Sunday, October 25, 2015

hOppy Halloween Post!

hOppy Halloween!

It's Fall, ya'll and I get so excited to do all the fun Halloween  songs and activities. (Mr. Froggy has already put on his costume.)  I thought it would be fun to send out a blog of fun ideas!  Here we go....
 Vanessa Levin of PreK Pages, tweeted a link to her activity suggestions.

It has extension activities for the "Five Little Pumpkins" song.  Here is the link to my video of that song :  Five Little Pumpkins

Dr. Jean, one of my favorites for great ideas with the little ones, has a blog for this month.  Visit here :  Dr. Jean's Blog

The story "The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything",  is a HUGE hit with children.   You can make your own props for the story.  (I used doll clothes.)  Some like to use a fannel board to go along with the story.  Here is a link to a video of me doing the song with children varying in age from 2 - 9.  My intention is for teachers to see the different levels of participation and help in deciding if your children are ready for a story this long.  The fact that it is so repetitive and interactive allows for younger children to stay focused longer.

                          The Litttle Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything

BRAIN FACT The lively predictable beat of repetitive words or phrases has many benefits including improving memory of concepts and words (Buchoff, 1994)  

Children also love the "Dark, Dark" story.  Get a black box and fill it with spider rings they can take home with them.  Sing the song and at the end spiders fly out of the box. The children excitedly get the spiders and use those spiders to sing "Spider on the Floor" as they move the spider along their boy identifying body parts and learning rhyming words. Oh!  And, it's silly!
                                             Spider on the Floor
Keep in mind that children should hear some stories that feel a little uncomfortable.  This helps them learn that even though they get that feeling, they are okay.  An important thing to learn.  This is why I like to do the "Monster Dance" which ends with us laughing and doing a silly dance.  Honestly, I don't know who is having more fun.  Me or kids?
                                                  Have a HOPPY Halloween!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Rock the Box! Roll the Marble!

It's Scott from Brick by Brick. I love to repurpose materials—use materials in ways different from their intended purpose.

Sometimes I think that I only use things for something else. I tell people that I never use things for the real purpose!

A while back I mused on how to use a box I had acquired. Well, we recently used that box (or one like it) to paint.

We used marbles, spoons, and that box together to paint.

marble painting (Brick by Brick)

Put the paper in the box. Drop a marble in paint. Spoon out the marble and drop on the paper. Move that box around.

marble painting (Brick by Brick)

We discovered that the marble would quickly lose paint. So we would drop it back into the paint and go again.

marble painting (Brick by Brick)

We've done a similar activity with an oatmeal box. But this is different because we can see the tracks that the marble makes, as it does it.

Grab a box, any size. Just cut down the paper to fit. And rock the box and roll the marble to paint. Rock and Roll!!

marble painting (Brick by Brick)

Friday, October 16, 2015

PUMPKINS - Let's Sing About Them!

Have you heard?  There may be a shortage of pumpkins for Fall 2015!  

Miss Carole here, of Macaroni Soup –Active Music for Active Learners!  We grow a lot of pumpkins here in Illinois, and I LOVE PUMPKINS! 

Pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin soup, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin custard – if it’s got the yummy squash – I’m all over it!

There’s no shortage of pumpkin songs in my music classes!  I’ll share three of my favorites today.

PUMPKIN, PUMPKIN!   Lyrics by C.Peterson  ©2001
Tune:  “10 Little Indians”
Hear it HERE, or on my “SeasonSings!” cd.

Pumpkin, pumpkin, orange pumpkin
Pumpkin, pumpkin, orange pumpkin
Pumpkin, pumpkin, orange pumpkin
Hi Ho!  Autumn is here!

V.1  Give him eyes like two triangles
V.2  Give him a nose that’s round, like a circle
V.3  Give him a mouth to make him smile!
V.4  Give him eyebrows – very scary! (optional - see below!)
V.5    Original Pumpkin Pumpkin verse!

My favorite way to do this song is with a flannelboard.  Cut a big orange felt circle with a “stem.”  Cut black or felt shapes for eyes, nose and mouth.  We recently added eyebrows – very scary!  Be sure to change the feature shapes occasionally – it keeps it interesting.  One of my students suggested the features should be yellow, as if the jack o’lantern is lit from within – good thinking!

In concert!

You might make a book, as my Massachusetts teacher buddy Carol Hartery did above and below.  The children can "read" along while they 
sing the song!

When I'm doing this with a concert crowd, I use a large pumpkin board with funfoam pieces that children in the audience can come up and place on the pumpkin.

Children enjoy making their own pumpkin faces afterward - either on paper, with shape blocks or on a smartboard!
PUMPKIN BALL PASS!       Lyrics by C.Stephens  ©2015

Tune:  “Great Big Ball” 

Hear it on my “Season Sings” cd, or HERE.

Who’s gonna get that pumpkin 
               as it goes around the room?
Who’s gonna get that pumpkin 
               as it goes around the room?
Who’s gonna get that pumpkin 
               as it goes around the room?
Who’s gonna get that pumpkin?
We’re gonna find out now!

This musical game is pretty self-explanatory.  During the chorus, pass the pumpkin from one child to the next as they sit in a circle.  Wherever it lands on “we’re gonna find out NOW – that child gets to demonstrate a motion/movement that everyone else can copy.  Get ready to pass the pumpkin again!  
   I just love using my Bear Paw Creek Pumpkin Balloon Ball – but any ball can be used.  Passing is a skill that must be learned and practiced.  Demonstrate placing the ball carefully in the hands of the person next to you – not pitching it at them.  With repetitions, children will find the process fun and exciting.

PASS THAT PUMPKIN ‘ROUND      Lyrics by C. Stephens   ©2015
Tune:  “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”
Pass the pumpkin ‘round
Pass it very slow-ly.
Pass!  Pass! Pass! Pass!
Now it’s time to STOP!

Another passing game – this time varying the tempo and volume.  Pass (and sing) it slowly, quickly, quietly, or loudly.  Dynamics make a big difference.  When it’s quiet, it can also be slow, when it’s loud, it can also be fast!  Children need practice in cooperative behavior in a group setting, as well as with how to follow musical cues.  Again, for this song I use my Bear Paw Creek Pumpkin Balloon Ball – but a beanbag, a small artificial pumpkin (softer is better) or ball will work, too.

Add one of these songs to an art or cooking project, or explore the taste and texture of a pumpkin – inside and out!  Pumpkins are a delightful subject – they are all different, kind of like the children we teach!

Giant pumpkins? I found them at The Chicago Botanic Garden!  Amazing – and they might be tasty, too!

Yours for a Pumpkin Song!
Carole Stephens
Macaroni Soup! Active Music for Active Learners!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Montessori-Inspired Scarecrow Activities Using Free Printables

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now  

Even though I grew up on a farm, we never had a scarecrow. Still, a scarecrow theme is one of my favorites for fall. 

I shared a list of free scarecrow printables in my post today at Living Montessori Now. Here, I'm sharing some Montessori-inspired scarecrow 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. 

Scarecrow, Scarecrow, What Do You See? Book and Color Matching
Scarecrow, Scarecrow, What Do You See? Book and Color Matching

Free Printable: Scarecrow, Scarecrow, What Do You See? Book by  1 - 2 - 3 Learn Curriculum at Teachers Pay Teachers 

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is a great book for toddlers and preschoolers, so I was excited to find a free scarecrow variation at Teachers Pay Teachers.   The tray is a Multicraft tray, and the small basket is a Montessori Services basket. I printed out the book on cardstock, glued the suggested pages together, and folded the pages as recommended. I could have used a long stapler. Since I don't have one, I used a hole punch and yarn to fasten the book pages. It worked very well. With the cardstock pages, it's almost like a board book.

I printed out and laminated the free Color Matching Cards from Montessori Print Shop. I read the book to my granddaughter, and then she matched a color tablet to each of the colors in the book. If you wish, you could use Velcro dots for the child to attach each color tablet underneath the corresponding picture in the book.

Scarecrow Puppet Tray for "5 Tall Scarecrows" and "I'm a Little Scarecrow" 

5 Little Scarecrows Puppet Tray 

Free Printable: "Five Tall Scarecrows" from Teaching Heart 

Free Printable: "I'm a Little Scarecrow" from Scarecrow Printables by Blessed Beyond a Doubt 

For this activity, I made puppets by printing and cutting out the scarecrows and then gluing them to craft sticks. I used a Montessori Services basket (the small willow basket, which is my go-to basket for many card materials) and small tabletop easel to hold the poem. You could add the "I'm a Little Scarecrow" song printable, although I just memorized the song to sing with my granddaughter. This activity is already one of my granddaughter's favorites. 

Scarecrow Number Puzzle 

Scarecrow Number Puzzle

Free Printable: 1-10 Scarecrow Puzzle from Fall Fun Printables by Homeschool Creations 

Free Printable: 11-20 Scarecrow Puzzle from Fall Pack (part 1) from 3 Dinosaurs 

This is an easy activity to prepare and change according to theme. You can often find a free printable number puzzle for each theme. I simply printed out, laminated, and cut out the puzzle pieces. This puzzle box shows the 1-10 scarecrow puzzle, but you can prepare a box with an 11-20 scarecrow puzzle by using the printable from 3 Dinosaurs. I used a Really Useful Pencil Box for the container. 

Scarecrow Numbers and Counters 

Scarecrow Numbers and Counters 

Free Printable: Scarecrow Numbers from Scarecrows and Corn Thematic Unit by The Pre-K Planner at Teachers Notebook

I wouldn't purchase traditional Montessori cards (numbers) and counters for a homeschool or any school that's unable to purchase the entire Montessori curriculum. Instead, I love the idea of preparing DIY cards and counters for different themes. They're less expensive than traditional cards and counters as well as a fun way to add variety to the curriculum. 

I used popcorn kernels for the counters. There are 55 popcorn kernels - the exact amount needed for the activity. That's important as a control of error so that the child can tell if there's a mistake if there are too many or too few kernels at the end.

Scarecrow Numbers and Counters Layout 

I like to lay out my numbers and counters in the traditional Montessori layout of rows of two counters with a left-over counter centered below the bottom row. This gives a visual impression of odd and even. For more about creating DIY numbers and counters and a link on how to present the lesson, check out my DIY Cards and Counters post. (I used a Montessori Services rug for my layout.)

Scarecrow Salt Tray 

Scarecrow Salt Tray 

Free Printable: Scarecrow Fun Freebie by Primary Perspective at Teachers Pay Teachers 

A salt tray a perfect way to reinforce writing for toddlers and preschoolers. I simply added some yellow and red food coloring to salt in a plastic bag. Then I poured the salt into an inexpensive tray from Michaels craft store. There's still some unmixed food coloring in the salt that will deepen the color as the tray is used. If you'd like to know more about how to introduce letter sounds in Montessori education, check out my post with Inexpensive and DIY Sandpaper Letters

Scarecrow Long Vowel (CVCE) Words

Scarecrow Long Vowel (CVCE) Words

Free Printable: Scarecrow CVCE Words from Life Over C's 

I love this printable! It's very versatile and an appealing way to reinforce CVCE words. There are also picture cards with the words. You could even glue or tape the cards with words to the backs of the picture cards as a control of error. 

For children who are just learning to spell or read 3-letter phonetic words, you could cut off the sunflower on the right of the scarecrow image and use the sunflower letters as movable alphabet letters. The child could use 3-letter phonetic objects or pictures to spell with the sunflower movable alphabet letters. 

More Free Scarecrow Printables  

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

More Montessori-Inspired Fall Activities

Montessori-Inspired Fall Activities

You'll find many more fall activities and ideas in these Living Montessori Now resources: Montessori-Inspired Fall Activities.

Montessori at Home or School - How to Teach Grace and Courtesy eBookIf 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!

Happy harvest season!

Deb - SigantureLiving Montessori Now Button 
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 40 years (and lives in the city where her kids, kids-in-law, and toddler granddaughter live). She blogs at Living Montessori Now.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Magical Adventure: A Trip To The Library

Hi! I'm Ayn and I am a Ga. Pre-K teacher, serving 4 and 5 year olds in an inclusive setting. I share my classroom adventures on my blog, little illuminations

      ***This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. Little Illuminations is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.***

Ever since I can remember, I have had a great love for books. Some of my greatest adventures took place between the pages of magical storybooks. As a child, I loved to go to the library. I would get so excited when the Bookmobile would come around. I could step right onto that bus and pick out an armful of books that would help tide me over until my next trip to the library. 

Today, with cable tv, internet, movies on demand, etc. It seems many are too busy to visit the library. One of my favorite field trips near the beginning of the school year is to take the children to the library. Many of them have never been before and don't realize the amazing treasures held within the walls of the local library. I am thrilled when, inevitably the children go home and tell their parents about this magical land they have visited with me and beg to go on their own. Some even report back that they have gotten their very first library card! 

As a preschool teacher, I check about 20-25 books a week to share with my students. On our visit, I taught them how to pick out a book and we also returned a few that I had checked out the week before.

We stepped into the children's story area and had a marvelous time listening to a couple of stories. This time, our children's librarian used a feltboard to help bring the story to life. In the past, we've seen skits and puppet shows! Check out your local library for children's programs--most offer some sort of program and they are free! 

The children's librarian read several books that were new to me but they are definitely be on my "must have" list now! "Dog's Colorful Day" (with the feltboard above) and "The Book with No Pictures" were instant hits with my class!


After our visit, we took a few minutes to talk about the the things we saw and learned at the library. The children are keen observers and pointed out things I had not even thought to point out to them!

I am a firm believer that they key to raising a good reader is to instill a love for reading and books. If we show children that we enjoy reading, they will want to read, too! 

You may want to read a few books about going to the library to help get them excited about your library visit. Some of my favorite children's books about the library are:




Stop by and visit me anytime at or visit the little illuminations fanpage on facebook! And be sure to check out PreK+K Sharing EEE!

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