Sunday, February 17, 2013

Educational Activities Made on the Photocopier

As a teacher, I am so thankful to have a photocopier at my school.  There are so many matching activities to be made on a photocopier, especially if you have colored ink available.  Here are just a few math works I've made for the kids in our studio.  There are truly endless activities out there with the use of a photo copier to help teach our children.

Matching and Counting Dice
Here, I photocopied different types of dice for the kids to match the numbers to.   

Counting and Sorting Buttons
Here, I laid all of my buttons out on the glass surface of the photo copier, shut the lid very gently so that I wouldn't bump the buttons, and once I got my good copy I added numbers along the side and laminated it.  This is a great tool for a sorting activity as well as learning to count.

Shape Making with Colorful Popsicle Sticks
Lay down some colored popsicle sticks on the photocopier and make different shapes to make cards for the kids to practice making shapes.  Glue the images on thicker paper and laminate them to make your cards last longer.  

Number and Quantity Matching
Instead of using dice, draw out dice cards, copy them in a row from one through 5 and laminate them for the kids to match.

I hope this gave you some new ideas for your classroom.  Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Valentine's Day Celebration

I thought I'd take a moment to share how our Valentine's Day celebration went in our Montessori studio for ages 1 through 3.  It was a special day indeed, especially since the kids were preparing for this holiday all week.  This week, the theme was on love and my co-teacher and I gave lessons on caring, sharing, and loving one another.  Our students were also offered a station in the classroom to make valentines for loved ones and for each other throughout the week.  They had so much fun and were so excited to see the decorated room on Valentine's Day Morning.

A welcoming entrance on Valentine's Day

The children made flower arrangements during the week for the tables on Valentine's Day.

Valentines made on hearts cut from craft foam for friends and family 

Marble Art Valentines

Our students enjoyed decorating bags by coloring on them and on gluing hearts cut from craft paper.

All in all, it was an exiting week for our students.  They especially enjoyed exchanging valentines with each other on Valentine's day.

Thanks for checking out our classroom on Valentine's Day!  Hope you enjoyed.
~Angelique Buman

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Wild Animals in Africa Activity Tray

I have found this activity to be enjoyed by children ages 1.5 through 6.  A great way to learn the shapes and names of our continents is to make activity trays that teach the children something about the continent.  Learning about wild animals can be very enjoyable for the little ones.  If you are a Montessori teacher or teach at a school that recognizes continents in different colors, this is also a great way for the kids learn the colors of each continent.

What You'll Need:
-A tray
-Craft foam sheets 
-Green Felt (Or whatever color you teach with to recognize continents in your program)
-Wild Animal figures 
-A bowl or container for the figures
-Marker or pen
-Sheet of paper
-Tacky Glue or another adhesive that works with felt and foam sheets 

-First, glue your sheet of felt to a foam sheet.  Let it set to dry.
-Draw up your continent on paper the best you can or have a printed copy of it and cut it out.  Make sure it is large enough that all of the animal figures will fit on the surface.
-Take the sheets that you glued together, and put the felt side face down on a table.  Lay the cut-out shape of your continent on the foam, but make sure that the image is flipped or reversed as this is the back side that will be facing down in the tray.  Trace it with a marker or pen.
-Cut it out and there you have your continent.
I chose to put the foam on the bottom of the felt, to make it a little more durable.  It also grips better to the foam surface under it.

-Take an uncut blue foam sheet and place it at the bottom of your tray to represent water.

-Add the animal figures with a container or bowl and offer it to your kids.  
-You can add labels to the continent and for the animals, especially if you are working with an older age group.

A Montessori Note on Why I Chose to Teach Africa First
For you Montessori teachers and parents, I wanted to explain my underlying reason on why I chose Africa as the first continent tray to offer my students, ages 1.5 through 3, and not North America (which is the continent we live in).  As you may know in many classrooms, it is helpful to first teach the continent that we are from. I too agree and I do talk with the children about where we live, but I tend to break things down in different ways to reach a point.  During circle times, the kids were first shown a sand paper globe to recognize land and water, and then I began showing them the most typical maps and globes where the land is all green and the water is blue.  If you know your Montessori, you know that continents on a Montessori globe are all different colors to help the child learn their continents.  Africa is the color green on a Montessori globe, and since the kids are still learning the concept of land and water, I felt that this color was best for that as they begin to recognize continents.  This age group is very visual and they respond best to real and natural imagery (such as the most natural colors on maps).  Showing them the Montessori multi-colored map would be a little harder for them to understand right off the bat, but while many of the kids have grasped a better understanding of the earth we live on, they are being introduced to the concept of the Montessori multi-colored map.  

Introducing the Concept of Time To Children

Teaching Complex Concepts to Young Children
(Ages 1.5 through 6)

I find that even though most young children aren't expected to learn or understand lessons and activities that are not introduced until at least kindergarten, it's good to expose them to the material to help build an interest and awareness.  With a positive experience of being exposed to something complex, a child is often likely to better understand and appreciate the concept when it is expected of them to learn.  For example, most of us don't expect children of ages 1 or 2 to be able to read a clock, however if we offer the child clocks and other items for telling time, they just may build a curiosity and interest that will further their understanding.  Children may even show readiness to learn more!

The Time Basket

Below is a basket full of items I offered my Montessori students (ages 1 through 3) to start thinking about how time is read.  This basket has brought so much joy to the kids that I was encouraged to start adding new items and presenting more lessons!  I got the idea from another Montessori teacher whom I worked with in an ages 3 through 6 classroom, and it was a hit for the older kids, too.

"The Time Basket"

Found in the basket are random items I have been collecting to help teach about time.  During circle times, we have talked about how time passes into night and day, which is why I have collected some cool crescent moon plates and a model of a sun.  Other items that can be added or rotated include a one-minute sand timer, clocks, watches including digital watches, and pictures of clocks showing time passing from one o'clock through 12 o'clock.  The children are free to take this basket and explore during our work cycle.

Sand Timer Lesson

When I present this lesson at circle time, I point out the wall clock and take note of how quickly the second hand timer moves around the clock.  The kids watch how the second hand makes one round on the wall clock while the one-minute sand timer is going.  Beforehand, I ask my students to sit quietly and listen closely during the minute (and yes, toddlers are fully capable of this with the right kind of encouragement!).  Afterwards, each child takes turns sharing what they heard as the time passed (e.g. cars from outside, children from other classrooms, the classroom pet, etc).  My students absolutely love sharing about what they heard.   Once, a child told me that he could actually hear the sand timer, which was a little hard for me to believe, but I told him that he must have far better hearing than me! 

We recently purchased a two-minute sand timer and a three-minute sand timer  to add to the basket as my students continue to show interest.

If you are a teacher reading this and would like more advice on encouraging the kids to sit in silence while using sand timers, please contact me as I am happy to share a few pointers and tricks.  

Have fun with it!


Land & Water Sorting Tray for Toddlers

As a teacher using the Montessori Method, I often find myself teaching young children complex concepts in the simplest form.  When teaching children to understand land forms, maps and globes, we must find ways to make it fun and easy to understand.  I think about the most common and recognizable presentations and break it down into toddler terms.  For example, we know that water on most maps or globes is nearly always presented in blue and the land is typically shown in green.  This land and water sorting activity that I presented here is just one of the many ideas out there to help kids to begin thinking about the earth they live on.

There are many different ways to display a land and water sorting activity such as using actual water or photos of land and water to sort.  You can add air as a third sorting element when using photos, such as imagery of clouds and birds flying.  In general, it's good to have many different options to rotate for the kids to explore.

It's simple.  I used a wooden tray from an arts and craft store, green felt for the grass and a glitter blue foam sheet for the water.  Optional: I glued the green felt to another piece of foam sheet to help keep the felt in place better.  As for the objects, I have a huge bag of sorting objects that I've collected over the years, but it's easy to find things like this at your nearest toy store or dollar store.  Some objects include fish, sea shells and trees.  On the inside wall of the tray I labeled land and water (and I added the labels on the opposite wall, so that the child is always bound to see the labels and start recognizing them as site words).

Sorting objects that are found on land or the water is a great start for a young child to start thinking about the many differences between land and water.

Thanks for reading as always!  Feel free to pin or comment!
~Angelique Buman