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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Date and Weather Recording Printable

I wanted to start recording the weather with Pumpkin 1.  She was very interested in her Papa’s rain gauge.  We’re going to make our own and I have a simple outdoor thermometer on the way.  I created this page for her to record the information.  I couldn’t find one that was simple enough for a child who isn’t quite writing yet so mine she circles the information.  The the back “The sky today is:” one could answer how they want.  Since we’re learning clouds I’m going to have her write the type of clouds.  You could also just put “cloudy, clear, dark, blue grey” or something along those lines.  Below that is for drawing the clouds.

Daily Weather Recording

You can download a copy here:
Daily Weather Recording

Bringing the Montessori Classroom Outside

Finally, beautiful weather.  Anyone who lives in a northern area where they suffer through 6 months of winter + 2 months of almost winter, knows that those nice days are like a drink of water to one wandering in the desert.  You just want to drink it all up and not miss a drop.  So, of course, I don’t want to be stuck inside doing “school” when the weather is nice and neither do the kids.  And, though I value lots of free play, I still do want to do some school activities.  The solution?  Bring the classroom outside!  I don’t just mean gross motor, outside activities, but actual Montessori materials designed to be used outside.

I didn’t want to take my actual wooden, expensive Montessori materials outside where they could easily get damaged and that’d be a lot to transport daily.  So I put together a set of Montessori like activities focusing on affordability, durability, mobility and washable  Many of these could be DIY or affordable alternatives to the Montessori materials for those on a budget.  This is part 1 of our outdoor classroom.

So the first thing for an outside classroom is the set up.  You need places to work and you need some shade from the sun. We have a table and chairs with an shade umbrella.  A magnetic whiteboard on the fence.  And a caddy that can be moved outside during the day and back in at night.  We also have a smaller umbrella that can be moved around to where it’s needed.

 

Now to our “Outside Materials”

Moveable Alphabet

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This moveable alphabet is made from magnetic foam letters by Learning Resources.  The container is the Plano Stowaway that I got on Amazon.  They fit perfectly and it makes them easily transportable and accessible.  We use them on the magnetic whiteboard on our fence.  Or we can use them on a cookie tray from the dollar store.  Being magnetic they won’t blow away when there’s a nice breeze.

We also have other regular magnetic letters that we do some upper and lower case matching with.

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Stamp Game

I really love our outdoor stamp game.  In fact, if I had thought of it sooner, I wouldn’t have purchased the stamp game at all and just used this.

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The gems are from the Dollar Store and Michaels (I had trouble finding red ones).  The pegs I already had.  You could dye them different colours with food colouring if you wanted.  You could also use plastic game tokens.  I wrote the numbers on the back of the gems with permanent marker.  The nice thing about the numbers is if you do the “1” like I did, you don’t have to worry about writing it backwards in order to look right.  The storage container is also from the Dollar Store.

I also grabbed one of our place value mats that I made. The plastic number squares are from Amazon.  I also put them in a Dollar Store container for easy use and transportation.

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The number tiles can also be used with unifix cubes for other math activities.

 

“Red” Rods

I brought out a set of our cuisenaire rods  as mini “red” rods.  I put them in a sandwich container from the Dollar Store for storage.  One could paint them all the same colour if they wanted.

 

Hundred Board

This is actually our only Hundred Board.  I never got a wooden one as this was affordable and wouldn’t shift around if bumped.  With the pieces stored in another Dollar Store container it’s easy to transport and great to use outside.  One side has numbers and the other side is a blank grid.  You can also write on it with a white board marker.

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Constructive “Triangles”

These plastic pattern blocks aren’t exactly the same as the constructive triangles but they’re great for learning shapes and how shapes fit together.  You can also print off patterns to match them to.  Dollar Store container again!

Tanagrams are also a great alternative.

Pumpkin 1 has been crazy about the Magnetic Mighty Mind.  We’ve actually had it for a few years but I just pulled it out as she was too young before.  It’s the perfect travel size and the magnets are strong so they stay in place.  The cards start off simple and get progressively more difficult.  She worked on this for about 45 mins.

 

Geo Solids

These mini Geo Solids from Learning Resources can be used to teach shapes and size.  There is 4 sizes of each.  They’re not exactly the same as the Montessori ones, mainly they’re missing the round shapes.  I threw in a little ball from the Dollar Store to teach sphere.  I worked on Small, Medium and Large with Pumpkin 2.  And I also learned the new shape – Hexagonal Prism.

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So far our outdoor classroom has been wonderful.  There’s nothing like working in the fresh air.  But there’s more!  Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Outside Classroom!

 

Birds of a Feather

As I’ve mentioned I’ve been trying to get my kids outside as much as possible.  I love learning about nature.  So this month we are learning about birds. I’d like to share with you different resources we’re using. These are cards of Birds found in Ontario (and much of the rest of Eastern North America).  I created these to use with my kids.  There are so many way you could use them – As 3 Part Cards, Matching games, art work, books, etc…

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Montessori Print Shop has some great materials about birds including parts of the bird, books, bird feet, bird nests, bird beaks, cutting strips and more. Bird Book for Toddlers - Printable Montessori Toddler Materials for Montessori Learning at home and school.

I also found this amazing site.  It’s interactive and you can learn a ton about birds including their songs and calls. http://biology.allaboutbirds.org/#home-page-top They also have this site for kids: http://www.birdsleuth.org/ which has materials for homeschoolers! I purchased this lovely little book by Thornton W Burgess.  It’s like a story but gives information and details about all different backyard birds in an interesting way.  This copy has drawings but unfortunately they’re black and white, if you could find a version with the original colour pictures that would be a bonus.

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We also got this bird book which is great for beginners.  Simple, not overwhelming, and small enough to tuck into a bag or even back pocket to take with you bird watching.

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Some activities we’re doing is we painted bird houses from the dollar store and we made a bird bath from a plastic container and a tree stump.  There are lots of DIY bird bath ideas on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=diy%20bird%20bath We haven’t put up any bird feeder yet because we have a squirrel problem in our area.  My husband finally got the squirrels out of our porch roof so he wouldn’t be happy if I was feeding them (nor would my neighbours).  I’m looking at some squirrel proof options but those animals are pretty smart and persistent.  The other option is a hummingbird feeder.  Also we have a bird feeder up at the cottage and a hummingbird feeder so I’m planing to do lots of bird watching up there with the Pumpkins.   5343522592_1f6d05c000_z

Putting up a birdhouse is more than actually using a dollar store one.  You want to discourage some types of birds like Starlings and House Sparrows and so you want a bird houses with certain specifications.  This site gives more information:  http://www.birdwatching-bliss.com/bird-house-plans.html 15836519536_947277d863_z

Learning about birds is really fun, especially because they’re something you’re hearing and seeing every day.  My daycare kids can now pick out the sound of the Morning Dove and the Chickadee.  They can identify some birds by site too though we mostly see Grackles, Starlings and Sparrows in our neighbourhood.  There are Barn Swallows nesting at my In-Law’s place and it was so amazing to watch them dive and swoop around us as we sat outside last weekend and I was really intrigued to see how they attached their nest to the wall with mud.  I think they’re my favourite bird. What I love about home schooling is all the interesting things I’m learning!  I found this video clip of Starlings flying together just mind boggling. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmO4Ellgmd0

Sailing Paper Boats

It poured rain overnight and was quite warm this morning.  When looking out the bedroom window I could see that there was a huge “pond” in our driveway.  I thought it’d be fun to sail paper boats.  I had them color 8.5 by 11 inch paper with crayons which I then folded into a boat following these dirctions: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Paper-Boat

Then we got our rainboots and coats on and sailed the boats.  The kids thought it was great fun, though we should have made more boats as they didn’t last long before they became mushy.

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And of course Pumpkin 2 fell in.

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Though the morning had been warm, it had cooled of and we were quickly wet and cold and the boats mush so we went to the door, emptied the water out of our boots and came inside to play with the boats in a tub of water (which ended with Pumpkin 2 soaking the floor :p )

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