fairies. Nevermind that they are mythical creatures rarely (if ever) seen in Montessori classrooms...Despite the fictional theme, I still tried to keep in line with some work you'd see in Montessori environments. Here's what my littlest has been up to last week...

Fairy Garden - Hands on Play Dough Moment
Playdough is practically a necessity with preschoolers. I used to always buy the pre-made cans but I've now switched to making my own. Based on an idea seen a while back on Fantastic Fun and Learning, I decided to offer Zahavah the opportunity to create her own fairy garden by providing brown glittery play dough, small twigs, fresh leaves, glass gems, silk flowers, shiny rocks and a Safari Toob of Fairies. Needless to say, this was a very popular activity and it came out every single day.

Fairy Bells Matching by Sound
I have been told that fairies can make a jingly and beautiful little noise when they move about. I thought it'd be the perfect time to introduce Zahavah to a homemade version of the Montessori sound canisters. I used empty Kinder Surprise egg shells and three different sizes of bells. My daughter quickly discovered that shaking the container slowly and close to her ear was the best way to discern the sound and allow for a great match. Shaking hard made them all sound the same! :)

Sweeping fairy dust is magical!
Has the tooth fairy come by your house already? My eldest has been visited twice already and sometimes, the fairy leaves a residue of fairy dust (really just salt and glitter). I had the chance to collect some and used it for an activity here: sweeping fairy dust. Not an easy task!

Spooning "Fairy Water Pearls"
Water beads are a newer material in our "school". I bought it last year and ended up forgetting about it. Whilst cleaning during the summer, I found them again and made sure they'd get our of their bottle this year! :) How perfect are these for a fairy activity? I only had blue on hand but an array of colors would have been delightful. We called them "fairy water pearls" to add some appeal to this transfer activity. It was very much loved and "Z" transferred and transferred over again. She especially loved how the last 1-2 beads would sort of flee when the spoon came near by!

Counting and Hunting Mushrooms
Polka dot mushrooms are fun! I made these myself a few years ago and they've always been well received. This time, we chose to count the dots on each mushroom. It was easy until it got to 9 and 10 (my little one would count up to 16 dots at times!) :) We also scattered them for a wild mushroom foraging activity. Mushroom foraging is very popular in our area and the kids desperately want to go pick their own food in the forest every time they see neighbors come back with a basket full of cool mushrooms. As such, I announced that the famous Amanita Muscaria is a toxic mushroom and that although it can be found in our local forest, it should not be eaten (well, some people swear it can but only with proper prep)! :)

Handmade Fairy Bubble Wands
A crafty little idea that I've seen on so many different blogs this summer and last. Children love blowing bubbles and well, mine are no different. I've made my own bubble solution countless times now but had never made my own wand. In this activity, Zahavah made her own fairy wand using pipe cleaners and decorative beads. They can be shaped any way really and of various sizes as well. I'm not sure what she enjoyed most: the making the wand or the "using" of the wand! :)

Fairy Color Mixing Class
How do fairies make all these rainbow colors? They mix them of course. Using translucent "tokens" in the primary colors, we discovered how two colors put together could give use secondary colors. This was nothing new to Zahavah who has mixed her own paint colors a while ago but it was a different, mess-free, approach.

Cylinder Block 1
Of course, I had to keep up with "regular" stuff too. We revised our "S,m,a,t" sandpaper letters and added other non-thematic elements such as the mini cylinder block 1.

Parts of a Plant - because a good fairy loves plants!
Now, fairies spend a fair amount of time in the garden so it's only normal they should know about plants, right? 3 part cards, booklets, wall chart, puzzle, any of these can be helpful in presenting/reinforcing this kind of learning. I chose to present a real plant: my beloved orchid and a set of 3 part cards provided graciously by The Helpful Garden (which by the way provides the most amazing and beautiful FREE Montessori materials by the way). 

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