Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hello from HeidiSongs- and a Pete the Cat Freebie!

Hello, everyone!  I am so happy to be here and a part of this wonderful group!  Please allow me to introduce myself:  My name is Heidi Butkus, and I am the founder and owner of HeidiSongs.com.  I have spent the last 25 years teaching K/1, and I that's where my heart is!  I just love teaching young children; they are absolutely delightful!

My own blog is called HeidiSongs Classroom Resources.

I will be posting here on PreK and K Sharing on the 29th day of each month, which I suppose means that I will be getting most Februaries off, ha ha!  My own personal blog is called HeidiSongs Classroom Resources, and I this is my current posting schedule:

  • Monday, Monday, First Grade Fun Day!  (That means that I am posting ideas for first graders on Mondays!
  • Wednesday:  On Wednesdays, I post ideas for parents to help their children at home.  I think I still need a clever title for my Wednesday posts.  Any ideas out there?
  • Friday:  On Fridays, I post ideas for Kindergarten and PreK, which is what I have been mostly blogging on since 2008!
AND... I very often include a free download in my blog posts, so I am including one here for you today!  It is a free download of a patterning worksheet to go along with Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons!  Just remember to work with your children with real objects on patterning FIRST!  And THEN- when they are ready to transfer the skill to paper- then they can do the worksheet if there is still time. You will find lots of other posts on my blog with other Pete the Cat freebies, too!

Click here for Heidi's free download of the Pete the Cat Patterning worksheet.

I am most well known for my CD's and DVD's, and especially for my Sing and Spell the Sight Word titles.  I have written, produced, and self-published fourteen original CD's and DVD's for teaching beginning reading and math skills, three musical plays designed especially for young performers, and has written some picture books and many other teaching resources.  This is a picture of a HeidiSongs complete set, but this picture doesn't even include the books I've written!

This is a complete set of HeidiSongs CD's, DVD's workbooks, and flash cards.

Below is a video clip from one of my DVD's.  You can see a LOT of clips from them on our YouTube channel!  Parents and teachers love to use them because they get the kids UP and ACTIVELY LEARNING to the music!

 We are currently "re-styling" our DVD's with animated children's artwork and some young new actors to take over my role in the spotlight, so watch my blog, Pinterest, and Facebook pages for more info on that!  Here is the Yellow Song in our new DVD style, featuring my own daughter, Kimmie!

Here's a little bit more about me, on a personal level:

I am a self-proclaimed dog nut!  I love dogs, and I have two rescued chihuahua mixes named Jasper and Ruby.  I take them on walks every single morning, (almost) without fail!  I just can't let them down!

Jasper is on top and Ruby is on the bottom. 
 I am married, and my husband's name is Greg.  Greg runs our family business, HeidiSongs, so that means we now work together every day, and so far are doing it without driving each other crazy!  Not bad, huh?  (I am on a leave of absence from teaching school this year in order to try to grow our business.)

This is me and my husband!  We love to travel!

We have three daughters who are all grown up now!  One of them still lives at home with us, but the other two are off on their own.  Two down, one to go!  The youngest two are TWINS (the two on the center and right!), but they are fraternal.  They didn't look anything alike when they were born, and they still don't.

We had the wonderful blessing of celebrating our daughter Kimmie's wedding in June, 2012.
I also do presentations for teachers with SDE and any other group that cares to hire me!  To view my upcoming presentations, please click here.  Below, you will see a picture of me presenting at I Teach K!, which is a super-duper fun Kindergarten teacher conference put on each summer in Las Vegas by SDE.  I am so excited- I get to go next year and present again!  Yeah!

That's all for now!  Be sure to come visit me on my blog and website on HeidiSongs.com, on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube! :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Simple Peg Dolls

Now, these Peg Dolls, really are SIMPLE! They are so simple, that I often wonder whether they are "post worthy" -  is it really, worth writing about them?! Do people want to know. Well, I think YES. Simple because my kids ADORE making these... and we have about 40-50 (no, I am not kidding, really THAT many) dotted around the house. They have been making them for a couple of years now, so I guess that isn't too bad.

What I love about them, is that they are "no mess" and that the kids have free reign. Also, I have noticed a significant development in Pip Squeak's dolls -you can really see how her fine motor skills are improving and how she is beginning to explore colours and patterns (the early dolls were ALL pink! Ha).

All you need is one peg doll and some felt tip pens.
The felt tip pens work surprisingly well and it means you can do these with big groups of children with relatively low mess.

In this istance I did help with the hair - It is straight forward to do - check out our Mermaid Peg Doll post for more.

But the kids also love adding simple glitter hair as per our Pirate Peg Dolls.. or why not
add some wings and make Fairy Peg Dolls? I am sure the kids will adore them!

The great thing about these dolls, is that they have fun making them, have total ownership and it also results in LOTS of play afterwards.

About the Author: Maggy Woodley, is a crafty mum of two! She loves everything about crafts and loves nothing better to recycle and forage for craft materials –making crafts economical and fun.

Maggy also writes at Life at The Zoo for all sorts of things including cooking with kids and Theatre Books and Movies for well, just that. Maggy’s craft site, Red Ted Art, is also now being translated into GermanSpanish and Russian! Enjoy!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pumpkins, pumpkins EVERYWHERE in preschool!

PUMPKINS ABOUND here in New England in the Fall!  Pumpkins are in everything ... from muffins to pies, coffee to donuts ... we sure do love our pumpkins!  And it's so easy to bring this orange goodness into our homes and preschool classrooms for young children to explore. 

Whether you are using real pumpkins, or making pumpkin inspired crafts or games ... it's all about the PUMPKIN!

Exploring Real Pumpkins

Opening up a real pumpkin and letting young children touch, smell and see what is inside is such a great learning opportunity.  

Before opening up the pumpkin, engage the kids in cognitive thinking about the pumpkin (how much does it weigh, how tall/wide is it, does it sink or float, etc).  You can have some fun by having children make some predictions about the answers before figuring it out.  You can use the fun worksheet to help track the information about your pumpkin.

After scooping out the seeds and drying them, add them to a batch of pumpkin play dough!

Pumpkin Crafts and Games

Break out the orange paint (along with some of those pumpkin seeds you scooped out) to make paper plate pumpkins.

Use orange construction paper, tissue paper, felt or fabric to make pumpkin faces from recycled bottles.

Use some more seeds for a fun pumpkin seed counting game.

Use different colors of play dough to make goofy pumpkin play dough faces.

PreK + K sharing PUMPKIN roundup!

Need more "pumpkin" inpiration?  We've had several posts on the preK + K sharing blog already! Here's a round up!

Plus, visit our Pumpkin Pinterest board for a whole host of 80+ preschool pumpkin ideas!

Laura Eldredge co-founded the website The SEEDS Network, as a way to provide early childhood professionals with ideas and resources that support them in their quest to provide quality care and education to our youngest learners. She blogs at www.theseedsblog.com.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It's Official -- Dance in School Can Produce Smarter Kids!

It's Official: DANCE can Produce Smarter Students ~~ Research at PreK+K Sharing

Hello ECE Community, 

Some recent studies have documented that dance can help children learn and produce smarter kids.  Dance offers a double punch, as it is both a lively physical activity and a creative art form.  I don't usually quote an entire article for my blog post, but this news is exciting and important. There are links after this article to other research I have come across that reaped similar results.   

Young Children Benefit from Dance: Research at PreK+K Sharing
How Learning Dance in School Can Produce Smarter Kids

Only “43 percent of all public elementary schools and only 14 percent of secondary schools offer any instruction in dance,” according to Carmen Carter‟s 2004 study published by the University of Florida. Instead, teachers focus on science, math, and English, often leaving out the arts. This is partly because, according to Serin Ngai, these subjects are measurable on state achievement tests, and students‟ high scores lead to higher school district funding.

It makes sense that under-funded teachers design lessons to increase students‟ test scores, but it shows a disturbing skew in kids‟ education. Subjects such as the arts have had huge budget cuts; many schools have cut them entirely to fund test prep courses in math, science, and English. Unfortunately, studies have shown that students who learn to dance in school have significant advantages: high grades and higher SAT scores, compared to students without dance lessons.

Dance Lessons Help Kids Learn Other Subjects
Multiple sources show that dance in schools relates to increased mental ability and high grades. In MacDonald‟s study, elementary school teachers worked dance into their lessons on math, history, and other subjects. Teachers in this study said, “children responded to creative dance with an intensity, concentration, „ownership,‟ and enthusiasm they did not usually see in children‟s educational activities.” Teachers found that it was relatively easy to use dance to teach many subject areas, and were “astonished at the possibilities it offered.”
Using dance to teach standard subjects allows students to have fun with the material, but also helps them gain a deeper understanding of concepts by approaching them from new angles. Cognitive scientists, such as Patricia Alexander, agree that the understanding of concepts‟ underlying truths is the mark of expert-level knowledge. When students are given multiple ways of understanding a concept, they are better able to deeply grasp the underlying principles.

Dance in School Makes Kids Smarter
Dance‟s mental benefits are clear, both when taught with other subjects and when taught alone. Cognitive generalization means that a learned skill in one area expands to skills in many other areas. For example, when students scan an essay for spelling errors, this improves their ability to recognize errors in other visual patterns, such as rows in an accounting spreadsheet, or in a piece of sheet music. In the same way, dance lessons give students important cognitive skills that boost their ability in many other subject areas.
In addition to the overlaps with other subjects, learning dance in school can lead to high grades through an overall increase in mental ability. In dance class, Carter explains, students practice physical exercises that “„stimulate mental alertness, modeling, sequencing, attention to detail, and memorization skills‟... —thereby promoting the learning process.” When kids learn to dance, they learn important skills, like how to pick up new ideas quickly, to pay attention to small details, and to focus on the task at hand.

Four studies in the REAP (Reviewing Education and the Arts Program) report showed a relationship between dance in school and improved reading skills. Another three REAP studies showed that dance lessons improved nonverbal reasoning, which includes math and mechanical ability. This makes sense when you look at the overlap between dance and other school subjects, as Carter explains: “...the spatial designs and angles of the body are expressed with geometric terms; an understanding of anatomy and physics are needed to properly negotiate the body in space with proper technique and alignment...and the most apparent conception is that dance is language-like...Writing a book is similar to the process of making a dance...The art of choreography can be simply defined as composition of movement.”

Learning to Dance Leads to Higher Grades & SAT Scores

The positive effects of dance on students‟ grades are shown in various scientific studies. In a controlled study of high school students, there was a statistically significant difference in the grades of dancer and non-dancer groups. The dancers‟ overall Grade Point Average was 3.22, while the non-dancer group averaged a 2.87. This equates to the difference between a B+ and a B-.

Non-dancers average two grade scales below students who have dance lessons; these students, if they had access to dance in school, could do much better. Dancers‟ high grades suggest to Carter that “dancers are able to manage themselves better in a variety of academic situations, have higher levels of self-discipline, and have better coping skills thereby achieving higher academic success.

The positive effects of dance in school go beyond high GPA into standardized testing. According to Carter, “the College Board revealed that students who take arts courses tend to score higher on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) than those who do not,” and are more likely to be successful in college.

Both Students & Teachers Need Dance in School
Now that we know that dance in school leads to smart kids, high grades, and high SAT scores, it would be wise for teachers to include more dance lessons. Instead of shortchanging kids by limiting lessons to test preparation, including dance the curriculum would help both students and teachers. It would give students the advantages mentioned above, and it would help teachers by improving students‟ overall academic performance, test scores, and by extension, district funding. With benefits to both students and teachers in mind, the data is clear: We need dance in school."


Alexander, Patricia A. “Can We Get There from Here?” Educational Researcher 32.8 (2003): 3-4. SAGE Publications. Web. Braaksma, Martine A.H., Gert Rijlaarsdam, Huub Van Den Bergh, and Bernadette H.A.M. Van Hout-Walters. “Observational Learning and Its Effects on the Orchestration of Writing Processes.” Cognition and Instruction 22.1 (2004): 1-36. Informaworld. Taylor & Francis Group. Web.
Carter, Carmen S. Effects of Formal Dance Training and Education on Student Performance, Perceived Wellness, and Self-concept in High School Students. Diss. University of Florida, 2004. Web. MacDonald, Colla J. “Creative Dance in Elementary Schools: a Theoretical and Practical Justification.” Canadian Journal of Education (1991). JSTOR. Web.
Ngai, Serin. “Painting over the Arts: How the No Child Left behind Act Fails to Provide Children with a High- Quality Education.” Seattle Journal for Social Justice 4 (2006): 657. Web.

More links that address the benefits of dance in school:


Benefits of Dance for Students Research at PreK+K Sharing

So, keep on dancin'!

Connie Bergstein Dow

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Exciting Kids with Nonfiction by Dr. Danny Brassell

Exciting Kids About Non-Fiction by Dr. Danny Brassell at PreK+K Sharing

Exciting Kids About Non-Fiction 

There’s a great scene in the movie Three Men and a Baby where actor Tom Selleck rocks the baby girl in his arms and gently reads aloud to her in a sweet voice. No, he does not read a fairy tale or other predictable bedtime story. He reads aloud a basketball story from the Sports page of the newspaper. “It doesn’t matter what I read,” he points out to a friend watching him read sweetly to the baby. “It just matters that I read like this (in a sweet voice).”

Selleck’s character actually makes a really good point: reading aloud does not need to be isolated to traditional storybook stories. Parents may also include a healthy dose of nonfiction stories in their read-aloud rotation. In fact, since the federal government’s recently mandated Common Core standards place a lot of emphasis on nonfiction texts, parents who read nonfiction to their children can help prepare them for the sounds of texts they will soon find prevalent in their schools.
What Are the Types of Nonfiction for Children?
Without getting too technical, I have seen a lot of elementary classroom teachers classify their nonfiction texts into four categories:
1.      How-to Books: books that tell you how to do things.
2.   Informational Picture Storybooks: books that sound like typical narrative stories but have factual information.
3.     “All About” Books: books that give a lot of information about a topic.
4.      Question & Answer Books: books that have a question and an answer.
Whatever type of nonfiction book you choose, keep in mind the interests of your child as well as your child’s reading capabilities.

How Do You Choose Nonfiction Books for Children?
Interests. The most important thing for parents to consider when selecting a nonfiction book – or any type of book, for that matter – for their child is to choose a book that interests their child. Reading should always revolve around the child’s interests. If your child likes dinosaurs, find lots of dinosaur books. If your child wants to learn how to bake cupcakes, find interesting baking cookbooks. I had one girl student who would read every book, magazine or newspaper article she could get her hands on about swimming. She was three years old and could not read the words, but she sat mesmerized by photos of Janet Evans and Missy Franklin.

Pictures. Try to look for books with great photographs or illustrations. Even if the book has few words, time spent in front of books is quality time. I’ve seen children stare in awe at books about how skyscrapers are made, books about freaky-looking reptiles and books about Presidents. Pages over screens: more time spent in front of books means less time spent in front of televisions and video games.

Accessibility. Make sure the texts of the books you choose are appropriate for your child. Informational picture storybooks often deal with detailed historical and technical information in an engaging and age-appropriate way. In fact, I often recommend to adults to read as many children’s books as they can to provide them the basic background knowledge they need to understand certain subjects (I, personally, tend to read children’s book biographies to see if particular figures are worth my reading time at the adult level; it’s a good way to sound intelligent at cocktail parties, too).

How Do I Read Nonfiction Books with My Child?
Be prepared for even more questioning from your child when reading nonfiction texts. One of the amazing things about children as they look to us parents as authorities on everything. While I like to consider myself well informed, I am not Google. So I try to research topics a little bit before I read with my children so I can stay a few steps ahead and seem somewhat competent in dealing with their questions.

Children are naturally curious about a wide range of topics, and nonfiction offers children answers to many of their questions, as well as pathways to many more questions. Probably the most rewarding part about reading nonfiction texts with children is the interaction between parent and child. While many storybook readings make for passive child audiences, nonfiction rarely produces such an effect. Also, nonfiction often deals with the “here and now.” I’ve seen many children enjoy talking about newspaper and magazine articles with their parents.

So try out nonfiction, and do not worry about not knowing everything. To your child, you are the wisest person on the planet. After all, you were wise enough to spend time reading with your child.

Danny Brassell, Ph.D., is “America’s Leading Reading Ambassador,” helping parents and educators inspire kids to love reading and achieve more. He is the author of 14 books, and he acted as the lead consultant for the Building School-Home Relationships kits (Shell, 2012) that have been enthusiastically adapted in school districts across the country. A father of three and professor in the Teacher Education Department at California State University-Dominguez Hills, he is the founder of The Lazy Readers’ Book Club, www.lazyreaders.com, Google’s #1-ranked site for cool, “short book recommendations” for all ages. Watch video tips and learn more from Danny at www.dannybrassell.com, where you can check out his TEDx-Village Gate talk The Reading Makeover and download other free resources.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What is bugging you???

What is bugging you lately??? 

You want to know what is BUGging me lately??? 

LICE: First Hand Experience offering Insight and Hints

Those darn bugs...

LICE that is!! 

Have you just ever had lice break out at your school or your child has brought it home or have you brought it home yourself?? It sure is a bummer! But don't worry! It doesn't mean you are dirty!! It actually means you probably are pretty clean! There are some good things to know in case you ever get lice or your child gets lice or one of your students get lice...and how would I know this??? Well, I was LUCKY enough to get it for the first time in my life just this school year. It was pretty special! And since I had NO CLUE what to do, I did some research. I asked friends and family, checked the Internet and even asked the clerk at the drug store!

First thing first...DON'T PANIC! I know it is easier said than done but it's true..if you panic, then you start to get paranoid and you forget to do things and then it all goes downhill from there! SOOOO...don't panic! It is going to be A-OK! I can tell you this from experience now.

Second most important thing to remember...THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE DIRTY! It just means that some how, some way there was an egg/nit or live lice that found a piece of your hair to crawl up on and lay pretty little eggs. But just remember that lice like clean hair because it is easier to move up around on.

Now, I am sure some of you are asking "How can she be joking around and laughing about something like this?"... well, I am not really joking but I am being a little light hearted about this subject because I have been through it now and understand that it happens...sometimes things happen and we have no control so we just have to deal with it and make the best out of it.

Now back to the basics:
1. Don't Panic

2. You are Not Dirty

3. Get yourself/child/student treated as soon as possible. Go straight to the drug store and pick up some RID, Licenex, Licefree, or any other over the counter treatment. In each box is usually a comb to help you comb through your hair. It is a fine tooth comb designed to get those nits/eggs from your hair. Otherwise those eggs are stuck with a glue like substance to your hair. Now when you yourself are getting treated, don't try to do it by yourself because there is no way that you will possibly be able to get your whole head thoroughly. So, ask a friend, spouse, or relative to come over and help you to comb through your hair. Make sure you have a plastic baggie and some paper-towels available so when you comb through and get an egg or live one out that you can wipe off the comb with the paper towel and put it in a zip-lok baggie so it will suffocate and not be able to crawl off the hair on to another hair. I actually had a friend come over and help me and we did it outside which worked even better. This process can take a long time to do especially if the person getting treated has long or thick hair.
I talked to a colleague who has had it before and her daughter did too years back and she told me that instead of using the over the counter treatment, she used olive oil and that the little buggers just slid right out of her daughters hair. So, I tried that the SECOND time I had lice and she was right! So, if you want to keep the chemicals out of your hair or your child's hair...use olive oil. Once you have treated the hair...be sure to wash it out with regular shampoo...if you use Olive oil, you will probably have to use dish soap the first two times you wash through your hair....it works wonders! After washing...be sure to BLOW DRY! Lice do not like HEAT! Then look back through the hair for any nits/eggs. If you see any, pull out that strand/strands of hair and dispose of them in the baggie. I didn't have time to get pictures of these little guys but if you search "lice" or "lice eggs" you will get pictures that will help you to know what you are looking for.

5. Soak those brushes and combs and hair ties in boiling water for 30 minutes to kill those little pests!

Next step is to thoroughly clean your house, classroom, car and any other place you/your child/student may have been in contact with.
Tear off the bedsheets and pillowcases and wash in HOT water, then dry on the highest setting...again, those little buggers don't like heat so scald them! Then take your vacuum and vacuum the bed, the wall near the bed and the floor in the bedroom before putting on new sheets and pillow cases. If there are stuffed animals, bag them up in an airtight bag and keep them their for at least FOUR WEEKS to ensure that those pests won't be coming back to play in the hair of you or your family member. If you/your child has used curlers in the recent days bag them up too! Vacuum the whole house AND the furniture. Make sure that you wash all clothing that has been worn or laying on the floor! Then head out to the car and vacuum top to bottom to ensure that those lice don't have a home to live anymore. After you are done vacuuming, put your hairnet on and head out to the trash bin to empty out your vacuum.

5. BLOW DRY DAILY!!! Heck, even use the straightener too!  I can't say it enough, they don't like heat!

6. GET CHECKED DAILY!!! Once you have treated your/your child's hair, have it checked DAILY...this will help you to know that you are on the right track. If you find nits...pull out that strand of hair and dispose of it in a zip-loc baggie.

7. Seven days later, repeat the process again. This is to ensure that any eggs that were missed, haven't hatched and if they have, you are killing them or combing the out on the spot! I would also repeat the process of vacuuming and cleaning again.

Now....this being said, there are some rumors and myths about lice...

Myth number ONE:
     Lice jump from head to head....truth is, lice can't jump or fly at all. They move from head to head by crawling up the shaft of the hair. So, if you are leaning over to help a student, it can crawl from their hair to yours or the other way around. Or it could be on a fly away hair that lands on your coat then crawls up your hair.

Myth number TWO: Lice can spread to those...private regions...truth is, there are three different kinds of lice. Head lice, body lice and pubic lice. They are all different sizes and kinds. So if you are washing your hair and one falls down, it doesn't mean you will get pubic lice.

Myth number THREE: You can suffocate them in water...truth is, those little buggers can hold their breath for a LONG time! So, when you wash your hair, don't think they are going to wash right out with the shampoo.

These are just some of the things that I have learned over the last month and a half! I hope that this has been helpful to you!

SO, what ever is BUGGING you...be sure to COMB it OUT often!! 

Carie Ramirez

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"Blow The Wind" - with Scarves!

Miss Carole from Macaroni Soup! here in the Windy City with a musical activity you can do any time of year - wind or no wind, Chicago or anywhere you call home.
It's great for 

  • gross motor skills 
  • cross-lateral movement 
  • spatial awareness 
  • and coordinationall in one little song!  It's this simple:

"Blow the Wind" by Carole Stephens  c.2012
Lyrics:  Blow the wind, blow the wind
            Blow the wind 'round.
            Blow the wind, blow the wind
            Down to the ground.
            Blow the wind, blow the wind
            Blow the wind high
            Blow the wind, blow the wind
            Let your scarf fly!  Wheeee!

You will need scarves, 
streamers, or ribbons - and enough space for the children to safely windmill their extended arm in front of their bodies without whacking each other!  We call this our "Safety Zone" - children find a space, do a slow helicopter move with their arms outstretched.  If they can touch someone else, it is their job to move to where they cannot touch another child.

I get my scarves from Bear Paw Creek.  They are easy to wash, have some stretch and are a good size for children.  They run about $22 for a 13-pack.  Mine last 7-10 years with constant use, so it's a good value. ANY scarf will do - raid Granny's drawers - or use the other options, too.

As you sing the song, make big arm circles in front of your body.  Get your legs into the movement, too, bending to get a bigger swing.  Pause the scarf at the floor when you sing "down to the ground", and overhead when you sing "blow the wind high".  At the end, toss the scarf into the air - Whee!  Then repeat the song with the scarf in the other hand - get a workout for the non-dominant side, too!  

I say "you" - because you should demonstrate what the movement looks like for the children.

This song is on my "Season Sings" cd.  You can hear it here:  BLOW THE WIND.  When you get to SoundCloud, click on Macaroni Soup and then "Blow the Wind".

As you read this I am probably on a mountain top in the Northern Sierras - I'm guessing the wind will be blowing there, too!  Have a great October - and don't forget to look at my October 2012 blog if you need more great songs for this month - bats, pumpkins - BOO!

Also - come say hello at my workshop or Exhibit Hall Booth #937 at the NAEYC Conference in DC next month!  I'm presenting at 1:00 on Friday - and I'm psyched!
Yours for a Song - Whoosh!
"Miss Carole" Stephens
Macaroni Soup - Active Music for Kids!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Montessori-Inspired Spider Activities Using Free Printables

Free Spider Printables and Montessori-Inspired Spider ActivitiesBy Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

Since spider activities are especially fun before Halloween, I want to share some activities today using free spider printables. 

The hands-on activities in this post are for preschoolers through first graders. You'll find many more 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.  

Disclosure: This post contains Montessori Services affiliate links at no cost to you. 

Glow-in-the-Dark Spider Practical Life Activity 

  Glow-in-the-Dark Spider Practical Life Activity

This activity was very simple to prepare. I just used the the spider web printable from Spider Web Number Cards by Boy Mama Teacher Mama. I used an inexpensive wooden tray and 5 glow-in-the-dark spiders from Michaels hobby store, a tweezers, and a small flashlight. The child could use the tweezers to transfer the spiders to the spider web. Then, if you have a dark area, the child could shine the light on the spiders for a bit, turn off the flashlight, and enjoy the glow-in-the dark effect.

Spider Shapes Activity 

Spider Shapes Activity

This tray uses the Spider Shapes (laminated) from Spiders Tot Pack at 2 Teaching Mommies. I used a clear acrylic tray from Montessori Services and added a small container of playdough. The playdough could be used to make the appropriate shape around each spider.

S is for Spider Beginning Sounds Tray

S is for Spider Beginning Sound Activity

I love glass gems and have collected them in most colors. For this Montessori-inspired activity tray, I used the S is for Spiders printable from Making Learning Fun with black glass gems from the hobby store. I put the exact number of glass gems in a round candle coaster along with a sugar tong from Montessori Services. This makes a nice language activity, but I especially like that the themed printable adds interest to a practical life tonging activity.

Of course, you don’t need to use glass gems for this activity. You could use playdough balls, pom poms with a strawberry huller, magnetized pom poms on a magnetic tray, or dot markers (if you don’t laminate the activity). 

In Montessori education, we emphasize phonetic sounds rather than letter names. I would demonstrate the activity by placing the printable on a rug and saying, "/s/ is for spider." Then I would show how to use the sugar tong to place a few of the glass gems before returning the tray to the shelf for the child(ren) to use. 

Spider Numbers and Counters 

Spider Numbers and Counters Tray

I found the spiderweb numbers in the Spider Sums of 5 and 10 by My Fabulous Class at Teachers Pay Teachers. I love preparing seasonal cards and counters, and these were perfect for creating a DIY numbers and counters activity. I purchased 55 felt spiders from Michaels hobby store. The tray is a black Economy Tray from Montessori Services.I found the black bowl (cauldron) on sale after Halloween last year. The container is fun, but another type of container would work just as well.

Spider Numbers and Counters Layout

When showing how to do the layout, I recommend placing the spiders in rows of two with a leftover spider centered below the last row. It's a standard Montessori layout for cards and counters and gives a visual representation of odd and even. If you have exactly 55 spiders for the numerals 1-10, that will serve as a control of error.

I put the layout on a large hemmed work rug from Montessori Services.

Spider Addition Activity 

Spider Addition Tray

For this activity, I used the Spider Addition Math Sheets from 123 Homeschool 4 Me and 10 spiders from Michaels hobby store.

This tray was very simple to prepare. Many of the 3 Dinosaurs printable packs have counting, addition, subtraction, greater than/less than, and/or word problem printables with numbers that are interchangeable. I just used the numerals from the "Montessori-Inspired Ocean Math Activities" I prepared last June.

Spider Addition Layout

For presentation ideas, check out the Montessori-Inspired One Fish, Two Fish Addition Tray in my February post here. You should be able to easily adapt the presentation for this activity.

For younger children, I would make a separate "Count the Spiders" tray, using the Preschool Spider Math Sheet from 123 Homeschool 4. Me For each tray, be sure to have the exact number of spiders needed for the highest sum or to go to the highest counted number you're using in the activity.

Spider Acrostic Poem Writing Activity 

Spider Acrostic Poem Writing Tray

This was another simple-to-prepare tray. It's for advanced kindergarteners or first graders. I used the Spider Acrostic Poem Printable from Activity Village. I added a pencil sharpener and Halloween pencil.

Pipe Cleaner Spider Craft 

Pipe Cleaner Spider Craft

I had a lot of fun with the Pipe Cleaner Spiders from Mama Miss. Melissa at Mama Miss has free printables and clear instructions for making the pipe cleaner spiders. 

I'd recommend the craft for ages 4 and up because of the fine-motor control that's required. Of course, if you prepare the spider except for the pony beads and googly eyes, a younger child could have fun adding those. Adding pony beads to pipe cleaners is always a great fine-motor activity.

More Free Printables and Halloween Activities

Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to LOTS of spider freebies from around the blogosphere: Free Spider Printables and Montessori-Inspired Spider Activities

You'll find lots of Montessori-inspired Halloween activities and ideas in these posts at Living Montessori Now: Montessori-Inspired Pumpkin Activities, Homeschool Halloween, Montessori-Inspired Pumpkin Unit, Montessori-Inspired Halloween Activities, Halloween Grace and Courtesy, Montessori-Inspired Friendly Ghost Activities, Montessori-Inspired Halloween Activities (2012), and Montessori-Inspired Skeleton Activities. I also have a Kids' Halloween Activities Pinterest Board with Halloween activities of all kinds.

Have a Happy Halloween!

Living Montessori Now
Deb ChitwoodDeb 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 Colorado Springs with her husband of 38 years and their cat of 12 years. She blogs at Living Montessori Now. 

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