Sunday, July 22, 2018

Dancing from STEM to STEAM to STREAM!


Dancing to stories is one of the main activities that young children have enjoyed in my creative movement classes over the years.  Reading a book or story, then using verbal prompts to encourage the children to relive the story through dance and music, is also a wonderful way to incorporate the all-important "A" for Arts and the "R" for Reading into STEM. 

STEM to STEAM to STREAM -- let's go!  

Recreating the story with movement helps children to understand the concepts in the book and learn about them kinesthetically.   This process also helps children identify with settings, characters, plot and themes of the story, and helps with sequencing, comprehension, and vocabulary.  Most of all, though, this activity makes story time lively and even more fun.

Here is a dance story that I have created based on Eric Carle's classic book The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Along with instructions for presenting the dance story, I have included photos of a visit I made to a school in Nicaragua.  I had the Spanish version of the book, La Oruga Muy Hambrienta.  

I often supplement a dance story with props.  In this case, I used colorful scarves which become the wings when the caterpillar becomes a butterfly.  

The materials you will need for this activity are:

1.  The book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
2.  Colorful scarves or fabric scraps, about 12" square 
(2 per child)

3.  Two lively instrumental musical selections, one of which has a conga rhythm

Now you are ready to begin!  Gather the children together and read the story.

Explain the dance story, and tell the children that you will be giving them movement prompts so that they will be retelling the story with dance and music.  Make sure to give the children plenty of time to respond to each of your movement suggestions.

Play the music softly in the background.  


You are a little egg on a leaf, in the moonlight.

Pop out of your egg!

You are so hungry.  Where would you find some food?     Proceed through each day in the story as the caterpillar finds new things to eat.

Eat as much as you can and become a great big caterpillar!

Your tummy hurts! Eat a nice green leaf to make you feel better.

Now it is time to spin your cocoon! Turn, turn, spin, spin, spin!  Wait inside your cocoon while you make your amazing transformation.  

While the children are waiting, use a clothespin to attach a scarf to each of their shoulders.

Nibble a hole in your cocoon, and push your way out. Push hard.  Push with your feet, your wings, and look, you are a colorful butterfly! Your wings are still wet.  Try to flap them up and down, very gently.  Now, flap harder, and fly.  Fly around the room, beautiful butterflies!

Now we will finish our story by making a giant caterpillar! Form the children into a line, and put on the conga music.  

Play the conga music, stand at the front of the line and introduce the conga step:  one, two three, touch heel to one side (rhythm:  one, two, three + four), repeat to the other side, and continue all around the room.

Caterpillar Conga line.  One, two, three, and four!

Happy dancing -- 

Keep on dancin',



Sunday, July 15, 2018

Montessori-Inspired Constellation Activities Using Free Printables

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

Stars and constellations make a fabulous unit for almost any age. This unit will be for preschoolers through first graders, although older kids could love some of the activities as well! 

At Living Montessori Now, I have a list of free star and constellation printables. The free printables include my latest subscriber freebie (a Montessori-inspired constellation pack). 

Here, I'm sharing ideas for using free constellation 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 Constellation-Themed Activities

Montessori Shelves with Constellation-Themed Activities
My shelves with constellation-themed activities include a free constellations culture card designed by The Montessori Company. You’ll also find Montessori-inspired constellation 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. I have Zoo in the Sky and Little Kids First Big Book of Space (the beautiful open book from National Geographic) along with a number of other star and constellation books. I'll publish a related book post another day. 

I also have some fun glow-in-the-dark constellation lacing cards from Montessori Services on the top shelf along with the books and culture card. They come with laces, but you could extend the work by adding a needle for sewing, too. 

You could mix your constellation-themed activities among your shelves according to curriculum area. Or you could have a special constellation-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.

Constellations Culture Card with the Glow-in-the-Dark Night Sky Book

Constellations Culture Card on Shelf with the Glow-in-the-Dark Night Sky Book
The Glow-in-the-Dark Night Sky Book is a wonderful book that I had from homeschooling my now-adult kids. It doesn't appear to be in print any longer, but you can get it used inexpensively from Amazon. My glow-in-the-dark constellations still worked great! 

I'm happy to share with you this lovely constellation culture card from The Montessori Company. I’m hosting the free printable as an instant download at Living Montessori Now. You can always access the free constellations culture card here

The description says: “Constellations are different patterns found in the night sky's stars. Most are connected to old stories and myths!”

C is for Constellations Sand Writing Tray with Glow-in-the-Dark Stars

C is for Constellations Sand Writing Tray with Glow-in-the-Dark StarsFree Printables: Constellation Letters for constellation 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)

For the sand 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 already had the blue sand from a hobby store from previous activities. Amazon has some even darker blue sand that would be perfect for the night-sky look.

My 4½-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, absolutely loves anything glow in the dark, so we have a lot of glow-in-the-dark activities for our constellation unit! For the sand tray, I even added the glow-in-the-dark stars to be placed on the letter that's traced. The bathroom off my kitchen can be made completely dark, so Zoey likes to take her completed work in there to see the glow-in-the-dark effect. 

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.

I Have, Who Has? Greek Mythological Constellation Game

I Have, Who Has? Greek Mythological Constellation GameFree Printable: I Have Who Has Greek Mythological Constellations from Fifth Is My Jam at Teachers Pay Teachers 

Zoey also loves I Have, Who Has? games, so we added a super-easy-to-prepare game to our work. It just needed a Montessori Services basket.

Montessori ar Phonogram Cards and Movable Alphabet Work

Montessori ar Phonogram CardsFree Printables: “ar” stars font cards (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: Green Series ar Letters from MontessoriSoul 

I love the simplicity of this! It was so easy to prepare, yet it isolates the ar phonogram very well. I have a post and video on how to introduce words starting with phonograms, even with very young children. 

Constellation Movable Alphabet Cards with star Word Buildihng_uncropped 

Then the movable alphabet can be used to build ar words (or any words).

Pin Punching Work for DIY Daytime Constellations

Tray with Pin Punching Work for DIY Daytime Constellations 
Free Printable: Constellations from Full of Great Ideas 

I used a star flashlight from the Montessori By Mom Space Explorer Toolbox along with a wood-handled puncher from Montessori Services, craft sticks, craft glue, and a Multicraft tray.

Punching Work to Make a Daytime Constellation Pin-Punch Viewer 

We studied the Big Dipper before Zoey punched the holes for the main stars along with punching out the circle. 

DIY Daytime Constellations Pin Punch Viewer - Big Dipper

Then we went into a dark room and experimented with shining a few different flashlights through the circle toward the ceiling. The little star flashlight worked but was a bit dim, a big flashlight was almost too bright, and my iPhone flashlight was perfect!

Constellation Cards for Matching and Recreating ConstellationsConstellation Cards for Matching and Recreating ConstellationsFree Printable: Constellation Cards from Lie Back Look Up (With a double sided printer, these have information on the backs.) 

This was another super-easy-to-prepare activity.  It just needed a Montessori Services basket. These cards have helpful information on the backs and work well for matching or for children to place stars on to make the constellations.

Recreating Constellations with Glow-in-the-Dark Stars, Counting, and Writing Numbers

Recreating Constellations with Glow-in-the-Dark Stars, Counting, and Writing Numbers 

Free Printable: Constellation 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) 

Again, I used some of the glow-in-the-dark stars along with a magnifying glass to magnify the constellations on the number cards. The child could choose a constellation, make it with the stars, count the number of stars, and write the number with chalk. Then, of course, watch it glow in the dark! 

Placing and Counting Glow-in-the-Dark Stars on Constellations 

A younger child could place stars on the cards from the previous activity or a card from the printables list. Then just count the stars and place the appropriate number card.

More Free Star and Constellation Printables

Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to free star and constellation printables from around the blogosphere: Free Star and Constellation Printables and Montessori-Inspired Constellation 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 Astronomy Activities and Resources


Have a great rest of the summer!
Deb - Siganture
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!

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 43 years (and lives in the city where her kids, kids-in-law, and grandkids live). She blogs at Living Montessori Now.

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