Friday, September 19, 2014

75+ Weather Activities & Free Printables (KLP Linky Party)

It's no secret that Bulldozer is obsessed with weather.  Due to his obsession, we've incorporated a lot of weather activities and units into our learning time.  Just this week, we finished reading yet another weather book.  As we were reading, I kept thinking about all of the different activities we've done and thought to myself, wouldn't it be nice to have all of my weather activities and printables in one place?  And well, I decided to just do that.  I hope you enjoy!  The activities are grouped together by weather topic.

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The books recommended below are some of our VERY favorites.  Bulldozer owns all of them! They are fabulous!

Welcome to the Kids Learning Printables Linky Party!

co-host Montessori Nature

1. Farm Do-a-Dot Printables from Gift of Curiosity

2. Fall Themed Activities for Toddlers from Welcome to Mommyhood

Here's how this works!

1.  Link up to 3 educational printables for kiddos.  Free, paid, and giveaway printables are welcome.
2.  Add our Kids Learning Printables Linky Party Button to your post or blog.
3.  Support your fellow educators by commenting, pinning, and/or sharing the post published before yours.
4.  If you're not already doing so, follow me on FacebookPinterest, Twitter, and/or through my blog.
5.  You give me permission to use and repost images from your blog.

1.  Visit all posts.
2.  Share and pin as many links as possible throughout the week.
2.  Feature my favorite posts in next week's link up.
3.  Get to know you, your blog, and your printables for future use.

Let's get this party started!
Every Star Is Different

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Our Montessori Inspired Living Room

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This is our living room.  It's not the most elegant living room, but it works for us.  (If you haven't read other posts about our home, please know we live in a very old (1890s) Victorian style home.)  You'll notice no end tables, coffee tables, and/or table lamps.  Some of the curtain rods are bent and sheer curtains missing.  This is a result of having two sensory seeking kiddos for whom safety is not always the first priority.  What Bulldozer didn't teach us, Sunshine has.
 There are two sections to our living room.  The picture below shows our seating area.
The ottoman can act as seating for four more people, or as four personal tables or lap desks for work space and/or treats, when the storage compartment lids are turned over or removed.  The ottoman has wheels, so it can be moved around the entire living room.  Among other purposes, we use it as storage for blankets for the kiddos.  The kiddos are able to use the ottoman independently without assistance in any way that is needed.  (Pushing the ottoman across the room is a fabulous sensory activity too!)
In this picture, one ottoman lid is completely off exposing blanket storage. Another lid is half way off.  Another is turned over to expose the table.   The last lid is in seat position.

 The picture below shows our work and play area.  I'm writing this post at the computer desk in the picture.  Right by the computer desk is the entrance to our learning time room.  (In case you were wondering.)  The dresser is home to all of our play dough supplies, paint & brushes, stamps & ink, and puzzles. The knobs from all of the drawers have been removed so Sunshine can't get into them.  The storage unit in the corner is home to board games among other things.
 I'm sure you can notice from these pictures I'm a very simple person who does not like clutter.  My attitudes do not change when it comes to anything Montessori.  I'm a firm believer in using what you have.  When I feel the need to purchase more shelves or other furniture items to organize a room, I know I either have too many things or I'm not utilizing the space I have already.  As I designed our Montessori inspired living room, I kept this idea in mind.

One of the first places I noticed I had space and shelving for activities was our TV stand.  Due to several infants and toddlers in our home for the past 7 years, the stand has never been home to books, decor, or anything else.  However, we've found it's a perfect place to store a few activities and/or toys.  I'm sure you can see the wear and tear of little hands.  The closing doors store our DVD player, right where the kiddos can learn to use it themselves.  The pull out drawers underneath are empty. Sunshine loves to put things in and out of everything she can.  These drawers are perfect for her to practice her skills.
 There are three activities on these shelves, one is a fall invitation to play, designed for toddlers.  You'll notice a SOFT football for gross motor skill activities on another shelf.  On the bottom shelf is a board book with five small pumpkins to act out the story.  I rotate activities on these shelves when I notice Sunshine is getting bored with the ones that are there.  All activities in the living room are designed specifically for Sunshine because she spends the most time in this room.  (The room has baby gates at every exit.)  However, any of the kiddos are welcome to use them.  Activities for the older kiddos are stored in the dining room where there is a table, chairs and plenty of floor space.  Sunshine can't interrupt and/or destroy activities in the dining room due to the baby gate.  (She really likes to do that.)

I don't purchase new items for activities in the living room or dining room.  If I want books I get them through our local library exchange.  All other materials are usually toys the kiddos already have, or manipulatives I've used in past units.

The second set of shelves for activities is in the corner of the room, next to the learning time room entrance (where we also store board games).  These shelves had been used for books.  However, I'm not one to read a book twice, unless it's REALLY good or a FABULOUS resource.  I realized there was no point in keeping most of the books on the shelves.  They look much better as Montessori shelves anyways.
 On these shelves you'll find four different toys or sets of toys that either have a learning or practical life component to them.  Right now the shelves hold a baby doll with her diaper bag, fully equipped with a diaper, "wipes," bib, & bottle.  Sunshine is struggling with diaper changes and eating, so I'm hoping this activity will help her feel more comfortable with these tasks.  Another shelf holds Sunshine's camera. She's been watching Mommy take lots of pictures lately and wants to join in on the fun.  One bottom shelf holds a set of parent and baby farm animals.  The other holds a LEGO duplo store set.  This is a great activity to help Sunshine with her fine motor skills.  (Putting LEGO duplos together requires lots of skill.)  I have chosen not to use trays because Sunshine tends to destroy them. When she's older, I'm hoping she grows out of this.

I couldn't resist showing you my toddler friendly Fall Invitation to Play.  It's been a HUGE hit.  The basket (which is soft and very hard to break), holds tongue depressors, felt leaves, pine cones, plastic apples, and acorns.
 I introduced the activity by making a tree with all of the materials.  Today, Dinomite created his own.  I must say, his was much better than mine.  I love how he made roots.
Dinomite's leaves.
 Bulldozer has built several houses.  I do believe they're houses for the squirrel.
Bulldozer's latest house.
 Princess has even joined the fun creating houses of her own.  I love how she decorated hers with leaves.
Princess' house.
I love applying Montessori principles into our daily living and home life.  Usually, we find that we already have the materials and space to do so, if we just take a minute to look, and possibly rearrange a little.  Creating a Montessori home does not need to be expensive.  If you're starting from scratch and have no furniture at all, then you may have to spend some money, but otherwise, it should literally cost you pennies if anything.  I'm always amazed at the change in the environment when I turn another room into a Montessori inspired one.  It's so worth it!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Squirrel Activities for Tots & Preschoolers w/ Free Printables

 This post may contain affiliate links.

Due to the kiddos' birthday party planning, I had squirrels on the brain, so it was only fitting to put together squirrel activities for Sunshine.  The girl is obsessed with them!

S is for Squirrel
 Sunshine will practice making a "snake" with play dough and placing it on the "S."  The play dough is chocolate scented for an additional sensory experience.

Source: I created the printable for this activity as part of my Squirrel Activities for Tots & Preschoolers Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of this post.

Counting Acorns
 Tonight at dinner Sunshine tried to count the pieces of pumpkin pancakes on her plate.  None of the numbers were in the correct order, but they were all numbers.  I was so excited. We're making progress!  This week Sunshine will practice counting acorns.  I've included enough acorns for all five cards, in hopes that we can compare them afterwards.  We'll see.  Baby steps.

Source: I created the printable for this activity as part of my Squirrel Activities for Tots & Preschoolers Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of this post.

Woodland Animals
 As I was planning the kiddos' birthday party I saw some adorable woodland animal cakes, decorations, etc.  I thought it would be fun to talk about other animals that live in the forest.  Sunshine will learn to identify the animals by name and match them with the figure provided.  She loves animals, so I know this activity will be a hit.

Source: I created the printable for this activity as part of my Squirrel Activities for Tots & Preschoolers Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of this post.

Acorn Transfer
 Sunshine will use the tongs provided to transfer the acorns from one bowl to the other.  She's done pretty well with tongs in the past, so I'm hoping she'll remember and be successful.

Acorn Craft
 This activity has multiple steps. Sunshine will first color the two brown pieces of paper provided, one light brown, the other dark brown.  She will then tear each colored brown piece of paper into pieces.  Last, she will glue the torn pieces of paper on to the acorn. The dark colored pieces will be placed on the top half of the acorn. Light colored pieces will be glued to the bottom half.

Source: I found this craft at No Time For Flashcards.  The acorn template can be found at Enchanted Learning.

Acorn Toss
I did not make this activity.  Sunshine's grandparents put it together for her birthday party.  I just thought she'd have fun continuing to use it.  Sunshine will practice throwing the acorns into the hole provided.  She loved this at her birthday party.

Next week we'll be back on schedule, I promise!

For those interested in the printables, click on the link below:

Comments and questions are always welcome!