On Our Shelves: Early March 2017

St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland, gold (not cliche gold/leprechauns, but golden beads!), gardening, and (when all else fails) green will be themes for us during early March. I don’t work themes into all of our activities, but they do give me a way to organize my thoughts.

A few activities on our preschool shelves for early March, 2017.

(Click links at the end of most descriptions to see a
larger version of my tray for each activity. Other links are to blogs/sources of downloads/inspiration.)

Month: March 2017

Age of Children: 4 years


From upper left: phonics game, phonics blending, movable alphabet, digraph cards, misc language materials, Ireland/flower classified mats, fruit 3 part cards, dry erase mats, and sight words in the middle

General Updates since last month: Turbo has read the first two of her Thomas & Friends emerging reader book. She needs minimal help. She is spontaneously identifying and correctly reading words in her environment. She hasn’t been very interested in the Movable Alphabet lately.

Ninja is tracing letters at any chance she gets, though she insists she doesn’t know most of them (she really knows more than she lets on).

  • Sight Words / Puzzle Words. I’m a little behind on starting Turbo sight words — she’s already reading a few beginner books (so long as their words follow most normal rules or if I’m there to help). I’m using the list of sight words available for free from Trillium Montessori’s Blog (for subscribers only — they’ll send you some emails, but they’re usually interesting and the freebies are pretty good). This list isn’t exactly the Dwyer-style puzzle word list I was looking for, but free & readily available won the day. (Some of the words on these lists *do* follow normal rules — so I may not present every one of them.) See our tray.
  • Blending Words (Garden Theme). This is from a file I purchased from Teachers Pay Teachers by Trillium Montessori (this is a link to their site — but you can get it on TpT with sales sometimes). It has a few pictures with dots to help emphasize that each word has 3 sounds, that need to be blended together. I added the Sandpaper Letters that correspond and also a basket with green flower shapes to use to mark each sound as we say it. The back of each card has tiny little writing with a key to the sounds, just in case I forget! See our tray.
  • Movable Alphabet. Ninja can write a ton of letters but will insist she doesn’t know any letters if you ask. I think she might be one of those kids who will be ready for this before she knows every letter sound. I’ll have to help her, a lot, to work with the letters she does know — that’s what the little pink cards in the second photo linked below are for. There are also some small objects and paper for me to write labels -Dwyer/AMI style. (Note: Our movable alphabet is actually magnets put into a recycled display shelf. It works just fine.) See our Movable Alphabet or see our small bins with other basic language activities.
  • 3 Part Cards. We just did vegetables. Let’s do fruit now. Both were from Mama’s Learning Corner. See our tray.
  • SH/TH/CH Digraph Photo Match – from Every Star is Different (though I removed a few cards which were confusing at this age). I’ve been going at the double letters in a few ways for a few months, but nothing is sticking yet. We’ll keep at it. See our tray.
  • Identify the letter “C” maze from Over the Big Moon. Just throwing it in there for some independent work. See our tray.
  • Number 2 tracing page – I only did one sheet of a larger set (since I’ll use it on the back side of the prior item in our dry-erase envelope) for the letter 2. From the same link as above. Again, this is just for some independent work. See our tray.
  • Pre-Language Picture Sorting. We did a few of these last year — sorting pictures of Ireland vs pictures of flowers. That was almost too easy last year (age 3), so I suspect it’ll be an easy independent activity this year. Each set is marked with a different color tape for a control of error. See our tray.
  • Phonics Game. This is from The Measured Mom website. I’ve laminated all the pieces, but we’ll use just a few letter sounds to start with. We’ll play it as a game — picking a picture, deciding what it is, then deciding the beginning sound. See our tray.

Practical Life

Clockwise from upper left: Water droplets, bead stringing, freeform art, shamrock gluing, germination booklet, germination sequence, straining water, pouring rice, and booklet in the middle

General Updates since last month: Both girls are eager to help around the house, tend the garden (learning not to over-water the plants), and do any activity that feels like an art project.

  • Gardening. We have pumpkin, fern, and basil seedlings to keep alive then transplant into the garden. We started one pumpkin seed in a glass jar (with cotton balls) so we could more easily see the seed growing. We’re watering the seedlings daily with a small spray bottle. (No photo)
  • Germination Sequencing & Booklet. I have a set of cards to sequence about how a seed sprouts, which is nicely paralleling what we’re seeing sprouting in our glass jar. Then, we’ll color, sequence, and assemble a booklet about germination with a small stapler. See our tray (booklet) and this one (seed growth sequencing).
  • Gluing “God Gave Us the Earth” book. It’s meant as a sight word reader, but if we’re not totally there, we can still cut & glue the letters in the right places. I added decorative paper, yarn, and a hole punch to make these into cute booklets. I prepped the letters so the kids have to make 2 short vertical cuts to get the letters G-O-D, and they can glue them in the correct order on each page. See our tray.
  • St. Patrick’s Day Trinity Craft — more cutting & gluing. I’ll make this more interesting by doing a tissue paper craft to cover the blank shamrock shapes. We talked about the Holy Spirit at Bible Study Fellowship a few weeks ago, so this will be a bit of a review. See our tray.
  • Straining Water — using my mini green strainer and random objects around the house, we’ll see what happens! My kids love sink/float, so we’ll play a bit of that, too. See our tray.
  • Freeform Drawing. This is a staple on our table. It gets used a lot when I’m washing dishes or when we’re just hanging out. We have a small toolbox with a spirograph set, small paper punchers (which I change from time to time), glue, and assorted other tools. There’s another toolbox with 3 mason jars with colored pencils, crayons, and thin pens (for the spirograph set). We have a third small toolbox for stamps and stampers, updated to include a bunch of flower stampers. See our trays.
  • Pouring Rice from container into 2 jars with funnel. This a small-scale version of what I do to refill flour & sugar containers in the pantry. See our tray.
  • Bead Stringing. They love this and it’s a great independent activity for while I’m doing something else. See our tray.
  • Water droplets. Ninja took to last month’s droplet activity far better than I expected (I really thought she was bored of it) so we’ll do another. If she can sit over the tile at the kitchen table, I might even tint her water green. 😉 See our tray.
  • Scrubbing Land-Water-Air. I dare not take the scrubbing tray away (if I do, the kids will surely take hand soap to their toothbrushes to do it on their own… again!). So I’ve updated it with objects that can be found in land, water, or air to match the tray & language cards we’re working on. (No photo)
  • Real-life household projects. Washing dishes, emptying the dishwasher, cleaning the patio, cooking, sweeping, vacuuming, folding laundry, and we’re even doing a quilt sampler project for some hands-on work with the iron and fabric (more on that later — it’ll take at least 9 weeks to finish).


Clockwise from upper left: Small number cards, thousand cube in progress, bead area, unifix stair, cards & counters, shamrock counting, golden bead area, shamrock skip counting, and price tags/spindle box in middle.

General Updates since last month: Both girls have worked with the golden beads and seem bored at merely counting the right number of each type. Both have worked with the bead stair and likewise seem bored. They are loving rolling a dice and counting. Our cards & counters, red/blue rods, and spindle box are still out.

  • Large Number Math with Golden Beads. We’re moving forward on several math things over the next few weeks — one of which will be using our DIY golden beads for big math. I also made up some price tags that we can use the beads to “pay” at a fake store. (I’m finding that one child needs these little real-world applications in order to maintain interest.)

You can find my page of price tags here, free.

See our tray (price tags), number cards (I don’t love it) and a picture of my thousand cube in progress (it’ll probably wind up getting hand painted).

  • Skip Counting 2’s with Shamrock Beads and labels. I made sets of labels (since we don’t have the real arrows for the bead chains) that go along with themes we’ll be doing over the next few months, for the numbers 2 to 10. We’ll start with 2 (which the kids know part of thanks to the theme song for Thomas & Friends!). We’re using an old shamrock bead necklace that fell apart as improvised beads since I don’t own a ton of extra bead stairs. See our tray.
  • Unifix Stair & Bead Stair. We’ll work on the traditional bead stair addition, using stairs made from beads or unifix cubes. The colors aren’t identical, but I hope we figure it out. See our tray (unifix cubes pictured there) and our tray of bead materials.
  • Counting. I printed a page called “Roll & Cover” with Shamrocks. Free at Teachers Pay Teachers. I’m not going to use it as intended, but as a way to count higher than 20. We’ll use some of the shamrock foam shapes left from last year. This is mostly for independent time. See our photo.


General Updates since last month: Both girls spontaneously pick up sensorial material at least once during a work-cycle (which haven’t been as consistent as I’d like due to sickness). Ninja loves to work as a group on the knobbed cylinders. Turbo goes for the scent jars from time to time. Both like the sound cylinders, but they’ve learned they can unscrew the caps and play with the popcorn seeds, bells, etc. that are inside. Oops.

  • Green Gradients. My kids know colors well. They never really enjoyed the color tablets when we did them at age 3, so they aren’t great with the entire gradients — so we’ll try the green color way and see how it goes. See our tray.
  • We also keep the standard sensorial stuff on hand — like the red rods, knobbed cylinders, pink tower, etc. (No photo.)


General Updates since last month: We haven’t reviewed continents or most other geography items, but the girls are very much interested in plants and continue to be interested in places around the world where people they know live (Nebraska, Japan, etc.).

  • A little bit about Ireland. Considering that’s where 75% of my ancestors came from, and it’s a country my husband & I have visited, it’s hard to skip at least a brief discussion of Ireland. And, it’s a good chance to pull out the continents globe we haven’t really used in a few months. (No photo – we have several things from Ireland just out around our house.)
  • Land-Water-Air. This is a review for us. I made the cards myself (but didn’t prepare them to share — you can easily find plenty of sets online). I prepared the tray with a set of small foam shapes (from an expanding-foam-capsule set we did a while back). We’ll likely also go outside to capture some samples of land, water, and air in small jars. See our tray.
  • Landforms with Play Doh. This will be our first exposure. I’m using diagram cards I printed from The Research Parent and picture cards from The Helpful Garden. RE DO PHOTO.
  • Explore UT. This is an AMAZING event held annually at the University of Texas: Austin just before Spring Break. It’s free and it’s phenomenal! We’ll be on campus and see what students are doing including lots of hands-on science, an international student festival, plus campus life like dorms and getting ID cards.

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