I try to refresh our shelves every few weeks — otherwise the kids and I get bored. Even small adjustments can bring renewed interest to an activity they had become bored with. (Often, I find that boredom means an activity is too easy.) Valentine’s Day is over, but my girls still want to talk about it — so we’re doing a few more Valentine’s related activities to finish out February.
Added a sight word reader called “God Gave Us the Earth.” We’ll not use it so much for sight reading, but for identifying and correctly gluing the letters G-O-D where indicated.
Added a line-tracing activity with “V” for Valentine’s Day — in a dry-erase pocket with a dry-erase marker.
Added water-transfer into a heart-shaped ice cube tray. We used the same ice cube tray for a baking-soda and vinegar science experiment, too. (We’ve done that before.)
Balloon blowing. This was inspired by the girls’ recent birthday. I intend to add a mirror.
Grow capsules are always popular. We get a pitcher of hot water and use kitchen tools to stir the capsules as they dissolve.
Wooden Heart Puzzle. Grabbed this the day after Thanksgiving for 70% off at Target. It’s honestly a little too easy, but we’ll see how it goes. Paired with a sign saying “God is Love.”
Sorting conversation hearts by color, then graphing to find out how many of each were in the box.
Booklet about how a seed germinates, to go along with our gardening activities.
(These on-our-shelves posts try to just show pictures of what we’ve got available. I love these kinds of posts on other blogs, so I try to show off ours. I try to add info about what each item cost to set up. The categories — Practical Life, Math, Language, and Sensorial — relate to a Montessori style, but I think you’ll see that most of these things are interesting from any educational philosophy.)
Valentines, Red, and Hearts show up in a lot of activities this month.
Paper Chains. Glue Stick and Paper Strips (found on clearance last Valentine’s Day). Cost: $1.50
Open-Ended art with stickers, paper, glue, stampers, etc. Heart stickers (also on clearance last Valentine’s Day) and paper from Michael’s. Cost: $4 for enough stickers to last us many years.
Scrubbing. The kids love this activity whenever I refresh it with something new. I felt I’d gone overboard on hearts, so they’re actually scrubbing little airplanes this month. We added toothbrushes for a challenge.
Water Pouring: 1 to 3. The kids *love* when they get to pour water!
Sewing. We used a big needle and some embroidery floss to make heart art for Valentine’s Day. We also used the supplies with paper plates to sew hearts for our Valentine’s Cards for an exchange at the Library. For an open-ended activity, I have some wooden hearts and yarn that the girls can practice on.
Beading. Small box with cords and assorted beads. The small photo above shows it after all the heart beads were cleared out. One girl used letter beads to make her name.
Cleaning, Cooking, Laundry — all the good stuff we do regularly. 🙂
We’re working on several traditional Montessori-Math concepts right now — golden beads, bead stair, and teens board. We also still have our Spindle Box, Cards & Counters and Number Rods available. I made almost all of these myself. I’ll post about them little-by-little in coming months.
Counting & Transferring Pink Rocks. These are actually beads that fell off a necklace. I put them in a ramekin with a large dice. We play it independently or as a game — roll the die, count the pips, then move that many rocks with the wooden spoon. Kids both love it!
Memory Game. We’re playing the number memory game as a clean-up activity. For example — if you open the “3” maybe you get to find 3 dishes to put away, or if you open the “8” you get to find 8 pencils to sharpen and put back in the jar. It works really well! I really love getting the “0” 😉
We have 3-Part-Cards about vegetables out right now. One girl mostly matches the pictures. I try to get her to look at the letters on the labels, and she can match them based on the starting letter. The other girl can read at a beginner’s level — but she, too, mostly just matches the labels based on the beginning letter.
Traditional language activities including Sandpaper Letters (singles and doubles) and Movable Alphabet (with Dwyer-style objects & cards).
One daughter doesn’t always prefer the traditional Montessori trays, but does love anything that feels like a game. For her, we’ve got a “game” where she has to place a red acrylic heart onto H or h letters and another where she has to match the beginning sound of some valentines mail.
Shadow matching with valentines-colored vehicles.
Our DIY pink tower is in for repairs (needed glue — more on that some day) but we’ve still loving our (purchased) knobbed cylinders. The scent jars are out, also, but they’re not getting much use.
I put sound jars out again, after a long delay. Last time, the girls didn’t get it. Now, they do! Success! Ours are made from pill bottles — filled with popcorn, beads, or bells.
We recently added a Daily Weather/Activity chart (found for $3 at Target). It has sections for weather, what to wear, activities, etc. and magnets to correspond. I like it pretty well, but I’ll be tweaking it in the months to come. Right now, we use it to check the daily weather and what we need to take with us when we leave the house.
Gardening: It’s a mild winter here in Central Texas so we risked it and planted some seeds directly into our garden recently. The girls each have their own small planter box where they’ve planted snap peas, carrots, and phlox. (With room to add something else later.) Indoors, we’ve stated basil, sensitivity fern, and pumpkins — including pumpkin seeds in a glass jar so we can watch the seed grow.
1 Corinthians Love Poster: I printed and cut a few sheets of paper, then we glued them onto a poster and talked about what it means to love others.
I didn’t total up all the costs this month, but it was very much on a small budget — I think I spent around $10 on valentines theme items, and the rest was from my stash of craft supplies. I only printed a few sheets of paper, and only laminated a couple. The art supplies for making valentine’s cards and the supplies for planting the garden would have been the biggest expenses — though I tend to chalk those up to general living.
See you back later this month for a refresh of the shelves, I hope!
I’ve been blogging off-and-on at mattbecky.com since around 2005. Recently, though, I made a rookie mistake and deleted all the content from my site accidentally. Rather than spending hundreds of dollars to restore the content, most of which wasn’t of much interest to anybody but me, I’ve decided to start from scratch. The new content will be focused around Realistic, Practical, and Effective suggestions for home-learning for Preschoolers — plus a few posts of a personal nature, I’m sure.
I’m a mom in suburban Austin, Texas. My husband & I have twin daughters who are currently 4 years old. I’ve stayed at home with them since they were born. I know my mom-friends who work outside the home have tremendous challenges that I don’t appreciate fully. But, if I’m honest, there are times that I’ve been jealous of my working-mom friends — they can justify sending their kids off to fantastic preschools where the kids have all sorts of learning and fun opportunities (and Mom doesn’t have to clean up!). Meanwhile, my kids are at home, watching yet another episode of Thomas & Friends while I try to sweep the kitchen.
A few years ago, as my husband and I thought of how we wanted our kids to be prepared for life-long-learning (and, secondarily, to be ready for kindergarten), we opted to keep our kids at home instead of enrolling them in a traditional preschool. I chose this in large part because I really like a lot of the Montessori approach to preschool, and Montessori preschools are crazy expensive (that’s a post for another day — but it’s unrealistic that most SAHM’s are going to send their kids to all-day every-day preschool). I read everything I could get my hands on (as is my nature) and decided I could do Montessori at Home.
What we do now is mostly a Montessori-inspired approach — but it’s adapted and modified to work in a home environment, on a budget, without me having to do too insanely much prep work. I also modify it regularly to accommodate my daughters different needs and interests. The girls go to a drop-in style “preschool” program one or two days a week (to give me time to catch up on house work, run errands, etc) and we go to a Christian-based group (Bible Study Fellowship) once a week where they (and I) make friends and learn. The rest of the time, we’re together at home. Sure, we might be watching a little bit of TV or playing with our Legos, but we’re also doing math, learning to read & write, and generally function in society through various activities.
Future blog entries will try to explain those activities. I hope you come along for the journey.