Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

With Easter just one week away, I wanted to put together some Easter activities for Alexander (age 2 years, 9 months). I looked around online, through Google images, Instagram, and mostly just in my own head. Finally I came up with more than 15 different ideas that are Easter-themed but also have a learning aspect. I wasn’t able to use all of them because (a) I ran out of eggs! and (b) I ran out of space on my schoolroom shelves.

In a post later this week, I’ll share a few more Easter things:

  • Breakfast and Lunch (served in eggs, in an egg carton… I’ll repurpose eggs for that!)
  • What’s in Alexander’s Easter basket
  • Some ideas for egg hunts for toddlers

Here are 15 Montessori-inspired Easter activities for toddlers. I’ve got some links along with each picture and description if you’re interested in buying the products to do it yourself. If you use that link to buy something, it doesn’t cost you anything extra; but I get a tiny bit of commission from Amazon, which helps me fund future projects and activities.

Sound Matching Eggs

This is a great sensory activity that involves hearing, which isn’t always an easy sense to work with. In each pink/green pair of Easter eggs
, there’s a different object. For example, one pair has a little bit of rice. When you shake the egg, you hear the sound of the rice inside. So the object of this activity is to shake each pink egg and find a green egg that sounds the same. Here are the things I put inside my 6 pairs:

  1. about 1 teaspoon of rice per egg (I taped over the holes, on the inside of the egg)
  2. about 1 teaspoon of instant oats per egg (I taped over the holes as well)
  3. 2 tiny pom poms per egg
  4. 1 tiny plastic turtle per egg
  5. 1 small crumpled piece of paper per egg
  6. 2 rubber erasers per egg

The sounds are distinctive enough but can still be confusing for a toddler. The rice and oats are similar. The felt balls are nearly silent, as is the crumpled piece of paper. And the plastic turtle and erasers sound a bit similar.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Double Digit Number Matching (10-19 only)

This idea is fairly simple and can be used for lots of things. I took the numbers 10-19, since they all started with the number 1, and I put one number on each half of an egg. So 1 and 2 make twelve, for example. I put all of the egg halves into a bowl along side some tracing cards. He will pick a card, then find the halves that go together to make that number. NOTE: You’ll want to use more than just a regular Sharpie (or you can paint over the Sharpie with some clear fingernail polish); otherwise it will rub off. I used this Sharpie Pro.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Count and Match

For this activity, I used jumbo Easter eggs. Inside each egg, I placed 1-9 little rabbit erasers. I found a cardboard egg container that was going to be thrown away, and I cut it down to a 3×3 grid. I labeled it with the numbers 1-9. Alexander’s task is to open each egg, count the erasers, close the egg, then place the egg in the corresponding hole.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

NOTE: All of my bowls, I found for under $2.00 at the local thrift store (Goodwill specifically).

Upper and Lowercase Letter Matching

The image below shows most of the activity but not all. All together, there are 52 egg halves that can be matched! In order to make it not so overwhelming, I simply separated these by color. Now, a bigger challenge would have been to swap all the colors around, but I decided to keep the colors the same (for the top and bottom halves). On the top half, I wrote the uppercase letter, and on the bottom half, I wrote the lowercase. Alexander’s task will be to find the matching letters and combine the egg halves.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Open and Empty

This was easy! I took some of the tiny pom poms and put them inside of some eggs. He just has to open the eggs and dump out the pom poms. (I got this idea from Busy Toddler!)

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Melty Bead Kit

I bought this from Hobby Lobby, and all I did was put the beads in a little bowl next to the egg shape. This is a great practice for fine motor skills. There are a TON of beads, though, and I’m not sure if I want to leave them all out for him or just have about 20-30 at a time. I can imagine a lot of little beads all over the floor… Anyway, he’ll create a pattern, and I’ll heat the final product to set it. This can be done and redone, using the egg shape as the base. It should make a pretty little activity!

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Window Clings

Window clings are simply stuck to a window. But in order to get to the cling, you have to first peel off the front and back plastic layers! So Alexander will have to peel open each cling, then press it to the window.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Carrot Patch

This was a super simple little craft. I saw it somewhere, a little while back, and had to recreate it myself. When I saw it there were no instructions, so I did my best! I used orange and green pipe cleaners plus half of an empty egg carton.

  1. Trim the egg carton so that when you turn it upside down, it lays flat.
  2. Poke holes in the tops (the bottoms, really) of each little cup. I just used a pair of scissors to stab it into an X shape.
  3. Cut two orange pipe cleaners and two green pipe cleaners into 3 equal segments each.
  4. Fold one orange piece in half and twist the ends shut. The twisted part becomes the bottom of the carrot.
  5. Thread one green piece through the top of the carrot and twist to secure it.
  6. Take the loose ends of the green piece and fold them toward the orange, to create two leaves.
  7. Shove each carrot through an X-shaped hole.

The task here is to simply tug on the carrot and pull it. I made some carrots a little fatter than others so that they’d be a little tougher to pull out. And once finished, push them back in!

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Flower Arranging

This is a classic Montessori practical life activity. I really should have fresh flowers and water and a watering pitcher and all that. I do want to do that in the future, but for today, for this week, for this theme, it was easier to opt for the fake ones. I found 3 little bouquets of flowers at the Dollar Tree (for $1 per bunch). I cut off each individual stem (they were connected). THAT was a task… if you have some wire cutters, it will be easy. If you do not have wire cutters (like me) it will be more tricky! I used scissors, clamped them shut, and just twisted each stem around and around about 10 times. Then I released the scissors, bent the stem back and forth a few more times, and it finally broke off. It took about 10 minutes to cut all the individual stems.

I stuck some of the flowers into a mason jar, and I placed some extras next to the jar. I’ll show Alexander that this is what a bouquet looks like and ask him to make an arrangement for himself. There are 3 colors of flowers. I anticipate that he’ll put all 3 colors together, but he may choose to stick to just one color for his arrangement.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Pom Pom Color Sorting

Here are those pom poms again! And I used a divided tray that I found for $1 at the Dollar Tree. Here’s a set of them, though, if you just want to get some for future sorting practice (but if you have a Dollar Tree, check there first since it’s cheaper!). I put 4 colors of pom poms in the center, and Alexander simply has to separate the 4 colors into the 4 sections. This isn’t totally Easter-related, but I didn’t have any more tiny Easter-y things! You can use small crosses, or rabbits, or chicks, or eggs. The pom poms are Spring-y, at least.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Tweezer Practice

I found these felt egg pouches at Target and these tiny colorful chicks from Hobby Lobby. I matched up the colors, placed the chicks inside the matching egg pouch, and I put a set of tweezers inside the 4th egg pouch.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

DIY Nesting Eggs

I found a giant egg filled with jumbo eggs, at Target. I had some regular sized eggs, but I bought more regular eggs as well as some miniature eggs at the dollar store. I matched colors to make 4 sets of nested eggs! I placed them inside of the base of the giant egg.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Simple Egg Puzzle

I was really excited about this idea. If we had a router, I would have cut these from a thin piece of wood, sanded them, and stained them. But alas, I used scissors and heavy card stock. I cut 5 eggs to be the same size. Then I cut them in half in 5 different ways. Alexander simply has to match them. If it proves to be way too easy, I’ll make a new set that is a variety of similar jagged cuts.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Tong Practice

I saw these bunny tongs at Hobby Lobby. They are perfect for picking up the tiny eggs!

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

Easter Stickers!

Stickers are good for fine motor skills! I make it a little easier by peeling away everything but the stickers.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers

OUR SETUP

Since I came up with more than I expected, I’ll leave these trays available for two weeks instead of just one. I found some bunnies that I put in our frames for the time being.

Montessori-Inspired Easter Activities for Toddlers


What About the Meaning of Easter?

We are Christian. And I do have a few crafts related to the Easter story planned. One big project I hope to finish this week is a children’s book of the Easter story that is in the style (of writing and illustration) of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I have the text written. I just need to work on the simple illustrations and put it all together!


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St Patrick’s Day Activities for Toddlers

St Patrick's Day Activities for Toddlers

I should really start thinking of these ideas BEFORE I want to do them. I’ve been staying up until midnight recently, just racking my brain for ideas for the NEXT day. Seriously. I need to work on this!

Anyway, as usual, I peruse Instagram and (sometimes) Pinterest and Google images, then I take what I see and make it work for Alexander. Sometimes I take an idea and just totally copy it, but I usually tweak it so that it works for us. He likes certain things, so I want to cater to them, to help him grow and stay engaged.

For this St Patrick’s Day, Alexander is 2 years 9 months. Here are the ideas we used this year:

1. From Busy Toddler (busytoddler.com and also on Instagram), rainbow rice. To make this, I poured 1/2 cup of plain white rice into each of 6 small plastic bags. Then I squeeze 4 drops of food coloring in each bag. In one bag, it was 4 red drops. In the second bag, it was 2 red, 2 yellow to make orange. Then 4 yellow, 4 green, 4 blue, and 2 red+2 blue. Alexander and I took turns shaking the bags vigorously, to dye all of the rice. I poured each bag, carefully, into a large metal tray, to create a rainbow. I set it by a window, in the sun, to dry for an hour or so. Then I offered Alexander several types of spoons to practice scooping! Afterward, he helped me by using a measuring cup to scoop the rice and pour it into a bag, to use again another day.

St Patrick's Day Activities for Toddlers

2. From Busy Toddler again (she’s awesome, by the way!), a green bath. I found all the green water-safe toys I could, placed them in the bathtub, and filled it up with water along with one good squeeze of food coloring. It didn’t make a mess, as you might have been wondering!

St Patrick's Day Activities for Toddlers

3. Stickers + Matching. This was SO easy to put together. First, I stuck plain white stickers to a sheet of printer paper. Second, I found an image of a shamrock on the internet and printed it onto that piece of paper. Third, I wrote capital letters on the stickers. Finally, I removed the stickers one by one and wrote the lowercase letter underneath. Voila! Easy peasy. Alexander simply had to match the letters and place the sticker where it needed to go!

St Patrick's Day Activities for Toddlers

4. Banish the Snakes. One of the many legends surrounding St Patrick’s Day is that St Patrick drove all of the snakes out of Ireland. “Since snakes often represent evil in literature, ‘when Patrick drives the snakes out of Ireland, it is symbolically saying he drove the old, evil, pagan ways out of Ireland [and] brought in a new age.’ “ (If you’ve never read it, you should read some of the history/legends surrounding this holiday, like why we use a shamrock, wear green, etc. It’s interesting!) This activity is “banishing snakes” by pushing the pipe cleaners into a container, therefore making them disappear. For Alexander, at just 2.5 years, it’s just practicing some fine motor skills.

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5. Rainbow Bubbles. Woo! This was fun. I used baking soda, vinegar, and food coloring for this one. In a big plastic bin, I put about six 1/4 teaspoons of baking soda, separated. On each little pile, I squeezed a few drops of food coloring (like in #1). Then I put some white vinegar in a cup along with an eye dropper tool. Alexander simply drew water into the dropper and squeezed it onto each little pile!

6. Shamrock Painting (NOT DONE). The afternoon got away from us, so this one didn’t happen! But here’s the idea: Mix up some green paint and cut a green bell pepper (that I already had) into rings. Dip the pepper into paint and stamp it onto some paper. The cross section of the pepper is shaped similarly to a shamrock!

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Transferring and Scooping

Transferring Activities | Mostly Montessori Blog

Today I decided to put together some activities for Alexander that were all related to transferring. During his nap, I gathered lots of container, objects to transfer, and things I could use to transfer the objects. I ended up with more than I needed, and I was able to put together these 8 activities that are focused on transferring (or spooning or scooping).

Transferring Activities | Mostly Montessori Blog
Separating red and white beads using a measuring spoon
Transferring Activities | Mostly Montessori Blog
The Tower of Hanoi (great for sorting colors and also stacking from largest to smallest)
Transferring Activities | Mostly Montessori Blog
Pouring beads from one glass container to another
Transferring Activities | Mostly Montessori Blog
Transferring beads from one bowl to another, using a spork
Transferring Activities | Mostly Montessori Blog
Using a spoon to put felt balls onto a tray and then back into the bowl
Transferring Activities | Mostly Montessori Blog
Using a dropper to transfer water back and forth between
Transferring Activities | Mostly Montessori Blog
Using a small ladle to move balls from one bowl to another
Transferring Activities | Mostly Montessori Blog
Using tongs to move lollipop sticks in and out of a small cup

So far Alexander has only explored a few of these. He really loved the balls and the lollipop sticks!

 

 

Brown Bear, Brown Bear Coloring Sheet

Brown Bear Coloring Sheet

We love Eric Carle around here. In particular, Alexander loves Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? He has it memorized and reads it back to us most of the time.

During his nap today, I decided to make a coloring sheet that goes along with the book. I simply went to the last page and traced the different animals onto a single sheet of paper. I made several copies of it, using our printer/copier.

Brown Bear Coloring Sheet

I provided Alexander with the appropriate colors, to color the animals in like the book describes them. And then I let him at it. (To be honest, he just colored them all randomly, which is fine.)

A short enrichment style activity!

If you feel like I’m better at tracing than you are, you can save the image below and print it! Or just do what I did and trace them. Mine are a bit sloppy because I was in a rush!

Enjoy.❤

Brown Bear Coloring Sheet

DIY Fishing Game

DIY fishing game

I have seen several tutorials for a DIY fishing game, but I wanted to create my own! After completing this project, I see where I could have saved a little time and where I messed up here and there. I’ll share that “inside info” and give you some tips on how to do this yourself. Additionally, unlike other tutorials I’ve seen, this can be used for more than just numbers.

I’m not super crafty; I always burn myself with my hot glue gun. I only have a tiny sewing kit, and my stitches are crooked. I don’t have a lot of tools that might have made this easier. But when I come up with a project idea, I like to use as much of my own stuff as possible, to keep the costs low. Finally, I apologize if I dumb this WAY down for some folks. I want to make it super clear so that it doesn’t seem overwhelming.

DIY fishing game

Here are the materials I used (minus the dowel I used as the fishing pole):

  • plastic bag (or any sort of thick plastic… not like plastic wrap, which is thin)
  • card stock to make a stencil
  • hot glue gun
  • scissors
  • metal washers
  • small ring-shaped super magnet
  • string (for fishing line)
  • Sharpie
  • sewing kit
  • 4 different colors of felt

DIY fishing gameDIY fishing game

I created two stencils: one for the fish and one for the pocket. I traced the fish 10 times per sheet of felt (to make 40 fish shapes, or 20 fish). MY FIRST MISTAKE: I freehanded the fish shape, so it wasn’t perfectly symmetrical. Because later, I used 2 fish sandwiched together to make one fish, they didn’t line up perfectly. I had to do a lot of cleaning up later, and most of them aren’t as pretty as they could have been. What I could have done instead was use my freehand fish stencil, trace it once, then flip it over and trace it again. That way, they would have been mirror images of each other. That would have helped tremendously later on!

I created the pocket stencil by placing part of the card stock onto one of the fish, to be sure it would fit nicely. Then I used that to create 20 pockets. I thought about making 40, but I like the way they turned out, with the gills on the other side.

Cut out all of the fish. I had to use 3 different pairs of scissors, meant for different things (like for hair, for fabric, and for paper). I know you’re not supposed to do that, but darn it, these things were a pain to cut out! I think if I’d had one great pair of super sharp scissors, it would have helped!

DON’T CUT OUT THE PLASTIC POCKETS! Cut around them so you’ve got a little edge. That will make it way easier to sew them on later! TIP! When you’re cutting the plastic, just get the cut started and then push the scissors forward. They glide right through. It’s much easier than actually cutting the whole time.

DIY fishing game

Here’s how I assembled each fish:

  • Cut out the fish.
  • Turn 5 of the fish over so you can’t see the Sharpie outline.
  • Place one pocket square onto the side of the 5 fish.
  • Sew it on, INSIDE the black line.

DIY fishing game

  • Trim the black line using super sharp scissors.
  • Cut some of the extra felt into small, curved pieces.
  • Take the other 5 fish. Hot glue (or sew) the gills onto the non-Sharpie side of the fish.
  • Be sure to mix up the colors!

DIY fishing game

  • Flip over the 5 fish that have the pockets.
  • Glue one washer onto that side. Make sure it’s not totally on the edge; otherwise you won’t be able to sew the fish closed.
  • Place a gilled half on top of the pocket half.
  • Glue them together. Then trim any ugly edges, if you want. (If you followed my tip above, you shouldn’t have as many ugly edges as I did!)

Repeat that for all 4 colors of the felt! You should have 5 fish of each color.

DIY fishing game

I used a font on my computer to make the numbers 1-20 that I liked. Then I changed the settings so they were outlines only. I printed those, cut them out carefully (using an exacto knife), laminated them, then cut out the numbers into a shape that would fit inside the little pockets.

I inserted the numbers into each of the pockets.

DIY fishing game

The last thing I needed to do was make the fishing rod.

I got a wooden dowel at the hardware store, but you could just as easily use a stick from your hard! I tied the string to the ring-shaped magnet. For added strength, I put a dot of hot glue on the string before pulling it tight to the magnet. Then I tied the string to the dowel.

DIY fishing gameDIY fishing game

Here are some ideas for how to use this game:

  1. Have your child pick up each number, in order. You can just have 1-10, or 1-5, or 11-20, or even odds, evens, or multiples.
  2. Put certain letters in the pockets, like D, O, and G. Call the word DOG and have your child pick up the letters in order, to spell DOG. (This would work for lots of words. You can use all 20 fish or as many as you need.)
  3. In each pocket, put a picture of an animal. Call out a fact, or an animal sound, and have your child pick up the appropriate animal.
  4. Using numbers again, call out “What is 2+3?” and your child would have to pick up the “5”.

The ideas are countless, really. I wanted to use pockets so that I could this game setup for a LOT of things. It did take quite a bit of time, but it will hopefully last quite a while!

If you would rather just buy something like this, you can pick up a similar game from Melissa & Doug (affiliate). If you’re crafty, or like making things from scratch, then try mine!

Letter Hunt and Matching

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I got this original idea (the hunt) from Susie @busytoddler (blog and IG). I love her.🙂

I added one element to it just because I know Alexander loves his letters.

The first thing I did was write the 26 uppercase print letters on card stock. Then I laminated them, added a piece of tape to the backs of each, and “hid” them around the kitchen and dining areas. As you can see above, they weren’t really hidden. They were just around, but for Alexander, that’s hidden enough! Some were a little harder than others, where he had to look on the side of something instead of the front of it.

The second thing I did was make a “board” that had the 26 letters, in lowercase print. I laminated that also and taped it to the wall. (Since he liked it so much, I’d like to make a more permanent version of this activity!)

IMG_6898

His job? Find the hidden uppercase letters and match them to their lower counterpart. He played this for a LONG time. After the first time, I helped him hide the letters. After that, he started removing the letters and hiding them himself. Of course, they were mostly on the same few cabinets; he just liked matching them. But the physical aspect (actually having to walk back and forth each time) is what I really liked. He likes matching letters, but this also got him moving. That changes it a lot, especially at his age!

This can easily be done for a younger baby/toddler. You could have 5 shapes printed (square, heart, star, circle, triangle) and have the same 5 shapes printed but cut out. Hide the cut-outs and have baby find them. Then match them to the original print-out. Much simpler but still matching + moving.

Activities for a 1-Year-Old

ACTIVITIES FOR A

I’m on a few social media platforms, and the most common question I get is “What activities can I do with my 1-year-old?” Many of the kids of my followers are younger than Alexander, so the activities I share aren’t necessarily suited for them.

My backstory with Alexander’s “education” is that we didn’t start, officially, until age 22 months. And shortly after, I realized that we were doing a Montessori style of learning. That’s when I started really getting into it. (At the time of this writing, he’s 32 months… I would normally just call that 2.5 years!)

Alexander is smart. And so are most kids his age! He may be great at numbers and letters and many things. Other kids may not be great at numbers and letters but are great at other things. So don’t get too caught up in comparing your child to mine or anyone else’s. Some toddlers really are geniuses, but they are few and far between. Kids are smart, definitely, and you can foster that natural curiosity in so many ways. Don’t worry about flash cards or structured activities or “the right” toys.

I can only speak to what I did with Alexander, so let me give you my personal not-necessarily-“Montessori” suggestions for your 1-year-old.

  1. Describe everything you see in a lot of detail (that will change based on baby’s age and current knowledge). And don’t shy away from REAL descriptive words. Like, if you see a cardinal in a pine tree, you can say “Look at that red bird in the pine tree! That’s called a cardinal!” Or if you are using a spatula to flip an omelet, say “Watch mommy/daddy flip the omelet with a spatula!” If you’re at the grocery store and you see a bag of rice, say “Look at tiny all this rice is. The rice is white.” Or if baby is older, “Look at this bag of white rice. This word is RICE.” Then point to the letters and say “R-I-C-E”. I didn’t spell words until Alexander was a little older, but I definitely used REAL words and not baby words, and I used colors and numbers constantly. If I saw an octagon, I called it an octagon. A crosswalk is a crosswalk. A bridge is a bridge. A cashier is a cashier and not just “a nice lady at the store”. I think being specific is super helpful in building a vocabulary. Alexander didn’t speak at all until he was 19 months, so for a long time, it was just me talking to him, and he never replied or validated what I was saying. Now, I can see that he was absorbing so much!
  2. Put small objects in a large object. This can be done in a hundred ways. Littler babies with chubby little fingers might be better at picking up balls and putting them into a bucket. With the development of fine motor skills, a baby could pick up beans and put them into a bowl. Or drop blocks down a paper towel tube. Or put utensils into the dishwasher. (<< This is a good age to start helping load the dishwasher or help with laundry.)
  3. Practical life! As I just mentioned, this is a great time to do some practical life activities. A 1-year-old can wipe off a surface with a rag (not well, necessarily, but the motion is there and the effort is important!). She can put clothes into the washer or, a little later, move the clothes from the washer to the dryer. She can put trash into a trash can. She can use a dull knife to cut a banana or other soft food.
  4. Let go of “Good job!” I was 100% guilty of this for a long long time. And “good job” isn’t BAD. But it’s certainly overused. Your toddler does something simple, like getting off the couch by himself, and you say “Good job!” Then 10 minutes later, he does something complex, and you also say “Good job!”, there’s no distinction between them. It’s also a good idea to keep quiet and just observe. What you don’t want is to build an environment in which your child doesn’t feel validated unless they hear your approval. It’s good to have some internal validation, like… “I finally solved this puzzle! That was exciting!” Even if mom isn’t standing there to say anything, he would be excited that he finally solved the puzzle. What I’ve started saying is “Wow!” and “Look at how you stacked those books!” and “I love the way you write your numbers!” It’s validation without really judging the final product.

I have several bloggers I like, and a lot of them have younger babies. Search them out. Find a few groups on Facebook or people to follow on Instagram. If you see an activity that’s clearly for an older baby, MAKE IT YOURS! Nearly everything can be scaffolded up or down to meet your child’s abilities. If you aren’t sure how to do that, just ask – I’d be happy to help!

6 New Activities: February 2016

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It’s been a while since I have done any formal “teaching” (exploring is more like it) because baby 2 was born January 30. I was tired the weeks leading up to that and I’ve been tired since then!

Either way I decided to put together a few activities for Alexander, mostly based on the scope and sequence of Montessori. I picked some objectives that could be translated to easy, DIY activities. Because Alexander is younger, and because I am happy with making things myself, I created these activities with objects we already had in the house. I have a lot of trays and baskets, which I repurpose as needed.

I’ll quickly run through the 6 activities I plan to introduce to Alexander this week and next. I’m not an expert at this, so my “technique” is probably not the best. Basically, I briefly introduce all of the new items to Alexander. I literally mean, “Hey Alexander, look at this! And look at this over here! And check out this one!” I don’t really explain too much. I let him pick the one that seems most interesting, and then I show him how to work with it. He is almost always drawn to one or two things and ignores the rest. That’s fine by me. I leave the others out and revisit them on a different day.

Here are the 6 things I’ve got set up right now:

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1. Walk the Line

The objective is to just walk along a marked line on the floor. I used some yarn and tape to create a closed loop that started in his school room, went out and about, then came back into the room.

So far, he has walked along the line a few times but got distracted and hung out in the school room after that. I may try to make it more interesting by adding some obstacles (like things he needs to jump over or do along the way).

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2. Sweeping Rice

The objective is to sweep small objects into a designated area. I think the point is to practice a sweeping motion so he can help with actual sweeping soon. Right now, if he tries to help me clean, he uses the broom and just pushes it forward, shoving all the food particles and dirt underneath the table or cabinets. Not super helpful! Ha! I demonstrate it for him, but it doesn’t quite stick. I keep meaning to get him a small broom, but I don’t know if it would help.

In this case, he used the same pushing motion to “sweep” the rice forward. He didn’t get the rice into the square hardly at all. Again, I did a demonstration but he just couldn’t get the sweeping motion down. I’ll give it another shot in a few days. He may have just been distracted.

For the materials, I had the wooden tray/box from another toy. The brush is from my husband’s head shaving kit. And the pink is a piece of Post-It tape that I cut into 4 sections.

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3. Tracing Numbers

Alexander has been really into 11-20 (finally!) so I’m embracing it. He counts to 20, except for 16 usually. And he recognizes them all. He can write a handful of numbers without tracing, but for the rest, we trace.

First we have these tracing cards (aff).

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And second, I write the numbers on his chalkboard for him to trace.

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4. Word + Picture Puzzles

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I saw this idea on Instagram, so I made a few of them. This one spells Alexander once his face is put together.

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5. Pin Punching

The basic idea is to use some sort of pin — push pin, safety pin, paper clip — to punch out a pre-drawn shape. If you make enough tiny dots, the shape should pop right out.

We aren’t there yet! Alexander has enjoyed making holes in the paper, but he isn’t so concerned with creating a shape.

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6. Water Transfer with a Baster

Simple: Just transfer water using a baster/eye dropper! Alexander loves water transfer. This is a bit of a challenge for him, but he’s sorting it out!

A Tour of Our New School Room!

school room for instagram

We moved!

Last week, we moved into a new house, and of course I really wanted to unpack and set up the school room. Let me back up a little… we were in a large 4-bedroom house where I didn’t make a school room at all. Now we’re in a smaller 3-bedroom! And one room is the dedicated school area, which I’m super excited about. It’s got enough space and flexibility that I can add a few areas for the new baby (coming in 2-3 weeks). That means I need to find out what the heck “infant Montessori stuff” is. I’ll get on that.

I had a few basic ideas for this room. I didn’t want to spend much money since we just moved. And we’re having a baby soon. And hubby got a new (to us) car. And it was just Christmas. I knew I wanted a reading area — my initial idea was a tent with a floor pillow. Or maybe a beanbag. Or maybe just a cute chair. I also knew I wanted some tiny wall-mounted bookshelves (where books lean). I had a mirror and a chalkboard already that I wanted to hang somewhere. I wanted to get a plant (or two). I wanted to organize extra supplies and papers in the closet of the room. And finally I knew I wanted to hang some stuff on the walls — art and more, though I’m not good at that sort of thing.

The shelves are the same (one of them broke, so we’re down to 3!). And Alexander got a few awesome new toys that I added to the shelves.

Still missing: a little more art on the walls, a rug (maybe), and curtains! If you’ve got ideas for me, please share!

Without further ado, here’s a tour of our new school room:

READING AREA

Montessori School Room Tour

We got a swing from IKEA. It’s a little high for Alexander, so I added a stool underneath. Alexander hasn’t tried sitting in it yet! In the middle is a chalkboard with a bucket of chalk next to it. And on the right are a few book shelves and a basket of some more books. The shelves are spice racks, from IKEA.

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Montessori School Room Tour

LOW SHELF

Montessori School Room Tour

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On the top shelf, I’ve got some tong practice set up where he transfers beads from one bowl to another. On the bottom there’s a Tower of Hanoi and a puzzle.

THE MIRROR! 

I got this at a thrift store a long time ago, then I sanded it and painted it white. Of course it got slightly damaged in the move. I’m okay with it for now! One day I may repaint the tiny spots that need fixing.

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TALL SHELVES

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I found the little tree at IKEA. There are 3 prints above the shelves: a lemon, an orange, and a blueberry. I put the fruit on a white surface and took the pictures. Then I printed and framed them. I will switch out the prints from time to time! For now, I wanted something simple and nothing distracting.

Montessori School Room Tour

The left shelf:

  • A – musical instruments
  • B – fake fruit (for some reason, he likes them!)
  • C – a balance activity: the boat stands up, and there are wooden animals that you’re supposed to balance on top of each other. BONUS the animals are all endangered animals, which can be used at some point in the future.
  • D – spelling boards with wooden letters
  • E – size/height matching activity
  • F – wooden clock with removable numbers
  • G – sock matching

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The right shelf:

  • A – cloth rags that are for practice folding in half
  • B – snap practice using a cloth diaper
  • C – a magnadoodle
  • D – scissors practice with cardboard and paper
  • E – lacing activity
  • F – the PVC + wooden dowel matching game I made
  • G – a fire truck puzzle
  • H – squishy giant “legos”
  • I – plastic linking rings; he likes putting them together and taking them apart

PAPER STUFF

Montessori School Room Tour

Here I just have some construction paper and wipe-off cards I made. I’m not sure what will go there in the future.

THE ENTRANCE

Montessori School Room Tour

There’s a chair for Alexander to use to turn the lights on and off.

I’ve also got a calendar and a clock, which I’ll use to start talking about time in different ways. It will be his responsibility (I think…) to draw the X on the calendar each day.

Montessori School Room Tour

If you’ve got any questions or suggestions, let me know! I’d be happy to provide links to products if anyone is interested. I also need to start focusing on curriculum a bit more. I plan to buy the Keys of the World before this baby comes. That way, I’ll have some light reading for when I’m nursing.😉

 

Size Matching Activity

I found this blog post on The Kavanaugh Report. She’s got some killer ideas. This was just too good to pass up.

The basic instructions are in that blog post, but I wanted to share a few pointers now that I’ve gone through the project myself!

I went to Home Depot. They sell PVC pipe in long pieces and short pieces. The short pieces are 24 inches each. They sell wooden dowels in 48 inch pieces. Both of those items come in a ton of sizes, gradually increasing in size (and price). TIP: Get a shopping cart! You should have seen me trying to carry my decaf gingerbread latte in one hand and a bunch of pipes and dowels in my arms. Then I realized, once I cut all the pieces into smaller pieces, I was going to have FORTY pieces… A cart (or basket, if your store has those) is absolutely necessary!

Now, back to the pieces. I found that there were a lot more size options of dowels than PVC pipes. I would suggest grabbing 6 various sizes of dowels and taking them to the PVC pipe section. Then test them out! Be sure that each dowel can only fit into one PVC size (and larger) but not smaller. Otherwise, there are too many configurations of a correct answer in the finished product.

If you’ve got a good power saw at home, use that to cut down your pieces! We only have a hand saw, so I figured I would get the guys at the store to cut everything for me. Guess what the wood guy used to cut the dowels… a hand saw. Hey – at least I didn’t have to do it. BUT a hand saw didn’t give me very clean edges, so I had to sand down the ends of every little piece. No big deal – it was calming.

For the PVC pipe, they have a machine. But the PVC guy who helped me decided to use a hand tool to cut them all. That’s 20 cuts, buster! I gave those two fellas a workout. (Oops.)

For the size, I knew that I wanted each piece cut into 5 smaller pieces. And I wanted to dowel to be taller than the PVC so that a little part would be exposed, for grabbing onto. That said, I didn’t think it mattered that much how much taller the dowel was. I ended up going to 4.5 inches per PVC section and 6 inches per dowel section. TIP: Use a measuring tape and marker to mark 4.5 inches or 6 inches. Then once that first piece is cut, use that piece to mark the rest. Basically, the guy at the store would cut once, and I would mark off everything else. That way, he could just focus on cutting instead of pulling out the darn measuring tape each time!

Another TIP (at least for Home Depot): Make sure that you’ve got a barcode preserved from each original piece. The PVC pipes were marked up in multiple places with a barcode, but the dowels were only marked once. So if that one barcode got cut in half, make sure to grab a second identical one, just for scanning at the register!

When I got home, I sanded down all the wooden dowel pieces. I was going to spray paint the PVC pipe but figured the exposed markings were kind of cool. It looks homemade, and I’m totally cool with that.

I had a box from the thrift store that I’ve been using for something else. I always knew it would serve a better purpose: this project was it.

It took me 3 good efforts to fit all 20 PVC pipes into the wooden box, but I finally found a configuration that worked! Once I had them situated, I heated up my hot glue gun. I removed one piece at a time, glued the bottom edge, and replaced it.

It dried right away, so I played a matching game myself. While it wasn’t a challenge for me (go figure), it was very satisfying the way that every piece only fit in there a certain way. Alexander hasn’t quite figured out how to get all the pieces in there, and I imagine that will take him a while. But it will be a long-lasting activity in our school area. And according to the original blogger, her 4-year-old has recently taken an interest in it again. That’s very reassuring that a $20 project will last me such a long time!