Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Valentine's Day Unit for Toddlers Part 2

Why yes...There is a part 2 to my Valentine's Day Unit for Toddlers! :) Too late for this year indeed but  not too early for next Valentine's Day. Besides, some of these activities can be adapted for other times of the year as well...

Valentine's Day Chocolate Box Playdough
Adrian didn't love this activity last year but I thought Zahavah might. She loves anything playdough and has a much easier time modeling it . She quickly filled the tray with my homemade chocolate playdough and proceeded to offer me some. How about a lesson in grace and courtesy now? :)

Making "chocolate truffles" - as delightful as eating them!

Fingerprinting into a do-a-dot sheet
I'm always eager to find new ways to use these do-a-dot sheets. I know my daughter loves them for what they are and loves those round stampers but bringing a bit of novelty with a new assortment of sheets is always nice too I'm sure. For Valentine's Day, I hopped by Gift of Curiosity and to my delight, Katie had prepared this giant printable as well as some smaller dot sheets (pictured below). For the big heart, I chose to provide a stamping pad for fingerprints. I thought she'd go for all red but nope...:)

Math - Early counting with gems
For the smaller do-a-dot sheets (1 big sheet I personally cut in 4), I chose to provide red mosaic glass gems. Zahavah can count but doesn't really seem to recognize the written symbols yet. Can't blame her. We haven't been through those yet. Besides, counting is a better acquisition than number recognition at barely three years old! :) Do-a-dot sheet also from Gift of Curiosity.

Math - 1:1 Correspondence with heart ice tray and ice gems
Sparkly heart shaped gems and an ice-shaped ice tray? If this 1:1 correspondence did not appeal to Zahavah, I couldn't think of anything else that might. Thankfully it did! :) 

Practical Life: Making a bracelet with heart beads
While shopping in our local craft store, Zahavah spotted these cute red glass heart shaped beads. Thinking of Valentine's Day ahead, I purchased them knowing they'll last for years as counters, transfer material and much more. For this year, we used them as beads for bracelet making. I stuck a red glittery pipe cleaner in a big styrofoam block so it would straight and strong and Z simply slipped the beads down the pipe cleaner one by one. Easy work and beautiful result!

Practical Life/Language: Squeezing heart shaped sponge
I always underestimate simple practical life activities. Water transfer with a sponge to me is simply clean up time but kids love to play with water and they love seeing a dry sponge puff up with water and change texture doing so. Seeing the water being soaked up adds up to the excitement and so does the power of transferring that water to a different bowl. Zahavah loved this tray and while I did try to make it very attractive to her (lots of pink and a heart shaped sponge), I think she would have taken "the plunge" even with a blue tray and simple sponge...

Heart, pink and water? The BEST activity!

* * *

Enjoying What You're Reading?
Follow Sorting Sprinkles on Facebook or Sign Up to be Notified When New Posts Are Out!

* * *

Monday, February 24, 2014

Valentine's Day Unit for Toddlers Part 1

Valentine's Day has come and gone and for those of you who celebrate it, I hope it was a good one. We kept it low key this year again but for the children, it's always an entire week's worth of activities. I truly think seasonal thematics are their favorite. Sadly, because they come back every year, it's a bit hard to always come up with fresh ideas but I always try my best to bring in some variety and the favorite ones from the previous years...

Valentine's Day Playdough
Sensorial & Art: Valentine's Day Bakery with Play Dough and Accessories
Fresh playdough. Hadn't made a new batch in a while. It doesn't take long but I somehow never seem to get around to it. For Valentine's Day, I thought it would be nice for the kids to have new colors and fresh suggestions of activities to go with the modeling dough. This time, the plan was for them to open their own bakery and make fresh pastries for Valentine's Day: cookies, cupcakes, tarts, donuts, whatever they like. I provided heart-shaped cookie cutters, cupcake toppers (homemade toothpicks with Valentine's Day themed toppers cut from a printables pack), cupcake liners (small and large), a mini heart shaped baking pan, sequins and buttons (aka sprinkles and candies), and several playdough accessories such as a rolling pin, knife, round cutter...Everyone had a blast; especially my toddler. We all ended up wishing the treats were real! :) I must mention No Time for Flashcards had a similar activity to this a few years ago and it really inspired this one.

Valentine dough bakery
The baker at work with her tools and dough

Valentine's Day Sound Boxes
Sensorial : Valentine's Day Sound Boxes
The beauty of those dollars bins is finding little things like these containers.  I wasn't sure what was going to become of them at first but I was pretty sure I'd find them a use and besides, my pink-loving girl was very much in love with them. As it turns out, being that there was two different colors, they were sort of perfect for sound matching boxes. I used two dimes in one of the boxes, a red "glittery" pompom in another, a plastic heart bead in the third one and wooden toothpicks in the last one. They all weighed about the same but sounded distinctly different when gently shook. Zahavah sounded a pink one by shaking it and then tried to match with the red one that made the same sound. 

Valentine's Day Cutting Strips
Practical Life: Valentine's Day Cutting Strips
Zahavah loves cutting but so far, I haven't really tried to "make her cut". It's always been her choice and "free-form" but today, I thought I'd see how well she could follow the line by offering a thin lined and tight-packed single snip cutting strip series. She did well. She didn't really like having to cut along the lines but she did it. These cutting strips are actually not really cutting strips by the way; they are patterning sheets created by Katie at Gift of Curiosity. I simply chose to print the sheet in a much smaller version and prepared it as cutting strips.

Tweezing Rose Petals
Practical Life: Tweezing Silk Rose Petals
Didn't have the heart to use real rose petals...They looked too good on my own roses! :) I bought these silk ones for a photo shoot years ago and kept them so I re-purposed them for this tweezing activity. Just trying to see if little Z can get her pincer grip going! :)

Valentine's DAy Celery Rose Print Card
Art: Making a Valentine with Celery
Printing with fruits and vegetables is very much part of a good Montessori school curriculum. Last year, Adrian did this celery print during our Kitchen themed week and really loved it and I remembered that it would be so well suited for Valentine's Day...and so here we are! Zahavah got to do the celery prints this year using red tempera paint and the chopped off bottom of a celery. She practiced on a big sheet of paper before making her card to see how much paint would make a nice "rose" print. Lots of paint meant a red circle so she opted for less dipping for her Valentine's Day card. I later added the thorns and greeting (ran out of room). I had originally seen the idea on Punchestown Montessori's Facebook page.

Sticking red dots onto the heart outline
Fine Motor: Peeling and Sticking Stickers on Heart Outline
A very simple yet very much enjoyed activity for Zahavah was this heart outline with red dot stickers usually meant for labeling and organizing. Peeling stickers off the paper and lining them up on a line without gaps is not as easy as it seems for toddlers but anything to do with stickers is so enjoyable that they'll give it a try for sure! :) 

* * *

Enjoying What You're Reading?
Follow Sorting Sprinkles on Facebook or Sign Up to be Notified When New Posts Are Out!

* * *

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Antarctica Unit for Kindergartners - Part 2

Better late than never...Here is the last part of the Antarctica Unit for Kindergartners (works for Pre-K too if you adapt to their range of knowledge)! Ready for more penguin-oriented fun? (Looking at all these activities, I feel like this unit might as well have been called "penguin week"!:) ) As the kids get older though, I hope to go in deeper...

Penguins shapes
Learning & Revising Shapes with the Penguins!

Basic shapes have been know for many years by my son but we're still working on remembering which is the pentagon, hexagon and octagon. These penguins (Teach With Me Freebies) were perfect to revisit the topic. I ran out of black construction paper (I really need to buy a pack of just black...) so they ended up being colored but other than that they still served their purpose.

Clip cards penguins temperature
Sub-Zero Temperatures & Clip Cards

Yet another activity recycled from last year's Weather week (initially printed the clip cards from Making Learning Fun). This time, I used "below zero" temperatures since these are the kind you'd be likely to encounter in Antarctica. Mini clothespins were used to mark the correct temperature indicated by the mercury. It was an excellent fine motor activity. These pins are truly tiny.

Dot to dot penguin
Dot-to-Dot and pencil control

A dot-to-dot penguin using numbers that are higher than usual. We don't do too many dot-to-dot here but I thought it'd be fun to include this one as the numbers didn't stop at 20 for once but also to check on his pencil control. Once the lines were established, I let Adrian decorate the penguin according to his chosen species. As you can see he opted for the Rockhopper kind.

Counting penguins per colonies
Counting penguins living in each colony - by tens

Counting penguins 0-90 using the golden bead materials. Only the golden beads were used this time as we were reviewing the tens only. Adrian counted the penguins manually and every time he had ten, he would put a bar in the box next to the penguins. In the end, counting the bars told him how many penguins lived in that specific colony and he'd write down that number.

How tall is a penguin next to me?
How tall are penguins?

How tall am I compared to a penguin? Penguins look small but are they really? Are they all the same size? Adrian seemed to assume so, so we took out the pictures of our Antarctica penguins, our measuring tape and measured on our wall the average height of each species, which he read to me from a slip of paper Id' given him. Together we measured that number on the wall and taped the picture of the penguin measuring that height. Then, we measured my son, who was just slightly shorter than the average Emperor penguin...The thought of these penguins being about his height if he walked next to him seemed surreal. If we go to Antarctica, I might just dress him up like an Emperor penguin to let him mingle! :)

Parts of a penguin
Parts of a penguins - Cut & Paste

I usually put together a booklet and three part cards for "parts of a..." for the children but for this unit, I simply ran out of time. Thankfully, Kindergarten Crayons had a free printable so I simply used it (mine didn't print correctly so I had to write in the parts myself). It did the job and my son enjoyed the cutting and gluing part. Coloring the entire penguin was also an added bonus of course!

Penguin paper plate craft
Paper Plate Penguin Craft

Cutting paper has been THE activity here lately. My son loves it and spends hours cutting so I thought he'd enjoy trying his skills onto a paper plate. Done exclusively with a big and small paper plate, paints and brushes (goggly eyes if desired), this penguin craft (an idea I first saw on Craft.Jr.) was the highlight of his week. Prior to the cutting process, I drew with a pencil, lines showing where the cuts should be made. The entirety of the two plates were used except for two tiny pieces. Once Adrian was through with the cutting, it was on with the painting, and finally, with the gluing. He was very proud to have done it all by himself.

Paper plate penguin in progress
Paper Plate Penguin Craft in Progress

* * *

Your comments make my day ! 
(...but won't be visible until after approval due to increased spam...)

* * *

This week, I'm happily linking up to

Montessori MondayThe Kids Co-OpShow-and-Share SaturdayLink & LearnTGIFShare it SaturdayMom's LibraryThe Sunday ShowcasePreschool Corner &5KWe Made That

Monday, February 10, 2014

Antarctica Unit for Kindergartners - Part 1

Antarctica week was a blast...of fresh air. This continent is truly different from all the others so it's always refreshing to introduce it. At first, activities are not so obvious to create since fauna and flora seem so limited for example but by "presentation" of a continent is usually tied to what it would be like if we were to go there...which we may someday as we love to travel and have mentioned our interest in seeing the "island". With that in mind, I knew we'd explore topics such as penguins, snow and ice, research labs and life on the coldest continent on earth.

Antarctica map wax resist
Tracing and wax "resisting" Antarctica

Adrian has known for a long time where Antarctica lies and what shapes it has but creating his own Antarctica continent thanks to tracing could be fun. I printed a map of the continent, cut out the continent itself and taped the sheet to another white sheet of paper. Tracing with the finger around the edges was the first step and then, using a white wax crayon, Adrian filled in the cut out completely. The top sheet was then removed and blue watercolor paint went over and around. Voila! A beautiful handmade map of Antarctica. Montessori Teachings used the same technique and shows the step by step process if you're interested.

make Antarctica flag
Creating an Antarctica flag

When asked what he knew about Antarctica, my son could locate the place on the map but also told me  that even though it was very big, it didn't have a country flag. We discussed the reasons for that and explored the various flags that represent the continent. Later that week, we designed flags that could represent the entire continent. It wasn't done initially so we could learn a bit more about the continent and get a better picture of Antarctica. Before hitting the paper, I asked my son what colors would best represent the continent. White and blue it was but as you can see, he added more colors as well. The ocean is drawn, as well as stars.

Antarctica Penguins match up
Matching penguin figures to penguin pictures

We investigated penguins a lot as well. Safari Ltd. makes very realistic looking replicas so we invested in a penguin Toob. I printed some pictures of the penguins to be found in Antarctica (not all birds in the Toob are from the continent) and had Adrian match them. We learned the names of the species as well and thanks to maps, located some colonies. Not all live on the continent itself. Some prefer the islands surrounding the continental land!

Happy Feet Penguin Species
Happy Feet Penguins's Species 

Speaking of penguins, Adrian couldn't help but make the connection in penguin the Happy Feet movie and the penguins from the Toob. I guess some looked familiar! :) Later that week, I pulled out some new pictures featuring Happy Feet's penguins so he could find out which species appeared in the popular animation. He was thrilled! Needless to say, I was glad his brain was making connections but I had to remind him that real penguin don't talk! :) On the other hand, the movie brought on a topic I intended to approach: the long dark winter days...

midnight sun with globe and light
Antarctica's Midnight Sun

We have yet to visit Antarctica but having been to Greenland a few times now (both in winter and summer), I can now imagine that life conditions in Antarctica must be similar in terms of daylight hours. In the summer, the sun did not seem to go to bed at all and in the winter, although my plane landed in the beginning of the afternoon and it was a clear day, the sun the horizon...tucked in bed already. I was told it would not come up anymore than that. How do you explain that? Using a flashlight, a globe that tilts and a room that can be darkened, I showed my son how Earth moves on its axis through the day and how it is tilted, thus causing our friends down in Antarctica to have lots of sun during their summer and dark days in their winters...just like in Happy Feet! :)  He just had to try it himself after.

Snowflake matching cards
Matching Snowflake Cards

Brought these out again from last year's winter unit (originally printed from PreKinders). Not nearly as challenging this year of course but still fun and still a good reminder that no snowflake is alike...

What melts ice fastest? - A game played with a die!

Who doesn't like "making a mess?" When I brought out two big ice cubes and containers filled with different substances, my kids were thrilled. It was one of those activities where my little one would get to be involved in the big one's school "stuff".  Oh happy day. They were each given an ice cube in a plastic bowl as well as a die. Each number on the die corresponded to an action to be done with the ice cube. The goal was to see who could melt their ice fastest but also to observe how different substances would affect the appearance of the ice cubes. I forgot to snap a picture of our container section and die sheet but from 1 to 6, we had different things to pour onto the ice cube as you can probably see.
For example, 1 was for blue hot water (dyed blue so it wouldn't be confused with other substances), 2 was for table salt, 3 was for sand (used blue craft sand), 4 was for a sugar cube to be squished on the ice cube, 5 was for vinegar and 6....was for the number of seconds the ice cube had to held in their hands if they rolled a number 6! :)
Of course I had towels handy and scoops in each bowl so there was no guessing how much of each to pour onto the ice cube. At first, my daughter's cube was melting fastest thanks to the hot water she kept pouring on but in the end, my son's early scoops of salt just ate up the ice cube even though he never got to use much hot water... It was thus determined that salt should be used next time we get and icy porch! :)

* * *

Your comments make my day ! 
(...but won't be visible until after approval due to increased spam...)

* * *

This week, I'm happily linking up to

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Forest Animals for Toddlers - Part 2

Last week just flew by. With a theme such as forest animals, it's always easy to come up with fun and educational activities for little ones. Children are naturally attracted to nature and its offering and part of me thinks Zahavah wishes the week had never ended...

Forest Animal Light Lunch Snack
Practical Life: A "Beary" Good Breakfast

Food prep! Toddlers love to let them. Here's an easy forest animal breakfast/snack/lunch they can make all by themselves (saw it on BuzzFeed back a few weeks ago). I served up the first one to my daughter to show her how it was done and she then made one for her big brother. Spreading peanut butter on a toast or a whole wheat slice of bread (easier on toast) is not difficult for a toddler and they love it. Peeling an opened banana and slicing that banana with a dull knife (we used a toothless plastic one) is rewarding and also age-appropriate at 3. Decorating with raisins? Well, the hardest part is to not eat them! :)

Dot Markers More Forest Animals
Fine Motor: Dot Pages!

Dots! These pages are all the rage over here. My daughter can't seem to get enough of them but believe it or not, I still haven't bought the Dot Markers! :) I'm slowly getting used to the idea that I might have to but in the meantime, we use Crayola's Tadoodles (seen upper right corner) and other materials to cover up the dots. This week,  we used tiny acorns to cover up the squirrel, golden pompoms for the fox, orange paint and a q-tip for the owl and a brown Tadoodle for the brown bear (these forest animals and more on Homeschool Creations!). It was nice to use different materials and a bit more challenging. Zahavah really tried to just fill the dots on the owl and did her best in keeping her pompoms still (still haven't made magnetic pompoms). 

Playdough Forest for Raccoons
Art: Playdough forest

Simple play dough activities can be VERY entertaining for little ones. Using toothpicks and green play doh, shrubs and trees were made for two small "raccoons" collected from some Kinder Surprise Eggs. Once the bushes and trees were made, the animals made tracks. Overall, for dexterity, this activity was quite neat. Rolling small balls of dough to make shrubs and high trees, rolling it on the table with the palms to make fuller trees but also learning how to make them stand on the forest floor by pushing the dough at the bottom...Lots of learning involved.

Pompom Dabbed White Owls Painting
Art - Painting owls with a pompom

Although I couldn't get my hands on it in time for this week, Owl Babies by Martin Waddell is supposed to be a good book which also happens to include owls in the story. I've always liked the cover and was in awe of I Heart Crafty Things's project of turning it into an art craft for kids. This involved paint, gluing, tearing, coloring and overall, a lot of fun; all things my daughter loves. So I gathered our supplies and gave it a try. Prior to starting, I drew 3 big white ovals on a black paper, pre-cut 3 small triangles and 3 pairs of eyes. As for the rest, it was all my toddler's work. She painted the owls by dipping a pompom (held by a clothespin) into white paint and dabbing it onto the ovals. Once dried, she glued the pre-cut eyes and nose (I put small marks where they should go) and drew stars and a moon. A big branch was also made by tearing a paper bag which she later glued under the owls. I also gave a demonstration as to how trees have knots and how the bark sometimes has "lines".  She loved this project and painting with a pompom was sure different! :)

Forest Animal Tangrams Fox Rabbit
Math - Pattern Block Forest Animals

Pattern blocks are all the rage here. We own a few sets of Melissa & Doug pattern block templates and Zahavah loves them. My son was also gifted a very nice magnetic tangram set and Z has started playing around with it. With that idea in mind, I looked up possible tangrams for forest animals and saw an actual book told in tangrams (inclusive of my beloved forest animal theme) and made a fox and rabbit for Zahavah to re-create. It was not easy but she was really proud of herself when she figured out how to place the pieces.

Forest Animals Exploration with Figures
Language - Forest Animals Figures & Quizzes

Big Jumbo Animals such as these (made by Learning Resources) are awesome when introducing forest animals. At 3, my daughter knew her forest animals pretty well by name but dusting these off was fun! :) Even more fun? Asking your child which of these animals she's seen before in nature or at the zoo. Ask questions about their physical appearance: "Who has antlers?", "Who has long ears and hops?", to switch to knowledge questions: "Who builds dams?", "Who loves to fly at night?" etc.

More, Less, Same Spots
Math - More, less or same?

I initially liked my idea of introducing "more, less or same" with deers and their spots. I know Zahavah already grabs the concept of "more and less" but on paper it is different. The transition from tangible objects to paper comparison was difficult. I ended up bringing white mini-pompoms to put on the deers. Being able to manipulate them helped her a lot.

Book Selection: Forest Animals

My children love books. I cannot, on the other end, always get the selection I want on the topics selected because we happen to live abroad at the moment but thankfully, this week, our home library had a good supply of books inclusive of forest animals! Not all these titles are Montessori-friendly, mind you, but they were all loved by my daughter, who is three. From our local library, we borrowed two and I made sure to get Zahavah to practice her prediction skills as we read as they were new stories to her. I also asked lots of questions to see if she had understood the gist and characters. Reading stories for vocabulary is great but getting a little extra out of them is even better! :)

Read and Enjoyed this Week:
-Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson
(Fletcher the fox is a favorite character in this house and that is great because the wording in this story is well beyond most books of this level. The illustrations, especially the last one, are beautiful!)

-Waiting for Winter by Sebastian Meschenmosen
(First saw this one in a local German store. Glad I could find a translated copy! This book is beautifully illustrated with pencils, has fluid text and is sure funny!)

-If you Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff
(Books from this series are adored by my kids and I find them clever too...)

-The Mitten by Jan Brett
(First time my little ones read it. Predicting which animal was going to be next was nice to my youngest. Trying to explain why the mitten was so much bigger at the end was difficult but my oldest helped her out...)

-Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
(Bear is another character we all enjoy. Nice way to introduce hibernation and several forest animals.)
-Kiss Good Night By Amy Hest
(One of our favorite bedtime stories. The colors and story just warm you up!)

-The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood
(A funny, yet classical story. Pictures are beautiful. Mouse's expressions are priceless.)

* * *

Your comments make my day ! 
(...but won't be visible until after approval due to increased spam...)

* * *

This week, I'm happily linking up to