Saturday, March 25, 2017

From Seed to Flower

                                   Spring!  I love the Spring!  (link goes to song)
Maryann "Mar." Harman
Founder of Music with Mar.
BA Music Ed / MA Education

       New beginnings.  It's beautiful weather.  Birds are busy.  Flowers are blooming.
If we, as adults, can appreciate the beauty and wonder, we can pass it onto our children.
Let's do that!

Side 'note' story -- When the Music with Mar. group was visiting from Beijing, I stepped outside one morning to see Qi and Mirzat sitting quietly by the pool.  I asked them why they were so quiet and their answer made me realize how fortunate I am.
The answer?  "We are listening to the birds.  There are no birds in Beijing."

It is all perspective.

Here are some ideas for Springtime songs and activities to do about Flowers.

Children love to act out songs.  When I was in India, the children had so much fun singing and acting out "The Parts of a Plant".  Dr. Debby Mitchell of GEO Motion and I watched and smiled at their pleasure.
Here is another song to let children 'feel' what happens as a seed grows into a flower.
The words pretty much tell you what to do.  Have the children sit in a chair with their feet pulled up onto the seat.  As the lyrics prompt, push the legs down to the floor.  Stand up when the song invites and add the petals.  Sway from side to side and have the children tell you what kind of flower they are.

Seed to Flower
Sit all curled up in a chair. 
Pretend you’re a seed, under dirt, in a cup
Push your roots way down.  Stand your stem straight up
Put your hands on your hips.   
Like leaves on a stem; One on each side
Your head has the petals for the flower.   
What kind?  You decide.
Stand tall, pretty flower.   Where you stand, you will stay

Your roots down in the ground will hold you as you sway

Here are some ideas from Highlights Magazine.

Get Brain Facts at :  Music with Mar. Inc on Facebook
Friend me!  I like friends!  Maryann Harman

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"Up and Down!" Preschool Dance Activity

Happy Spring!⚘⚘⚘⚘⚘⚘⚘⚘🌤🌈🍃⚘⚘⚘⚘⚘⚘⚘⚘

I enjoy taking a simple preschool concept and making a dance activity around it.  I have done that here with the concept of "up and down" (Or more specifically, levels in space:  low, high, and everything in between).  Using this theme, I have created a classroom movement lesson, beginning with warm ups and finishing with a very lively group activity.

UP ---> DOWN ---> UP!

A 30-45 Minute Themed Movement Activity

You will need:

A gym or large, open indoor space
Materials:  1 balloon per child (all the same color, if possible!)
Music:  2 lively selections, such as Joplin ragtime instrumentals, or any classroom favorite

Dance and Freeze

Start with a freeze game.  Play one of the musical selections and ask the children to dance freely to the music.  Stop the music and ask them to freeze in in a high shape.  Continue this, alternating with high, medium, and low shapes.  Finish by asking them to make a high shape on their tiptoes and try to balance.

Warm Up

Take five counts to go down to the floor.  Then five to stand up.  Then down in four counts, and up in four counts.  Repeat until the children are going up and down in one count.  Finish on the floor.

Sit with legs straight out in front.  Flex and point feet.  Then try the same thing lying down with feet in the air.

Stay lying down.  Imagine riding an upside-down bicycle.

Turn over and come to all-fours.  Arch and curve back ("Cat and Cow" stretch).

Squat and imagine you are a rubber band.  Stretch slowly to standing, reach further, and pop, going back to the ground.  Repeat several times, finishing standing.


Bend knees and stretch legs.  (Stand with legs straight and feet parallel to each other, about hip-width apart.  Bend knees with heels staying in contact with the floor, then stretch back to beginning position.  These are called pliés and are the basis for all standing and locomotor movement).  Repeat about 8 times.

Do the same thing, but this time go from bent knees (with heels down) to tiptoes.  Repeat 8 times and finish on tiptoe, trying to balance.

Bend and jump:  Same kind of bend, this time going up into the air.  Landing should be with heels down.  Try 4, rest, then try 4 more.

Bend and jump in funny shapes:  Once the children are landing correctly, try 4 jumps making funny shapes in the air.

Large Motor Skills

Try these different movements across the floor and back:

March:  Try with arms swinging, then again, holding arms overhead and clapping in time with the marches.
Tiptoe Walk (Challenge the children to try to walk on tiptoe without bending their knees)
Sideways Gallops (also called slides, or chassés)
Skips (If the children are older 4's, 5, and 6)
Runs (Dance runs are quiet, keeping the body weight lifted.  I call them "Hurry Up and Be Quiet" runs)

"UP and DOWN" Balloon Dance

Ask the children, How long do you think you could keep a balloon dancing in the air?  I will give you each a balloon -- remember not to put it near your mouth -- and you try to see how long you can keep the balloon dancing without letting it touch the floor.

If you have a large group of children, you might want to do this in two or three smaller groups, as the children will be moving around quite a lot.  Play a selection of upbeat music while the children are performing the activity.

Follow-up activity:  Try the same exercise with two children sharing one balloon, keeping it in the air by working together.


Keep on Dancin',


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Montessori-Inspired Eat-a-Rainbow Activities Using Free Printables

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

I love promoting healthy eating, and I'm excited about the printables and activities I have for you today!  An eat-a-rainbow unit is a great way to encourage kids to eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables each day. 

Here I'm sharing lots of ideas for eat-a-rainbow activities using free printables. At Living Montessori Now, I have a long list of free eat-a-rainbow 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 Eat-a-Rainbow-Themed Activities 

Montessori Shelves with an Eat-a-Rainbow Theme    
My shelves include materials from my Montessori-inspired eat-a-rainbow 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) 

You could also include a free hand-painted printable lettuce culture card  and free hand-painted printable orange culture card designed by The Montessori Company. Because my shelf space is limited, I like to display the cards vertically where I can rotate one of the books on display. 

The books on my shelves are Rainbow Foods: Exploring Fruits and Vegetables by Color by Kathy Mansfield and Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert. 

You could mix your eat-a-rainbow-themed activities among your shelves according to curriculum area. Or you could have a special eat-a-rainbow area something like the one pictured. This has a mixture of skill levels. 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. 

Lettuce and Orange Culture Cards 

I have two lovely hand-painted culture cards from The Montessori Company. One is a painting of lettuce, and the other is a painting of an orange. I’m hosting the free printables as an instant download at Living Montessori Now. You can always access the free lettuce culture card here and the free orange culture card hereThe lettuce description says: “Lettuce comes in many different varieties and is used most often for its leaves. It grows quickly and is used in salads and other meals.” The orange description says: "An orange is a citrus fruit that can be sweet or sour. Oranges grow on trees in warmer climates and might be used to make your morning juice!" 

Fruit Memory Game Fruit Memory Game Free Printable: Fruit Memory and Match Up Cards from 1+1+1=1 

For this activity, I simply used a Montessori Services basket, the fruit cards with words, and the fruit cards without words. I chose the 8 most colorful fruits to use as a simple memory game. 

Fruit Number Puzzle  (or Vegetable Skip Counting Puzzles) Fruit Number Puzzle Free Printable: Fruit Number Sequence Puzzle from Montessori By Mom; See ideas for using the puzzle for babies through kindergarteners at Living Montessori Now

Free Printables for Older Kids: Vegetable Skip Counting Puzzles from Liz's Early Learning Spot 

For this activity, I used a basket I had and the printable. This is super easy to prepare. Just choose a puzzle that's appropriate for your child's skill level. 

/f/ for Food Puzzle Rainbow Food PuzzleFree Printable: Food Puzzle (Movable Alphabet Letter)  (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) 

This activity just took a few minutes to prepare. I used a Montessori Services clear acrylic tray along with a small tabletop easel and separate container for the puzzle pieces. To make the work a bit easier, copy the page twice and have one copy (not cut apart) on the tray or on a stand. 

If you'd like ideas for teaching phonics, check out my DIY Beginning Montessori Phonics post. 

What Am I? Fruits and Veggies Game What Am I Fruits and Veggies Activity Free Printable: What Am I? Fruits and Veggies Activity from Early Learning with Marta, Eaton, and Nathaniel (Note: I used the editable riddles so that I could change "peal" to "peel.") 

For this activity, I just used a Montessori Services basket and the pieces from the printable cut apart. 

This is a fun introduction to riddles! You can have the pictures laid out across the top of the rug and add the riddle below the picture once your child discovers the answer. 

Letter F Object Basket 

Free Printables: Fruit Letters for Letter F Object Basket y (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 used Beanie Babies and small objects I had that started with the/f/ sound. Again, If you'd like ideas for teaching phonics, check out my DIY Beginning Montessori Phonics post.

Rainbow Salt Writing Tray Rainbow Writing Tray with Fonts for f Free Printables: Fruit Letter F Rainbow Writing Tray (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) 

Free Printable: Rainbow Stripes from Open Clip Art (This is actually a printable of the rainbow flag. I simply downloaded the PDF, printed it out at 96%, and cut the edges to the size of my box. You can always use strips of colored  paper if you don't want to use the printable. I had first seen a rainbow salt tray on Learning 4 Kids, and you can find directions for a paper strip tray there.)

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.

Fruit and Vegetable Beginning Sound Clip Cards 
Fruit and Vegetable Beginning Sound Clip Cards  

Free Printable: Beginning Letter Printables from Fruit and Vegetable Montessori Printables at Welcome to Mommyhood 

For this activity, I used a Montessori Services basket, the printable, and some small colored clothespins

I like to place a colored dot on the back of the correct letter as a control of error (self-correcting feature). 

Eat the Rainbow Practical Life and Sorting Activity Eat the Rainbow Practical Life and Sorting Activity Free Printable: Eat the Rainbow Printable from Growing Up Gabel 

Free Printable: Sorting Fruits and Vegetables from Powerful Mothering 

For this activity, I used a multicraft tray, the printables, 5 different colors of fruits from Learning Resources Super Sorting Pie, containers for the pieces (I used 2 Bambu condiment cups), and toast tong (or whatever tool you prefer) for the fruit transfer. You could use any small fruits or vegetables. I just wanted to be sure I had red, orange, yellow, green, and blue/purple for the rainbow effect.

This was a fairly long process, but my 3-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, loved it. First she transferred the fruits to each of the colored words. Then she sorted out all the fruits and vegetables by color. 

Finally, she chose 5 colors of fruits and/or vegetables she'd like to eat. 

I Can Eat a Rainbow Activity I Can Eat a Rainbow Tray  
Free Printable: I Can Eat a Rainbow by Curriculum Castle at Teachers Pay Teachers 

Free Printable: A Rainbow of Fruits and Vegetables from Preschool Is Fun 

Free Printable: My Healthy Plate from Fruit and Vegetable Sorting Cards (Subscriber Freebie) at Wise Owl Factory 

For this activity, I used a multicraft tray, the printables, crayons (mine are in a central location), and a glue stick

There are a number of ways you can use this printable. To use over and over again, you could color the crayons and rainbow, laminate the page, and have the fruits and vegetables available for your child to choose each day. You could even have Velcro pieces on the rectangles or plate and backs of each fruit or vegetable. Or your child could color in the page and glue on the fruits and vegetables according to color. Older children could cut out their own fruits and vegetables.

My Healthy Day - Eat-a-Rainbow Food Choices  

You could use the "I Can Eat a Rainbow" printable or this "My Healthy Day - 5 Fruits and Vegetables" printable. (I keep both printables on the tray.) This could even be laminated as a placemat for your child to use when choosing fruits and vegetables for the day.

More Free Eat-a-Rainbow Printables

Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to free eat-a-rainbow printables from around the blogosphere: Free Eat-a-Rainbow Printables and Montessori-Inspired 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 Nutrition Activities at Living Montessori Now

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 healthy eating!
 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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Monday, March 6, 2017

Reading at Home

Hi! It's Carolyn from Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together.  This time of year the children are really starting to take off with reading.  

They're using their reading strategies and growing each day!  I want to be sure they continue to grow as much as they can at home as well as at school. We don't send homework home with children (thank goodness), but we do send  books home with them to practice reading at home. I wanted to send home some ideas to help parents while they read at home with their children. Reading at home with children is such a huge benefit and important part of a child's reading success, but sometimes we forget that parents don't always know what we're focusing on or looking for as they read with their child. I labeled the praise points, "Wonderful," and the questions for parents to ask, "Wondering."

These ideas help parents remember to praise, praise, praise and encourage their child as they read together at home, as well as provide questions to help parents take their child deeper into the text and beyond the text. 

I thought you might like to use it with your students' parents, too.  Just click the picture below if you would like a copy!  Enjoy!

Here are some good graphics you could share with families, as well, to show the benefits of reading with their child each night at home.  This graphic is from Makayla Schenkelberg

This is from Perry Public Schools:

Have a wonderful week!  Thank you for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Where's the FUN in the Fundamentals? Advocate for FUN!

HAPPY MARCH! Spring is on the way! Keep Believing! 

This is Debbie Clement, Editor-in-Chief around this collaboration. Dare I tell you where I am as I type? We are in sun-drenched CABO! At the southern tip of the Mexican peninsula. And we are here to have FUN! FUN! And yet more FUN! We're never too old for fun!!!

Our last two Tuesday night Twitter Chats at the hashtag #TeacherFriends have had the topics: #WhatIf #DigCit and Where's the Fun? So I have been focused on those two subjects a lot lately. What if we were more conscientious about being connected? About having fun?

Spring. March. This is such an exciting time of year. All of those laborious and exhausting weeks of establishing routines and parameters are paying off. The evidence of growth and learning is evident on a daily and hourly basis!!! Oh happy day! PROGRESS!

Children are learning and acquiring new skills daily! Your hard work and attention to offering opportunities for growth are paying off! It is so important to have a tribe that supports and encourages you. In your building or in cyber-space! OR BOTH!!! It is great when you can rub elbows with people that inspire you and life you up! 

That's me in the middle-ish, wearing my polka-dot SUPER HERO cape! 

We made our way to Mexico on Monday, by way of the Southern California Kindergarten conference last weekend. It is always exhausting, hard work, an adventure to travel cross country. The packing alone takes me a day.

We recently received the very sobering news that a friend of our family suddenly died of a heart attack at the age of 64. After some soul searching, we decided that we needed more fun in our lives. Our days are indeed numbered. 

My sweet husband cancelled our return flight from CA to FL and instead we have made a diversion to CABO for a week! This week! Right now! This is the view from our balcony. SHADES OF BLUE and MORE SHADES OF BLUE! 

I am attending to this responsibility from my sun drenched balcony, over-looking an infinity pool and further beyond are the glistening waters of the Sea of Cortes. Look closely and you will see that there are ponies tied right there at water's edge. 

Trust me I have already enjoyed more than my typical day's allotment of fun! I shot videos of the sun rising over the water (follow me on IG to watch it for yourself) and then I took a yoga class on the beach! AWESOME!

But back to my 'real life' and the having of fun. Having people that you can count on, people that inspire you, people that connect you to new ideas -- is indeed fun for me. 

Meet Sylvia of "Learning with Mrs. Parker" fame and blog. We have been cyber friends for over two years and we met for the first time at the conference! BUCKET LIST! Meeting your cyber friends IRL is about as fun as it gets! Sylvia is ALL about integrating technology for her kinders, but doing so in a developmentally appropriate and FUN manner! 

I can't say enough about these next two angels pictured in the top of the photo collage below. 
They each 'held-me-up' in more ways-than-one during the conference. 
Do you recognize them? 

It was such an honor to spend time with Katie -- Teacher to the Core, {upper right} who is the type of person that will text you a copy of the conference's agenda, so you are in the right place at the right time. 

Then there's my girl-crush, first meet-up with THE Cara -- of First Grade Parade {pictured upper right above.} 
Our chauffeured rides arrived at the hotel at the exact same moment. 
So that meant we were destined to have fun over dinner!
We laughed. We cried a bit. We had fun. We bonded. 
Incredible women. 

Since I have last written here, I had the amazing opportunity to speak on one of our Army bases, Fort Stewart in GA, to the 350 teaching team of the young children of our troops stationed there. I was honored that when my final keynote for the day concluded, when the commander of the base awarded me with a medal. THAT WAS FUN!  

My newest picture book, "Red, White and Blue" was born during the week following September 11th and the patriotic song and my artwork are welcomed by those connected with our armed services. It is an honor and privilege to share it with teachers who teach the children of our troops. 

Also during my tour of GA I had the great good fortune to make a school visit to a primary school, with 578 kindergarten and first grade children(!!!) A brand new consolidation combined five country schools together. The principal shared that they had performed this same song of mine for Veteran's Day last fall, at the first combined PTA meeting since the consolidation. She got teary eyed and I did too. 

It is an amazing thing to receive feedback of such magnitude, during the living of your life. Simplicity. Repetition. Heart felt. Feedback is the highest form of FUN possible for an artist, a teacher, a cheerleader. 

We have some super exciting news over at where we distribute the fun #AlternativeSeating stools. We can now accept purchase orders from schools and are processing orders coast-to-coast. There is a new VERY adjustable version being released this week, called the "Grow with Me" model! 

The top and bottom are the same as the original model and there is a new center post with a 'ring' that is squeezed to change the height anywhere from 15.5" to 21.5" making it tailor made for every height in the classroom!!! BIG NEWS! We are now taking orders and they will begin shipping at the end of the month. We can all envision a back-order, when folks learn of the new model. 

I have spent a bit of time finding you some FUN and FREE resources for spring. Look below! Hope it makes your day that I have done some of the research for you. 

Now for some FUN! Take a look at these pictures! Inspiration! 

Those just MAY be the most delightful teachers ev-er for Seuss celebration. 
Thanks to Missy Gibbs of TX for sharing the photo in Simply Kinder on FB 
and giving me permission to share here! 


I had an author visit in February at the school where my nephew Justin teaches Kindergarten. We 'borrowed' one of his fellow teacher's doors for this family photo.


You can tell when there is spontaneous excitement. 
The kids let you know. 
Their eyes light up! 
Take a look at all of this enthusiasm over making applesauce together! 
This is the very definition of fun! 

Here are some FREEBIES for FUN! 
March and SPRING-time! 
{{{Click on the photo to go to the FREEBIE!}}}

Brag Tags for St. Patrick's Day {FREEBIE}

St. Patrick's Day Kindergarten Printables FREE

St. Patrick's Day NO PREP FREEBIE!

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