Friday, June 15, 2018

Montessori-Inspired Ladybug Unit Using Free Printables

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

I published a ladybug post here before. And it was so much fun that I just had to add some more ladybug activities! 


At Living Montessori Now, I have a list of free ladybug printables. The free printables include my latest subscriber freebie (a Montessori-inspired ladybug pack). 

Here, I'm sharing ideas for using free ladybug 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 SharingYou'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 Ladybug-Themed Activities

Montessori Shelves and Book Basket with Ladybug-Themed Activities

My shelves with ladybug-themed activities include a free ladybug culture card designed by The Montessori Company. You’ll also find Montessori-inspired ladybug 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. And this time, we even have a ladybug-growing activity! Fingers crossed that the larvae stay alive and become ladybugs! 

You could mix your ladybug-themed activities among your shelves according to curriculum area. Or you could have a special ladybug-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.

Ladybug Culture Card with Are You a Ladybug? Book and Movable Alphabet "Ladybug"

Ladybug Culture Card and Are You a Ladybug Book Are you a Ladybug? is a Montessori-friendly book that gives information about ladybugs in a high-interest way. 

I'm happy to share with you this lovely ladybug 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 ladybug culture card here

The description says: “Ladybugs are actually predatory insects that eat other bugs eating our gardens, like aphids!” 

For interest, I spelled "ladybug" with the movable alphabet. My 4½-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, has been interested in analyzing and spelling the word.

Ladybug Life Cycle References and Activity Growing Ladybugs

Growing Ladybugs Activity Plus Life Cycle of a Ladybug References 

I like Ladybug (Life Cycles) because it has colorful, detailed photographs and answers the questions children will often want to know about the life cycle of a ladybug.

The open book is the Ultimate Bugopedia: The Most Complete Bug Reference Ever (National Geographic Kids). I love almost all the National Geographic Kids books, and this is a fabulous reference for a study of insects. 

I have a number of other ladybug books, too. I'll publish a ladybug book post before long. Zoey and I are so excited about our ladybug-growing adventure! I'm not crazy about the original Ladybug Land (not very natural looking), so I got the Insect Lore Live Baby Ladybug Larvae - Ladybug Growing Kit Refill and an Insect Lore Bug Carrying And Catching Bag  (Mesh Bug Habitat Unfolds to 8" By 6")

It's perfect for what I wanted. Zoey and I can easily watch the ladybug larvae, and it's designed as a bug catcher for later nature walks. I also have a Montessori Services clear acrylic tray with a magnifying glass for ladybug observations and dropper bottle filled with water to water the sponge that's in a small container that I added to the ladybug habitat. Zoey loves to add the needed 2 drops to the sponge.

Ladybug Life Cycle Tray and Reader

Ladybug Life Cycle Tray and Reader Free Printable: Ladybug Life Cycle Readers from Blessed Beyond a Doubt 

Free Printable: Life Cycle of a Ladybug Printables by Monique of Living Life and Learning at 123 Homeschool 4 Me 

I used a Multicraft traySafari Ltd. Life Cycle of a Ladybug figures, and Montessori Services basket for the figures. There are four levels of Ladybug Life Cycle readers in the printable, so it's very versatile. 

This simple cut-and-paste activity is a good way to reinforce work on the ladybug life cycle.

L is for Ladybug Salt Tray

Free Printables: Ladybug Letters for ladybug writing tray (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 the ladybug from the Safari Ltd. Insects TOOB for interest. 

On the shelf, you'll see that I used the manuscript letter "l" along with the cursive letter "l." I like children to learn both, so I typically introduce both manuscript and cursive. There's also a D'Nealian font in the pack, too, so you can use that if you wish. 

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

Ladybug Beginning Sounds and Movable Alphabet Activities
Ladybug Beginning Sound and Movable Alphabet Basket

Free Printable: Ladybug Alphabet Game from Make, Take & Teach 

This activity was super easy to prepare! The activity is designed for beginning sounds. I cut out the letters for the beginning sounds, but I also printed out an extra ladybug (the last one with the 3-letter phonetic, CVC, words). That's to make an activity for children who are working with the movable alphabet already.

Ladybug-Themed Beginning Sound Matching

Children who are working on beginning sounds can match the letters to the appropriate pictures. For toddlers, you could have an extra set of pictures, too, for them to match pictures to pictures instead of letters to pictures.

Ladybug-Themed Movable Alphabet Work

The extra set of circles can be used with the Montessori movable alphabet for word building and reading.

  Parts of a Ladybug Activity

Parts of a Ladybug Tray  

Free Printable: Parts of a Ladybug from Life Cycle of a Ladybug Printables by Monique of Living Life and Learning at 123 Homeschool 4 Me 

This is a extremely simple activity to prepare and reinforces any books you've read or work you've done with parts of a ladybug.

DIY Ladybug Cards and Counters and Odd and Even Labeling Activity

Ladybug Cards and Counters Tray with Odd and Even Labels  

Free Printables: Ladybug Numbers and Odd and Even Labels (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 love making DIY themed cards and counters to introduce odd and even and add interest and variety to cards and counters. I used these adorable wooden ladybugs. You need exactly 55 ladybugs if you want to do the numbers and counters 1-10. 

For Zoey and other kids who are already comfortable with symbol and quantity, I’ll typically use the cards and counters for hands-on addition, subtraction, and other mathematical operations. (See some of my other themed posts for ideas.) But this month, I used the odd and even labels.

Ladybug Cards and Counters Layout 

 I added a new page to the ladybug pack with odd and even labels that can be used with the cards and counters to reinforce the actual words "odd" and "even." It's a great way to be sure readers understand the concept of odd and even. 

Zoey doesn't need work counting objects to 10, but we did the activity to reinforce the words odd and even and for her to clearly see them in print. 


Completing Ladybug Cards and Counters with Odd and Even Labels

Zoey didn't mind counting out all the ladybugs because she was so in love with the wooden ladybugs. She put them all close to the cards because they were "baby ladybugs" trying to get to their mothers. The ones with ladybug "friends" got "even" word cards, and the ones left over got "odd" word cards. 

Zoey liked the word cards, too, so she put the ladybugs for each number on the appropriate word card "car" when she finished with the first activity. I don't mind pretend play at home with an activity like this when she already accomplished the activity's purpose and is using the materials nicely, which she was. It was actually very cute, and she focused on this for a long time.

The Grouchy Ladybug Book with Sequencing and Matching CardsThe Grouchy Ladybug Book with Sequencing and Matching Cards

Free Printable: Grouchy Ladybug Sequencing Cards from Preschool Post 

Free Printable: The Grouchy Ladybug Printables from Homeschool Share 

I love Eric Carle books! They're not Montessori-style books with photographs or realistic animals, but they're classics ... and they're amazing books. 

The Grouchy Ladybug is a great book for introducing reading time on an analog clock. I just printed and cut out the cards from the two printables. Then I drew the correct clock arrows on each clock face and placed them in a Montessori Services basket. Older children could draw their own clock arrows if you wish.

The Grouchy Ladybug Sequencing and Matching Layout

The child can retell the story, matching the animal photographs to the animals and clock faces.

More Free Ladybug Printables

Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to free ladybug printables from around the blogosphere: Montessori-Inspired Ladybug Unit with Free Printables and 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 Insect Activities and Resources


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 summer! 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 43 years (and lives in the city where her kids, kids-in-law, and grandkids live). She blogs at Living Montessori Now.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Montessori-Inspired Golf Activities Using Free Printables

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

Golf is a fun activity for children as young as preschoolers. Many towns and cities have inexpensive golf programs that are great for families. For summer, a golf unit is perfect ... especially around Father's Day if a special dad loves golf. 



At Living Montessori Now, I have a list of free golf printables. The free printables include my latest subscriber freebie (a Montessori-inspired golf pack). Here, I'm sharing ideas for using free golf 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 Golf-Themed Activities

Montessori Shelves with Golf-Themed Activities

My shelves with golf-themed activities include a free golf culture card designed by The Montessori Company. You’ll also find Montessori-inspired golf 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 P is for Putt and The Kids Book of Golf. These books are both Montessori friendly and work well for a variety of ages. 

You could mix your golf-themed activities among your shelves according to curriculum area. Or you could have a special golf-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.

Golf Culture Card with P is for Putt Book 

Golf Culture Card with P Is for Putter Book 

I love the alphabet series that includes P is for Putt: A Golf Alphabet by Brad Herzog. These books are written for a much wider age range than most alphabet books. There's a short verse related to the letter on each page that's perfect for even young preschoolers. Then there's much more information related to each letter's word for elementary-age kids. 

I'm happy to share with you this golf 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 golf culture card here

The description says: “Golf is a sport played by hitting a small hard ball down a grassy course into a small hole. There are usually nine or eighteen holes.”

Scotland and Golf Materials

Scotland and Golf Materials  

The origins of golf are unclear, but the modern day game is widely accepted to have originated in Scotland. The Kids Book of Golf has some information about Scotland's origins in Scotland. 

Free Printable: 18th Century portrait of The MacDonald boys playing golf by Jeremiah Davison 

Free Printable: Four Countries of the United Kingdom Template from Presentation Magazine

You can read more about Scotland and my Four Countries of the United Kingdom Pin Map here

Free Printable Flags: You can get free flags for England, Scotland, and Wales from Wikipedia. I've seen both the England flag and the United Kingdom flag used as the flag of England. You'll have to decide which one you want to use. 

The Northern Ireland flag is also available from Wikipedia. The official government flag of Northern Ireland is actually the Union Flag or Union Jack (the flag for the United Kingdom). But I used the unofficial flag, which is often used for sporting events, to represent Northern Ireland as a separate country. Size the flags in your printer as needed. 

I included the Montessori continents globe for added geography work related to Scotland.

Book Basket

Montessori Book Basket  

My 4½-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, loves the Maps book. We used it to discuss Scotland. Golf by Cari Meister is a Montessori-friendly beginning reader that uses photographs, introduces the rules of golf, and encourages kids to play golf. 

In another book basket, we have Curious George Plays Mini Golf. It isn't a Montessori-style book, but it's a cute beginning reader for Curious George fans.

Golf Cursive G Work 

Golf Cursive G Work with Around the World from a to z  

Free Printables: Golf Bag Letters for golf writing tray (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) 

On a different shelf from most of the golf activities, I have the cursive g font card along with the Montessori book Around the World from a to z. Zoey loves this book, and I love that it uses tactile cursive letters and sports themes around the world. Here I have it open to the g for golfing in Scotland pages.

Golf Color Matching for Montessori Color Box 2 or Color Box 3

Golf Color Matching for Montessori Color Box 2 or Color Box 3  

Free Printable: Tee-ing off with Colors 2-Part Cards by The Treasured Schoolhouse at Teachers Pay Teachers. I didn't use the tan cards from the set. I also used "gray" instead of "grey" and "purple" instead of "violet." 

I used Color Box 3 for this work along with a Montessori Services basket. For homeschool use, I don't purchase Color Box 2 but use a DIY version of color tablets. (I use the free printable color matching cards from Montessori Services.) You could use a DIY version for Color Box 3 as well, which I've often done. 

This can easily be used at more than one level. Younger children could simply match the card with the colored golf ball to the appropriate color tablet. For children working with color grading, you could have a setup like the one pictured. The child can choose the shade of color tablet that most closely matches each printed golf ball. Children who can read can match the color tablet, colored golf ball card, and card with the appropriate color name. 

G is for Golf Salt Tray and Movable Alphabet Work

G is for Golf Salt Tray

Free Printables: Golf Cart Letters for golf writing tray (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 the golf club from the Montessori Services language objects as an object of interest and as a unique writing tool. I also used letters from the small wooden movable alphabet to spell "golf." 

For the movable alphabet work, I used a traditional small wooden movable alphabet and the golf movable alphabet. You could use Montessori Services language objects as words for spelling with the movable alphabet. For children working on their phonetic sounds, a variety of /g/ objects could be used in an object basket. 

You could also use the golf movable alphabet for matching with the regular movable alphabet or sandpaper letters or having your child find the matching letter when you read a book such as P is for Putt. 

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

Matching Teen Numerals with Golf Tees, Marbles, and Bead Bars (with Variation for Younger Children) Tray for Matching Teen Numerals with Golf Tees, Marbles, and Bead Bars Free Printable: Golf 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) 

This activity uses a piece of felt for a table mat (I used the Montessori Services felt table mat) and bead bars from the decanomial box in a Multicraft tray and a Bambu condiment cup (what I used here) or  Montessori Services basket. (My bead bars, which I love, are from Alison’s Montessori. You can get bead bars on Amazon, although I haven’t personally used materials from those companies.) 

I placed 20 golf tees in florist's foam. I also added 20 small clear marbles to represent golf balls. 

Showing Her Work with 20 Golf Tees, Marbles, Beads, and Number Card

For the activity, you could start with a column of 10 marbles on golf tees and then spin the spinner to find the units. (See my post on how to make a paperclip spinner that spins easily.) 

This is a great activity for fine-motor coordination as well as working with teen numbers. The child then places the necessary number of marbles on the golf tees and finds the matching bead bars plus the matching number card. 

 For younger children, you could use a variation of this with the number cards 1-10, 10 marbles, and the 1-10 spinner. 

Miniature Golf Putting Game with Hundred Chart  Miniature Golf Putting Game with Hundred Chart Free Printable: Basic Counting Hundreds Chart from Math-Aids.com 

I used a Multicraft tray golf pen/club set with putting green, and small glass gem as the game piece. 

This golf  pen set could be a fun Father's Day gift, too! Zoey loved this set! Not only did she want to test out each of the golf clubs, but she had to draw with each of the pens. 

This could be played with one person or as a cooperative game. I have the child hit the ball with the putter until it goes in the hole. Each time the ball goes in the hole, the game piece is moved along with hundred chart until 100 is reached. 

Two or more children (or a child and adult) could take turns hitting the golf ball and moving the game piece. The game could take place over a number of days, too. 

More Free Golf Printables 

Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to free golf printables from around the blogosphere: Free Golf Printables and Montessori-Inspired Golf 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 Golf Activities and Resources
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 summer!

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 43 years (and lives in the city where her kids, kids-in-law, and grandkids live). She blogs at Living Montessori Now.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Help! My Kid Will Scream if I Limit His Screen Time!

Breaking Kids' Addiction to Screen Time
What if a parent realizes the importance of limiting screen time for kids, and admits she didn't take measures to set up boundaries at home? Is it too late? I say, not at all, but there are two things the parent must take into consideration: implementing the limitations gradually and being prepared to deal with challenging behavior that may result from the change in boundaries.

Why Screen Time is Bad for Kids
Experts agree that too much screen time is bad for kids for two reasons: it affects the frontal lobe of the brain and it can become a digital addiction. The frontal lobe is in constant construction until around the age of 25 is responsible for many important cognitive skills, such as judgment and managing emotions, both things we need our youth to develop effectively and on time, and at the very least to keep themselves and others safe.

According to the publication Psychology Today, excessive screen time damages brain function, both in white matter and gray matter. Writers of the magazine say that just holding your Smartphone can make it harder to think. It can also impact your individual safety. Last year, the number of pedestrian fatalities jumped by 11 percent, due to an increase in distracted driving and texting while walking.
When it comes to kids who get too much screen time for connecting with others, their social interactions primarily take place through texts or social media posts, causing them to fail to develop important skills. Stephanie Marcy, clinical psychologist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, says that some of these critical skills include reading facial expressions, tone of voice and other social cues.

Internet safety experts agree that the later children get smart phones, the better. The New York Times reports that maturity helps them cope better with bullies, online predators and sexting. Delaying giving kids handheld, internet-enable devices is even better than just minimizing or controlling how much time they get to use them each day. But for many reasons, a lot of parents aren't willing to hold off making these purchases for their kids.

Limiting Screen Time
Let's go back to the idea of introducing limitations to screen time and devices. This very question was posted on one of my YouTube videos and my first recommendation to the parent was to introduce a time limitation change in the use of screen time, well in advance of implementing it. What I suggested is to allow the kids to hear about it and prepare mentally. Announce what the initial change will consist of and let them help you come up with the date by taking turns at offering up the date. Be ready for some push back though. knowing that kids may try to push off or delay this undesirable change, they may say something like, "Let's start this next year." 

Including Kids in the Change
If what they offer is unacceptable to you, simply thank them politely for the offer and then state that you're NOT WILLING to wait that long, and come up with your own date. If they should object to that date, allow them to offer another reasonable date, and do this over and over, going back and forth, until you both can agree on an acceptable date. If you're unable to agree on the date, stop the discussion and try it again at a later time. This is a process that can be utilized in families in many other situations: setting up rules, where to go on vacation, establishing consequences and especially in the next step of this process.

Once the date is determined, post it on the refrigerator or wherever family events or appointments are posted. The next step is to get the kids to help come up with things they will do during the new; SCREEN-FREE TIME periods.  Let them help you develop a list by getting them to take turns with you in offering up ideas. Reduce the chances of having to reject something they offer because doing so could alienate the child or foster uncooperativeness. To do this, you can set up parameters for the things that go on the list, such as whether it includes things that cost money or require leaving the house.

Weaning Them Off of Screen Time
The main idea of this exercise is to have them come up with simple
things that engage the child's creativity, learning, or independent play. They should not require electronics, money or food. Your goal is to create this list of healthy activities they will choose from during the no screen time period, such as reading, drawing, coloring, playing, crafts, or even just going for a walk and exploring nature. And getting the kids to help you create this list will mean they'll be more likely to select the activity and go do it when the time comes. This works well often because when a youth is involved in decision-making activities, it satisfies their need to belong and feel valuable at home. The result is that they will be more likely to follow through on what was agreed by all involved.

What Should the Limitation Be?
Now you're ready to implement whatever your screen time limitation happens to be, on the previously determined date. You might be asking, "What should that limitation be?" If your kids previously had unlimited screen time, you can take one of two approaches: giving them a new total amount of daily time that they can use, such as 30 minutes or an hour each day, or you can carve out windows of screen-free time. In this later option, you could determine that screen time can occur from the moment they finish homework until dinner is served. Or you can say that screen time runs from 4:00 - 5:30 PM.

Whatever you decide, make it firm and be consistent. You could even have different limitations for different days of the week, such as 30 minutes of screen time during the week and 60 or 90 minutes on the weekend. Create charts to track screen time usage, but have your children keep the charts instead of you. You don't need one more thing to keep up with that you might forget about or drop. Leaving the tracking up to them is good, but stay in charge of the actual use. Have the kids turn phones and tablets into you for safe keeping, and if necessary, shut down your Wifi router during the no screen time.

What if Your Kids Can See Other Routers?
In my own home, this idea worked great until I discovered that my kids devices could see the neighbors routers as well as our own. We lived in a thickly settled area of town in which houses were close together. So I went to each of the nearby neighbors and asked them to please consider putting security on their routers so that my kids could not access their internet service. Because our kids had friends next door, I also asked that neighbor to please consider changing the router password often in case their kids were sharing the password with mine.

Preparing for the Change
Let's go back to the original question posted by the parent who visited my YouTube video. She included a concern about violent or abusive behavior that could result from the new time limitation. If you share this concern, then the answer is to minimize the limitation in the beginning and increase it over time. This will allow the kids to adapt to something they may see as unreasonable in the beginning. If you do have serious concern about how they might behave during the screen-free time, do what you can to get help or invite others into your home during these times to keep everyone safe.

Remember that frequent or constant screen time can easily become an addiction and attempting to stop an addiction suddenly and without warning, can cause the kids to not only experience withdrawal symptoms, but their anger and resentment could definitely trigger violent and/or verbal attacks. This factor alone is why it's important to introduce the change well in advance, and including the kids in the change, rather than just implementing a change as an autocratic adult, a method that doesn't work in today's society.

Some parents who decided to tackle this issue in their home have asked me how to keep these limitations in place when other adults are in charge or come to babysit, such as relatives, neighbors, grandparents or even just sitters. I suggest formalizing the new screen-free rules and educate any other direct-care providers who come to your home, or who watch your children in their own. You may get some resistance or a lack of cooperation from some who might disagree with your methodology. If you do, consider how important it is to use them in the direct care of your kids. If they are important, all you can do is ask for their cooperation with your rules and hope for the best.

Some Additional Thoughts
Finally, let me offer two additional things to consider: setting an example and encouragement. If you implement this change for the kids, set a good example by following your own guidelines. Stay off of your phone and away from your computer or tablet screen during the screen-free time periods. You'll get better results if the kids see you following your own advice. Better yet, participate with the kids in the alternate activities. What better way to bond with your kids than to read, play games, or take walks with them instead of being on a screen. Our kids are not the only ones who can benefit from screen-free times. And encourage your kids when they do comply with the new rule, by giving them lots of positive reinforcement to let them know how delighted you are with their cooperation.

Bill Corbett is the author of the award-winning book, Love, Limits & Lessons: A Parent's Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids. The book is now available as an audio book on both Amazon and Audible. Want to listen to it for FREE? Send an email to Bill and request a FREE download code for a limited time, to bill@cooperativekids.com.

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.

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