Tuesday, January 22, 2019

More Health Benefits of Dance!



Have you seen the new Disney movie Mary Poppins Returns?  Were you as impressed with Dick Van Dyke's wonderful dance scene as I was?

        In my November, 2018 post, I wrote about the anti-aging effects of dance. Today I am sharing some more good news.

        "Dance Like Your Doctor Is Watching:  It's Great for Your Mind and Body,"  Time, December, 2018, cites two recent studies that tout dance's capacity for helping to stave off disability and dementia while we age. 

        One study followed about 1000 elderly women and monitored them for 8 years, measuring their ability in everyday tasks as well as keeping track of their health and what kind of physical activity they did.

        The results showed that some kinds of exercise seemed to stave off the effects of aging better than others. Dancing came out on top, beating out calisthenics, walking and yoga!

        "The researchers found that women who frequently danced had a 73% lower chance of becoming disabled during the study period. Researchers theorize that this is because dancing requires an engaged mind as well as an active body. It is a multi-layered activity.  Most people have fun while they are dancing and don't realize that it often requires learning and remembering steps, keeping time to music, spatial and body awareness, and last but not least, strength, balance, flexibility, and stamina.

        The second study cited in the article is from the Journal of American Geriatrics Society.  Thirty-two past studies were analyzed.  This totaled more than 3500 people who ranged from ages 50 to 85.  It attempted to discern the effects that mind-body activities, such as t'ai chi, yoga, and dance, have on the cognitive function of aging adults.

        The results were startling. They found strong evidence that 60 to 120 minutes of tai chi or dance per week could "improve global cognition, even for adults who already had some impairment.

It cautions that these body/mind activities aren't proven to cause the health benefits, but that they do seem to be associated with the positive results.

Conga Line!

        However, to bolster the case for dance even further, it cites a study that was published in 2017 showing through brain scan imaging, that "dancing can increase the amount of white matter in the brains of elderly adults.  White matter degrades with age, and this breakdown is thought to be associated with cognitive decline."

        Click here if you would like to read the full article:  http://time.com/5484237/dancing-health-benefits/

        We often think of the physical benefits of dance, which are substantial and important, but studies continue to reveal and reinforce the many cognitive benefits as well.

        All we need to do is take a look at Dick Van Dyke at 90+ years old, tapping and high-stepping on the desktop, and we can see it for ourselves!

Keep on Dancin',




Check out Connie's upcoming picture book at: 


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Montessori-Inspired Heart Activities Using Free Printables

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

February is often known as the heart month. I have lots of free heart printables and hands-on activities for you today. They feature both the human heart and valentine hearts! 

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 Heart Themed Activities

Montessori Shelves with Heart Themed Activities

These themed shelves have a variety of human heart-themed activities and valentine heart-themed activities. You’ll also find Montessori-inspired heart 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 got the Learning Resources Heart Model for this unit. It's similar to the Learning Resources Brain Model I had for our brain and growth mindset unit. It's small, but I don't have a large amount of shelf space. So the size is perfect for us. And it's reasonably priced for home learning. The model is mainly assembled when it arrives, so it doesn't take a lot of work to put together, either. 

I always have related books available throughout a unit. I have a number of human heart books in a book basket along with  The Heart by Seymour Simon and Hear Your Heart on the top shelf. The open book on the shelf is the gorgeous National Geographic Kids Ultimate Bodypedia

On the top shelf, I also have our human heart book-making tray. Zoey likes to make booklets, so I'm having a few options available during the unit:
I'll have the Hape Your Body 5-Layer Wooden Puzzle Girl on another shelf. (There’s also a boy puzzle.) This is to give a general overview of the human body and show the heart along with the other body organs. 

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

Heart and Valentine 3-Part Cards with Objects and Heart Movable Alphabet

Showing Her Favorite Card After Matching Heart and Valentine 3-Part Cards with Objects and Building Words 
I designed these 3-part cards to help children see the differences and similarities between the words for human heart, the heart symbol, valentine, and Valentine's Day.

Zoey read and matched the words to the pictures and then checked each with the control card. Then she matched the objects. I had a ten bar and a four bar for her to make 14 for February 14. After that, she built the words "heart" and "valentine" using red acrylic hearts that I'd written letters on with a permanent marker. Zoey loves these hearts! It's great that there are 225 in each package because they can be used for a number of activities.

H is for Heart and V is for Valentine Sand Writing Tray

H is for Heart and V is for Valentine Sand Writing Tray 
Free Printables: "h" for heart font cards in manuscript, D'Nealian, or cursive and "v"  for valentine font cards in manuscript, D'Nealian, or cursive for heart and valentine sand 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 had gotten some lovely white sand for making kinetic sand and other projects. I love that it was so easy to make a bright color simply by adding gel food coloring and some water. I spread it on a baking pan to dry overnight. If your sand isn’t already sterilized, you might want to heat it up at  a low temperature in your oven to partially dry it. 

This is the same sand I used for our firefighter sand writing tray. I often use a material for a number of units. 

I used the cursive cards, although there are manuscript and D'Nealian fonts you can choose from in the pack. 

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.

Heart Movable Alphabet Cards and Phonogram Work

Alphabetical Order Layout of Heart Movable Alphabet with Acrylic Heart Movable Alphabet 

Free Printable: Heart movable alphabet 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 Printables: i_e valentine phonogram card (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 movable alphabet work, I have a traditional small wooden movable alphabet. You can just use the printables or another type of movable alphabet. I sometimes like to use more than one type of letters to add interest. 

For this unit, I have an activity for working on alphabetical order. I also made a small movable alphabet using pink acrylic hearts with vowels written in blue and consonants in red for the child to match. I used permanent markers, but paint pens might work even better.

We'll also work more with building words related to hearts.

DIY Kitten and Heart Cards and Counters

DIY Kitten and Heart Cards and Counters 
Free Printables: Kitten and Heart Numbers with optional Odd and Even Labels (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 my latest design in preparing a variety of cards and counters! Since there are so many acrylic hearts in each package, I used the same acrylic hearts. I don't show it here, but the odd and even labels are great for readers.

Again, you'll see that activity in my fire safety unit. You need exactly 55 hearts or whatever objects you use if you want to do the numbers and counters 1-10.

Spanish Valentine Number and Color Mail Activity

Free Printable: Matching Hearts Valentine's Day Printable Spanish Game from Mundo de Pepita at Teachers Pay Teachers 

Free Printable: Bilingual Heart Color Posters by Ms Joop at Teachers Pay Teachers 

I've purchased a variety of heart dishes and special red or pink dishes over the years because they're simply fun for valentine's day! I also used a Multicraft tray. 

This is an activity that can be used with toddlers through kindergarteners. Preschoolers and kindergarteners can learn the Spanish numbers 1-10 and Spanish colors. They can then "mail" the cards in the valentine mailbox. 

I think I got this mailbox a few years ago at the Target Dollar Spot. Amazon has a variety of cute valentine mailboxes. I prefer a mailbox (either DIY or purchased) that has a slot for mailing items. 

If the valentine cards are laminated, this would be a great activity for toddlers to match identical cards (and learn Spanish if you like). Then they can drop the valentines in the mail box, working on a variety of skills.

Human Heart Nomenclature Cards and Booklet-Making Materials

Human Heart Nomenclature Cards and Booklet-Making Materials

Free Printable: Heart Nomenclature Cards from Elementary Observations 

I just printed and cut out the cards and placed them in a folder I'd made. I placed the booklet-making cards  in a Montessori Services basketI keep many of my office supplies in a central location, but you might prefer to have yours on the tray. 

These are anatomy terms that can be helpful for your child to review in elementary through high school, too! In this unit, I'm focusing mainly on the anatomy of the heart rather than going indepth into the circulatory system. You'll more activities related to blood and the entire circulatory system in my Montessori-inspired heart and circulatory system activities post.

Free Heart Printables for Preschoolers-First Graders

Montessori-Inspired Heart 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 Heart Printables

Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to free heart printables from around the blogosphere: Free Heart Printables and Montessori-Inspired Heart Activities {Human Heart and Valentine Heart}. 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 Anatomy Activities and Resources

More Valentine Activities and Resources

                              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.

                              Have a happy Heart Month in February!
                              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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