Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Controlling Children's Toys, Screentime and Playtime??!!

A grandparent posted a comment on one of my social media channels. She said, "My dear grandchildren earn their toys and playtime and screen time with tickets. X number required for X activity or toy. Tickets taken away for sass or disobedience. Works like a charm. Helps kids learn to police themselves."

My response to her was this: "I'm delighted to hear that you found something that works for you with managing screen time, good for you. Screen time should be kept to no more that 30 - 60 mins. per day for young children. I am concerned however, that you are controlling healthy playtime. It is my opinion that playtime should be given automatically to children, as is oxygen and healthy food. Healthy, non screentime play is critical to a child's development and should not be controlled or withheld. Toys on the other hand, must be controlled because many children have too many. Too many toys can lead to anxiety and chaos."

"My children could only keep the number of large, easy to pick up toys, that could fit in a moderate size toybox in the playroom (not their bedroom). All others that did not fit were donated or thrown away. When they received new toys for birthdays or Christmas, they had to pick some toys to donate to a local charity. Any toys with many and/or small pieces were kept high on a shelf and my child had to ask permission to play with one of those. They did not get to have another one of these "many pieces" toys (Legos, hot wheels, army men, little pet sets, etc.) until the one they were playing with was picked up and put away."

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Montessori-Inspired Nest Activities Using Free Printables

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

If you're looking for activities for a bird theme this spring, I have them for you today! I've put together a number of Montessori-inspired nest activities that can be used in the classroom or at home. 

At Living Montessori Now, I have a list of free nest printables featuring real nests. The free printables include my latest subscriber freebie (a Montessori-inspired nest pack). Here, I'm sharing ideas for using free nest printables to create Montessori-inspired activities 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 some affiliate links (at no cost to you).

Montessori Shelves with Nest-Themed Activities 

Montessori Shelves with Nest-Themed Activities  

My shelves with nest-themed activities include a free nest culture card designed by The Montessori Company. You’ll also find Montessori-inspired nest numbers, letters, and and more (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 always have related books available throughout a unit. On my top shelf, I have Birds Make Nests, Whose Nest Is This? and A Nest Is Noisy. On the bottom shelf, I have A Nest Full of Eggs (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science). These books are all Montessori friendly. Although my activities this month all feature bird nests, I like that Whose Nest Is This? and A Nest Is Noisy include nests made by other types of animals as well. 

In my book basket, I have some books that are fiction but aren't Montessori-style books, such as the fun The Best Nest

You could mix your nest-themed activities among your shelves according to curriculum area. Or you could have a special nest-themed area something like the one pictured. My shelves this month have a mixture of skill levels. Many of the activities can be adapted for a variety of 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, simply rotate them.

Nest Culture Card and Whose Nest Is This? Book

Whose Nest Is This Book with Nest Culture Card I'm happy to share with you this lovely hand-painted robin nest culture card from The Montessori Company. You can use it on your shelves to introduce a nest or bird unit. I’m hosting the free printable as an instant download at Living Montessori Now. You can always access the free nest culture card here

The description says: “Nests are where birds lay eggs, usually high up in tree branches. They are commonly made of sticks and twigs but are quite strong.”

Bird Nest Lacing Activity Bird Nest Lacing Activity  
Free Printable: N is for Nest Pack from Teaching Mama 

For this activity, I just used the printable on a Multicraft tray with a shoelace tied to one end. I don't always laminate activities for preschoolers and older for home use, but I do always laminate lacing activities. 

I love the Scotch Thermal Laminator, which I use whenever I want to laminate an activity. Activities for toddlers or ones that will get a lot of use are the only activities I laminate at home. 

Angela from Teaching Mama cut the birds off for the lacing activity. That's probably best for toddlers, but I think most preschoolers can be taught to lace even with the birds still attached. 

Nest-Themed Book, Sandpaper Letter, and Word Card

Nest-Themed Book, Sandpaper Letter, and Word Card  

Free Printables: Nest Word Tracing from Birds Preschool Pack at Homeschool Creations 

This is on the shelf next to A Nest is Noisy book. I use it to introduce the theme with the sandpaper letter "n."  I used my small movable alphabet "n" on the nest word card. I also printed out the "nest" tracing word card that I would use with a child who's ready to trace letters. 

N is for Nest Birdseed Writing Tray

N is for Nest Birdseed Writing Tray 

Free Printables: Nest Letters for Letter N Birdseed 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) 

I first saw the idea of using birdseed for a writing tray at School Time Snippets. I thought it would be fun to use a feather for the writing, but it didn't work as well as a finger. Birdseed is lots of fun to write in, but it needs a fairly thick writing tool. 

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. 

If you would like help with introducing phonetic sounds, introducing objects with sounds, or beginning phonics in general, check out my DIY Beginning Montessori Phonics with Preschoolers

Nest and Egg Beginning Sounds or Word-Building Activity Nest and Egg Beginning Sounds or Word Building Activity  

Free Printable: Rob the Nest Alphabet Edition from Ms K's Kreations at Teachers Pay Teachers 

This was super easy to prepare. I just printed and cut out the materials and put them on a Multicraft tray. There are directions in the printable for playing "Rob the Nest Alphabet Edition." It uses both uppercase and lowercase cards, though. 

I like cooperative games, and I just wanted to use lowercase letters. So I made up my own games. 

For younger children, you could take turns drawing letter cards and saying their letter sounds before placing them in the nest. You don't have to include all the letters on the tray. Adapt it for your own child or classroom. When you've placed all the eggs in the nest, everyone wins. Repeat as long as the child or children are interested. 

For older children, you could have a word-building activity where you take turns drawing a letter. Whenever you have enough letters to spell a word, you could work together to form and read the word. 

Place used letters in the nest except any vowels. You can use those for more words. I like to allow nonsensical words as well as real words. The important part is spelling and reading! 

Oval Inset for Egg-Themed Work 

I have plastic insets instead of metal insets. I like them for home use because they can be stored in one basket, but either metal or plastic insets are fine. The inset could be traced before the child creates a design on the egg. Eggs can be added to a nest like the one above if desired. It's just nice to focus on the oval as an egg shape during the nest theme. 

Counting to 20 to Get Mama Bird to the Nest Counting to 20 to Get Mama Bird to the Nest

Free Printable: Follow the Path Mama Bird from 1-20 Mama Bird from Education.com 

I used a Multicraft tray, glass gems stored in a  Bambu condiment cup, and sugar tong for a fine-motor activity. A younger child could place the glass gems on the the path as far as he or she is able to count, and you could place the rest. A child who's working on numbers to 20 could put them on the page using the sugar tong before counting each of the numbers. 

Robin's Nest Addition with Montessori Bead Bars Robin's Nest Addition with Montessori Bead Bars  

Free Printable: Robin's Nest Addition from Make Take Teach at Teachers Pay Teachers 

This activity uses a piece of felt for a table mat (I used the Montessori Services felt table mat) and bead bars from the decanomial box in a Multicraft tray and Bambu condiment cups (what I used here) or other small containers. (My bead bars, which I love, are from Alison’s Montessori. You can get bead bars on Amazon, although I haven’t personally used materials from those companies.) 

The printable has addition facts for 5-12, although you could just use the nests for 2 or 3 numbers. I used 5, 6, and 7 here. I have the bead bars for each set of numbers. There are two 3 bars for 3+3=6. I would first lay out the nests in order. Then just have the child choose an egg and find the answer using bead bars. Place the eggs on the appropriate nests. 

Nest and Egg Addition and Subtraction Activity Nest and Egg Addition and Subtraction Activity  Free Printable: Nest Numbers 1-12 (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 Montessori Services basket12 miniature eggs, and 2 dice. The nests in the Montessori-inspired nest pack are identified on the credits page. From the credits page you'll see that each number card has a photo of an empty Carolina wren nest. The eggs aren't high-quality eggs, but I like that they look a bit like Carolina wren eggs. My 4-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, loves them. I chose dice with numerals for this activity, although you could use whichever type you prefer.

Putting together (Adding) 5 Eggs and 2 Eggs

First, Zoey laid out the number cards in order. Then she rolled both dice. In the photo, she has a 5 and a 2. She counted out the eggs for each number and then put them together to add them. 

Completing the Subtraction Problem 7 Eggs Minus 2 Eggs Equals 5 Egg

After that, Zoey rolled one of the dice to see how many eggs to take away. She thought it was fun to pretend that 2 eggs hatched and the birds flew away. She placed those eggs in a basket behind her. Then she counted the eggs that were left and made the final subtraction equation. 

You could adapt this for a variety of skill levels, depending on whether the child is working on counting or hands-on addition and subtraction. 

More Free Nest Printables 

Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to free nest printables from around the blogosphere: Free Nest Printables and Montessori-Inspired Nest 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 Bird Activities and Resources
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!

Spring will be here soon!

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.

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Sunday, February 4, 2018


DAY 4: BE AFFECTIONATE WITH YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER – Teach your children about love by expressing love for your significant other in front of them. Children who have healthy models of affection around them are likely to recreate in their adulthood what they witnessed as children. When your significant other and you argue or fight in front of the children, be sure and let the kids see the two of you makeup.

Get all 14 tips as they get published at http://www.facebook.com/cooperativekidz
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