Sunday, April 15, 2018

Montessori-Inspired Tree Activities Using Free Printables

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

Trees are perfect for a theme in April. With spring, Earth Day, and Arbor Day as common April themes, trees are a natural fit in many ways! 



At Living Montessori Now, I have a list of free tree printables. The free printables include my latest subscriber freebie (a Montessori-inspired tree pack).
Here, I'm sharing ideas for using free tree printables to create Montessori-inspired activities for preschoolers through first graders. 

You'll find many activities for preschoolers through first graders throughout the year along with presentation ideas in my previous posts at PreK + K Sharing. You'll also find ideas for using free printables to create activity trays here: How to Use Printables to Create Montessori-Inspired Activities

At Living Montessori Now, I have a post with resource links of Free Printables for Montessori Homeschools and Preschools

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links (at no cost to you).

Montessori Shelves with Tree-Themed Activities

Montessori Shelves with Tree-Themed Activities

My shelves with tree-themed activities include a free tree culture card designed by The Montessori Company. You’ll also find Montessori-inspired tree numbers, letters, and and more (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber)

I always have related books available throughout a unit. On my top shelf, I have Tree by Britta Teckentrip, The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-ups, Tell Me, Tree, and Trees, Leaves and Bark. These books are all Montessori friendly and great resources for a variety of ages. I have a number of other tree books for the theme that I'll tell about in an upcoming post at Living Montessori Now.

You'll see the handmade My Tree Book (My Tree Book by Elizabeth Hall- Kickin' it in Kindergarten at Teachers Pay Teachers) on the top shelf. We used that for our nature walk to introduce the theme. I'll share more about it in an upcoming post at Living Montessori Now! 

You could mix your tree-themed activities among your shelves according to curriculum area. Or you could have a special tree-themed area something like the one pictured. My shelves this month have a mixture of skill levels. Many of the activities can be adapted for a variety of levels. If you’re a homeschooler, just choose the activities that work for your child’s interests and ability levels. If you don’t have room for all the activities you’d like to do, simply rotate them.

Tree Culture Card with Tree Book by Britta Teckentrup

Tree Culture Card with Tree Book by Britta Teckentrup 

I'm happy to share with you this lovely tree culture card from The Montessori Company. I’m hosting the free printable as an instant download at Living Montessori Now. You can always access the free tree culture card here

The description says: “Trees grow tall and strong with leaves that reach for the sunlight. They can grow fruit, flowers and nuts, depending on the type..”

Parts of a Tree Puzzle, Cards, and Booklet-making Materials Parts of a Tree Puzzle, Cards, and Booklet-making MaterialsFree 

Printable: Montessori Parts of a Tree (subscriber freebie) from Trillium Montessori 

This activity uses the Montessori tree puzzle (ours is from the awesome Montessori By Mom Shoots and Sprouts Toolbox), the free printables for parts of a tree matching and booklet making, and a Montessori Services basketWe use a Montessori Services rug for our floor work. 

Reading Parts of a Tree Cards after Matching Tree Puzzle Pieces to Cards

Montessori By Mom has some great extensions for the Montessori tree puzzle. My 4-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, loves the puzzle, so I enjoy finding new variations for her. Renae from Every Star Is Different uses this variation in her "Tree Activities for Tots and Preschoolers." I like that it's a different way to use 3-part cards. 

Zoey laid out each puzzle piece under the matching card and then read the card labels before putting the puzzle back together. 

The Life Cycle of an Oak Tree and the Life Cycle of a Pine Tree The Life Cycle of an Oak Tree and The Life Cycle of a Pine Tree  
Free Printable: Oak Tree Life Cycle Sequencing Cards from PreKinders 

Free Printable: The Life Cycle of a Pine Tree from The Teacher Couple at Teachers Pay Teachers 

This activity uses a real acorn and pinecone along with the printables. The child can lay out the life cycle cards in order and use the booklets to check his or her work.

T is for Tree Salt Tray, Object Basket, and Movable Alphabet Work (see shelf photo)

Free Printables: Tree Letters for tree writing tray and object basket (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber) 

For the salt tray, I used the wooden tray from the Melissa & Doug Lace and Trace Shapes. You can use whatever tray or container work best for you, though. I added a couple of Safari Ltd. trees from the Trees TOOB for interest. 

For the movable alphabet work, I used a traditional small wooden movable alphabet. I also used Montessori Services language objects tub, top, and tag, and printed number "10" as words for spelling with the movable alphabet. 

For children working on their phonetic sounds, the /t/ objects could be used in an object basket. If you would like help with introducing phonetic sounds, introducing objects with sounds, or beginning phonics in general, check out my DIY Beginning Montessori Phonics with Preschoolers

Tree ee Phonogram Card and Booklet Tree ee Phonogram Card and Booklet Free Printables: “ee” tree font cards (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber) 

Free Printable: "ee" Sound with Letters from MontessoriSoul 

This was so easy to prepare, yet it isolates the "ee" phonogram very well. I have a post and video on how to introduce words starting with phonograms, even with very young children. 

DIY Maple Tree Cards and Counters DIY Maple Tree Cards and Counters Free Printables: Maple Tree Numbers (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber) 

Note: I'll change to another tree-themed math activity with free printable (Free Printable: Summer Palm Tree Hundreds Chart Mystery Picture from Mrs. Thompson's Treasures at Teachers Pay Teachers) in a week or so. 

I love making DIY themed cards and counters to introduce odd and even and add interest and variety to cards and counters. I used maple leaf acrylic pendant. You need exactly 55 leaves if you want to do the numbers and counters 1-10.

DIY Maple Tree Cards and Counters Layout

Again, we use a Montessori Services rug for our floor work. 

Conifer and Deciduous Tree Match Ups Conifer and Deciduous Tree Match Ups  

Free Printable: Deciduous and Conifer Tree Matchups from Every Star Is Different 

This is another super easy activity to prepare. I used a Multicraft tray, printables, and Bambu condiment cup to hold the small cards. You could use just the deciduous or conifrer matchups on the tray. I have both combined on this tray. 

Fingerprint Trees through the Seasons Fingerprint Trees through the Seasons TrayFree Printable: Seasons and Trees from Jessica Steffel at Teachers Pay Teachers

For this activity, I just used the printable on a Multicraft tray along with a washable stamp pad for kids to use to make fingerprint "leaves" for each season of tree. 

More Free Tree Printables 

Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to free tree printables from around the blogosphere: Free Tree Printables and Montessori-Inspired Tree Activities. 

And be sure to subscribe to my email list if you'd like to get an exclusive free printable each month (plus two more awesome freebies right away): Free Printables

More Tree Activities and Resources 

Montessori-Inspired Arbor Day Activities (my roundup post)

Montessori at Home or School - How to Teach Grace and Courtesy eBook

If you'd like to focus on manners with children, please check out my eBook Montessori at Home or School: How to Teach Grace and Courtesy! It's written for anyone who'd like to feel comfortable teaching manners to children ages 2-12. I'm also one of the coauthors of the book Learn with Play – 150+ Activities for Year-round Fun & Learning!

Have a happy Earth Day and Arbor Day!
Deb - Siganture
Deb Chitwood
Deb Chitwood is a certified Montessori teacher with a master’s degree in Early Childhood Studies from Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, England. Deb taught in Montessori schools in Iowa and Arizona before becoming owner/director/teacher of her own Montessori school in South Dakota. Later, she homeschooled her two children through high school. Deb is now a Montessori writer who lives in San Diego with her husband of 42 years (and lives in the city where her kids, kids-in-law, and 3-year-old granddaughter live). She blogs at Living Montessori Now.

Living Montessori Now Button

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Reinforcing Early Reading Skills with a Multi-Layered Dance Activity

Hello!


This movement lesson explores
 letter knowledge, including recognizing letter shapes, making the shapes with the body, and learning the sound the letter represents.  It also explores sequencing, word meanings, and making words and sentences.  In addition, encouraging children to make letters in space, whether standing, sitting, lying down, or jumping, helps to develop a child's spatial sense.




Before we begin, it is important to note that the kinesthetic exploration of letters is what is important in this activity.  Whether or not he accomplishes the exact letter shape, it is the child's recognition of the letter, his attempts to make the shapes with his body, and exploring new ways to move that are the valuable learning experiences.







Dancing About Letters!

Time of Activity:  20-40 minutes

Materials:  2, 3, 4, or 5 letters written on paper, or letter flash            cards; and a large, open space, if available

Music: 1 or 2 upbeat musical selections (suggestions below*), and a drum or tambourine, if available




  • Choose two to five letters that make a word, and write each of them on separate sheets of paper (or use flash cards). As an example, let's use the letters D-A-N-C-E.


  • Hold up one of the letters, say the name of the letter, and have the children repeat the name and the sound of the letter.  Now ask the children to make this letter using their whole body (not just hands and fingers).  Do the same for each letter.  Practice this until the children can make each letter in their bodies without needing the visual cue of the letters you are holding. 


Continue with these playful activities that will help to reinforce the learning: 

  • Play a lively piece of music.  Allow the children to dance while the music is playing.  Stop the music and call out one of the letters, and ask the children to make that shape in their bodies.  Continue this until you have named each letter several times, in random order.


  • Using a drum, tambourine, or just clapping your hands, now call the letters out one after the other on each beat or clap.  Ask the children to make the shape as you name each letter.  Start out slowly, and increase the speed as the children become more efficient at responding.  When you have done it as fast as they can respond, ask them to freeze in the shape of the last letter you called out.  Then ask them to melt to the floor holding the shape as long as they can, and then make the letter shape on the floor with their body.


  • Bring five children up to the front, or to a place where everyone can see them.  Have them make the letters for the word "D-A-N-C-E" in order, and see if the class can figure out the word.


  • Move the children around so that the letters are out of order, and see if the class can remember the correct order of the letters in the word.


  • Once the letters are in the correct order again, ask each child to hold an imaginary pencil and trace the letters of the word one by one in the air.


  • Finish with a free dance about the letters or the word the letters make, such as an alphabet song or a song about dancing.  Two examples are Dance in Your Pants by David Jack, and Funky Bluesy ABC's, by Taj Mahal.*








Expand the activity:

  • Choose a different word each time you do this activity


  • Repeat the activity using another corresponding word, or several words, such as D-A-N-C-E  I-S  F-U-N.  This is a good exercise for practicing sequencing and making sentences.


  • Build this lesson around a specific piece of music that includes the word you are using, or tells a story using the word (for example, if you are spelling the word F-I-S-H,  play Goldfish*  by Laurie Berkner).


  • Try doing the word or words using all uppercase letters first, and then do the same using lowercase letters. 


  • Ask the children to walk the path of each letter on the floor, imagining they have paint or chalk on the bottoms of their shoes.



Keep on Dancin',
MOVING IS LEARNING!

Connie

















Reinforcing Early Literacy Skills with a Multi-Layered Dance Activity

Hello!


This movement lesson explores letter knowledge, including recognizing letter shapes, making the shapes with the body, and learning the sound the letter represents.  It also explores sequencing, word meanings, and making words and sentences.  In addition, encouraging children to make letters in space, whether standing, sitting, lying down, or jumping, helps to develop a child's spatial sense.


 Before we begin, it is important to note that the kinesthetic exploration of letters is what is important in this activity.  Whether or not he accomplishes the exact letter shape, it is the child's recognition of the letter, his attempts to make the 
shapes with his body, and exploring new ways to move
that are the valuable learning experiences.






Dancing About Letters!

Time of Activity:  15-30 minutes


Materials:  2, 3, 4, or 5 letters written on paper, or letter flash            cards; and a large, open space, if available

  • Choose two to five letters that make a word, and write each of them on separate sheets of paper (or use flash cards). As an example, let's use the letters D-A-N-C-E.



  • Hold up one of the letters, say the name of the letter, and have the children repeat the name and the sound of the letter.  Now ask the children to make this letter using their whole body (not just hands and fingers).  Do the same for each letter.  Practice this until the children can make each letter in their bodies without needing the visual cue of the letters you are holding.


Continue with these playful activities that will help to reinforce the learning:


  • Play a lively piece of music.  Allow the children to dance while the music is playing.  Stop the music and call out one of the letters, and ask the children to make that shape in their bodies.  Continue this until you have named each letter several times, in random order.



  • Using a drum, tambourine, or just clapping your hands, now call the letters out one after the other on each beat or clap.  Ask the children to make the shape as you name each letter.  Start out slowly, and increase the speed as the children become more efficient at responding.  When you have done it as fast as they can respond, ask them to freeze in the shape of the last letter you called out.  Then ask them to melt to the floor holding the shape as long as they can, and then make the letter shape on the floor with their body.



  • Bring five children up to the front, or to a place where everyone can see them.  Have them make the letters for the word "D-A-N-C-E" in order, and see if the class can figure out the word.



  • Move the children around so that the letters are out of order, and see if the class can remember the correct order of the letters in the word.



  • Once the letters are in the correct order again, ask each child to hold an imaginary pencil and trace the letters of the word one by one in the air.



  • Finish with a free dance about the letters or the word the letters make, such as an alphabet song or a song about dancing.  Two examples are Dance in Your Pants by David Jack, and Funky Bluesy ABC's by Taj Mahal.




Expand the activity:


  • Choose a different word each time you do this activity



  • Repeat the activity using another corresponding word, or several words, such as D-A-N-C-E  I-S F-U-N.  This is a good exercise for practicing sequencing and making sentences.



  • Build this lesson around a specific piece of music that includes the word you are using, or tells a story using the word (for example, if you are spelling the word F-I-S-H,  play Goldfish by Laurie Berkner).



  • Try doing the word or words using all uppercase letters first, and then do the same using lowercase letters. 



  • Ask the children to walk the path of each letter on the floor, imagining they have paint or chalk on the bottoms of their shoes.



Keep on Dancin',
MOVING IS LEARNING!

Connie


https://www.scbwi.org/members-public/connie-dow

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Reinforcing Number Sense and Counting with a Multi-Layered Dance Activity



In my last blog post, I created a basic movement lesson about letter knowledge (letter shapes and sounds), making words and sentences, and exploring sequencing and word meanings. Dance helps to make the learning of these concepts a fun and lively experience.

So for this post I decided to create a similar multi-layered activity exploring number sense and counting, filled with lots of large motor-skill practice.




A few things to keep in mind about this movement activity:

  • Before we begin, it is important to note that the kinesthetic exploration of numbers is what is important in this activity.  Whether or not he accomplishes the exact number shape, it is the child's recognition of the number, his attempts to make the shapes with his body, and exploring new ways to move that are the valuable learning experiences. 

  • Because most numbers are asymmetrical, don't worry if the number the child makes in his body is backward or forward or upside down!  The child is still learning the shape of the number kinesthetically.  

  • Also, encourage the child to make whole body shapes, and not shapes with just the hands and fingers.





Dancing About Numbers!


Time of Activity:  20-30 Minutes

Materials:  The numbers 0-9 written on separately on paper, or number flash cards; and a large, open space, if available

Music:  A lively instrumental selection; and a tambourine or drum, if available


Up and Down: 

To warm up and start the counting fun, ask the children to go from standing to sitting in 10 counts.  Have the children count along with you.  Now come up to standing in 9 counts.  Repeat this until the children are coming up from the floor in one count, and repeat the "1" count several times as the children go up and down, finishing on the floor.

Counting as we go up and down!


Rocket Ship:  

Now to practice counting backward, ask them to crouch low and imagine they are a rocket ship.  Count backwards from 10 slowly, and give the children a chance to "fly through space" after they have blasted off.  Repeat several times, to reinforce the backward counting.
Getting ready to blast off!

Make Number Shapes with Your Body: 

Hold up the flash card of the number "0."  Say the name of the number, and ask the children to repeat it.  Then ask the children to make that number using their whole body.  Remind them that they can try the number standing, sitting, lying down, or even jumping in the air.

Do the same with each number.  Practice these in order until the children can make each number without needing the visual cue of the numbers you are holding.  Then try calling out the numbers in random order.

Make Number Shapes in Sequence:

Using a drum, tambourine, or just clapping your hands, now call the numbers out one after the other from 0-9, in order, on each beat or clap.  Ask the children to make the shape as you name each number.  Start out slowly, and increase the speed as the children become more efficient at responding.  When you have done it as fast as they can respond, ask them to freeze in the shape of the number "9."  Then ask them to melt to the floor holding the shape as long as they can, and then make the shape of the number 9 on the floor.

Numbers in the Air:

Hold up the numbers one by one.  Ask the children to imagine they are holding an imaginary crayon and to write each number in the air.

Number Paths:

Hold up the numbers one by one again.  Ask the children to walk the path of each number on the floor, imagining they have paint on the bottoms of their shoes.

Number Code Dance

This activity will help children remember the value of the numbers 1-5. 

Here is the Number Code:

1 = 1 Hop
2  = Go down to the floor, and back up
3 = 3 Turns
4 = 4 Jumps
5 = 5 Marches

Prompt the children to try out the movements associated with each number above, first in order, then mixing up the order.

Tell them that they are going to put some of the numbers together to make a number dance. 

Let's do a 1 - 3 - 5 dance.  What would that look like?  Can you try it on your own?  (The dance should be 1 hop, 3 turns, and 5 marches).  Once they have tried to figure it out on their own, ask everyone to do it together. 

How about a 1 - 2 - 5 - 1 dance (1 hop, down to the floor and up, 5 marches, 1 hop).

Let's do a 4 - 3 - 2 dance!  (4 jumps, 3 turns, down to the floor and back up).

Now we will finish with a 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 dance!
Free dance and number shapes!


Dance and Freeze:

To reinforce all of the number shapes they have practiced, play the instrumental musical selection.  Ask the children to dance freely while the music is playing.  Stop the music randomly, call out a number, and ask them to freeze in that shape.








Keep on dancin' (and having fun with numbers!),

Connie
MOVING IS LEARNING!


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