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Ice Cream Counting

What you'll need: Pom-Poms ($2 @ local craft store)Pair of kids tweezers or small tongsPiece of colored or kraft paperPen or PrinterPrintable Cones Download Getting Started: This fun summer math activity is great for number recognition, early math skills, and can be made more challenging by incorporating color matching or pattern making into the activity. Simply cut out and number, or print (printable cones download) and cut, cones on your choice of paper, find a pair of tongs or tweezers, and gather pom-poms for sorting. Children will enjoy creating these colorful cones. Consider the following possible activities by age and ability:1. Arrange numbers in order and stack cones2. Randomly select numbers for children to complete3. Have your child select the highest and lowest number from the bowl and make the tallest and shortest ice cream cone. 4. Have children identify odd or even numbers to complete the activityThere are multiple ways to make this activity fun and relevant for children. They may even come up with a version of their own... Happy counting! What it teaches: Fine Motor SkillsNumber RecognitionNumber SequencingCountingPatternsMatching Resources: Fun A Day What you'll need: Pom-Poms ($2 @ local craft store)Pair of kids tweezers or small tongsPiece of colored or kraft paperPen or PrinterPrintable Cones Download Getting Started: This fun summer math activity is great for number recognition, early math skills, and can be made more challenging by incorporating color matching or pattern making into the activity. Simply cut out and number, or print (printable cones download) and cut, cones on your choice of...

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Color & Shape Button Sorting

What you'll need: 1 bag of color, shape buttons (Hobby Lobby)Sorting worksheet (download printable worksheet)1-3 pieces of paperPencil Getting Started: This adaptable activity helps reinforce colors and shapes while children practice sorting, matching, pattern making, and counting skills. Here are just two of the activities you can work through:Activity One: Lay out your worksheet and ask your child to match the buttons with the printed shapesEncourage them to make rows of one color, rainbow, or alternating patternsAsk you child to identify each shape and/or color Activity Two: Lay out paper and ask your child to sort the buttons into shape or color pilesAsk them to count how many buttons are in each pile and write the numbers next to the pileHave your child identify the highest, lowest, even or odd numbers   What it teaches: Fine motor skillsColor identificationShape identificationSorting skillsPattern makingCountingNumber identification

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Sort & Drop Shakers

   What you'll need: Toothpicks or StrawsCheese Shaker, Food Container with thin plastic lid, or Campbell's Soup Microwavable ContainerScissors Optional: Hole Punch (based on container chosen), pom-poms, flower stickers   Getting Started: Infants and toddlers learn about spatial relationships in a variety of ways— exploring objects with their hands and mouths, tracking objects and people visually, squeezing into tight spaces, fitting objects into openings, and looking at things from different perspectives. Children this age  also exhibit a high level of interest in solving problems. Channel their natural curiosity with this multi-age activity. Ages 15 mo. – 25+ mo. (based on your child's readiness)Place the lid of a Campbell's soup microwavable container (comes with the correct sized holes) over the empty soup container or bowl.  (You can also use an alternative container with thin plastic lid, and punch the correct sized holes.) Cut straws into appropriate lengths, so that they do not get jammed when dropped into the container. Allow children to explore the straws, insert them into the holes, and push them down into the container. Ages 2-3 years (based on your child's readiness)Cut the sharp tips off of 20-30 toothpicks. Using a cheese shaker, have children insert toothpicks into the openings of the shaker. For an alternate activity, glue pom-poms or cutout flowers to the head of the toothpick and have children "plant flowers."  IMPORTANT!  Please note, this activity may include choking hazard based on individual construction. It is intended to be done under the supervision of a caregiver. Do not...

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Clothespin Bowl

What you'll need: Bowl or basket with a thin rimSeveral clothespinsOptional: Scissors, cut out shapes or numbers (Download worksheet) Getting Started: This is an easy DIY Montessori activity to help children develop their pincer grasp, dexterity, concentration, and help wth small muscle development. It is also a wonderful activity for teaching children how to use clothespins—which are used in many Montessori practical life exercises. It is best for children 2½+ due of the muscle control required. Level One: Introducing Clothespins/Developing Pincer GraspSet up the pins around the rim of the container for your child. Encourage your child to remove the pins, demonstrating first how to squeeze and lift the pin vertically. Place the removed pins into the container.  Level Two:  Clothespin Placement and Small Muscle ControlStart the activity with the clothespins in the bowl or basket, and ask your child to clip the clothespins to the rim of the container. Observe how they initially choose to space the clothespins. Many children align them closely together. Level three: Placement and SpacingNext ask the child to space the pins evenly apart around the bowl to make a sunray pattern. Once they complete this task, you may then ask them to remove the pins back into the container and complete the activity again—this time spacing the clothespins evenly from the start. Level Three: Additional ItemsIf you want to challenge you child further, you can also cut out shapes or numbers and ask them to clip the items to the outside of the bowl. If...

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Introduction to Weaving

What you'll need: Pipe cleaners or RibbonWire baking or organization rack Getting Started: Weaving is a wonderful exercise for preschool children, as it teaches concentration and reinforces fine motor skills (particularly between the thumb and forefinger) that support their pre-writing skills.Weaving also helps to develop hand-eye coordination, and a sense of direction (up, down, over, under, top, bottom, right, and left) as children to use the visual information received to coordinate the movement of the hands.This activity also presents an opportunity to talk about how clothing, baskets, and other woven items are made. Explore your home together and identify woven items, or objects that could act as a loom, such as a baby gate or railing.To begin:• Locate a wire baking/cooling rack, or an organizational rack.• Collect pipe cleaners, string, or spare ribbon to use as your weaving materials. Note: Larger, easier to grasp, materials will be easier for young children and help prevent frustration.• Take time to first demonstrate threading the material over and under the rack wires, and/or alternate turns with your child until they fully grasp the activity• Encourage them to be creative, making patterns with the materials• Push the rows together to demonstrate how the loom works and fabrics are createdThis activity is meant to be an introduction to weaving; however as children become more proficient, they can move on to a circle or threaded loom to complete finished woven materials.   What it teaches: Fine Motor SkillsHand-Eye CoordinationFocus & ConcentrationDirection & TrackingCreativityn What you'll need: Pipe...

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Explorer's Basket

What you'll need: Basket or ContainerVarious, child friendly, items from around the house Getting Started: When it comes to our youngest students (ages 12-25 months), exploration is really what the world and learning is all about. Babies are constantly trying to make sense of what they see, touch, taste, grab, hear, hold, and squeeze.They are fascinated by the way things work, cause and effect, opening and closing, and how things fit together.The trouble can be that they often want to explore where you may not want them.Taking a tip from the Montessori-prepared classroom, we encourage you to create an Exploration Basket, filled with child-friendly items for your littlest one to explore. Include a variety of items that open and close, stack, or can be manipulated in different ways. If appropriate, include something inside an item for them to discover and practice taking in and out.Some ideas include: Empty baby snack container, infant bulb syringe, small tongs, travel wipe container, large plastic Easter egg, Tupperware, empty spice/scented container.Once you start the task of gathering items, and watching how your child interacts with them, you will be amazed at the everyday items you will see differently. Keep an eye out for new items and refresh your basket regularly.Happy hunting!   What it teaches: Cognitive developmentHand-Eye CoordinationFocus & ConcentrationFine Motor SkillsCause & Effect

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Pouring: Ice Cube Tray

  What you'll need: Small water pitcher, water dropper, or bottleEmpty ice cube trayPaper TowelsWaterOptional: fruit Getting Started: Ice cube making is the perfect Montessori activity for these late summer days. An excellent practical life activity, the act of filling the tray with water challenges children's coordination and muscle control, cultivates spatial reasoning, and allows them to explore the concept of volume.All you need is an empty ice cube tray and small water vessel to get started. We suggest a small measuring pitcher or water dropper depending on your child's abilities. Be ready with paper towels. Spills are likely to happen as your child masters their pouring/transferring skills.The wonderful thing about this practical life activity is that they can see the result of their hard work in a few short hours. Take the opportunity to discuss the science behind ice, and how water freezes and melts at different temperatures. For added fun include fresh fruit that can be added to a drink—or a small object they can watch appear over time as the ice melts away.  Why It's Important: As children practice pouring activities they are also developing other types of skills, such as:Spatial AwarenessAs children pour they begin to gain a better understanding of the amount of space they have to work with and how much water is needed to fill —or overflow— a container.Eye-Hand CoordinationWith practice children strengthen their ability to control and be more precise with the flow of what they are pouring—and can soon master pouring into...

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Button Counting: Fruit with Seeds

  What you'll need: PaperButtons or seedsSeasonal Fruit Counting Worksheet: Apples & Watermelons Getting Started: This preschool focused activity introduces math and counting in a fun and interesting way for our students. Using our seasonal fruit worksheets (downloads above), give you child a container of buttons or seeds and ask them to place the correct number of buttons/seeds on each piece of fruit.If you have seasonal fruit on hand it is a good opportunity to discuss seeds, how things grow, and where food comes from. Ask your child to count the number of seeds in an apple, or harvest the seeds to use in the counting activity.For preschoolers working on their scissor skills, allow them the opportunity to cut out the fruit for their activity.  Why It's Important: The introduction of basic number recognition, counting, and math concepts in preschool sets a foundation for learning more advanced math concepts later.Early exposure to math and number activities increases students' comfort and confidence with these skills.Introducing math through natural items such as fruit allows children to relate to numbers through items they are developmentally familiar with.   What it teaches: Number Identification (recognizing 0-9 and numeral names)Counting & math conceptsSorting and classifyingPattern recognition and creationCritical ThinkingFine Motor: Pincer graspScissor skills (optional)  

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Spooning: Feed the Animals

  What you'll need: Animal Feeding Worksheet (download)Cereal, beans, or dry good for spooningA set of small buckets or bowlsPair of scissorsSpoon Getting Started: Prepare a bowl of dry goods such as beans, or cereal if you think your little one may try and eat what they are feeding their animals. Cut out and set up each animal with a feeding bowl so that your child can scoop food through their mouth and into the bowl.You can vary the level of difficulty for your child by having them sort or count the food each animal receives.Take this opportunity to work on language and observation skills by talking about each animal, how full or empty containers are—or even the importance of taking care of your own pet.   Why It's Important: Spooning from one container to another may seem a simple task, but for younger students this common practical life activity is developing fine motor skills essential for learning to write. Likewise, spooning and sorting activities help children to develop a sense of order, concentration, coordination, and independence.The act of feeding is also something that toddlers are naturally curious about. This exercise channels that curiosity while strengthening utensil skills and reinforcing Montessori lessons of caring for themselves, others, and their environment. What it teaches: Fine Motor SkillsSkill of SpooningCoordination of MovementConcentration, focus & self-regulationPre-reading & pre-writing skillsCare of self and others

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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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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  

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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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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)

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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)  

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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 

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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

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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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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

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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  

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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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