Thursday, November 15, 2018

Montessori-Inspired Peace Activities Using Free Printables

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

I love the Montessori emphasis on peace education. I typically have a peace tray on my shelves each month. This month, I'm doing an entire peace unit. Our world needs more peace, and we  need to do our part to help the children of the world grow up to be peaceful adults. 

At Living Montessori Now, you'll find free peace printables. I'll be adding free mindfulness printables throughout the month as well. 

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 Peace Themed Activities

Montessori Shelves with Peace Themed Activities 

You’ll  find Montessori-inspired peace themed 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 a number of beautiful peace books this unit, including What Does Peace Feel Like?, Peace is an Offering, and Peace

One of my favorite peace books is the gorgeous National Geographic book A Little Peace. It has stunning photographs throughout with just a few meaningful words. At the end are the pages you see open on the right side of the top shelf. Those pages tell about each photograph and where it was taken. My continents globe is from Kid Advance on Amazon. 

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

Peace Books and Peaceful Character Work

Peace Books and Peaceful Character Work

Free Printable: Peaceful Character from Montessori Print Shop I

love that the 6 pillars of peaceful character are respect, caring, fairness, responsibility, trustworthiness, and citizenship ... the same as the Character Counts 6 pillars of character. So this work is easily adaptable for children at a variety of ages worldwide. 

This was so easy to prepare and is very adaptable. I simply printed out the materials and placed them on a Multicraft tray. Because my 5-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, loves small books, I made the 6 pillars descriptions into a little booklet using a binder ring. I added crayons so she can color each part of the hand after writing the words according to the character trait listed on the control chart.

Children Around the World Sorting Activity

Children Around the World Sorting Activity 

Free Printable: Children Around the World Cards from I Believe in Montessori at Teachers Pay Teachers 

These beautiful photographs of children around the world can be used for a variety of levels. Toddlers can use a few at a time for a simple matching activity. Preschoolers can sort the cards by continent. Kindergarteners and early-elementary-age kids can find the country of each child on the globe. There are labels at the end with the country names. I'm planning to add the appropriate country name to the back of each card so that we can do some extra work with identifying countries.

P is for Peace Sand Writing Tray

Free Printables: Peace Symbol Letters for peace 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 (see middle shelf above), 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 had gotten some lovely white sand for making kinetic sand and other projects. I used that sand to make it more like a peace garden. 

I also used polished stones for letter building. Zoey loves these stones, and they give it more of a meditative feel. I added the wooden stick from our wood tracing board for letter writing, although a tool isn't necessary. 

 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.

Peace Word Analysis and Word Building with Phonogram Cards and Movable Alphabet

Peace Word Analysis and Word Building with Phonogram Cards and Movable Alphabet  

Free Printables: “ea" peace phonogram cards and "ce" peace phonogram 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: "ea" Sound with Letters from MontessoriSoul 

Free Printable: Hard and Soft C and G Posters (reduced in size) from Make, Take and Teach 

"Peace" is a tricky word for young children to analyze. So I made two phonogram cards. You can introduce "ea" and/or "ce" (soft c). For this type of work, Zoey will read the "ea" booklet. Then she'll read the words on the soft c card. After that, she'll build the word "peace" with the movable alphabet. 

I have a post and video on how to introduce words starting with phonograms, even with very young children. There's an explanation of soft and hard c on the free printable. It's fine to use that explanation for the soft c.

DIY Dove Cards and Counters

Free Printables: Dove 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) 

I love making DIY themed cards and counters to introduce odd and even and add interest and variety to cards and counters. I found these mini doves to add interest. You need exactly 55 buttons if you want to do the numbers and counters 1-10. The package contains 144 doves, so there are many for other activities, too.

Dove Cards and Counters Layout 

For Zoey and other kids who are already comfortable with symbol and quantity, I’ll typically use the cards and counters for hands-on addition, subtraction, and other mathematical operations. (See some of my other themed posts for ideas.) But sometimes I like to use the odd and even labels that are in our peace pack. The doves would be fun for addition and subtraction because some could "fly away" for subtraction, etc.

Hundred Chart Counting to 100 and Skip Counting Work with Peace Symbol Charms

Hundred Chart with 100 Silver Peace Symbol Charms for Counting to 100 and Skip Counting Free Printable: Hundred chart from Creative Family Fun 

I found these pretty vintage antique silver alloy peace symbol charms (100 pieces) inexpensively on Amazon. I like to use printable hundred charts to extend Montessori hundred board work. They're also wonderful for skip counting as well as adding and subtracting practice.

Filling Hundred Chart with 100 Silver Peace Symbol Charms

Zoey loved the little silver peace symbol charms and had fun counting to 100 while she placed a symbol on each square.

Counting by 5s to 100 with Silver Peace Symbol Charms

Then she enjoyed skip counting with the peace symbol charms. She used them to skip count by 2's, 5's, and 10's. It was a great activity!

Peacemakers Cards or Booklet

Free Printable: Peacemakers Cards from Natural Beach Living 

The cards on the bottom right of my shelves (see above) are some inspirational peacemakers (including Maria Montessori) and short biographies of each. 

This is very easy to prepare. You can use these for matching or make a booklet like I did.

Montessori-Inspired Peace Pack (Living Montessori Now Subscriber Freebie)

Montessori-Inspired Peace Pack

Montessori-Inspired Peace Pack for DIY Cards and Counters, Number or Letter Matching, Number or Letter Basket, Bead Bar Work, Hands-on Math Operations, Number or Letter Salt/Sand Writing Tray, Letter Tracing, Phonogram Work, DIY Movable Alphabet, and Creative Writing (subscriber freebie, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password – or check your inbox if you’re already a subscriber)

...and get free geography album, Mom Bloggers eBook, and monthly subscriber freebie! I respect your privacy

More Free Peace Printables

Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to free peace printables from around the blogosphere: Free Peace Printables and Montessori-Inspired Peace 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 Peace and Mindfulness Activities and Resources

I'm including mindfulness activities because feeling peace within is a great step toward expressing peace toward others.
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 happy holiday season!

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 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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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Anti-Aging Effects of Dance!


One of the things I often blog about is the benefits of dance, for children and adults. When I come across some interesting research, I like to pass it along. Much of the information for this post is from:

Dr. Kathrin Rehfeld,  the lead author of this recent study, is based at the German center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, in Magdeburg, Germany. Several previous studies have shown that physical exercise has an anti-aging effect on the hippocampus region of the brain, an area that controls memory, learning and balance.  

Dr. Rehfield's new study compares two basic but different forms of exercise -- dancing versus endurance training -- undertaken by elderly volunteers (with an average age of 68), for 18 months.  The outcomes show that both can have an anti-aging effect on the brain, but only dancing corresponded to a noticeable difference in behavior.  This difference is attributed to the extra challenge of learning dance routines. 

The study compared volunteers who either took an eighteen-month weekly course of learning dance routines, or endurance and flexibility training.  Both groups showed an increase in the hippocampus region of the brain. But the group who danced weekly, with changing routines, rhythm, patterns, and steps, in order to challenge their memories, showed a noticeable difference in balance.  Dr. Rehfield says "I think dancing is a powerful tool to set new challenges for body and mind, especially in older age."

I will add my two cents here from my long career of teaching dance.  When you are learning a new dance -- line dancing, square dancing, hip-hop, folk, zumba, ballroom,  ballet, etc. -- your brain and body are working together in a variety of ways. First, there is the basic learning and then memorization of steps.  But where are you in space? Which direction do you go with the steps?  What is the count of the music you are dancing to, and how do the steps synch with the music? What are the music cues you are listening for? What is the rhythm of the steps? 

And there's more! Where are you going in relation to other people who are dancing with you? How do you interact with them, and when?  What do the arms do while the legs are doing the different steps? What patterns do you recognize in the steps, that might help you remember the sequence? Do any of the steps repeat? How? Do they repeat in the same way, or in a different direction, different count, different rhythm?  

This is a lot to think about!

There are so many factors involved in learning a dance. But the challenge is worth it.  Once you have learned a dance, you have the satisfaction of performing it over and over, and knowing you have accomplished something that can be difficult at first. The good news is that it does get easier with practice. So whatever form of dancing you find that you enjoy, stick with it, and according to study after study,  both your body and your brain will benefit.

Moving Is Learning!

Keep on Dancin',



Check out Connie's upcoming picture book at:

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