Music – Staff

Pumpkin 1 is learning piano from her Gammie.  We also have a set of Montessori Bells.  I was trying to think of a way to teach the staff and I saw a Pinterest post with the person using gems with the letters on them.  We have a pile of gems and Pumpkin 1 loves playing with them.

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I printed off one staff and wrote the letters on it.  I did print off a treble and bass clef but haven’t laminated them yet.  I wrote the note names on the back of the gems with permanent marker.

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I introduced matching them to the bells and then how we can write the music we play using the staff.  Pumpkin 1 has tried writing her own music for the piano so she really liked this.  That’s one key area of Montessori music that different from music lessons – the children are given the opportunity to write their own music.  Creativity is such a huge motivation for learning something.  How often do we learn and study something so that we can express our creativity – knitting or crochet, painting, playing an instrument, carving, sewing, writing.  Being able to express ourselves is a fundamental human desire across all cultures.  In the Reggio approach there is a lot of importance given to “the hundred languages of the child” which is all the different ways and mediums in which a child communicates and expresses himself.

If you can’t afford a set of Montessori bells, you can pick up a set of hand bells.  If possible spray paint them so they’re all one colour so that the child learns to use their ears rather than their eyes to differentiate between the sounds.

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The Body for Kindergarteners

Pumpkin 1 has been asking a lot of questions about how her body works.  I like to follow interests and I always learn a lot too.  So we have two new friends in our homeschool room.

This is Fred, the Squishy Body (should be called sticky body).

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He’s from Amazon.  And he’s amazing.  All the body parts come out and feel so….squishy and sticky.  He comes with a booklet about the body parts and a chart to match them to.  It’s very fascinating.  I didn’t know that the bladder was behind the intestines.  I’m kinda jealous about how my kids are learning.  Health class would have been way more interesting with a Squishy Body.

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I still supervise the dissection of Fred but I’ve been told that the body parts can be washed if they pick up lint and fluff.

This is our other friend, Stan.  Stan the Skeleton Man.

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He came from China from Ebay.  He’s pretty great for the price (though it looks like the Canadian dollar went down more).  And he came really fast.  Pumpkin 1 likes to mother him lol.

I printed off some bone cards from Montessori Print Shop as Pumpkin 1 was asking to learn the names of the bones.  I didn’t print all of them, only the major ones for now.  Pumpkin was kinda annoyed because she wanted to know the names of bones I didn’t print off.

I also printed off organ nomenclature cards for reading practice.

I like to have books to read too.  These are the two books I’ve purchased for learning about the body.

They’re simple enough for primary but not so simple that there’s no real information.

Now when her brother jumps on her Pumpkin one tells me, “He hurt my intestines!”

 

 

Months of the Year; Sun and Earth

I put this together for Pumpkin 1 to practice reading and to learn the order of the months of the year.  While she’s at the learning stage she can match the Earth slips to the words on the Sun.  This makes it more of an absorbent mind activity.  Later, when she’s familiar with it, she can flip the Sun over and put the slips around without the control.  I added a peg person to put on the month that we are in.  It can further be used to explain the movement of the Earth around the Sun and how that creates our season and months.

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You can download a PDF of this activity here: sun months  The sun is printed on yellow construction paper or you could use yellow card stock.

Flags for Continent Boxes

Continent Boxes are a fun DIY Montessori project and they’re something that can always be growing and changing.  You can keep adding new things to them.  If people go on a trip, ask them to bring back a little knick knack to add to it and bring back your own when your family travels.  I’m not finished all my Continent Boxes yet.  I still have Europe and Africa left to make and right now they’re pretty minimal, mainly just Toob figures and pictures to match.  So when I came across this idea in the Montessori Homeschooling Facebook group, I was really excited.  It was so simple and inexpensive.

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The flag stickers are from this book.

I already had the little wood rectangles from a long time ago.  I got them from this etsy store.  The book has two sets of each sticker, a larger one and a smaller one.  I put the larger one on the wood rectangles.  Since the stickers are reusable, they’re not very sticky so I sealed them with two coats of a glue finish (note, do a very thin coat first or the stickers bubble).  I only sealed the top, not the whole wood piece.

The book came with lovely labelled world maps.  The smaller stickers I stuck on the maps.  Then I put them in page protectors and a duotang so that it can be used as a reference.  I plan to get some little draw string bags to keep the flags in.

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Flags are not something that’s generally taught in school, but I find them fun to learn, especially in engaging ways like with the Pin Map and these little tokens.  Also, you’ll be surprised how often you see flags.  I was very proud when I could identify the flags flying at the factor near the grocery store and the other day Pumpkin 1 and I were at KW surplus and they had a ton of flags hanging up.  I was surprised when she told me the one which I couldn’t remember was the Newfoundland and Labrador flag.

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Cosmic Nesting Boxes

I first saw these here and thought it was a great idea but forgot about it until I saw them again.  The M&D nesting boxes aren’t very expensive on amazon.ca.  You could probably find them even cheaper at a yard sale or maybe some friends have a set they don’t want any more.

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I first painted the boxes black.  Then found the pictures on the internet and pasted them in Publisher and formatted them to fit the box measurements.  I attached them with a paper glue/finish (kinda like Modge Podge not so sticky when dry).  I sealed everything with two coats of the finish.  The boxes are from biggest to smallest – Universe, Milky Way Galaxy, Solar System, Earth, North America, Canada, Ontario, Our City, Our House and then a little peg person.

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They’re a great way to help a child understand how everything fits together when it comes to the world and countries and where their place is in it all.

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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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Our Solar System, with a Printable

Pumpkin 1 has been fascinated learning about our solar system.  She has decided she wants to be an astronaut and go to Mars.  She tells the daycare kids, “I’m going to go to Mars one day”.

I have been learning so much about the Solar System that I didn’t know.  Like that there are at least 5 dwarf planets including one between Mars and Jupiter called Ceres.  And that Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are made up of a gas and have no solid surface.  I got this book from Amazon and it’s amazing.  It’s perfect for Kindergarten age and is full of colourful pictures.

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We also have this solar system from Discovery Toys.

It’s great to show how the planets go around the sun but I wish the planets turned around too and a moon going around earth would be awesome.  The planetarium part is disappointing.  We used to have a planetarium as a child and I loved it (though it was my brother’s).  I’ve been hunting for an affordable one for my kids.  I decided to go with this one because it’s affordable and has ok reviews.  We should get it in the mail soon and I’ll review it for you.

I wanted 3 part cards that had all planet on them but I couldn’t find any so I made my own.  That took a lot of work but I’m very happy with the results.

(The blanket on the carpet is to protect it from accidents from Pumpkin 2, who is pretty much toilet trained except when he’s too involved in playing.  I can just pick it up and throw it in the wash and the carpet is safe).

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It has the 8 large planets and 5 dwarf planets as well as the major moons.  Pumpkin’s favourite moon is Callisto because it looks sparkly.  There is also the 3 types of galaxies, other items in space such as 2 asteroids, comets, stars and meteoroids and nebulas (they’re so beautiful I had to include 3).  Each card as some info on the back.

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You can download the cards for your own use below.

Solar System Cards cursiveSolar System 3 part cards

Solar System Cards printSolar System 3 part cards print

When you print them out print the planet pictures first (the odd number pages) and then print the information on the back (the even number pages).  These can be your control cards.  Then you can print off a second set of the picture cards and cut the labels off along the line.

The Solar System chart is from here:

http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2013/11/27/why-there-are-and-should-be-eight-planets-in-the-solar-system/

Image credit: NASA's The Space Place, via http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/ice-dwarf/.

I also printed off the symbols for the planets.  Astronauts need to know that too of course!

I just printed them off from the below site and cut them out.

 

Planet Astronomical Symbols

Though I try to avoid screen time, space is just something you have to see.  To see objects floating in space and see what life is like on the International Space Station, is just not something that photos can do justice too.  Pumpkin 1 loves to watch videos of life on the ISS.  Chris Hadfield, who is a Canadian, has some excellent ones.

 

Pumpkin also liked watching the female astronaut wash her hair in space.

 

I’m really glad Pumpkin 1 lives in this generation.  50 years ago being an astronaut wouldn’t have been open to her being a girl.  Now she can dream big space dreams.

Hebrew Lunar Calendar

Our family follows the Hebrew Lunar calendar for religious holiday dates.  I wanted to start teaching Pumpkin 1 the Lunar calendar so I put together this.

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The pocket chart is this one from Amazon.  The pictures below is for that week’s Parsha reading from Chabad.org 

I made my own cards to use in it.  We start a new month on conjunction but the great things about this calendar is you can set it up any way you want.  You can download the cards for your own calendar through the link.

Hebrew lunar calander

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It’s hung with removable Command hooks.
Pumpkin 1 is always asking what phase the moon is in now.  We check the moon out the window at bedtime.  I’d love to get this one day.  It automatically syncs with the moon outside!

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But of course nothing beats the real thing!

 

10 Sums

Pumpkin 1 wanted to do an activity with the glass gems so I set up this.  She wanted to do it over and over.  I’d put some gems on the board.  Then she’d have to add the right number bar.  I’d write it on the chalkboard.  She’d add the rest of the gems to equal 10 and the number bar and I’d write it on the chalkboard.

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