Sunday, July 23, 2017

Changable Sign Posts

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

This particular idea came from my wife. (Did I marry the right person or what?) I came into the room one day and found these.

Sign posts for our the blocks center! When we've used our logos before, we've taped them to blocks or cardboard tubes. That still works great. But Cindy wanted something else.

She got plastic lids, wide craft sticks, and clothespins. She made a slit in the lid and inserted the craft stick. Using hot glue, she secured the stick and then glued the clothespin to the other end of the stick. Presto! Sign posts that can be changed as we see fit.

Our boys really enjoyed using these signs. They built and incorporated the signs in their construction. They read the signs, at least some of them. 

They added them to what they built. Then they built specific structures for the signs. (And sometimes they built and ignored the signs. That's okay, too!)

I think these sign posts could be really useful in other ways. In addition to using them for street signs or other block play, here are some ideas I had.
  • Clip on words cards for kids to read or write or spell with letter tiles.
  • Clip on letters for kids to rearrange to spell their names.
  • Add cards with numbers and kids could count out quantities. 
  • Clip on sorting categories and kids could place items or pictures under the appropriate signs.
  • Add statements or key words in different centers or other activities.
  • Clip on instructions for a recipe or science experiment.
  • Use name cards for place settings or other dramatic play in the home center.
I love repurpose ideas and these are a great addition to our collection of resources. Thanks, Cindy!!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Fun Dance Activity for Outside Summer Play

Happy Mid-Summer!

In so many parts of the country, summer is the only time children can go barefoot,  venture outside without a jacket, enjoy the warm sunshine, and spend hours and hours playing (and dancing!) outside.  Here is one of my favorite dance activities that works as well outside on a nice day as it does in the classroom or gym.  And it has the added advantage of familiarizing young children with their surroundings.

ACTIVITY:  Take a Virtual Tour of Your Hometown

Summer is a wonderful time to get to know your hometown.  Take a virtual tour of some of the highlights, adding as many ideas as you and the children can think of.    Allow the children time to respond to each prompt.  If you can, follow it up another day with a real tour.  Here is a virtual tour of my hometown, Cincinnati!  It is easy to take these basic ideas, and substitute your own city, town, or rural area's local landmarks and activities.

Let's Have Fun in Cincinnati!

Materials:  None!
Music:  Optional, but an upbeat song about your city, or something related to it, would enhance the activity

Call out the following movement prompts one by one, allowing plenty of time in between for the children to explore their ideas.

* Climb a tree, grab buckeyes, climb down, and pick up those that have fallen on the ground

    * Paddle a rowboat, kayak, or canoe down the Ohio River, then jump out and swim.  Climb back in the boat and dry off

    * Hit a baseball like your favorite Cincinnati Reds player, then 
    jump to catch a fly ball.  Now run around the bases, first, 
    second, third, and home, as fast as you can!
    * Throw, kick and catch a football like your favorite Cincinnati Bengal’s player
    * Skate on the ice: go backward, forward, make a figure eight.  Pretend like you have a hockey stick, and slap a hockey puck like a Cincinnati Cyclones player

    * Run, jump, dribble, and shoot like a University of Cincinnati Bearcat basketball player.

    * Run circles around the fountain on Fountain Square.  Then imagine you are the water squirting out of the fountain

    * Run, jump, climb, and leap like your favorite animals at the Cincinnati Zoo
    * Climb all the way to the top of the highest building downtown, look at the sights, and then climb back down
    * Play at Kings Island amusement park -- imagine you are riding your favorite rides.
    * Imagine you are playing an instrument in a parade!

    * Visit the aquarium.  Swim, crawl, and move like your favorite water creatures.

    * Fly like an airplane over the city.  What do you see when you look down?

    Conclude the activity by asking:  What was your favorite place to visit in Cincinnati?

    This activity can be expanded as a geography/social studies lesson.  You can "visit" lots of places and lots of sites.  Read about them, and take a tour as in the activity above!

    Have a wonderful summer, and keep on dancin',




    Saturday, July 15, 2017

    Montessori-Inspired Alligator Unit Using Free Printables

    By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

    Alligators are fun to study ... and the greater than, less than alligator activities are some of my favorites! They're so helpful for children who have difficulty remembering how to place the greater than and less than symbols. 

    At Living Montessori Now, I have a list of free alligator printables, including lots of greater than, less than alligator printables. The free printables include my latest subscriber freebie (a Montessori-inspired alligator pack, which has some special greater than/less than alligator photo symbols). 

    Here, I'm sharing ideas for using free alligator printables to create Montessori-inspired activities. 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).

    Montessori Shelves with Alligator-Themed Activities

    Montessori Shelves with Alligator-Themed Activities  

    My shelves with alligator-themed activities include a free alligator culture card designed by The Montessori Company. You’ll also find Montessori-inspired alligator numbers, letters, spinners, and greater than/less than alligator symbols (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 have a number of alligator books, both non-fiction and fiction, for our alligator unit. We always enjoy the National Geographic Readers, such as this month's Alligators and Crocodiles. I love the variety of visual facts about alligators in Who Lives in an Alligator Hole? by Anne Rockwell and Alligators and Crocodiles by Gail Gibbons. 

    Free Printable: Stomping Grounds of the American Alligator from Tim Van De Vall. I added this printable to our shelf along with our Hugg-a-Planet Earth to reinforce the books' information about where alligators live. 

    You could mix your alligator-themed activities among your shelves according to curriculum area. Or you could have a special alligator area something like the one pictured. My shelves this month have 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. 

    Alligator Culture Card (on Shelf with Alligator Books)

    Alligator Culture Card with Alligator Books  

    I'm happy to share with you this awesome hand-painted alligator culture card from The Montessori Company. You can use it on your shelves to introduce an alligator unit. I’m hosting the free printable as an instant download at Living Montessori Now. You can always access the free alligator culture card here

    The description says: “Alligators are reptiles that live in the marshes of North America and China. They silently stalk prey in the water or bask in the sun during the day.” 

    Lady with the Alligator Purse Book and Literature-Based Activity

    The Lady with the Alligator Purse Book and Sequencing Cards 

    Free Printable: Lady with the Alligator Purse Song-Themed Printable and Activity from Mumma Diaries This isn't on my shelves yet. First, I'm featuring the non-fiction alligator books. This is one of the activities I'll be rotating onto my shelves during the month. 

    The Lady with the Alligator Purse is just a silly and fun book! I'm planning to use the cards as a sequencing activity while my 3½-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, and I sing the song. 

    A is for Alligator Basket and Salt Writing Tray

    A is for Alligator Basket and Salt Writing Tray 

    Free Printables: Alligator Letters for A is for Alligator Basket and Salt 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: Alligator Clothespin Puppet/Fine-Motor Activity from Delia Creates 

    Free Printable: A is for Alligator by The Educators Spin On It at Teacher's Notebook Alligator Basket 

    Isn't the clothespin alligator adorable?!! With the printable, it was easy to prepare, too! I got the basket from Montessori Services. I used small objects that begin with the /ă/ sound and go with the chant on the card. I didn't want to use "airplane," so I changed the word to "ambulance" and used a Micro Machine ambulance. 

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

    For the salt writing 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. I simply colored salt by putting some Wilton gel food coloring in a plastic bag with the salt and shaking it until it was mixed thoroughly. I wanted it to be blue for water. 

    Reptiles Singular and Plural Reptile Singular and Plural Basket Free Printable: Reptiles and Amphibians Singular and Plural Cards from Every Star Is Different 

    For this activity, I used a Montessori Services basket and Safari Ltd. reptiles (from a variety of TOOBs). 

    This is a fun, hands-on way to introduce reptiles to young children.

    Reptile Singular and Plural Sorting

    I used a Montessori Services rug on the floor for the layout.  This is just one way you can use the cards. For younger preschoolers, you can place the Safari Ltd. figures on the rug and then have the child find the matching card for each figure. After that, you could say, "Can you find more alligators?" and so on.  

    With children who read, you can use this as a reading lesson in singular and plural. Of course, you can cut the cards apart to make Montessori 3-part cards.

    Montessori-Inspired Alligator Booklet Reptile Singular and Plural Basket Free Printable: All About Alligators Printables from Welcome to Mommyhood 

    This was so easy to prepare! I just printed and laminated the pages, punched a hole in each page, and added a binder ring. There are a number of free alligator printables at Welcome to Mommyhood. 

    I chose to make a homemade booklet because Zoey loves those.This one has lots of information along with interesting alligator photos. 

    Counting Alligators Game Counting Alligators Game

    Free Printable: Alligator Numbers and Alligator Spinner (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) 

    For this activity, I used a  Multicraft tray and a Bambu condiment cup to hold 10 Safari Ltd. Good Luck Mini alligators. (Yes, the are only 9 in the cup, but that's because one had wandered off before I took the photo. I didn't realize it until after my photo shoot was finished. There are now 10 in the cup ready for the activity!) 

    Note: You can get the Good Luck Mini alligators on Amazon, although you'll find the best price at Alison's Montessori

    Alligator Addition Game Alligator Addition Game For this activity, I used a  Multicraft tray and a Bambu condiment cup to hold 10 Safari Ltd. Good Luck Mini alligators. The alligator arrow is simply taped onto the paper brad/paper-clip spinner.

    Again, you can get the Good Luck Mini alligators on Amazon, although you'll find the best price at Alison's Montessori

    Working with Hands-on Alligator Addition
    This is a simple way to introduce addition. With hands-on objects, it's a great way to add interest to counting activities for preschoolers who are comfortable with other counting activities.

    Greater Than, Less Than Alligator Math with Alligator Photo Symbols and Greater Than Gator Chant 

    This activity is on my shelf, but I'll be introducing in my post at Living Montessori Now on Tuesday! 

    Alligator Writing or Dictation Tray Alligator Writing or Dictation Tray  

    Free Printables: Alligator Writing or Dictation Pages (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 is always so easy to prepare! I used a Multicraft tray, the printables, a pencil, and a pencil sharpener for an added practical life activity. Advanced preschoolers on up can write their own story, while younger preschoolers can dictate a story for you to write. They could use either printable: "What do you know about alligators?" or "Tell about your about your experiences with alligators, or tell an alligator story." 

    More Free Alligator Printables 

    Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to free alligator printables from around the blogosphere: Montessori-Inspired Alligator Unit with Free Printables and 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.

    See my previous alligator posts at PreK + K Sharing here: 

    Helpful Animal Classification Posts

    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!

    Happy back-to-school planning!
    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 42 years (and lives in the city where her kids, kids-in-law, and 3-year-old granddaughter live). She blogs at Living Montessori Now.

    Living Montessori Now Button

    Thursday, July 6, 2017


    Hi! It's Carolyn from Kindergarten: Holding  Hands and Sticking Together.  I've been having a wonderful summer so far, but it can slow down a bit, if that's OK.

    I haven't done anything "schooly," yet at the same time, everything I've done has been "schooly."

    First of all, my new favorite thing is painting rocks with my sister.  This will be known as the summer of rock painting for me.  I posted about it HERE.

    These are some rocks my sister and I have painted so far.

    We have the best time painting and hiding rocks for people to find.  I want to bring this idea to school as a Kindness Rocks project.  This isn't my original idea, because I've seen other places do fabulous things with it.

    The wonderful part about ideas is that you can make them fit exactly what you need or want.  I love the idea of this rock path from Sharon Elementary School in Newburgh, IN.  They painted rocks inspired by the book Only One You, by Linda Kranz, and made a beautiful stone pathway outside the school entrance.  I just love this.

    I also love the idea of having my students paint a special rock and sending it home with them with a note explaining to parents that they have a mission to make someone's day, by hiding the special rock for someone else to find.  I know the joy I have had when I find a rock.  It's just plain FUN.

    The other part of my summer, so far, has been getting ready to go to Las Vegas!  Dr. Jean and I  have been working this past year on a FABULOUS project that we are going to share next Monday in Las Vegas at the ESGI booth!

    These packets will be available July 10th- and I cannot wait to share them with you!  We're doing a Facebook Live from Las Vegas.  I'm scared.  I am NOT a presenter...  I like blogging, because if people read what I write and get ideas, that's perfect.  If they don't want to, I'll never know!

    I think I have way too thin skin to present.  This would have to be my name tag...

    Anyway- I'm so excited and I'll share our adventures when I get back!  I'd love you to watch the Facebook Live!  It's on ESGI's Facebook Page-  LIVE from I Teach K with Chris Pombonyo.  If you watch, send some smiles and hearts!   Do you ever watch those LIVE Facebook events and see those mean faces go by and just cringe?  Oh my, oh my.  Can you tell I'm a bit nervous?

    Last year, Dr. Jean and I were talking about how much we enjoy sharing ideas with teachers, and how much we want the JOY of teaching and learning to never be lost.  With all the trends and changes and standards out there, sometimes teachers get so caught up in having to keep up, they forget  to enjoy the journey.

    Dr. Jean wanted to put all of her best teaching songs together with practical, helpful ideas and activities, so they were all in one place for teachers.  We decided it would be most helpful to divide these ideas into monthly packets- full of one useful idea after another!  So - that's what we did.

    Each month we have ELA, math, science, social studies, character education, and seasonal ideas to go with 15+ of Dr. Jean's songs!  We've also included different cheers, handshakes, and attention grabbers for each month.  Jean made a little video for each month showing how to do all the new cheers, handshakes, and attention grabbers, with her granddaughter.  I know it's so much easier for me to learn new things when I see them, so I love these little videos.

    Each month you will also receive 2 Prezis with LOTS of videos, songs, activities, online games, and anchor charts, that go along with that month.  I love Prezis.  They are a perfect way to organize your favorite online activities so they are all right there for you, in one place, ready to use whenever you have a free moment.  Never again will you waste those extra minutes before specials or before lunch.
    I use the Prezis to introduce new subjects, to reinforce what I've taught, to leave up an anchor chart on my Smart TV during a lesson because I don't have a lot of extra wall space, and to play review games on the Smartboard or Smart TV.

    So- all of these "favorites" are all set up for you to use and the links to these Prezis are included in these packets!  Here are a couple pictures of Prezis so you can see how they are set up.  Each part is a link you can click on.

    We had so much fun putting these packets together.  One of the best things about these activities, is that they can be made to fit any and all curriculum.   This overall packet has math, reading, writing, science, health, social studies, character education, and seasonal activities - all you could need.  But- it fits beautifully with any curriculum.  For example, we have many sight word games and activities. If you need to teach 100 sight words or 25 sight words, they will work perfectly for you- just fit your words into the activities.

    Then, to make this even BETTER- we have partnered with ESGI to include assessments in each packet for each subject area!  Every month, you will receive assessments for ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies available through ESGI.

    These assessments give you all the data your district could want!  Having the assessments to show your administration also helps to show them how hands-on learning, songs, and movement really WORK to help children learn and remember information.  We know that they will remember it so much better because they had FUN learning it.

    These packets can also be purchased through school districts with curriculum money.  The assessments provide the data piece so many districts look for when purchasing curriculum.  But in the "teacher world,"  the data really helps us to see what the children learn and help us to guide our instruction as we move forward with our teaching! That's why I love ESGI... Educational Software for Guiding Instruction.  That's exactly what it does for teachers.

    I posted ALL about the benefits, bells and whistles,  and some examples of what ESGI offers HERE.  When you use the special PROMO CODE HAPPIES , you can try ESGI FREE for 60 days and when you see how valuable it is, you will receive $40 off your purchase for the first year using the HAPPIES code.  The price is usually $199 a year, but with the promo code, it will be $159 for the first year.  Check with your administration because they may be able to purchase it for you. They can use the code and get it for $159 for the first year, too- for your whole grade level!  It's a great time of the year to try it out in the beginning of the year- when you are assessing so many different things.  ESGI saves you HOURS of time assessing.  The children love it.  It's fun!  There is no paperwork to get lost- and your data is available anytime for you because it's all online! All answers are Y (yes) and N (no).  You click the button right on the iPad as the student answers, whether he was able to answer it or not. The data is all saved for you and can be displayed so many different ways to help you create groups and see progress.  You can read more about ESGI's features HERE.     

    Here are some samples assessment questions and how they will look on your iPad as you assess the students:

    You can click on this link to see a little preview of the Back to School Packet. Each month has an extensive preview packet at my TpT store, so you can see just what is included.

    We have also bundled the whole year of packets together at a discounted price- so it's like you get 2 months free! This complete packet includes all 9 monthly packets with 1275 pages of activities, learning games, and worksheets for all subject areas; over 135 of Dr. Jean's songs to download (many with books to go with them!); 20 Prezis; new handshakes, cheers, attention grabbers, and finger plays each month; QR codes for many of the songs; plus assessments available on ESGI for each subject area each month!

    Please come to Las Vegas via Facebook if you can- or if you are there in real life, I hope I get to see you!  We will be on ESGI's Facebook Live on Monday at 5:50 Eastern Time/ 2:50 Pacific Time! Thank you so much for stopping by.

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