Today, I have some Montessori-style activities inspired by my 2½-year-old granddaughter and other kids in our neighborhood. Their love of the snails they find brought about my latest theme of snails. You'll find lots of free snail printables in my Free Snail Printables and Montessori-Inspired Snail Activities.
Here, I'm sharing some Montessori-inspired snail activities using free printables 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 affiliate links at no cost to you.
Snail Pin Poking Activity
Free Printable: Snail Pattern from Pattern Universe
For this activity, I used a Multicraft Tray, colored construction paper, Wood-Handled Puncher from Montessori Services, and a Felt Pad from Montessori Services (Note: The Montessori Services felt pads are now black so they don’t get dirty as easily.)
(Read the push pin warning and why I recommend using the wood-handled puncher.)
Pin poking activities are very popular in Montessori schools and homeschools. Punching out the snail is a good way for young child to develop fine motor coordination and work on the pencil grip needed for writing. It's also a wonderful activity for developing the ability to concentrate. If desired, the child can decorate the snail once it's punched out.
Snail Color Matching Free Printable: Color Matching File Folder – Snail Theme by The Laminating Co-Teacher at Teachers Pay Teachers
Free Printable: Montessori Color Matching Cards from Montessori Print Shop
For this activity, I used a Multicraft tray and Montessori Services basket.
This is similar to last month's car color matching. Even though it has smiling snails (which don't fit with the Montessori emphasis on reality), it's a very cute color-matching activity with isolation of quality. That is, the snails vary only in color ... not in shape or size.
For the layout, I'd just lay out one column of color tablets and then have the child match the second column (unless color tablets haven't been presented before. If not, I'd give the introductory color tablet presentation). Then the child can match the colored snails to the color matching cards (color tablets) and finally add the colored words to the layout. For older children, you could print out the extra set of color words that are on a white background.
For our floor layouts, I always use a Montessori Services hemmed work rug.
Feed the Snail Counting Game
Free Printable: Snail 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)
For this activity, I used a Montessori Services basket, laminated leaves from a bush outside my home, and a small bamboo condiment cup to hold the leaves.
You could just use the printable to make a number basket with one number and the correct number of leaves for your child or students to count. Or you could have a matching activity with snail numbers and sandpaper numbers.
For this activity, Zoey and I played the Feed the Snail Game, a game I made up that I knew Zoey would enjoy. I turned all the numbers upside down on a rug. Then Zoey would draw a number, say what it was, and count out the correct number of leaves to "feed the snail." Zoey loved the laminated leaves and the concept of feeding snails. She did the activity for quite awhile.
Letter S Basket and Sand Tray
Free Printables: Snail Letters for S Letter Basket and Sand 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 letter s basket, I used a basket with small objects beginning with /s/ sound. I like introducing the cursive letter along with the manuscript one, so I included the cursive s card. I used a variety of objects starting with /s/. You could just say the phonetic sound as you or your child removes an item from the basket: for example, "/s/ sack, /s/ saxophone..."
Some of the objects are ones I had at home (especially Safari Ltd. TOOB objects), although most are from Montessori Services (they have individual phonetic objects or a whole set available).
For the letter s sand 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. For the sand, I sterilized sand from outdoors by baking it for 30 minutes at 200F. You can also buy sand on Amazon.
Snail Game for Beginning Blends
Free Printable: Game for Beginning Blends from The Measured Mom
For this activity, I used a a Multicraft tray, dice, any type of game pieces (I used glass gems), and a small bamboo condiment cup to hold the pieces.
You'll find directions for playing the game at The Measured Mom. If you'd like to play it as a cooperative game, you could use one game piece and simply take turns moving the piece.
Making a Snail Enemies Wheel
Free Printable: Snails Study and Lapbook by Wende at Homeschool Share
For this activity, I used a Multicraft tray, Fiskar scissors, a glue stick, and brads to connect the two wheels.
Not only is this a good activity to help kids work on cutting and gluing skills, but it's a fun introduction to snail predators.
More Free Snail Printables
Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to free snail printables from around the blogosphere: Free Snail Printables and Montessori-Inspired Snail 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.
You'll find find animal classification resources in this post at Living Montessori Now: Montessori-Inspired Animal Classification.
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!
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 41 years (and lives in the city where her kids, kids-in-law, and toddler granddaughter live). She blogs at Living Montessori Now.