Thursday, December 15, 2011

Montessori-Inspired Snowman Color Activities

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now

I’m a real fan of the great ideas and printables I find online. I love how simple they make it for teachers and parents to create attractive, inviting activities for school or home. As a Montessorian, I typically use printables to create hands-on activity trays.

As I said in my PreK + K Sharing introductory post, each month I plan to share a Montessori-inspired activity you can use at school or home. Today, I want to share some ideas for using a fun, free winter printable from “The Kids Place” Home Daycare and Preschool: Free Printable ~ Snowman Colors. It works well before Christmas and/or anytime during winter. I’m using a second printable with Spanish color words from Home Education Resources: Los Colores: Spanish Colors.

I especially like these printables because they use the 11 colors in the Montessori Color Box 2: red, blue, yellow, orange, purple, green, pink, white, gray, brown, and black. Also, you’ll notice in the snowman printables that only the color of the snowman’s hatband, scarf, and word name varies. There aren’t variations in size or shape that could confuse the child. Isolation of difficulty is a Montessori principle that helps children most easily learn a specific concept.

Of course, I always like to use a traditional Montessori material and presentation to introduce a concept like colors. I have a post with lots of links to ideas for DIY Color Tablets that work well for home or preschool use outside of a traditional Montessori school. Activity trays created with printables are great as extensions to reinforce the initial introduction. Seasonal activity trays help create and renew interest.

Here are some Montessori-inspired snowman color activities to help preschoolers with a number of skills:

Preparing Snowman Color Activities

Materials (and preparation tips):
  • Snowman color printable and Spanish color printable (optional).
  • Materials for printing, cutting, and laminating printables.
  • Activity tray. I show a number of different options in my photos, but you only need one tray for this activity. I show an inexpensive wooden tray from a hobby store. My Christmas tray is a Christmas appetizer tray. I’ve often found inexpensive trays at thrift shops, dollar stores, or the Target dollar section. Many parents use the inexpensive trays from Oriental Trading (no, I’m not an affiliate). In Montessori education, there’s only one of each activity, encouraging children to take turns or work together cooperatively. So you only need to prepare one activity tray of a specific activity if you’re creating a Montessori-inspired activity for your preschool classroom.
  • 3 small containers for an undivided tray. Unless I have a divided tray (like the Christmas tray or blue tray), I like to have small containers of some sort for small labels and objects needed for the activity. I just used parts of a bead storage container from the hobby store for the small containers on the wooden tray. I tend to keep my eyes open for small, attractive containers that will work well with activity trays.
  • Tweezers and fuse beads in 11 colors. Pony beads would be wonderful if you can find them in brown. I used fuse beads because it was easier to find all 11 colors.
  • When preparing the activity, make it as attractive and orderly as possible. Typically, you’ll want to arrange your materials in left-to-right order on the tray as an indirect preparation for writing and reading.
  • For a young preschooler, you might just need red, yellow, and blue. (I recommend preparing the materials for more advanced levels as well so they’ll be ready when the child is ready for them.) The Spanish word cards are optional, but they’re a nice addition for older children who are already comfortable with identifying colors. The tweezers and fuse beads are also optional, but they add a practical life activity that especially focuses on eye-hand coordination.
  • You’ll need a low shelf or shelves for the activity trays in your classroom or home where the children can easily reach them, allowing for freedom of choice in their activities. Activity trays on shelves are wonderful ways to have activities available when children have an urge to repeat an activity or are drawn to an activity because of the needs of a sensitive period.
  • Especially if you have more than one child, it’s helpful if you have a few rugs in the room so a child can lay out the materials for an activity on a rug on the floor. The rug is helpful for defining the child’s workspace. Rugs can be rolled up and stored in a container in a corner of the room.
Presenting the Activity
  • If you’re presenting to a large group, go to the rug container, get a rug, and roll it out on the floor in front of you. For an individual child or small group, it’s helpful to use a rug if you’re presenting an activity on the floor.
  • Go to the shelf where the activity tray is located, pick up the tray with both hands, and carry it to your rug or to a table.
  • For a large-group presentation in a preschool, generally the children will be seated in a circle. Present the activity facing toward the group. If you’re presenting to an individual child, have the child sit to your left if you’re right-handed so that you don’t block the child’s view with your arm.
  • Lay out the snowmen in one or more rows on the rug or table, starting at the left and working to the right.
  • Lay out the snowmen hats in mixed order below the snowmen.
  • Show how to find the first snowman hat and place it on the snowman’s head, saying the color name.
  • In Montessori education, activities are presented slowly with precise movements. As few words as possible are used. In another preschool environment, you may want to adapt the presentation according to your own teaching style.
  • Often at this point in a group presentation, I’ll ask someone in the group if they’d like to match another snowman’s hat. I might go around the group giving the children turns matching snowmen with hats and then snowmen with Spanish word cards. While older children might focus on reading the Spanish words, younger children can match the words by the color shown on each card. With an individual child, I'll let the child join in when he or she feels ready.
  • Show how to use the tweezers to match the fuse beads to the snowman’s buttons. A young preschooler could use his or her fingers to add the fuse beads if tweezers are too difficult.
  • When you’re finished presenting the activity, put the activity away on the shelf. Always show how to clean up and put away an activity when you first present it. If you had a rug out for the activity, roll the rug up and put it away.

Other Extensions/Variations

  • Have a color hunt in your classroom or home.
  • Introduce color names in other languages.
I hope you have some winter fun with colors! And Happy Holidays! :)

UPDATE: My January post has Montessori-Inspired Snowman Letter Activities!

Deb Chitwood is a certified Montessori teacher with a master’s degree in Early Childhood Studies. 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. She is now a Montessori writer who lives in Colorado Springs with her husband of 36 years and their cat of 10 years. She blogs at Living Montessori Now.


  1. Two things I LOVE about this . . . well, there's more, but I'm just picking two . . . are the clever use of cafeteria trays and the fact that you teach them to clean up after themselves. This post is a wonderful gift! Thank you.


  2. Thanks so much for your very kind comment, Barbara! Children cleaning up after themselves is definitely a big part of Montessori education. Both my adult children (former Montessori children) are better at cleaning and organizing than I am! :)

  3. Can't wait to do this activity in January!! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thanks, Laura! I hope you have fun with it! :)

  5. Totally brilliant, Deb. I particularly LUV seeing you take the time to show us how the very same activity 'appears' different, when presented differently. KUDOS.

    I know that this will be a favorite for many. Of course I have already pinned to my collaborative board, "It's PreSchool."


  6. OH I just love this! I must give it a try.

  7. I like all the parts you've included - sorting, colour id, fine motor, matching....
    Also I enjoyed seeing the various trays you have used - wonderful.

  8. Thanks for sharing this activity. Our theme for January is winter, I'm excited to use this idea.

  9. Love this....saving it for after the holidays. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Thanks so much for your kind comments, We Can Do All Things, Maureen, Rachel, and Jessica! I'm so glad you can use the activity tray! Have a wonderful holiday season! :)

  11. I love the beads, Spanish & darling top hats - how fun!! Thanks for linking up to TGIF! Merry Christmas,
    Beth =-)

  12. Thanks, Beth! The printables made the activity tray easy to create. Merry Christmas to you, too! :)

  13. Wow! Thanks for sharing my printable! I love what you did with it.
    "The Kids Place"

  14. Thanks for sharing this! I'm planning a snowman theme soon and these ideas will definitely be helpful!

  15. - Rose, Thanks so much for generously sharing your lovely printable! I'm glad you like what I did with it! :)

    - My pleasure, Jenny! I'm happy these ideas will work well with your snowman theme ... I'd love to see what you do! :)

  16. What a great post. I like that you including how to present the activity. That is where I have trouble. Thank YOU, Deb.

  17. Thanks so much for your kind comment, Marnie! I'm glad my presentation ideas helped! :)

  18. Thanks for posting this is the Afterschool Hop, we ended up making it with putting Christmas ornaments on trees using the same idea.

  19. Thanks for your comment, Kim ... that's a great idea! Have a wonderful New Year! :)

  20. LOVE this, and love that we can do this in the winter months. This is such a fantastic and well written explanation on how to present the activity also. I featured this on my blog this week also! Thanks for sharing at Thrifty Thursday!! Hope you had a fantastic Holiday Season!

  21. Katie, thanks so much for your kind words and for featuring my post on your blog! I hope you had a fantastic Holiday Season, too ... and have a wonderful 2012! :)

  22. This is such a cool activity. I know my 3 year old with love it and my 2 year old may be ready to give it a try too!

  23. I really love this printable and all the ideas you used. Well I got some ink, and now I am ready to print. Thank you for sharing.

  24. Deb, thanks for this wonderful activity! I love how you've tied it in with winter. My kids adore all things snowmen. I am a new follower visiting from Milk and Cuddles. Vicky from Mess For Less

  25. Thanks so much, Jackie, Discovering Montessori, and Vicky! I hope you're all having a fabulous 2012 - and having fun with your winter activities! :)

  26. We used your printable in our classroom this week. I put the activity on a table near our classroom entrance and had several parents sitting down with their kids during drop-off time to help them with the matching activity. Thank you for sharing!

  27. Thanks, Miss Eileen! It's not actually my printable but is from “The Kids Place” Home Daycare and Preschool. I love hearing that you're putting it to such great use ... and how wonderful to hear about parents working together with their kids! :)

  28. Deb, I would love for you to come share this at my tray linky party! We are going to do one of these variations of a snowman color tray for our snow theme coming up!

  29. Thanks so much, Sierra! I just linked up! :)

    1. Yay! Thank you for linking up, Deb! I have seen so many variations of this idea and we used a non-printer version for our trays this week. Boogie loves circles so he is really enjoying it.

    2. I'm so glad to hear that, Sierra! :)

  30. My son saw these and got super excited, but we can't get them to download! Any chance you'd be willing to send us the file via email?
    Thank you so much!!!!


We would love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave a comment below....

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...