Saturday, April 15, 2017

Montessori-Inspired Turtle Activities Using Free Printables

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

Turtles are an especially fun theme in the spring or summer. And it's easy to prepare hands-on turtle activities using free printables. 



At Living Montessori Now, I have a list of free turtle printables, including my monthly subscriber freebie pack! 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. 

Shelves with Turtle-Themed Activities

Shelves with Turtle-Themed Activities 

My shelves with turtle-themed activities include a free hand-painted printable turtle culture card designed by The Montessori Company. You’ll also find Montessori-inspired turtle numbers and letters (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) 

The books on my top shelf are National Geographic Readers: Turtles, National Geographic Readers: Sea Turtles, and Turtle Splash!: Countdown at the Pond. Zoey and I enjoy them all. 

I also have a handmade book using a free printable: Calm Down Social Story-Turtle Breaths by School Social Worker extras at Teachers Pay Teachers. This printable book helps children identify their feelings and learn a deep breathing exercise ("turtle breaths") to help them calm down. It's a helpful technique for any child (or adult) to learn. 

In addition, I have a handmade book: Little Letter "T" Book on the middle shelf. It uses a free printable: Little Letter "T" Book from The Measured Mom. Check out my "Simple Easily Rotated Activity to Teach Letter Sounds to Toddlers and Preschoolers" to learn how we use these letter books, which my 3-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, loves.
And on my puzzle shelf, I have the Montessori turtle puzzle.  I also have another math material shown below that's not on the shelves. 

You could mix your turtle-themed activities among your shelves according to curriculum area. Or you could have a special turtle area something like the one pictured. My shelves this month have a mixture of skill levels, although they're mainly for 3-5 year old pre-readers. 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, just rotate them.

Turtle Culture Card (on shelf next to National Geographic Reader: Turtles) 

Turtle Culture Card and National Geographic Kids Turtles Book  

I'm happy to share with you a fabulous hand-painted turtle culture card from The Montessori Company. You can use it on your shelves to introduce a sheep or lamb theme. I’m hosting the free printable as an instant download at Living Montessori Now. You can always access the free turtle culture card here

The description says: “Turtles are reptiles that can hide their arms and legs entirely within their shell when they feel threatened.” 

Sea Turtle Numbers and Counters Game Sea Turtle Numbers and Counters Game  
Free Printable: Turtle 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 simply used a Montessori Services basket, the green sea turtle numbers (I used 0-10), and Safari Ltd. Good Luck Minis Sea Turtle Hatchlings Set of 10. I used a small bamboo condiment cup to hold the sea turtle hatchlings. 




For the game, I placed the number cards in a stack upside down. Then Zoey drew a card and counted out the number of sea turtle hatchlings that were needed. It's very much like Montessori cards and counters, although it's themed and played like a game to add interest. I also added the number 0. Zoey and I took turns drawing numbers and counting out the sea turtle hatchlings, which she really enjoyed. 

And using only 10 counters allows a younger child to do as few or many cards as he or she wishes. Zoey had fun going through the entire stack. 

Turtle Place Value Activity Turtle Place Value Tray Free Printable: Counting Forward: Cute Turtles (Kindergarten Task Cards) by Donna Thompson at Teachers Pay Teachers. 

I didn't use the printable exactly as it was designed. Instead, I cut out turtles with a variety of two-digit numerals. 

For this activity, I used a piece of felt for a table mat, a Bambu condiment cup to hold the turtle numbers, and bead bars from the decanomial box in Montessori Services baskets. (My bead bars, which I love, are from Alison's Montessori. You can get them on Amazon, although I haven't personally used materials from those companies.) 

This is a fun extension for children who are working on place value.

Turtle Place Value Layout 

Letter T Object Basket 

Free Printables: Turtle Letters for Letter T 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) I just used  a  turtle Beanie Baby and small objects I had that started with the/t/ sound. Again, If you'd like ideas for teaching phonics, check out my DIY Beginning Montessori Phonics post. 

Turtle Sand Writing Tray

Turtle Sand Writing Tray 

Free Printables: Turtle Letter T Fonts (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 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. 

To add interest, I used a turtle from the Safari Ltd. Frogs and Turtles TOOB. It's fun to write the letters with the turtle's nose. There are a few different types of turtles in the TOOB, so you could rotate the type of turtle throughout your turtle unit. I used colored sand, although you could use colored salt or another type of writing material. 

ABC Turtle - Beginning Letter Sounds ABC Turtle - Beginning Letter Sounds  

Free Printable: ABC Turtle by Make Take Teach at Teachers Pay Teachers 

For this activity, I used a multicraft tray, the pieces from the printable cut apart, and a small bamboo condiment cup to hold the pieces. It was super easy to prepare. 

You could start with one page and the 6 matching letters, or you could add more as your child or students are ready. 

You can find lots of resources for teaching phonics in my DIY Beginning Montessori Phonics post. 

Snappy the Syllable Turtle Board Game Snappy the Snapping Syllable Turtle Game  
Free Printable: Snappy the Syllable Turtle Board Game from Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational 

This is a fun activity that works for younger children if you read the words and count out the syllables together. Readers can read the words and then count out the syllables. 

At Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational, they used a DIY snapping turtle to count out the syllables. I decided to use different rhythm instruments. Finger castanets would be especially fun, although a variety of instruments can be used. 

The Tortoise and the Hare Activities The Tortoise and the Hare ActivitiesFree Printable: See my "Montessori-Inspired Activities for The Tortoise and the Hare" for free printables to go with the Maestro Classics CD and/or a literature-based Tortoise and Hare unit. 

(Note: my readers always get 17% off Maestro Classics CDs with the code MONTESSORI at checkout!) I love this CD, and I'm looking forward to doing the activities with Zoey. 

For this tray, I used a multicraft tray, the printables, a Bambu condiment cup, and Montessori Services basket for the puzzle pieces. You'll find more activities in my Tortoise and Hare post, but these are some that work well for a variety of ages.

More Free Turtle Printables

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

Montessori-Inspired Turtle Activities (a roundup of turtle activities)
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 fun spring and 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 41 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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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Once Upon a Time, SPRING FREEBIES + Frog Street SPLASH!


Once upon a time, a seed was planted. It grew. It flourished. It bloomed! 

Welcome to April! Welcome to SPRING! Debbie Clement, editor-in-chief reporting.



Twenty-one years ago, I was an administrator at a private preschool for young children with special needs in Columbus, Ohio. I was in charge of designing a day of professional development for our staff. One of my peers suggested that I bring Jim Gill to inspire our team. I had never heard him speak. I called him. He came. He was amazing. 

Jim had us singing and dancing. We laughed. We cried. I was indeed inspired. Jim changed my life. For!ev!er!

I wanted to be like Jim when I grew up. I wanted to sing and dance and inspire. So without a whole lot of consideration, very soon after his day with us, I wrote my letter of resignation. I finished out the last couple of months on my contract and I walked away from all that was familiar. I walked away from health insurance, snow days and a retirement account for the unknowns of contribution, adventure and creativity. 

One day of professional development and my life changed forever. Twenty-one years ago. Fast forward a couple of decades. 

One of the very first presenters to welcome me to the 'circuit' (after Jim) is a fellow Hoosier, Mary Jo Huff. Over the years we have become not just cheerleaders of one another's work but also of one another's family. 


NOW! Take another look at the Frog Street list of presenters for the "Make-It, Take-It" portion of their upcoming pre-conference day! This is literally my professional dream team, a dream come true for me. Truly some of my very favorite people in the field.... gathered together in the same Super Hero galaxy. 

Just imagine. How might your professional life be changed by attendance at an invigorating conference this summer? Where might YOU be in twenty years? I invite you to take a closer look at the conference playbook. Dream BIG. Plant some seeds. JOIN US! 

Take a photo of each of your students. Plant some seeds! 

photo of: Springtime Science with Seeds at Kindergarten Rocks via RainbowsWithinReach

As I make my author-illustrator school visits across the country, I get to see variations on the same concept. Here's a perfectly exciting spring science experiment. 




See how much more FUN can be had watching the grass seeds sprout as 'hair.' 



Here's another subtlety for this project, that allows the students to be able to see ALL of the roots as they grow and fill the plastic cup..... yet have the fun photo faces! 

Simple Science for Spring: Grass Seed becomes HAIR! via RainbowsWithinReach


Science and Seeds in Kindergarten via RainbowsWithinReach

Then there's always this classic chestnut. I remember my own Lima bean in paper towel experiment as a child. Some concepts never go out of style. 



I have an entire ROUND-UP of Spring Arts and Crafts over at my blog. 

Spring Arts and Inspiration via RainbowsWithinReach

EARTH DAY! This earlier article may be my very best, favorite hands on Artist Residency day of fun in preschool that I have ever designed. One pool noodle. Lots of tissue paper. Many hands. 

photo of: Earth Day collaboration with Debbie Clement, song and art for preschool, Head Start, Kindergarten

Some FREEBIES! Click the image + go download.
Proper etiquette has you leave a sweet comment.  

Easter FREEBIE - Composing Numbers to 5

Freebie Easter Morning Work Kindergarten and First Grade

Easter - FREEBIE

Easter Egg Free Printables

Easter Bunny Comparisons - Numbers 0-20 (Common Core)

Earth Day Freebie Activity

Earth Day Freebie!  What a Wonderful World Book!

Earth Day Sight Word Game Freebie!

Survey and Graph: Earth Day

Earth Day Emergent Reader FREEBIE!

Earth Day - Free Product

Earth Day Printables and Craft Freebie

Earth Day Reader {Freebie} for Kindergarten and First Grade!

Earth Day Math and Literacy Center and Activity for Presch

We have had a week filled with hugs and movement. 
My grand niece and nephew (and their parents) spent some quality time with us. 

This is what an 18 month old and a 29 month old look like on our Wobble Seats. 


In answer to your question: 
"No. They never fell off." 
Not even the 18 month old, whose toes didn't actually reach the floor.

We distribute the Wobble Seats at WobbleSeat.com and can accept your purchase orders and we also offer quantity discounts. 



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