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Scissor Work

  What you'll need: Child-Safe ScissorsPaperWorksheet Download Getting Started: Scissor exercises are an important part of preschool development that can be started as early as two years old. In fact, cutting exercises build a strong foundation for a number of later developmental skills, as they: Build the muscles in the palm of the hand, preparing children for handwriting, drawing and painting, or gripping things like a toothbrush, spoon or fork.Enhance eye-hand coordination & Bilateral coordination to promote independent feeding, dressing, and athletics. To begin teaching scissor skills, first show your child how to open and close their hand within the scissor handles and feel the sensation of cutting a piece of paper. If your child is having difficulty manipulating the scissors, try using other tools such as tongs, eye droppers, tweezers, sponges, or hole-punchers that require the same open-close motion/muscle manipulation.Next, teach your child how to hold the scissors properly, with their thumb facing up. Your child may need hands on help at first, and will require supervision until their skills are better developed. Take it slow (stopping if frustration overwhelms their learning) and have patience—this is a skill that can take weeks or months to master. Start with only straight cuts/lines, progressing to soft curved lines, wavy lines, and eventually cuts with sharp angles.Children will also enjoy the opportunity to shake things up and cut things they usually can't. It can be worthwhile to pull together a small box or tray of designated cutting materials that are fair game to...

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Window Washing Activity

  What you'll need: Spray bottleWater and white vinegarWashcloths or ragsSmall squeegee (optional)Activity tray or basket Getting Started: At CMS our classrooms incorporate numerous practical life activities around cleaning. Children love to help out in the classroom!Bring this helpful skill to your home by setting up a window washing activity for your child. This is a wonderful exercise that is achievable for children as young as two, and that fosters independence and a sense of contribution to the household or family.Simply mix up a homemade window washing solution using a 2-to-1 solution of water and white vinegar in the spray bottle (adding essential oils for scent if desired).Set up your basket with the spray bottle, a wash cloth, and a small squeegee.Either present the basket to your child's environment and wait for them to take interest, or guide them toward the activity.First show your child how to wet the windows with the spray bottle, and then how to wipe them clean with the wash cloth or squeegee.Most children enjoy water play and will clean as many of the windows as they can reach. Praise their efforts, knowing they are building important skills, and a little extra water is an easy clean up.Have Fun!!   What it teaches: Practical LifeIndependence Self ConfidenceMotor Skills  

Egg Transfer Tray

  What you'll need: Empty Plastic Easter EggsDeviled Egg PlatterSoup Spoon   Getting Started: Today's activity is a great way to upcycle left over plastic Easter eggs. Simply gather empty eggs in a small basket or bowl, and get out a deviled egg platter (inexpensive plastic versions can be found at most grocery and party stores). Next demonstrate for your child how to transfer the eggs using a large soup spoon from the basket to the egg slots. Once they have completed all of the eggs, have them transfer the eggs back to the basket.Younger toddlers will also enjoy this activity. If transferring to the smaller egg slots with a spoon is too challenging, have them transferring the eggs to the platter by hand and only use the spoon to transfer the eggs back to the basket—providing a larger "drop" area. You may find that they will steady the egg with their opposite hand until they are comfortable... but our students always enjoy the challenge.   What it teaches: Fine Motor SkillsVisual Perceptual SkillsEye-Hand coordinationCognitive Skills  

Gardening Sensory Bin

  What you'll need: Black Beans (enough to cover the surface of the bin & fill containers)Shallow Bin with lid for easy storage (cupcake carrier pictured)Plastic Toy Sand Shovel and Rake ToolsSet of 3-4 small flower pots  Fabric FlowersWire Cutters Introduction: Gardening in an important part of our curriculum here at CMS. You may even receive the vegetables our children grow from time-to-time. As we jump into Spring, we wanted give a nod to our garden work with an easy DIY Montessori-inspired gardening activity that builds scooping skills and allows child-directed play as they build their own garden. Note: All of these items can be found at a local Dollar Store so that the entire box can be made for under $10 depending on what you already have at home. Getting Started: Fill the bin with the black beans and remove packaging from your various items. Using a pair of needle-nose pliers or wire cutters, measure your flowers against the pots and trim to your preferred height. (Note: We chose to trim just below the joint that kept the flowers in a bunch.)Introduce the activity at this stage to your child and let them explore the materials for a little while—touching, shoveling, and raking the beans, pots, and flowers to get familiar with how they move. (Children 3 and under should be supervised, as some items can be a choking hazard.) Next ask your child to fill each of the pots with the beans. You can encourage them to count how...

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Crossing the Midline

  Getting Started: "Crossing the midline" is an important developmental milestone that most children master by the age of 3 to 4 years old—and refers to the ability to move one hand, foot, or eye into the space of the other hand, foot or eye. We cross the midline when we cross our arms or legs, scratch our arm, and as we read from left to right.Crossing the midline of your body is not something you think about as an adult, but as a toddler it helps build powerful pathways in the brain that support various motor and cognitive skills, as well as concentration.Children who have difficultly crossing the body's midline often experience trouble with skills such as reading, writing, completing self-care tasks, and participating in sports or physical activities. For example, in a child with underdeveloped bilateral skills will read from left to right but their eyes will stop at the midline to refocus, causing them to lose their place or train of thought. Likewise, they may stop when writing and switch hand to complete the page (often appearing ambidextrous).Developing bilateral skills and gaining the necessary coordination that comes from experience with "cross-lateral motion," can be fun and engaging for toddlers and preschoolers. Below are several fun exercises to help them "cross the midline." Catching a Ball. Have the thrower stand to one side so the catcher must turn their upper body to catch and throw the ball. Do this activity on both sides.Pop bubbles with only one hand, requiring...

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Paperclip Counting & Pattern Making

  What you'll need: Color Paperclips (Local grocery or office supply store)CMS Paperclip Shape WorksheetPaper   Getting Started: Easy to throw in your shopping cart on your next trip to the grocery, below are several activities that allow your preschooler to practice multi-tier learning with colored paperclips. CAUTION: Paperclips are a choking hazard. You should assess your child's readiness to use this medium of learning, and small children should be supervised.Activity One: Counting and Shape RecognitionUsing our shape worksheet, your or your child can cut out each shape. You can then guide them through:- Color and shape recognition- Counting the number of sides and fastening one paperclip per side to help cement the concept (Match the color of paperclip to the shape color)- Turn the shapes over to hide the title in order to practice shape recognitionActivity Two: Sorting and Pattern Making- Sort paperclips by color and count how many of each were in the container- Create paperclip chains practicing counting and pattern making.Activity Three:Practice letter and number forms be either having your child place paperclips over a handwritten letter/number, or (for those children who are already comfortable with letter and number forms) create the shapes independently.   What it teaches: Fine Motor Skills: Grasping & In-hand Manipulation SkillsShape RecognitionPattern RecognitionColor RecognitionEarly Math Skills  

Spring Fingerprint Counting

What you'll need: PaperPaints (water soluble, kid-friendly)Activity Worksheet Download Getting Started: Print these fun, spring themed fingerprint counting worksheets for an easy Montessori-inspired counting activity that you can do at home!Fingerprint counting engages multiple senses, introduces math concepts in a fun and memorable way, and is a hands-on learning activity that can be enjoyed by a wide range of preschool students.To get started: Prepare your child's workspace by protecting any surfaces that are likely to be exposed to paint.Prepare your child with an apron or smock to protect clothing.Introduce one set of counting activities at a time.Guide and be a part of the activity – counting or even painting with your child. Sometimes a little messy learning can be the most fun.Enjoy!   What it teaches: Number RecognitionCountingEarly Math ConceptsHand Eye CoordinationSpatial RecognitionFocus & Concentration

Bead Stringing

  What you'll need: Plastic Beads (For Younger Children: Large Wooden Lacing Beads)Pipe Cleaners (Alternative: Satin Craft Cord, or thick string) Note: Supplies can be found at your local craft store or Dollar Tree.  Getting Started: Bead Stringing is an activity from Practical Life which helps a child develop concentration, fine motor control, and the confidence that will beneift them throughout the Montessori classroom. Children can start this activity at a young age using oversized beads, such as the Melissa & Doug Primary Lacing Beads. As children gain better fine motor skills, and are at an age when smaller beads are appropriate, this DIY Montessori activity is a great one to try at home. Because Valentine's day is this week, we have chosen heart beads... but any color and shape will do.Simply set up your tray or activity area with a bowl of beads and pipe cleaners (whole or halved). Next guide your child through one of the following activities. Sort colors; threading beads onto the pipe cleaner so that all beads are the same colorThread by number; threading the correct number of beads onto a series of pipe cleaners (pictured, right)Create various patterns with the beads and explaining each to you Counting, color recognition, and patterns can all be discussed and built upon throughout each exercise.If you have some thick satin cord or string, your child may also enjoy extending their patterns to create a necklace for themselves, a friend, or teacher.   What it teaches: Fine Motor Skills: Grasping...

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Salt Tray: Letters and Numbers

  What you'll need: Shallow wooden box, or shoe box lidSalt, Sand, or SugarNumber and Letter Exemplars (Free Download)Printer & Cardstock Getting Started: In the classroom, you have likely seen that we use sandpaper letters to help teach letter and number form—a foundation tool for handwriting, math, and phonics.These cards are fairly common, and you can easily purchase a set online or make your own. However, a quick and easy DIY alternative is the introduction of a sand or salt box. This tool encourages students to begin independently forming letter and number shapes using exemplar cards. You can either use pre-purchased sandpaper cards, or print our free download with uppercase letters and numbers.Simply find a small, shallow box. We used a Melissa & Doug Lacing set box that had two built in compartments so that we could stand our letters up; but you could use two separate small boxes or a shoe box lid and stack cards to the side.Simply display your cards one at a time and have your child trace the shape in the sand/salt—demonstrating as needed—and practicing number and letter identification/sounds.Note: If you have access to a laminator, you can also laminate the cards and have your child trace them with a dry erase pen.   What it teaches: Number & Letter RecognitionNumber & Letter FormIntro to: Handwriting, Math, Phonics    

Left Foot, Right Foot

  What you'll need: 2 Sheets of Different Color PaperPair of Child's Shoes ScissorsPen or PencilGlueGetting Started:   Among the life skills our students are learning to master, is a firm grasp of "left" and "right." There are many tools and activities we use here in the classroom, but want to take a moment to share an easy activity you can do at home.Most parents usually hear their little ones ask at one time or another, "is this on the right foot?" ....or have walked out the door only to find their child's shoes are on the wrong feet.Below is an easy project to help your child learn their left from right, and promote independence. Collect two pieces of different colored paper (preferably heavy weight).With your child, place both shoes on one of the sheets of paper and trace each shoe.If the outline of your child's shoe doesn't clearly depict the left and right, either draw an exaggerated arch or toe line so that the toe direction is clear, or have them stand on the paper and trace their feet.Cut out the left and right foot, and label them. (ex. L & R, Left & Right, etc.)Paste them to your other sheet of paper.Laminate if available. This easy-to-make mat now gives your child a fun and presonal point of reference to line up their feet and shoes when getting dressed for school.Note: Most kids develop a firm grasp of "left" and "right" by age 7 or 8. Don't worry if it takes...

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DIY Ball Drop Maze

  What you'll need: Empty wrapping paper, paper towel, or tissue tubesA roll of painter's tapeSmall ping pong, bouncy, or golf ball Getting Started: This DIY activity is perfect for all of this empty wrapping paper tubes that you may find yourself with this January. Using empty wrapping paper, paper towel, or tissue tubes build a ball maze on an open wall using painter's tape to gently mount the tubes to the wall. This makes a fun and easily movable (or removable) activity wall for your child(ren). Try different configurations, connecting tubes at an angle, or spacing tubes so the ball travel freely between them for a moment. You can use shoebox lids or other recyclible materials as backboards and catching agents. Younger toddlers will appreciate the activity of fitting the ball in the opening and watching it drop or travel the various paths, while older preschoolers may get into creating the maze and finding ways to feed the ball from one tube to the next.   What it teaches: Fine & Gross Motor SkillsConcentration & CoordinationEarly Math and Science ConceptsCause & Effect  

Christmas Tree Dressing Board

  What you'll need: 1 sheet of dark green thick felt with adhesive on one side1-3 additional colors of feltFasteners such as Velcro, snaps, or buttonsNeedle and threadHot Glue or Fabric Glue (optional) Getting Started: Activities for self-care are an important part of Montessori learning. They're especially important for helping children develop both coordination and independence. A commonly used tool in teaching self-care is dressing frames—which can easily be adapted as a DIY Montessori activity for home.As it "Tis the Season" today's example incorporates a Christmas tree theme—but use your creativity... and be sure to share the results!To get started, cut out your tree shape from a thicker sheet of felt. We used one with adhesive on one side so that it could easily be adhered to a frame or sturdy backing such a cardboard.Before attaching your tree, sew or hot glue various fasteners such as buttons, Velcro, and snaps to your tree. Cut out various colored felt ornaments and attach the other half of the fastener, or cut a small button hole when appropriate. (We chose to color coordinate our fasteners to help children in correlating the colors and style of fastener). Once all of your fasteners are attached, you are ready to mount the tree to the backing, and your child can start their work.   What it teaches: Fine Motor SkillsIndependenceSelf-Care

Pom-Pom Snowball Activities

What you'll need: 1-2 Bags of White multi-size craft pom-poms, OR small cotton ballsBased on Activity:Snowball Activity Worksheet (free download)Repurposed cleaning-wipe or snack container with lidThree small bowlsPair of small tongsSpoon or scoopScissors Getting Started: The winter months provide a fun theme for our Montessori activities, and seasonal crafts offer easy access to materials that can lend themselves to multiple activities.Today's Montessori Monday will highlight five Montessori-inspired activities you can do with a bag on winter-themed or while multi-size craft pom-poms (cotton balls will also work for some of these in a pinch).Simply gather your materials and download our worksheet to begin.ACTIVITY 1: SNOWBALL DROP (Toddlers)Place the snowballs in a repurposed cylinder (ex. snack, parmesan cheese, or cleaning wipes container).  Let your child turn over and shake out the snowballs, then using their fingers or tongs (depending on ability), pick up each snowball and drop it back in the cylinder. Practice counting with your child as they drop the snowballs into the container.ACTIVITY 2: SORTING BY SIZE (Toddler-Preschool)Either place the bag of pom-poms in a bowl, or give your child the bag and let them "make it snow" on their table of tray. Next, ask your preschooler to sort the snowballs into three small bowls by size (small, medium, large). Ask them to count how many snowballs they have in each bowl. If appropriate practice simple addition or subtraction by adding or taking away from each bowl.ACTIVITY 3: SPOONING (Toddler-Preschool)Place the snowballs into one bowl and ask your preschooler to practice transferring...

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Pom-Pom Shaker

What you'll need: Empty Parmesan Cheese Shaker (we used Kraft)A bag of small pom-poms Getting Started: Infants and toddlers will enjoy exploring spatial relations as they squeeze pom-poms into the holes provided by a repurposed parmesan cheese shaker. Present your child with the shaker and a pile of small pom-poms (select pom-poms approximately the size of the hole openings so that they are a snug fit and may require the child to gently poke them through with a finger)Ask your child to begin dropping the pom-poms in through the holes.Once they have filled the container, open the other half of the lid which has a large opening so they can pour the pom-poms back out and start again.Add on sorting or counting for children who are ready for these skills. What it teaches: Fine Motor SkillsHand Eye CoordinationColor RecognitionSpatial RelationshipsProblem SolvingRepurposing

Cheerios Threading Activity

What you'll need: A base: Apple or playdoughSomething to string: Wooden skewer or dry spaghettiCheerios Getting Started: Turn snack-time into a Montessori fine motor skills activity by threading Cheerios onto a skewer or piece of dry spaghetti secured in an apple. Simply set-up your threading rods in a secure base such as an apple, mound of playdough, or floral foam (we chose an apple so that our activity was almost entirely edible, and has a fun practical life and science application for children). Next ask your child to thread the Cheerios on and off the rods. This activity builds hand-eye-coordination, concentration, and dexterity.Add on Activities Math skills: Ask your child to count, add, or subtract the number of Cheerios on each rod.Using multiple rods, tag each with a number of Cheerios to put on each rod to practice counting skills. Practical Life: With adult supervision and a dull knife, help your child to slice the apple and prepare a snack for the family. Introduction to Science: Take advantage of this opportunity to explore the layers of the apple (stem, skin, flesh, core, and seeds). Count the seeds in your apple and talk about how apples grow.  What it teaches: Fine Motor SkillsHand-Eye-CoordinationConcentrationEarly Math SkillsPractical LifeScience 

Fall Sorting: Go Nuts!

  What you'll need: Fall Sorting: "Go Nuts!" Worksheet (download)Bulk Nuts in the Shell (ex. Pecans, Walnuts, Almonds, etc.)Bowl and/or trayPaper & PrinterScissorsPencil Getting Started: This Fall themed DIY Montessori activity is one to keep in mind on your next visit to the grocery store. Bulk nuts, in the shell, are now in season and make for an excellent preschool sorting activity*. Begin by printing the sorting cards, cut them down, and stack them in your tray.Place the mixed nuts (still in the shell) in a bowl to be sorted.Have your preschooler place the cards in front of them, reading each one.Ask him/her to sort the nuts according to the pictures.Talk about the shape, size, color, growth (tree vs. ground) of each nut, and possible familiar foods they are used to make.If your child is learning to write, ask them to trace the words on the cards provided.Additional options to extend this activity include:Count and write the number of each variety of nut on the appropriate card.Use, or assist you child in using, a nut cracker to open each variety and let you child explore the shell, meat, shape, smell, and/or taste of each nut*. *Note: Young children should be supervised with smaller nut varieties, and parents should take necessary precautions for children with nut allergies. What it teaches: Early Math ConceptsEarly Reading & Writing SkillsLogical & Critical ThinkingFine Motor SkillsNature ConceptsIndependenceScissor Skills (optional)  

Halloween Gross Motor Skills Game

What you'll need: Halloween Gross Motor Skills Game Cards (download)Paper & PrinterScissors Getting Started: Our preschool students love any opportunity to show off their silly-side, especially around Halloween. This easy and fun game builds gross motor skills while kids get into character and enjoy the silliness of Halloween.Simply download and print the cards, cut them apart, shuffle, and have each child take a turn selecting a card. The whole family can get in on the fun acting out their own version of each character.For added challenge, ask your preschooler to practice their scissor skills by cutting out the cards (if age appropriate).You can also create a matching memory game by printing an extra set of cards. Simply print two sets of cards, cut them apart, shuffle, and put them face side down on the table or carpet. Take turns flipping over two cards at a time and trying to remember where the matching card is. The player at the end with the most pairs wins!  What it teaches: Gross Motor SkillsCreative MovementScissor Skills (optional)Memorization (optional)

Fall Leaf Sorting

What you'll need: Sectioned Dish (such as a dip platter) or bowlsLeaves (gathered from outdoors or artificial) Getting Started: Today's activity puts a fall twist on sorting by using autumn leaves. You can use artificial leaves purchased at a craft store, but we encourage you to bring nature to your child's learning by first going on a leaf walk. This provides a wonderful opportunity to talk about the changing seasons, different types of trees, how and why leaves change color, and collect leaves (or fallen seeds and nuts) to sort in this activity. It was Maria Montessori's belief that exercises such as these, in nature, cement learning with young children by allowing them to draw connection to the world around them. Once you have your leaves, place them all in a container to be sorted. As you sort, talk about the color and shape of each leaf and what kind of tree it came from. For a fun craft twist... once you have finished your sorting exercise you can: Give your child a piece of paper and remove the wrapper from a crayon(s). Place the paper over the leaf and create a rubbing of each leaf.Give your child a piece of paper and glue to make a fall collage.  Why It's Important: Sorting feeds into a child's natural desire to make sense of their world, and builds fundamental math skills through comparing and contrasting objects. The act of sorting helps children understand grouping, and that things can be similar or dissimilar. What it teaches:...

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Pumpkin Counting

What you'll need: Pumpkin Counting Worksheet (download)ScissorsPumpkin Seeds (optional) Getting Started: This fun fall worksheet is designed to help children with number recognition and spelling. To begin, download our pumpkin counting worksheet and cut out your pumpkins—separating the number from the written word and counting dots.Shuffle the cards into two piles—one with the top halves, and one with the lower sections. Lay out the numbered pieces on your work surface, and select the first top half from the pile. Have your child read or count the dots to identify the number they need to match. Help them to find the corresponding number (bottom half) and fit the pieces together. Continue until you have matched all of the numbers with thier pumpkin.To extend this exercise, have your child count out and place the correct number of pumpkin seeds on the pumpkin. What it teaches: Number Recognition & SpellingEarly Math ConceptsFine Motor Skills  

Introduction to Shoe Tying

What you'll need: Empty Egg CartonTwo different colored shoe lacesPencil or Pen Getting Started: Learning to lace and tie one's shoes is a major milestone for any preschooler; and typically appropriate around ages 4-5.Although it quickly becomes second nature, the act of shoe tying demands a large amount of concentration and coordination from young learners. Learning how to place and manipulate their fingers can prove challenging at first, and it is best not to rush the process. Select a time and day when your child is in the right frame of mind and excited to learn—and even then—expect some frustration as they learn and master this complex task.To get started, clean out your egg carton, turn it upside-down, and poke holes in the center of each egg cup. You can easily create the holes with a pen or pencil.Next, take your laces and tie them together at one end of the carton. We suggest using two different colored laces so that you can give directions using colors instead of right and left—which may cause confusion during the learning process.Continue by threading each lace through the first set of holes and pause a minute to ensure they are even. Next guide your child through the process of threading the laces in and out of the holes to lace your practice "shoe"—pausing periodically to be sure your laces are remaining even.For some children this will be enough challenge for the first day. If you sense your toddler becoming tired or frustrated with the...

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