Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

It's Christmas Day.   For all those who celebrate, may it be a happy day with family and friends.
A joyous Hanukkah, too, as the holidays fall together this year. 
Here are some memes for the holiday.  Enjoy!

Try this fun puzzle of songs


Happy New Year from Music with Mar.
Visit me on Facebook :  Maryann Harman Musicwithmar
Get brain facts at :  Musical Brain Facts

Friday, December 23, 2016

Count on It (or Rather With It)

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

Counting and developing a concept of number and quantity is important for this age group. You can purchase all kinds of counters - those small manipulative objects to use for creating quantities. But you can also repurpose things you already have in great counting and number games. Here are just a few things we've used for counters.

Rocks, floral marbles, gems, etc.
These make great items to count or group into quantities.

Check in the floral section of a craft store for different colors and sizes of floral marbles. (We also used them another counting game.)

We saved lids from plastic bottles and use those as counters, too. Ask parents to help collect lids. (Save the plastic bottles, too, for other fun repurposing.)

I found a collection of foam cubes at the discount area of a local store. Check dollar stores for these or other small objects to count. You can also use numbered cubes from games or small wooden cubes from the craft store.

And we like to mix it up when we count, stacking various objects together. This activity becomes part math, part construction, and part art. (Plus we can make bigger quantities by doubling up on the squares. More math play!)

Small Toys
We have used animal figures, cars, and other small toys to count or make quantities. Change up what you use for thematic play.

We use pompoms for all kinds of things but they are great for counting and number games. Change up the colors for more fun.

You can also use small erasers, old game pieces, checkers...anything that is small and plentiful. You will need a good quantity of whatever you use so kids will enjoy creating groups or counting specific quantities.

Look through your classroom or storage area. What could you use to "spice up" your math play?

Friday, December 16, 2016

2017 - WELCOME/BIENVENIDOS from Miss Carole!

Macaroni Soup Singers at "WELCOME" Release Party!
    We’re about to turn over a new calendar page – it’s almost 2017!  Miss Carole from Macaroni Soup here, and I’ll be starting the year with a newly sewn-up hip (bye bye labrum tear!)  Still on crutches and in a nasty brace, but hopefully I’ll be singing and dancing without pain in January! 

    I learn songs from many sources, but the most consistent source is my colleagues at The Children’s Music Network.  I’ve been a member for over 15 years, sharing music at songswaps, the annual national conference, and the excellent online forum.  Members include teachers, musicians, songwriters, librarians, parents – and anyone who uses music with children of all ages!  Check us out – I’m the Midwest Coordinator, and we’ve got lots of things coming up in 2017!  Got questions?  I've got answers!  Contact me!

    Exciting news!  I just released my 9th recording, “WELCOME!”  It’s got 29 songs and poems for active learners!  Listen to selections on CDBABY.  But let’s concentrate on the title song here:  “Welcome/Bienvenidos!”  
    At a regional CMN conference a year ago our Featured Speaker was Sanna Longden, an exceptional dance and music educator.  Every song and dance she shared was a gem, and she sparkled as she taught!  Afterward, I just couldn’t get “Bienvenidos” out of my head.  I shared it at a workshop I was presenting a short time later, and everyone was entranced.  So, here it is – I hope you welcome the new year by sharing it with children!

Welcome, welcome, bienvenidos!                        
Welcome, welcome, bienvenidos!
Welcome, welcome, I’m so glad to see you!
Welcome, mis amigos, cha-cha-cha, bienvenidos!

    You can sing it as a welcoming song, and with 4’s and older I add movement once the children know the song well.  Hear it HERE.

The “Dance”: 
Line 1 - On “welcome” we wave and smile at someone, shaking their hand on “bienvenidos”. 
Line 2 – repeat wave/smile/shake with a new partner
Line 3 – Smile/wave with new partner, holding their hands with yours
Line 4 – On “cha-cha-cha” seesaw hands back and forth, then wave goodbye and repeat the song.

    That’s it!  Simple, welcoming, developmentally appropriate and FUN!  Enjoy the last few weeks of 2016, and WELCOME 2017!

Yours for a WELCOME Song!
“Miss Carole” Stephens

Macaroni Soup! Active Music for Active Learners

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Montessori-Inspired Arctic Animal Activities Using Free Printables

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

Arctic animals are lots of fun to study in the winter. So are Antarctic animals. To help anyone who's confused understand that penguins are in the Southern Hemisphere, I'm sharing only ideas for Arctic animal activities today. 

I have a post at Living Montessori Now with free Arctic animal printables. Some of the printables include penguins. They're still great printables, but be sure to leave out the penguins unless you're studying both the Arctic and Antarctica. 

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. 

Arctic Matching Activity with Safari Ltd. Arctic Figures Plus Arctic Cards Arctic Tray with Safari Ltd Arctic Figures Plus Arctic Cards 

Free Printable: Safari Ltd. Arctic TOOB Key 

Free Printable: Arctic Animals (to match non-human animals in Safari Ltd. Arctic TOOB) from Arctic Unit Culture and Geography Pack by Every Star is Different or Animals of the Arctic 3-Part Cards (to match Safari Ltd. TOOB) by Montessori Soul 

For this activity, I used a large white Montessori Services tray (which looks much nicer in reality ... these days of early darkness make getting decent photos much harder)a clear acrylic tray, and the figures from the Safari Ltd. Arctic TOOB

Matching Safari Ltd. Arctic Figures with the Safari Ltd. Arctic TOOB Key

My 3-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, loved this activity. I'll add in the card matching next time.

Animals of the Arctic Roll and Bump Game (Counting or Addition) Animals of the Arctic Roll and Bump Game  

Free Printable: Animals of the Arctic Bump Game from The Preschool Mom 

For this activity, I used a large white Montessori Services tray, clear glass gems to cover the numbers (I like that you can still see the numbers), a dice, and a small container for the glass gems. 

This can be a simple counting and number identification game using one dice. Or you can use two dice for an addition game. You can choose whether or not you want a child to be able to bump another child off a space already taken. Or two children can play this cooperatively, taking turns rolling the dice to see how soon they together can fill the page. 

DIY Polar Bear Cub Cards and Counters Polar Bear Cub Cards and Counters 

Free Printable: Polar Bear 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) You'll find phonics printables in the polar bear pack along with the polar bear numbers. 

I used a Montessori Services medium-size tray and glass bowl with 55 snowflake gems. (There are enough in a package to have 55 snowflakes, which is the exact number needed for Montessori cards and counters.) I love the snowflake gems (so does Zoey). They can be used for many activities. (I used them in last year's snowflake post.)

Polar Bear Cards and Counters Layout 

I like to lay out my numbers and counters in the traditional Montessori way 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 use a Montessori Services rug on the floor for the layout. 

Arctic Number Order and Skip Counting Puzzles Arctic Animal Number Puzzle 

Free Printable: Arctic Number Order and Skip Counting Puzzles by Gracehopper at Teachers Pay Teachers 

For this activity, I just used the printable and a basket for the strips. (I'm not sure where I found the basket.) 

There are a number of puzzles in this printable and a number of different options for skill level. You can just have a simple 1-10 puzzle, like this Arctic hare puzzle, an 11-20 puzzle, or a number of options for skip counting puzzles.

Nonfiction Beginning Reader Printable Book - Arctic (with Optional Gross-Motor Activities) What Lives in the Arctic? Book  

Free Printable: Nonfiction Beginning Reader Printable Book - Arctic by Hope Laugh Teach at Teachers Pay Teachers (Note: Be sure to remove the page with the penguin.

For this activity, I used two binder rings (although you could staple it together) and a small tabletop easel to display the book on the shelf. 

For a young preschooler, you can assemble the book. For an advanced preschooler through first grader, the child can cut apart the pages, assemble the book, and read the book independently. 

I love the versatility of this printable! For children who are interested, you can use this for a gross motor and drama activity. "Polar bears walk in the Arctic. Rabbits hop in the Arctic. Walruses snort in the Arctic. Seals swim in the Arctic. Foxes blend in the Arctic." The child can simply act out the words on each page. 

Another idea would be for a young child to find the Safari Ltd. Arctic animals that match the animals pictured in the book.

More Free Arctic Animal Printables

Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to free Arctic Animal printables from around the blogosphere: Free Arctic Animal Printables and Montessori-Inspired Arctic Animal 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 Arctic Animal 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 wonderful winter! If you're in the Southern Hemisphere, you can cool down by focusing on the Arctic! 
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 toddler granddaughter live). She blogs at Living Montessori Now.

Living Montessori Now Button

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Building Community from the Inside Out


Those of us in the Early Childhood Community, already understand why early learning is so critical to our children, families and to the building of community over generations. For those not in our community of early learning, it may not be so obvious, and that's not a judgement, just simply a matter of perspective.... so this month's blog is for you to share with your friends, family and colleagues who are new to the idea that "When you invest in early childhood education, the ROI (Return on Investment) is extremely positive for our communities in many concrete ways."

I could makes some simple points, attach some images and say.... Happy Holidays!  However, if you know me, you know I never do that.  Instead, lets make this real, and the timing couldn't be better.  I'm going to use a real-life example of investing in early childhood by a specific community to make this ROI thing real and exciting.

To get started, what are others saying about this idea?

In this article, a group of over 1,000 law enforcement leaders signed a letter urging support for a new state-federal partnership.  This was back in 2013.  The research this group provided stated that "nationwide, 7 of 10 people in state prisons don't have a high-school diploma. In getting to the root of the problem, it all boils down to a strong foundation for success provided by high-quality preschool and early education programs. This proposal would have provided states with $99 billion to initiate and strengthen quality preschool and early childhood programs.

Why didn't this take hold? Children and education in general continues to be a pawn of politics.  Notice I'm not taking sides politically, nor will I.  My energy and efforts remain on serving children and I believe our future depends on that.

Some states took innovative action to create funding for early childhood education. One such program is in Arizona, called First Things First, and it has been a success.

There have been other attempts and here is a great article.  It's a bit ponderous to read, but essentially it shows valid statistics that clearly show:

1. Children who receive a preschool experience stay in school longer and have a much greater chance of graduating from high school and going beyond into higher education.

2. While this keeps more people out of the work force and can equate into a lower economic output in the short term, the long term impact is extremely positive for our economy.

3. Over the long haul, here are the number it shows for our economy when we invest in early childhood education:
  • Between 2038 and 2046, the impact of an investment in early childhood shows a rapid increase.
  • By 2080, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) would grow by 2,000,000,000,000, yes, 2 trillion dollars.... and that would be 2 trillion dollars in's a lot.
  • The cost of this program would be 59 billion... do the math.

So why wasn't this program implemented?  There are many reasons, but the essential reason is that children and early childhood education, continues to be one of many bargaining chips in the world of politics.

We need to set early childhood education into a special place where it is a non-political issue and embraced by all, regardless of political preference.  Why?  Pick your reason:

1. You believe in creating opportunity for all children to succeed.
2. You feel strongly that a solid economy will improve many aspects of many people's life.
3. All of the above.

Which did you choose? Doesn't really matter, does it? :) The ROI with this investment has been described in many ways, and each it is, the result is impressive... investing in early childhood education is where it's at, when we are talking about improving our communities, from local to national to global.

For a more global perspective on how investing in early childhood education has a very positive impact on economy on a different scale, check out this article. It is easy to forget that in our country, many are born healthy, while in many other countries, up to 1/8 of all children (in developing countries) are born malnourished. I'm not suggesting who's responsibility it is to make positive change in this area.  What I am asking you to consider is this:

In whatever way we can, we should be investing more funding into early childhood programs.  Even if it means paying a little more out of pocket in taxes.  The rewards would be exponential and our future children and grandchildren will be the recipients of this "sacrifice."  I put that word into quotations because in comparison to the sacrifices many have made, this would be, in my opinion, a small sacrifice.... really it would be more of.... an investment.  When we invest in early childhood education, the chances of young children succeeding, including but not limited to breaking the cycle of poverty increases dramatically.
So far, I've pointed out one very successful program that was initiated by the citizens of the state of Arizona, and anyone can make that happen in any state.  However, what about the many smaller early childhood programs that aren't served as well, not out of neglect, but simply because the needs outweigh the capacity of any one program.

Let me introduce you to a new initiative, in my hometown of Tucson, Arizona.

It's called Strong Start Tucson.

For a .01 cent, that's 1 penny, sales tax, millions of dollars are created for the sole purpose of making high quality preschool a reality for any family.  I'll let you visit the site and read more about it.  Right now, I'm asking you to endorse this by clicking on this link.

To build community, we have to put both our actions and our wallet where our mouth is.
  • For a strong community, we need to invest in early childhood education.
  • For a strong economy, we need to invest in early childhood education.

Notice I didn't say "day care".  The programs involved are nationally accredited and offer a wonderful preschool experience that includes learning in language, math, science, and social-emotional growth.  I know because I am in those classrooms working with children, teachers and parents on a weekly basis. If you ever want to tag along with me one day, here is your invitation.

Hopefully, I can now say, "Thanks for endorsing Strong Start Tucson!"  I now invite you to make a donation to this worthy investment by clicking on this link.  Any amount is helpful.

What's next.... share this idea and this program with someone in your community and ask yourself, "should we invest in early childhood education?"

Chat with you next time on January 10!  Happy New Year!

Founder and Director of Education, Global Learning Foundation
Co-Author, Children's Book Series, Sam the Ant
Co-Creator, iBG (Intellectual Brainwave Games)
Music Producer of Kaleidoscope
a new album for children and families
Producer, The Tree and the Wind
for brain games and breathing strategies

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