Bringing Montessori Outside Part 2

I already feel like winter is looming and it’s only June.  That ominous, “Winter is Coming”.  I know the next few months will fly by and I want my kids to soak up as much of beauty and nature and sun and warmth they can.  Official school activities are not priority right now, gross motor play is.  We recently started going to a new park the kids love.  No one is there during the day yet so my kids have the park to themselves.  The other parks we go to are frustrating because a school or daycare will show up with 30-40 kids and just take over the place and my shy kids fell overwhelmed or they’re older kids who are too rough and use bad words and so we leave.  Anyway, we’re trying to do school outside as often as we can.  Here are some more ideas for bringing Montessori out into the sunshine.

This DIY spindle box is so simple.  The container is from the Dollar Store.  It’s a tackle or hardware box.  I use these a lot for storing things.  And popsicle sticks, also available at the Dollar Store.  Often I change up the “spindles” for other things – straws, sticks, counting bugs, etc…

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In fact you can use nature for counting.  These are pine cones the kids collected.  The numbers are regular magnetic ones.

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Toobs are great to bring outside or any other small plastic animals.  This is Vertebrate and Invertebrate sorting.

We recently got a Backyard Birds Toob from Michael’s.  We already had the bird book.  The kids like to find the birds in the book. They also are painting pictures of the birds to make their own bird book.

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This is a sight word game from Amazon.  It’s a way to make learning sight words more fun.

This is so simple to do but it takes dexterity for the kids.  They have to remember to weave in and out.  It was too hard for Pumpkin 2 and a challenge for Pumpkin 1.  The tidy part you see was me showing her how.  It’s really great for crossing the midline and spacial reasoning.

We tried out a ball run with cut pool noodles and Boomerings (and you thought Boomerings were a baby toy).  The balls kept getting lost in the cut grass so then we did water.

Next we’re going to try building something with trough.  I need to get some more Boomerings though.  They’re super strong and sturdy.

I have lots more ideas in my head for outdoor learning I can’t wait to share with you.

 

Follow my Pinterest board for lots more Montessori ideas.

 

 

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Educational Games We Love

I’ve started building up our stock of educational games.  I’m trying to make it part of our routine to play a game together as a family after dinner.  Games are a great way to learn and reinforce concepts in a fun way.  When Pumpkin 1 is in a funk and doesn’t want to do any school activities, she’ll always agree to a game.  They’re also great for social skills and teaching team work, taking turns and critical thinking.  With Pumpkin 2 only 2.5 I’ve tried to find games he could join in too.

Snug as a Bug in a Rug:  I think this one is the most loved one of them all.  It’s made by Peaceable Kingdom and is a cooperative game rather than competitive.  There’s different ways to play from simple to more challenging.  It’s won a number of awards.  Pumpkin 2 is able to play it quite easily.  It teaches counting skills, colours and shapes.  I’d say it’s great for about age 2/2.5 and up.  It’s available at Mastermind Toys.

 

Hoot Owl Hoot:  Pumpkin used her Christmas money to get this one.  She likes owls.  This game is also by Peaceable Kingdom.  Pumpkin 2 requires some help with this.  It’s more of a strategy game though they don’t have to quite get that to play.  I’d say it’s better for age 3 or 4 and up though Pumpkin 2 can play with my help.  It has also won awards.  It’s a great team work game.  It’s available at Mastermind Toys.

 

Feed the Woozle:  This is also a Peaceable Kingdom game.  This is Pumpkin 2’s favourite.  It’s a great one for toddlers.  It teaches counting and body awareness, motor skills and balance as well as taking turns and team work.  The snacks are pretty silly which the kids love and there’s different challenge levels for each age group.  Discovery Toys carries Feed the Woozle.

 

Jungle Jive:  This one is great for developing core strength and balance.  Balance is key for learning to write.  It’s tricky for Pumpkin 2 but that doesn’t stop him from trying!  Discovery Toys carries Jungle Jive.

 

Raccoon Rumpus:  This one is a great toddler and preschooler game.  It’s very simple to play.  It’s a good introduction to games and taking turns.  It teaches colours and you can discuss different jobs people have.  It’s available from Discovery Toys.

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Shelby’s Snack Shack:  This is a really good one for counting and 1 to 1 correspondence.  It’s also great for fine motor skills, the pincher grasp and finger strength.  Both my kids are able to play it and enjoy it.  I’d say it’s perfect for ages 2.5 and up as long a supervised due to the small pieces.  It’s available here.

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Memory Game:  There are lots of memory games out there.  I really like this one because it looks so nice and is great quality.  It has a bunch of different cards so there’s many games in one.  It took a bit of playing for my kids to figure out that they had to remember what they saw and for Pumpkin 2 to not try to turn everything over, but now they can play it nicely.  Great for ages 2 and up.  It’s called Memory Moves.

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Bus Stop:  This game is one I don’t get bored playing (that’s important too).  It’s too advanced for Pumpkin 2, he just tries to drive the bus card over the board and messes everything up.  But it’s perfect for 4 year olds.  It teaches counting, dice number recognition, and simple addition and subtraction.  My only negative is I think the buses would have been better if they had been done like a ten frame so children could see the amount of people in their bus without counting.  We purchases our game from Amazon.

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Marble Run

Seriously, if you don’t have a marble run and you have kids ages 3+ you NEED to get one.  This is a set from Scholar’s Choice I got a few years ago.  Discovery Toys also carries a set which has a lifetime guarantee.

It’s so much fun to build and it’s really develops logical thinking, planning, engineering skills, prediction.  And it’s really fun for adults to get into.  Pumpkin 1 is able to build little runs herself.

I’m trying to have a new routine where after dinner I play an educational game with the kids.  It’s a great way to bond with them before bed, promote learning in a fun way and have some family time.  So this is what we did this evening.  Now they’re upstairs watching Daddy shave and telling him stories.

 

Flags, Pompoms and Boomerings

I find practical life activities impossible to leave out because my 2 year old gets into them and makes a mess so we don’t do them as often as we should.  This is a cheap easy one to set up.  The tray is an ice cube tray from the Dollar store.  The pompoms are from there too.  She’s using tweezers from Scholar’s choice that came in a large container of them, I’ve given some away.  They’re easy to use for little hands.  This activity helps build finger strength for writing and fine motor skills.

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Pumpkin 1 LOVES this flag map from Affordable Montessori.  I thought the price was really reasonable and the quality is better than expected.

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I don’t even know the flags so I’ve been learning them.  It’s amazing how fast you pick up something when it’s hands on like this activity.  The map has a key on the back with all the flags and country names but of course you can’t check the back when you’re using it so I made a printable version.

You can download it here: flags

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Have I said how much I love Discovery Toys? Oh, I did?  Haha, they’re just so wonderful.  I love toys that engage and challenge my children, that teach them math, reading, logic, reasoning, prediction, memory, and so many other skills plus they have a life-time guarantee so I don’t have to worry about anything breaking.  We incorporate many of the Discovery Toys into our homeschool activities.

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Today Pumpkin 1 was really engaged in making patterns with the Boomerings.  These are so great, they can be used from infancy right on up until childhood.  They’re really strong and durable and there’s an activity set that comes with different activity cards for matching, patterning or math. Putting them together also is great for her fine motor skills and strengthening her fingers.

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You can even use them for dress-up!  Princess Pumpkin!

Discovery Toys Catalogue

Check out all the amazing toys that can enhance your hands-on homeschooling experience!
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Discovery Toys products have won many awards.  Check them out here:

2015-16 Catalog Product Awards List 100215

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Montessori Inspired Math

Pumpkin 1 is just starting to be ready for math at almost 4.  Majority of children aren’t ready for math until that age as their brain hasn’t developed that somewhat abstract thinking skills needed for math.  Math has always been a difficult subject for me but I love the Montessori method of math since it’s so hands on it makes it much easier to understand.

We’re doing a combination of Montessori and Right Start Math.  You can read about the Right Start Math approach here and here.  And a video review by another homeschooling mom here.

Since I still want to use many of the Montessori math materials I am creating my own bead bars, chains and cubes with the Right Start principle of 5+.  Here is what my beads look like.

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So you can see for 6 it’s 5 dark and 1 light.  9 is 5 dark and 4 light.  The 5+ concept helps children to visualize the number.  You can visualize amounts up to 5 but after that you have to group them in your mind to be able to visualize.

Today I was working on helping her understand that the beads and the abacus are the same.

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She has always loved the hanging bead stair since she was little.  If you don’t have one I highly recommend it.  Today she was actually counting the beads past 5.  Usually she just rhymes the numbers off without 1 to 1 correspondence after 5 but today she insisted on counting every bead bar carefully.  When you start to worry as a mom that they’re not getting something, just give it time.  A few weeks older can make a ton of difference.

We’ve also been working on some geometry.  Today we did triangles and quadrilaterals.  Pumpkin 1 loves this geoboard from Discovery Toys and I do too.  It’s huge so it’s easy for her fingers to use, unlike the smaller ones.  I made triangles and quadrilaterals on it and she’d tell me which it was.  She also likes to just make pictures with the elastics.

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Last week I was teaching her (and learning myself) the different types of triangles.  The geoboard was also perfect for this.

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Pumpkin 2 likes to use the other side which is the Giant Pegboard.  Toddlers love to fit things in holes.  You can also do colour and shape matching and patterning and counting and so much more.  It’s just so versatile. You can purchase one for your family here:

http://www.discoverytoys.com/PublicStore/stores/pumpkinsandme/AMCA/product/Giant-Pegboard,621.aspx#sthash.PnGUdXcA.dpbs

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We’ve also been doing shapes on the light table.  I use this set of shapes on it and we put them together to make other shapes.  They’re like mini constructive triangles.

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I’m really enjoying homeschooling in math because of the awesome manipulatives available.