Friday, March 22, 2019

Reading and Dancing from A to Z!

March, 2019

Greetings. and Happy Spring!

One of my favorite ways to get children up and moving is to read a story, and then use ideas from the story as movement prompts.  Here are some of the benefits children can gain from a Read and Dance activity:

  • Comprehension
  • Sequencing
  • Identifying with and understanding different characters in the story
  • Exploring and learning about the setting
  • Vocabulary acquisition
  • Recognition of rhyme and rhythm 
  • Alphabet knowledge/Letter recognition
  • Fun and lively physical activity
  • Social-Emotional Learning (SEL):  Group cooperation; creativity; problem solving; listening to, understanding and responding to instructions; self-expression; body awareness

Reading a story , , ,

Dancing the story!
I love to inspire young children to be active and to learn by exploring, playing, dancing, and moving in many differentI ways.  in this blog post, I am introducing From A to Z with Energy!, my new picture book, published by Free Spirit Publishing.

The book, geared toward children ages 3 to 6, along with parents, teachers, librarians, and caregivers, offers ideas for staying active while learning and reading about the alphabet. The book includes guidelines for 10 supplementary movement activities, along with a short summary of some of the many benefits of movement for young children.

Here are some suggestions (these are examples; the ideas are expanded upon in the book) for enjoying From A to Z with Energyas a Read and Dance activity with young children:

Once you have read the story aloud:

  • Read it again and as you read it, ask the children to clap the rhythm of the verse
  • Ask them to sway side-to-side, march, or move freely as they clap.
  • In the book, each letter introduces ideas about being active.  Read each stanza slowly.  Ask the children to imagine they are doing the activities described.  Show the colorful, lively illustrations by Gareth Llewhellin to further stimulate movement ideas.
There are several more playful movement activities to help children explore letter shapes kinesthetically, and ideas for supplementing early writing activities as well.

Making Letter Shapes!

Keep on Dancin',



To order From A to Z with Energy!:Click here

Friday, March 15, 2019

Montessori-Inspired Backyard Bird Activities Using Free Printables

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

Backyard bird activities are so much fun! I couldn't help adding to the wonderful resources that are already available for a study of backyard birds. Today, I'm sharing both backyard bird activities and free backyard bird printables, including my new Montessori-inspired backyard bird pack (subscriber freebie at! 

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 Backyard Bird Themed Activities

Montessori Shelves with Backyard Bird Themed Activities

You’ll find Montessori-inspired backyard bird 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 About Birds and The Random House Children's Encyclopedia (wooden cookbook holder). The children's encyclopedia is one we had from when I homeschooled my now-adult children. It's available used very inexpensively, although not everything will obviously be current. 

On the middle shelf, I have Backyard Birds (Peterson's Field Guides for Young Naturalists). These books are all Montessori friendly. I have a book basket beside the shelf with more Montessori-friendly nonfiction books. 

My fiction books about birds (in another part of the room) are a variety of Montessori-friendly books and books that aren't Montessori-style books but are simply fun. You could mix your backyard bird-themed activities among your shelves according to curriculum area. Or you could have a special backyard bird-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. 

To add interest this month, I'm featuring the Safari Ltd. Backyard Birds TOOB.

About Birds Book with The Birds' Bath Poetry and Robin from Egg to Bird Tray

About Birds Book with The Birds' Bath Poetry and Robin from Egg to Bird Tray

Free Printable: The Birds' Bath By Evaleen Stein (subscriber freebie) from Every Star Is Different

The robin is from the Safari Ltd. Backyard Birds TOOB.

Free Printable: Robin from Egg to Bird from Share and Remember. This is intended as a poster, but I cut it into sequencing cards. 

The craft stick is for the child (or adult) to point at each word in the poem as it's read. You can have objects for each part of the poem, but I just included the robin. As I often do, I placed everything on a Multicraft tray.

Backyard Bird Watching Tray

Backyard Bird Watching Tray 

Free Printable: Bird Watching Record by Tanglewood Hollow at Teachers Pay Teachers 

Free Printable: Bird Counting Sheet from Share it! Science 

In addition to Backyard Birds (Peterson's Field Guides for Young Naturalists), we'll be using National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America

The lovely printable from Tanglewood Hollow will be perfect for my toddler grandkids. Below it, I have a free printable with a variety of types of bird pictures to tally.  

If you haven't already purchased the Montessori Spring Mega Bundle at 90% off (only available through this Sunday, March 17), don't miss out! It has beautiful nature journals by Tanglewood Hollow along with over 1300 pages of Montessori printables for spring! ($235 worth of printables for only $20!!!) There are a number of bird printables in it, too! We'll be using one those nature journals for our backyard bird unit, too.

W is for Woodpecker Birdseed Writing Tray

Free Printables: Woodpecker Letters for Letter W 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. I still had the birdseed from my N is for Nest Birdseed Writing Tray. (I keep previous writing tray materials in bags stored in drawers in my garage so that I can reuse them.) 

The woodpecker is from the Safari Ltd. Backyard Birds TOOB. 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.

IR, ER, and OW Phonogram Cards and Booklets

Bird and Warbler Phonogram Cards and Booklets 
These are the materials you can see on the right side of my middle shelf. I’ll  add the “ow" yellow warbler phonogram work to the shelf in a week or so. They all have the same photograph, showing that it can be called a bird, a warbler, or a yellow warbler. To limit the number of phonograms, I didn't include ar, although you could still focus on it. 

Free Printable: Ir Sounds Picture and Letter Cards from MontessoriSoul 

Free Printable: Er Sounds Picture and Letter Cards from MontessoriSoul 

Free Printable: Alternative Pronunciation of "ow" Word Building from MontessoriSoul 

The yellow warbler is from the Safari Ltd. Backyard Birds TOOB. These activities are very simple to prepare. I simply print out the materials and make them into little booklets. 

I have a post and video on how to introduce words starting with phonograms, even with very young children.

Hummingbird Tray for Backyard Birds Unit

Hummingbird Tray for Backyard Birds Unit 

I like to feature a bird that's very common in our own backyard. For us, that's the hummingbird. I even found two hummingbirds living in our vertical garden! They flew away during watering. 

Free Printable: Printable Hummingbirds Poster from Project FeederWatch (Be sure to download their other beautiful feeder birds poster, too!) 

Free Printable: Hummingbird Dot to Dot from Super Coloring (This goes to 81, so it's great math practice for older preschoolers and kindergarteners.) 

Free Printable: Animal Adaptation: Birds and Beaks by Montessori Print Shop at Teachers Pay Teachers While the Montessori Print Shop materials have a variety of birds and beaks, I just cut out the hummingbird as my featured bird.

Cardinal and Sunflower Seed Subtraction Activity

Free Printable: Cardinal Numbers 1-10 (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: 1-10 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)

I used 10 Sunflower Seeds (taken from the birdseed for the writing tray), the cardinal from the Safari Ltd. Backyard Birds TOOB. and a Montessori Services basket. This is a simple but fun way to work on subtraction skills. 

 Cardinal and Sunflower Seed Subtraction Layout 
The activity starts with 10 sunflower seeds. Then the child spins the spinner to see how many sunflower seeds the cardinal eats. After taking away that number of sunflower seeds, the child completes the equation.Cardinal and Sunflower Seed Subtraction Activity

Birdseed Sensory Bin with Backyard Bird Figures and Types of Backyard Bird Cards

Free Printable: Safari TOOB Backyard Birds Matching Cards from The Pinay Homeschooler 

Use whatever type of sensory bin you'd like. Because my toddler grandchildren can't have access to small objects unless they're watched continuously, I keep this sensory bin in a Glasslock container. It has all the birds from the Safari Ltd. Backyard Birds TOOB. 

It was so sweet to watch my 5-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, showing this activity to her 15-month-old sister, Sophia. Sophia would feel the birdseed and find a bird in the sensory bin. Then Zoey would place the bird on its matching card and tell Sophia the bird's name. 

There are a variety of free matching cards for the Safari Ltd. Backyard Birds TOOB, so just choose the one that works for you (see list below). I like this one for toddlers because it has an actual photograph of the Safari Ltd. bird figures. Normally, you wouldn't use the words for toddlers, but I like having the words on them for Zoey. If you're a homeschooler, just find the level that's right for your child or children.

Montessori-Inspired Backyard Bird Pack

Montessori-Inspired Backyard Bird 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, 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)

More Bird Activities and Resources


For more free printables for this unit, go to my post at Living Montessori Now with free backyard bird printables

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.

Happy bird watching!
 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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