What's inside: ::Straw - Last spring I purchased these little bales from Micheal's Crafts for $2.99 each. ::Stuffed scarecrow ::Plastic gourds ::Fall colored puffs ::Beeswax pumpkin scented tea lights - they make the tub smell wonderful! ::Orange leaves ::Wooden bowl ::Wooden beads ::Fall themed buttons
We're still playing with our Halloween tub quite a bit, so this one will have to wait to come out for another few days. I'll be posting about November playdough soon.
You all know how much I love the early learning resources website, KidSoup, right? I've used it time and again for a variety of our activities - click here, here and here to see what I mean.
Well, have I some exciting news for you! The creators of KidSoup have outdone themselves by creating a new website called ABC Twiggles. It's chock-full of amazing alphabet resources and ideas - everything from printables to teacher's guides to book recommendations!
My favorite thing about this site is that is has activities for each letter that appeal to all 5 of the senses. There's a section each for "See the Letter', "Hear the Letter", "Taste the Letter" (and in turn, Smell the Letter), and "Feel the Letter". How cool is that?!
The generous people at KidSoup, Inc. have offered to give one of my readers a FREE year long subscription to the ABC Twiggles site. With the school year upon us, you will be so glad to have their resources in your homeschooling arsenal! How to win: 1. Simply visit ABC Twiggles by clicking the button the left and get a sense of just how awesome this site is. Everything in the letter A section is free and available for sampling! 2. Come back to this post and leave me a comment letting me know what you like best about the site - this is mandatory. 3. For extra entries, come back every day and leave me a comment on this post.
The giveaway will end on October 30th at 9pm Atlantic Time. I'll announce the winner the next day. Be sure to leave your email address so I can pass it on to the good folks at ABC Twiggles who will in turn arrange your free membership!
*Keep in mind that if you don't win you'll still benefit from the incredibly reasonable membership price (just $21.99/year!). Oh and there's also a 30% discount available to KidSoup members. Good stuff!*
Yes, I know this is the second set of "On Our Shelves" I've posted this week, but the ones earlier this week were really from last week and these are for the next two. :)
Most of these activities are Halloween themed as we're gearing up for the upcoming holiday. I know Halloween isn't for everyone, and truthfully I'm not a fan of all the gory scary stuff and I really do monitor what kind of Halloween stuff James is exposed to, but I see no harm in dressing up and going trick or treating or incorporating some pumpkins and such into our classroom. :)
Practical Life Spider Sifting. I first saw this activity on Itty Bitty Love. James had a blast with this and pretended he was saving the spiders from the pit of orange rice. :)
Halloween Pencil Sharpening. Great fine motor activity.
Pumpkin Washing. Very similar to our mirror polishing work.
Open & Close Basket. These containers have cute little pumpkins in them. As I mentioned here, this is a fantastic activity for kids.
Pouring Beads. I hesitated about this because the beads are actually little skulls (too scary?)... they were a part of a bracelet we got in a Halloween goody bag last year.
Tweezing Spiders. I saw this on My Montessori Journey and knew we had to try it. James really liked this one. The added challenge to this is that the spiders are deep in that little bucket. It requires a steady little hand to pull them out on the tweezers. :)
Tonging Erasers. Another MMJ idea. I have a few sets of these erasers in different shapes, so I'll switch out just the erasers next week. I think James will like that.
Language Sequencing. I put together some clip art I found on abcteach.com to make these sequencing cards. James copies the sequence below the strips.
Halloween Books. We're enjoying these titles: Pumpkin Eye by Denise Fleming, Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White, and Halloween by Jerry Seinfeld (I know this one is not for everyone, but I'm a huge fan of Seinfeld!).
Poem & Poetry Basket. I've been reading poetry to James since he was itty bitty, but outside of reading poems from books, I've been wanting to find a way to incorporate it into our schooltime. Thank you to - who else - My Montessori Journey for this brilliant idea. The poem you see pictured is my own - be kind, I am NOT a poet and I'm sure I broke all sorts of rules in creating it. :)
Sandpaper Letters & Object Boxes. James completed some very big and very important work on this day - he perfectly matched dozens of objects to their correct sound!
Jack O' Lantern Game. This is a fun little math game whereby James rolls one of the die and then puts that number of teeth along the top of the Jack O' Lantern's mouth and then he rolls the second die and adds that number of teeth along the bottom of the JOL's mouth. Finally he counts how many teeth there are total.
Counting w/ Yarn Pumpkins. I made these last year and we've been having a lot of fun playing addition and subtraction games with them!
I would like to extend a big THANK YOU to those of you who have linked back to Counting Coconuts within your own posts. With the extremely large (and ever growing) number of blogs out here, I think it's so very important that we support one another and give credit where credit is due. And a very special thank you to those of you who create lists full of links just for the sake of spreading the word about the good ideas you've seen on other blogs! You're the Good Samaritans of the blogworld! :)
I feel extremely lucky to be surrounded by so many clever and creative women and men. I speak for myself when I say I know it's some times hard to come up with uniquely creative ideas what with so many amazing ones already out there. It's not too often that I actually come up with an entirely new idea, so one thing I've tried hard to do is to make sure when I use someone else's idea, I put my own personal spin on it. Of course that's not always possible, but in any case I do my very best to make sure I provide a link back to the original idea. (Please let me know if I've missed you somewhere along the line!)
We're all busy people and I'll admit it's time consuming to add links in, but I consider it an unwritten rule for the blog community, don't you? Even if there's an idea that's been all over the blogworld, I say pick a place where you've seen it and share some linky love! :)
This is just something I've been thinking about for a while now and I recently had the motivation to finally write about it. Thanks for reading and again THANK YOU for linking back to my blog when necessary.
UPDATED TO ADD: You guys are awesome! Thank you for your input and feedback regarding linking back. You made some excellent points and I just wanted to include them in the actual post for those that don't read through comments...
Re forgetting where you got an idea: With so many fantastic blogs out there it's super easy to click from link to link to link, all the while seeing wonderful ideas, but not remembering which of the links they come from. When I first started blogging I kept all of the ideas in a notebook devoted to just 'blog ideas'. Then I moved that over into an Excel spreadsheet. THEN I switched over to Google Reader and now I just star an idea when I see it. The beauty of Google Reader is that you can search entire blogs for key words. As a last resort I've found myself hunting through my 'History' tab to find certain blogs. I know it sounds like "extra" work, but as I mentioned above, I just think it's really important.
Re having similar ideas: no doubt about it, great minds think alike! Especially with so many creative individuals out there! To me this is where we simply enjoy the fact that we've met a like-minded person! I have a few "bloggy twins" out here in the blogworld and I adore their blogs because we have so much in common. With regard to Montessori works like spooning, pouring, etc. - obviously these kids of ideas are well known and just a part of Montessori. I don't usually link back for these kinds of things, but I will if I've learned about a unique way to display the work (e.g. tweezing spiders for Halloween). I guess the point here is that you know whether or not you truly came up with this idea or if you have, in fact, seen it somewhere else.
This year's Halloween tub isn't much of a departure from last year's, but I thought I'd share it anyway. Here's what's inside:
:: Black beans :: Yellow lentils :: Porcupine balls :: Real mini pumpkin :: Plastic pumpkin :: Purple scoop :: Skeletons :: Various beads :: Teeny tiny pom poms :: Stretchy spiders, a snake and a big bat :: Googly eyes :: A few scrapbooking embellishments :: Feathers
James is crazy about this tub - seriously, he plays with it for the longest time! I think his favorite thing is the skeletons. He likes to point out all the bones. :)
Spooky Playdough This is just some regular, unscented orange playdough I made (see my sidebar for the recipe). Along with the Halloween cutters I put a bunch of black beans in a little pumpkin container so James could make little Jack O' Lanterns. He L-O-V-E-D doing this! Total hit. I was very tempted to make some some cool black playdough with purple glitter like The Picky Apple did - check out this cute spider she made!
I've been invited to try Time 4 Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time 4 Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment, and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how you can write your own curriculum review for Time 4 Learning.
We're shifting into pumpkin/Halloween mode over here this week, but I wanted to share with you some of the "Back to School' work we had on our shelves last week. You saw most of these works in the photos of our classroom tour.
Mirror Polishing. The set up for this comes right out of my training manual. James really enjoyed this work and repeated it a few times throughout the week.
Spooning Acorns. Ok, I have to be honest with myself and just admit that James no longer enjoys spooning work. Pity too because I really enjoy putting it together! He did this work once, quickly, and then gave it the cold shoulder the rest of the week.
Open & Close Basket. This is, in my opinion, one of the best works you can put out for a child - there are a lot of skills being practiced (snapping, buttoning, zippering, etc.) depending on what kinds of items you include and it's also great for one to one correspondence. I like that it's self correcting, too. There's only one small object for each container (see the pebble inside the glass jar?), so if there's a leftover object or an empty container, James knows he put too many or none at all in a container. He loved this and worked with it every day this week.
Tonging (mama-made) Knitted Apples
Zipper Dressing Frame
Texture Basket - I did not make these (I purchased them at a local shop), but you could EASILY make your own. Our one and only fabric store does not offer enough variety for me to replicate this. We talked about the differences and similarities between the materials.
Color Tablets (Box 2) - the matching aspect is too easy for James, so we've been using these in "Please bring me..." games with much success and fun! We'll be moving on to the 3rd box of color tablets as soon as I finish making them!
This whole area has had me over-analyzing and stressing out far more than I should be. Long story short, I've come to realize James has been learning language in a manner that does not coincide with the traditional Montessori route (or the handful of variations within it). Mind you, I'm no longer stressed about it since I realized it's not the end of the world. James learned the names of letters before learning their sounds. A big no-no in the Montessori world. He is also learning to read before being fully immersed in 'pre-reading' (aka aural preparation). Another no-no. Am I worried? Nope. It'll all work out, I'm sure of it. Nonetheless, I've put out several 'pre-reading' activities on our shelves simply because I know James will enjoy them. And that's really what it's all about, right? This is where I give Montessori a *huge* hug, say thanks, and then walk off the beaten path to what's working right for us at the moment. I love having the freedom to make changes as we see fit.
ABC Animal Cards
James makes me laugh every day and this photo is an example of one of those time - after he finished laying out all the ABC animal cards, he suddenly stood up, took a deep bow and said, "Thank you!" :D
Sandpaper Letters & Sand Tray
Sandpaper Letters & Objects. Although James knows all of the basic letter sounds (a-z), I am reviewing through them (4 at a time) and including our sound objects for fun. I think we'll get through the rest of the alphabet next week at which point we'll continue on with phonograms.
American Sign Language (ASL) cards. James can sign the entire ASL alphabet, which was a big surprise to me considering I never taught him this! He picked it up during a viewing of this DVD which we rented from the video store. I decided to print and laminate some ASL cards for him since he was really eager about signing. I found these on abcteach.com. He was very excited about these! His new favorite thing to do is to spell aloud and sign the letters at the same time.
This is another area, like language, where we did not follow the traditional route of Montessori as far as introducing concrete before abstract (i.e James knew the names of the number symbols before learning what they meant). That happened because we simply didn't know about Montessori when James began showing an interest in letters and numbers during his first year. As I mentioned above, I'm not at all bothered or concerned about it especially since he's grasping each area with ease. That said, we're moving forward in a modified manner whereby I'll be introducing concrete materials alongside the abstract works he's already familiar with. I'll do this for just letter/sounds & numbers/quantities, but for everything else beyond these basics I'll mirror my teaching with the traditional route because I do believe it has great merit, particularly with more complicated math concepts. Again, this is what we've decided works for us.
Counting Cookies - I made these last year and they were a huge hit with James. Alone they are too easy for him, but we use them for adding/subtracting games now.
Continent Puzzle Map & Globe. We worked with both all week and James knows 5 out of the 7 continents now. Does anyone know of a good "Continents Song" to sing?
Discovery Tray - this will take the place of our seasonal nature display (we just don't have room enough for both). However, I'll change this often to suit whatever theme we're working on or to match the current season (e.g. shells in the summer, flowers in the spring, etc.). James absolutely LOVES this tray and writes in his 'journal' to document his findings (ala Sid the Science Kid). :)
Tree Matching/Name Recognition - this was something I made during our Letter T week last year and I made a handful more this year to make it a bit more challenging.
Sorting/Matching Cats & Dogs. This ended up being WAY too easy for James, so he created his own extensions - he sorted them by which animals were sitting/standing, he counted how many cats and how many dogs there were, and then sorted them by color shade. Ahem. I guess that showed me. :)
Building a Farm. This was an impromtu activity that I created mid-way through the week. James said to me, out of the blue, one day, "Mama, cows live on farms and give milk and we milk them like this (here he gestured his hands to simulate milking)." Then we talked about sheep and wool and that's when I decided to create this activity. He spent a long time going through and talking about each animal.
Sorting Fruits & Vegetables. The cute little baskets shown in the last two works were a very thoughtful gift from Eva of Handmade Beginnings - thank you, Eva!
Art & Music
Instrument Nomenclature Cards. I created these myself - this is just a small selection of them (I only put out a handful at a time), but there are more than 30 in the set I made.
Cutting Straws. The cut bits go inside the brown box.
Art Memory Game. These cards come from this awesome game my sweet sister in law bought for James.
Glue Practice. James worked very hard on this and completed both sides of that paper.
I put together some new works - mainly pumpkin/Halloween themed - and I'll be sharing those later this week.