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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

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)  

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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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

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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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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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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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

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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