Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas for Preschoolers - Part 1

Tada! After "many" years of blogging here on Sorting Sprinkles, I realize that I've never actually posted anything about our Christmas trays. Sad, isn't it? So I thought I'd make a special effort and publish some this year! Yay! I know it's a tad bit late for all of you to use BUT, Christmas will return next year, and the year after and...well forever and ever.

Patterning a Christmas tree
When I saw this beautiful activity on Teach Beside Me, my heart was set on having it on my Christmas shelves. Of course, it took a bit of preparation on my part but after that, what fun to be had. My preschooler picked a card and decorated her felt tree just as seen on the card...and in the end, she made up her own pattern!

Matching bells...and bells!
After seeing this idea on Never Picture Perfect I started looking for some bell clipart. I knew it'd be a popular activity so I really wanted to put it together...and did. As expected, my daughter loved it. We worked only from number 1-5. A strong basis is very important to me but I can see my daughter is quick and exact each time now so after the holidays, we'll go from 1-9.

Christmas star with glitter
This may not look like a great activity but it is quite difficult for some children to use liquid glue. For this star, I pre-cut the shape and drew pencil lines. My daughter had to use the liquid glue and spread it only on the lines and then shake just a bit of glitter on top. It demanded quite a bit of fine motor control to use the actual liquid glue container. Squeezing along the lines just enough glue is challenging! For older children, pin punching the star or cutting it out themselves will increase the fun. So will drawing their own lines! Next year, we'll try that and to make it more attractive I plan on using gold foil! :)

Christmas wreath
Seeing how sparkly pompoms made everything more Christmassy, I provided a clean plastic paint palette to mimic a Christmas wreath along with the right amount of pompoms. Very basic. Too basic in fact...so I added a pair of wooden toast tong for pompom transfer. Voila! A tougher challenge already! :)

What comes first?
Sequencing a story is not easy for children. For my preschooler, I provided only 3 pictures per story. One illustrated the making of gingerbread people and the other, the making-delivery-opening of Christmas presents. 

Christmas present wrapping
Well, this is kind of a traditional Christmas activity for many Montessori schools. My kids love wrapping presents and pretend it's a birthday or Christmas any time of year so silk paper, gift bags, ribbons and all come out quite often. I had a basket of supplies, tape and small wooden blocks for wrapping. 

Christmas play dough mats
Tot Schooling had the cutest play dough mat for Christmas so I quickly printed the entire set. My kids loved the mats! Who doesn't want to make antlers for a reindeer or a beard for Santa after all? I even gave it a shot! :)

Tree puzzle
I made this huge challenging Christmas tree puzzle for my newly turned 4 year old. She didn't really care for it. Maybe it was just too big or maybe it just wasn't attractive enough. Who knows? Next year, I may present a smaller version of it for her to cut and glue on a Christmas card...

Matching by color
Presents and bows seem to go together, don't they? So that made bows perfect for so many activities. Here, a very simple sorting tray that can easily turn into a matching bows color later...

Mini tree and big tree matching
Another visual discrimination activity we had during our Christmas themed weeks was this one featuring 4 big Christmas trees and 4 smaller versions of the same tree. Matching cards of the same size are great but this, I felt, presented a bigger challenge. Zahavah really had to pay attention so the right trees would be matched. Some really looked alike!

Gingerbread house cards & gumdrop counters
Having bought a big bag of gumdrops to decorate our own Gingerbread house, I realized it would also make the perfect school activity. Homeschool Creations had an entire set of printables that included these cards so I printed them and provided just enough gumdrops for the counters. Mind you if anybody else did the activity after, they might have been missing a few counters...

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Kitty Cat Birthday Party

December is one busy month for us. Many birthdays to celebrate on top of the holidays and well, I'm sure you know what it's like if you too, celebrate Christmas. Still, one of the highlights of the month is my sweet little daughter's birthday. This year, she turned four and requested well in advance a kitty cat themed birthday!

Happy Birthday Zahavah!
Homemade kitty cat cake
I have been baking a storm lately with the holidays around the corner. Baked many different kinds of cookies, maple cupcakes and...this birthday cake. I knew I wouldn't have a lot of time to put this one together so I tried to keep it simple. A nice vanilla scented cake with a vanilla buttercream frosting. Orange accents made with fondant and paws cut out of marshmallows. Meow!

Handmade Kitty cat favor bags
Instead of buying the favors bags, I decided to design my own. Paper bags are cheap after all and so is construction paper. I would have loved to find grey gift bags though...Oh well.

Kitty cat favors
Inside each kitty cat bag, the children could find a sheet of kitty cat stickers, a bag of stampers featuring paws of every color AND a set of cat rubber ducks! :) Stampers and rubber ducks were purchased from the Oriental Trading Company and the stickers are Mrs. Grossmann's.

Pin the bow on the cat
Pinning the tail on the donkey is one traditional birthday game. Well, this one wasn't so far from the real thing except the donkey was traded in for a cat...and the tail was switched for a pink bow! 

Famous cat quiz
Ah....I missed a few famous kitties for my quiz! How did THAT happen? I totally forgot Splat and all that. Oh well, for this activity, I printed pictures featuring cats most children know. Then it was quiz time. In case you wonder, the picture of the real cat features Maru, a beloved kitty my kids watch on YouTube! :)

Matching kitty and paws
So cute! Found several cat pictures and tried to find pictures of their paws for this matching activity. Some were easier than others of course (think Sphinx over beige cat).

Adopt-a-kitty activity
Who wouldn't want to adopt a kitty? These beautiful Aurora plushes are all the rage at our house. I got an array of "wild cats" and "domestic cats" ready for the adoption. I intended on getting only the pet ones but my son seemed more inclined towards to bigger felines! :) Free certificate of adoption courtesy of Chickabug.

Bling time
A little crafty fun for the plushes! A simple activity where a medallion is decorated with "bling" and glitter and offered to a kitty cat as a necklace.

Not pictured but also great for photo ops were my handmade kitty cat ears. Children had access to black face paint to draw whiskers and a nose if they wished.

Fun times! I must give credit to HWTM for a lot of the ideas! Check out the kitty cat party she featured and get more ideas and see the fancier version of her kitty party here.

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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